Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles

Get the feeling I’m really into pumpkin right now! I think it may be because I haven’t been feeling very well and knowing pumpkin can aid in calming an upset stomach, I’m turning to it to help me deal with stomach issues.

I’ve never had a snickerdoodle! Now that I’m allergic to chocolate (actually the caffeine in chocolate), I’m expanding my cookie horizons. Found this recipe on-line and thought it easily adjustable however, the cookies are not the easiest to make, especially if you’re new to cookie baking or don’t have a stand mixer like me. Treat them much like you would a peanut butter cookie – roll in sugar and then use a fork to flatten the balls.

Make Chai Sugar by mixing together:

1/3 cup date sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix:

1/3 cup aquafaba (if you don’t have a can of garbanzo beans handy or powdered aquafaba, substitute water)

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Let sit for several minutes to form flax gel and then add:

1/2 cup vegan shortening or margarine (I use Spectrum shortening)

1 cup date sugar

With a hand or stand mixer, beat on low/medium until the mixture is combined and almost fluffy. Add:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix to combine and then add:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mix to combine before adding:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour.

At this point, unless you have a stand mixer, it’s best to continue mixing with a large spoon or even, if you’ve washed your hands or are wearing gloves, with your hands. Mixture will be quite crumbly until all the flour is worked into the dough. The consistency reminds me of gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies. I used my hands and found the mixture combined quite easily. Scoop out by tablespoonful and roll into a ball (so you have to use your hands anyway!). The mixture shouldn’t be at all sticky but if it is, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the stickiness is gone.

Roll each ball as you make them into the chai sugar mixture and place 1-2″ apart on the cookie sheet. When the sheet is full, using a fork, press down each ball into a flat disk.* Bake 8 minutes then check. If the cookies have puffed up (domed), flatten more with the fork. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes until the outside of the cookies are firm while the inside is still slightly underdone. Cool on sheet for several minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

*If you prefer, bake the balls for 8 minutes and then flatten them with the fork. Their appearance differs and I found the ones I flattened before baking were chewier. The smoother ones were flattened before baking (on the right) while the ones flattened after baking were rougher looking (on the left).

Easy Curried Pumpkin (or sweet potato) Soup

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know how much I love curry! If I could, I would put curry in everything. Pumpkin soup has always been a favorite so I’m surprised I never thought to put curry in it. But today, here it is. And an easy, quick, very warming soup. Just perfect for these subzero days here in Minnesota. Makes 4 -6 servings.

In a high sided skillet or a large saucepan, heat over medium heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped mushrooms

Cook until onion is translucent and mushrooms are slightly browned. Add:

1-2 teaspoons madras curry powder (I used 1 1/2 and it was almost too spicy for me)

Stir and let cook on low heat until you can smell the curry, about a minute. Add:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

Stir in and let the flour cook for a minute. Slowly stir in:

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or if preferred chicken or turkey)

Cook for a minute and then add:

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or just a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice)

Combine and leave on the burner until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Optional: Garnish with chopped scallions or chives.

Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are one of the most popular cookies on the planet but not for those of us with nut allergies. If you can use pumpkin seeds, this may be a cookie for you to try. I’ve been using pumpkin seed butter now for several years. It’s a very different taste, very nutty and earthy. I prefer the butter made from roasted pumpkin seeds but raw is also available; as one might expect, the roasted is brown while the raw is green in color. I haven’t been able to find pumpkin seed butter in a store so I order it online from Amazon where they have several varieties available. I’m sure a google search would find it available elsewhere online if you prefer not to use Amazon.

Just like regular peanut butter, pumpkin seed butter is available in sweetened and unsweetened forms. I prefer the unsweetened which is what is used in this recipe. If sweetened is used, reduce the amount of sugar in the mixture. Makes about 12 cookies.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter (room temperature)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/3 cup carob chips (or if you can use them chocolate chips)

Prepare a medium size cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium size bowl, mix together the date sugar and the water, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla, whisk until smooth. Add the pumpkin seed butter, flaxseed, flour, salt and mix until combined. Add the chips and blend. Scoop out the dough by tablespoons and shape into balls and then flatten. Place about an inch apart on the cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. These cookies won’t raise or spread much. Store in an airtight container or freeze if there are any left!

Vegetable Fritters

It’s not often that you’ll find me giving you recipes that require frying. Too much oil is as bad for a diabetic as too many carbohydrates or sugar. But I just couldn’t resist this recipe when I found it. And once I cooked them up, oh my, I did eat too much for lunch today! I did fry them but I think if I cook these again, I’ll probably oven fry them with a lot less oil (see tip at the bottom of the recipe).

