Cornmeal Berry Cake

Cornmeal Berry Cake Gluten Free
Happy Mothers Day! In honor of my amazing mom, I will be sharing my recipe for her favourite cornmeal berry cake. I have been making this scrumptious cake for her for years. I have even poured the same batter into muffin tins! It is not overly sweet and is a perfect light end to a meal (or start to a day…). I am actually going to be sharing not one but TWO versions of this recipe.. one that is lower on the carb scale, and the other a more simple approach for all you new gluten free folks out there. I make both versions of this cake depending on what I have in my pantry, but both are equally as good.

Corn has become a very controversial ingredient with all the GMO talk swinging around. As always, buy good quality ingredients and do some research. I use Bob’s Red Mill medium grind cornmeal which leave the germ and bran right inside where it belongs. Although not advertised on their bags, Bob’s Red Mill products originate from identity-preserved, non-GMO seeds. If the bags don’t say anything about the GMO’s look up the product on the internet. Most reliable brands will have all your questions covered with a click of a button! Yay for technology! Back to the cake…

Berry Cake Gluten Free
This cake can be turned upside for that cool psychedelic berry look, but I prefer to leave mine right side up! I really think it is most beautiful left with that warm berry stained cake bottom with fresh berries contrasting nicely on the crisp top.  This cake is fantastic with some coconut milk ice cream but it would also go great with some coconut whipped cream or drizzled with pure maple syrup(yum)! Personally, I enjoy the cake as is. Remember that if you are not dairy free, gluten free etc… feel free to replace with your own flours, sugars, milk etc… Likewise if you are vegan, replace the eggs with 1 tbsp of chia/flax to 3 tbsp almond milk for each egg. As always, my recipe is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free! Hope you all enjoy, and show your mom how much you appreciate everything she does!

XX
Jen
Photo 2014-05-10, 11 25 27 PMmixed berriesCornmeal cake

**The low carb version will have a more solid batter. It will look more like cookie dough, don’t be alarmed!

Low Carb Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 cups fresh berries (divided)
• 1/2 cup coconut flour
• 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill)
• 3/4 cup almond flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
• 1 tsp cinammon
• 1/2 cup xyltiol
• pinch of salt
• 2 eggs lightly beaten
• 2/3 cup almond milk
• 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)

or for the regular version….

Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 cups fresh berries (divided)
• 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour or all purpose gluten free flour
• 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 cup xyltiol
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
• 1 tsp cinammon
• pinch of salt
• 2 eggs lightly beaten
• 2/3 cup almond milk
• 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Line springform or 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper and then grease with coconut oil.

3. Arrange half of the berries on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

4.In a medium sized bowl stir together flours, cornmeal,xylitol, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

5.In another bowl whisk together eggs, almond milk, vanilla and coconut oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until combined; spread evenly over prepared pan of berries. ** the low carb version will have a thicker batter. Use your hands to spread the mixture across the pan to cover berries.

6.Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until pick inserted near center comes out clean and top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Run knife around edge of the pan to loosen sides and remove from pan. Let the cake finish cooling on a wire rack. Top with berries and serve plain or with recommended toppings!
Gluten Free Cornmeal cakeCornmeal berry cake

Spicy Avocado Brownies

IMG_0634Happy Cinco de Mayo! Avocado, chocolate, cayenne… sounds a lot like Mexico doesn’t it? Believe it or not, this combination also makes the perfect clean brownie. No refined sugar. No gluten. No grain. No dairy. No added oil. I swear they were more moist than any other brownie I’ve had! They are so delicious and rich they would fool any adult and child alike. These brownies are packed with antioxidants, fibre, protein and good-for-you fats… oh and they taste like heaven. Its all thanks to their secret ingredient… avocado. Yes I said it, avocado in brownies. Avocado gives these brownies a fudgy texture that makes your tastebuds very happy, while keeping you glowing. With the addition of cacao, dark chocolate and vanilla, you would never know avo was in there.

In light of Cinco de Mayo I had to add a little spice (my favourite). But… no Franks Red Hot this time (sigh). Cayenne or chipotle pepper are what you want to add here. Chipotle and/or cayenne adds a perfect back note of heat that comes on slowly. After you take your first bite and swallow… thats when it will hit you. Much like coffee, spice really helps to bring out the flavour of chocolate. Feel free to leave this ingredient out, but for Cinco de Mayo… I think you need to have a little in there.

I know you guys are all going to fall in love these brownies. Whether you make them for Cinco de Mayo or just for a special chocolatey treat, you really don’t need to feel any guilt here. After you have this once, you will feel no need to ever eat those boring ol’ refined filled brownies AGAIN! Magnesium, fiber, protein and essentials vitamins make these brownies superfood powerhouses! Wooohoo! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!
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ps. Giving advance warning that the batter is beyond addictive. There is raw egg in it so don’t eat a lot. (Even though I did.. whoops)

Ingredients:

• 2 very ripe avocados
• 1/2 cup cacao
• 1/2 cup mexican chocolate or 70% chocolate (I like Purelife allergy friendly variety)
• 1/2 cup almond flour
• 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 3 eggs
• 1 tbsp flax
• 3 tbsp almond milk
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp sea or himalayan salt
• 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
• 1/2 tsp chipotle or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• 1/2 tsp paprika (for garnish,can omit)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Using an electric mixer (I did it by hand, but if you don’t want to get too tired use a mixer), whip the eggs, flax, almond milk and the maple syrup until fluffy.

2. Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or in a microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between (chocolate can burn easily).

3. With the mixer on low, add the melted chocolate and cacao.

4. Using a spatula, mix in the almond meal, baking powder, salt, cayenne and vanilla extract.

5. Using a blender or food processor, mix avocado until very smooth.

6. Fold the avocado into the batter.

7. Pour into an 8×8 parchment lined baking pan for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

8. Sprinkle paprika for garnish (can omit this step).

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Spicy Black Bean Primavera

Photo 4-22-2014, 5 46 56 AMThere truly is nothing like fresh Italian pasta. Something about the combination of comforting starchy noodles and tasty fresh sauces makes all my troubles go away.  After traveling throughout Italy, I was so inspired by their use of simple ingredients. A little garlic, tomato and wine and you had one of the most delicious pastas you ever tasted.

So any home cook probably did the same thing as me.  The second I got home I went to my local grocery store and picked up what I thought was the same garlic, tomato, wine etc… Cooked everything the same way I had learned from nonna and voila! I had a meal that tasted like true… Italian…leather. Why didn’t it taste the same?  I added the same amounts, the same ingredients… was it me? Was it my stove? No… in fact it was those “same ingredients” that really weren’t the same at all.  A tomato grown in nonna’s backyard is not the same tomato you get at Publix, Provigo or even Whole Foods. I think that most North Americans are making pretty average tasting dishes in general because of one simple mistake. Sh*t ingredients.
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I really came to truly believe this after The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, bullied me enough through the TV to buy those good quality eggs, good quality olive oil, good quality vanilla etc…She always said “make sure its good quality.” I thought, oh olive oil is olive oil. Take it from me, it is not the case. Test it yourself and I promise you will end up coming to the same conclusion as I did. Listen, I know its hard…. you don’t want to go to the market, or spend so much extra on that expensive maple syrup when you can just get some Aunt Jemima.   But knowing where to stretch your dollar and where to spend a little more is the difference between a bland boring dinner, to one that tastes like you are eating at a winery in Tuscany. That is truly how Italians make their food taste unbelievably delicious. They aren’t putting red wine from the 7/11 or depanneur into their marinara. It isn’t 55 crazy expensive ingredients that you can’t pronounce or understand. They use simple, good quality ingredients and cook them right. They showcase the taste and quality of the ingredients themselves. I know its tempting to buy that 99 cent can of whole tomatoes but those San Marzano ones in the can for $4.99 is the epitome of the Olive Garden vs. Tuscany debate.  Heres my must-do list when making a fresh pasta at home.

CEG’s Must-do Italian

1. If making a tomato sauce, always buy San Marzano tomatoes from the can… not San Marzano type… just San Marzano.

2. Always add wines into your sauces that you would drink from a glass.

3. Fresh pasta (bought or homemade) can take your pasta to the next level. But boxed pastas are just fine!

4. Don’t use jarred or dried garlic/onion. Buy fresh. Cut fresh.

5. Invest in a good quality olive oil that tastes great to you. Most markets or speciality food stores will let you taste the olive oils. Bring your own Gfree crackers or bread and test it out! Plus they’ll give you the best information on which ones to cook with and which to only use on salads or as garnish.

6. Don’t forget the fresh herbs. Fresh basil can make the world of difference in any pasta dish. If you are making a heavier pasta, any fresh herb or green will lighten (and brighten) up the dish. (If you don’t have basil on hand, add a little fresh kale or arugula).

7. Boil your noodles in heavily salted water. The noodles absorb the water they are cooking in, so you want those noodles seasoned!Don’t use the expensive stuff here. Kosher salt is perfect!
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Now for the pasta recipe! This pasta is full of protein and healthy fats from the black beans and pine nuts. Feel free to add shrimp, chicken or ground turkey for a little meaty touch. But on its own it is truly satisfying and perfect for Meatless Mondays. If spice isn’t your thing, simply leave out the chilli flakes and hot sauce. Buon Appetito!

Ingredients:

• 1 package black bean noodles
• 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
• 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
• 1 small shallot (chopped)
• 2 zucchini (diced)
• 10 ounces of mushrooms (your favourite kind)
• 2 red peppers (julienned)
• 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
• a few dashes of hot sauce
• 1/4 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
• 2 sprigs fresh basil (chopped) or a bunch of fresh organic arugula
• 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
• salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Chop all ingredients so they are ready to go! (separate them in bowls or on your cutting board).
2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a deep skillet on medium heat.
3. Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and sautee until soft. Then add garlic and chilli flakes, salt and pepper and sautee for another 30 seconds.
4. Add canned tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon or cut with kitchen scissors. Bring to a boil, then put heat to low. Add tomato paste and stir until combined. Let simmer until most of the water has evaporated (about 30 minutes).
5. While the sauce is simmering, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in another skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and sautee for 30 seconds. Then add zucchini, peppers and mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook until tender and slightly brown.
6. Now its time to boil your pasta according to the directions on package or box. If you bought fresh pasta, then cook it in heavily salted water for 2-3 minutes.
7. Back to the sauce…after the sauce has thickened add the red wine. Stir and taste. Add hot sauce if you want more heat, and adjust salt and pepper seasoning if necessary.
8. Toast your pine nuts on medium heat in a dry pan until golden. Watch carefully or they will burn (5 minutes).
9. Add the vegetables to the pasta sauce, stir. Then add the noodles. Toss until well combined. Top with fresh basil or arugula and toasted pine nuts.
Photo 4-22-2014, 5 43 55 AM