Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Gut Gazette! I can’t believe how quickly Christmas creeped up on us and now it’s all over with.
What are your Christmas traditions? Our family has a quiet Christmas Eve, and for dinner we usually have tourtiere, which is a meat pie that originated from Quebec, and cheese fondue. This year we just did the cheese fondue, with gluten free bread of course! We then sat around and enjoyed each others company, watched The Polar Express and then got our annual Christmas pjs and hung our stockings. In the morning we slept until 9:00am, got our tea and coffee and opened stockings and presents. We took a little break to have breakfast and then finished up the presents! For the rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the quiet after weeks of Christmas preparation. For dinner we mixed it up a bit and had a roast chicken instead of turkey, but we still had the traditional side dishes. I had done a lot of Christmas baking this year, and I thought I would share with you two holiday gluten free cookie recipes that you could keep in mind for the 2013 holidays.
Gluten Free Christmas Shortbread
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup gluten free flour
3/4 cups butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Stir cornstarch, icing sugar and GF flour together. Blend in butter. Shape into 1 inch balls, place 1.5 inches apart from each other on an ungreased pan. Flatten with the palm of your hand or a fork. Place a single piece of chocolate in the middle of each cookie (either a Hershey kiss or chocolate chip). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
I actually combined 3/4 cups of rice flour with 1/4 cup of coconut flour and they turned out amazing. I enjoyed the consistency of the cookie and it wasn’t as crumbly as just using the rice flour.
Gluten Free Sugar Snowflake Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using a snowflake cookie cutter (or any holiday shape), cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating.
Use royal icing as the “glue” for the decorations. You can decorate them however you wish…no two snowflakes are the same! I used silver dragees and coarse sugar crystals for my decorations.
Let the cookies set before you stack them…or just eat them right off the platter!
We enjoyed the shortbread for Christmas day dessert, and then we continued our lounging and watched a bit of TV.  It was a lovely Christmas despite the snow, however yesterday we got dumped with snow!
I hope you enjoy your holidays and I look forward to more posts in 2013!
I would love to hear your Christmas traditions!

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians! I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend with family and friends and have enjoyed the beautiful smells of fall and autumn colours. I had a lovely weekend up north enjoying wonderful company, scenic walks, and delicious food. 
To start off the Thanksgiving weekend, I made some delicious gluten free sugar cookies. I found a sugar cookie recipe off the Canadian Living website, and just tweaked it to make it gluten free. The addition of candy corn and a few chocolate chips give the cookie a cute Thanksgiving turkey feel!
Thanksgiving “Turkey” Sugar Cookies 
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt 
Candy corn 
Royal icing 
Mini chocolate chips
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using round cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating. 
To create a turkey decorated cookie, use the royal icing (I used Betty Crocker Cake Mate Cookie Icing – you could also make your own royal icing and pipe it yourself) as your “glue” to stick 5-7 candy corn pieces on the top of the cookie, to create a “feathered” look. Place the candy corn pieces tips down (pointed ends facing down). Next, make 2 dots using the royal icing for eyes – stick the chocolate chips on the dots. Finally, create a beak and feet on the bottom of the cookie with the icing. 
Let the icing on the cookies set before stacking.  
Enjoy! 

Chobani Gluten Free Black Cherry Coconut Loaf

Black cherry Chobani is my favourite…but strawberry is a pretty delicious runner up!

My absolute favourite Chobani yogurt is Black Cherry. I love the real cherry flavour that accompanies the thick tangy Greek yogurt; I also love the bits of black cherries that are swirled throughout. I wanted to create a recipe that incorporated the delicious sweet and tangy Black Cherry Chobani, so I came up with a gluten free Black Cherry Coconut Loaf. To me, coconut pairs well with pretty much any fruit, and it certainly did in this loaf. The recipe below is gluten free, however the gluten free all purpose flour can be substituted for all purpose wheat flour. This is an easy, straightforward recipe, and the result is dense and delicious. The loaf can be served as a dessert with the Chobani Vanilla Drizzle, as a breakfast loaf with a bit of butter or simply as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. All in all, it is nothing but good! 
You can read my guest post on the Chobani blog here.
  
GF Black Cherry Coconut Loaf
Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1.5 cup gluten free all purpose flour  
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp corn starch
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup Chobani Black Cherry Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Chobani Vanilla Drizzle
1 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
3. In large bowl, combine all purpose flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, corn starch and sugar, stirring until combined.
4.  Stir in shredded coconut.
5. In a medium sized bowl, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, Chobani yogurt and vanilla extract.
6. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until all is combined; lumpy is okay.
7.  Pour mixture into the greased and floured loaf pan.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
9.  Let cool before slicing.
10. *Optional: Drizzle Chobani Vanilla Drizzle on top of sliced loaf. 

