Friday, September 11, 2015

Healthy Egg Free Applesauce Carrot Muffins

I've been on a health kick recently (Again.)  It kind of comes and goes depending on how much motivation I have.  It seems I am always seeking to find that balance of healthy eating for our family.  I've sifted through articles and recipes to try to figure out what will work for us with our family's allergies, budget, lifestyle and food preferences.  Honestly most of me enjoys it but it gives another part of me a headache!  I remember seeing a funny blog post awhile back about all the conflicting and contradicting parenting advice out there. You know, I've got to say, the same could be said with all the conflicting nutrition advice out there.  I'm not even going to attempt to source any of this but of the things I've read here's the conclusion that one may be left with:

Carbs are bad.  Especially gluten.  Nobody should eat gluten.  You should eat a lot of protein from meat and vegetables.  But make sure the meat is from grass fed beef and cage free chickens.  Actually you shouldn't eat meat or any animal products at all because it is cruel and you realistically can get all the protein you need from plant based sources.  So stick to whole grains and fruits and veggies (as long as it's not wheat, remember?  Gluten = Bad) Avoid processed foods.  No one has figured out yet if butter or canola oil is better for you.  Not all sugars are created equal, honey and pure maple syrup are the best, unless you are vegan then you can't have honey.  But even though not all sugars are created equal your body processes them all the same way.  Sugar is sugar right?  Eggs were bad.  Now they are good.  Avocados were bad.  Now they are good.  I think the only thing most people can agree on is that fruits and vegetables are good, at least most of them, as long as they are non-GMO and organic. 
But riddle me this:  a person buys organic lettuce because we don't want to be eating any of those pesticides and find little bugs in the small organic head of lettuce.  Which is worse:  residue of pesticides or residue of bug guts?  

See what I mean?  I may be being facetious because I do realize, from personal experience, that one's choice in diet can be very personal.  Obviously if you have food allergies or certain medical conditions, those things will dictate your diet.  But for all us regular folks? It can all be overwhelming and confusing.  So much so that it's tempting to just give up all together.

I've often thought to myself "Why do I care so much?"  

I care so much because I want to be healthy and avoid diseases if I can help it, BUT at the same time I don't want to be getting fanatical about it either.  Everybody has to make those choices for themselves.  Personally, if you must know, I have been enjoying the real food approach, BUT (here's where the balance side is going to come in) I've decided that the occasional treat-- like once a week-- deserves all the GOOD STUFF! (butter, white granulated sugar and enriched all-purpose flour!)  As long as I'm trying and eating healthy most of the time, I think it's ok to have that splurge.  Moderation folks, that's where it's at.  That's the conclusion that I've come to anyway.  

I'm sure you heard of "100 Days of Real Food".  If you haven't, it's really worth a look.  It really works for our family because by eliminating processed foods and cooking from scratch we don't have to worry about all the cross contamination with my boy's food allergies. One of the first recipes I tried were these healthy carrot apple sauce muffins.  They were a hit!  All I did to adapt them egg free was replaced the egg with water.  

And congratulations if you actually made it through all that.  It's not very often that I rant and blab so much.  :)

Healthy Egg Free Applesauce Carrot Muffins
From 100 Days of Real Food, and Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Adapted Egg Free by Egg Free Bakery

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl, melt butter.  Add honey, vanilla, water and applesauce.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Fold in the shredded carrots.  Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, about 1/4 cup of batter per muffin.  Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Store, covered for 2-3 days.  May also be frozen for up to one month.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Egg Free Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

I've been in the mood for baking.  I've had a good summer.  It's been hot and now I'm ready for it to cool down.  I'm ready for soups.  Sweaters.  Fall.  Baking.  So I jumped on the first chance I got to do some baking when we had a break in the weather.  I whipped up two batches of zucchini muffins to see which I liked best.  

These ones from gimme some oven were a winner! Her pictures are so much prettier than mine (I always have these grand intentions of using my fancy camera for the food photography on my blog-- but these days I'm just lucky if I can find a spare minute to even post a recipe!)  but I think you can get the feeling from the quick picture I snapped that these turn out looking as great as they taste.

