Pumpkin Pie Squares

Here’s another take on those Sweet Potato pie squares I blogged a couple years ago. This one is lower in sugar and is fat-free as well. But, just as tasty! Makes 9 servings and will keep in the frig for about 5 days (if it lasts that long!).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9″ square baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. In a small bowl combine:

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

5 tablespoons warm water

Set aside for a few minutes to form a flax gel. In a food processor bowl, combine:

1 cup pumpkin seeds (or any seed your family likes, even walnuts or pecans if you can have them)

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, etc., whichever you prefer

1 teaspoon date sugar

Process until the mixture forms a fine crumb. Add the flax gel and blend until the mixture forms a dough, about 30 seconds. Pour into the prepared baking dish and using your fingers, a spatula, or the bottom of a measuring cup, press firmly into the pan and up the sides. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

4 cups pureed pumpkin (2 15-ounce cans of pumpkin puree)

1/3 cup date sugar (or maple syrup, honey or agave)

3 tablespoons arrowroot

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash of salt

Whisk until combined. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for at least one hour before cutting. I like mine really cold so I cool on the counter for an hour and then in the refrigerator for several hours before I cut into squares. But as you see in the photo, I couldn’t wait that long this time and cut it before it was fully cooled. Once cooled it does stand up like it should! Can be topped with any non-dairy topping or frozen “nice” cream.

Eggplant Schnitzel

I just searched the site and can’t believe I haven’t posted a recipe for fried eggplant! It’s my grandson’s favorite so I make it quite often this time of year. It’s slightly different since it’s only floured or battered. Schnitzel has a bread crumb crust instead. It’s pretty easy to make, just be sure to salt the eggplant and let them sit awhile before proceeding. (This actually keeps the eggplant from absorbing oil when fried or sauteed as well as removing any bitterness. So this isn’t necessary when using the thinner eggplants such as Japanese or graffiti.)

Step 1 is to peel and slice the eggplant into about 1/2″ slices. Then salt them generously on both sides (I usually do this on my cooling rack over the sink), place some weight on top of them (usually use a cookie sheet with some cans on top of it) and let sit for at least a half hour.

So peel and slice:

1 large eggplant or 4-5 small graffiti eggplants

Prepare the breading station by placing in 3 separate low-sided (1-2″ high) bowls large enough to accommodate the slices of eggplant):

Bowl 1:

1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

Stir to combine.

Bowl 2:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Bowl 3:

1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Again stir to combine. Breading stations are now ready for the eggplant.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper and then spraying it with non-stick cooking spray. Remove the weights and cookie sheet and rinse off the eggplant. Dry with a paper towel. Then dip each slice of eggplant into Bowl 1 being sure to coat both sides with flour. Then dip each slice into the milk mixture in Bowl 2, letting excess milk drip off before dipping each slice into Bowl 3. Place on a cookie sheet and then sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately. Number of servings will depend on the size of the eggplant and slices. Approximately 4-6 servings.

Korean Vegetable Pancakes

I’m constantly looking for new ways to serve vegetables so when I came across this recipe for Yachae Jeon (Korean vegetable pancakes), I had to try it and see if it would work gluten-free. I used to eat something like these at a local Vietnamese restaurant except they called them scallion pancakes. Quite easy and quick to make with a food processor and oh so tasty especially with the dipping sauce.

