Saturday Summary & Kickoff for Suite of Sweets for Sweethearts with Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free No-Bake Cookies
It’s been a while since I did one of my massive roundups. That epic road trip really knocked my schedule off for a number of reasons. I’ve missed my roundups though. I hope you have, too, because here’s one for you, plus a kickoff of a special event here at gfe over the next several days! This post is a busy one, so skim until you find something of interest.
~As I shared on Facebook, Mr. GFE and I got to dance around a famous elephant recently. My company’s post-holiday party was held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It was a fabulous event. There’s nothing quite like wining, dining, and dancing in that incredible environment … being in the midst of dinosaur skeletons, jewels, rare butterflies, and much more, for an entire evening. Try as I might, I could not get a good photo of said elephant, but I did snap a few others that might be of interest.
My Meal: Grilled Salmon, Caramelized Onion Dip, Roasted Veggies, and Terra Chips
Triple Chocolate Terrine–One of Three Gluten-Free Desserts
Hope Diamond Reset by Harry Winston
T Rex–Head Alone Is Scary
Stunning Orchid from Special Orchid Exhibit
Another Stunning Orchid
My Bag Was So Apropos for the Butterfly Exhibit
~If you haven’t heard my dear friend, the indomitable and delightful Stephanie O’Dea, has launched Gluten-Free TV as part of her new WebTV venture. I was beyond honored to be the first person interviewed in this vlog series. You can check out the episode here. If you hadn’t already figured it out from my frequent mentions of her, Stephanie is one of my absolute favorites! I always love checking out what she’s up to. You can always find Gluten-Free TV, her three blogs (A Year of Slow Cooking, Totally Together Journal, and Totally Together Reviews), and her message board via her main site, StephanieODea.com. She stays so down to earth and true to herself despite looking so adorable when she’s hobnobbing with the likes of George Stephanopolous, JuJu Chang, and Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America. Did you see Steph’s GMA segment sharing chili recipes (including Chicken Enchilada chili) when she was promoting her new book, More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow?
Oh, and Steph, is also doing another WebTV series, Real Moms Making Real Money at Home in Their Pajamas. Don’t you love that title? And, I’m sure many of you want to get the info shared in that series so you can do exactly that. Hey, me, too! (Even if I’m officially an empty nester.) Stephanie has three episodes up already. The latest is with my gluten-free girlfriend, Mir Kamin, of Want Not and Woulda Should Coulda. Mir is an amazing writer. Oh, and she even made a peach pie using my crustless apple pie recipe; it was beautiful. Be sure to check out Steph’s interview with Mir here.
~My local newspaper, The Free Lance-Star, has a new food blog called The Front Burner. It’s written by Emily Battle who usually spends her time on the city beat, but has occasionally gotten to share her love of healthy food in the past. To kick off her new blog, Emily is doing a series on Local Cooks with some interesting interview questions. I’m featured here and Emily, herself, answers the tough questions here.
~Stephanie Lester is the founder and head of Caveman Cookies, formerly known as Cavemen Cookies. The name has been changed from plural to singular because we all say caveman, as in the caveman diet. Stephanie and I got to know each other a bit when I did a review and giveaway of her company’s cookies last summer. Her products are made from naturally gluten-free ingredients like nuts, honey, raisins, and coconut and are naturally gluten free. I had no reaction to the naturally gluten-free and wonderful cookies (original and tropical) that I sampled last year. However, I still talked to Stephanie about the need for products to be produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and to be certified gluten free, with my recommendation on certification being conducted by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). You may already know that the GFCO goes well beyond the FDA’s proposed standard of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten to merit a gluten-free label ; GFCO means that the product has been certified to be less than 10 parts per million. It’s not a one-time check either. GFCO inspects throughout the manufacturing process and does spot inspections of products, pulling them off the shelf in stores and retesting them. It’s a comprehensive certification process. I explained that those two additional steps would provide the level of security that gluten-free consumers need and want. That was last June when I did my review of these delicious and nutritious cookies. Fast forward to last month when I received an email from Stephanie with fantastic news. Yep, you guessed it! Caveman Cookies are now made in a dedicated facility and have been certified gluten free by the GFCO. Woohoo! You can read more about these cookies that are made from all natural ingredients (TRULY all natural ingredients), plus their other benefits on Caveman Cookies FAQ page. Not only am I telling you this information to share exciting news about a great product, but I’m also sharing it with you to show that yes, we can make a difference by voicing our needs for certified gluten-free products. Go ahead, speak up! Many thanks to Stephanie Lester and Caveman Cookies for listening and following through!
~That leads me to another discussion on gluten-free certification, or in this case lack thereof. My friend, Jules Dowler Sheperd is bringing the whole gluten-free certification discussion to the forefront and I applaud her! (Incidentally, you may know Jules from her Jules Gluten-Free Flour Mix and her blog, Jules Speaks Gluten Free, or from one of her books: Free For All Cooking, Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating, and The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free.) Post cereals recently announced that their Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles are certified gluten free. Now briefly setting aside the discussion on the fact that such cereals are a nutritional black hole (you can read more on that over at Melissa’s Gluten Free for Good blog), what does it mean when some companies say that they are certified gluten free? Read Jules’ post here and you might also want to read my post about what I learned about General Mills gluten-free products on my visit. Finally, you may want to also take a look at your favorite gluten-free products to see if they are truly certified gluten free and decide how you feel about that. Again, speak up and tell manufacturers of “gluten-free” products what you want and need.
~With Valentine’s Day almost upon us and the need for red baked goods often surfaces, you’ll also want to check out Jules’ healthier Red Velvet Cupcakes. Beets are involved!
