Welcome to Lexie's Kitchen & Living. I'm glad you stopped by and hope you enjoy the five years of recipes and ramblings collected here.

The inspiration for this site was my son. To learn about our journey to restore his intestinal and neurological health read here

Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Take a peek at my cookbook.  

 

 

 


 

  

 

Tuesday
Oct162012

Almost Like Peanut Butter but Peanut-Free!

This post is linked to: Allergy-Free Wednesday Week 39

A good peanut-free peanut butter substitute is hard to find. This sunflower coconut butter is the closest I've made in taste and texture to honest-to-goodness peanut butter.

Nut-Free Peanut Butter-Like Spread

We've gone without peanut butter for a while now ... and we really miss the stuff. To satisfy our cravings we've been eating jar after jar of Sunbutter®— also known as sunflower butter, the most common (if not only) nut-free (but not coconut-free) substitute for peanut butter's creamy goodness. 

My kids love sunflower butter. I like it enough to eat it, but just find the roasted sunflower taste a wee bit overpowering.

So I thought about taming it.

But how?

Coconut!

To my surprise, this combination of toasted sunflower seeds and coconut is the closest substitute I've found, in taste and texture, to that of creamy peanut butter.

For the creamiest spread, you will need a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, OmniBlend, or Vitamix. I ran a batch in my food processor and got a butter (after 15 minutes), but it was far from smooth. In a high-powered blender, friction and the resulting heat causes the mixture to liquefy. Once poured into jars and allowed to cool at room temperature, it should firm up to a creamy spreadable butter.

Peanut-Free "Almost Like Peanut Butter"
Sunflower Coconut Nut Butter Spread

Ingredients:

1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR or granulated sugar
4 cups finely shredded COCONUT, unsweetened
1 cup raw SUNFLOWER SEEDS
1-1/2 tablespoons COCONUT OIL
1/4 heaping teaspoon SALT

Directions:

  1. Add coconut sugar to container of high-powered blender. Blend 10-15 seconds or until powdery. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet toast sunflower seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the majority of seeds are golden in color. Transfer to blender container.
  3. Add to skillet coconut. ***Coconut toasts quickly*** Over medium heat warm coconut flakes until heated through and some of the shreds are golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Blend sunflower seeds on low until a fine powder forms.
  5. Add coconut oil and blend again, increasing to medium speed and pausing to scrape sides as needed.
  6. Blitz on high for 10 seconds and stop.
  7. Add 1 cup coconut. Blend at medium speed for 20-30 seconds then increase to high for 10, pausing to scrape sides as needed. At this point butter should be forming and liquefying.
  8. Repeat step seven, 1 cup of coconut at at time.
  9. Once all coconut has been incorporated and mixture is runny, add sugar and salt and blend on high to achieve desired smoothness, about 60-90 seconds.
  10. Mixture will be HOT and runny. Pour into jar(s), cover and cool at room temperature until firmed up. This can take 8-24 hours depend on temperature of your kitchen.
  11. Store at room temperature for up to a week or in fridge up to a month.

Notes:

  1. As the blender pulverizes and liquefies the mixture, you may notice what appears to be smoke wafting out of the blender container. No worries, this is an oil mist. No harm is being done to your blender. That said, if your blender starts to smell like hot rubber, let it rest and crank the speed down a knotch.
  2. ***If you are dealing with a severe (anaphylactic) peanut allergy, ensure your source of sunflower seeds can guarantee no cross contamination with peanuts or other foods you are allergic to***
Friday
Oct122012

Marshmallows in Progress

POST UPDATE:  Marshmallows are done! Here is the recipe.

_____________________________________________________________________

Since making a batch of honey marshmallow fluff following a recipe in this book, I have been obsessed with marshmallows—and making them with natural sweeteners.

Though I haven't landed on the perfect flavor combo yet, I thought I would tease you with these.

Aren't they adorable!!

Every night after dinner it's been "chocolate milk with marshmallows on top for dessert, mom!"

Want the recipe? Let me know in a comment.

Any good flavor ideas? I'm thinking peppermint? Or how about pumpkin spice?

