Thursday, April 28, 2011

Protein Powder Cookies & "Milk" Tastings

When I first wanted to up the protein in E's diet, I went the route of protein powder. Most of them pack an average of 20 grams of protein in a serving. Whey protein is out due to the dairy allergy, so I bought a spirulina, a soy based powder, and an egg based powder. I tried them plain and lots of gagging ensued by both girls and myself on the spirulina and the soy protein. The Biochem 100% Egg Protein Powder tasted okay but no one was saying "WOW mom, I need to have this again!"

The canisters were pushed to the back of the pantry until we saw an episode of The Fresh Beat Band where smoothies are the cool thing to do. Suddenly they both wanted to try smoothies, so I looked up some recipes that incorporated protein powder, and whipped up a few. All were failures. The kids may just be like me and prefer to eat, not drink their food. I really didn't want to waste the powders, and in my research I found a few recipes for protein bars, protein cookies, protein pancakes. I thought "How monotonous". After all, a great deal of the things I do hide in pancakes and breakfast type cookies. But the kids eat them so I dove in.  I came to the conclusion that protein powder that is not whey-based does not bake or cook well.

In the midst of all this, E decided that it was only proper to have milk with "these really dry cookies". She has not had milk in a long time. She is allergic to cow's, goat's and soy milk. She threw up hemp milk. She at this point (3 years ago) refused to try any other type of milk. On the day that she asked for milk with the cookies, I gave her So Delicious Coconut Milk Original Flavor. This is what H and I drink as we also have a sensitivity to cow's and soy milks. (Oddly, we can eat cheese with no problem). E drank it. Since I had a few other dry cookies to get rid of, I bought the Silk brand coconut milk, and Almond Breeze Original almond milk. The only plus that the Silk brand has going for it is the 45% calcium content. It has 2 different ingredients from the So Dellicious that may affect the taste, which was syrupy sweet with a weird aftertaste. I liked the Almond milk but I was the only one. It is not a 'milky' taste, more nutty and creamy. The winner for the kids and myself was the So Delicious. It tastes the most like milk, and from experience can be substituted directly for regular milk in any recipe with no effect on taste or texture. And for now, we'll stick with regular cookies. :)
 So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage - Original

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beans, beans, the magical fruit....

I told my kids beans are called the magical fruit and maybe we should taste some and see which one felt the most magical and they bought it!
We tried red kidney beans, green beans, white northern beans, chickpeas, edamame (soy beans), and black beans. There are many other types too that we will try later as the tasting did not go over well. The texture seemed to play a big part, particularly the 'skin'.
Ad depicting different types of beans. Eden is the only brand I know of that has
a BPA-free lining if that is important to you.
  We tried canned beans, beans cooked from scratch, and a couple recipes that puree the beans into them. (Click here for a pizza crust using white bean puree).

Surprisingly, edamame won. I lightly steamed the shelled beans available in the frozen section of the grocery store, and let E sprinkle a bit of salt on them. When I asked her why she liked those, she replied that she could take the 'skin' off to get to "just the magic baby beanstalk". Most of the soy beans have a small stalk at one side.
Green beans came in a close second. These were cooked the same and lightly salted, but not eaten with as much enthusiasm.  I, myself, was happy that at least she ate a new green food.
Of the new recipes with puree or mashed beans, we tried hummus, homemade refried beans, a mild spicy red bean dip, and black bean brownies.
And if you take a wild guess, I'm sure you know which was the winner! This recipe was adapted from one in Delight Gluten Free Magazine. (I added eggs to give it more lift & protein). I give you:
Magic Black Bean Brownies
(16 servings; gluten free; dairy free if using shortening)

* 6 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate bars
* 5 tablespoons Earth Balance Na
tural Shortening (or butter)
* 1 can (15 oz) of low sodium black beans, rinsed well and drained (or 1 1/2 cups black beans cooked from scratch)
* 3 eggs
* 1 cup agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (if avoiding coffee, sub in 1 teaspoon almond extract)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup coconut flour or 2/3 cup almond flour (found in health food section of grocery store)
* 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 cup walnut pieces (optional) or 1 cup chopped almonds (optional)
* 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 deg F, and grease a small (8x8 or 9x9) pan. Break up the unsweetened chocolate, and place it in a bowl with butter or shortening. Heat the mixture on low power in the microwave or in a double boiler, stirring often, until it's melted and combined.
2. Meanwhile, put the black beans in the food processor. Process for about 30 seconds until almost smooth. Add 3 eggs; process another 20 to 30 seconds. Add agave (or syrup), vanilla, espresso powder, and salt, and pulse until incorporated.
  1. 3. Add the chocolate mixture, and process 2-3 minutes - until the black beans are obliterated and the mixture is well-combined. 
  2. 4. Add almond flour (or coconut flour), flax meal, and baking soda. Process two minutes more. (This much processing will not make the dough tough since there is no gluten to worry about). Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, if using.
  3. 5. Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes - until the top is set. Allow to cool for at least an hour; otherwise, the brownies may be too gooey to slice.
  4. 6. Store covered on the counter. These taste best if allowed to sit at least a day. The slight bean taste dissipates and you are left with a fudgy tender brownie. (If you prefer cakey brownies, then this is not the recipe for you).
Nutrition per serving (1 2-inch square): 300 calories, 19 g fat, 32 g carb, 6.7 g fiber, 6.6 g protein.
Note: This can be made without the eggs but notice the difference in the picture below. The one with the eggs has a lot more rise and a better texture and taste.

