This is 'strained yogurt', the same thing as authentic Greek yogurt; use it like cream cheese in recipes, or eat it with a little jam or fruit. Add a bit of salt if subbing this for cream cheese.
Since the whey- which contains the lactose, or milk sugar- is drained off, you end up with a product that has twice as much protein and quite a bit less milk sugar.
All you do is pour plain yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined colander, set it over a bowl overnight, and check on it in the morning. You can either leave it on the counter or do this in the fridge. The longer it drains, the thicker it gets. It works best with homemade, unthickened yogurt, since added thickeners make it hard for the whey to separate away from the solids. If you don't have cheesecloth, use something else that liquid can drain through but the solids won't, like the superstrong paper towels, or a clean flat-woven dish towel.
16 ounces of plain yogurt will yield about 8 ounces each of yogurt cheese and whey. You can substitute whey in place of buttermilk in recipes. I use it for part of the liquid when making bread
Sweetened Condensed Milk-
use it to make my favorite, Two-Minute Fudge
For the closest version to a 14-oz can, use1/2 c. (non-instant) powdered milk1/2 c. water1 c. sugar2 Tbsp. butter, optional
To read more about making it or how to use it, see here
If you happen to need it, here's a recipe for dairy-free sweetened condensed milk
Some friends and I are in a healthy-living team competition right now... and there are just some times that the 'normal' healthy food doesn't cut it. This does! (So does Bavarian Mousse
and the Chocolate Truffle Pie
Once again, this isn't technically sugar-free. It is, however, free of table sugar if you don't add the chocolate topping, as the filling is sweetened with a sauce made with pureed fruit. If you choose to include the chocolate on top, it adds only 3 grams of sugar per serving.Sugarless No-Bake Cheesecake
Makes 6 servings Crust
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/2 c. whole wheat bread crumbs (or other crumbs, or fine shred coconut)
Pinch of stevia, or 1/2 tsp. honey, optional
Line a 7” round pan with foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. (A bread pan is the right size too- use an 8x4 pan for a thicker filling, 9x5 pan for a little thinner.) Stir together oil, crumbs, and stevia. Press on bottom of pan, set in freezer to chill. Filling
1/2 c. date caramel sauce
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (may use Neufchatel)*
1/3 c. plain yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. instant clear jel (Ultra Gel)
Beat together caramel sauce and cream cheese, until smooth. Add yogurt, salt, vanilla, and clear jel; beat on high speed until light. Spoon onto crust, smooth top and chill in fridge at least 30 minutes, but more firm after 2-3 hours. Optional topping
1/3 c. extra-dark chocolate chips
1/3 c. plain yogurt
Heat gently or microwave to melt; stir until smooth. Spread on cheesecake after it has set.
*Since Neufchatel is softer, you'll need to increase Ultra Gel to 2 Tbsp. Or serve the cheesecake frozen.
I've made this using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese, it still works. Just plan on using a blender or food processor to mix the filling, and it'll take a couple minutes to get smooth.
These have fiber, protein, and much lower in sugar than almost any baked treat! And they really are good. My family snarfed down this batch.
Besides all that, they're also wheat-free and dairy-free.
Healthy Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Banana Bars
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (one can, drained and rinsed)
2 ripe medium bananas
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. brown sugar or honey (1/2 c sugar. if you like things on the sweeter side)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. chocolate chips (the darker the better)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put the beans, eggs, bananas, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a food processor or high-powered blender. Run until very smooth. Stir in the baking powder, salt and oats. Spread in a greased 8x8 pan then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake 30 minutes or til test done with a toothpick. Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting. These are even better the next day.
For a variation on this, substitute pumpkin puree for the banana, increase sugar/honey to 1/2 c., replace almond or cashew butter for the peanut butter, then add 1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
Surely many of you are in the same boat.
Out of the eight of us in the house, we've learned that one child can't have wheat. She's so sensitive that eating one 1/4" piece of bread caused her arms to turn hot pink and start to weep. But the rest of us are fine. We're still in the process of determining if she reacts to gluten, or to just the wheat itself, so for now everything must be wheat-free AND gluten-free. And dairy-free, while we're figuring out if that's an issue too. For some strange
reason, I prefer to cook only one meal, per meal. And special 'gluten-free' foods are pricey. Really pricey. So I'll let you know how I've adapted. Hopefully it'll help you or someone else having to adapt to whatever allergy or special needs diet strikes just one or two in your family. Eight Tips for feeling (more) normal when someone has special dietary needs1- Plan on preparing most of your family's foods
Unless you have nothing against quadrupling your family's food budget. Not kidding. If you didn't cook much before, brush up on the basics
. They'll do for now. And for a while.2- Eat naturally wheat-free foods
Keep a list around so you can focus on what CAN be eaten rather than all the CAN'Ts. It's empowering and encouraging. While you're still getting used to what's okay and not, go through your kitchen and pantry, and write down everything that is GF already, including all plain spices and herbs (blends might not be; check), canned/fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, rice, plain beans, flax, buckwheat, meat in its natural state, eggs, peanut butter, olives, potato chips, popcorn, jam, ketchup...
