Thursday, December 13, 2012

Banana Cake SO Good, You Can Skip the Frosting (Gluten & Dairy Free)

5 over ripe banana's sat in my fruit bowl & I only needed 1 for my smoothie. So what's a girl to do? Make banana cake of course! (I guess I could have made bread but, I was in the mood for cake).

And given my current diet restrictions, it had to be gluten, dairy & soy free.  The fact that this is also egg free, thus making it vegan, well, that's just an added bonus.  Recently, while in conversation with someone regarding my current diet limitations, they mistakenly assumed that everything made w/out gluten, dairy, soy etc. must taste like cardboard. Well, let me tell you folks, this cake is the furthest thing from any cardboard! It's so, amazingly moist and full of flavor that frosting really isn't necessary at all. In fact, frosting would probably take away from the amazing flavor of the cake. And if I had not told you, you would have never known it lacked gluten or dairy. I added a dollop of coconut whipped cream to make the picture pretty but, truth be told, this cake is amazing all by it's self. ( Although, a nice cup of coffee or hot tea on the side is a nice complement.)

So, let's get started...

Your going to need a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used glass & I did not even pre-grease it).
Next, your going to want to preheat your oven to 350°F
Now grab 2 large & 1 small mixing bowls and gather the following...



1 C Brown Rice Flour
1/2 C Almond Flour
1/4 C Tapioca Starch
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. rounded, Ground Cinnamon


1 C Blond Coconut Sugar
3/4 C Coconut Sugar* (does not say dark, but, darker than the blond)
1 & 1/2 Tblsp. Molasses*
1/2 C Earth Balance Buttery Spread (soy free), softened
3 Tbl. Sp. Golden Flaxseed Meal**
6 Tbl. Sp. HOT (almost boiling) Water**
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 Large, Overripe, Mashed Bananas
1 Tbl. Sp. Raw, Apple Cider Vinegar
2/3 C So Delicious Coconut CREAMER (the plain, unsweetened, unflavored carton)

What to Do:

First things first, your going to make your egg replacement in the small mixing bowl by **mixing the flaxseed meal with the hot water.  Place in fridge to cool & gel.

Molasses Prior to Mixing
All Mixed Up
-Next your going to make some Brown (coconut) Sugar in one of the large bowls by *mixing the 3/4 C of coconut sugar with both, the 1 & 1/2 Tblsp. of molasses.  Mix it well until the molasses is fully incorporated into the sugar.  A fork does just fine for this step.

-Now in the other large bowl, whisk together ALL of the dry ingredients

-Next, add the blond coconut sugar to the brown sugar you made, then add the flaxseed meal (it does not need to be fully chilled), Earth Balance, vanilla, and bananas.

-Beat on low, gradually increasing speed until bananas are fully mashed and well blended.

-Add the apple cider vinegar & coconut creamer and beat on medium until everything is really well blended.

-Next, fold half of the dry ingredients into the wet with a spatula and then use the mixer to beat on low speed until well blended.  (If you don't fold the flour mixture in first, you will have flour flying everywhere!)

-repeat with the 2nd half of the dry ingredients.

Now, your ready to pour this into your baking dish.  Doesn't that look delicious already?  Now, let it bake for 45-50 minutes.  Just wait until you smell it wafting through the air as it bakes.  Heaven!!!

Once it's done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying a slice of this delicious moistness.  I personally, LOVE warm cake fresh from the oven.  Please note, as you can see in the picture, the cracks in the cake are completely normal so don't fret over it.  If you can't bare the thought of serving a cake with cracks in it, well, then you should just frost it.  But, really, it tastes amazing all on it's own and once your guests taste it, I'm pretty confidant that no one will be looking at the cracks in the cake.

 The End... Enjoy!!! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pumpkin Mac & "Cheese" (Dairy & Gluten Free)

Finding a truly dairy free AND soy free cheese alternative that actually melts & tastes like real cheese (AND would be able to fool Miss M into thinking it was the real deal) was NOT easy. But, where there is a will, there is a way. Enter: Daiya Cheddar Style & Mozzarella Style Shreds. This is the closest thing to the real deal that I have ever found.

