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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Introduction and Allergen Free Apple Spice Muffins

Have you ever decided to try a new gluten/egg/soy/etc. free food at the store and wondered why you spent all of that money on something that resembles cardboard? It is so hard to find "allergen free" foods that have fantastic taste and texture. I've made it a personal mission to find new and creative ways to make foods that are safe for my husband, my family members, my friends, and myself that taste delicious.

This blog's content will vary widely. I am not restricting the content to a diet type because people with allergies are looking for a wide range of great tasting foods. I hope you enjoy my recipes! Most of my recipes are taste tested by my husband, nephew, and friends, and I try to only post the recipes that pass with flying colors. The biggest compliment comes when people can't tell I'm serving them something from alternative ingredients - or it's so unique and good they don't care what it is made out of.

These recipes are meant to be quick and portable. I prepare all of my own meals every day because of all of my allergies. It sounds like a lot of work, but I refuse to sacrifice my health for the sake of convenience. Lance packs his own meals now, and his coworkers are often jealous that he gets to have savory salmon cakes while they are eating cheap pizza!

My Allergies and My Family's Allergies

My mom figured out I had allergies at a very young age. I reacted quickly and severely to milk, and was also allergic to eggs, wheat, apples, and several other foods. I guess it's fairly common to outgrow foods for a short time during puberty, but they came back with a vengeance. I am now allergic to eggs, apples, yeast, wheat, corn, milk, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, soy, pineapples, and I think the list goes on, but I'm not remembering the rest right now. My husband is allergic to wheat, soy, and tomatoes. My poor nephew takes after me and is allergic to much of what I listed for myself, and his reactions are very severe. We're quite the trio! My nephew is 16 months old, so it's been an enjoyable challenge to make him foods he loves that are age appropriate.

What do I mean by "Allergen Free"?

Any recipe has the potential to contain foods that people are allergic to. The only "Allergen Free" foods would be composed only of pure air and water. With each recipe, I will try to give alternatives to certain ingredients to make sure you know you have options.

And Now for the Recipe

Apples are in season right now, and they are so sweet and fragrant. I am actually allergic to them, but my husband enjoys them, and we had plenty to use up because my grandparents have trees that produce wonderful Gravensteins - cooking apples that are firm and on the tart side. I really enjoy cooking with them still - they remind me of when I was very young and "helping" grandma in the kitchen. She had a hand crank apple peeler, and I loved playing with the peels and chewing on them. She would let me help with the pie. Eventually, I picked up many of her tips and started changing recipes on my own. When I found out I was gluten intolerant, Apple Pie was one of my first attempts, and different apple based recipes followed.

Apple Spice Muffins

Muffins are a great way to start the day and easy to take to work. Lance enjoys these hot with vanilla coconut butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2 cups apple sauce (recipe below)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
1.5 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1--2 tsp coconut vinegar (can replace with apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 small apples, diced
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

I use a fine sieve strainer to "sift" the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and baking soda. I don't use a regular sifter because they are far too difficult to clean, and I can't be sure the flours that have gone there are flours people aren't allergic to. In a separate bowl, I combine the apple sauce, olive oil, spices, agave, and sugar. If you are allergic to apples like I am, you could make a pear sauce and cut out the sugar or agave altogether. Pears seem much sweeter to me. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Dice the apples and rough chop the walnuts and combine them into the batter.

Once the batter is combined, put cupcake liners in your muffin tins. This just makes for a much easier clean up. When the oven is ready for your muffins, add the coconut vinegar to the batter and stir vigorously to combine this ingredient thoroughly. You'll notice that the vinegar reacts with the baking soda and creates a fizz, which translates to a fluffier batter. This is a fantastic trick and makes it so the muffins have a wonderful cake texture. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. You should be able to insert a toothpick and pull it out clean, but it's good if the muffins still have some bounce to them. If you leave them in the oven too long they will dry out. The apple chunks really give this muffin a nice texture, and the apple sauce helps it retain its moisture.

Special Note about Baking Powder: Most Baking Powders are made with Corn Starch. Please be sure to buy a brand that specifically says it is made with potato or tapioca starch if you are allergic to corn.

Special Note about Vanilla: I never buy "vanilla flavor" or vanilla extract anymore. Many of the vanilla "flavor" products have "natural flavors" which can be derived from corn or milk products. They are mystery ingredients and it's difficult to tell what it is actually made from. Vanilla extract is often diluted with bourbon or other grain alcohols. It's just safer to buy the whole beans and scrape them yourself, or buy the vanilla powder that has one ingredient: dehydrated vanilla bean.

Apple Sauce

5 Braeburn, Gravenstein, Golden Delicous, Pink Lady or other cooking apple
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ginger
pinch of nutmeg
small pinch of cloves (optional)
agave or sugar to taste (usually around 1/4 cup)
Just enough water to cover the bottom of the sauce pan - between 1/4 and 1/3 cups of water

Apples are mostly water, and will cook down quickly. I peel the apples and then dice them. I use a potato peeler or paring knife if I'm feeling ambitious. I add a quarter cup of turbinado sugar or agave nectar and then judge the taste once that has cooked down. My husband loves the apple sauce hot with some coconut vanilla ice cream, plain, or over pork dishes.

3 comments:

  1. Those sound delicious. Now I want the recipe for the savory Salmon cakes that you mentioned in the intro!

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  2. Ask and ye shall receive LOL.

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  3. I am going to make these when I get back to the US. I hear it on good authority that they are outstanding.

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