Thursday
Oct112012

New Cookbook! Super Healthy Cookies

Today I had a great visit with Hallie Klecker of Daily Bites.

In a Google+ Hangout we talked about juicing, her mother's influence on her in the kitchen, and her latest cookbook Super Healthy Cookies: 50 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Delicious & Nutritious Treats. If you missed it, you can watch it here:

 

Hallie is a shining star in the gluten free, whole foods community. This new book is just an example of the kind of contribution she is making.

I don't know about you, but I am seeing an encouraging trend. More and more people are swinging back to a purer, wholesome way of eating—making wiser choices, adding more vegetables, good fats, and quality proteins to their diet.

As we make these positive changes Hallie reminds us that, for most, the occasional treat is okay ... when made with healthier ingredients. Hallie skillfully coaches us on how to sparingly, but effectively, sweeten treats with the natural sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and dried fruit versus cups upon cups of refined sugar.

I have made four recipes from this book. And each one has satisfied! Hallie has agreed to share her recipe for Chunky Monkey Cookies (pictured above, page 26). I finally had to stick them in the freezer. Leaving them on the counter was just too tempting :).

For those with food allergies and/or sensitivities, the appendix of Super Healthy Cookies is full of helpful tips on how to substitute healthier ingredients in your baking as well as a guide for quickly finding the recipes in the book that are nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and even vegan. Nuts and some grains are used (like oats and rice) ... refined sugar is not.

You can bet that this will be my holiday gift to friends and family. A little indulgence without all the guilt.

Oh, and I am happy to say that I played a little part in producing this baby. When I am not blogging or "mommying" I freelance as a graphic designer and this project was my first book design gig. Thank you Hallie for trusting me with the design and production of this rockin' book. It was an absolute joy to work with you.

Win a Cookbook!

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations Traci who commented "Looks like an awesome cookbook! Need healthy cookie recipes :)" — you won!

Hallie would like to send one Lexie's Kitchen reader a copy of Super Healthy Cookies. Enter by 4:00 pm (PST) October 15, 2012.

1. FOR ONE CHANCE TO WIN, leave a comment at the end of this post.

2. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

3. For a yet ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, add me to your circles on Google+ (what is Google+) OR post this review to your Google+ stream and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

Tuesday
Oct022012

How to Make a Chia Egg (or Flax Egg)

Gel eggs (chia or flax) are my secret weapon in egg-free baking. Pictured: Chia gel.

The last few days I have been working like a mad woman cooking and shooting food. A huge [HUGE] thank you goes out to my sister who has been visiting ... and doing dishes ... and playing sous chef ... and entertaining my kids. Without her I wouldn't have been able to nail 15 shots in two days!

Needless to say, I am a little pooped.

So, today I'm keeping it simple and sharing a tip for those who have never heard of or used gel eggs as egg replacers in baking. Way back when, I used the powder Ener-G egg replacer, but it wasn't until I began using chia and flax eggs that my gluten-free, egg-free baking really took off.

This "recipe" is for making one egg replacer. You are pretty safe using gel eggs in most baked goods that call for two eggs or less. Gel eggs "bind." Unfortunately they do not add much in the way of fluff as would be achieved with eggs in a souffle or sponge cake. Nor would I make a quiche with gel eggs (ewww gross)!

I encourage you to experiment and play. Gel eggs may not work in every recipe, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. My go-to special occasion birthday cake mix is Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix. I substitute the dairy milk with any non-dairy substitute and the eggs with gel eggs. The results are fantastic! Moist, great crumb, great flavor! Here's what they turn out like!

Chia Egg & Flax Egg Replacer

To make gel eggs only requires one tool—a grinder like a Magic Bullet or coffee/spice grinder for grinding the raw, whole chia or flax seed to meal. I use the later—a cheap-o one I picked up at Target.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon CHIA MEAL or FLAX MEAL (seeds that have been ground)
3 tablespoons WATER

Instructions

  1. Whisk meal and water together and let stand 5-10 minutes until thick, gelatinous and gloppy.
  2. Use in baking as you would one egg.

