Groaning Cake (Postpartum Muffins)

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Our family is in the middle of a baby boom right now.

My sister and brother-in-law just welcomed their first baby into our family two weeks ago, she’s the sweetest little girl! She’s the first grand-baby in our family. My sister-in-law and brother will be welcoming their first baby around the middle of July!  I’ll be adding to the group around the beginning of August with our first baby as well!

Three babies in 11 weeks. And no, we didn’t plan it that way.  Life has a funny way about it sometimes but needless to say there are fun times ahead!

With all the babies arriving soon, you can very well imagine what most conversations revolve around.  Babies, babies, babies and everything to do with babies.  Since Tabitha and I are both dietitians, we talk about nutrition a lot too.  Nutrition during pregnancy, how to prevent stretch marks and prepare our bodies for birth, nutrition in breastfeeding….you get the idea.

One wonderful book that influenced my thoughts around birth is called The Birth House by Ami McKay.  It follows a young woman as she learned the skills needed as a midwife and serves the woman of a Nova Scotia town in the early 1900’s.  This was a pivotal time in midwifery history during which women were struggling to maintain control of their bodies with the advancement of modern medicine.

One of the traditions mentioned in this book is the “groaning cake”.  I’ve added the excerpt from the book below (see more here):

Groaning Cake
The tradition of the groaning cake, or kimbly at (or following) a birth is an ancient one. Wives’ tales say that the scent of a groaning cake being baked in the birth house helps to ease the mother’s pain. Some say if a mother breaks the eggs while she’s aching, her labour won’t last as long. Others say that if a family wants prosperity and fertility, the father must pass pieces of the cake to friends and family the first time the mother and baby are “churched” (or the first time they go to a public gathering) after a birth. Many cultures share similar traditions…a special dish, bread, or drink, spiced with cinnamon, all spice, and/or ginger. At one time there was even a “groaning ale” made to go with it…

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If time allows during my early labour, I plan on making a groaning cake to eat before and after birth and to offer to my wonderful birth team.  I’ll also have some in the freezer ready to go if my plan doesn’t work out.

Of course I had to tweak the recipe to amp up the nutrition.  Let me tell you why it’s a good choice for pregnancy and postpartum:

  • Fiber – a pregnant and postpartum mom’s best friend.  I’ve added oat bran and flax seed to really pump this up. The grated apple helps with this as well.
  • Protein – 3 eggs and ground nuts make this higher in protein than typical muffin recipes.  This is important for development of your baby and also recovery after birth.
  • Iron – black strap molasses is a source of iron, helpful for preventing anemia in pregnancy and boosting iron stores after birth.  The orange juice helps you absorb this iron as well.
  • Oils – one effective way to help prevent stretch marks and tearing during birth is to boost the amount of healthy fats in your diet.  This improves the integrity of your skin to allow for better stretching.  These muffins are quite moist with oil both from the grape seed oil as well as the fats from the ground nuts.
  • Energy – during the last few months there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room left for the stomach but energy needs are high.  These muffins pack in a lot of energy and nutrition in a small package.  After birth these are a perfect snack to fill you up.

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat bran, certified wheat free
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, wheat free
  • 1 cup gluten free flour mixture (such as this one)….or use regular flour if you don’t need to eat gluten free
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pecans, walnuts or other nuts, ground
  • 1 1/2 cup apple (around 2 apples worth), peeled and grated

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup black strap molasses
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar or honey


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare 2 9X5 inch loaf pans by lining with parchment paper or line 18 muffin tins.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Coarsely grind up nuts in the food processor, add into bowl. Grate apple or roughly chop in the food processor as well.  Add apple to the dry ingredients and mix to coat well.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, orange juice, molasses, sugar and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Mix until just moistened.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until set.
  5. As with any gluten free baking, if not eating that day, freeze in an airtight container until ready to eat.  Defrost on the counter for a couple hours.

Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Paska (Easter Bread)

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Paska, or Easter Bread, is a serious staple in my family around this time of year!  Particularly on the Mennonite side of my family.  If you don’t have Eastern European roots and aren’t familiar with it, paska is a delicious slightly sweet, rich bread made with eggs and is delicately flavoured with citrus peel and some lemon and/or orange juice.  At least that’s how my family makes it.

