Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

It’s that time of year again! Time to pull out the gingerbread recipes along with all the pumpkin and spices. Here’s a very easy ginger cookie recipe that takes very little time to throw together and only 10 minutes to bake so in a mere 20 minutes you’ve got cookies – just as quickly as any tube of cookie dough you buy in the grocery store. And oh so delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons warm water

Stir to combine and let sit for a minute or two until a gel forms. Add:

1/2 cup pepita butter (or sunflower butter, tahini, etc.)

1/3 cup date sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a hand mixer, mix until fully combined. Add:

3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Using a spoon, mix in the dry ingredients. This is too thick for the hand mixer. When combined, using a small cookie scoop, place scoops on the prepared baking sheet and flatten. Makes about 15 cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.

Sweet Potato Sheet Pancakes

If you’re like me, the only bad thing about making pancakes is standing at the stove cooking 3 or 4 at a time when there’s at least a dozen to cook. Well, this recipe takes that away! These are the lightest, fluffiest pancakes I’ve had since I went gluten-free and oh so mouth-wateringly delicious. Of course, pumpkin or butternut squash can be substituted for the sweet potato puree, just make sure that they aren’t too wet so a drier squash would work best. I used Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potato mash in this recipe thinking canned sweet potato puree might be too wet. And it worked just fine. Also be sure to let the mixture sit in the baking pan for 10-15 minutes after you spread it. Gluten free flours take longer to absorb moisture than regular flour and letting it sit on the counter before cooking gives the flours time to absorb some of the liquid and the end product won’t be gummy.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together:

2 tablespoons ground flax

1/3 cup aquafaba (or 1/3 cup water with 1/2 teaspoon aquafaba powder)

While the flax gel is working, about 5 minutes, prepare an 15×9″ baking sheet by covering with parchment paper and spraying generously with a non-stick spray (I use Chosen Foods Avocado spray because it’s 100% avocado oil).

When the flax gel is set, add:

1/2 cup sweet potato puree

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup date syrup (or coconut or agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup)

1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

3/4 cup protein powder (I used Probase organic pumpkin seed protein, unflavored)

Whisk to combine before adding:

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

1/4 cup carob (or chocolate) chips (optional)

Stir to combine making sure to moisten all the flour but not overmix, batter will be thick. Spread in the prepared baking sheet and let sit 10-15 minutes while the oven heats to 400 degrees. Bake 18-20 minutes until spongy in the middle and golden brown. Cut into 12 pieces and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup. I found 2 pieces were enough for me so 4-6 servings depending on your appetite.

Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Blondies

I’ve never had a blondie since I’ve always preferred bars made with chocolate. Now that I no longer can have chocolate, it seems like a good time to check out blondies. I understand from watching people make them on TV that they should be very dense and moist, almost fudgy, rather than cake-like. This recipe, adapted from thebigmansworld.com, doesn’t have any flour and can be made without any sweetener as well. I opted for some date sugar which I think pumpkin really needs and added some vanilla to the mixture as well but if you want to intensify the pumpkin or sweet potato flavor, a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices would go well. Be sure to chill them thoroughly before slicing and removing from the pan. And, the smaller the pan, the thicker the blondies will be (I used an 8″ square pan for the pumpkin and an 8″ round for the sweet potato.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with non-stick cooking spray, a small baking pan (8″ or less). Put into a medium sized, microwave safe mixing bowl:

1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter (or any other butter your family likes)

Heat for about 1 minute which should thin it out a little. If you’re using roasted (brown) pumpkin seed butter or a thicker butter such as sunflower, this may take longer to melt. Add to the butter:

1 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree

2 tablespoons carob powder

1/4 cup fine date sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes depending on the size of your baking dish – the 8″ pans took the full 20 minutes in my oven. They will puff up slightly when they are cooked. Cool on the counter for 15-20 minutes and then refrigerate and chill completely before slicing and serving. Number of pieces will also depend on the size of the pan you used – I got 9 pieces from the square pan.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

My obsession with eggplant has been demolished and replaced with spaghetti squash. Such a versatile vegetable, low in carbs, and good either as a “spaghetti” type vegetable or as a mashed squash. In this instance, it’s used as a spaghetti. And of course, I’ve left out the peanuts and substituted tahini but really any seed or nut butter will work in this recipe. And feel free to adjust the last four ingredients in the sauce to meet your family’s tastes. I used a lot more of the red curry paste because I just didn’t taste it at the prescribed amount.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash (size depending on how many you want to feed)

Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place face down on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into the skin side of the squash. Baking time will depend on the size of the squash. When tender, set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium size saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (if you can have coconut milk, it would work well here)

2/3 cup tahini, sunflower, pepita, or other seed or nut butter

1/4 cup date sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy substitute for vegans)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Whisk to combine thoroughly although some heat may be needed to break down the seed or nut butter. Cook over medium high heat until it reaches a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover and cook until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Using a fork, scrap the flesh from the inside of the spaghetti squash from end to end. Add to the skillet with the other vegetables along with 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce. At this point, add:

1/4 cup chopped parsley (OPTIONAL)

Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until squash is heated through. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds (I used roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious!). With a small squash as a side dish, serves 4.

