Gluten-Free Dessert Ideas

By: Gretchen Scalpi

Sticking to a gluten-free diet is a challenge under the best of circumstances but when it comes to creating desserts things get even more difficult. So many delicious desserts like pies, cookies, cakes and pastries are made with flour containing gluten.
simple elegant cake
Creating delicious gluten-free desserts becomes easier when you keep the right ingredients on hand. Some common items to keep in your pantry include:

Almond meal flour
Arrowroot powder
Baking powder
Bittersweet chocolate
Canola oil
Cashew butter
Cocoa powder
Coconut flakes
Coconut milk
Cornstarch
Dried fruit
Espresso powder
Evaporated milk
Gluten-free flour mixes
Gluten-free spices
Granulated, powered and brown sugar
Lemon extract
Maple syrup
Nuts
Peanut butter
Rice
Seeds
Shortening
Sorghum flour
Tapico starch/flour
Vanilla extract

Be sure to check the ingredients on these products before you purchase them. You will want to avoid wheat, barley, brown rice syrup, caramel coloring, rye, brewer’s yeast, wheat starch, hydrolyzed wheat protein, malt, malt extract, malt syrup, dextrins and malt flavoring.

Remember that baking gluten-free is different than regular baking. If you don’t use a baking mix you will need to combine gluten-free flours to get the right results. You can use psyllium husks, ground chia seeds or flaxseed rather than xanthan gum if it gives you stomach distress. Baking at a lower temperature is recommended for some recipes to keep your dessert from getting too brown. If you screw up a recipe consider turning it into crumbs for toppings or to be added to other recipes.

Many gluten-free flours don’t contain preservatives so you may find that desserts made with them dry out quickly or become rancid. Store these items in a zip-top bag (with air removed), freezer wrap or in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer separated from other food. Mark all containers used for gluten-free food to keep them separate from other containers. Bring the stored food to room temperature before consuming.

Our favorite gluten-free dessert recipe courtesy of http://bakedbree.com.

Gluten Free Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

4 cups blueberries (any fruit will work)

Crisp:

1 cup gluten free old-fashioned, gluten free oats (we used Bob’s Red Mill GF oats)
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Wash and pick over the blueberries. Add to an 8×8 pan. Add oats, pecans, almond meal, olive oil, maple syrup, and salt to a small bowl. Mix to combine.
2. Spread the mixture over the blueberries.
3. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, longer if the berries are frozen.

© 2015, Gretchen Scalpi. All rights reserved. You are free to reprint/republish this article as long as the article and byline are kept intact and all links are made live.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach®. To learn more about living and cooking gluten free register for her free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before You Go Gluten Free!” at http://www.gflifestylelearning.com/?p=366.

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Shopping Gluten-Free

By: Gretchen Scalpi

According to Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S., 5th Edition by Packaged Facts “Over the five-year period ended in 2014, sales of gluten-free products in traditionally grain-based categories posted a compound annual growth rate of 34%.”

There are more gluten-free products in the grocery store than ever but many of those are packaged foods that may not include healthy ingredients. Other options are gluten-free grains, fruits and vegetables. It’s all so confusing so how do you choose? Follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way to purchasing and eating a healthier gluten-free diet.

*Start by going through your kitchen and your refrigerator. Read labels and keep what you can and get rid of the rest.

*Carry a list of safe foods and foods to avoid every time you shop. Plan ahead and create a list of food you do want to purchase.

super hero birthday 5*Load up on fresh fruit and vegetables. Buy in season selections to save money and use them in recipes or eat them whole.

*Stay away from processed food and be prepared to do more cooking at home.

*Check the labels on everything before you purchase with the exception of fresh produce.

*Purchase gluten-free grains including quinoa, rice and rice flour, corn, buckwheat, millet and teff.

*Meat and seafood products without marinades are gluten-free such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish.

*Dairy products including yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, milk and butter are a safe choice.

*Miscellaneous foods to round out your diet include honey, oils, hummus, seeds and seed butters and nuts and nut butters.

*Purchase drinks like bottled water, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, fruit juices and carbonated drinks after checking the labels to make sure they are gluten-free.

*Canned and plain frozen vegetables and fruit are a good choice. Check the labels on any items with sauces.

*Purchase separate containers of peanut butter, jams and jellies for yourself to avoid cross contamination.

*If you have a smart phone try looking for a phone app that can scan bar codes of packaged foods. This makes it easier to determine if the item you want to purchase is gluten free.

*Try shopping at ethnic markets and health food stores to give yourself some more options and to vary your diet.

*Purchase bulk items such as gluten-free flour, baking mixes and other staples online in order to save money.