Also in the style of Eastern Europeans, my family paska recipe makes enough for about 20 (if not more) loaves of bread.  I’m serious.  It’s an all day affair of kneading (by hand!) and waiting for the dough to rise.  My recipe?  I made enough for one loaf of bread.  And it only took me about 30 minutes of prep time.  I was happy with that.

Paska can also have raisins or candied fruit added to it.  My family calls paska with raisins hot cross buns…but my husband’s family, Ukrainian background, insists that it should have raisins.  So I’ll leave that important decision up to you!

Paska is always eaten on Easter morning and usually served as a dessert as well with Easter dinner.  In my family it’s usually smothered in a simple white icing sugar glaze with sprinkles and served with a sweet cottage cheese, egg, whipped cream spread called glums.  Believe me, glums is delicious but definitely a “once-a-year-kind-of-food”.  If you are interested here is the recipe.  Paska also tastes amazing slightly warmed with butter melted over it….mmmmh.

Enjoy the recipe and the wonderful smell that fills your house while you are baking this special bread!  Happy Easter to you!

This recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook recipe and my family recipe.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2  small loaves of bread in a standard bread pan or 8 mini loaves.  It can easily be doubled or tripled to suite your needs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp regular/traditional yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk or milk substitute if needed
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 whole lemon – juice and zest (depending on how citrus-y you like it, I use the whole fruit for zest)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole orange – juice and zest (same as above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum* if your flour mix doesn’t include it
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups gluten free flour mix (such as my Essential Mix) or (Better than Cup 4 Cup)

paska doughDirections:

  1. Mix sugar, gelatin and yeast in a medium sized bowl.  Heat milk in the microwave for about 1 minute or until just barely steaming but not too hot. Whisk into yeast mixture and let proof (bubble up) until about doubled in size.
  2. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter, lemon and orange juice and zest in a medium sized bowl.  Add into mixer if you have one.
  3. Add proofed yeast.
  4. Blend together all the dry ingredients until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients all at once to liquid ingredients in the mixer and beat on high for a couple of minutes.  The gluten free bread dough should look like cake batter and not typical bread dough, as seen in the picture above.
  6. Spoon into desired well greased pans or tins (smooth tops with wet fingers) and let rise in warm place for about 60 minutes until doubled in bulk.  I used mini bread loaf pans but muffin tins or bread loaf pans would work fine.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  8. Let sit in pan for a few minutes before removing to cool on rack.
  9. Let cool completely and then ice with white icing and decorate with sprinkles – coloured or chocolate if desired.
*If you are not eating it the same day, freeze until needed. Thaw on the counter at room temperature before eating.

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My favourite zucchini muffins

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Why I’ve taken so long to post this recipe I don’t know.  And I’m sorry.  You need to make these muffins if you are living in the gluten free world.  Or even if you aren’t, just make them with regular flour.  My non-gluten-free-friends I have offered these to give them a big thumbs up.

I make these muffins every couple of weeks and freeze them.  Every morning I pull out a muffin for my husbands and my lunch.  Hubby actually told me the other day that one of the best parts of his morning is his morning muffin with coffee as his desk.  Awwww now that’s love! ❤

The fear with making a new GF recipe is that it will come out dry, tasteless and boring.  This muffin is none of those things, in fact it’s just dang delicious.  And since it has 3 1/2 cups of grated zucchini, it has a third of a serving of veggies in 1 muffin.  I consider that pretty substantial.  I also love that it doesn’t use up a ton of my precious, and very expensive, stash of gluten free flour.  The oat flour adds a bunch of soluble fibre and nutritious energy to these beauties.

I use chocolate chips because, again, they are dang tasty.  If you prefer you may use raisins or chopped nuts instead.  The chocolate is good though….trust me.

Recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

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Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups grated fresh zucchini and/or yellow squash (I used almost 4 small zucchini)

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (or quinoa flour)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

2/3 cup certified gluten free oat flour (or just grind up certified gluten free rolled oats into a powder)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar or palm sugar

1 cup raisins (can replace with chopped nuts, chocolate chips or another small dried fruit)

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled or other liquid oil

4 eggs at room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (can replace with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, soured with 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar which is what I did)

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins and set them aside.

  • Prepare the zucchini/squash. Place the grated zucchini and/or yellow squash in the center of a large clean tea towel, gather the towel around the zucchini, and twist tightly to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set the zucchini aside.