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups grated Russet potato (1 medium large potato) – soak the grated potato in cold water for 5-10 minutes to get out as much starch as possible since the starch is not a friend to fried foods, the cakes will brown better with less starch. Drain and dry with paper towels to get out as much of the moisture as possible*

1 cup grated sweet potato (about 1 medium)

1 cup grated carrots (about 1-2 medium) – I used the pre-grated from the store

1 cup grated red onion (onion has a lot of moisture so be sure to dry thoroughly with paper towels before adding)

If you have a food processor, this is the time to break it out and use it! It’s the easiest way to grate the potatoes, carrot and onion. In a large bowl, mix the above. Then add:

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chickpea flour (DO NOT USE ALL PURPOSE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR; many have potato starch in them and we just tried to remove the starch from the potato!)

1/4 cup aquafaba

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (depending on how dry your mixture is)

Mix together until combined. If the mixture is too dry and won’t hold together, add the non-dairy milk. If the mixture is too wet and won’t hold together, add the tablespoons of flour until the mixture will bind together. Using a 1/4-1/3 cup measure, form into balls.

Heat over medium high heat in a 10-12″ skillet:

1/2-3/4 cups oil for frying (the oil should come up the side of the pan about a 1/2 inch)

When the oil is glistening, take a ball, flatten it and gently place it in the oil starting with the side nearest you. Being sure to not crowd the skillet, add additional flattened balls. Cook on the first side about 4-6 minutes until golden brown, turn and cook the same on the other side. If the fritters are browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Then flip the fritter again and cook an additional 2-3 minutes on the first side. The cooking time will depend on how thick the fritters are; the thinner the less time they need to cook. Remove to a paper towel and salt immediately. Do not leave the fritters on the towel too long or they will get soggy. They can be placed on a cooling rack (on a cookie sheet) in a 200 degree oven to stay warm while the rest of the fritters cook.

  • * If like me, you don’t eat much potato, other than sweet potato, grated parsnip could be used instead

TIP: To oven fry, place the flattened balls on a greased (spray with non-stick spray) cookie sheet (with sides). Lightly spray the tops of the fritters with the non-stick spray) and bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Turn over half-way through the bake.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

One of my favorite Italian dishes is lemon chicken. Here’s an recipe that’s easy to make and ready in less than an hour. And need I add delicious! I think this is, like many Italian foods, going to taste even better tomorrow when I eat the leftovers. Serves 4.

You’ll need:

8-10 chicken drumsticks*

Herbamare (herbed sea salt) and pepper (available at specialty grocer stores, Whole Foods or Amazon)**

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons juice

3 teaspoons minced garlic

Fresh parsley for garnish

Salt and pepper the chicken and let sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes so that it won’t be ice cold when you cook it. In a 12″ skillet, heat the oil and margarine over medium high heat until margarine starts foaming. If the chicken is too wet, be sure to dry with a paper towel, remember – wet meat doesn’t brown well and will spit oil! Reduce heat to medium and sauté chicken, turning to brown on all sides, this should take 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low (I actually started out on medium low but the drumsticks were getting too brown so I reduced my heat to low), cover and let cook 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Turn the chicken every 5-7 minutes making sure to move them around in the skillet as well.

In a small bowl, mix the grated lemon zest and juice along with the garlic. When the chicken is cooked, pour this mixture over the chicken, turning the chicken to be sure the sauce coats the pieces on all sides. Take off the heat and cover, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Garnish and serve.

  • * Chicken breasts would also work
  • ** Substitute sea salt mixed with some thyme, marjoram, and basil (or an Italian herb blend)

Upside Down Cake with Fruit

One of my mother’s favorite cakes was pineapple upside down cake. Since I can’t eat pineapple anymore, I used a different fruit for my upside down cake – pears. Turned out quite delicious and moist since pears are full of liquid which drained pineapple doesn’t have. Any fruit can be used for this cake and can be arranged decoratively – I just tossed mine in the bottom of the spring form pan but feel free to make one that’s prettier.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk:

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup aquafaba

Let sit while you get the baking pan ready. Using a 10″ spring form pan, or if authenticity is desired, a cast iron Dutch oven, spray the bottom with non-stick spray and add a round to fit of parchment paper. In a small sauce pan melt:

1/4 cup vegan margarine

Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with:

1/2 cup fine date sugar (the courser sugar doesn’t work as well here – you could use the date syrup squeeze bottle to squeeze 1/2 cup of syrup over the melted margarine instead)

Peel (if desired) 2 large pears, 2-3 apples. Also could use 1 1/2 cups mixed berries or pineapple rings. I also shaved a fresh piece of ginger and grated about 2 teaspoons on top of the pears. Cinnamon or allspice could also be sprinkled over the fruit in the pan.

Arrange the fruit on top of this mixture and set aside. In a medium bowl mix:

1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum

In the smaller bowl, add to the flax gel:

3/4 cup date sugar

1 cup dairy free milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk until well mixed and then add to the flour mixture and either mix with a hand mixer or a spoon until combined. Do not over mix. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before pouring over the fruit (or pour over the fruit and let sit). Bake for 30-40 minutes and then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake another 10-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing from pan onto plate. Remove parchment paper.

Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin is a favorite flavor of mine anytime of the year, not just over the holidays. And pumpkin is a natural soother of an upset stomach so it has health benefits as well. Here’s a pumpkin donut recipe that has the spices of a pumpkin pie, mixes up quick and easy and bakes in about 10-12 minutes. Topped with a maple glaze, to die for!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl whisk together:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons aquafaba

2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff here)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 teaspoon vanilla

When well mixed whisk in:

1/2 cup date sugar

To the bowl add:

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have the mixed, you can use the individual spices – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon allspice)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

TIP: If you want the pumpkin taste stronger than the spices, reduce the spices to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Blend until combined with a spoon. Let sit for a few minutes while you grease the donut pan(s). It will make 6-10 donuts depending on how large you make them. Using a 1 gallon food storage bag, spoon the donut mix into the bag and zip it shut. Cut off one corner and pipe the donut mixture into the donut pan(s). Bake 8-14 minutes depending on how large the donuts are (I made only 6 donuts so baked them the full 14 minutes.) When the tops are set, they are done.

Remove from oven, let cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

While the donuts are baking make the maple glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together:

1/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance soy free)

1/2 cup powdered monkfruit sweetener (Lakanto makes one that Whole Foods or Amazon carries)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

2-3 shakes of salt (or a dash!)

When the donuts are still warm, dip one side into the glaze. If you want to make them really decadent, top them with crumbled (cooked!) bacon right after dipping. Let sit at least a half hour for the glaze to set. When dry, the glaze is really not that visible, just shiny.

Carob Chip Cookies

I think this is the third recipe I’ve put up on the blog for carob (or chocolate) chip cookies. This one is very easy to make and tastes great. I cooked mine for 15 minutes and they were caky, so stick to 10-12 minutes for a chewy cookie. It should make 18-20 cookies so if you have dough left over, increase the size of each cookie. If smaller cookies are wanted, bake them for only 7-10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet (to hold all the cookies at once).

In a small bowl, soak 8-10 medjool dates or 1 cup of diced dates in 1 cup boiling water for 10-15 minutes (this is the longest part of the process!)

Pour the dates and the water into a food processor (I actually used my Vitamix) and process for 1-2 minutes until the dates are pureed. Scrape back into the small bowl. Whisk in to the dates:

1/2 cup avocado or melted coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium bowl combine:

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour the date mixture into the flour mixture along with 1/2 cup unsweetened carob or chocolate chips. Mix until combined. Take 2 tablespoon to 1/4 cup of the dough and shape by hand into a ball, then flatten, and put them on the greased cookie sheet. Don’t worry about putting them close on the cookie sheet because they won’t spread much although they will puff up slightly when baked.

Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Quick Salmon Cakes

My mother would have loved these! I tried it first with fresh salmon and they were too dry and fell apart. Using canned salmon worked much better. I topped mine with an easy lemon garlic mayonnaise sauce. They take less than 5 minutes to put together and about the same to cook.

In a medium size bowl, mix together:

10 ounces (2 small cans) salmon (I use the Safe Catch brand of canned fishes)

1/2 cup quinoa flakes (Don’t have these? Find them in the cereal aisle or Amazon. Or you could try using any other cereal flakes such as quick oats or gluten free bread crumbs.)

1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

2 green onions chopped (green and white parts)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Stir in 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise.

In a 10″ skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Saute over medium heat 2-3 minutes until brown. Flip and repeat. TIP: You might want to cover the skillet since these will spit at you from the moisture in the cakes. If you want to reduce this and get a browner cake, coat with seasoned flour before frying.

I serve mine with lemon garlic mayonnaise which I make simply by mixing Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing and vegan mayonnaise (about 2 tablespoons dressing to 1/4 cup mayonnaise).

Easy Lentil Pilaf

I can say that I generally don’t eat anything that I don’t make from scratch, mostly because there are very few pre-made or pre-packaged foods that don’t have something in them that I can’t eat (often it’s soy or sunflower lectin). So it’s not going to happen very often but — I have discovered a wonderful side dish (or main dish) that tastes great and has no allergens! As long as you can eat lentils, this is something you should try. High in protein and low in carbohydrates, lentils are a great addition to a meal. I’ve become addicted to Tolerant’s Organic Riced Red Lentil Pilafs. They’re ready in about 20 minutes, taste great and two of them, the Asian Ginger and the Spanish Style Paella, don’t have any soy in them. I know I was surprised too that the Asian Ginger is soy-free!

Being who I am, of course, I can’t just make it per package directions. So here’s what I do with these pouches of goodness. Serves 4-6.

In a 9″ skillet, add:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, sauté:

6-8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I like shitake)

1/2 cup diced onions

When the mushrooms are browned and onions translucent, stir in:

2 cups mushroom stock (or any other stock you have on hand, chicken would work well)

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Bring to a boil. Add:

1 packet Tolerant Organic Riced Red Lentil Pilaf

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 9-12 minutes until the water is gone. Stir every few minutes, especially when the water is almost gone. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 4-5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and enjoy!