First, into the bowl of food processor:

1 small to medium zucchini (about 6-7 inches long), cut into chunks

6 ounces of sliced mushrooms

1 small sweet potato (I used 2 very small purple sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into chunks

1 medium carrot, chunked (I used about 3/4 of a cup of shredded carrot)

1 jalapeno pepper (Optional), seeded and chunked

1 bunch scallions (roots removed), cleaned and cut into chunks

It may require several batches in the food processor. Process the vegetables until they are small pieces so they’ll cook quickly in the pancake.* You should have about 4-5 cups.** Next, in a large mixing bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/4 cup arrowroot

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Stir to combine before adding:

1 1/2 cups water (room temperature)

Whisk to combine before stirring in the finely chopped vegetables. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking. In a 10-12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 teaspoon olive oil (or spray with cooking spray)

Using a 1/2 cup measure, scoop out pancake mixture and place in skillet, using a spoon (or the back of the measuring cup), to flatten into a round disk about 6″ in diameter. Cook over medium low heat until bubbles appear, just like a regular pancake (in my case, it was really bubble holes in the pancake that I saw). Flip and cook 3-4 minutes on the other side before increasing the heat to medium high to brown the pancake on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Place on a cooling rack in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remainder of the pancakes. Serve hot with the following dipping sauce. Makes 6-8 pancakes.

DIPPING SAUCE

Combine in a small bowl:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon date syrup (or agave syrup or honey)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1/8 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or your hot sauce of choice) (Optional)

*If you don’t want to use a food processor simply cut all the vegetables into thin strips like shredded carrots you buy in the supermarket or grate them on a box grater.

**These are just my suggested vegetables. Feel free to use whatever vegetables your family might like but the scallions really are the only ones required. I thought about adding a few garlic cloves as well as a crunchy vegetable like jicama or water chestnuts as well.

Asian Coleslaw

I do love a good coleslaw. I’ve put several recipes for it on my blog over the years and here’s another one that I think is up there near the top. Quick and easy to make, it tastes delicious. Of course, if you can use real soy sauce, feel free but use only half as much as the soy sauce substitute. And I know, more brown food! Can’t seem to stop making brown things.

To make the sauce whisk together:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup avocado oil

5 tablespoons seed or nut butter (I used pumpkin seed butter but tahini would also work well)

1/3 cup soy sauce substitute (or 3 tablespoons soy sauce) (SEE recipe under SAUCES)

3 tablespoons date sugar (or honey, agave or coconut nectar, or date syrup)

1 teaspoon garlic puree

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (Optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil (toasted preferably)

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Whisk until thoroughly blended and then pour over:

5 cups shaved green cabbage (or Napa cabbage, even some bok choy would work)

2 cups shaved red cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup diced water chestnuts

1 cup diced Asian pear*

6 scallions, chopped (reserve a few of the chopped greens for garnish)

Mix thoroughly (I used a serving fork) to combine the sauce with all the ingredients. Makes 8-10 servings.

*Asian pears aren’t very sweet and are very firm. If you can’t find Asian pears, feel free to add another chopped fruit such as pineapple. Regular apple or pear won’t work very well here. Jicama would also work but not add any sweetness but you could substitute some apple juice for some of (or all of) the oil. You may want to omit the date sugar if you add pineapple or apple juice.

Zucchini and Turnip Fritters

I love finding easy side dishes to replace the starch of potatoes, rice, or pasta. Here’s one that’s healthy as well as delicious that your family will love because it’s fried! The golden brown goodness of these fritters will get even your children to eat them. Feel free to change up the vegetables – I used zucchini, purple top turnip and carrots but one made with yellow squash, kohlrabi, and butternut squash would also work, or maybe you’d prefer zucchini, celery root, and parsnips. The seasonings can also be switched up – instead of garlic powder and coriander, how about dill, marjoram, basil, thyme, cumin or even some curry. Have fun with this one.

In the bowl of a food processor, place:

1 medium zucchini, cut into sections lengthwise and then quartered

1 medium purple top turnip, ends removed, peeled, and quartered*

8-10 baby carrots, rainbows make a pretty patty

Pulse until well grated. While the vegetables are grating heat over medium heat in a 12″ high-sided skillet:

about 1/4 inch of oil (I used a mixture of olive and avocado oil)

Pour the grated vegetables into a medium-sized bowl and add:

1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)

1/4 teaspoon coriander

2-4 green onions, chopped, both green and white sections

Stir to combine thoroughly. Scoop out portions using a 1/4 cup measure. Form into patties. Place in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, flip and do the same on the other side. Remove and drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil, season with a little more salt. Serve immediately. Makes 2-4 servings depending on what else you’re serving with them and your family’s appetites!