  • Make the batter. In a large bowl, place the all purpose flour, xanthan gum, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar and whisk again to combine, breaking up any lumps. Add the grated zucchini and mix to combine, breaking up any clumps in the grated zucchini. Add the chocolate chips or raisins, mix.

  • Mix together in a separate bowl, coconut oil, eggs and buttermilk. Mix into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The batter will be thick but not stiff.

  • Bake the muffins. Fill the prepared wells of the muffin tins about 2/3 of the way full with batter. Place them in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed gently and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Freeze for later. These muffins freeze very well in a freezer-safe container.  They can be refreshed in the toaster oven before serving.

 

Cinnamon Bun Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Sometimes you need a cinnamon flavoured goodie in your life.

For those of us that must have a gluten free diet, making cinnamon buns is a daunting task.  The sticky dough….the screams of frustration as you try in vain to roll it out and then roll it up again to make the swirls…the sad looking cinnamon buns that look nothing like what a conventional one would look like.

Fortunately there are ways to get the flavour of a cinnamon bun without all the fuss.

Muffins.  Yup.  Swirl in a hearty amount of cinnamon sugar and frost these babies with some cream cheese frosting and you will be left smiling for the rest of the day!

Valentine’s Day is coming up, why no surprise your sweetie with a lovely breakfast!

Recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill, Everyday Gluten Free Cookbook

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup potato starch

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil

Cinnamon swirl – 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar

1-2 tbsp cinnamon

Icing

1/2 block Cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tbsp of milk or as needed

Directions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, flax seeds, potato starch, baking soda and salt.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, maple syrup and coconut oil until well blended.

3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

4. Divide batter equally among 12 paper lined muffin cups.

5. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon….divide and spoon over top of  batter.  Swirl into batter of each muffin with a spoon.

5. Bake in preheated oven at 375F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are golden and a test inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

6. Mix together icing ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Spoon over cooled muffins before serving.

 

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding

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Have you ever made your own pudding?  Seriously….hop to it.

Pudding is surprisingly easy and quick to make.  You know exactly what’s going in there and you can make a variety of different flavours.  Plus it’s a great way to get more calcium in…with a dessert!

I have made vanilla and chocolate pudding before but never tried butterscotch.  Turns out that all you have to do is swap brown sugar for white sugar and voila!  And don’t replace the butter for margarine…it’s called butterscotch for a reason.  It’s delicious.

This recipes is from this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar which is why it’s not quite a dark in colour)
Several pinches of salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 cups milk (higher fat is better)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Directions

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and reduce heat to medium-low. Let it heat and bubble for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t let it smoke or burn.

2. Reduce heat to low. Add salt and cornstarch, stirring until combined — it’s going to look like a thick paste. Switch to a whisk and add the milk in a thin drizzle, whisking the whole time, so that no lumps form.

3. Cook over low to medium-low, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer. Let it simmer for a full minute, stirring, it should clearly thicken at this stage, although it will finish thickening in the fridge.

4. Turn off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract. Divide into glasses and let chill in fridge for 1 to 2 hours, until set.

Yield: 6 1/2-cup servings or 8 petite ones

 

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Simple Strawberry Coconut Popsicles

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It’s hot outside!  Summer has been in full swing in BC.  What better way to cool down than with a popsicle!  I finally invested a whole $3 in popsicle molds from Walmart.  Big spender.

With your own molds you can freeze whatever you like!  Fruit juice and chunks of fruit, smoothies, etc.  I decided to make a strawberry ice cream inspired popsicle but diary free.  The coconut milk makes this really rich, creamy and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk

1 1/2 cup strawberries

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup maple syrup

 Directions:

1. Blend together all ingredients until smooth.

2. Pour into molds, pop on the lids.  Freeze for at least 3-4 hours until solid.

When ready to eat, run under hot water for 10 seconds to remove.

Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins (Naturally gluten free)

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Happy summer everyone!  I don’t think I love anything better than fresh summer fruit in July and August.

Here in Northern BC summer is short but beautiful and something we look forward to all year long.  The other day on a lunchtime stroll I found (and devoured) fresh and wild saskatoon berries, strawberries and raspberries.  Bliss.

Right now there are TONS of saskatoon berries ripe for the picking in the bush.  If you have some of those on hand, by all means through them into this delicious muffin.

This recipe was taken from Bob’s Red Mill:  Everyday Gluten Free Cookbook.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup potato starch

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (or dairy-free alternative mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice)

1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, oil and vanilla until well blended.  Whisk in yogurt until blended.

