Shortcut Cooking: Oatmeal Date Cookies

“We haven’t made cookies in a while….”

My husband had some errands to run, and my high school daughter was playing with the band at an event. So, this left my son and I to occupy our time together. Since I had a workshop coming up, I suggested that we do some baking.

The problem was deciding what to bake. I’d had a series of workshops recently and done a lot of baking so I was a bit tired of the same ol’, same ol’, which were a stock series of recipes which I usually make for the workshops because they’re quick and easy in addition to representing the various different substitutions I teach about in the workshops.

My son’s suggestion was that we make cookies because we hadn’t made them in a long, long time.

There was a reason for that…. I have found that cookies take longer to make, both in the assembling and in the baking. But my son was correct, that we hadn’t made any in a while, and they would be something different. So, we went to work creating a recipe.

I decided that if we were going to bake cookies, I wanted to make something that would be quick. This meant beginning with what we had in the pantry and not creating everything from scratch. So, we opted to use a gluten free flour blend that I had already made up for another item and had leftovers of in the pantry. We also decided to use pre-chopped, store-bought dates which we found in the pantry as well. Because I’m always trying to be healthy, we chose to make oatmeal cookies with whole rolled oats, also in in the pantry, and to use coconut sugar instead of white sugar so I could use half the amount I’d have to use of white sugar.

Using the mixer sped the assembling process up, and because we decided to make oatmeal cookies, we could simply drop the batter onto the parchment paper and flatten them without any rolling or forming. By using vegan butter, I minimized the spreading so I could put 16 cookies (the 1 tbsp size) instead of 12 to a cookie sheet which meant all the cookies fit onto just four cookie sheets, so I could bake two sheets at a time in the oven, resulting in only 20 minutes of baking time.

The result was that from when we started rummaging in the pantry to when the second batch of two cookie sheets came out, it was less than 45 minutes. Now, those are cookies worth making!

Oatmeal Date Cookies

(These make about 60 small cookies or 30 large cookies.)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup Gluten Free flour blend (I used a homemade blend of garbanzo bean and sorghum flours mixed with tapioca and potato starch)

3 cups Gluten Free whole rolled oats

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

8 oz pkg pitted, dried, chopped dates

1 cup vegan soy free butter or coconut oil or natural shortening

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water (Mix ahead of time and let it sit)

2 tbsp additional water

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together in a bowl the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in the dates. Set aside
  3. In a mixer, cream the butter with the coconut sugar.
  4. Add the flaxseed mixture with the dry ingredients and the additional water. Mix until well combined.
  5. On the prepared cookie sheets, drop the cookie batter by 1 tablespoon-full for smaller cookies (2 inch diameter) or 2 tablespoons-full for larger cookies (4 inch diameter). Leave about an inch in between the cookies.
  6. Press the dough down with a fork in both directions and bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes for the small cookies until the cookies are puffed, golden and stiff to the tough. For the larger cookies, turn the pan around after 8-10 minutes and bake for another 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool for a couple of minutes on the cookies sheets before moving them to a wire cooling rack with a spatula to cool completely.

Healthy Habits: Quinoa Black Bean Salad

“It’s a bit difficult to avoid all of nature….”

Recently my health insurance provider decided that they wouldn’t cover allergy medications any more which is a big blow to my health. When one goes to an allergist for the first time, the allergist will test you for 80 most common allergens. I am allergic to 78. Have been since I was a child, and they haven’t changed in over 40 years, despite repeated testing every seven years.

For the first thirty years of my life, I coughed, hacked, and sniffled my way through life, never without huge wads of tissues in hand and rarely able to breathe through my nose. The advent of new medications, specifically nose sprays, seemed an opportunity for relief. True to my life, though, it turned out I was allergic to most of the new medications. Go figure! But there was one which actually worked, and for the past 15 years, I was able to breathe through my nose, divest down to one tissue a day, and only hack, cough and sniffle two or three times a year when the allergy seasons were at their worst.

Now, though, I’ve slowly begun a descent back to what I had forgotten, not being able to breathe unless completely upright, blowing my nose so often that it’s red and raw, once again needing to invest in my own tissue company, and finding myself at the doctor’s more than I’d like to be for antibiotics for sinus infections.

On the plus side, I’ve been so sick at times that I’ve been forced to stay at home which is an unusual opportunity for me because I suddenly have time which I wouldn’t have had if I were out at my usual meetings and running of errands. It has also meant I can see firsthand which parts of my life really must be attended to and which can survive without me.

