Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins

Another delicious gluten free version of one of my all time favorites -- carrot muffins.  I've been craving them for a long time but I've been reluctant to put down my knitting needles.  Still going strong on the knitting but my desire for a fresh muffin finally did me in and I spent today doing some baking and cooking.  I've just been making the same old recipes so had nothing new to share but I think if you're looking for gluten-free versions of baked goods you're going to really enjoy this carrot muffin recipe I came up with today.  Turned out a bit sweeter than I expected so might try it with a little less sugar next time but otherwise seriously delicious and they filled the kitchen with a wonderful spicy aroma thanks to the cinnamon. In case you're wondering why you can't see the raisins (I just recently bought Newman's Own brand of organic raisins and I highly recommend them) or carrots it's because I blended my wet mixture in the Vita-Mix  -- my grandson won't eat muffins with  whole raisins hence my reason for blending!  If you have a fussy little toddler this works out perfectly.  He loved them -- and ate 1-1/2 for a snack! I love gluten free verson muffins for toddlers because almond flour is nutritionally superior to white flour and since they are too young to eat nuts whole it's a great way to get in some extra calories.

Ingredients

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the wet ingredients together -- let stand for about 1/2 hour or so to allow raisins to plump up. In the meantime measure out your dry ingredients. I put all the dry ingredients in my vita-mix as well to whirl them together and also to make the almond meal into a finer grind. I can only get the Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal and it's slightly coarse so I find it works a little more like a flour by processing it in the Vita-mix along with the other flours and dry ingrdients. I also whirled my wet ingredients in the Vita-Mix as well but this is totally optional. Mix wet and dry together thoroughly. I used 1/4 cup mixture per muffin. (I used If You Care Muffin Liners -- which have been revamped and are once again excellent -- make sure to look for the red triangle on the side to assure it's the new, improved version!). This batch made 11 muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Most muffin recipes say 350 but maybe my oven runs on the low side because I need 375 to produce a nicely baked muffin. One day I should do a real test with an oven thermometer.

My latest trio of comfort dolls! These little guys are so fun to knit and I'm just so glad that they're going to comfort children who have very few luxuries in this life. Thanks to ICROSS Canada for giving me the opportunity to participate in this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

GoGo Quinoa Soup-Stew


What an aptly named product -- GoGo Quinoa! We all need to go to quinoa more frequently but it's a tough one for some people due to the bitter flavor it can have depending on the brand you buy and how it's cooked.  Well this one is a no-brainer and there is absolutely no bitter flavor whatsoever so  pick up a package of GoGo Quinoa and Vegetable Soup mix and make this delicious soup-stew with it!  It's really inexpensive considering it's organic, fair trade and good for you!  I picked up several for $3.29 each and each box contains two packets of 65 gms.  You only need one 65 gm packet for this recipe.  I've been busy knitting comfort dolls (see veggie prairie girl rambles below for more info on this if you're interested) so I've been neglecting my cooking duties!  However after 3 days of literally muffins and smoothies I thought it was time for a little more veggies in my life and my favorite bean -- chickpeas.  I'd still rather continue knitting than cook this week so I  was looking for something really really quick and this is it!  For the amount of effort and ingredients it's got a lot of great flavor plus you're getting a good portion of the "got-to-get-more-in-your-life-quinoa-grain".  Plus it makes a very nice mild blend for  hungry little toddlers if you have a little munchkin running around your house like I do!  Whirls up nice and smooth in the mini container of your magic bullet.



Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
1 (14 oz)  tin diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned organic)
1 (65 gm) packet of gogo quinoa
2 teaspoons veggie powder
2-3 cups spring water

Saute your onion and carrots for about 5 minutes in the olive oil.  Add 2 cups water, the potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, veggie powder and quinoa.  Simmer until veggies are cooked -- add more water depending on  whether you want soup or stew-like texture. This soup cooks up quickly and is ready too serve in less than 45 minutes.  Really tasty! GoGo Quinoa!

Veggie Prairie Girl Rambles
People around the world are knitting African Comfort Dolls for the HIV/AIDS orphans of Africa and children of other disaster regions. (4000 dolls were recently sent to Haiti along with meds). The dolls are used as packing material to cushion  medical supplies and when the meds are unloaded, the dolls are given to orphans and the children of the poorest of the poor. Often the doll sent as packing material is the only toy these children will ever own and many HIV AIDS orphans are buried with their dolls. Billy Willabond, a Canadian Peacekeeping Veteran, is the National President of the International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering (ICROSS CANADA) and I send all my completed dolls (I've made 155 to date and  plan to make many more) to their address in British Columbia. He is very punctual about letting you know your dolls have been received and that they are very much appreciated so it's a gratifying organization to donate to.  The dolls are a quick knit and they turn out so cute for the effort involved. Pictured below are five that I just completed this weekend. Feel free to e-mail me if you want anymore details or have questions about how to knit them or finish them. This is a very simple pattern which is good because simple is all I know when it comes to knitting.  Regardless of your level of expertise it's a satisfying project to be involved in.  I encourage everyone to go to the ICROSS website to learn more about what they've done and what they continue to work towards.  Also check out this blog and learn how two Vancouver women who, after  knitting comfort dolls for ICROSS, were inspired to find a unique way to raise funds for charity.