I've just recently starting baking with white whole wheat flour and have been loving it!  I like being able to bake a healtheir version of some things-- like muffins.  These are pretty simple and straightforward.  To replace the egg, I just used water.  They turned out fluffy and moist and I loved the flavor.  The original recipe yields 12 muffins, but I like to kind of overfill my muffins tins to get a bigger muffin instead of a hockey puck muffin.  So I only got 10 muffins out of this recipe.  Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

See?  What did I tell you?  Her picture:

Healthy Zucchini Muffins | 

Mine:  :)

Egg Free Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins
from gimme some oven, adapted egg free by egg free bakery

1-2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/3 cup old fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top if desired 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.  In a bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  Set aside.  In another bowl, microwave butter until it is melted.  Whisk in syrup, milk and water and vanilla.  Add this butter mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.  Fold in shredded zucchini and oats.  Measure out 1/4 cupfuls of batter into each paper lined muffin cup.  Sprinkle tops of batter with additional oats if desired.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let the muffins hang out for a minute in the pan.  Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Yield about 10 muffins

Friday, August 28, 2015

Egg Free Zucchini Brownies

You know, 99.9% of the time when I'm on a food blog I'm there for the food.  Right?  I'm sure the blog content is good reading, but most of the time I just
until I get to the good stuff.  The stuff I came for:  the recipe.  Which is why most of the time I keep my recipe intros short and sweet.  So if you are just here for the food:  here are some egg free zucchini brownies.  And if you'd like to stick around, I thought I'd talk about picky eaters and food allergies and school lunch.

This is the first time I've had real success with zucchini brownies, and I like that these are kind of a one-bowl kind of thing and it doesn't dirty too many dishes.  I found this recipe over at live in kitchen and they were a hit with my family!  This first photo is courtesy of the live in kitchen and you can pop over there to find the recipe and full instructions.

The only tip I would add about these brownies is at first the batter might look dry and crumbly-- at least mine did-- just keep mixing.  Keep mixing and the moisture from the zucchini will release and turn in into a brownie batter.  Don't overbake either.
Vegan Zucchini Brownies - This is the recipe I've been looking for! Rich, fudgy brownies from The Live-In Kitchen.

This next photo is from my own kitchen and as you can see, they turned out pretty much like the pretty picture above.  (Because if there is one thing that frustrates me, it's when my food looks absolutely nothing like the picture posted with the recipe-- or worse-- when the picture posted isn't even taken from the recipe it's representing!)

Ok, so now that we've gotten that taken care of, let's talk lunch.  School lunch-- probably the most talked about topic this time of year, and probably talked about TOO much.  But I thought I'd share my approach with you in case you are struggling with the same things as I am:  food allergies and picky eaters. 

I do this every year before my kids start school:  I see all these cute and healthy homemade school lunches on Pinterest and I get these grand ambitions that I'm going to be sending my kids to school with thermoses of hot soup and homemade build your own taco kits.  
Yeah that lasts about two weeks.  I get busy and it's not worth the effort because my kids won't even eat it.

So this year, I am trying a new approach.  I interviewed my kids and asked each of them, what they WILL eat in their lunches.  I offered suggestions also to get the ideas flowing.  I created a list for both my kids and THEY will be in charge of putting their lunch together. (With adult supervision of course) I have a drawer in my fridge dedicated to string cheese, yogurt, apples etc and space in my pantry for applesauce, crackers etc.

The goal here is definitely not going to be variety but at least I will be sending them to school with a healthy lunch that I know they will eat. (which most days will comprise of some sort of sandwich and fruit)

To give you an idea of some of the things on my kids' lists:

-Sunbutter and honey/or jam sandwich
-Sunbutter cracker sandwiches
-Ham and cheese sandwich (or just cheese)
-Macaroni and cheese
-Plain cooked noodles (my kids are weird but they like their noodles plain)
-cheese quesadilla (eaten cold)

-sliced apples
-mandarin oranges (I get the kind pack in juice, not syrup)

-string cheese

-chocolate milk
-apple juice

-cookie :)