On the downside, feeling unwell makes me tired which stimulates cravings for food which aren’t always the healthiest of choices. Since I always have to watch my weight and my sugars, I have been trying to create comfort foods which curb my cravings but which are healthy.

One such recipe is for a quinoa salad. If you are unfamiliar with quinoa, it is essentially a seed which is a good protein source.  Because it cooks similarly to rice, folks tend to eat it like a grain, and folks who are diabetic or needing to watch carbs should know that quinoa is high in carbohydrates. Since quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, though, eaten judiciously, quinoa is a great comfort food.

I make a quinoa salad which I and my family really likes which uses multi-colored quinoa, black beans, kale and carrots. The quinoa and black beans provide the carbs which are filling but also fiber and protein. The kale and carrots provide nutrients gained from vegetables and cuts the amount of quinoa (and hence the carbs) in a cup serving.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 cup multi-colored quinoa

2 cups frozen, chopped kale

1 cup thinly sliced baby carrots

16 oz can of no salt, no sugar added black beans, rinsed well and drained completely of all water

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1-3 tsp honey (optional; use desired amount of sweetness if using; if making for just the family, I omit; if making for company, I use 2 tsp)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, pour the water and add the quinoa. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the quinoa has plumped, is showing white rings, and has absorbed all the water. This will take anywhere from five to 15 minutes, depending on how vigorously you are simmering the water. I find that it’s helpful to stir the quinoa every so often.
  2. Once the water is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat, cover the quinoa and let it sit. You want the quinoa to be completely dry before you mix it with other ingredients. This can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how much of the water was actually absorbed into the quinoa before you removed it from the heat.  When it’s completely dry, you will be able to fluff the quinoa with a fork. If the quinoa clumps together when you try to stir it, then it’s still a bit damp.
  3. While the quinoa is drying, thinly slice baby carrots to make a cup. You can use regular sized peeled carrots but then you’ll want to cut the thin slices in half because you are only cooking the carrots a short amount of time in the microwave with the kale, and you don’t want the carrots to be hard. Once you have a cup’s worth chopped, put it aside for the moment.
  4. Put 2 cups of frozen, chopped kale into a microwave safe bowl.  Follow the instructions for cooking, only halfway during the cooking time, remove the bowl, stir the kale and add the cup of chopped carrots. Finish cooking the kale in the microwave.
  5. Add the kale, carrots and black beans to the quinoa and mix well.
  6. In a measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin and honey, if using.
  7. Drizzle the dressing onto the quinoa salad and use a spoon to incorporate the dressing into the quinoa salad.
  8. Salad can be served warm or cold. Can store in the fridge for a long time.

Changing Tradition: Dairy Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

“What exactly is traditional?”

This year, for the first time in eight years, I did not coordinate the parades and barbecue for the high school band which signifies the end of a “tradition” for our family. Every Memorial Day for these past few years, we’ve woken up early as a family and headed to the high school to drop off a high school child and to receive all the food parents were donating to the barbecue. Then, my remaining children, husband and I would head over to the local camp to set up for the barbecue. After cooking and serving hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers to 70 people, we’d clean everything up, unload at home, and head back to the high school to pick up our child from the second of the two parades marched in on Memorial Day.

What’s varied over the years is the number of my children who helped at the barbecue. First there were two while my eldest marched with the high school band; then there was one as my middle child marched. What didn’t change was the fun we had serving as a family, and the expectations of my youngest who from his youngest years loved going to the camp on Memorial Day. Last year, however, I resigned from 15 years of school volunteer work to focus more on other opportunities.

For my youngest, who is on the autism spectrum, he was torn between wanting to support his mother and what he saw as a loss from participating in our “traditions” for Memorial Day. As it is, this year would have marked a change whether I had continued or not because my husband’s father passed away a couple of weeks ago, and though we spent a week with my mother-in-law for the funeral, my husband and youngest went back this weekend to help her sort through my father-in-law’s office materials.

Before my father-in-law passed away, though, I reminded my son that traditions are what we make, not what make us and that this could be a year to do something slightly different. For some of us, our foods are very traditional… foods we’ve always had and therefore must continue to have. This can make it difficult if we’re trying to eat healthier or suddenly have food allergies altering our food needs.