I have made mac & "cheese" with this product before and it was tasty but, could not fool Miss M.  As I browsed my fall pin board on Pinterest one day, I came across a recipe I pinned quite sometime ago for Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese. I just love savory pumpkin dishes! Of course, this recipe called for all kinds of dairy so, instead, I just made my own recipe using the Daiya shreds and added pumpkin. It was a risk since I was pretty much just winging it. End result: The pumpkin made the "cheese" sauce seem even richer & creamier. I loved it, Mr. A loved it & even Miss M loved it. (Finally!  A dairy & gluten free mac & cheese that passes the most rigorous test).  So, overall it was a success...a very filling success at that. And just look at that gooey "cheesy" goodness in the picture!  (I really need to get better at my food photography but, this was done on a whim).

The ONLY major drawback is the cost of the shreds... at over $5 per bag, this will be a rare treat. (Though, I did get 3 different meals that fed the whole family with leftovers, out of 2 bags). So, in the grand scheme of things, not too terrible.  A great way to make this meal stretch even further is to add some tuna & peas (don't be put off by the fact that this dish has pumpkin...just omit the nutmeg garnish).  It's one of Miss M's favorite meals.  (I halve the mack & cheese & use 1 can white albacore tuna and 1 steam fresh bag of frozen peas and I save the other half of the mac & cheese for another meal.).

So, lets get started. You will need:

1 package (12-16 oz) gluten free pasta of your choice (I love Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbows, Shells or Spirals)

2 Tbl. Sp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (I use the soy free version).

1/2 C Daiya Mozzarella style shreds

1 C Daiya Cheddar style shreds

1/2 C unsweetened almond milk

1/2 C canned pumpkin

Salt, Pepper & Garlic Salt (optional) to taste.

Ground Nutmeg for garnish (optional but, will bring out the pumpkin flavor)


1.) Prepare the pasta according to the directions. *The best method for Al Dente texture:  Follow the energy saving directions on the package but, check texture after 8-10 min rather than 15.

2.) Drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.

3.) Use the same pot to make your cheese sauce.  Over Medium heat, add the Earth Balance, both Daiya shreds, the almond milk & pumpkin all at once.

4.)  Stir briskly and continuously until the shreds have completely melted.  Just look at that creamy goodness after only 3 minutes...

5.)  Remove from the heat and gently fold in the pasta until well coated.

6.)  Season to taste, garnish with nutmeg if desired & enjoy!

Another shot from a different night...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Parfaits (Gluten & Dairy Free) A Pin-Respin

So it was the first week of October & I couldn't pull my Fall Pin Board up fast enough. I was craving anything pumpkin. I browsed the large array of pumpkin recipes that I have saved over the last year & finally settled on this Pumpkin Pie Parfait recipe. Then I added the ingredients I would need to my next shopping list.

Well, the next day my 4 week old son had a well visit scheduled & his pediatrician informed me that I should remove gluten AND dairy from my diet as he (correctly) suspected them to be the culprit of some issues that my son was having. So my plans for the Pumpkin Pie Parfaits went out the window. Or did they???

Not a chance! One of the things that I really pride myself in, is the ability to transform recipes into equally delicious, healthy alternatives. Sometimes they flop but, most of the time, they turn out pretty great! And that was definitely the case with this Pin-Respin. So without further adieu, I give you my Gluten & Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Parfait recipe:

First you will want to make the Coconut Whipped Cream. This recipe is enough for the whipped cream that needs to be folded into the pumpkin mixture as well as for layering about 4 parfaits. However, there is enough pumpkin mixture to make 6-8 parfaits so you may want to increase the whipped cream recipe.


1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/4 tsp)

1/4 cup cold water

1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin

1/2 cup packed blond coconut sugar mixed with 1/2 TblSp. Molasses (a healthier alternative to brown sugar).