~Or, if you are a dark chocolate fan, you can opt for Kim’s (Cook IT Allergy Free) Easy Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bites (this post even came with a song and made me cry a bit), Melissa’s Super Easy Chocolate Valentine Treats (I laughed and nodded my head on that one), or some of Elana’s Pantry’s decadent, yet healthy treats that Ellen (Gluten-Free Diva) whipped up for her adoption post of Elana. The famous chocolate chip cookies or dark-chocolate-topped power bars anyone? I’m a fan of both Elana’s and Ellen’s, as well as Elana’s famous chocolate chip cookies. That recipe is now even on the bag of Honeyville Almond Flour–very cool! Anyway, I can’t wait to make my acquaintance with the power bars. Please don’t forget the chocolate cookies from Z’s Cup of Tea that I turned into Cookie S’mores in my adoption of Zoe either. Plus, I’m sharing another treat that’s suitable for Valentine’s Day with you today. Read on.
~Lauren (Celiac Teen) hosted the last Go Ahead Honey roundup. The theme was Follow the Calendar, so the roundup was a celebration of all those special food days that somebody (or several somebodies) comes up with for each day of a month. Dark chocolate day, popcorn day, pie day, and many more. Check out all the impressive and delicious entries here.
~Debi (Hunter’s Lyonesse) gave me the Memetastic Award. (You may remember Debi from her personal story shared here in December.) This award is an irreverent, offbeat one. The awardees must tell 5 things about themselves, with 4 out of 5 being outright lies. The awardees must also pass the award on to five others … okay, that part is pretty standard for blog awards. Okay, it’s not in my nature to lie, but in the spirit of the award here goes. If you are a faithful gfe reader, you’ll probably be able to easily tell which of these are untruths. Note: To follow the rules and not be “hunted down” by Debi, I’m awarding it to five other bloggers (excluding any that Debi awarded and Debi herself). Unlike Debi, I don’t expect anyone to follow through though. Oh, and Debi explains that the award badge is purposely goofy. Thanks, Debi, for choosing me (I think …)!
- I love fermented foods.
- Nothing pleases me more than spending hours in the kitchen to make a fine meal.
- I’ve never been outside the U.S.
- I’m in a BBC documentary with Michael Palin called Hemingway’s Adventures.
- Motorcycles scare me.
~I’m doing a Suite of Sweets for Sweethearts feature this week, but obviously starting later and ending later than one would expect for Valentine’s Day, since that’s coming up on Monday. But, you see, I’m on a slightly different timetable because we’re holding our Valentine’s Day Party next weekend. It’s an every-other-year bash that we always hold on the weekend of Presidents Day. That way all of our out-of-state guests will have the extra day for traveling home. That extra day also benefits us as we clean up, return furniture to its proper spots (almost all our furniture gets moved to accommodate the band and dancing), and just recover in general. The truth is I’ve never been too hung up on celebrating on the actual date of an holiday or special day. Can’t get together on my birthday? No problem. Let’s get together a month later and to make up for the delay, we’ll celebrate my birthday for a whole month, okay?
Do you see where I’m going with this? With our Valentine’s Day party next weekend, I’m just kicking into gear for Valentine’s Day and this special celebration here at gfe—the triple S, Suite of Sweets for Sweethearts. I hope you don’t mind the timing as I think you’ll still enjoy the event very much. Last year, for the SSS event, I shared my gfe recipes. This year, I’m giving you one of my recipes today, but then the rest of the time I’ll be sharing some sweet recipes from some of my favorite web folks/bloggers and their cookbooks. You know what that means, right? Yep, there will be some giveaways. Then at the end of the week, everyone who commented throughout the week will be entered into another giveaway of an array of goodies. A little of the giveaway package will be revealed each day, with the complete ending giveaway package revealed at the end and all comments during the event counting as entries. Does that sound good, dear Valentine?
Today’s recipe is a healthier version of those no-bake cookies that you might have made growing up. You know the ones that contained peanut butter, cocoa, oatmeal, butter, milk, and sugar? You boiled some ingredients for a minute, added more, and then dropped the cookies on waxed paper to set up. Well today’s version features almond butter, cocoa, coconut, quinoa flakes, coconut oil, almond milk, and palm sugar. That means these cookies are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free and give you a nice protein boost, too. You can make these cookies and almost be eating one faster than your family members can see that you are cooking something and ask, “hey, what’s cooking, mom?”
Almond Chocolate Double Coconut No-Bake Cookies
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)
2/3 cup palm sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup coconut oil (liquefied)
¾ cup almond milk
½ cup almond butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups shredded coconut (fairly firmly packed)
½ cup quinoa flakes
Mix palm sugar, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and almond milk in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil one minute only.
Remove from heat and stir in almond butter, vanilla extract, shredded coconut, and quinoa flakes until well mixed. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with wax paper. Chill a few minutes in refrigerator or a very cool area. Serve.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Shirley’s Notes: Granulated sugar or coconut sugar can be used instead of palm sugar. I used vanilla almond milk and omitted the vanilla extract. I used sweetened shredded coconut because that is what is available to me. If you use unsweetened coconut, you may want to add slightly more palm sugar. Certified gluten-free oats can be substituted for the quinoa flakes. Even after chilling, these cookies remained somewhat soft; I loved that. (Using the original recipe, the cookies often hardened too much.) Mr. GFE said these taste like “chocolate dough balls.” If you’re a cookie dough fan; that’s a high recommendation, but I think that shows that these cookies are soft and delicious.
Come back tomorrow for the continuation of Suite of Sweets for Sweethearts with a recipe and a giveaway, as well as info on the first part of the final giveaway!
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