Health & Wellness Thursdays || All About Gluten-Free Baking ||11.20.14

For those of you inviting guests over for the holidays that may have Celiac's Disease or be gluten intolerant or just not into eating gluten, here is a run-down of really really really helpful gluten-free baking basics.

|| The Low-Down on Ingredients ||

there's no need to be intimidated, just take it one step at a time -- contact me if you have any questions or need tips (I've been gluten-free for three years now and am on my way to being a Certified Holistic Health Coach)

  • Xantham Gum

    • Acts as a replacement for the gluten in gluten-free flour
    • Provides structure by interacting with the gluten-free flour, giving it that 'lift & puff'
  • Gluten Free Flour

    • Tends to be a combination of a bunch of different flours (and also some starches)
      • Typically there is combination of rice flours, maybe bean flours, possibly some whole grains such as millet or amaranth, and starches such as potato or tapioca starch
    • In this video, her favorite is Bob's Red Mill
      • Bob's Red Mill has a great mix that was recently recreated to have less of a 'bean' flavor in the raw dough stage -- because we all know we eat cookie dough by the spoonful before baking : - )
  • Flax Seed Meal

    • Ground up flax seed
    • Replaces that 'viscous, gooey, binding' texture that eggs provide
    • Also has a delicious flavor -- slightly nutty, a little sweet
  • Kuzu Powder

    • Great replacement for gelatin
      • Put the powder in a little water until it breaks down
      • Add to whatever you want to stiffen or thicken -- so easy
  • Soy Flour

    • Ground up soybeans
    • Helps achieve a creamy texture for creations like vegan butter-cream (!)
  • Coconut Oil

    • No butter in vegan dishes, but looking for a delicious flavor? Best bet.
    • Doesn't taste 'coconutey' just very rich and comforting (plus so good for you!)
    • High burn temperature -- holds up well no matter how you use it
    • Solid in room temperature -- just takes a little heat to melt
  • Nutritional Yeast

    • Adds a cheesy flavor to dishes
    • Delicious and Savory
    • Texture: flaky and light

[Video by The Kitchy Kitchen -- watch more on her YouTube Channel]

|| Health & Wellness Thursdays || Vaccinations, Gluten Free Reasons, & Apples Oh My!

|| Some Healthy Links to Keep Us Going ||

all from my new favorite site Organic Lifestyle Magazine


Vaccinations what’s your take?

"We have more vaccinations on our schedule than any other country. We also have one of the highest infant mortality rates and one of the highest newborn death rates among industrialized nations. We also have the highest rate of autism."



So everyone you know has become Gluten Free … here’s why.

"What is gluten? Gluten is the protein found in wheat (including spelt, kamut, triticale , which are varieties of wheat), rye, and barley."



An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

"The apple belongs to the Rosaceae family like it’s cousins the plum, nectarine, and peach. The apple is a sweet, crunchy fruit with an edible skin and a cream or white flesh that has been touted the world over for its health promoting and disease prevention benefits. The reality is that the medicinal properties of apples are well documented."

Was any of this information surprising or new? How do you feel about vaccinations? Are you or anyone you know gluten free? I've loved apples forever -- what's your take on them?

Stay Happy & Healthy


[images linked with word]

Halloween Recipe || Caramel ||10.30.14

Halloween is upon us! In fact it’s tomorrow!!! Do you love Halloween as much as I do? Because my room is decorated with fake leaves, window stickies, and pumpkin paintings. I have been reading some great blog posts written by ladies who painted their pumpkins white to line their entryways and others who spread out huge cobwebs throughout their houses. In honor of our Health and Wellness Thursdays, here’s what I’m contributing to the best day of the year… Introducing a beautifying and delicious, blended to perfection caramel! And since I couldn’t decide just which one to make, I decided to make three and let you know how they all worked out! The recipes below are vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, and definitely so delicious your spoon will be diving back in for more.

Enjoy some of this deliciousness with apples (my personal favorite), on top of oatmeal, inside homemade peanut butter cups, or straight from the spoon. Imagine this stirred into a container of peanut butter … drool.


date based, with oil or without, maybe some almond butter – all good


first recipe //

Ingredients ||

  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/6 cup + 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 dates
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Dash of salt (to taste)

Recipe ||

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a high speed blender (I used my magic bullet – not the best, but hey, dorm room) and blend until all ingredients are incorporated, the texture is a light golden brown, and the consistency is smooth – easy peasy

Notes ||

Experimenting with this recipe was so fun, because the flavors individually are so far from the taste of caramel – but when combined I must kiss my fingers and say mmmmagnificent. At first I could still taste almond butter in one bite, maple syrup in the other, maybe a little date, but after letting the flavors sit and mingle, the flavor was more caramel than I ever imagined -- not exact but pretty darn close. Plus, it looks like caramel and has that gorgeous drippy texture that I was looking for in my little experiment. The original recipe uses vanilla, and I bet that would have added another dynamic, but I didn’t have some quality vanilla extract on me and since we were keeping this raw, I didn’t want any of that alcohol aftertaste. This one is great with apples. I had to restrain myself. Majorly restrain. I also made my almond butter in my Magic Bullet before I made this, so it was a little drier than the usual store-bought brands and that might have contributed to the original overwhelming almond butter taste.

tested and adapted from Nutrition Stripped

second recipe //

Ingredients ||

  • ¼ cup soaked dates
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • ½ tablespoon almond butter (can be omitted)
  • cinnamon
  • a dash of sea salt
  • water as needed

Recipe ||

  1. Send all of the ingredients to a high speed blender, like above, and let it do it’s thing --

Notes ||

Dates naturally taste very carameley – it’s awesome for quick snacks with a little chocolate chips and almond butter inside, but that's beside the point . This recipe had a very nice light flavor, an airy texture, and didn’t sit heavy in my stomach. It also didn’t taste rich and decadent which is what I was going for, but it would be awesome in a peanut butter cup inspired recipe with tahini and this caramel wrapped with raw chocolate. Yum. The almond butter wasn’t in the original recipe but just added a nice depth of flavor I couldn’t pass up.


tested and adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life 


third recipe //

Ingredients ||

  • ½ cup of dates
  • ½ banana (or 2 tbsp coconut oil if not staying oil free)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • dash of sea salt

Recipe ||

  1. Yep! You guessed right – throw them all in the blender and wait for smooth perfection --

Notes ||

This recipe looked the most like caramel, but unfortunately tasted too much like banana (duh em, there’s a banana in there). Nevertheless, I think this would be amazing swirled into a banana bread recipe or cookie rather than dipped with apples or eaten by itself.

tested and adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life 


Overall, I love the first one for eating on its own and the other two for swirling into some delicious recipes. I really encourage you to tweak all the recipes, throw them all together if you want, and let me know what you think! I was playing with these during a really upsetting weekend, so it was a great relief. Just go in there with no expectations and let me know what magic you whip up?


[photos by emily friend]