Thursday, March 29

{Gluten-Free & Vegan Brownies}

It's been a busy week, full of training for a new journey.  It started last November when I fell in love with a fabulous workout that combined the grace of ballet and the balance and strength of pilates. Called Xtend Barre, it leaves me feeling beautiful, elegant and strong, feelings every woman should have after an hour of hard work! It took a little coaxing, but I decided to learn how to teach Xtend.  Two weekends ago I spent three days trying to soak up all the choreography, technique and body awareness necessary to teach it well.  Now, I'm training just about every day to improve and prepare to teach.  It's been exciting and fresh, yet exhausting! My body is quite ready for bed each night and rather cranky about rolling out in the morning, but I'm determined to keep on.  

For some odd reason chocolate tends to become more enticing when my body is worn out.  Last night I felt a sudden desire to bake brownies. This is a treat that has many happy childhood memories attached to it, only back then it included Ghirardelli's double chocolate brownie mix.  Nowadays it's a bit tougher to find a reliable gluten-free and vegan brownie recipe that satisfies my gooey chocolate appetite.  

My most recent attempt actually turned out quite well! So well, I thought it worthy of sharing with you.  It follows the general outline of BabyCakes' recipe, but as usual I substituted and added for a better result.  My changes made it mostly sugar-free too! I hope you give it a try when you're hearing the chocolate call.  

{GF & Vegan Brownies} 

1 Cup Chickpea Flour
1/4 Cup Potato Starch
2 Tbsp Arrowroot
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa powder
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Xylitol
1/2 Cup Grapeseed Oil
2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Hot Water

1/2 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips 
1/2 Cup Chopped Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks (from a block of Chocolate)

Whisk all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the wet and mix slowly.  Fold in the Chocolate and pour into a greased 9 x 9" baking pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. The 15 minute bake time gives you a slightly firm crust and moist middle. If you like your brownies more on the gooey side pull them out sooner, closer to the 10 minute bake time.  Pair with some yummy coconut ice cream and fresh fruit for a delicious evening dessert. Enjoy! 


Saturday, March 10

{Green & Clean Home Perfume}

Home air fresheners and spritzes  are typically full of chemicals! Yuck.... but who doesn't want fresh relaxing aromas throughout their home?  I have a love/hate relationship with smells.  I am very aware of the scents around me.  When I encounter a "rank" smell (as my husband would call it) a normal response typically includes a dramatic gasp, closely followed by nose wrinkles and a frantic run for fresh air. Yes, it may be a slight overreaction...  Give me a good smell and I am in heaven.  I love fresh, light airy aromas.  It might be that clean laundry smell that accompanies clothes fresh out of the dryer or the scent of freshly picked herbs, either way I want them around me all the time.

So the question is how do I get a wonderful scent without breathing in chemicals? Well, I decided to try and create my own freshener. It came to me after I peeled a fresh farmer's market treat, a juicy tangelo.  I wanted to savor the smell of the peel.  Pulling out my saucepan and filing it with enough water to cover the peel pieces, I began to simmer it.  I immediately thought it needed something else...  rosemary!  I had just brought home a little tree of live rosemary for our balcony.  I love rosemary.  Breaking a sprig off the tree and gently separating the leaves from the stem, I tossed the rosemary in with the peel and let its aroma fill the room.  So simple! The smell filled my apartment and truly created my perfect home aroma.

What a wonderful way to use every bit of what you eat and grow! I hope you try your own home perfume soon, combining your favorite foods and herbs. Once you do come back and share what you created! Enjoy!

Friday, March 2

{Hearty GF Breakfast}

There are days when I am so bored with my breakfast.  Believe me, there are many options for delicious GF and Vegan breakfasts. Yet, somehow I can still get in a rut.  Are you with me or am I the only one running out of ideas at the break of dawn? Probably not, so today I am going to share some of my little breakfast ideas with you.  As I push myself to think outside the box and get creative in the days to come perhaps we can avoid that rut all together!

I have always preferred to start my day with a hearty meal, so cereal just doesn't cut it.  A simple, quick, nutritious and filling breakfast can provide the foundation for a marvelous day, full of energy and mental sharpness.  Consequently, it's worth it to dive in and get creative with your first meal of the day.   If you're new to GF or just wondering what all these options are let me share a few ideas with you:

1. GF Oatmeal - top with nuts, dried fruit or fresh fruit; sweeten with vanilla or regular stevia, agave, honey or pure maple syrup. Mix and match!

2. Coconut Yogurt or Kefir with GF Granola - I prefer plain with stevia and cinnamon granola. Add your favorite granola and/or toppings (see oatmeal).

3. GF Crepe with Vegan Daiya Cheddar Cheese and Caramelized Onion Filling - Yes, it's AMAZING. See BabyCakes new cookbook.

4. GF English Muffin topped with Vegan Daiya Cheese, Tomato and Avocado Slices.

5. GF Bread toasted and spread with Raw Almond Butter.  Topped with a dust of Cinnamon or Sea Salt and a drizzle of Honey.

6. Smoothies!

7. GF Muffins paired with a spoonful of Raw Almond Butter!

 *If these aren't enough check out my recipes under "breakfast".

Finally a very savory and protein filled breakfast -

{Fresh Beans with Wild Smoked Alaskan Salmon, slices of Ripe Avocado and Himalayan Sea Salt}

1 Cup Fresh Cooked Beans (warm or cool)
2-6 oz of Wild Smoked Alaskan Salmon
Fresh Lemon Slice
1/4 Organic Hass Avocado
Dash of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Any other Spices you might enjoy!

*For variety, reduce Beans to 1/2 Cup and use a slice of toasted GF and Vegan Bread for your base!

A very different breakfast than you are accustomed to I am sure, but wait till you try it! I use my fresh seasoned homemade Beans as the base.  I tear small pieces of the tasty Salmon and place them on top of the Beans.  A squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice over the Salmon is always a nice addition.   I am obsessed with Avocado, so I can be a bit picky about quality and texture.  Make sure you get a ripe organic Avocado for best flavor. Slice it and fan across the Salmon. Finally sprinkle with Sea Salt and other Spices.  Enjoy!

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