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

4 packages of Nana's NO GLUTEN Ginger Cookies (1 cookie per package), Crumbled


Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small saucepan and let soften 1 minute. Bring to a bare simmer, stirring until gelatin has dissolved.
Whisk together gelatin mixture, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla spices, and salt in a large bowl.
Chill until set, at least 2 hours

Fold 1 cup of the coconut whipped cream into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly.

Spoon about 1/4 cup pumpkin mixture into bottom of each glass, then sprinkle with some of cookies and top with about 2 Tbsp whipped cream. Repeat layers once, ending with cream & a sprinkle of crumbled cookie.

Chill until set, at least 2 hours.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Apple Chili

Amazingly, Miss M's new favorite meal is chili. (Mainly because she likes to put cheese on it & she is all about cheese). So anyways, she had been asking me to make chili and since I knew today's high would be a breezy 66 degrees, I figured it would be the perfect day to fulfill her request.

I wanted to make something a little different than my standard turkey chili recipe. And I'm all about fall inspired foods right now such as pumpkin, sweet potato, cinnamon etc. I have seen chili recipes that add sweet potato & I have seen recipes that add cinnamon but, never one featuring the two together. So that was my starting point, I knew I wanted my recipe to feature both of those. As I walked through the store, gathering ingredients I came across Hunt's diced tomatoes seasoned for chili. So I grabbed 2 of those & 1 basil, garlic & oregano (which I usually use in my turkey chili). *(if you can't find these flavors, see my note at the end of the recipe).

My original plan was to make this in my crock-pot however, I quickly realized I was running out room so, I switched to a 5 qt. pot & decided to slow-cook it on the stove top. As I was chopping ingredients, suddenly, apples came to mind. After all, I was already planing on adding sweet potatoes & cinnamon so, surely apples would be a nice complement to the flavors. And I love hearty soups full of vegetables so I decided to throw some carrots in there along with the traditional chili ingredients like onion, green pepper & lot's of garlic!  Look at all that goodness...

The end result was delicious!  The apples added a nice tang & sweetness to it that balanced out the spices.  I served it up with this Grain Free Almond Bread.  YUMMMM!!!

And so now I give you my all new recipe, highly approved by Mr. A & the super picky Miss M...

Sweet Potato & Apple Chili


1 20 oz. pkg. of lean ground turkey
1 Tbl.sp olive oil
1/4 C water
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic salt (I use Lawrey's)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5-6 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large sweet potato peeled & cut into small chunks
1 green pepper diced
1 large carrot shredded
1 Braeburn apple, skin on, diced small
1 granny smith apple, skin on, diced small
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 15 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans Hunt's diced tomatoes seasoned for chili*
1 can of diced tomatoes, basil, garlic & oregano flavor*
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbl.sp chili powder
1/2 Tbl.sp ground cumin
1/2 Tbl. sp crushed black pepper
2 generous pinches of salt
1/2 Tbl. Sp. dark coconut sugar (cane sugar would work fine too)
12 oz. (1 1/2 C) of vegetable, chicken or beef broth.


In a 5 qt. pot heat olive oil over med/hi heat.

Add ground turkey and break it up really well.

Add the water, salt & pepper. Continue cooking, stirring continuously until the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Add all produce, diced tomatoes & kidney beans. Stir well to mix.

Mix spices & sugar together in a small mixing bowl. Add broth & mix well. Pour over the contents in the pot and stir well.

Bring to a boil & stir constantly for 3-5 min. Cover and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Let simmer for at least 5 hours (8 would be better).

Garnish with your favorite chili toppings. (i.e. cheese, sour cream, green onions etc.)

*if you are unable to find the pre-seasoned diced tomatoes, add 1 more Tbl. Sp of chili powder, an additional 1/2 Tbl. Sp of cumin , 2 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. oregano & 1-2 more cloves of garlic.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crock-Pot Applesauce

While this recipe (if you even want to call it that) won't really save you money (fresh produce can be SO expensive these days!), it comes out delicious and has more nutrients in it than your store bought varieties.  And no sugar or sweeteners (your kids will NEVER know!)  Plus, it's SO easy to make!

