Frosted Pumpkin Spice Gluten-Free Cookies

This summer I learned that I could not eat gluten anymore. It was the reason for the physical symptoms that I had been dealing with for a long time. It was such a wonderful relief when my symptoms went away after eliminating gluten, but then I was faced with learning how to cook and bake gluten-free. I have spent the last 3 months trying many various kinds of gluten-free products. Some met with success and some with failure. The product that I have had the most success with when baking is King Arthur Flour gluten-free multi-purpose flour. It is wheat free, soy free, and nut free; a great flour option for someone with gluten-intolerance or some other food intolerance or allergy. I tried several other baking mixes and was not happy with the taste that they gave to the baked product. And the other baking mixes did not pass the kid test either; both of my kids did not like the taste. The King Arthur gluten-free baking mix has been more successful with the whole family. My daughter, who has a well-developed sense of taste, does not like chocolate chip cookies baked with this mix but she does like all the other cookies that I have made with it. I have some other non-wheat flours that I am experimenting with, but it is still quite nice to have a baking mix on hand that can easily be used in place of regular flour in any baking recipe. 20121006-111823.jpg

With the holidays right around the corner, I have been working on making some yummy gluten-free holiday treats. My kids and I love to bake Christmas cookies together and I do not want to forgo that tradition just because I can not eat gluten anymore. And what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? I have been working on a walnut crust for pumpkin pie, which is quite good but still needs a little more tweaking before it is ready. But one recipe that is ready to share is this recipe for pumpkin and spice cookies topped with a creamy vanilla frosting. Because of the pumpkin in the cookies, the recipe only needs 1/2 cup of butter. And the frosting only takes 1/4 cup of butter. So for the whole cookie, you end up with a lower fat cookie than any other standard cookie recipe that calls for 1 cup of butter and this cookie has frosting on top! And just wait until you taste the frosting! Everyone that sampled my cookies thought that the frosting was cream cheese, when in fact it is the coconut milk that gives the frosting that rich and creamy flavor.

I cannot wait for you to try this recipe. Be sure to let me know if your family and friends are surprised when they find out that the delicious cookie that they just ate is a reduced fat, gluten-free cookie frosted with, not a cream cheese frosting but a coconut milk frosting.

Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar

15 oz can of pumpkin (or 1 3/4 c. of fresh pumpkin)

1 tsp. pure vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/4 c. King Arthur Flour gluten-free multi-purpose flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum (adds volume and airiness to gluten-free baked products)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground ginger


In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Mix until well blended. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and eggs; stir until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until it begins to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not over mix the batter or the cookies will be tough.

Scoop out tablespoonfuls of cookie dough and drop onto a cookie sheet. The cookies do not spread when they bake, so flatten out the tops of the cookie dough slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. When the cookies are done, the bottom edges of the cookies will be a light golden brown. Do not under bake these cookies or they will be doughy when you eat them.


Coconut Milk Vanilla Frosting

1/4 c. unsalted butter, very soft

1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar

2 tbsp. original coconut milk

a drop of pure vanilla extract

Cream all the ingredients together until creamy and smooth. Spread about 2 teaspoons on the top of each cookie.

Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 4 dozen cookies.


Chocolate Cake

This recipe became a staple in my house when our diet was drastically altered because of my son's food allergies. It is a delicious chocolate cake that is made without any eggs, butter or milk. Sometimes it is called "Wacky Cake"  and it originated during World War II when there were rations on certain foods and products. The cake is so easy to make, using just a bowl and spoon and the result is a moist and delicious cake. Even though my son grew out of his food allergies, I still frequently bake this cake for my family because we like it so much. It makes a one layer 9 inch cake which is the perfect amount for my family since we're able to eat it before it gets stale. There are lots of versions of Wacky Cake but I prefer this one because it uses less sugar, cocoa and oil than other versions. Once you try this cake and see how easy it is to make and how good it taste, I think that it will become a staple in your house too. Chocolate Cake (adapted from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. cold water

1/2 c. cold black coffee

1/3 c. canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. white vinegar


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 8x8x2 inch square pan, a round 9 inch pan or a muffin tin.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until completely mixed together. Push the flour mixture to the outside edges of the bowl, creating a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the water, coffee, oil, vanilla and vinegar to the well. Using a large spoon, stir together the wet and dry ingredient just until they are combined.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes for the square and round pans, or for 20 minutes for cupcakes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack. The cake is delicious served just as it is, or you can sift some powdered sugar over the top right before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutritional information:

147 Calories

6 g. fat

0 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

205 mg. sodium

23 g. carbohydrates

1 g. fiber

12 g. sugar

2 g. protein

Bean Enchiladas

As I mentioned in a previous post, I created this recipe for Bean Enchiladas when my son was younger and had many food allergies, including beef, chicken and dairy. This recipe is so easy to make and it's lighter than traditional beef enchiladas. I used to make the recipe from the side of the enchilada sauce can which called for two cans of enchilada sauce, one for the filling and one to top the enciladas. While those were tasty, the amount of sodium from the sauce alone was quite a lot. Now I just use one can of sauce for the topping. For the filling, I use a can of tomato sauce with no added salt, along with some of my Taco Seasoning in place of the can of enchilada sauce. For the rest of the filling, I use beans instead of ground beef. That cuts down on the fat and saturated fat and increases the amount of fiber. I've used different kinds of beans depending on what I have on hand but the combination of black beans and navy beans is by far my favorite. Now that we're not dealing with food allergies anymore, I add some cheese to our enchiladas but the cheese could easily be left out and that was how we ate them for a year. Now that we have the choice I like to add some cheese. Of course, if you are on a diet you can save 73 calories, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat by leaving the cheese off. I also like to roll the filling in whole wheat tortillas instead of white flour tortillas. The final result is tasty Mexican dish that is lighter than before.  

