Simple Pleasures: Blondies

“I’d rather be a stromboli.”

My son loves pizza, and if he had his way, he’d eat pizza morning, noon, and night, seven days a week. His great sadness in life is that he only gets pizza every couple of months. The nice thing is that he doesn’t care what type of pizza it is – whether it’s frozen from the grocery store or fresh from a pizza parlor or homemade; so occasionally I’ll also make a pizza stromboli where I roll the dough like a cinnamon bun with the tomato sauce and cheese and filling wrapped up inside.

The other day I was teasing him that he’d turn into a pizza if he wasn’t careful, and he responded by saying that he’d rather be a stromboli because it’s neater, easier to pack for his lunches at school, and that people ask questions about it.

As I thought about our conversation, I started thinking about blondies. Blondies are to brownies what stromboli is to pizza. It’s similar but different enough that people don’t often associate the two. Simply put, blondies are brownies which aren’t chocolate. They have the same fudgy texture and are made just like brownies, and if you’re feeling like something just a little bit different, these are just the thing.

My family loves them, and when I make them for company, they love them, too. When it came to revamping a recipe, though, it took a little bit of creativity because blondies usually get their rich, caramel and butter taste from butter and sugar, both of which we don’t use, plus we were making them gluten and egg free. We found a recipe on the back of an Enjoy Life package, and after tweaking it a bit, we were able to create a recipe that is quick and easy to make and delicious.

Blondies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ground golden flaxseed

3/4 cup water

2/3 cup safflower oil

1 tbsp gluten free vanilla

2 cups coconut sugar

1 cup Gluten Free flour blend (we use Authentic Foods brown rice version)

1 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup gluten free oat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups allergen free chocolate chunks (we use Enjoy Life)

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 11 x 15 pan. (Can use whatever you prefer.)

2.  Mix the flaxseed with the water and let it sit while mixing the other ingredients.

3. Mix the oil, vanilla and coconut sugar. Stir the flaxseed mixture to be sure it’s thickened and looks like beaten eggs, and add it to the we ingredients.

4. Whisk together the gluten free flour blend, the sorghum flour, the oat flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt.

5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, along with the chocolate chunks, and mix quickly until the batter is well mixed.

6. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the blondies are a golden brown. The batter will have puffed and be slightly firm to the touch.

7. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into pieces to be eaten. (You can certainly cut them while warm, but like brownies they won’t cut as well.)

Food Allergies and Store Bought Products

website brownies

“It’s not fair.”

My son is at that age – you know the one – where everything is “unfair”.  If he doesn’t get what he wants, “It’s unfair.”  If things don’t go as planned, “It’s unfair.” If his older sisters get to do something he’s too young to do, “It’s unfair.”  If people around him have something he doesn’t, “It’s unfair.”

And unfortunately for him, “it’s unfair” that he doesn’t have very sympathetic parents or older sisters.

“Sorry, life’s not always fair, kiddo,” is what he gets from his father.

“Life’s not fair; get used to it,” is what his oldest sister says.

“I learned life isn’t fair; you need to learn it, too,” is what his other sister tells him.

And from his mother, the poor child gets, “Where in the world did you ever get the notion that life is supposed to be fair?  No matter what they tell you in school, life is not about fairness.  It’d be nice if it was, but it’s not.  So, get over it.”

Ideally, we’d live in a world that is “fair”, meaning that all the rules would be consistent without any universal partialities and obstacles to life.  It’s not the case, however, and quite frankly, I think “it’s unfair” that there are people like myself who are allergic to so many foods that it prevents us from being able to enjoy eating whatever we want when we want.

Just because it is unfair, though, doesn’t mean we have no options.  The question I get most frequently from folks is “What is out there for me to eat in terms of store bought items?”And the answer is “plenty”.

Just to name a few:

1.  Gluten Free Breads:  Udi’s, Kinnikinnick, Whole Foods, Rudi’s, Food for Life, EnerG, and Glutino all make breads which are you can choose from.  Try different brands.  Try different varieties of bread from the same company.  You may find that you like a variety of the brands.  You may find you only like one type of bread from one company.  You will, however, find something that you do like.  I can tell you that if you’re looking for a bread that tastes like a “regular” bread, that Rudi’s multigrain bread is one that even my children will eat.

