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A New Gadget and Grain Free, Low Carb Zucchini Au Gratin

I am sure you know what time it is… ZUCCHINI TIME!

Whether you have a garden, have a friend with a garden, or merely have your eyes open at the Farmer’s Market, there is no avoiding zucchini! And to be fair, who would want to?! It’s plentiful, healthy, tasty and pairs very well with many other foods. Heck, it even mimics other foods at times, as anyone who has had a Mock Apple Pie can attest. This recipe though, is just zucchini being, well, zucchini! I wanted a different way to prepare one of our favorite summertime veggies, and I also wanted to try out my new kitchen gadget.

Gefu Spirelli Slicer

As my fellow WB’ers have been ranting about the Gefu Spirelli, I figured it was time to cave in and give it a whirl. I am not as easily converted to gadgetry as many home chefs I know, but I will acknowledge that some are useful or simply fun. This one is a bit of both. At $29.99 (with free shipping) it wasn’t overly cheap, but it also didn’t break the bank. The purpose of the Spirelli is to transform your vegetables into ribbony strands suitable for replacing pasta, making salads, or just garnishing platters of yummy foods. My main objective was to turn zucchini into a replacement for spaghetti squash, which in itself was a replacement of a carb-frantic staple (ahem, pasta) that I no longer keep in my kitchen! Overall, I am pleased with my new purchase, though I do wish there was a way to feed that last couple inches of remaining veggie into the gizmo, as I didn’t like having to set it aside or finish it by hand with a knife. I do like it though, and look forward to more concoctions that make use of it.

After I had turned a few of my garden gems into a pile of stringed zucchini, I realized I had better figure out what to make of it 😉 I already had baked chicken in the works, so I didn’t have a need for faux pasta. Since I always have an abundance of cheese on hand, I figured that an au gratin would be a good side dish. I will admit, I didn’t tweak this recipe, make it 5 times, or do anything else so lofty, I just threw some ingredients together and it came out delicious. In fact, with a pan that was big enough that we should have had leftovers… we didn’t.

The hard part is recalling exactly what I did… ooops! Well, this is the recipe as closely as I can recall. But please don’t shoot me if you try it and it’s imperfect, though I suspect there is reasonable room for error. The coconut flour I added with the thought that zucchini usually releases quite a bit of liquid… and most of us know that coconut flour is the most liquid-absorbing ingredient in our grain-free pantries! It worked very well.

Zucchini Au Gratin- Grain Free, Low Carb

  • 3-4 C shredded or julienned zucchini
  • 1 C milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/4 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 1/4 C shredded cheese (for top)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 Tb coconut flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

My oven was already heated to 400 degrees from roasting chicken, so that is what I used.
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk and cream. Stir in garlic and cheese (saving the 1/4 C for the top.) Stir in the coconut flour, being sure it breaks up completely. Stir in the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and pour into the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and it appears to be done.

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Gluten-Free Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping

Sometimes we miss the comfort of baked goods, and want something warm and yummy yet gluten free! I also strive to keep the carbs on the lower side, just to help maintain weight loss goals. This recipe uses a base of coconut flour, and the original recipe was found at the Tropical Traditions website. I altered it a little and added a streusel topping. Why? Well, because who doesn’t love streusel on a muffin?! MMMMM. I like this recipe as it stands, but my hubby thought they could be a little sweeter. If you prefer a sweeter muffin, feel free to increase the honey or Truvia to your tastes. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it actually went together pretty quickly for me. The coconut flour is much more absorbent than other flours, which has to be taken into consideration if you want to alter the recipe for your own needs. Next time I make these, I will likely add a dash of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, (or even cocoa!) but we thought they were really tasty just like this!

Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping

Muffins:

  • 1 C coconut flour
  • 2 Tb buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tb butter, melted
  • 2 Tb coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 3 Tb honey
  • 1 Tb granulated Truvia
  • 1 Tb vanilla
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas

Streusel Topping (same as raspberry streusel bars)

  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1/4 C almond flour
  • 2 Tb erythritol
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 C walnuts
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 egg white, beaten

To make the muffins: Heat oven to 350. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the melted butter, coconut oil, milk, buttermilk, honey, vanilla and Truvia. Combine well. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (I use a whisk to combine and be sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.) Slowly add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined. Add bananas and mix. Spoon batter evenly between 12 lined muffin cups. Top with streusel (below), and bake for 20 minutes or until set.

