Monthly Archives: October 2010

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

It has been two weeks since I have gone nearly caffeine free. I used to drink at least 4 cups of coffee each morning with some days drinking the entire pot and if I didn’t drink any I would have a migraine by late afternoon. I have switched to 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular and only drink maybe 1 cup now. I most likely could completely eliminate the coffee at this point, but I like the morning ritual of taking the time to wake up with a fresh cup before I start my day. I have tried tea but it just isn’t the same. I will switch to 100% decaf in the next week or so once I finish the container of the 1/2 & 1/2. The most noticeable change (besides not having headaches) has been how hungry I am in the mornings now. This is a big change since I never used to want to eat breakfast even though I knew how important it was to eat breakfast. Then my choice was toast. Now that has changed too….eliminating gluten from my diet.

It hasn’t been too terribly hard, but it does take a bit more thought and planning. I have been trying different recipes, some good and others not so great. I don’t eat sandwiches too often so bread has been pretty easy to do without, but I miss toast. I did get some gluten free bread just so that I could have toast, but it is very expensive, so I won’t be having this very often.  Also, baking takes on a whole new challenge with the different types of gluten free flours. Thank goodness for Bob’s Red Mill! I am lucky enough to live near the Red Mill store and am able to buy gluten free flours in bulk.

I plan on making a new gluten free recipe at least once a week. This past week I have tried two new recipes: Gluten Free Pizza Dough and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars. These both are excellent and you would never know they were gluten free. I will post the pizza dough recipe soon.

Here is the Pumpkin Bar recipe and some of the changes I made to the original recipe. It is more like a cake than a bar, as it is moist and fluffy.

I used pumpkin that I pureed and froze last year instead of canned pumpkin. I changed the refined sugar in this recipe to sucanat as this is less refined. I didn’t change the oil this time, but I will try using coconut oil next time. The frosting is the only thing I haven’t figured out how to change. I am not sure what the alternative for powdered sugar would be other than using whipped fresh cream as the frosting (you just couldn’t frost ahead of time).

 GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN BARS

4 eggs

1 – 1/2 cups sucanat (can use white sugar)

1 cup sunflower oil

16 oz. pumpkin puree (or 15 oz can pumpkin)

1 cup white rice flour

1 cup cornstarch

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan, set aside.

Mix eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients and then add to pumpkin mixture. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Spread into the 9 x 13 pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and Frost. Cut into bars.

FROSTING:

4 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

approx. 1 tbls milk kefir (or enough to make frosting spreadable)

1 tsp vanilla

2-1/2 to 3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, kefir, and vanilla until smooth. Add confectioners sugar and mix to spreadable consistency.

 

 

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A Year in Review

It has been one year since I began my blog and decided I would review my journey to see how it has progressed. Last year my goal was to simplify my life and I know this has happened. I have never felt more content and fulfilled as I feel right now. No, life hasn’t gotten easier – our budget strings are pulled so tight they are ready to break, but I still feel more relaxed and ‘almost’ stress free. It has been a challenging year and fun at the same time. At least fun for me. I love learning new things, trying new things, and creating.

One year ago I decided that to begin this ‘Simply Basic’ life I would: Make a Plan, Reduce Clutter, Cook From Scratch, Ditch the Disposables.

I ‘plan’ all the time. I don’t have a written plan, but my mental plan of where I wanted to go changed direction a bit and has been very enlightening.

Reducing the clutter has evolved on it’s own. When you don’t shop or buy ‘stuff’ the clutter seems to go away! I did clean out closets and drawers (both kitchen and bath) and donated a lot of unused ‘stuff’. For the items I couldn’t part with but rarely used I put in a box and have decided that if I don’t use any of the things in the box within 6 months they would get donated also. So far I have only gotten into the kitchen box ONCE so I see the rest of the box going away soon!

Cooking from scratch has evolved a bit. Instead of last year’s plan to make ‘ready made mixes’, I have embraced the “Real Food” way of food preparation. It still is cooking from scratch, but on a different level. This past year I have learned that Kombucha and Kefir (both milk and water) are so delicious and a major health food, along with fermenting vegetables: cabbage into sauerkraut, beet kvass, salsa, gingered carrots. The kefir and vegetables provide probiotic, healthy bacterias that are good for our gut and liver. I have learned about healthy fats – coconut oil, lard, butter – and how good they are for us (and NO they DO NOT raise your cholesterol). I began rendering my own lard from grass-fed pork. I successfully started and grow my own sourdough starter and have made many successful things with the sourdough: english muffins, tortillas, pancakes.  I have played with making our own cheese, but currently the cost of the raw milk doesn’t make this an option right now. I really want to raise a couple of goats. This way we could have our milk  (I already have the eggs), so why not? The list could go on, but these are the highlights. My husband says our kitchen is like a science experiment. You never know what will be growing or brewing at any given moment.

Ditch the Disposables has been pretty easy. I rarely use paper towels, but just can’t totally eliminate them, but one roll lasts for months now and most get thrown into the compost bin and not the trash. We use cloth napkins and lots of dish towels, but they are simple to wash so they aren’t a big deal.  I still use plastic, zipper type bags but I wash and reuse them several times before they go to the recycling. I have been making my own household cleaners, shampoo, deodorant, and most recently soap, so this has eliminated unnecessary packaging waste. The homemade, personal care items have been really fun to make and I am so pleased with the results. I will post about these items another time.

So, all in all, I have come a long way. The journey isn’t over, it has just begun. Oh yes, the final item on the list from last year, Stop Procrastinating…..this is still a work in progress ; )  .

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