Black Bean on Foodista

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ultimate Banana Bread

I wanted to do a quick post about something absolutely lovely and decadent. If you are on a diet, turn away now! I made a recipe out of The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: Every Recipe from the Hit TV Show With Product Ratings and a Look Behind the Scenes, 2001-2011 today called Ultimate Banana Bread. This took a little time to do, but was absolutely worth it. I had a slice before calculating the nutritional stats. Let's just call that slice my lunch. And breakfast for the kids tomorrow.

Ultimate Banana Bread

From the America's Test Kitchen episode: Coffee Break Sweets
Makes one 9-inch loaf (which I would say gives 8 generous slices)
Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. This recipe can be made using 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the microwaving in step 2 and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer. Do not use a thawed frozen banana in step 4; it will be too soft to slice. Instead, simply sprinkle the top of the loaf with sugar. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (cool completely first), covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts , toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
    2. Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).
    3. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
    4. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
    5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    Nutrition* per slice (assumed 8 slices): Calories - 441, Fat - 18g, Cholesterol - 77mg, Sodium - 329.51mg, Potassium - 476mg, Carb - 66 g, Fiber - 4g, Protein - 6.77g
    *I am beginning to understand why Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen does not provide nutrition data for most of their recipes. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Carrots can go in pancakes!

A little something I tried this morning - added some of my carrot puree to my usual pancake recipe. And neither of the kids noticed. I added half a cup, but I bet I can get up to a cup in there. I think because I steamed the carrots then pureed them in my food processor first, it makes them undetectable. And since I have done orange pancakes before (with canned pumpkin), no one was the wiser. 
I don't remember where I got the recipe from - it's handwritten on a piece of paper my recipe folder, but it's the best whole wheat pancake we've tried and liked. 

Carrot Pancakes (makes 14 pancakes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup wheat germ (or 1/4 cup wheat germ & 1/4 cup ground flaxseed)
1/2 cup carrot puree or shredded cooked carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour


1.In a medium bowl, mix eggs with oil and buttermilk. Stir in baking soda, wheat germ, salt, and carrots. Add flour; mix until just blended.
2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides, turning once. (Adjust heat as needed if pancakes are browning too quickly).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week of Orange - carrots that is

Want to know what happens when I forget my grocery list? And have to go shopping with both kids in tow? I buy a humongous bag of carrots. And come home to see that we already have a bag in the fridge. So guess what this week's theme is? What to do with 3+ lb of carrots. The obvious came to mind first - carrot cupcakes.
First recipe was so amazing that I honestly did not want to try the other one I printed. It was sent to me by someone who is on the GFCF diet and said they were the best cupcakes she had tried ever. Two other factors led me to think that they would not be great. First, they were from Elana's pantry. And many of the gluten free blogs I've read all praise her genius so it's okay if you want to diss me. I had her cookbook way back when and tried many of the recipes and both E and I ended up not liking 99% of them. Secondly, the flour used was coconut flour. I like coconut flour as a gluten free option but in my experience it is better used for savory baked goods not sweet ones. Coconut flour needs a lot of moisture which often comes in the form of eggs and almost everything I ever made using it tastes like quiche. Imagine chocolate chip cookie 'quiche', or in this case, carrot cupcake 'quiche'. Yeah it doesn't make me warm & fuzzy.
Still, the fact that someone took the time to send me a recipe because they knew carrots was my theme made me print it out and make them. And I was right. Maybe there are better GF versions out there, but we like this recipe (with regular flour) so much I don't think I need to try them.
Carrot Patch cupcakes (from No Whine with Dinner)

Makes 12 Cupcakes


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups finely grated carrots (about 8 ounces) (I steamed my carrots & pureed them for this instead of using raw grated carrot)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat at medium speed  until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. At low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until just combined.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and sugar at low speed until blended. Raise the speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated and continue to beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes and garnish as desired with a jelly bean, an M&M, sprinkles or nothing at all!
Tip: For a non cream cheese based frosting, whisk together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1½ tablespoons lemon juice or 1% lowfat milk.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cupcake): 270 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated, 0.9g omega-3), 170mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 4g protein, 40% vitamin A

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