This week I received an email from someone who has always loved pumpkin cheesecake. It’s apparently been a “tradition” to make it for Memorial Day, a tradition that dates back to his childhood when he wanted pumpkin pie for Memorial Day and his mom wanted to make a cheesecake, and they compromised. This year, however, his mother can no longer eat dairy and has to be careful of her total carb intake due to diabetes, and he feared their tradition would have to end. Instead, he learned that the tradition simply need to be modified.

I used tofu versions of the dairy for the cheesecake, reduced the “sugars” by using a smaller amount of agave instead of a larger amount of sugar, and reduced overall carbs by opting to not have a crust for the cheesecake. The gentleman said his mother enjoyed the cheesecake immensely, so for those of us wondering if change can be good, this cheesecake says, “Yes.”

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:

3 (8-ounce) packages tofu cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup Agave (If you like your cheesecake sweet, you may want to increase this to one cup)
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin or two cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup tofu sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs, at room temperature

Topping: 12 ounce tofu sour cream, 2 tsp agave, 1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon

Cooking Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and wrap a 10 inch springform pan with aluminum foil around the bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a mixer, beat tofu cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the agave with the mixer on low, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the pumpkin puree, sour cream, and the spices. Beat together until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between each addition.

Pour into the prepared pan. Spread out evenly and place in a large pan that will hold the springform pan and water. Pour boiling water into the larger pan until it’s about halfway up the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the oven for about an 1 hour or so. The cheesecake will be slightly jiggly in the center but a knife inserted near the edge should come out mostly clean.  Mine took an hour and ten minutes. This made a creamy, less dense cheesecake. If you like your cheesecake to be more solid, bake longer until the center is more firm.

Mix the sour cream with the agave and vanilla and spread over the top of the cheesecake. Bake for about another ten minutes. You just want the topping to solidify a bit.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until the cheesecake is set. Remove from the springform pan and sprinkle with cinnamon on top before serving.

Vegan Veggin’: Chickpea Curry

“Life should be more than simply surviving successfully….”

For anyone keeping track, my usual every two to three weeks posts have not appeared for the past six weeks. Unexpected events pushed aside time I might have used to post. Some were unplanned but pleasant surprises such as an opportunity to write a song and create a video, a blast of inspiration for a new play, a push to apply for a writing fellowship, bookings for eight workshops in eight weeks, trips to see family and do college touring with my middle child. Others were not as welcomed occurrences. Friends and friends’ children struggling with depression and needing support, making time to visit a special family friend who may not be with us on this earth much longer, our oldest wrestling with issues requiring parental wisdom, extra responsibilities because of difficulties in the lives of others, our middle child being in a car accident.

Last night, a friend asked if I wanted to cancel and reschedule a get-together we had planned a couple of months ago for this coming week with a group of moms I know.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because there’s so much going on for you right now. You’re just trying to survive, aren’t you?”

“No, no I’m not,” I said.

And it’s true. I don’t believe in survival mode. The more difficult life is, the more likely I am to get together with a friend for lunch, take my son on a trip to a museum, go out to dinner as a family, dance with my daughter in the living room, or help a friend with a book edit even though someone might argue my time would be better spent elsewhere.

Life is short, and life can turn on a dime. I’ve been to enough funerals to attest to both facts, and I have now had two of my three children in car accidents which could have taken them from me without any warning. Life is not meant to be survived. It is meant to be lived. Every minute, every day, because you don’t know what you’ll have for time.

And that may be why I invest so much of my time helping people with their food issues. Physical necessity dictates not only that we have to eat but that we need to do so at regular intervals throughout the day. This means part of our “living” time is thinking about what to eat, making what we’ll eat, and eating. So, food, too, should not just be about surviving but about enjoyment and benefit, just like everything else we do in and with our lives.

This year my oldest decided she would become vegan, and recently my husband’s sister’s family decided to do the same. For my daughter, eating vegan means doing her part to make the world a better place to live. For my brother-in-law and nephews and niece, it’s about embracing a better, healthier lifestyle. For both, they are making choices to live lives which are not just about surviving but about being happy with the decisions they make about what to eat.

Given my dairy allergies and my son’s egg allergies as a child, a lot of what I make was already vegan, but I’ve begun experimenting with more recipes of late to expand my repertoire. Last month I made a vegan chickpea curry which the family really liked and which is so easy because it just cooks in the crock pot. I will share it below.

