Monthly Archives: March 2012

Celebrating One Year without Refined Sugars with Chocolate Mousse

One year ago today, I wrote my first post as SensitiveEconomist. What a fun year this has been – with almost 90 posts, more than 10,000 web views and hundreds of comments. Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts, insights and recipes. It’s quite rewarding to be part of a community that is interested in making foods healthier, removing “sensitive” ingredients, and talking about food in the economy.

In honor of this special day, I am sharing with you one of my favorite celebratory foods – chocolate mousse! When I see this dessert on the menu of a nice restaurant, I tend to order it. It’s a shame that I can’t order it out anymore because it is loaded with refined sugar…but that is not the case with the recipe below! I altered it from the original recipe for Eggless Chocolate Mousse that is adapted from “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook,” by Mireille Guiliano.

This is one delicious dessert that is sure to please. Make it for a special occasion…or just because it’s Thursday!

In the words of Lucy Van Pelt of “Peanuts” fame: “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Well said, Lucy!

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 1/4 cup whipping cream to a boil; do not scorch. Meanwhile, chop 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (70 to 80 percent); place in a large bowl (This Endangered Species dark chocolate bar is sweetened with beet sugar). Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate. Let melt 2 minutes; stir until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Cool until mixture is warm to the touch. Whip 3/4 cup chilled whipping cream until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over whip. Gently fold half the whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Mousse will be a bit soft. Spoon into 2 serving dishes; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve garnished with shelled, toasted pistachios or cinnamon and more whipped cream.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

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Recipe Appreciation & MaryAnn’s Gluten- and Sugar-Free Muffins

Later this week I will celebrate one year with this blog! I have learned so much about food during the past twelve months including many new, delicious recipes from a number of family members, friends, colleagues and blog writers. So many of you have taken the time to adapt your favorite foods to be free of yeast and refined sugar, and have shared your results with me. I appreciate your help tremendously! A sample of the wonderful contributors to this blog so far include:

–MIL and FIL have shared Garlic Shrimp with Pasta, Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Peach Ice Cream and Apple and Raisin Stuffing
–A tasty Spinach Gratin from Rachel
–Refreshing Salad Dressing from Natalie
–Healthy Baked Squash, Popovers and Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes from Bree
Homemade Yogurt from Leslie and Rick that’s a great idea
–Bill’s creative Triple Nut Mix
–Wonderful Oatmeal Pancakes from Beth
–SensitiveHusband made delicious Peanut Butter Cups and Agave Chocolate Milk
–MaryAnn created some excellent Oat Bran Muffins

Thank you for all of your efforts and ideas…I appreciate you tapping into your “sensitive” side to create delicious yeast-free, refined sugar-free food!

Let’s celebrate a year of collaborating with a recipe: MaryAnn has created another great muffin and this time it is gluten- and sugar-free. You can get creative with the fruit additions to this tasty treat.

Ingredients:
–1 1/4 cup Pamela’s Muffin Mix (this is a gluten-free flour blend)
–1/4 cup water
–1/3 cup honey
–1 large egg
–1 teaspoon vanilla
–1/2 cup fruit (such as bananas or blueberries) OR 1/2 cup dried fruit (such as raisins) with 1/4 additional cup of water

Preparation:

–Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
–Grease muffin pan.
–Mix all of the ingredients together.
–Pour batter into muffin pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.
–Yields 6 muffins.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Food Trip Friday.

CTVegFest and Volunteer Request

There are only a few weeks until the first annual Connecticut Vegetarian and Healthy Living Festival – otherwise known as the CTVegFest. It is being held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on April 28-29, 2012.

There is something for everyone to enjoy at the CTVegFest including:
• Enter for free with the donation of a non-perishable vegan/vegetarian food item
• Enjoy free vegan food samples
• Sample free vegan personal care and beauty products
• Speak with natural medicine practitioners
• Take a class with Yoga, Reiki and Meditation instructors
• Learn from vegan chefs during cooking demonstrations
• Understand home improvements to save money, be eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint
• Attend a screening of VEGUCATED, the “journey of 3 meat- and potato-loving New Yorkers who take the vegan challenge for 6 weeks”
• Enter raffles and give-aways throughout the event
• Be entertained with performances by local musicians
• Listen to children’s book readings by the authors

For a detailed listing of the events, click here for the Festival’s schedule. You can learn even more by reading my January 28 blog post about the overall goal of the event.

In addition to attending, the CTVegFest coordinators are looking for volunteers. If you are able to volunteer any amount of your time, prior to or during the event, please click here for more information.