Gluten Free Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

Gluten free – oatmeal – chocolate chip – coconut – date cookies…that is a mouthful to say, eh? It is also a mouthful of deliciousness. I was originally going to do raisins instead of dates, but then I found some plump dried dates in my pantry and thought they would pair better with both chocolate and coconut. 
These cookies can be made gluten free or not. You can replace the gluten free oats and flour with “regular” flour and oats. They pair perfectly with a cup of tea or a glass of milk!
I like the different texture and tastes within this cookie. The dates and coconut bring a chewy texture to the cookie and the chocolate chips are perfect for any chocolate craving.
GF Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

1.5 cups gluten free all purpose flour
3 cups gluten free certified oats 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp cornstarch 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
6 large medjool dates chopped 
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup) melted 
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease with oil). 
Combine GF flour, GF oats, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in 1 large bowl. Mix in chocolate chips, shredded coconut and chopped dates. 
In separate bowl melt butter and whisk in 2 eggs and vanilla. 
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until all is combined and mixture is moist. 
Roll mixture into 2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. 12 cookies per baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 
Let cool before serving.

GF Brownies with Salted Caramel

King Arthur’s Gluten Free Brownie mix did not disappoint! Chewy, moist, dense, rich, chocolaty, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious…I could go on and on about how amazing King Arthur’s GF Brownie mix is, but the only way you will really believe me is if you try it yourself. I have tried other gluten free brownie mixes before, but never have I had tasted anything like this. Even those who are gluten-eaters will enjoy this fabulous mix, they will never suspect that the brownies are gluten free. The only disappointing down side to all of this is that King Arthur’s mixes are not available in Canada. You can order them online, however shipping costs are an arm and a leg. The great thing about the mix is that it says right on the box that the brownies stay fresher longer…however, when I made them they didn’t last for more than 2 days (in a family of four)!
The brownies were very easy to make, I just had to mix in a couple of eggs, some water and vegetable oil into the mix, pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes. They came out wonderfully – a little crispy around the edges and chewy in the centre; the perfect brownie. I then decided to mix up a salted caramel sauce to pour on top of the warm brownies, because really, what is better then chocolate + caramel + salt? All I can say is that the final product was delectably satisfying. My taste buds were in paradise. 

You can make these delicious Salted Caramel Brownies with any type of brownie mix, gluten free or not, but I would highly recommend trying out the King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix! You can view the packing and nutritional information here.
Salted Caramel Brownies (GF)
– [Gluten Free] Brownie Mix (King Arthur’s GF Brownie Mix)
– 1 cup sugar
– 6 tbsp butter 
– 1/2 cup cream or milk (I actually used milk and they came out fine)
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 tsp sea salt
First off, mix up the brownie mix, pop in the oven and start your timer! While the brownies are baking in the oven, heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a pot over the stove, making sure not to stir. Heat mixture until it becomes a golden, amber colour, you can then mix in the cold butter. Once the butter has melted, take off the heat and whisk in the cream/milk. If using milk, keep the heat on low so that the mixture is able to reduce into a thick caramel sauce. Once the mixture is thick and creamy, stir in the salt. Let cool, and once brownies have cooled, slice a brownie, pour sauce over it and sprinkle a little bit of extra salt. Enjoy!

Carrot Coconut Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Icing

Remember my post about the greatest pancake mix? King Arthur’s pancake mix? Well my friends, let me introduce you to the most delicious muffin mix. King Arthur sent me a box of their gluten free muffin mix, quoted by my mother: “these are the most delicious muffins, I can’t believe these are gluten free…you would never know they were gluten free if you didn’t know!”.  The muffins were light, fluffy, full of flavour and they actually rose, they weren’t dense little muffins (like gluten free muffins are usually like). My sister and I baked together, it was tons of fun. The mix calls for an optional 1.5 cups of add-ins, so we decided on shredded carrots and coconut. Good call on our part! To view the packaging and nutritional information, please click here!
The mix was easy to follow, all we had to do was beat in melted butter, eggs and milk. The mix made 12 muffins. Not only are they gluten free but also soy and nut free. I love the fact that this basic mix can allow you to create any muffin you want…I’m thinking blueberry, lemon cranberry, lemon poppyseed, cinnamon raisin, and chocolate chip banana…the ideas are endless. 
What is a carrot muffin without a little bit of icing, eh? My sister and I were really feeling a bit of cream cheese icing. We decided to embark on a homemade icing, one that we had never attempted before. It was crazy easy and crazy delicious. We were dipping strawberries in it this afternoon, so evidently it can serve as a fruit dip too! 
Cream cheese icing/fruit dip!
1/2 package of cream cheese
2 tbsp butter (soft)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth, add in icing sugar and vanilla, beat until combined. Voila! 
After the muffins cooled, we spread the icing on top and wow, was it ever amazing. I loved the sweet base of the muffin with the undertone of the coconut and the crunchy sweetness of the carrots. The cream cheese icing was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet, and it was the perfect topping for the fluffy muffins. 
These will definitely be repeated. I can’t believe how good they were. 