To learn the intricacies of the gluten free diet, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian who has experience working with this challenging diet.

© 2015 Gretchen Scalpi. All rights reserved. You are free to reprint/republish this article as long as the article and byline are kept intact and all links are made live.
Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author and Certified Wellcoach® who has celiac disease and know the challenges of eating right with this condition. If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle for medical or health reasons, you’ll want to attend Gretchen’s new free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-free” at http://www.gflifestylelearning.com/?p=401.

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Inventive Cookie Ideas for an Extra Sweet Spring

I don’t know about you, but those sweet Girl Scouts and their addictive cookies sure did a number on my waistline this year! And they’re not alone. I’ve never so enjoyed packing in the calories as I have taste-testing the oodles of fantastic homemade cookie recipes that have been turning up! And I’m not talking about your everyday chocolate chip variety (which I WOULD gladly eat every day, by the way.) No, what I’m seeing is an outbreak of awesome: in the form of ooey, gooey, one-of-a-kind cookie recipes in the recipes club Just a Pinch!

Combining the richness of turtle candy, the cuteness of a cupcake and the bite-size ease of a cookie is the recent recipe posting for scrumptious Turtle Cookie Cups on the site Just a Pinch by club member Valerie Johnson.
“These little cookie cups are very easy to make,” assures Valerie. “I made them for Super Bowl Sunday and they were a big hit. If you like chocolate and caramel, I’m sure you will like these.”

That’s one safe bet! These chocolate cookies are filled with soft caramel and topped with a pecan for the perfect crunchy finish. And since each cookie cup is baked in its own little wrapper, they’re ideal for bake sales and party trays.

Now, if ever there were a dessert whose very name screamed “party”, it’s the aptly named Whoopie Pie. Growing up in the South, I’ve had to be taught the art of the Whoopie Pie from some New England bakers. These filled, cake-like cookies are said to have originated in Amish kitchens as a way to use leftover cake batter. Goodness, those were some smart cookies!

The Whoopie Pie is a tough dessert to classify – Is it a cake, a cookie, an honest to goodness pie? – but it’s got universal appeal! Angie Walker of Stryker, OH (also a Just a Pinch member) adds her own spin to the traditional chocolate Whoopie with her Serene Sunday: Oh, the Sadness of Parting Pumpkin Cookies. With a big name and equally big flavors, Angie’s cookies are a spice-filled, pumpkin-packed treat. Is there such a thing as “classic innovation”? If so, I think Angie’s got it down to an art!

On the other hand, Kathleen Kulinski, another club member, has perfected what has to be one of the most decadent no-bake cookies of all time. With ingredients to satisfy every craving imaginable – from salty to sweet – I urge women everywhere to whip up a batch for those times when you need a little extra indulgence.

“This [cookie] is a little bit chocolate, a little bit salt, a little bit peanut butter and then there’s the fluff” exclaims Kathleen!

These chocolate dears are perfectly freezable, too. So make a lot, eat a few, and save the rest for your next “take me away” moment.

Kudos to all the crafty cooks out there who are coming up with such inventive ways to satisfy our collective sweet tooth! Thanks to you, our tables are a much sweeter place. Now, pass the milk, please…

If you enjoy these recipes, be sure to dip into some of the amazing recipe contests hosted by Just A Pinch. Or, if you haven’t done so, go ahead and join any recipe club and start exchanging YOUR ooy-gooy ideas with other cooks from around the world!

By: Janet Tharpe

Born in Lexington, Ky., Janet first developed her passion for cooking and recipe club groups at the early age of 14. As a child, she loved cooking for her grandfather and his workers. Now she shares her culinary skills by participating in church socials and a recipe club as she adds to her own recipe box.

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Happy New Year!

happy new year cakeAs we flip the page on the calendar and think of all the exciting things that may happen in the new year, we wanted to just take a moment to look back and say a heart-felt “Thank You”.

Thank you to our friends and family.

Thank you to all of our customers that have made it so much fun working on such great baby shower cakes, birthday cakes, wedding cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

Thanks to everyone who liked us on Facebook, viewed our photos on Flickr, repinned a picture on Pinterest, or followed us on Instagram.

Happy New Years and Best Wishes to All…

How to Bake Gingerbread Man Cookies at Cooking Games

gingerbread holiday cookiesChristmas will be truly special when you have gingerbread man cookies at your table. This piece of cooking is tasty and delicious. You have to carefully select the recipe that will make it best for Christmas. Learn how to bake gingerbread man cookies at cooking games and you can be an instant pastry chef then. Cooking is easy when you do it at the virtual kitchen so take the opportunity to learn the baking in an easy manner.