To make the streusel: Combine almond flour, walnuts, erthyritol and coconut in a food processor until combined but not fine. Add the butter and process until it begins to clump together. Brush the tops of muffins with the egg white (to help the streusel stick to the muffins, as the batter is dryer than a typical muffin.) Top with streusel and pat down lightly.

 

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Spicy Crab Cakes (Low carb, Gluten free)

When avoiding wheat flours that contain gluten, there are many other types of flours that one can use in its place, such as rice, sorghum, or tapioca flours which are still high in carbs. Since we are also on a low carb diet to promote weight loss, we choose to use the alternatives of almond or coconut flours.

This is a crab cake recipe that I came up with for our Friday night treat, and I chose to use coconut flour because I felt that the slightly sweet taste would work well with the sweetness of the crab meat and the heat of the chipotle pepper, while acting as a glue to hold the delicate patties in shape. Crab cakes often have fillers such as potato, which increases the carbs and can also disguise the flavor of the crab… I skipped this, since we like our crab cakes to be ALL about the crab.The Parmesan cheese takes the place of breadcrumbs as a coating, and browns up nicely in the oven. This is similar to the method used in Parmesan Perch.

Crab cakes should be refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to baking, to help them hold their shape.

Spicy Gluten Free Crab Cakes

  • 1/4C celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium leek, washed well and finely diced
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2T heavy cream
  • 6 oz crab meat (I used refrigerated in a packet)
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper, canned, finely diced (seeded if you prefer milder)
  • 2tsp capers, diced
  • 2Tb fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tb coconut flour
  • kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 C Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Saute the celery and leek in coconut oil until tender, 2-3 minutes, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together egg, mayonnaise and cream. Gently fold in the crab meat. Add the leeks, celery, chipotle pepper, capers and parsley, mixing gently. Add coconut flour, 1 Tb at a time, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be soft, but should be manageable. If it is too delicate, add a small amount of additional coconut flour. Divide mixture into about 6 medium patties, dredging each one in the grated Parmesan cheese before setting on a plate. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to chill cakes and make them a little easier to handle. When they are chilled, bake at 450 degrees on a silicone baking mat or parchment-lined sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve immediately with tartar or roumelade sauce.

Sauce: The sauce I used was a base of 1/2C mayo and 2Tb cream seasoned with a finely diced gerkin pickle, dash of hot sauce, 1/2 diced chipotle and 1tsp dijon mustard with a squeeze of lemon.

 

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Low-Carb, Cheesy-Crackery Goodness (GF, WF)

Yay! If you read my earlier post about purging the wheat from my cupboards, you might recall that Cheezits were a treat that would be missed at our house. This healthy recipe isn’t an exact match, but the tangy crunch definitely helps satisfy the urge to snack in a way that isn’t going to trash your low-carb diet! I originally found the recipe here, at Food.com, and I altered it slightly to suit our tastes. The almond and coconut flours are low-glycemic and have minimal effect on blood sugar. The original recipe called for forming balls and then flattening them into disks on the cookie sheet, and baking at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. We found that we enjoyed a thinner cracker, and that the bake time even for the thicker version needed to be reduced to 7-8 minutes at a slightly lower temperature. This is a snack that my teenage son can take in his lunch that doesn’t appear to be “different”. It can be especially challenging to feed a young person a gluten-free diet when social pressures are a major fact of life. I am learning as I go, but I do try to make lunch look as “normal” as possible for him. I am always open to suggestions from anyone else who is feeding a (picky) gluten-free teen!

Low-Carb Cheese Crackers

  • 1/2 C Coconut flour
  • 1/2 C Blanched almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C Melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 C Finely shredded sharp cheddar or other tangy cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • dash of Cayenne pepper

Blend almond flour, eggs, butter, salt, cheese and seasonings. Add coconut flour and knead well for 2-3 minutes until dough forms. Divide dough in half and flatten into 2, 1″ thick squarish disks, wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Preheat oven to 380 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut thin layers off the block, about 1/8″ inch thick (like slicing a mini bread loaf). Cut strips into approximately 1″ squares, and arrange on cookie sheet. Using parchment will help prevent sticking. Bake for about 5-6minutes, or until edges just start to brown. Remove from sheet and serve immediately, or store in air-tight container.

 

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