King Arthur’s can only be purchased in the USA but it can be shipped to Canada, yay! What kind of muffin would you make with this mix? I would love to hear!

Quick Quinoa Sushi

Happy Good Friday for all of you who celebrate Easter! Today I spent my Good Friday in my room, studying my one and only final exam coming up on Monday. I also went for a lovely walk, the weather was gorgeous, blue sky and sunny…but a bit on the cool side.

We are all moving out of our student house in a few days, so I have been trying to eat up everything I have in the freezer and pantry, so that I don’t put anything to waste. My meals have been ho-hum, you don’t know how excited I am to move back home to a nice big kitchen and home cooked meals! Yesterday’s dinner consisted of frozen peas and corn…meat balls and fried zucchini…pretty random right?

Tonight I wanted to make something that I would actually feel satisfied with, so I whipped up some homemade sushi. Have you ever tried making sushi before? Before I attempted at making sushi, I thought it would be a disaster…I had my first homemade sushi experience about a month ago at my friends house. We made quinoa veggie sushi and wow…was it ever amazing and extremely easy, far from becoming a disaster. I thought at first that the ingredients were a little random to have in it, as it included sweet potato, beets, apples and shredded carrots, but honestly, the ingredients took on the flavour and consistency of “normal” sushi ingredients, my taste buds were deceived.

The first time I made sushi, there were three of us making them…we made a TON! As you can see, sushi can be huge or small

Tonight I made two types of sushi, avocado/mango/cucumber and avocado/mango/smoked salmon cream cheese. This is probably one of the easiest meals to make, and I’m not exaggerating! You don’t even need sushi tools (ie the mat)

Quick Quinoa Sushi


Ingredients:
– nori sheets (seaweed)
– quinoa
– tahini
– vegetable ingredients (ie, avocado, cucumber, mango, carrots, etc)
you could also use fish or teriyaki chicken (I did not though)
– rice vinegar
– white sugar
– salt

1. First off, you must cook your quinoa and allow to cool.
(1 cup will make 4 rolls…2 cups will make 6, etc)

2. If you choose to make 2 cups of quinoa, combine 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of white sugar and 1 tsp of salt in a pot over the stove. Heat until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Poor the vinegar/sugar mixture overtop of the quinoa, mix, and set aside to cool.

4. Next, stir about 1/3 cup of tahini (sesame seed paste) into the quinoa, this is what binds the quinoa together. (I am sure you could use other nut butters as well, experiment!)

5. While your quinoa cools, slice up your ingredients into thin slices. (should be about 1 inch thick, it can be up to 4 inches long). Ingredients could include avocado, mango, cucumber, red pepper, sweet potato (cooked), what ever you wish to have in your sushi!

Mango, cucumber and avocado (pardon the avocado, it was way too ripe and a bit brown, I also haven’t finished slicing the avocado into thinner strips in this picture)

6. Once your quinoa has cooled down, and you have all of your inside ingredients prepared, you are ready to start assembling the sushi

7. There are 2 sides to the nori sheets, 1 side is very shiny, and the other side is dull with grooves. Place the shiny side face down, you want to work with the dull side.

Can you see the lines/grooves on the sheet? There are about 5.

8. As you can see, there are grooves that run width wise, scoop about 3/4 of a cup of quinoa onto the sheet of nori and spread using a spatula over the sheet, leaving 2 grooves plain on the top.

9. Once the quinoa has been evenly spread, place your ingredients in the middle of the sheet.

10. Now it is time to roll! This may be the trickiest part. You want to try to roll it as tight as you can, rolling until you get to the part of the nori where you didn’t put the quinoa on.

11. Dip your fingers in a bit of water and paint some water onto the bare nori, once it is slightly damp you can finish rolling. The water allows the nori to stick together.

12. Now you have a log. Have a tall glass of water handy so you can dip your knife into it before cutting, the water on the knife will make for a smoother cut as the water helps disintegrate the nori a bit.
I find using two different knives works best. First I use a serrated knife to help cut into the nori, and then I use a chef’s knife to cut the bottom of the nori. Cut the log into 6-7 pieces, depending on how big you want your sushi to be.

 13. And you’re done! Serve with some soy sauce (gluten free tamari) and a little bit of wasabi!

(Left – mango/avocado/cucumber. Right – mango/avocado/smoked salmon cream cheese

I wasn’t sure how the smoked salmon cream cheese would taste in the sushi, but wow, was it delicious! I usually have salmon cream cheese sushi when I’m out for sushi, so I thought this would take on that taste. I was also adventurous with the pairings. 