Chickpea Curry

Ingredients:

Two 16 cans no salt, no sugar chickpeas, drained and rinsed (you can save the liquid and use the aquafaba as an egg substitute or to make meringues or mousse or another recipe)

16 oz package thawed frozen cauliflower

16 oz package thawed frozen carrots

20 oz package thawed frozen chopped butternut squash

16 oz package frozen chopped kale

10 oz package frozen chopped red peppers

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1-3 tbsp curry powder (if you like your curry very mild, use the smaller amount; if you like a stronger flavor, use 2 or 3 tbsp)

2 tsp paprika

one 14 oz can of petite diced no salt no sugar tomatoes

one 14 oz can of coconut milk or 1 1/2 cup preferred other type of vegan milk

1/4 cup gluten free flour

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a 6 quart crock pot mix together the chickpeas, cauliflower, carrots, squash, peppers and kale.
  2. In a shallow pan, heat the olive oil for a minute, then add the garlic, curry powder, and paprika. Heat for a minute, stirring continually.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the “milk” and bring to a slow boil.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and whisk well, stirring continually until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken.
  6. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the crock pot and blend well.
  7. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4.
  8. Serve by itself or with rice or with bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Cooking: Partial Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

“I told him you could probably do it….”

Last week on the drive home from church, my son told me that he’d told his Sunday School leader that I could probably make banana muffins for his group this week but that I needed to confirm for the leader that I could.

“Of course,” I said. After all banana muffins aren’t all that difficult.

Well, lesson learned: Always make sure to get all the facts before you agree to anything! It turned out that among all the boys in my son’s group, there were allergies to nuts, peanuts, wheat, eggs, soy, and dairy. The allergies wouldn’t be that difficult, given what I do, which is to make allergy friendly baked goods. But then I learned that one boy doesn’t like banana chunks; another boy will only eat chocolate muffins; a third prefers chocolate chips in a muffin versus being completely chocolate; and a fourth has to limit his sugar intake because it makes him bounce off the walls.

Any other person might have decided that there was no way to accommodate everyone, but I was determined to not be that person. So, I went to work….

Removing chunky bananas was easy. I simply pureed the bananas and no chunks! To make the muffins gluten free, I used Cup4Cup whole grain gluten free mix which was also dairy, nut and soy free. To replace the eggs, I only needed to increase the baking soda and use vinegar because the bananas would act as a binder, so we only needed to help it rise. For the liquid ingredients, I used safflower oil instead of butter and water instead of a milk product or substitute which would have had soy or nuts. In place of the sugar, I used Agave which allowed me to use only 1/3 the amount that the recipe would have called for sugar.

The question I was left with was how best to make a muffin that was chocolatey enough for the one boy but not too much for the other. After pondering for a while, I hit upon a solution. I stirred Enjoy Life allergy friendly mini chocolate chips into the dry ingredients and then poured boiling water on top before adding the wet ingredients and the vinegar. The result was that the hot water began to partially melt the chips which turned the batter chocolately but not completely so and left enough chips intact for the muffins to be banana chocolate chip muffins.

The result seemed to be a hit.

Partial Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cup pureed ripe bananas (I needed four)

1/2 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup Agave

3 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Cup4Cup whole grain dairy, nut, soy free blend)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

10 oz package Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup boiling water

2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with liners.
  2. Mix the pureed bananas with the oil and agave. Set aside.
  3. Blend together the gluten free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the boiling water on top of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the boiling water.
  7. Add the vinegar and then stir until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Your batter will turn chocolately but a majority of the chips will remain intact.
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 tins. The tins will be filled to the top.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the muffins have risen, are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Healthy Habits: Coconut

coconut-cake

“But it was scary and bad….”

Last week my high school daughter and I had a rather unpleasant experience. I had pulled into a parking spot behind another car near the seamstress who was going to alter my prom dress from almost 30 years ago for my daughter to wear to her prom this coming May. As we were getting out of the car, the gentleman who had been sitting in the car ahead of us, got out of his car and starting screaming profanities at me, shouting that I had hit his car.

We hadn’t hit his car, hadn’t even come close to his car, and as he pointed to his pristine, perfect-condition car and yelled, “Look at that damage you’ve done, you !@#$%,” I realized he clearly wasn’t in his right mind at that moment. Whether from a mental illness or substance abuse or something else entirely, I didn’t know, but I tried to reason with him until it became clear that he simply wasn’t going to stop cursing and screaming at me.

While this was happening, my daughter had begun to cry, and another gentleman who had been going into the apartment complex near the seamstress had come over and was acting as a shield between her and the driver, trying to help me to calm the man down. As time progressed, the man started becoming more profane and wouldn’t let me pass which brought the female owner of a nearby store out, who joined the gentleman from the apartment complex in now shielding both me and my daughter from the man.