*The purple top turnip has a very mild flavor while the yellow turnip (or rutabaga) is much stronger.

Thai Chicken Tenders

My husband loved chicken tenders. I think more because they’re usually deep fried than for their texture which I find generally to be stringy because they’re often overcooked. I found an adaptable recipe online so I decided to give them a try. It’s quite an easy recipe to make but I’d suggest you make the sauce first so the tenders don’t sit around after frying waiting for the sauce. Like most things that are fried, once dipped in the sauce, they will quickly lose their crunch so serve immediately after you finish preparation. Makes 2 servings.

First, put the oil on to heat. In a deep 12″ skillet heat over medium high heat:

approximately 3/4″ of oil (I used a mix of olive and avocado oil)

Next prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together:

1/3 cup soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon date sugar

1/2 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon pumpkin seed butter (or any butter you like – sunflower, peanut, tahini, etc.)

1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)

2 tablespoons water (more may be added if the sauce gets too thick)

1-2 teaspoons arrowroot (I used 2 and the sauce got much too thick)

1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic puree

Cook over medium heat until thickened. I had to add about 1/4 cup of water to thin mine out and I think now that I probably should have made it even thinner so that the sauce wasn’t as thick on the tenders but I didn’t mind it since the sauce is so delicious!

Next coat ONE POUND of chicken tenders. Mix together in a shallow dish:

1 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika (or if you want them really spicy, use red pepper flakes instead)

In a separate shallow dish add:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Dip each tender into the milk to coat and then into the crumb mixture. Gently place in the oil that should now be at 350 degrees (after you add the tenders if the oil is still at temperature, reduce heat from medium high to medium). Cook on the first side for approximately 3-4 minutes before turning and browning on the other side for another 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove from fat. Be sure not to crowd the tenders in the skillet. Drain on paper towels. When all the tenders are fried, dip each one into the sauce making sure to coat evenly. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh cilantro or green scallions.

I know, I know, more brown food. But as Anne Burrell says “Brown foot GOOD!”

Black Sesame Seed Cake

My mother used to make a sesame seed cake recipe that she found in the NEW YORK TIMES. She frosted it with chocolate ganache and it was so delicious it never lasted more than one meal in our household. I’ve been searching for years trying to find that original recipe without any success. However, recently I’ve found several gluten-free sesame seed cake recipes, one of which I’ve adapted here. Of course, if you can have eggs, go ahead and substitute back the one egg for the flax gel. This makes one 8×8″ square or round cake so for a two layer cake, double the recipe or make it twice.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan. In a medium size mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons warm water

Whisk together and let sit for approximately 5 minutes until it forms a gel. To it add:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (or vegan butter or margarine at room temperature)

1/4 cup black sesame seeds (or toasted regular ones if you prefer the taste)

I just used a spoon to mix this cake together but feel free to use a hand mixer. Combine the above until smooth and the shortening is incorporated. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (minus 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir in the liquid ingredients before adding:

2 cups oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with chocolate or carob ganache if desired (see recipe under Sauces, Condiments and Dressings).

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

I’m updating this recipe. Just spoke with my son and daughter-in-law who said it was good but it wasn’t sweet enough! I admit, I don’t like my desserts as sweet as most people so I’ll adjust the recipe so that those of you who want a sweeter cake can still use this recipe.