Definitely not full of variety, but honestly it will make my life easier by keeping it simple, and it will give my kids some control over what they choose to pack and it won't be a battle zone.  So we will see how it goes!  While the rest of the country is back to school, we are still counting down... 10 more days.  10 more days.
Overall I am trying to simplify all my meals.  I admit I LOVE to try new recipes!  Perhaps that stresses my kids out because there is not a lot of familiarity.  My kid like to know what to expect. They thrive on routine, consistency.
My poor 4 year old asks me every night "Mom, what's for dinner?  Have we had this before?  Did I like it?  Did I eat it?" I'm sure with counseling she'll be fine.  
I kid.  
She's my one who recently announced she doesn't like cheese anymore, at least not plain.  She'll eat it melted.  She also doesn't like milk.  

(This is the part where I'm pulling my hair out now)
She doesn't have food allergies, but since my boy's allergies are life threatening we don't even have any of the things he is allergic to in the house.   Makes for pretty slim options.  I've tried firm approaches to my kids' picky eating habits and really laid back approaches and I'm still trying to find something that works for our family and their little personalities.
We are simplifying and sticking to the basics.  It will make my life easier, albeit a little boring.  Who knows?  Maybe my kids will get so sick of eating the same things over and over again that they will actually want to venture and try new things one of these days.  
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No Bake Egg Free Chocolate Cheesecake

Well hello out there!  It's been a long time.  I've come to accept  the fact that my blogging is going to be really sporadic.  I do think about it often.  It's fun to share egg free recipe successes I've had.  (Because believe me it is quite frustrating when you have a recipe fail!)  But such is life.  It's crazy and it's busy and I'll try to sneak in a few posts here and there. The opportunity arose for me to bring a pie to a social function.  I had to do  a lusciously rich and decadent chocolate pie because I was going to have help eating it!  It's SO easy and SO good and it's No Bake, making it a perfect summer treat when the last thing you feel like doing is heating up your whole house that doesn't have air conditioning by turning on the oven and slaving in a kitchen that is already hot and sticky and you haven't even moved off the couch yet.  (I'm so done with summer can you tell?  It was good but I've had my fill.)  The recipe is already egg free too-- another perk-- so I don't have to mess around with substitutions and the aforementioned recipe fails.  The only change I made to this recipe is I used real whipped cream instead of cool whip (can't stand the taste!-- or after taste rather)  But just keep in mind that cream doubles after you whip it... unless you were intending to have leftovers which we will just say that I was.  This is another one of those "FOR THE SERIOUS CHOCOLATE LOVERS ONLY"  We don't want to be wasting none of this pie on those who won't truly enjoy it!

No Bake Egg Free Delicious Chocolate Cheesecake Pie
Recipe from Hershey's, slightly adapted by Egg Free Bakery.

1-1/2 cups "safe" semi-sweet chocolate chips (we did in fact use Hershey's)
11 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 pkg graham cracker crumb crust 

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at heat at 50% power for a couple minutes, stopping at frequent interval to stir.  Heat until melted.  Set aside to cool.  In another bowl, beat softened cream cheese, butter and sugar until creamy.  Gradually add melted chocolate chips, beating on low until blended.  Gently blend in whipped cream until combined.  Spoon mixture in graham cracker crust and refrigerate until firm.  Garnish with chopped chocolate or chocolate curls if desired.  Slice and serve!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cool down Treats: Egg & Nut Free Round-up

It's HOT outside.  And Inside too.  I don't know about you, but here where I live it has been record breaking hot.  It wouldn't be so bad if we had air conditioning, but like the majority of people here we do not.  We were fortunate to find a small portable air conditioning unit so we can at least cool down one room in the house.  The stores were selling out of AC units.  I keep looking at the forecast hoping to see some glimmer of hope of cooler temperatures, but we are booked solid for the next week and beyond of high temperatures.  Just thinking about it makes me tired.  When it's so hot like this I have no motivation to do anything, especially cooking! (Bowl of cereal for dinner? Ok. Sounds good.)  So here is a round up of egg and nut free treats to help keep you cool this summer:


First up is my all time favorite vanilla ice cream.  It does require some stovetop cooking, but it is totally worth it for the texture.  It is quite adaptable too.  You can add chopped up cookie pieces or candy to it.