Start the cooking adventure by preparing the ingredients for the cookies. You will need 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour; 3/4 teaspoon baking soda; 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter; 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar; 1 Tbsp ground ginger; 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves; 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg; 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 large egg; and 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses. You may also opt for raisins, chocolate chips and other confectionaries to decorate the cookies.

For the icing, you will need the following ingredients: 1 egg white; 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; and 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar.

Now start the cooking. Find a large bowl and sift the flour, baking soda, and spices all together. You can set aside the mixture then.

Cream the butter with an electric mixer, then add sugar and beat it until it becomes fluffy. After you mix it up, add eggs and molasses, then gradually add the flour mixture you made before. Divide the dough in thirds and place each in plastic. It is necessary that you chill it at least an hour or overnight.

After refrigerating the dough, heat the oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. You can use the raisin or chocolate chips to make the eyes and other designs of the cookies. Bake the dough until crisp and brown.

To make the icing, heat the white eggs first. After cooling the egg whites, mix it with the lemon juice and add sugar until the mixture stiff peaks. Heat the mixture in the oven to 160 degree Fahrenheit; beat the mixture again with the remaining sugar. Keep the icing covered to prevent it from drying out. You can then use the icing to decorate the gingerbread man cookies.

Gingerbread man cookies have been traditionally prepared for Christmas. Don’t let this be missing at the table and don’t try to miss its delicious taste. With cooking games, you can make the cookies easily and have fun at the same time. Prepare your apron and bowls, get thrilled and master how to make delicious bread for Christmas.

By: Rowenavic Lopez

Rowenavic Lopez is an enthusiast of http://www.cooking-games.biz . She Plays Cooking Games and create wonderful pizza, burgers and sushi. Learn many ingredients of famous dishes and try to work as a waitress in a bar.

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All The Marvelous Uses For Decorated Cookies

sugar cookiesDecorated cookies are the perfect addition to any occasion. They’re beautiful and stylish, but also small and simple to transport. They make wonderful gifts and ideal party snacks. And above all, they’re delectable. You can order specially designed cookies with any theme, to match any event. No matter what the situation is, it can be made better by decorated cookies.

The most expected time of year to use decorated cookies is the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas to New Year’s, holiday cookies are essential. They do well big office parties, at small family events, as gifts for friends, or just to have handy around the house, to get into the holiday spirit.

But the end of the year isn’t the only time that calls for decorated cookies. Amplify your Halloween with some spooky, scary cookies. Complete your Easter with cookies that have the looks and flavors of spring. Or gift cookies to your mom on Mother’s Day, or your dad on Father’s Day, that depict, in a fun way, what being a parent is all about. They even make marvelous birthday gifts. Whether they’re for children’s parties, key milestones like 18 and 21, or a gentle rib at someone who’s getting older, birthday cookies are sure to be a hit.

Is somebody in your family ready to graduate from high school or college? Bring cookies to the party, in the shape of diplomas, or graduation caps. Or simply a universal “Congratulations!” cookie, to let them realize how proud you are of them. Perhaps someone is about to get married. Hand out beautiful and delicious tuxedo and bridal gown cookies as party favors at the engagement party or wedding shower. Afterward use an arrangement of stylish and elegant white cross and dove cookies as table centerpieces at the wedding reception. Cookies are also a great way to welcome a new baby. Serve personalized cookies for either a boy or a girl at the baby shower, and even have the baby’s name printed on them! Or choose from an array of fun designs that can welcome in either a boy or a girl. No matter what kind of party you’re planning, decorated cookies are a fantastic way to express the theme visually and make it stand out.

You don’t even need to have an even to have decorated cookies. Send them to a friend or family member, to let them know you’re thinking of them. Is someone you love sick, in the hospital, or recovering from an ailment? Get Well cookies will help everybody feel well again. In times of of sorrow or loss, sympathy cookies are a tasteful and considerate way to let somebody understand that your thoughts are with them during difficult times. Or send cookies for no reason at all! Surprise your significant other and let them know you’re. Add some fun to your children’s morning snack, by giving them cookies shaped like dinosaurs, or monkeys. Take them to celebrate a favorite sport, from baseball to basketball to ballet. Or give some to a friend you haven’t seen in a while, just because.

There’s literally no limit to the ways you can make use of decorated cookies. Let your imagination run wild. There’s a cookie for every occasion. They’re enjoyable, thoughtful, and tasty. Anything that you have organized, decorated cookies will add a bit of tastiness.

By: Kathleen Westley

Kathleen Westley is a gourmet cookie lover. She writes about where to find the best cookies for all occasions. This month she covers decorated cookies.

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