Much Anticipated Gluten-Free Cupcake Cookbook Launches!
Today is a day to celebrate! Elana Amsterdam's Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour has hit the market and is flying off Amazon's shelves like hotcakes—or rather, shall I say, sweet and tempting cupcakes.
I have read my preview copy of Gluten-Free Cupcakes cover-to-cover, have made five recipes and want to share my impressions.
Simple Recipes, Quick Prep
If you’ve met Elana, you quickly pick up that she is a no-nonsense lady and the same goes for her recipes and cookbooks. She’s all about keeping it basic and simple (yes!). Ingredient lists are short and directions are clear and concise. Take, for example, her three-ingredient Flourless White Chocolate Cupcake. It calls for is three, yes only three, ingredients—buy the book to find out what they are :).
And speaking of ingredients, after stocking up on the few basics Elana suggests, you can make virtually all of the cupcakes and frostings in the book. For those unaccustomed to baking with ingredients such as almond flour, coconut oil or chia seed, Elana explains what they are, what they do, where to buy them and how to use them.
A Treat for Everyone
If are nut-free, dairy-free, sweetener-free, kosher, paleo, vegan—there are recipes in this book for you. Some recipes call for almond flour, some for coconut flour. I really enjoyed the date, banana and stevia-sweetened Banana Pecan Cupcakes, and made extra to keep in the freezer for a quick bite.
I will note that if you are egg-free, all but one of the cupcake and muffin recipes call for eggs.
Satisfying and Nutritionally Dense
Like Elana, I gravitate to foods that are nutritionally dense; foods that pack goodness into every bite. Unlike traditional cupcakes, Elana's use of high-protein almond flour and eggs ensures just this. I was pleased to find six savory muffin recipes that require not sweetener. The great thing about nutritionally dense foods is that they fill you up. One cupcake (okay, maybe two) and I am satisfied.
Gluten-Free Cupcakes offers a whopping 14 frostings, fillings and toppings—four of which are vegan! I used the Vegan Buttercream to top the Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I made. Delightful! Elana uses agave nectar in most of her recipes but encourages experimentation with honey, brown rice syrup, xylitol or fruit purees.
Tasty Photos and Clean Layout
This cookbook is very easy and pleasing to the eye. The layout is clean, the photos are rich. It’s a fun book to flip through.
Keep In Mind
Follow Directions: I like it when an cookbook drives home the importance of following directions. Elana tactfully does this. I need the reminder, for I am the queen of improvisation in the kitchen. Follow the directions for optimal results.
Let the Cakes Cool: With these cupcakes, cooling is a step that cannot be skipped. Keep the temptation at bay to pop a fresh one in your mouth and let the cupcakes cool for the length of time Elana says they should.
Be one of the very FIRST to own a copy of Elana Amsterdam's new cookbook, Gluten-Free Cupcakes.
To Enter: Leave a comment at the end of this post. If you'd like, share with us the one cookbook you could not live without. For and additional chance to win, "LIKE" Lexie's Kitchen on Facebook.
Deadline: To qualify, leave your comment by 5:00 p.m. (CST) Wednesday, May 4th.
Elana launched the blog Elana's Pantry in 2006. Five years later she continues to serve up at least one new gluten-free recipe a week. In 2009 she published her first cookbook The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Elana is near and dear to my heart and I am honored to call her a friend. Though she may not know it, through her blog, she was a help and inspiration to me long before we met. I am certain thousands of others would say the same. Her recipes and anecdotes were rays of sunshine and hope in our home in the days following our food allergy diagnosis. Elana lives with her family in Boulder, Colorado.
Support a Food Blogger
Bloggers do what they do because they love it, because it is their passion—sacrifices are made to bring you the posts that they do. If you'd like to show your appreciation for the efforts of your favorite food blogger turned cookbook author, consider purchasing their book. Here are just a few you might enjoy.
NEW! Good Morning! Breakfasts Without Gluten, Egg, Sugar or Dairy
Ricki Heller | www.dietdessertndogs.com (pdf e-book)
Some of the recipes in these cookbooks call for ingredients I do not regularly stock/use (e.g. cane sugar, eggs, etc.). If you have certain dietary restrictions, read the full description and reviews of a book to ensure it is a right fit for you.
Nut and seed milks have been our saving grace.
When our son was 14 months old, chronic sinusitis and GI "issues" led us to suspect an intolerance to cow's milk and soy milk. Shortly thereafter, skin and blood allergy tests confirmed it.
Hearing of our plight, my raw foodista sister showed up on our doorstep with a pitcher of creamy, date-sweetened almond milk. "Try this," she said, and showed us how easy it was to make.
Two years later and thanks to my sis, nut and seed milks have become a staple in our kitchen. We use the milks in smoothies, in baking, for making ice cream and over hot cereal. We've tried almond, cashew, Brazil nut, hazelnut, sunflower, hemp, sesame and even rice and oat.
This week sunflower seed milk is the flavor in the fridge. Sunflower seed milk may not be as neutral in taste as say, almond or cashew, but it's one of the creamiest by far, and super rich when mixed with carob powder (or cocoa) and a touch of sweetener.
Just one ounce of sunflower seeds boasts a whopping 76% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance
of vitamin E—a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from the harmful effects of toxins and
carcinogens that cause free radical damage to cells in the body. According to the USDA Nutrient
Database sunflower seeds are the best whole food source of vitamin E.