This recipe makes about 3 times as much sauce as is needed for the dish. I spooned the remainder into 1 cup canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Rice Crispy Bars

This is a rice bar that is carob rather than marshmallow based so it’s much simpler to make. Quick and easy it makes a tasty treat. I cut them, put several into a baggie and put them in the freezer so I can take one out when I really need something sweet.

Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. Into a medium size bowl place:

1/3 cup avocado oil

2/3 cup tahini (thicker rather than thinner tahini) or pumpkin butter (or any seed or nut butter you like)

1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar, date or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 teaspoon mint extract if a minty flavor is desired)

Whisk together until smooth. Add:

1/2 cup carob powder (or cocoa if you can have it)

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or any other seed or nut chopped that your family enjoys)

1 1/4 cup puffed rice cereal (or any puffed cereal your family likes)*

Stir to combine. (*More or less cereal may be needed depending on the consistency of the butter added.) Spread in the prepared dish and put in the freezer for 1 hour or until it is solid when you lift the parchment paper out of the dish. Slice and enjoy!

Coffee Energy Bites

In a medium to large bowl combine:

Ever look for something, not much, you just need a little something to lift you up in the middle or towards the end of your day? These will work – full of energy (and carbs), these bites will get you going and the whole grain oats and flax will sustain your energy for awhile. Easy to make, variable by your taste, and chock full of flavor, can’t beat the combination!

1 cup whole grain gluten-free oats (organic if possible)

1/2 cup ground flax

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules*

1/4 cup dried berries (small pieces work best but not powder)

1/4 cup carob chips (or chocolate if you can have them)

Mix to combine evenly. In a small bowl stir together:

1/2 cup tahini (slightly thick better than runny)**

1/4 cup honey, agave or coconut nectar, or maple syrup depending on taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the oat mixture and stir with a large fork to combine. Mixture will be slightly sticky but shouldn’t be too sticky. It should easily stick together when pressed into your hand. With DRY hands, form into roughly 1″ balls. I found I had to rinse off my hands every 2-3 balls to keep the mixture from sticking to me instead of itself! Should make 20-24 balls. Store in airtight container.

*I used 2 tablespoons of instant coffee granules and after eating several of these bites, I’ve decided it was a little too much coffee – they taste a little bitter to me so depending on your love for coffee, add 1 or 2 tablespoons.

**I used tahini because of my nut allergy but feel free to use any seed or nut butter you like. But if you use a really thick butter, add a little water or liquid sweetener to it to thin it slightly. If your tahini is too thin, add a little more of the dry ingredients.

Ratatouille Lasagna

Here’s another recipe for a ratatouille dish that’s scrumptious! This idea comes from Vegan Cocette. I don’t generally make lasagna, too many steps and too much time but this one is fairly easy and not everything has to be made at the same time. Some things can be made ahead of time and then just assembled which takes very little time. First make the ratatouille, then the béchamel sauce, (Italian sauce if used) and lastly cook the noodles, gluten-free of course. If you don’t want the carbs from the brown rice lasagna noodles, I found one made from hearts of palm at Whole Foods (Whole Foods brand) which has very few carbs and calories. Several other noodle types are also available. Italian sausage can be added to either the ratatouille or the béchamel if desired. This makes a very large pan so choose a baking dish that holds at least 3 quarts and is 5-6 inches deep. I don’t need to serve 8 so I made it in smaller dishes and I froze some (uncooked, covered with plastic wrap and foil).

First make the ratatouille.

