Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free weeks 3 & 4 {plus chocolate toffee cookie recipe}

These past two weeks have flown by! This gluten and dairy free elimination diet seems to be getting easier and easier. I don't even desperately crave the things I can't have! I see cheese, and for one second I wish I could eat it, but then the feeling is gone and I'm satisfied. All the meals we've been eating that used to include cheese, taste great without any! I never knew I could enjoy enchiladas and risotto without tons of cheese included, but I do! Even in the days when I was vegan a few years ago, I would put vegan cheese on everything. I've put vegan cheese on a few things recently, but I usually find that I prefer my meals without! I think if a recipe is well-seasoned and full of fresh flavor, you don't need extra cheese. That's where Spencer really rocks my world...he makes such wonderful, flavorful food!

What I've been eating: Since I've been so busy, I didn't keep a food journal like I did the previous weeks, but I've mostly been eating the same things as discussed in week one and week two, so I'll share the new things I've enjoyed:

Breakfast:
-I've really been eating much of the same as the first two weeks in this category; gluten free cereal with soymilk, green smoothies, gluten free toast with vegan butter
-I've enjoyed more of the Mochi that I mentioned in my last post and have found my favorite combo: chocolate mochi filled with chocolate hazelnut butter and sliced banana or strawberries! So good!
-Spencer made us a couple breakfasts, usually consisting of hash browns (sometimes with chopped tomatoes and asparagus tips) with eggs and gluten free toast. He also made us grits with bacon and eggs!

Lunch:
-I've enjoyed more deli salads or hot bar entrees from PCC when I'm at work. A couple days I made a wrap with brown rice tortilla (warmed in the microwave a few seconds to soften) filled with PCC deli tofu caper spread, lemon tahini sauce, sliced deli ham, and their emerald city salad. The tofu spread and tahini sauce contained enough to make quite a few wraps, and I just got two slices of ham and a small scoop of the salad from the deli each day that I made the wrap. It was so good!
-If I'm at home, I'll usually put something together with leftovers. I made a meatball sandwich with gluten free bread and leftover marinara and meatballs. I also made a wrap with brown rice bread and leftover bbp pulled pork.
-Robin and I got Pho one day. I avoided soy sauce and the hoisin sauce, but siracha seemed to be free of gluten!
-Spencer and I had sandwiches at Chaco Canyon! They have a lot of gf options, as well as a lot of tasty raw items! I got the artichoke melt on gf bread.

Dinner:
-I haven't made much for myself for dinner these past couple weeks; Spencer has been the real star lately! He made a homemade bbq sauce to make the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches ever! We ate it on Udi's gf hamburger buns! The buns were on the small side, and I thought they wouldn't be filling, but I was wrong; they were perfect! He made a broccoli slaw with this meal that was to die for!
-Risotto with english peas or asparagus tips and bacon (and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for that parmesan quality!
-When we wanted something light we had a big salad with hard boiled eggs, tomato, and asparagus tips with a tasty vinaigrette and an avocado and sprout sandwich on Manni's gf sandwhich bread (from PCC.) I didn't find a link to the exact bread we used, but upon finding their website, I realize they make gf fresh pastas too! Now I've gotta find and try those!
-Spencer made gf chicken strips with namaste gf flour blend and cornmeal
-Enchiladas and chips with salsa and fresh guacamole from Cactus (they have gf options, I told the waiter to leave off dairy too)
-Brown rice spaghetti with homemade meatballs and marinara
-I went to a Game of Thrones premier watching party where my friends were making lamb gyros. I brought brown rice tortillas and lemon tahini sauce and my friend Alicia provided dairy free tza ziki sauce. I avoided the feta but was able to eat all the other topings, like tomatoes and kalamata olives!

Dessert:
-And now it's time for the most exciting part! I made these amazing Chocolate Toffee Cookies from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but I de-gluten-ized and un-dairy-fied them! They were soft and chewy fresh out of the oven, but even better after cooling; crispy (like a meringue almost)on the outside, and soft on the inside with chewy bits of toffee and crunchy walnuts. I'm not usually a fan of walnuts in cookies, but they were very welcome in these, probably because we toasted them fresh before using. And a sprinkling of high-quality flake salt on top make these absolute perfection!
Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Toffee Cookies (contains eggs)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
1/2 cup gluten free flour (like Namaste)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut from the Whole Foods baking chocolate section)
1/2 stick (or 1/4 cup) vegan butter (like Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cups packed organic brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6oz non-dairy english toffee, coarsely chopped (I got this one at Sidecar in the U-dist)
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (I used Himalayan pink salt)

Directions:
Whisk together gf flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt the chocolate and butter by placing them together in a metal mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water over med-low heat (double boiler style). Stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and smooth. The original recipe calls for an electric mixer for 5 minutes; since I don't have one, I sat down in front of the tv and beat that butter and sugar for about ten minutes and I could tell the brown sugar was fully incorporated with the eggs. Beat in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Stir in flour mixture, and then the toffee and walnuts. Chill batter until firm, at least one hour in the refrigerator.
If you would like to bake them now, preheat oven to 350°F. Here's where you can choose what works best for you: you can bake them all at once by lining a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and dropping dollops of about 1/4 cup of batter onto the sheets, leaving a couple inches in between the dollops of dough, top with a sprinkle of flaky salt, and then bake for 12-15 min. Or you can bake what you want now, and freeze the rest in a cut-and-bake log, OR you can just put the whole batch into a freezer log and bake the cookies later. I chose to bake 8 cookies immediately after the dough was chilled, and then freeze the rest. To make a freezer log, roll out the chilled batter onto parchment paper and form a log. Roll up the log in the parchment, and wrap with plastic wrap to keep it nice and tight. Now that you have your freezer log, you can just unwrap it whenever you are ready to bake, slice off about 1/2 inch discs of dough, sprinkle with salt, and bake according to the directions above! So far, I've made 8 fresh, 8 from frozen, and have about 8 left in my freezer log.
I KNOW you will want to eat these fresh out of the oven, which tastes amazing, especially with some vanilla rice or soy ice cream, or even blackberry sorbet, but make sure you cool some all the way so you can taste the cooled version too! It's amazing how different they are upon cooling. It is not to be missed! Enjoy!

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