2.  Dairy Free Yogurts:  Trader Joe’s, Silk, and So Delicious are actual dairy free yogurts that I’ve tried.  You have to be careful, because even yogurts that are “soy” still might have dairy in them, so for example, O’Soy yogurts are not dairy free, though they are “mostly” free of dairy.  But there are others besides the three above like Whole Soy and Co, Wildwood, Ricera, and Amande.  If you used to be a “regular” yogurt eater, you may have to try a bunch to find one that has the consistency and taste you like.  I prefer the So Delicious brands myself.

3.  Almost everything free Chocolate:  Enjoy Life, Chocolate Gelt, Premium Chocolatiers, Amanda’s Own Confections, Divvies, and Sweet Williams are just a few companies that make chocolates which are dairy free, nut free, egg free, soy free, gluten free, and peanut free for those of us who have too many allergies to count.  I’m eternally grateful to all these companies!  I do tend to buy the Enjoy Life products, though, because their products are readily available in most grocery stores these days for reasonable prices (as compared to other brands like them, not as compared to “regular” chocolate).

4.  Store bought Cookies:  Lucy’s, Pamela’s, Kinnikinnick, Enjoy Life, Schars, Barbara’s, and Home Free are some companies that make “everything free” cookies.  I really like the Home Free double chocolate cookies and Pamela’s ginger cookies.  I tend to prefer a crisper cookie, though.  If you prefer a soft cookie, Enjoy Life makes those, but I personally find them rather pasty.  Mi-Del, Glutino, and Tate’s makes gluten free cookies which aren’t necessarily dairy, egg, or nut free.

5.  Dairy Free Gluten Free Pizza:  Amy’s Kitchen and Bold Organics makes dairy free and gluten free pizzas.  Tofutti’s makes a vegan pizza.  My favorite is Amy’s Kitchen rice crust dairy free pizza.  It tastes almost like “real” frozen pizza.

6.  Dairy Free “Milk” Products:  Earth Balance, Shedd’s, Olivio, Nutive, and Silk all make dairy free “butters”, “milks” and creamers whether it’s using soybeans, almonds, coconut, rice or other ingredients.  Daiya, Go Veggie, Toffuti, and Follow Your Heart make cheese which is actually dairy free.  You have to be careful, because as with the yogurts, a lot of the “shreds” do have casein in them even though they may not have “milk” in them.  So be sure to read labels if you find a brand that’s not one of the above.

7.  Non-dairy frozen desserts:  Rice Dreams, Luna and Larry’s, So Delicious, Tofutti, Double Rainbow, Almond Dream, and Purely Decadent all make “ice creams” which are dairy and/or gluten free and/or soy free.  Tofutti also makes “ice cream” sandwiches and other novelty desserts.  What’s great these days is that I can find most of these brands at grocery stores in our area!     

8.  Store bought canned/processed foods:  If you have food allergies, you’re a label reader. You have to be because your life is at stake.  If you go to http://www.eatallergyfree.com/index.html?c=Main.GetPreparedFoods though you can find a list of soups, snacks, crackers, cookies, etc… with specific notes about certain “regular” store bought foods which tend to be gluten, dairy, nut, egg, shellfish, etc… free.  While you don’t want to give up reading labels for yourself, it’s helpful to know where you can begin your search, though, for foods you can most likely eat from the store.

9. Cereals:  If you like a nice bowl of cereal in the morning that’s a brand you know, General Mills makes a gluten free Chex, Kellogg’s makes Rice Crispies, and Post makes Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles.  If you don’t mind trying other brands, Enjoy Life, Nature’s Path, Arrowhead Mills, Kashi, and Glutino all have some gluten free cereals.

Dairy Free Gluten Free Soy Free Brownies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Gluten Free flour mix

1/3 cup Hershey’s special dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup Enjoy Life allergen free mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free “butter” or coconut oil, melted and cooled

1/2 cup Agave or 1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp gluten free vanilla

2 eggs or 2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water

Baking Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 7 x 11 pan with If You Care parchment paper.  (You can use an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9, too.  Just remember that it will affect the thickness and therefore, maybe your baking time.)

2.  Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt well with a whisk until there are no clumps of the gluten free flour.

3.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Set aside.

4.  Mix the butter or coconut oil, agave or coconut sugar, vanilla, and eggs or flaxseed mixture. until well blended.

5.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and combine until they are well mixed.

6.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  The brownies will be pulling away from the sides and mostly firm to the touch.