Making nut and seed milks is so easy! A good blender and a bag for straining are the only tools needed. Sources online sell bags specifically designed for straining nut milk. I started out using these but have discovered a more durable and economical solution—reusable produce bags from 3B Bags. 3-packs of these 100% polyester, fine mesh bags may be purchased from the Lexie's Kitchen Amazon Store, direct from 3B Bags and from a number of natural food stores (Whole Foods, Sunflower Market and Vitamin Cottage to name a few). They retail for around $7.50. Locally they are as low as $4.99! Clean-up is easy, just rinse and toss the bags in the laundry and hang dry. The great thing about buying them in 3-packs is that it ensures you always have a clean nut milk bag on hand!
Sunflower Carob Milk
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Easily Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Easily Vegan | Raw
Serves: Makes approximately 4 cups
Active Time: 5 minutes
Soak Time: 2 hours
1 cup raw, hulled SUNFLOWER SEEDS, soak in water for 2 hours, rinse, drain
4 cups WATER
1 small CINNAMON STICK (optional), soak with sunflower seeds
1/4 cup CAROB POWDER
STEVIA, raw HONEY or SOAKED DATES (4-5) to taste
Pinch SEA SALT
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender. Blend on high until smooth.
Drape nut milk bag over a large bowl. Pour milk mixture through nut milk bag. Pull draw string tight and gently squeeze milk out of bag into bowl. Discard pulp or use in crackers. Transfer milk to a pitcher or jar, chill and serve. If milk separates, just give it a good stir before serving.
Well, that was last week.
This week our doctor advised that my little guy go back on the Candida/Yeast-Free to bring the yeast overgrowth in his gut under control. For those unfamiliar with this diet, it means the avoidance of all forms of glucose and fructose and a lot whole more—basically anything that yeast feeds on (sugars, refined carbohydrates, mold, yeast, vinegar ... and the list goes on). Not easy, but worth it. I am working on a post that goes into more detail, so stay tuned.
So, hmph, no sugar this Easter. I had to toss the idea of a sweet treat out the window and decided to contribute a recipe for a Caramelized Carrot & Licorice Root Soup (he is allowed one serving of a starchy vegetable a day, phew!). Something Mr. Easter Bunny might enjoy.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from a soup I sampled at last year's International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. The authors of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking were serving up Caramelized Carrot Soup with Young Ginger, Licorice Root and Carotene Butter.
The flavors were pleasantly complex—carrot, ginger, licorice. It was so memorable that I set out to make something similar. To the version I came up with, I added a hint of cinnamon and topped it with a tart Lemon Coconut Cream. The cream really finished it! It's a bright and refreshing starter—the perfect soup to usher in Spring!
Oh, and if you are skeptical as to whether your little person would enjoy it? Well here's my little guy licking it right off the lid of the blender : )
Caramelized Carrot & Licorice Root Soup
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | ACD
Serves: 2-4 (makes 4 cups)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook & Chill Time: About 2 hours
1 small CINNAMON STICK
2 teaspoons LICORICE ROOT
1 cup BOILING WATER
2 tablespoons virgin COCONUT OIL
8 medium CARROTS, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1/2 teaspoon SALT
2 teaspoons GINGER ROOT, very finely minced
2 cups WATER
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh LEMON JUICE
Add licorice root and cinnamon stick to the one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep 15-20 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid.
In a large fry pan, saute carrots and salt in oil over low heat. Saute, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender and have a hint of golden brown.
Once "caramelized", allow carrots to cool 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a high-powered blender along with licorice/cinnamon liquid, ginger, two cups water and lemon juice. Blend on medium-high until super smooth. Add water as needed to adjust to desired consistency.
Ladle into bowls and drizzle with Lemon Coconut Cream (recipe below).
Lemon Coconut Cream
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
More About Licorice Root
Visit Elana's Pantry for more on The Healing Properties of Licorice Root
Some should avoid licorice. Read about it here.
Licorice Root Tea recipe for colds, flu and adrenal health over at Nourishing Days
My little man has it good. He has a mamma who is a Martha Stewart wanna be. This means she'll plan out, shop for and spend hours baking and decorating the "perfect" birthday cake. And, you know what, regardless whether it turns out "perfect" or not, he loves his cakes and thinks his mom rocks (yes, that's my ulterior motive)! With each birthday and each cake he has taught me the much-needed lesson of "let it go, mom, it's good enough"
This week W.C. is celebrating his 5th birthday. And this year, I finally "let go" and let him help make the cake and toppers—and you know what, the memory of it all is already more meaningful.
Here is the finished product. I'll admit this cake doesn't fit into our everyday diet, but once a year, I let go and loosen up a bit. It is, however, gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free.
Here is what I used:
Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (using 3 flax eggs and EarthBalance buttery spread) ... definitely NOT sugar-free : )
Half a batch of Elana's Pantry's Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes batter (baked in a 5"-round springform pan). The recipe is in her soon-to-release Gluten-Free Cupcakes cookbook.
A buttercream concoction of coconut oil, Earthbalance buttery spread, palm oil, vanilla and honey. I don't know the measurements, I just threw it all together and lightly tinted with India Tree natural vegetable colorants.
Indiana Jones-Themed Toppers
Store-bought white fondant (warning: sugar and I believe corn-syrup laden!) colored with some fake and some India Tree natural vegetable colorants. We do not eat the fondant. I tell the kids it's just for decoration : )
Now I'd better go wrap those presents (you guessed it, Legos) and wish my "bright and shiny" a happy birthday.
Oh and cool trick. I'm pretty frugal and didn't want to hunt down and spend money on a Lego mold. So my friend Hannah and I made the blocks and pressed Legos into them. The effect was good enough!