Gluten Free Carrot Cake

I have a hard time with this whole gluten-free movement that’s been happening the past few years.  I get that some people have genuine intolerances, but for the most part I’m a non-believer.  When someone tells me they don’t eat gluten, I roll my eyes.  Yes. I am that person.  I am a jerk.

Karma is a thing.  Let me tell you why…

You might have noticed that I fell off the face of the Earth a while (err 2 weeks).  Really it’s because I’ve been having major stomach issues and the last thing I want to do is cook and eat food.  Don’t worry.  This isn’t a blog post to tell you that I suddenly am going gluten-free.  No no.  But this post is about exploring new ways of eating, because I’ve come to the realization that having stomach issues sucks.  Right now, I would eat (or not eat) anything to make the discomfort go away.

Because now I understand how much it sucks, I have a little more sympathy for those with food sensitivities.  I have no idea if I have food sensitivities.  I’m currently trying to figure out what the heck is causing my stomach to implode on me.  I’m starting by avoiding dairy for a while.  Jury is still out.  We’ll see.

But in the meantime, let me tell you about my first experience with a gluten-free cake.

glutenfreecarrotcake1

Isn’t it beautiful?  By the looks of it, you wouldn’t even know it’s gluten-free, but it is.  And it came about because my good friend Allison (check our her blog Sweet Potato Bites) has a lot of food allergies.  I wanted to make a cake that would fit her allergy needs for a surprise birthday gathering.  Her husband sent me a list of Allison-approved cake recipes.  After a few days of back and forth, we decided he would make a gluten free cake and I would make a cake that everyone else could have.  Nice compromise for guests not into the gluten-free thing. So I went ahead and made a chocolate cake with raspberry whipped cream filling and frosting.  

But after that night, I still had a curiosity for how a gluten-free taste would be like.  I’ve never really eaten one, other than flourless chocolate cake.   So I went with it and made a cake anyway, because there’s never a wrong time to make a cake. I used a recipe for Carrot Cake from Elana’s Pantry, because having never made a gluten free cake, I couldn’t really wing it on my first try.  

But that said, I made a few adjustments to make 1 smaller (6-inch) cake.  Here’s my attempt:

glutenfreecarrotcake2

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

adapted from Elana’s Pantry

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of mace
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup whipping cream
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease and line 2 (6-inch) cake pans with parchment paper

I used my vitamix to chop up the carrots instead of grating, but you can grate them if you’d like .  Then I throw all the ingredients into the blender and blended until combine.  It’s really that easy.  Pour batter into 2 prepared cake pans.

Bake about 20 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.  While your cake is baking, make your frosting.  It’s easy.  Whip the cream.  Once the cream starts forming peaks, stream in maple syrup.  Taste it.  If you want it sweeter, add more maple syrup.  If it’s too sweet, oops!  (JK, add a bit at a time, and try to get your desired sweetness.  I didn’t want mine too sweet I only added about 2 tbsp).

Allow to cool completely.  Then lather with maple whipped cream and serve.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

glutenfreecarrotcake3

Confession: I actually think it tastes better cold.

2nd Confession: I meant to take Allison a piece of this cake but Jesse dug into.  Fail.  But really I can’t complain if he liked it.  That means it was tasty.

 

Overall: I thought this was tasty.

Does it taste like cake? Not really.

Does it have the texture of a cake? Not really.

Is it worth trying? Absolutely.

 

While I don’t have any food allergies or sensitivities that I know of, the point of all this is that I will stop being a hater, because stomach issues suck.

Are you a fan of gluten-free foods?  

Farm Fresh to You: Get Produced Delivered, Eat More Vegetables

I’m going to be honest. This is not what I had in mind for dinner tonight.

salad

I had a salad for lunch and because I’m all about balance, I’m generally of the belief that if I had a salad for lunch, I’m certainly not having one for dinner.  But here I am.  Having a salad for dinner after I had one for lunch.  I don’t want to be one of those girls.  I’m not one of those girls.

Let me tell you the story of this salad, because really it started a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago, Living Social was running a deal for Farm Fresh to You. It’s like a CSA delivered to your house, but instead of buying in at the beginning of the season, you can just order whenever you want it and pay weekly.  So I saw the deal: $15 for a delivery box of vegetables.

farmfresh

If you used to read my blog when I was in grad school, you’ll know that I had a CSA share in Ithaca, NY from the Early Morning Farm and I absolutely loved it.  Every week I was so excited to pick up my share at the farmer’s market.  I got to try new and exciting vegetables like rhubarb and kohlrabi.  For a foodie writing her thesis on Sustainable Food Systems, you can probably imagine how amazing that was for me.