See a bigger list here
, halfway down the page. There's a GF year-supply list here
. You know, I've been telling myself for years that we oughta eat more rice and beans. They're cheap, store well, and are filling. Those have suddenly become more popular at my house.3- Make a list of 10-15 meals your family likes
that are gluten/wheat-free and can be made using what you typically have on hand. Include both super-quick meals and more involved ones. Be willing to spend about an hour doing this; it'll save you much more time than that in the long run. Get input from your kids. Tape the list someplace handy like the inside of your cooking supplies cupboard. No more panic or feeling helpless at a change of dinner plans!4-
When you cook some specialty gluten-free food, go ahead and make a big batch. Then freeze
the rest in individual serving sizes. For my 10-year-old, the ziptop "snack size" baggies are the perfect size. There's a gallon-sized ziptop bag labeled for her in the freezer. What's in it changes often. Right now it has GF waffles and breadsticks, spaghetti (made with specialty GF pasta) and sauce, seasoned rice, dairy-free homemade ice cream (made in my blender), and GF chocolate chip cookies. Remember treats. They've saved my daughter from feeling deprived with all these new "don't"s. Whenever my husband pulls out the ice cream, she pulls out her freezer bag and gets something sweet too. I also keep one loaf of GF bread in the freezer, for sandwiches and toast. She pulls out a couple slices whenever needed.5- Keep a small plastic bin full of GF baking supplies
, like the photo above. It's handy for all kinds of things. My 'essentials' include a bag of GF flour mix
or storebought), xantham gum
, some white flour
like rice, tapioca, or potato starch, and a whole-grain GF flour
like brown rice, lentil, oat, or sorghum. Mine also has a bag of dairy-free chocolate chips in it, good for a lot more than just cookies. I've found flours like tapioca, potato starch, and rice flour at the Asian market for a fraction of the price.6- Try a new GF recipe at least once a week.
And maybe only once a week, depending on how overwhelming it is to you. Have that other family member cook with you, so she'll learn to cook for herself later. If you love bread, stick with the quickbreads for a while. They're much simpler. I think the easiest way to learn, other than just trying a new GF mix each week, is to buy a copy of of Living Without magazine
. Or sign up for their free weekly newsletter, which includes a recipe. I love the magazine format because you can learn in 5-minute increments.7- Remember to watch out for cross-contamination
I think this is actually the hardest one. You might want to have TWO jars of mayonnaise and jam open, one of each labeled as GF. Otherwise it's really easy for bread crumbs from one person to end up in the jar, where they'll cause the allergic person grief. Remember that toasters carry crumbs. Wipe the counters really well. Consider having a second set of measuring cups, possibly mixing bowls and cooling racks too, depending on severity of reaction. If you have a regular wheat grinder you can grind your own GF flours, using things like rice, beans, oats, lentils, quinoa, etc, BUT only use a mill that has not been used for wheat. Unless you want to invite problems. Some things can be ground in a blender, like oats, if those are OK for your family member.
And,8- Read labels. Always. Always.
Learn which ingredients have hidden gluten. You'll be surprised at what you find. Sometimes good surprises. Sometimes lame ones. Realize too that sometimes companies change their ingredients, and something that didn't have gluten/wheat in it before, might
the next time you buy it. Knowing exactly what you're eating is a good idea anyway.
You can do this! :D
Are you craving a moist, flavorful cupcake? Maybe you'd like gourmet cupcakes to serve your sweetie on Valentine's Day?
The 'extras' added here- coconut extract, shredded coconut, lime juice and zest- make these cupcakes Coconut-Lime. Feel free to substitute whatever other flavors you like. Any flavor cake mix will work. You could make a pretty pink-speckled frosting for Valentine's Day by using one mashed strawberry in the frosting. Since it's contributing liquid, omit the lime juice.
1/2 cup white cake mix
1/4 cup water
a little coconut extract (about 1/16th tsp)- or other flavor, optional
Put a paper cupcake liner in each of two custard cups or microwaveable mugs. Beat the mix, water, and coconut extract together until smooth. Divide between the two liners. Microwave each one for about 35-45 seconds or until there's just a small wet-looking spot in the center. Let cool.
A very simple filling is a spoonful of vanilla Greek yogurt. Poke a hole in the cupcake with a spoon, lift the torn part up, and drop about a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. Jam is a good filling, as is pie filling or frosting. Just use less of these because they're so sweet.