Eventually the driver walked away into a nearby shop, and the man and the woman who had come to our aid, tried to soothe my daughter and made sure we made it safely to the seamstress’ store without any further issues. They both then stayed outside the shop door until the driver came out of the store he had been in and got into his car and drove away. After, they came into the seamstress’ store, let us know that he was gone, and asked if we were okay and if there was anything else they could do for us.

While all this was happening, my daughter had continually been crying and even after we began the fitting, she continued to cry, unable to stop. As we finished up the fitting, I pulled her into a hug, kissed her forehead and told her that she was safe, and everything was okay and that she needed to pull herself together. Her response was, “But it was so scary and bad, Mom. I don’t understand why you aren’t upset, too.”

“Because it wasn’t scary and bad to me,” I said. And it hadn’t been. For me, I had become angry because the man had frightened my daughter, but at no point had I feared that the man would become physical, and even if he had, we had been given protection in the form of two brave, kindhearted people who thought nothing of coming to the aid of strangers because it was the right thing to do. I pointed out to my daughter that what she saw as bad, I saw as positive proof that while bad things do happen in the world, there are also good people who do good things which we need to make sure to recognize and embrace and be grateful for.

Strangely, seeing the good in something seemingly bad is applicable to coconut. For the longest time, coconut was branded as bad for you because of its high fat content. In recent years, however, research has shown that coconut actually helps to lower bad cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A and E, and may help the brain to better utilize glucose. This has led to a surge in uses of coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut meat.

For folks with dairy allergies, coconut milk an be a good substitute for milk products, provided you don’t have an allergy to coconut or an overlapping issue due to tree nut allergies. For folks who want to cut back on products like butter, coconut oil works well as a substitute. For folks who simply like the nutty taste of coconut, adding shredded coconut meat to foods like oatmeal and cakes adds some of those nutritional benefits I mentioned above.

For a recent baking workshop I did, I experimented with making a coconut cake. I wanted something which wasn’t the traditional version of coconut cake which uses sugared, sweetened shredded coconut and a lot of sugar in both the cake and frosting. So, I opted to make a spiced coconut-pineapple bundt cake which wouldn’t need frosting and which would allow the taste of coconut to rise to forefront. Folks at the workshop loved it, so I am posting it below.

It uses finely shredded unsweetened coconut as well as coconut sugar for its sweetener. For folks unfamiliar with coconut sugar, it’s made from coconut which contains the fiber of its meat and therefore has a very low glycemic index level. It’s a nice replacement for sugar because it works just like sugar and folks can easily substitute one for one in a recipe, though I use half the amount because I don’t like foods to be overly sweet. If you do like things sweeter, you may want to increase the amount of either coconut sugar or agave which is used in the recipe below. I also used liquid egg whites in this recipe because there were folks attending the workshop who were watching their cholesterol but if you don’t have any health issues like that, I’d recommend using whole eggs because it makes for a moister cake and holds it together slightly better than just using the whites.

What is pictured above is the plain cake as it was cooling. For the workshop, I drizzled a tiny bit of a homemade gluten, dairy free vanilla glaze and sprinkled some additional coconut on top to give it a prettier presentation.

Coconut Pineapple Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

Shredded unsweetened coconut (amount depends on how much your bundt pan needs)

2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour blend

1/2 cup gluten free oat flour

1/2 cup gluten free millet flour

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

20 oz can of crushed pineapple in 100% juice

2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup agave

3/4 cup liquid egg whites or 3 whole eggs

2 tsp gluten free vanilla

2 tbsp vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12 in bundt pan with your preferred method.  I used vegan butter. Then “flour” the pan with unsweetened finely shredded coconut to cover the pan entirely.
  2. Mix together the gluten free flour blend, oat flour, millet flour, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the crushed pineapple with its juices, the unsweetened shredded coconut, safflower oil, agave, egg whites and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry with the vinegar and mix just until the dry ingredients are fully moistened.
  5. Carefully fill the bundt pan evenly all around. The pan will be full.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the Bundt has risen, is golden, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  I checked mine at 50 minutes and it needed about another 10 and finished with 60 minutes of baking.
  7. Remove the cake to a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least 15-25 minutes before releasing it from the pan and allowing it to cool completely on the wire rack.

 

Healthy Habits: Aquafaba

website souffles

“What?”

I travel to libraries to give workshops on allergy friendly and healthier baking. Last weekend, at a workshop, I spoke with a group of about 30, and I received an email this week with a follow up question about aquafaba.