I love carrot cake but I love my carrot cake to be more like a spice cake with some carrots in it. So unlike most carrot cakes, I add more spices. If you don’t, feel free to stop with the cinnamon. I was easily able to divide this cake into two bowls and mix some ground walnuts into one bowl (for my son and his family) and some chopped dates and pumpkin seeds into the other for me. This cake only takes one bowl and is fairly easy to mix even for me with 2 rotator cuff tears.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 8″ baking pans (I used one square and one round so that I knew which was which!). In a medium-large bowl, combine:

3 tablespoons ground flax

7 tablespoons warm water (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Whisk to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes or so to form flax gel. When ready add to it:

1/3 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Whisk or stir to combine and then add:

1 scant cup unsweetened fruit sauce (apple, pear, peach, oh pineapple would be good) [I actually only had 7/8 of a cup and it worked fine]

1/2 to 1 cup date sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir or whisk to combine. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Stir or whisk to combine (by now the whisk will be having a difficult time so use a hand mixer if necessary). Add:

1 cup grated carrots

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup oat flour

Stir to combine adding another 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk if necessary. Stir in:

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, feel free to mix it up using chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or dates, chopped raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple also work (Optional)

Spoon the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I would actually bake it about 5 minutes more after the toothpick comes out clean). Don’t worry if it’s slightly overbaked since gluten-free baked goods take longer to cook than regular ones, it still comes out fine.

Remove from oven and let cool, on a cooling rack, for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before frosting or serving. For faster cooling, place in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Serves 8-12.

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

1 large or 2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil (coconut would also work)

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc. (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Easy Turkey Alfredo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Alfredo sauce is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten and it’s so easy to make. I know there are a lot of steps but it’s a very easy process, none of the steps (except maybe cutting the spaghetti squash in half! are difficult). I blogged Chicken Alfredo several years ago so just used that basic recipe for the sauce. I’ve taken out the fresh parsley because I now can’t eat it and stuffed it into a spaghetti squash which reduces the simple carbs and calories. Don’t care for spaghetti squash? No problem, just mix it up and use it as a sauce for your favorite pasta. Delicious! Enjoy.

First thing is to cook the spaghetti squash. Cut a small to medium sized one in half, scrap out the seeds (if you have a sugar spoon [with ruffled edge] it works great for this), and coat the flesh with:

1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray

Place skin side down in a baking dish, add just about a 1/2 inch of water to the pan and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your squash. I know, I know, most on-line recipes say to cook a spaghetti squash for 20-30 minutes. I find when I cook it for that short a time, it tends to be wetter producing more mash and fewer spaghetti strands.

While the squash cooks, make some thick rice milk but blending:

1 cup water

1/3 cup cooked rice (brown or white makes no difference)

Then make the alfredo sauce. Over medium heat, heat:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Be sure the heat isn’t too high, we don’t want to burn the minced garlic which will burn very quickly. When the oil starts to sizzle, add:

1 cup thick rice milk (that you just made above)

1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese

Whisk to combine which takes a moment since the oil must also be incorporated. I thought about reducing the oil to 1 tablespoon (which you should feel free to do if you’re on a low-fat diet) but it does reduce the richness of the dish slightly. Next whisk in:

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend (or oregano, thyme and marjoram)

Whisk constantly until cheese melts. Take off the heat. In a 12″ high sided skillet, over medium high heat, heat until shimmering:

1 tablespoon olive oil (or spray the pan with cooking spray if low fat desired)

When the oil (pan) is hot, add:

1 pound ground turkey

Salt, pepper and garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Don’t oversalt because the parmesan in the sauce is also salty. Cook, breaking up the turkey into large chunks until cooked but not browned (or it will get too dry). Remove from the heat. Next using a fork, scrap the inside of the cooled spaghetti squash to produce spaghetti-like strands. Try to get as much of the squash out of the shell as possible without breaking or cracking the shell (I did have a large crack in one half and a small in the other and they were still useable). Put the squash into the ground turkey skillet and top with the sauce. Mix to combine. Place the squash shells in a sprayed baking dish and spoon in the turkey/squash/sauce mixture until well filled. Garnish with more parmesan and/or fresh parsley and bake for 15-30 minutes until bubbling. Time will depend on the size of your squash.