Tips

  1. Chia and flax seeds may be purchased online and at most natural grocery stores.
  2. Always start with fresh seeds. I never buy pre-ground. The fragile oils go rancid quickly.
  3. Grind seed just before using.
  4. Leftover gel may be kept refrigerated. Use within 3 days.
  5. Store whole seed in airtight containers. Chia may be kept in a cool dark place for years. Flax seed is best refrigerated.
  6. Opt for White Chia and Golden Flax. The darker varieties can leave your baked goods with a pepper-flaked appearance.
  7. Some sources suggest that the refrigeration of the gel for 15 minutes is a must. Too high-maintenance and I don't notice a difference.

Monday
Oct012012

An Apology for an Oversight

This day has not gone the way I thought it would. I had a slew of chores to tackle. But they had to be dropped because …

… I slipped up … and I am so sorry.

You see, today I received a comment from Nancy on my coconut yogurt post. She wrote:

“I see the Vegan culture [Cultures for Health Vegetal] is processed in a plant with a lot of no-no's for me. I would love to try the coconut yogurt but am leery of the starter you use. Anybody have trouble with it because of cross contamination?”

I halted in my tracks. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I failed my readers?

Apparently so and I am profusely sorry.

It is my aim to be diligent about reading labels and recommending only products that are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs and/or any possibility of cross-contamination with gluten, dairy, and eggs.

I have spent the morning researching Nancy’s claim. And she is absolutely right.

Right there on the Vegetal Yogurt Starter label it reads:

“Produced in a facility that also manufactures wheat, soy, eggs, nuts and fish.”

How did I miss this!? I am beside myself.

But wait, it got worse!

I called Cultures for Health who referred me to their source for Vegetal. That source pointed me to the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

It’s not every day that the average consumer reads a food manufacturer’s spec sheet and had I not I wouldn't have even discovered that barley and soy are used as "fermentation nutrients" in the production of Vegetal. I take that to mean that the bacteria is fed barley and soy and that the barley and soy (and gluten in the barley) is completely consumed by the bacteria? I sure hope so.

The spec sheet goes on to say:

“Danisco [the manufacturer] has determined that fermentation nutrients [barley and soy] are outside the scope of US and EU food allergen labeling requirements. Local regulation has always to be consulted as allergen labeling requirements may vary from country to country.” 

I am not sure what THAT means and I am no food scientist (can one pipe in?), but until I can verify that this product is indeed completely “safe,” I can no longer recommend it. Fortunately we have not had any problems with it. For all I know it may be a non-issue. But I will remain on the safe side for your sake.

With all this said. I apologize once more for not doing my homework and for this oversight.

And I thank Nancy for bringing this all to our attention. I need my readers!

I will be returning to using 35-40 billion CFU's (colony forming units) of Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete probiotic capsules per 2 quarts of liquid for making yogurt. The only downside with Klaire Labs is that they do not sell direct. Products are sold exclusively to healthcare professionals, authorized distributors, and patients with a physician-supplied authorization code. However, because it is impossible for me, a consumer, to oversee every step in the manufacturing process, I must leave it up to you to research and decide which yogurt culture or probiotic is safe for you and your family. I use Klaire Labs, but defer to you to find decide on which product you will choose to use.

The one tip I can provide when selecting a non-dairy yogurt starter or priobiotic capsule is to select one that includes the lactic acid-producing bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In the United States, the USDA defines "yogurt" as containing these two strains bacteria.

Thank you for being a loyal Lexie’s Kitchen reader. I made a oversight and hope you will forgive me.

I will leave the Cultures for Health shopping link on my site as some of you do not have issues with soy and gluten and/or may deem this product “safe enough” for your personal use.

Today I did not accomplish what I set out to do, but I have learned TWO great lessons:

1. Scrutinize labels—each and every time! Manufacturing processes can and do change. Ingredients and manufacturing processes used one day may not be the same the next.

2. Admit when you are wrong. The kind and understanding people will forgive knowing that you are doing your best. We all make mistakes and oversights.

xoLexie

Sources: Yo-Mix™ Vegetal 7 375 DCU Product Description www.danisco.com