If you have not heard about the new rage, aquafaba, it’s apparently the words for water and beans and refers to the liquid you find in a can of chick peas or after you cook dry chick peas.  The chemistry of the liquid is yet to be determined but what is known is that it makes for a wonderful egg and dairy substitute. You can whip it like eggs to make meringues or replace eggs in baked goods or mayo or waffles and more.  You can whip it like heavy cream to replace dairy in whipped cream, mousse, or ice cream and more.

For my workshops, I always bring samples so folks will know that I’m telling the truth about being able to “have your cake and eat it, too”, and I try to provide a variety of desserts which are gluten, dairy, nut, peanut, soy and egg free. Depending on the season, the particular items I bake vary. For this workshop, I made meringues with the aquafaba and a chocolate cream pie with an aquafaba topping so folks could see how the aquafaba worked as both an egg and a heavy cream substitute.

The participant in the workshop who had emailed me did so because she was looking for the meringue recipe which wasn’t actually on this site. So, I’m remedying that situation by including it below. *grin* I’m also including some other tips for how you can use aquafaba in recipes.

Tips for using aquafaba:

  1. Purchase no salt, no sugar added versions of the chick peas if you are using canned chick peas. This helps you to control the sodium and sugar levels. You simply drain the liquid into a bowl and use your chick peas for another recipe at another time. If you prefer to use dry beans, soak them until doubled in size, bring the water to a boil, then simmer until the beans are soft. Drain the liquid into a bowl for your use and save the chick peas for another recipe.
  2. To use the aquafaba as a regular egg sustitute, simply measure out 1/4 cup per egg needed and whisk the egg with a fork just until frothy. Then use in your recipe as you would an egg. Works well for baked goods and French toast.
  3. To use the aquafaba as eggs which need to be whipped for angel food cake or Belgium waffles, start with room temperature aquafaba, add between 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and whip with the whisk handle of your mixer until stiff peaks form (as pictured above). Fold into your mixtures are indicated in your recipes.
  4. If you want to whip the aquafaba for a meringue topping or meringue cookies or to use as a whipped cream topping or as a substitute for heavy cream in ice cream, when you add the cream of tartar to the room temperature liquid, you should also add your sweetener at the same time. If you try to fold in the sweetener after you’ve whipped the aquafaba, it will deflate and soften. I find that powdered sugar works the best because it’s the lightest weight. Depending on how sweet you like your foods, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of powdered sugar per 15 oz can of liquid works well for most recipes. After you have added both the cream of tartar and powdered sugar, then you can whip the aquafaba to the desired stiffness. It’s best to check if the sweetness is to your liking when soft peaks have begun to form so you can add more if needed before you reach the stiff peak stage.

How to Make Aquafaba Meringues:

To make the aquafaba meringues you simply need a 15 oz can of chickpeas.  Drain the liquid into your mixing bowl and put the chickpeas in the fridge for another use.   Add at least 1/4 tsp and up to 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar.  Then add powdered sugar to your liking.  Start with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of powdered sugar. You can always add more later if you find it’s not sweet enough for you. Add 1 tsp of vanilla alone or with 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder if you want vanilla or chocolate flavor.

After you’ve put everything into your mixer, use the wire whisk handle to whip the aquafaba until it looks like the picture above.  It usually doesn’t take very long.  (When the peaks are still soft, check the sweetness to see if you need to add any more before whipping to stiff peaks.)

After it’s whipped to stiff peaks, put some into a gallon zip lock bag and snip off the end.  Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using the ziplock bag, pipe meringues onto the parchment paper.  I usually make them about tablespoon size. I also like to make the meringues pretty by sprinkling a mixture of unsweetened cocoa powder and powder sugar on top of each meringue before putting them into the oven.

Once you’ve filled the cookie sheet with your meringues, pop them into the oven and bake them for at least an hour.  Then check them.  When they are done, they’ll be hard and dry.  If they’re not quite done, cook them longer for 15 minutes at a time until they are.  (If you make them tablespoon size, they’ll be done after an hour.  If you made them larger, they may take more time.)

Once they’re done, turn off the oven and let them cool in the oven for half an hour.  Then take them out and let them cool completely on a wire cooling rack.  When you go to take them off the parchment paper after they’ve cooled, carefully lift them off and place them into a tupperware, using parchment paper or plastic wrap to layer them.  They’ll keep for a good while in the tupperware.