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Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Best Gluten-Free Brownies Ever

There are certain recipes everyone loves.  And there are certain types of food everyone loves.  In this case, brownies are always a winner.  But, when it comes to gluten-free brownies, it can be challenging to make them come out just right.  I've tried so many recipes, and most of them don't have the correct consistency, the shiny top with the flaky crust, or just that great-brownie fudgy-chewiness.  My quest for the right brownie recipe ended with King Arthur.  The geniuses in their test kitchen nailed it!  I found a brownie recipe that breaks all boundaries, and is a hit with everyone.  No one would ever know these are gluten-free.  I haven't ventured as far as making them vegan (I'm not sure an egg replacer would work out too well), but these are perfect in every other way.

Here are a few tips for all of you brownie lovers to make cutting and serving them easier:

  • Wait until they are cooled, or they will fall apart!
  • Use a plastic knife to cut them.  The brownie won't stick to the knife, so you don't end up tearing them apart, with half of the brownie stuck to the sides of your cutting utensil!  I actually get plastic knives from the cafeteria and work and use them to cut brownies.  I don't know why this works so well, but it does.
  • Use a small, square-ended spatula to serve them out.  I can't find where on earth mine went in the last few weeks, but I used one like this: (
  • Gluten-free baked goods tend to dry out faster.  Make sure they are in a well-sealed container once cooled.  
  • I also found that this brownie recipe freezes very well, so you can make them ahead.  I stuck a whole pan (sealed with a lid, of course!) in the freezer for about two weeks, and then just took them out about 5 hours before serving.  No one was the wiser!

And here is the recipe, for all of you who have asked for it!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cocoa
3 large eggs
3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I've used both Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour and King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8" square pan or 9" round pan; either should be at least 2" deep.

2) Place the sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula until the butter melts and the mixture lightens in color. This step helps melt the sugar, which will give the brownies a shiny crust.

3) Remove the saucepan from the heat and blend in the vanilla and cocoa, then add the eggs and mix until shiny.

4) Blend in the flour and the baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chips.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges.

6) Bake the brownies for 33 to 38 minutes, until the top is set; and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or nearly so, with perhaps a few wet crumbs, or a tiny touch of chocolate at the tip of the tester.

7) Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes before cutting. Once the brownies are cool, cover tightly with plastic.

Yield: 16 brownies.

Monday, September 2, 2013

How Do You Get Your Protein? From Plants, Of Course!

A commonly-asked question for most vegans and vegetarians is, "How do you get your protein?" This inquiry is fueled by a misconception that animal products are the main (or only!) source of protein in the diet, thanks to the governing agencies that control the messaging of nutritional information.  For a veteran vegan or vegetarian, this can be beyond frustrating.

For a person new to a vegan or vegetarian diet, knowing where to get protein from plant sources can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if people continue to question what you're eating. If you're not sure about where to get plant-based protein, you may end up eating the same thing over and over, which can get tiring after a while.

I've been asked a few times about good sources of plant-based protein, so here's a list that might be helpful to those of you on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or those of you considering trying it out for yourself. Quite honestly, the possibilities are endless and very tasty!  This list below is also gluten and soy-free, for those of you with those dietary allergies.  I will never advocate anyone eat anything with soy in it, as it's really not healthy to consume, unless it's fermented (miso, soy sauce), so you won't find any soy milk, tofu, edamame or other soy-substitutes in my list!

Lentils – 18 g per cup
Refried beans - 15.5 g per cup
Chickpeas (or hummus) - 14.5 g per cup
Pinto, kidney or black beans - 13-15 g per cup
Peas – 9 g per cup
Quinoa - 9 g per cup
Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter – 8 g per 2 tablespoons
Almond milk - 7 g per cup
Peanuts - 6.5 g per 1 oz
Sesame seeds - 6.5 g per 1 oz (or 8 g in 2 tablespoons of tahini)
Sunflower seeds – 6 g per 1/4 cup
Oatmeal - 6 g per cup
Pistachios - 5.8 g per 1 oz
Sunflower seed butter – 5.5 g per 2 tablespoons
Brown rice – 5 g per cup
Cooked broccoli – 5 g per cup
Sweet potato - 5 g per cup
Cooked kale - 5 g per 2 cups
Cashews – 5 g per 1/4 cup
Chia seeds - 5 g per 2 tablespoons
Walnuts - 5 g per 1/4 cup
Cooked spinach – 5 g per cup
Almonds - 4 g per 2 tablespoons
Avocado – 4 g per cup (or 10 g for a whole avocado)
White rice – 4 g per cup
Flax seeds – 4 g per 2 tablespoons
Baked red potato – 3 g per cup

I hope this list is helpful.  If you have any other plant-based protein sources you include in your diet, let me know and I can add it to this list.