When I left Ithaca, I was sad that I wouldn’t have a CSA share to pick up weekly anymore. CSA shares in Southern California are basically twice as expensive as my share was in Ithaca (I paid about $20 per week back then).  So I was bummed.  I couldn’t afford to get one.  Let’s be honest, healthy living can be expensive.  (Remember how I got a second job to pay for Crossfit… omm yeah).

So when I saw this Living Social deal for Farm Fresh to You, I was all over it.  Last week, I placed my order and my box arrived today.  I had it delivered to my office because I was worried I wouldn’t be home when they delivered it and the heat wave here has been rough.  Now let me tell you, during my drive home, I was thinking about all the possible things to have for dinner, completely forgetting the box was in the backseat.

By the time I got home I had pretty much decided I wanted polenta with a poached egg.  But then I remembered the box full of vegetables.  I unpacked them and saw everything that was inside:

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 3 apples
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 pears
  • 1 pack of Berry Kiwi
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch of carrots

That’s when I remembered: Oh yeah, I used to eat salads all the time because that shit goes bad real fast AND I hate to waste food. There’s no two ways around it, you have to be a voracious vegetable eater if the box is just for you (and that’s the case for me, since I live alone).

produce

And you know what goes bad first?  Lettuce.  You can wrap it in a paper towel to keep it crisper longer, but let’s be honest, it’s not making it past 4 days.  I wish the box included kale instead of lettuce… but alas not reality.  So that’s when I knew salad was for dinner.

Instead of that polenta and poached egg dinner I had in mind, I threw together a salad of lettuce, carrot, edamame and a Moringstar Farms Veggie Patty.  For dressing, I mixed together some natural peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sriracha and vegetable broth, for a little Asian inspiration (Note: that’s basically how you make the dipping sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

So you’re probably thinking… good for you! Pat on the back for having a salad! Who gives a crap!?! 

Well really the whole point of all this was to tell you one of the top benefits of having one of these produce delivery services (or a CSA share) and why I’m considering getting it again: it forces you to eat more vegetables.  And not just that… organic vegetables, even better!

Farm Fresh to You brought my count of vegetables for the day from 4 to 6 (plus 3 servings of fruit).  While I probably would have added spinach to my polenta with poached eggs, the box diversified my vegetable intake, because I already had spinach in my smoothie this morning.  Even better, different nutrients!

Overall: I was pleased with what was in the box.  It had a little too much fruit for my liking, but I love the idea.  I think in the future I’ll just choose the vegetable-only box.  I’m all for eating more organic vegetables, because with a sweet tooth like mine, I can always use extra vegetables to balance it out (I’ll be completely honest, after the salad I had a spoonful of peanut butter mixed with sweetened condensed milk for dessert… I know… we won’t talk about it anymore).

Oh and just so you know, I was not compensated by Farm Fresh to You.  I bought the Living Social deal on my own and these are just my opinions.

Have you tried a produce delivery service?  Did you like it?

Potato-Carrot-Parsnip Soup

I’m a firm believer in a few things:

1.  Cooking enormous meals such that you will have tons of leftovers.

2. That most soups taste better the next day.

3.  My friend, the Biscotti Queen (or Sara), is the best recipe recommender on the planet.  (Like the Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta I made last week)

Let me elaborate on the third thing.

Biscotti Queen and I no longer live across the street from each other.  Rather, we live across the country.  Her in NY, me in CA.  Sad times.  But thanks to gchat, we still talk everyday.  We recently had a discussion that the top three things we talk about are:
1. Jobs
2. Boys
3. Food and things we want to make
Honestly, that’s probably in backwards order…

So she recently suggested I make Potato, Carrot and Parsnip soup from Epicurious.  But you know me.  I can never actually follow a recipe.  I always have to make changes. I tried to go the healthier route with this one… resolutions remember.  We won’t talk about the fact that I just ate 4 cookies…

Potato-Carrot-Parsnip Soup

adapted from Epicurious

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 good sized russet potatoes, chopped into 1″ cubes
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh thyme 
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Sherry
salt and pepper to taste 

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add carrots and parsnips and cook an additional ten minutes.  Add herbs, potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 mins-ish).  Next, using an immersion blender, puree the soup (the original recipe says to only puree half but I did the whole thing.  Whatever’s your style is fine).  Add milk, sherry, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!  (Serves 6-8)

Now this was tasty when I had it last night for dinner, but I swear it tasted about 8384940284949 million times better tonight.

So Biscotti Queen and I recommend you go make this now.

I promise it’ll be delicious, and if it’s not right when you make it, try it again the next day and be prepared to be wow-ed.   Can you say no to that?