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I’m going to be honest – I don’t really like to bake.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – I sure enjoy eating baked goods, but I find the process of baking to be incredibly nerve-wracking. When it comes down to it, cooking and baking are fundamentally different. Baking is very much a science – you need precise measurements of each ingredient for it to work out, while I’ve always been more of a “glug of this, a pinch of that” kind of girl. I wind up standing in front of the oven the whole time, wringing my hands to thoughts of sunken cakes and black-bottomed cookies. For the most part, all my “homemade” baked goods are boxed mixes that I’ve doctored up with various spices.
For a few weeks though, I’ve had grandma’s Pineapple-Walnut Bread on the brain.
The bread, making its debut on my maternal grandmother’s Thanksgiving table nearly forty years ago, has since become something of a staple in my house, being mailed off as holiday gifts and gracing the table of nearly every family gathering that I have ever been to. When my mother bakes for the holidays every year, my father requests his own individual loaf, which he generally enjoys for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving. I can’t say I blame him – pineapple chunks and walnuts enveloped in a buttery, not-too-sweet bread are a superb way to begin any day.
This, of course, sent my already level-orange baking anxiety into overdrive. Not only I would have to find substitutes for the butter and eggs, but I was also determined to make it gluten-free so that my mom, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I was in high school, could enjoy a slice.
The butter and flour were both easy swaps – I used Olivio Coconut Oil Spread and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour for both. In an effort to find an egg replacer that wouldn’t add a lot of calories, I decided to use 2 tablespoons each of cornstarch and water to replace each egg in the recipe.
After a nerve-wracking hour in the oven, the breads came out looking golden brown and beautiful. They have a slightly crunchier crust than the original, but for a gluten-free, sugar-free and completely vegan version of the original, it comes out pretty darn close. I also used pineapple chunks, which my dad suggested were a little on the large side, so next time I would try lightly crushing them, or pineapple tidbits.
Mom and I generally bake this bread recipe into one large loaf for parties or mini-loaves for gifts (or to up the cuteness factor). I’d imagine that they would make fantastic muffins too – just remember to grease the tins well!
Gluten Free Pineapple-Walnut Bread
2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons cornstarch + 4 tablespoons water, combined
1 cup undrained, unsweetened pineapple chunks, slightly crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add Splenda and chopped walnuts.
3. Add the melted margarine, cornstarch mixture and pineapple. Mix only enough to moisten – the batter should be on the thicker side. Pour into a well-greased loaf pan.
4. Bake for about one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Slice and enjoy!
Nutrition per Serving: 171 calories, 10g fat, 21g carbohydrates, 3g protein.
For three of four of my college years, I served as an Resident Assistant – essentially, babysitting drunk 20-year-olds in exchange for free room and board. The job was certainly trying, and I came away with a lot of funny (well, only because I’m looking back on it) stories regarding college life.
The hands-down best part of being an RA though, was being on campus the night before a holiday break. When students had gone home for Thanksgiving and the rest of the dorms were empty, we RAs would throw a little on-campus get-together of our own. For my senior year, we decided on a BYON rule: Bring You Own Nuggets. A new vegan at the time, I brought the only meatless dish to our Thanksgiving nugget table.
We had some Sweet Baby Ray’s original barbecue sauce in the fridge, but a quick glance at the back label showed high fructose corn syrup to be the very first ingredient listed. Since homemade barbecue sauce is stupid easy to make, I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw something together while the tofu was baking.
The tofu nuggets are delicious and simple, but the real star here is the blackberry barbecue sauce. Blackberry preserves add unexpected sweetness to the classic tang of ketchup and vinegar, and a good sprinkling of cayenne pepper sneaks up at the end to remind you that this ain’t your mama’s barbecue sauce.
I ate this batch for lunch with a generous slathering of the barbecue sauce and was full until dinner. Bring these to your next BYON party (or any party, really) and watch how quickly they get gobbled up!
12 oz. extra-firm tofu, pressed
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Spices, to taste: garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tofu into desired size and shapes (use cookie cutters to add an extra sum’ sum’). Freeze and thaw the tofu before pressing for maximum chewy nugget results.
2. Spray nuggets with nonstick spray and toss with the breadcrumbs and spices*. Make sure all nuggets are evenly coated before arranging them on a greased baking sheet.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through until nuggets are brown and crispy.
Nutrition per Serving: 306 calories, 16g fat, 5g carbohydrates, 29g protein.
*After measuring the leftovers, I had only used a tiny bit of the breading. Save the rest of the breading for your next nugget adventure.
Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar-free blackberry preserves (raspberry would be good too!)
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powderBrown sugar to taste, optional
Cayenne pepper to taste, optional
1. Combine ingredients well.
Nutrition per Serving: 35 calories, 10g carbohydrates
This morning, I was sitting in the living room trying to decide on today’s featured recipe. My brother overheard my dilemma, and a sort of glazed look came to his eye:
“Biscuits,” he whispered. “Biscuits.”
My very picky 17-year-old brother David is in Home Ec class this semester, and his previously limited palate is slowly being expanded to include things like scones, sugar cookies and apparently biscuits. In fact, I don’t think it’s so much that he likes those foods, rather the exorbitant amount of butter that goes into them – it’s an underlying theme.
The mere mention of biscuits, though, had piqued my interest. I used to work the early morning shift at a local convenience store that made hot breakfast sandwiches, and the aroma of the fresh biscuits coming out of the oven was enough to keep me going. When my brother suggested flaky, buttery biscuits to me, I couldn’t help but think – why have I never made biscuits before? I felt up to the challenge, though, and I’m so glad I took the suggestion.
Hundreds of episodes of Paula Deen’s Home Cooking and The Barefoot Contessa have taught me that the key to a successful biscuit dough is keeping the fat, in this case coconut oil spread, cold cold cold! I used a fork to cut the Olivio into the dry ingredients and create little pearls of dough. Be sure not to overwork the dough so your biscuits come out light and flaky.
These biscuits were nothing short of glorious – they rose quickly, showing off perfect flaky layers and lightly-browned edges. I ate mine with Olivio Spread and strawberry jam – the coconut spread melting quickly and co-mingling with the jam to create a beautiful marbled topping…it’s almost pornographic.
David has already eaten three of them, slathered with Olivio spread.
My brain is already swimming with ideas for these and future baskets, from breakfast sandwiches stuffed with baked tofu and vegan sausage to perfect vehicles for shortcakes.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp Olivio Coconut Spread (or vegan margarine of your choice)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a fork to cut the margarine into the dry ingredients until small particles form and there are no large lumps.
2. Add the soy or almond milk and mix with the fork just until the mixture is lightly moistened and begins to stick together.
3. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Fold in half for maximum flaky biscuit results and roll dough out to 1/2″ thickness.
4. Cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or floured drinking glass, balling up extra dough and re-rolling to create more rounds. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
5. Bake biscuits at 450º for 12-17 minutes until lightly brown. Serve hot with margarine, jam, vegan gravy, maple syrup, or whatever toppings your little heart desires.
Nutrition per Serving: 148 calories, 5g fat, 24g carbohydrates, 3g protein.