A Date with Banana Coconut Muffins

Easter everyone! I took a little break of blogging over the weekend to enjoy a computer free weekend with my family. The weather was gorgeous! We couldn’t believe it was only early April, it was definitely a shock to our bodies. We had our Easter dinner on Saturday night, enjoyed with this beautiful view of the sunset.
Unfortunately I still had to study this weekend, as this week is my last week of classes, and then I start exams next Monday…so I probably won’t be blogging during exam time.

Anyway! Today my Mom and I went down to Whole Foods, I love that store. It was fun, but I don’t think I need to make the trek back down there again, as the natural health food store I have found near me has almost everything as Whole Foods has, plus more. I did however enjoy Whole Food’s salad bar. I’ve been wanting to try it for so long, as I keep reading about the amazing salad bar experiences others have had. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I had baby spinach, steamed kale, red cabbage, beet root, asparagus, red quinoa, mixed beans and watermelon. Yum! It was soooo good. It was pretty inexpensive as well…$6.47 or something like that. I bought some new soy yogurt to try, vegan mozzarella cheese, nice big Pink Lady apples, kabocha squash (which I have been longing to try), and we got a bunch of veggies and chicken to make a chicken stir fry for tonight.
This afternoon I had the itch to bake. So I ended up doing so.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to bake, but I knew I wanted bananas in it. Whenever I think of bananas in something, I think of muffins…so I created Banana – Coconut – Date Muffins.
A Date with Banana Coconut Muffins:
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs (or 2 tbsp flax meal + 6 tbsp water)
3 bananas mashed
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 cup milk (almond, rice, soy or dairy)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
5 honey dates chopped
1/2 cup raisins
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, dates, raisins and coconut.
In a separate bowl mash the bananas, mix in the apple sauce, honey and eggs or egg substitute.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients together.
Spoon into a greased or lined muffin tin.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. – this time was based on mini muffins…it will probably take a bit longer if you make large muffins.
Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 large muffins. You could also make a loaf out of this.
They turned out delicious. Very moist and not too dense. The banana is very distinctive, so you can only taste the coconut subtly. These would be very good spread with a little coconut butter, or Earth Balance.
On a different note, I just wanted to take the time to say ‘thank you’ for everyone who reads my blog, and welcome the new readers! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or leave comments, I love hearing from you! Also, does any have any suggestions for kabocha squash? I can’t wait to try it!

Only $1.89

For those of you who have tasted coconut butter, I am sure you can agree that it is beyond tasty. It’s one of the most delicious tasting foods I think I have ever had. I like eating it in my oats, on a sweet potato, in yogurt, in apple sauce and by the spoonful. The only downside to it is that it’s SO expensive. $16 for a jar of this gold.
I was so excited a couple weeks ago when Heather posted a recipe for homemade coconut butter. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for her to make her own.
On Friday I decided to take on the task and make my own jar…for only $1.89!
This bag of unsweetened desiccated coconut butter cost a small price of $1.89.
I poured the whole thing into a food processor, pressed the ‘on’ button, and let it spin away for 20 minutes.
Then I poured it into an empty mason jar, screwed on the lid and I placed it in the refrigerator…although it doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated, I wanted it to cool faster to see what the very end product looked like.

Before going into the fridge.
After!

I then found a 1/2 full bag of desiccated coconut in the baking drawer, I also saw that I had some carob flour in the cupboard….hmmmm, Artisana makes chocolate coconut butter….I wonder what carob coconut butter would be like. So I dumped the bag of coconut into the food processor, yet again (after taking 5 minutes to wash and dry it) and then added 3 tbsp of carob flour…I turned it on for 20 minutes (poor food processor, I bet it was getting tired) and voila! I had carob coconut butter.

Once they were both solidified, I had to warm them back up again so that I could taste them….again!
They don’t have the same texture as Artisana’s coconut butter, they’re a little grainy…but who cares! It was less than $2 and it tastes like the real thing!!! YUM!
By the way, the carob coconut butter is amazing, I love it. I drizzled it over my apples and it was pretty delicious.

Honey Chai Spiced Almonds

I’m in an almond phase! I really enjoyed the Maple Almond Chicken that we had last night, the sweet tastes with the almonds were a really great pair, so that is why today I decided that I was going to roast up some sweet snacking almonds. I didn’t want to do the traditional honey glazed almond, I wanted to spice it up a bit…which I literally did!
Enter:
Honey Chai Spiced Almonds!
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp safflower oil
1 tsp powdered stevia
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 cups raw almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the honey, oil and spices altogether in a bowl. Mix in the almonds until each nut is coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or you can grease it), spread the almonds on the pan and bake for 18 minutes. Once 18 minutes is up, take out and stir, stick back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Take out and let cool. The almonds will probably stick together, so just break them up.
They were simple to make and made the kitchen smell like chai tea. They’re also hard to keep your hands off once they’ve cooled. Enjoy!