In The Kitchen

What are so many of us doing during COVID-19 lock down? Baking!

What do you do during COVID when your husband is a paramedic, you have respiratory and autoimmune issues, and you don’t have a spare bedroom? I give you my cozy new bed for what is the foreseeable future.

It’s actually quite comfortable and I get to watch TV in bed without worrying about waking up the hubby. Figure he should get the bed. Hard enough doing his job right now. Then he comes home wearing a mask to keep me safe. Social distancing doesn’t end at the door in our house. But it’s temporary – like most things in life. We work well together during difficult times.

Several weeks into self isolation and restrictions are easing a little. Days monopolized by disinfecting, cleaning, dishes and laundry (oh so much laundry). But I’ve been having fun too! I’ve been cooking and baking a LOT as many people have been during the pandemic. It’s therapeutic, fun and rewarding. I highly recommend it! Add a challenge to the mix to push yourself… keep that brain working.

And given that it’s Mother’s Day, this is the perfect way to show mom you love her! If you can’t celebrate in-person because of COVID-19 distancing rules but you live close – bake her favorite treat and drop it off at her door!

For me, that’s trying out some elimination diets that may or may not have an effect on my environmental sensitivities and allergies. Don’t usually have time for such experiments. But now there’s no excuse! It did take a few weeks for some specialty baking products to become available. But now they are here and I’ve been coming up with some interesting and tasty options.

How about dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-less, lower-cholesterol cookies?! And before you turn your nose up…

They actually taste really good!

espresso chocolate cookies with Camino Cocoa Powder

What about vegan cookies with gluten?! With nut butter(and without). Ginger. Chocolate. Cranberry. The sky is the limit! These have Camino Unsweetened Chocolate Chips, but I also use Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips from time to time

chocolate chip cookies with Camino Unsweetened Chocolate Chips

I tried variations for all possible dietary needs.

ginger snaps with Wholesome Organic Molasses

OK… So these brownies came out of a box. Thank you to the Namaste Foods for making great low-allergen baking mixes that actually taste as good as OR better than regular baking mixes.

@NamasteFoods Organic Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix

These brownies are even non-fat!

Don’t have nut butters but have nuts and seeds… make your own butter. Easy to do. I made this cashew butter in 1/2 hr. Unsalted cashews roasted or not. I always re-roast nuts in the oven anyway (till they are sizzling and golden brown). Let the food processor do the rest. First it will look like flour. Keep going. Run the mix through till the oils release and the butter becomes smooth and creamy. For oily nuts and seeds like cashews, you don’t even need to add any extra oil.

homemade cashew butter

Like Hummus? It is soooo cheap to make your own. Canned and dried chickpeas are dirt cheap. Tahini (sesame seed paste) is pricier, but you only need a little bit per recipe. You can freeze the leftover. And in a pinch you can make your own. Just like nut butters, sesame seeds can be ground down. You need to use a coffee grinder/spice grinder. The food processor won’t work here. Even then, it’s a bit more challenging because the seeds are so small. Get creative adding flavour to your tahini. Garlic, herbs, spices… the options are endless just like the pre-made ones at the grocery store.

homemade garlic pine nut chipotle hummus

Some Substitutions

Eggs

  • Applesauce: 1/4 cup per egg
  • Banana: 1/2 very ripe smashed per egg
  • 1tbs ground flax seed soaked in 3tbs warm water (ground chia works too)
  • 1tbs water, 1tbs vinegar, 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbs water, 1 1/2 tbs oil, 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pkg gelatine, 2tbs warm water (mix just before using)
  • 1tsp yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

Gluten / Wheat

  • Nut Flours: I love making my own. Walnut is great as a chocolate cake base.
  • Oat Flour: Same here. Love making my own. Buckwheat Flour: heavier flavour. Don’t use too much
  • Rice Flour: light, generic flour
  • Corn Flour
  • Millet Flour
  • Quinoa Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • So many options!

Milk

  • Nut Milks
  • Rice Milk
  • Oat Milk (reminder to be careful with oats if you are celiac)
  • Coconut milk

Butter

  • Bananas: puree
  • Sweet potato puree
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Applesauce
  • Prune puree
  • Yogurts
  • Low-fat cheese (like ricotta or cottage cheese)
  • Ground Flax or chia soaked: 3 tbs seed + 1 tbs water for every 1tbs of fat
  • Oils: Nut oil (thin nut butter for denser consistency), olive oil, etc.
  • Coconut oil

In The Recipes

Oats are technically gluten-free, but they are often processed in facilities where gluten products are processed and they do contain something similar to gluten. If you are celiac, you might not be able to tolerate oats, but most other people can. For extra caution, you can buy oats labeled as gluten-free like those from the Bob Red Mills product line, but you still might be intolerant if you are celiac.

Try not to substitute the same ingredient for both the egg and the fat in the recipe. If you use applesauce as both the egg and butter in a chocolate brownie recipe – you’ll be able to taste the apple! Variety is best.

Try various mixes of flours. Again, variety is key. Don’t just use rice flour to replace all the wheat flour in cookies. The consistency won’t be great. Likewise, buckwheat has strong flavour. Minimize this with a compliment of other flours like rice, quinoa, or oat.

In my chocolate chip cookies I replace more than half the wheat flour with rice flour (or rice and a nut flour combo) and replace the rest with oat flour. I also add a little bit more flour than the original recipe calls for or leave the batter sitting in the fridge overnight so the oat flour can absorb all the liquid properly. I also use nut oils or butters or olive oil in place of butter. The baking powder-water mixture works in place of the eggs, but the soaked flax/chia works too if you like the extra crunchiness they add.

In muffins, cakes and brownies it is easier: Applesauce for one replacement, bananas or sweet potato for the other. In chocolate cakes and brownies I use coffee or cherry juice in place of any water in recipes. I also love darker chocolate. Camino brand has great unsweetened chocolate chips, baking chocolate bars and cocoa powders and Enjoy Life has great bitter-sweet options.

I hope this gets you thinking about how to switch up your baking to make things a little healthier and suitable for a variety of people with different allergies and sensitivities.

Big Red

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