Friday, 25 May 2012

Cranberry Apple Coffee Cake

Gluten Free Cranberry Apple Coffee Cake

It is so satisfying to make a successful gluten free cake. Anyone who's experimented with GF baking knows that. I can't even count how many times I've optimistically slid a seemingly perfect GF cake into the oven, only to pull out a rubbery, half burnt/half raw cake with a 6 inch crater in the centre 45 minutes later. How Annoying! Nowadays, there's all kinds of GF cake mixes on the market, and if you're willing to pay $6 for a mix, you can probably expect decent results (although I haven't tried most of those mixes, I'm assuming they don't suck... otherwise they wouldn't sell, right?). For those of you who'd rather not buy the processed, and rather expensive, mixes, try this recipe. Yes, it's coffee cake... but it's cake and it's gluten free, so no complaining!

This version is actually pretty healthy with apples and cranberry sauce. I sometimes even eat it for breakfast (my husband is horrified... cake for breakfast!). You could easily add extra sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, or icing to make it more of a traditional cake. Or instead of apples and cranberry sauce, add your favourite fruit (blueberries, raspberries, pear slices, etc). Feel free to try another one of my versions: Ginger Peach Coffee Cake.

Make sure to bake this cake until the centre feels firm. The edges will be dark, but not burnt. Otherwise your cake will have a rubbery 6 inch crater in the middle...

(makes 9x9 baking dish)

1 1/3 cup Light Flour Blend (see flour blends)
3/4 cup Sugar (or less if you prefer)
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla (optional)
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
2  Peeled and Sliced Apples (med sized)
1/2 cup Cranberry Sauce (I make homemade sauce when cranberries are cheap and freeze it... it's really easy)
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon


Stir together all dry ingredients.
Beat eggs with milk and add, along with the rest of the wet ingredients, to the dry ingredients.
Pour into greased 9x9 baking dish.
Press slices of apples into batter (about 1/2 inch apart).
Spread cranberry sauce over the top (Doesn't need to cover the entire cake. It will sink in somewhat)
Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top.
Bake at 350 F for 45-50 mins (until very brown but not burning). The centre should be firm to the touch.
Let cool and cut into 9 square pieces.
Press apple slices into batter

Spread cranberry sauce over the top (you don't need quite this much... I just used all of my leftovers)

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes
Serve with coffee for breakfast, dessert, or an afternoon snack!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Enjoy Life Chewy Bars Review

I recieved some of Enjoy Life's newly designed Chewy Bars to review. Since I started working again last week, and the school is a nut free zone, I was excited to have some nut and gluten free snacks to bring in my lunches. I had a chance to try all 4 of their flavours, Cocoa Loco, Caramel Apple, Sunbutter Crunch and Very Berry. They made great, filling snacks and were only 110 calories each (excluding the sunbutter variety which was 120 calories). At $4.29 for a box of 5 bars, they are not cheap, but compared to other allergy friendly granola bars, they were reasonable.

Enjoy Life Chewy Bars: Caramel Apple and Very Berry

Enjoy Life Chewy Bars: Sunbutter Crunch and Cocoa Loco

Cocoa Loco

This was definitely my favorite flavour! They tasted like brownies, but still had 2 grams of fibre, 2 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat and only 110 calories. Also, 1 bar contains 10% of required daily iron. I would buy this variety again for a snack or even dessert.

Health       4 stars
Cost          3 stars
Taste         4.5 stars
Texture     4 stars

Overall Rating:  3.9 stars
Caramel Apple
The Caramel Apple Flavour was probably my second favorite. I liked the flavour of the bar and the fact that there were small chunks of dried apple in it. One thing I didn't enjoy is the small hard pieces in each of the last 3 flavours. I'm not sure what they are, but I found it to be hard on my teeth.
The caramel apple bar has 3 grams of fat, 2 of fibre and 1 gram of protein.
Health       4 stars
Cost           3 stars
Taste         4 stars
Texture     2 stars

Overall Rating: 3.25 stars
Sunbutter Crunch
This flavour was also enjoyable, but had the same issue with texture. I liked that it had a peanut buttery taste, but was made with sunflower seeds instead (making it safe for those with nut allergies). The sunbutter gave it a slightly higher fat and calorie content (4 grams fat and 120 calories), but I don't mind a little extra healthy fat. Each bar also contained 2 grams of fibre and 2 of protein.
Health      4 stars
Cost         3 stars
Taste        4 stars
Texture    2 stars

Overall Rating: 3.25 stars
Very Berry
This flavour was my least favorite, simply because of the taste. I didn't enjoy the berry flavour, even though I like berries (and the flavour was natural). It reminded me of a nutrigrain bar which, although I haven't had one in many years (ahem, gluten), I remember disliking as a child. I also didn't enjoy the texture with the small, hard pieces mixed in. Each bar contained 2.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of fibre and 1 gram of protein.
Health      4 stars
Cost         3 stars
Taste        1 stars
Texture    2 stars

Overall Rating:  2.5 stars
Thanks Enjoy Life Foods for providing these free samples for me to review. All opinions are my own

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Granola Cookies

Gluten Free Granola Cookies

I found this recipe on pinterest the other day and just had to try it. I love that there is no sugar or sugar substitute, but it's still sweet from the mashed bananas. I made a few minor changes, but the idea is the same. This blogger called them breakfast cookies, but I decided to call them granola cookies because they are very similar to granola bars, only in cookie form. They do make a great (and healthy) breakfast on the go, and I'm sure kids would be ecstatic to have cookies for breakfast! With all the protein and fibre, they are a satisfying breakfast or snack for anyone.

(makes about 2 dozen small cookies)

3 Medium Mashed Bananas
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1 Egg (may be omitted)
1 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 cups GF Oats (I used quick oats but rolled would work too)
1/2 cup Dried Coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 - 3/4 cup Dried Fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, etc)
1/2 cup Chopped Nuts
1/4 tsp Salt
11/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg


Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl.
Add dry ingredients to bowl and mix thoroughly
Drop spoonfuls of mixture on parchment lined baking sheet and form into desired shape.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 mins until they just begin to brown.
Store any left over cookies in freezer.

Before Baking (line with parchment - unlike me)
After Baking