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. sour cream (or Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or butter, depending on the flavor you want)
dash of salt
a little vanilla (1/16th tsp)
about 2 tsp. lime juice (or lemon if that's all you have. I used lemon juice and added a drop or two of lime essential oil.)
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)
Beat together the butter, sour cream, and salt. Stir in the vanilla and lime juice. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and stir until smooth. If it's not thick enough yet, add more powdered sugar until it is.
Spread on the cooled cupcakes, then top with some toasted coconut and finely grated lime zest.
If you want chocolate frosting, simply add 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder to it.
About six years ago I discovered my boys had a vocabulary problem. They were using one word to describe everything that tasted good: 'heavenly'.
This bothered me for two reasons- one, I'm sure heaven is much better than the best food, and two, they weren't expanding their vocabulary. This was a perfect time. So we pulled out a thesaurus and looked up 'delicious' to come up with a new word to use. 'Toothsome' had them rolling on the floor laughing, so that became the new favorite.
I've discouraged them using 'heavenly' very often- but I'll tell you, that was the first word that popped into my head (I didn't say it!) when the first spoonful of moist, custardy, caramel-y, pumpkin dessert hit my tastebuds.
My apologies to Heaven. This is a modified version of Caramel Bread Pudding. (
The link has other ways of using up stale bread, too.) The spices in this play a supporting role to the pumpkin flavor: just enough there to help you notice the pumpkin, not the spice. If you want to taste the cinnamon, double or triple the amount here.Caramel Pumpkin Bread Pudding-
fills a 9x13 pan
15 slices good-quality white bread, cut into 1” pieces (about 16 cups or 20-24 ounces)- baked until crisp (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees)
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ c. honey or corn syrup
5 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 1/2 c. half-and-half, or use the last ½ cup evaporated milk from your can (above); use whole milk for the remaining 2 cups here.
5 large eggs1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon OR 2 tiny drops
cinnamon essential oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves OR 1 tiny drop
clove essential oil
1/2 c. toasted nuts, optional
Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir about 4 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Remove from heat and stir in cream or evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour one cup of this caramel into a greased 9x13 pan.
Set aside one more cup of caramel, to use as topping later.
To the remaining caramel, add the half-and-half (or mixture of evaporated milk and whole milk). Beat the eggs together, then whisk in pumpkin, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk in the half-and-half mixture. Add remaining vanilla. Fold in the bread, and let sit until soaked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Put bread mixture into the 9x13 pan, bake about 40-45 minutes, until the top is crisp and the custard is barely set. Sprinkle with toasted nuts. Serve warm, with the reserved cup of caramel drizzled on top.
Pumpkins are one of the most inexpensive, nutritious
vegetables around... right now they're under 20 cents per pound where I live. One cup (8 oz.) of pumpkin has more than 700% of your daily Vitamin A needs, 7g fiber, 3g protein, 19% RDA for iron, 17% RDA for Vitamin C, and 6% RDA for calcium. All this for 83 calories and about 10 cents.
We grew a few, but the garden was pretty sad in general and we ended up buying a couple for our annual pumpkin-carving party at Grandma's house. (To tell you how bad the garden was... the only pumpkins that survived were in the SANDBOX, where one son had spilled some pumpkin guts in late spring. Yeah. Go figure. They even survived our free-roaming chickens.)
So now we have several carved jack-o-lanterns to set on the front porch for Trick-or-Treating. The day after Halloween they'll get cleaned, sliced, and either cooked or dehydrated and turned to powder
. My kids are excited at the possibilities. Their favorite is pumpkin pie, but this shake tastes just like it, in a fraction of the time!Pumpkin Shake1 pint vanilla ice cream
(about 4 heaping ice cream scoopsful)1 1/2 c. milk1 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin powder
*1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
OR 1/8 tsp. cinnamon plus a dash (to taste) each ground cloves, ginger, and/or nutmeg2 Tbsp. brown sugar,
OR molasses, OR honey
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix on high until smooth. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
*If you don't have pumpkin powder, use 1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree, and reduce the milk to 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 cups.Optional mix-ins:
2 Tbsp. raisins (add before pureeing so they get finely chopped)
2-3 oz. cream cheese
2-4 Tbsp. chocolate chips
Get this recipe and many more ways to use pumpkin, free, from The Great Pumpkin Cookbook
This weekend I participated in a moms' retreat- our own little 'Education Week'end, you might say. (See here
for one of the addresses we heard.)
We each brought food for either the dinner or brunch the next day. Most of the ladies there try to eat very healthfully, and some of them have dietary issues like gluten intolerance, so I made a gluten-free, dairy-free (CF= 'casein free'- the protein in milk) cake.
I actually used a cake mix- Pamela's Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix
- which uses evaporated cane juice for the sugar, and organic grains. That way everyone could eat happy. Everybody- regular wheat-eaters included thought the cake was absolutely delicious.