Here is what you need:

8 Apples Coarsely Chopped - NOT peeled (you keep all the fiber that way) (Choose a good variety, 2-3 of each kind for best flavor.  I used Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith & Braeburn)
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Juice of 1 Lemon
Rind of 1 Lemon peeled into about 6 long slices
Food Processor (if you like it smooth) or Electric Mixer (if you like it chunky).

Here is what you do:

Toss the chopped apples into the crock-pot and stir in the lemon juice and to coat all of the apples.  Throw the cinnamon sticks and the lemon peel on top.  Set your crock-pot to low and let it cook for 6 hours.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon peel.  Toss everything into the food processor and blend to desired consistency.  If you like a chunkier applesauce, simply use an electric mixer (but then you may want to peel your apples first in that case).  And wa-la!  Simple isn't it?

Enjoy your applesauce warm or chilled.  (I LOVE it when it's warm!).  It would also be tasty over chicken, or in my homemade BBQ sauce (recipe will come).  And this kept well for over 3 weeks in the fridge.  You could also freeze some for later use or can it into smaller jars if you know how to do that sort of thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Balsamic Chicken Tortellini Salad - A Pin Re-Spin Recipe

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

The fourth is generally a day filled with food, family & fun.  Today my family & I are heading over to hubby's grandmother's house for a cook-out.  When I was asked to bring a dish, the first place I went to was my pin board affectionately named "Get In My Belly".  (  After perusing the board for a moment, this recipe (, which I had re-pinned from my friend Brittany about 10 weeks prior, caught my eye.  Cold pasta salads are always a hit at a cookout and this one looked refreshingly different.

But, in typical Amanda-fashion, I had to add my own little spin on the recipe.  So, without further ado, here is my Pin Re-Spin:

*Be sure to visit the original recipe linked above for the ingredient list & original directions* 

1.) I decided to make mine the night before so that the flavors could congeal together overnight.

2.) I kept everything the same on the ingredient list with the exception of, A.) I doubled the recipe & B.) I used Newman's Own LIGHT Balsamic dressing.  It has more zip but, less fat & calories.

3.) The specific brand of dijon I used was Grey Poupon Mild & Creamy Dijon w/ White Wine.

4.) Yellow Peppers:  I diced mine, added salt & pepper and sauteed w/ approximately 1 TblSp. of extra virgin olive oil, uncovered, for about 4 min. stirring frequently.

5.) Chicken Preparation:  I placed my chicken and the dressing into my crock-pot & let marinate for 2 hours prior to turning the unit on.  (During this time, I did all of the other steps, mixed it all together and placed into the fridge).  Then I set the crock-pot to low and let the chicken slow cook overnight while I went to bed.

6.) I woke up to this bubbly goodness this morning (mmmmmm!)...

7.)  I used 2 forks to separate and shred the chicken...nothing to it really since it was so moist & tender.  I gave it a good stir & left the chicken in all of it's liquid glory to cool down to room temperature.  (Pulled Balsamic Chicken Sandwiches anyone?)

8.)  Once it was cooled down and the chicken had soaked up all f that juicy goodness, I tossed it in with the rest of the ingredients and let me just say, my taste-buds were rewarded for patiently waiting!

I hope everyone at the cookout will enjoy this pasta salad but, if not, I know Hubby & I sure will!  :)

Thanks so much to for this tasty & easy recipe!

 Now for a little something to make you giggle.  (Thanks Aimee for sharing this on FB this morning)...

Another new detail for M's room...A "Pin Re-Spin"

So here is the first post of what I'm going to call a "Pin Re-Spin".  Where I take an inspiring idea or recipe that I saved on my pin boards & I give it my own little spin.

I started M's room make-over FOREVER ago!  It's been almost a year since I purchased this wooden letter "M", unsure of exactly what I wanted to do with it.  Then Pinterest waltzed into my life sometime late last Summer & over the last year, I would occasionally see inspiring ideas such as these...