I am looking forward to attending and to speaking at the CTVegFest…more details about that will follow.

Enjoy your day!

Vanilla Pudding Squares with Whipped Cream and Pistachios

My colleague, Steve, has made pistachio squares for office functions over the past number of years. Last week, in preparation for my company’s dessert potluck, I asked him if he would share the recipe so I could see if I could make it without refined sugar. When he showed me the recipe, I started to get excited, because I could easily make the crust, cream cheese and whipped cream layers. As for the pudding…how could I make it without cane sugar? I was puzzled. I found a recipe for vanilla pudding and decided to give it a go.

My first batch looked like sweet milk…it never solidified. Hmm…I was stumped. So I tried again, this time using a bit more cornstarch and stirring the warm mixture on the stove for much longer. Within one hour in the fridge I had pudding! Instead of making pistachio-flavored pudding I stuck to the basics and created the vanilla version although I added chopped pistachios in the second layer and on the top. I enjoyed the result – it was nice and sweet with pudding and whipped cream and a nice crust. Thanks, Steve, for the original recipe that inspired this version!

Here are a few cooking notes: Make the vanilla pudding (third layer) first. While it is chilling, bake the crust (first layer) and allow to cool. Next, make the whipped cream (for the second and fourth layers) and then chop the pistachios (for the second layer and topping). Once all of these pieces are made and cooled, assemble the layers and voila – vanilla squares with pistachios!

First Layer (Crust):
Mix 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 cup melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to fully cool before layering.

Second Layer:
Blend 8 ounces of cream cheese with 2/3 cup agave nectar, 1 cup homemade whipped cream (see fourth layer for instructions) and 1/3 cup chopped pistachios.

Third Layer (Homemade Vanilla Pudding):
In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 cups milk until bubbles form at edges. In a bowl, 1/3 cup agave nectar, 4 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour into hot milk, a little at a time, whisking to dissolve. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon butter. Chill completely (about one hour); add as the third layer.

Fourth Layer (Homemade Whipped Cream):
Blend 1 pint whipping cream, 1/4 cup agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a mixer on a high speed until stiff peaks form. Use 1 cup to blend in the second layer, and the rest as the fourth layer.

Sprinkle with you favorite toppings, such as chopped pistachios and chocolate. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Anjou Too Will Enjoy These Pear and Oat Scones

I have been on a bit of a scone kick lately. It all started with the raisin millet scones, which have turned out to be a lovely snack at any time during the day or evening. When I saw this recipe for apple and oat scones in the February 2012 Martha Stewart Living magazine, I became inspired and decided to add them to my repertoire.

The next morning I took out my mixing bowl and ingredients. Since I did not have any apples I used pears instead. In order to eliminate the brown sugar and turbinado sugar, I added maple syrup and maple sugar to retain the sweetness. I shortened a few of the steps (I did not rotate the baking sheet while cooking or flatten the dough into disks as suggested in the original recipe). The result is a sweet and chewy treat that is delicious with a cup of tea. I also discovered the beauty of parchment paper – it makes baking sheet cleanup a breeze. Enjoy these scones with pears or apples, or perhaps a combination of the two!

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups diced pears (cut into 1/4-inch cubes)
2/3 cup cold buttermilk (or 2/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
Maple sugar, for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives (or rub in with your fingers). The batter will resemble crumbs. Add pears and buttermilk (or milk plus lemon juice), stirring until dough just comes together.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle, and cut into twelve 2-by-2-inch squares with a floured knife. Place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with maple sugar and oats. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa is a Gluten Free Treat!

A few months ago, I shared a delicious recipe for garlic shrimp with pasta that was created by my MIL and FIL. SensitiveHusband and I just love this meal because it is fairly quick and easy to prepare, especially if we work on it together. However, we recently tried a variation of this dish that was also quite good – instead of tossing the shrimp and peas with pasta, we used quinoa.

Keen-what? Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an amino acid-rich seed that has a slightly crunchy texture and nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables. Click on this web site from the George Mateljan Foundation for a helpful chart that shows the daily percentages of magnesium, folate and other nutrients in quinoa. It is also gluten free, which is a welcome benefit to many people’s diets.

In order to make this dinner, follow the instructions for MIL and FIL’s Garlic and Shrimp Pasta. Just cook up some quinoa instead of the pasta and toss with the shrimp and garlic at the end to serve. Enjoy this dinner!

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and Food Trip Friday.