14 March 2012

Yummy Gluten-free, Grain-free Breakfast Bars!

  • 1 ¼ cup blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/8 cup pure molasses 
  • 1/8 cup of pure organic maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup almond slivers
  • ¼ cup of crushed pecans
  • ¼ cup of crushed walnuts
  • ¼ cup of chia seeds
  • ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  1. In a small bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda
  2. In a large bowl, combine grapeseed oil, molasses, maple syrup, & vanilla
  3. Stir dry ingredients into wet
  4. Mix in coconut, seeds, nuts, chia & dried fruit
  5. Grease an 8x8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with grapeseed oil
  6. Press the dough into the baking dish, wetting your hands with water to help pat the dough down evenly
  7. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes
  8. Serve!  If bars seem to crumble easily, you can add slightly more oil & molasses.  I just cool and keep bars in the fridge and they stay together just fine.
Makes 12-16 bars

Modified recipe from Elena's Pantry ....http://www.elanaspantry.com/

12 March 2012

Reviews and comparisons of Almond Milk.... the best and the worst!

photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Are you looking for a dairy-free, soy-free alternative to milk?  Almond and coconut milks are delicious and healthy alternatives.  If you own a juicer, it is quite simple to make your own... however, if you want to try commercially available brands, I've tried them all and researched ingredients for you!

Here's my take on the best and the worst of commercially available almond milk...
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla- my favorite! Fantastic with lattes, creamy, delicious and smooth,  Does not contain gellan gum or xanthan gum both of which may cause reactions in hypersensitive patients.  From company email: Blue Diamond only uses the highest quality food grade *carrageenan – not degraded carrageenan.
  • So Delicious Almond Milk - also very tasty and great for lattes.  Contains carrageenan and locust bean gum but no reactions.  One of the few certified gluten-free, dairy-free!  And they do make "Plus" versions with extra protein (5gm per serving) from added rice protein - haven't tried this yet.
  • Whole Foods 365 Organic Almond Milk - Very bad news!  Do not try this if you are gluten-sensitive! Contains **xanthan gum- which I reacted to with trouble breathing & rash.  
  • Silk Pure Almond Milk - tastes great, no carrageenan but contains gellan gum and locust bean gum.  Gellan gum is polysaccaride produced by pseudamonas and since often people with sensitive immune systems, (like me!) react to lipopolysaccarides, proceed with caution!  The upside is the make the small individual containers which are great for travel...
  • Pacific Organic Unsweetened Almond milk - This one you will find in the aisles with the, non-refrigerated dairy alternatives.   One of the few certified organic brands.  Contains "rice starch" which is not great for paleo or those sensitive to starches, also contains  carageenan (seems to be a pattern here :) but certified gluen-free, dairy-free.  However, it tastes terrible in lattes...very acidic and not creamy at all.  Also curdles and separates when heated. They do make travel sizes....

*Carageenan is a natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate) extracted from red seaweed. It is referred to as a seaweed gelatin much like agar agar. It is a vegetarian/vegan alternative to gelatin.  There are two types of carrageenan, undegraded (food-grade) and degraded (hydrolyzed with acid).  New studies are being done on the safety of Carrageenan, which is in question.

**Xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, dairy, or soy. As such, persons with known sensitivities or allergies to food products are advised to avoid foods including generic xanthan gum or first determine the source for the xanthan gum before consuming the food.  Specifically, an allergic response may be triggered in people sensitive to the growth medium, usually corn, soy, or wheat. For example, residual wheat gluten has been detected on xanthan gum made using wheat. This may trigger a response in people highly sensitive to gluten.