By the way, this brand of cake mix makes two 8" or 9" layers. Not all of the GF cakes mixes do. Some, like Betty Crocker, only make one 8" layer. So take that into consideration if you're pricing them.GF CF German Chocolate Cake
Bake and cool one chocolate cake, using a two-layer sized gluten-free mix, or from scratch. One good recipe is at Living Without
.(This recipe calls for 1 c. coffee, to intensify the flavor- if you don't prefer to use coffee, use hot water instead and 1 Tbsp. molasses. Reduce sugar by 1 Tbsp.)Lower-fat, Dairy-free Coconut-Pecan Frosting (also egg-free)
3 Tbsp. potato starch or tapioca starch, OR 5 Tbsp. rice flour
3/4 evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
1 c. coconut or rice milk
¼ c. coconut oil
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
½ c. pecans, toasted and chopped fine
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
Stir together starch and sugar, then gradually mix in milk. Add coconut oil and salt, then heat and stir over medium-high. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and coconut, reserving 1 Tbsp each nuts and coconut for garnish. Chill first if spreading on a tall cake, frost immediately if spreading on a sheet cake.
The Utah State Fair is going on this week and next. Every year, in addition to displays and exhibitions, they hold Bake Off contests. It's been a few years since I went, but it's something my family and I enjoy participating in.
The competition on Thursday was the "Governor Herbert's Favorite Pie" Bake Off. He and his wife were taste-testers of all the pies, but there were three pastry shop owners/chefs brought in as the judges. Long story short, this is the pie I brought. They liked it (it earned second place), and nobody could believe what the 'secret ingredient' was! Two whole avocados. Sounds like an April Fools' Day food, doesn't it?
When made in a plain chocolate pie, the avocado can be detected only as a faint fruity taste. I took advantage of that by using orange juice and zest in the pie. I've made several flavor variations on this pie, but the chocolate-orange is my favorite. Well, the favorite chocolate version, anyway. I really, really like the Lime Silk Pie
This filling is free of gluten, eggs, dairy, refined sugar, and nuts! If that matters to you, just be sure that the crust and toppings you use are, as well.
The pie also freezes well
. The texture softens slightly after being thawed, but not by much. To thaw one piece, let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes. To thaw the whole pie, let it sit 45-60 minutes instead. Chocolate Truffle Pie
Juice and finely shredded zest from one large orange or two smaller ones
½ cup honey
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ripe avocados, about 5 oz. apiece
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
One 8” pie crust
Measure orange juice; add a little water or more juice to equal ½ cup. Put the orange juice, zest (should be about 1 Tbsp), honey, coconut oil, cocoa, avocados, vanilla, and salt in a blender or food processor. Run on high for 1-2 minutes, until smooth. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours until set. Let stand at room temperature 30-60 minutes before serving for a softer texture.
Serve with a drizzle of fudge sauce and some whipped cream.
Or Lime Silk Pie
. Just put all the filling in an 8" pie crust. The recipe is also gluten-free. If you change the fruit to orange, and add cocoa powder, you get Chocolate Truffle Pie
A friend recently sent me a very strange-sounding chocolate pie recipe, using avocados and coconut oil in the filling for some healthy fat. It was so unusual I just had to try it!
It was shockingly good. So good it deserved some variations.
This one doesn't use cocoa at all, and takes advantage of the natural green color from the avocados.
Are you intrigued yet?Toasty Coconut Crust: (or use your favorite crust)
2 Tbsp. honey
½ c. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 c. toasted fine-flake coconut
Pull out an 8” pie pan, OR for tartlets, line 30 mini-muffin tins with paper liners (optional, for easier removal). Stir together the honey, coconut oil, and salt. Add coconut and mix until smooth. Press into the pie pan or muffin tins. For the latter, use 1 Tbsp. per mini muffin tin and press. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes, while you make the filling. For easiest removal, take the mini crusts out of the pan (still in the liners) when firm, before adding the filling.
2 avocados, about 4-5 oz. apiece
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. honey
½ c. fresh lime juice (or use the juice of 3 limes and make up the difference with water)
1 Tbsp. lime zest, or 6-8 drops lime essential oil
2 Tbsp. coconut cream concentrate (optional but softens the sharpness a little)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
Put all the filling ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour into your prepared crust. Chill at least four hours, until firm. (To speed it up, try 30 minutes in the freezer.) Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes if you want the filling a little softer.
Garnish with a dollop of coconut yogurt (or sour cream if dairy’s OK for you) and a bit of lime zest. Makes one 8” pie or about 30 tartlets.
One website dedicated to avocado recipes - including both unique and stand-by recipes- is TheAmazingAvocado.com
I'd love to hear back from you once you try this lime pie!What else do you do with avocados?