Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two-Bite Coffee Delights

I've been working on these tasty little morsels for a couple of weeks now.  I'm not sure they're absolutely perfect yet, but they're getting there.  My aim with this particular batch was to adhere to the rules set forth by Johanna and Jeff of JQ Fitness for their 50 day transformation challenge 
I'm not taking part in the challenge, but as I'm always up for a cooking/baking challenge, I thought it would be fun to create some recipes that follow the dietary rules they've set.  
This is a no sugar/no grain challenge and that includes maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar, etc...  The only allowed sweeteners are stevia, xylitol and erythritol.
The next time I make these treats, I plan to add some sort of chocolate.  I did that last time, with a stevia-sweetened chocolate and they turned out really well, but I didn't read all the ingredients on that chocolate and have no label since I bought it in a bulk store.  I figured I'd leave it out this time just in case it has some sort of 'illegal' ingredient.
The reason I added ground chia seeds to this recipe was to help them stick together a bit better.  The last batch I made, although really yummy, were a tiny bit crumbly.  This is often an issue with gluten-free baking and it's often solved with xanthan gum, but I prefer not to use that if possible.  I find ground chia mixed with a little water often does the trick.
So, on to the goodies.  Here's what I did...

First I preheated the oven to 350F.  Then in a stand mixer,  I creamed together 1/4 cup of erythritol with 4 ounces of butter until light in colour.

 Then I split a vanilla bean down the centre and scooped out all the delicious seeds.  I would usually use vanilla extract but the one I have has a tiny bit of sugar in it and again that's 'illegal' on the challenge.

 Then I ground 1 teaspoon of chia seeds in a spice grinder and in a small bowl, mixed them with 2 tablespoons boiling water.  I set this aside for a moment to let it gel.

To the stand mixer, I added 1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1/2 a scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder (I usually use Dandy Blend coffee substitute).

I also added the scooped out vanilla seeds, the chia gel and 1/2 a teaspoon Celtic sea salt.  Then I mixed this on medium speed until well blended.

Next, I tasted the mixture for sweetness and decided to add 20 drops of liquid stevia.  I found that because of the bitter espresso powder, it needed a bit more than my previous 15 drops when using Dandy Blend.

 Then it was time to press heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture into silicone mini-muffin tins.  Then they went into the oven at 350F for 20 minutes.  Once lightly browned around the edges, I removed them from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
 The finished product!!

Two-Bite Coffee Delights

4 ounces (1/4 lb) softened butter
1/4 cup erythritol or xylitol
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 scoop Vanilla protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons Dandy Blend (or instant coffee or espresso)
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons boiling water
10-20 drops liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a stand mixer (or with a hand blender) cream together the erythritol and butter.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to mixer bowl.
In a small bowl, quickly mix together ground chia and boiling water and set aside for a minute or two until it gels up.
Add chia gel and all remaining ingredients (except liquid stevia) to mixing bowl and mix very well.
Taste the batter and decide how much more sweetness you'd like.  I add anywhere from 10-20 drops liquid stevia.
Press the mixture into silicone mini-muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until starting to turn light brown around the edges.
Allow to cool in muffin tins for about 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 24

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Multi-Seed Crackers

I've been making these crackers for almost a year now.  I got the inspiration from Angela's blog and ran with it.  I started out making them exactly as posted, but then I decided to change a few things.  I add ground flax seeds as I think this makes the crackers a little sturdier and I add a lot more onion and garlic and a bit more salt.  I also purée the onion, garlic and flax in water in my Vitamix.  To 'up' the protein, I also add hemp seeds and I like to toast the sesame seeds for flavour. 
Here's what I do...

 First I toast 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat, shaking often.

This is how they should look when done.

 If you don't have a high-powered blender, you could use a microplane like this for your garlic and onion (or finely chop them).

 To a large bowl, add 1/2 cup chia seeds and 1/2 cup hemp seeds.

 Add 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds and 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds.

 To a high-speed blender (I use my Vitamix), add 1/4 cup golden flax seeds.

These are the ones I used.  Also add 1 1/4 cups water, 3 cloves garlic and 1/4 of an onion and blend until flax is completely broken down.  Alternatively you could grind flax in a coffee/spice grinder and grate garlic and onion then mix with water if you don't have a high-speed blender.

 Then pour the liquid into the large bowl with the seeds.

 Oops, almost forgot about the toasted sesame seeds!

 Mix in about 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt and 1 teaspoon kelp granules (optional).

These are the ones I use.

 Allow it to sit and gel for a few minutes, then spread onto two parchment-lined baking trays.  Try to keep it as even as possible with no holes.  I use the back of a spoon for ease of spreading.

 Bake at 325F for about 40 minutes or so, rotating trays after 20 minutes.  You want them to be very dry on top and almost dry on the bottom.

 Remove from oven and flip the entire sheet of dough over and back onto the parchment.  Then score into cracker-sized pieces.  I've used both a large, sharp chef's knive and a pizza cutter.  Both work just fine although the chef's knife sometimes cuts right through the parchment.

Put back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.  I check after 20 just to make sure they're not overdone.  Sometimes I remove some of the outer ones (they tend to cook a little quicker) to a wire cooling rack and stick the tray back in the oven to crisp up the others. 

The Lean Green Bean