Peel and slice:

1 large or 2 small eggplants

On either a paper towel or a cooling rack, place the slices of eggplant and generously salt on both sides. Place a cookie sheet or tray on top of the eggplant and weight it down with several large cans. Let sit at least 15 minutes but 1 hour is better. Rinse off the salt and dry thoroughly and cube. In a good size pan, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoons olive oil

When hot (shimmering) add:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small eggplants, peeled and cubed

2 small zucchini, cubed

2 small yellow squash, cubed

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Optionally, depending on taste can be added:

1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced

6 ounces of sliced mushrooms

Stir to combine, cover and cook over medium low heat until vegetables are slightly softened, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the pan. Add:

16 ounces crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 tablespoon dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir to combine and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. While the ratatouille is simmering, make the béchamel sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat over medium:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Add:

1/3-1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (enough so it looks like a soupy mashed potato mixture but all the oil is absorbed)

Whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add:

2 1/2-3 cups non-dairy milk (any milk EXCEPT soy)

Cook over medium low heat until thickened, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and add:

3/4 cup non-dairy mozzarella or parmesan cheese, grated

Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes while the cheese melts, whisking occasionally, being careful not to let it burn on the bottom so heat may need to be reduced further.

Lastly, cook the noodles in a large pot (8-10 quarts) of boiling water. When the water comes to a boil add:

1 tablespoon salt

10 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles (the Whole Foods Heart of Palm can be used without cooking)

Cook the pasta per package instructions. Rinse thoroughly with cold water after draining so that the noodles don’t stick together. Then assemble the lasagna by starting with some ratatouille on the bottom of the baking dish which should be at least 5-6 inches in height to accommodate the layers. Second add a single layer of noodles, then a layer of béchamel, layer of noodles, layer of ratatouille, layer of noodles and lastly a layer of béchamel. Place on a baking tray lined with foil and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes so that the layers set up before serving. Serves 8.

before baking

Carob Zucchini Cake

So much zucchini, what to do with it all! Not a bad dilemma to have. Here’s a way to use some.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 9×13″ baking dish or line it with parchment paper with a light spray of non-stick cooking spray. In a large (and I mean large!) bowl, mix together:

2 cups date sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup carob powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Add and mix well:

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (1 smallish medium sized unpeeled)

In a smaller bowl, using an electric mixer, beat:

6 tablespoons aquafaba

Until double in volume, then add:

1/4 cup date sugar

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat on highest speed until stiff peaks form – the mixture shouldn’t move when you move the bowl on its side.

In another small bowl combine:

1/2 cup unsweetened fruit sauce: pear, apple, peach, plum etc.

1 cup avocado oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup oat milk

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Whisk to combine thoroughly. Make a hollow in the middle of the dry zucchini mixture and add the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly making sure all the dry mixture is combined. Add the whipped aquafaba and carefully fold it into the rest of the batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

This is a very dense, moist (if not overbaked) rich cake so once cooled, cut into small squares. Freezes well. If more decadence is wanted, top with carob ganache and serve with non-dairy whip or vanilla frozen dessert of choice. I served mine with some plum coolee.

TIP: It would be more like zucchini brownies if baked in a roll cake pan (this is a large “cookie” sheet like pan except it has higher sides). Baking time should reflect size of pan so the larger and shallower the mixture, the less baking time needed.

Carob Chip Zucchini Bars

Grate the zucchini and put in a colander for about an hour before starting these bars to get out some of the liquid out of it or the bars will be too wet and get gummy. I weighted the grated zucchini down with a plate and a large can of tomatoes. Then blot between some paper towels. Makes 16 bars.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup quinoa flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice (or 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg)

In another medium sized bowl combine:

3/4 cup pear sauce (or apple sauce) unsweetened

3/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup agave or coconut nectar)

1/3 cup avocado oil (or other light oil)

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (2 small zucchini)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well with a large spoon. Stir in:

3/4 cup carob chips (or chocolate chips)

1/2 cup hemp hulls (or chopped walnuts if nuts are possible)

Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading as evenly as possible so that the batter cooks evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the pan. Cool completely before cutting.

Crusted Tilapia

I’m always looking for new recipes for fish. This one is very tasty and very easy to make. It reminded me of fried fish but is baked in the oven. That’s because of the high fat content in the mayonnaise. Feel free to use any fish, adjusting the proportions to fit the size of your fish portions. I used tilapia but the original recipe used halibut so it works for pretty much any fish. Simple and quick to make. Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix:

3/4 cup mayonnaise*

1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

2 tablespoons dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and basil (or 1 teaspoon of each fresh, chopped)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk to combine. In a non-stick baking dish** (again size depends on type of fish you use, mine was a 9×12), arrange:

1 pound of fish filets (with the tilapia, that’s four large pieces)

Spread the mixture equally over each piece of fish, covering the top completely. Bake in preheated oven 20-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish (the tilapia is quite thin and only took 20 minutes). Serve with lemon wedges or tartar sauce.

*If you’re allergic to eggs like me, there are now several brands of vegan mayonnaise available which are delicious and work well in this recipe.

**There’s enough fat in the mayonnaise so greasing the pan isn’t necessary.