calico brownies (gluten free, low sugar, vegan) + fair trade

100_2143Disclaimer: This is a post that starts out seriously but ends in chocolate.

My husband and I are reading the book, “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” It’s written by an American journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck five years ago. However, it’s also a book which details Haiti’s volatile history, sometimes of their own making, but also from in the influence of foreign powers rocking their boat. With the earthquake that just happened in Nepal and more natural disasters of increasing intensity on their way, it’s a timely book to be reading.

But what does Haiti have to do with brownies?

calicobrowniesNot much. At least in the sense that Haiti isn’t a large producer of the world’s chocolate  or coconut oil (it does export some). However, many of the trade practices which adversely affect Haiti on other fronts (which Katz relates in the book), also are in place with countries that do produce the most of the chocolate and coconut oil we consume.

For those of us living in affluent nations, the sad truth is that certain imported foods we enjoy at low cost to us comes at a high cost to others. (If you are interested in learning more about the importance of fair trade, I’ve included some links at the end of this post following the recipe.)

But I believe this can change because every time I make a purchase decision, I am casting my vote not only for the product but also for the business practice that brought it to the shelf.

So when a recipe calls for an ingredient that largely is produced and exported from a developing nation, I cast my vote in favor of fair trade as much as possible.

(Here’s where the brownies come in!)

Unlike most brownies which carry a high sugar content, these Calico Brownies, which are adapted from the “Peanut Butter Brownie” recipe found in “Vegan Planet”* on page 508, derive most of their sweetness from dates. They also feature fair trade cocoa power and fair trade coconut oil…which I think makes them taste all the sweeter.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the calico brownies recipe

 calico brownies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

 Serves: 16 brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax + 6 T water)
  • ½ cup fair trade coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup agave or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 cup date paste
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup fair trade unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼-1/3 c. no sugar natural peanut butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine the flax seed and water to make the flax eggs. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt oil, add in vanilla and agave, then turn off heat.

Break date paste into smaller pieces and stir into liquid mixture – using a potato masher works well to further break up the date paste.

Add in flax eggs and stir.

Add in dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine (the mixture will appear dense and crumble in large pieces.

Pour mixture into greased 8×8 glass baking dish and press down firmly with hands.

Pour peanut butter over batter and use a knife to work it in, then press down batter again (keeping your hands moistened with water helps prevent the batter from sticking to them.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let it cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Typically, I’ve purchased Equal Exchange’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa at my local health food store, but recently found Frontier’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa for less at Abe’s Market. (you can get free shipping on orders over $49.) I usually buy Br. Bronner’s brand of fair trade coconut oil.

Make sure the stevia you use is 100%, otherwise results will vary. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop.

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 *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

 

cabbage rolls (vegan)

100_1435

Despite the warmer weather today, I know we’re not quite in the clear yet…a few weeks of wintery weather may still be upon us. Which means there will be many days left which call for the warming dishes of comfort food.

Last week, I turned to my quarter-Polish roots to prepare a vegan twist on the traditional cabbage roll. For  the longest time, this was one dish that I never warmed up to until recently. I think it was the unusual color + size of the cabbage leaves that was a turn off.

But ever since I learned more about my great-grandparents who emigrated from Poland to Canada in the late 1920’s, my appreciation (and apparently, appetite) for this part of my heritage has grown. nanpics

Traditionally, cabbage rolls are prepared with ground pork, salt pork or ground beef combined with rice and onions. This recipe is based on the one my mother gave me, but I incorporated some coconut bacon to approximate the flavor of salt pork.

Despite the length of prep and cook time, this dish is simple to prepare.

cabbage rolls1

So, what kind of dishes have you grown to love?

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the vegan cabbage rolls recipe
CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

 vegan cabbage rolls

Prep Time: 90 minutes

Cook Time: 2-3 hours

Keywords: bake saute entree gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian whole grain cabbage rice tomato sauce lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 cabbage head, core removed
  • 1 c. brown rice (organic is best)
  • ½ c. brown lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. coconut bacon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups tomato sauce

For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the cabbage rolls- save the extra for other recipes!)

  • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 T coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Cook rice in 1 ¾ c. water until liquid is absorbed. In a separate pot, cook lentils in 1-1 ¼ c. water until tender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in dairy free butter until tender; set aside.

To prepare cabbage leaves: place cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to remove leaves one at a time as they become softened and loose (about 20-30 seconds between each leaf layer). Set aside.

When rice and lentils are cooked, combine, then mix in coconut bacon and seasonings.

Depending on the leaf size, spoon ¼-1/2 c. of rice/lentil mixture into each leaf. Fold in bottom and top and then roll closed.*

Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with tomato sauce and place rolls seam side down into dish (you can do this as you roll each one). When all the rolls are prepared, pour remaining sauce over the rolls until they are almost completely covered.

Cover with foil and place in a 325 degree F oven and bake for 2-3 hours, turning down the temperature if needed to prevent burning. The rolls are cooked when most of the tomato sauce is absorbed.

for the Coconut Bacon

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.

Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.

Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.

Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Recipe Notes

Depending on the size of your cabbage leaves, you will need anywhere from 12-18 leaves for this recipe. You can use the remainder of the cabbage in other recipes.

Cabbage rolls are formed similar to burritos or spring rolls. There are online tutorials of how to roll them if you are unsure of the correct method.

Carefully monitor the level of the tomato sauce, especially as the cooking time approaches the two hour mark

For the coconut bacon, you can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Vitacost.com* offers a great price per bottle.

I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.

*Clicking this link gives me credit to Vitacost’s Refer-a-Friend program

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brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

2009-01-01 14.13.33The weather finally is whispering spring. My children actually want to play outside. I wore shoes, not boots, outside for the first time since I can’t remember when (not counting my time in the DR). Today the boys rode their bikes to school. Yet I know we’re not in the clear yet…a spring snow is still a possibility.

And here is a, perhaps unconventional, recipe; a nod to this betwixt and between time of eating winter’s comfort food while looking forward to spring’s fresh raw green. It’s a pizza featuring the warming heat of peppers and topped with raw Brussels sprouts and coconut bacon.

Considering I spent much of my life convinced I did. not. like. Brussels sprouts (I even tried convincing my mum I was allergic to them), I find it humorous that I now try to find ways to work them into a recipe. Though I still am not a fan of a cooked sprout, I do enjoy them in the raw.

If you enjoy the taste and texture of cooked Brussels sprouts, by all means roast away, but I like the contrast of warm pizza with cool greens and knowing that the heat hasn’t killed all their micro-nutrient goodness.

The coconut bacon recipe comes from a recipe pack Angela at Oh She Glows offered with a pre-buy of her cookbook*; I tweaked it slightly. brusselsproutbaconpizza

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza recipe

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the coconut bacon recipe

Brussels sprout & “bacon” pizza (vegan)

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving size: 2 adults

 

Ingredients

For the Coconut Bacon (makes more than needed for the pizza – save the extra for other recipes!)

  • 2 cups large, flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 T coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Pizza

  • Pizza crust (here’s the one I use)
  • Hummus
  • Pizza sauce (the sauce I make for this)
  • Pine nuts (optional)
  • Sliced onion rounds
  • Sliced red peppers, organic are best
  • Sliced Greek pepperoncini
  • Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  • Coconut bacon (recipe follows, next page)
  • Garlic powder & dried oregano

Instructions

for the Coconut Bacon

  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Mixing by hand can help the liquids coat the coconut.
  2. Let the mixture stand a few minutes while oven preheats to further aid absorption.
  3. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake 7-8 minutes, remove pan from oven, stir, then return pan oven.
  5. Bake an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice to help coconut bacon cook evenly.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool.

for the Brussels Sprout & “Bacon” Pizza

  1. If using a homemade crust, pre-bake it for five minutes.
  2. Spread on hummus, then sauce.
  3. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried oregano, then add pine nuts if using.
  4. Add onions, peppers and pepperoncini and bake in over for about 15 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and veggies are tender.
  5. Top with raw Brussels sprouts and sprinkle on coconut bacon. Serve.