If you're not feeling that ambitious, here is an extremely simple and easy vanilla ice cream recipe that is also egg free.

Homemade Drumsticks - easy to make using your favorite ice cream and toppings! 

You can get fancy and use either of those vanilla ice cream recipes to make these homemade drumsticks.  Typically drumsticks have peanuts on them, but in place of peanuts you can use sprinkles, or even crushed rice krispie cereal (my personal favorite) for a crunch bar type topping.  Check out the instructions for these drumsticks at Crazy for Crust.

I've had my eye on this recipe for awhile but have yet to try it.  It sure looks good and it's already egg free.  Check out this recipe for old fashioned ice cream sandwiches at Brown Eyed Baker.

Creamy homemade roasted strawberry cheesecake ice cream recipe from @bakedbyrachel 

This recipe for roasted strawberry cheesecake ice cream is soooo good!  I've made it twice now.  Already egg free, the recipe is at Baked By Rachel.

Homemade Fudgsicles

We made these homemade fudsicles just a few weeks ago.  So chocolatey and so much better than store bought.  Check out Baking Bites for the recipe.

Similar but different from the fudgsicles are these pudding pops.  They come together super quick.  We made an Oreo and a banana chocolate variation.  Both Tasty!

Lastly, if you have no desire to cook and want something you can be sure is safe, we really like Philly Swirl Popsicles.  No worry about nuts are eggs.

Hope you can keep cool this summer!  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Egg Free Strawberry Shortcake Cake

I'm raising the white flag here. I have lost count of the number of recipes and attempts I have made to get a good egg free WHITE cake. I can get yellow cake but white cake just seems to depend on too many eggs. So I'm throwing in the towel (for now) and settling with a boxed cake mix.

You've probably seen recipes like this before. All you need is two ingredients: a boxed cake mix and a can of soda.

You will cry this is so easy. It'll probably take you longer to read this post than it will to make this cake. 

I'm not really a fan of boxed cake mixes in general. I take pride in being able to make things from scratch.  But here, it totally works. This would work with any cake mix but I chose Betty Crocker White Cake mix and 1-1/2 cups of club soda. (a 12 oz can of lemon-line soda works too). You can bake it as a cake or a cupcakes. I chose to do a strawberry shortcake! (Yum!) 

Egg Free Strawberry Shortcake Cake
From Egg Free Bakery

For the cake:
1 box white cake mix
1-1/2 cups club soda or 12 oz can lemon lime soda 

For the cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1 pint of strawberries

In a bowl combine cake mix and soda. Stir until no lumps remain. Grease and flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Divide cake batter equally between the two pans. Bake according to directions on cake mix box, checking a few minutes earlier for doneness. When done, remove from oven and let cool in pan a few minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cake is completely cooled and you're ready to assemble, in a bowl combine heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. 

Place one of the cakes on a plate. Top with half of the whipped cream and half of the berries. Gently place second cake on top of strawberry layer (you may need to dollop a few spoonfuls of cream on the strawberries to help the second cake stick) top with remaining cream and strawberries. May store in fridge for a few hours. It is best served soon after assembling. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quick kitchen tip: how to cut a bell pepper

have to laugh at myself when I think back to when I was in college and newly married learning how to cook. The meals I made! It's embarrassing. I think I made a dish one time that had spaghetti, cream of mushroom soup and olives. ( I gag even thinking about it).
Even learning how to properly cut and store certain fruits and vegetables. Avocados took me awhile to figure out. I remember trying to peel an avocado once and about sliced my finger off. It's life changing really when you learn a simple way to cut fruits and vegetables. (Also life changing when you have quality knives)
Today I'm sharing a mini tutorial on how to cut bell peppers. I'm sure I'm not the first one to come up with this, but seriously I didn't start cutting my peppers this way until a couple years ago.

First rinse your pepper. 

Next, notice the natural lines in the pepper? We're going to use those lines as guides to slice off sections. Like so:

A cut here...

Turn and a cut there...
Continue around the pepper cutting off sections.

Viola! Done. Stem out, deseeded and membranes removed- no mess. Now you can cut those large sections into strips or chunks.