3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in blueberries.

4. Divide batter equally among 12 prepared muffin cups.

5. Bake in preheated oven at 375F for 25-30 minutes.  Store at room temperature in air tight container for up to two days or freeze and thaw at room temperature.

Family Famous….Monster Cookies!


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These cookies have a special place in the hearts of us Marshall kids.  We made these all the time growing up!  I remember my grandmother even made us a GIANT monster cookie once that was the size of a dinner plate.  Epic.

It was a special day when my Mom announced it was time to make monster cookies.

We could gather around the kitchen table and each of us took turns measuring and adding in an ingredient.  The end was the best because Mom gave each us each a big spoonful of the cookie dough to eat to tide us over until the cookies came out of the oven.  Bliss!

I’ve recently unearthed this recipe because…amazingly enough….if you make these with certified wheat free oats they are in fact gluten free! No other adjustments needed.  I also love that they contain no refined flours, only whole grain oats, and have lots of peanut butter in them with only a little amount of margarine or butter.  Some how this makes me feel better about eating these amazingly delicious cookies.

A few weeks ago I shared these with my house guests working hard on our basement …they didn’t last more than four days.  It got rave reviews and also from my co-worker and her hubby who just had a new baby!  I was glad to be able to spread some joy to other with good old fashioned baking.

This batch was made with our road trip to Vancouver in mind!  Time to spread some cookie love to our family down there!

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Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup EACH white and brown sugar

1/2 cup margarine or butter

1 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 tbsp vanilla

1 tbsp of corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 tsp baking soda

4 1/2 cup old fashion oats (not quick cooking)

1/2-1 cup chocolate chips

1/2-1 cup of M&Ms either normal or peanut variety

Directions:

1. Beat together eggs, sugar, margarine and peanut butter together in a large bowl.

2. Add in corn syrup, salt and baking soda.  Mix well.

3. Add oats, chocolate chips and M&Ms. Mix well.

4. Using a small ice cream scoop or spoon, drop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Do not flatten before baking.

5. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets.

Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies

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The Essential Gluten-Free Flour Mixture

flour1Photo credit: In sock monkey slippers

If you need to do some gluten free baking (for whatever reason) you NEED a good gluten free flour mixture recipe.  Don’t be going and thinking that you can just swap out wheat flour for brown rice flour and everything will be hunky dory.  That is unless you fancy eating a rice-flavored-rock-hard-muffin…

Starting out in the gluten free baking world, I didn’t find a good mix recipe for a WHILE…almost a year and a half.  As a result I avoided baking because it was a PAIN IN THE BUTT to measure four or five different types of flour every time I would try to make anything.  Then the result would tasty funky and the texture would be off.

Then I discovered this recipe and my world changed.  I made up a giant container.  Then you just conveniently scooped like you would flour for whatever recipe and know it (probably) will turn out!

Please don’t think that it’s super healthy.  It isn’t…since it contains refined flours – BUT I tweaked it a bit to incorporate sorghum flour which is a WHOLE grain, along with whole grain brown rice flour.  Everything in moderation!  Life is about balance – we still need some banana bread every once in a while!  Bonus points if you can find fortified flour with added vitamins. I try to amp up the nutrition also by adding powerhouse foods like ground flax seed, chia seeds, blueberries or walnuts to my baking.

This gluten free flour mixture is comparable to standard white wheat flour.  It can be used pretty much cup for cup in standard recipes like muffins, cookies, biscuits and cakes.  Of course the texture is going to be different in batter form.  Don’t be expecting it to look or feel like wheat flour batter or dough!  Once it’s baked, it should create a similar product.  You’ll learn how to make life easier for yourself by using parchment paper to roll out dough or just picking recipes that don’t require a lot of handling.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) White Rice Flour
  • 1 Bag (24 oz or 4.25 Cups) Sorghum Flour (alternatively you may use Sweet Rice Flour)
  • 1 Bag (20 oz or 4.5 Cups) Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ tablespoons Xanthan gum

Directions:

1. Using your BIGGEST mixing bowl, add all ingredients.  Mix with a whisk for about 5 minutes to ensure the flours are very well mixed together.  If your bowl isn’t big enough, then half the recipe and mix in two smaller batches.

2. Store in a large, air tight 5L jar or container.  Keep in the pantry or a cool, dark place.

 

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