Recipe Notes

  • You can use tamari or soy sauce in place of coconut aminos, but you will need to adjust the salt content. I like using coconut aminos because it is free of additives often found in soy sauce and tamari and it has a lower sodium content. Here’s where I order it on vitacost.com.
  • I use Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke because it is one of the few liquid smoke brands that is free of sugar and other additives.
  • Although the bacon is soft when it first comes out of the oven, it hardens as it cools.
  • I like using red pepper hummus (especially Sabra’s Red Pepper Hummus) for the extra flavor dimension it offers, but feel free to experiment with your favorite kind. Hummus is key as it mimics the moisture and flavor cheese adds to pizza.
  • I use Jeff’s Naturals brand for my pepperoncini because it doesn’t contain the preservatives found in most brands of pepperoncini found in grocery stores. I get mine a natural foods grocery store.
  • Sprinkling on garlic powder and dried oregano helps boost flavor.
  • To judge quantity, I make my pizza in a 9-inch cake pan and use about ½ onion, one small red pepper, ½ cup of pepperoncini, 4-5 Brussels sprouts and ¼ cup coconut bacon. But feel free to adjust to your personal taste.
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* *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.

whole grain pizza dough (reduced gluten)

pizza dough

When my children were little, we discovered this book at the library. It included a recipe for pizza dough in the back and we decided to give it a try.

Friday pizza nights with the “Pizza for Everyone” crust quickly became a family tradition, one that was often accompanied by a movie. Though we don’t strictly adhere to this tradition all the time, I usually plan for pizza night once a week (and make a few extra personal pizzas to tuck into school lunches).

I’ve adapted the original recipe to include whole grains and reduce the gluten content. I’m also sharing a second version of the dough strictly as a printable PDF. This second version uses a 2:1:1 ratio of unbleached, all-purpose white flour to whole wheat pastry flour to brown rice flour because it’s hard to sell my husband and children on the crust I prefer to eat.

A single batch of this dough yields two 9-inch pizzas and I can get a double batch of the dough to make one large thin crust pizza on a cookie sheet, plus 3-4 small personal pizzas. The dough also freezes well, so when I make my version of the crust, I split it in half, popping half of it in the freezer and turning the other half into dinner.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the reduced gluten + whole grain pizza dough recipe

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the refined + whole grain flour pizza dough recipe

 reduced gluten whole grain pizza dough

Prep Time: 75-105 minutes (includes rise time)

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1 7g. package dry, active yeast
  • Drizzle of sweetener of your choice
  • ¾ c. warm water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 c. olive or avocado oil

Instructions

Gently stir yeast and sweetener in a bowl with the warm water until combined.

Let the mixture stand until bubbles begin to form (a.k.a proofing the yeast). This takes about five minutes.

Stir in olive oil, then mix in flour and salt.

Knead 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable.

Form into a ball in the bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot for 60-90 minutes.

On a lightly oiled pan, press dough into desired size and shape, then pre-bake in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes to set the top of the crust.

Add desired toppings and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

Recipe Notes

The right water temperature for the water is key to a good dough…too cold and the yeast takes a long time to work, too hot and you kill it completely. If this is your first time working with yeast, you might want to try using a thermometer to get the right water temp.

Avocado oil is a better choice for foods cooked at medium-high temperatures like pizza because it can withstand high heat.

If you are saving some of the dough for future use, wrap it in a couple of plastic bags and store it in the freezer. You can do this before or after pre-baking it, but I found freezing it in raw dough form to better.

Feel free to experiment with your own combination of flours, though texture and results may vary.

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