Well, I finally got around to completing my little project this week.  Can you guess which pin I pulled the most inspiration from?  I LOVE how it turned out & so does Miss M.  :) 

So, here is how I did it (Sorry, I'm far to busy to post pictures of all of my steps, but it's pretty easy to follow anyways):

I used masking tape to mark off my white lines (no need for "fancy" painters tape).  Then I did 2 coats of pink (#633 Baby Pink) letting it dry between coats. I'm not really an artist so I don't know very much about acrylics but, I used FolkArt Acrylic from Jo-Ann's & was pleased with the thickness and pigment. It probably didn't even need the 2nd coat but, I did it anyways.  Then I painted the edges of the canvas as well as the wooden letter yellow (#904 Lemonade).  Next, I traced the M onto some fabric I had left over from the canopy I made for M's room and carefully cut it out with my mini rotary cutter.  I brushed ModgePodge onto the wooden letter and carefully smoothed the fabric on top and sealed with water and more ModgePodge.  Then I hot glued that sucker into the canvas & wa-la! 

Thanks so much to for the inspiring idea! (

Whenever I finally get the rest of the little projects complete I'll post full pictures of her room & how it all ties together.

If you have completed & blogged about any Pin Re-Spins of your own, I'd love to see them, so please share in the comments section below.

*And I just Googled my little phrase "Pin Re-Spin"... Looks like I'm the FIRST ever to coin this term.  Woo Hoo!*  :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Butternut / Pumpkin Brownies

So, I had this butternut squash that I originally intended to use for a recipe on Pinterest. However, it involved a LOT of cutting of the raw squash and well, my knives probably are not the best because it's a huge struggle just to cut that sucker in half. Anyways, I racked my brain with other ideas...soup, pie, muffins, flan...been there, done all of that. And then, out of nowhere, I thought, BROWNIES! I Googled it and sure enough there were a few different versions of Butternut Brownies out there, so my idea was obviously not too off the wall. But, I wanted to keep them gluten free too. I found 2 very different recipes (one for for just plain brownies) and I decided to take bits and pieces from each and then add some of my own elements to create my own unique recipe. And it came out fantastic! Plus, they pack a ton of protein & fiber as well as some vitamin A, Vitamin E, Magnesium & even Omega 3's!  And, when placed in a Ziploc bag, these kept for 2 weeks in the fridge and were still as moist as ever!  *I recently made these for a friend and I didn't have any butternut squash on hand but, I did have canned pumpkin.  This worked just as well*  So, without further delay, here is what I came up with:

Butternut / Pumpkin Brownies

Pre-heat: 350


2 TBL.SP Golden Flax Meal
6 TBL. SP Hot Water
1 12oz. jar of Maranatha Creamy, No-stir Almond Butter
1 C Roasted, pureed Butternut Squash (canned is fine too) OR Pumpkin
1 C Date Sugar
1/4 C Honey
1 TBL.SP Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 C Dark Chocolate Chips (I love the Enjoy Life brand...the only soy free Chips I have found)

1.) Combine Flax meal & hot water, let sit for 10 min.
2.) Meanwhile, put all of the ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) into a bowl and mix until very well blended, scraping the sides of the bowl (you can use a hand* or stand mixer or a food processor for this) *I found the hand mixer to be quick, simple and effective.
3.) Add the Flax Meal mixture and blend really well.
4.) Fold in the Chocolate Chips
5.) Spread batter evenly into an 8 x 8 pan (no need to grease)
6.) Bake at 350 for 40-50 Min.  (It SHOULD have cracks along the top when it's done...see photo)

7.) Let cool completely (or at least almost completely if you love warm brownies) before cutting (I have made this about 6 times thus far & every time, the batter seems a little un-done if you cut them while they are still hot...they need time to cool
& set).
8.) ENJOY!!!

Makes Apx. 16 Brownies

Nutrition Facts:
This is the total for the entire pan, the per-brownie calculation will depend on how big or small you make your servings...

Calories - 3968
Total Fat - 264 g
Dietary Fiber - 214 g
Sugar - 283 g
Protein - 89 g
Omega-3 - 1200 mg
Vitamin A - 300% dv