Bean Enchiladas

1 (15 1/2 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed well

1 (15 1/2 oz.) can of navy beans, drained and rinsed well

1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce, no salt added

4 tsp. taco seasoning

6 whole wheat tortillas

1 (10 oz.) can of enchilada sauce, mild

Optional- 4 oz. shredded cheese (cheddar, longhorn or something similar), half for the filling and half for the topping


Optional toppings:



sour cream



Canned beans have a lot of sodium in the sauce so make sure that you rinse your beans very well. Then in a large bowl, mix together the beans, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Fill tortillas with the bean mixture and cheese, if you are using some. Roll up the tortillas and place in a lightly greased 13x9 pan with the seam side facing down. Pour the enchilada sauce over top of the tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the enchiladas. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 350°F oven for about 20-25 minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Serve topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and salsa, if you wish.

Makes 6 enchiladas.

Bean Enchiladas and Roasted Potatoes


Tip: Add shredded cheese and sour cream for the family members that can have dairy; however, the enchiladas are delicious without the cheese or sour cream.

Nutritional information for 1 enchilada with cheese:

358 Calories

8 g. fat

4 g. saturated fat

3 mg. cholesterol

1003 mg. sodium

53 g. carbohydrates

12 g. fiber

5.5 g. sugar

16.5 g. protein

Whole Wheat Bread

I love to bake my own bread. Nothing beats the aroma of bread baking in the oven!I have several friends that are getting into baking their own bread so I thought that I would share the recipe that I use. I've tried several recipes over the last couple of years and the one that I'm currently using is my favorite. It uses about 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. I like this recipe the best because of it's flavor and texture. The whole wheat enhances the flavor of the bread without being too overwhelming. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, which lasts my family of four about five to six days. On the day that I make the bread, I put the extra loaf in a bag and wrap it completely with tin foil and put it in the freezer. Then on the morning that I need another loaf, I can pull it out of the freezer and we once again have fresh bread for lunch. In the few days that it takes for us to eat the whole loaf, the bread stays nice and fresh. This recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 14th edition. I just have to say that if I could only have one cookbook, I would choose this one. It is a wonderful cookbook that covers everything. It has a nice section in the beginning called "Cooking Basics" that covers different kinds of pots, pans and gadgets, as well as a glossary of cooking terms and ingredients. It is filled from beginning to end with lots of great information for both beginner and experienced cooks. I highly recommend this cookbook.

When my son was allergic to dairy as a baby, I started making my own bread using my bread machine. With that recipe, I substituted oil for the butter that was called for. I have discovered that for this recipe, olive oil makes a great substitution for the butter in the recipe. Olive oil is good to use instead of butter because it is healthier for your heart since it has a lot less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Also, 10 of the 14 grams of fat per tablespoon are monounsaturated. According to the American Heart Association, "Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.  Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of." Plus, if you have a family member that is allergic to dairy, this is a wonderful bread that you can make that they can enjoy too.

Whole Wheat Bread

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Whole Wheat Bread p. 144

3 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 1/4 tsp. Fleischmann's Bread Machine yeast

1 3/4 c. water

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 c. whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir together the water, brown sugar, olive oil and salt just until warm (120°F to 130°F). It's important to take the time to measure the temperature of the water. Yeast needs the right temperature to react as it should and in turn, cause the bread to rise properly. Add the water mixture to the flour mixture. Beat with mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl half way through. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour and 1 more cup of all-purpose flour. Stir it together with a large spoon as best as you can.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Knead the flour slowly to until all the loose flour is kneaded in and it forms a dough ball, about 2 minutes. Continue kneading the dough for another 4 minutes to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl that has been greased with cooking spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough ball in the bowl. Also spray a little on one side of a piece of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap, greased side down, over the bowl. Let the dough rise in a draft-free warm place until double in size. In the winter, it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the dough to double; but in the summer, it only takes about an hour.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Cut the dough in half and form into two balls. Lightly grease two 9x5x2 loaf pans and set aside. Shape each dough half into a loaf by rolling each ball out one at a time into a 12x8 rectangular shape. Tightly roll up the rectangle, starting from the short end. When you are done rolling it, pinch the end to the roll to seal the seam. Repeat with the other dough ball. Place each loaf in a prepared pan. Cover one pan with the greased plastic wrap used to cover the dough when it was rising. For the other pan, tear off a second piece of plastic wrap, lightly spray it with cooking spray and cover. Let the loaves rise in a warm, draft-free place until they are nearly double in size. It take approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how warm your house is.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 35 minutes. You can test for doneness by lightly tapping the top of the bread. If the bread is done, then it will sound hollow. During the last 10 minutes of baking, loosely cover the bread with a piece of tin foil to prevent overbrowning. When the bread is done, immediately remove the bread from the pans and cool on wire racks. Try to wait until the bread is cooled before cutting into it because it is difficult to cut warm bread without squashing the loaf. But if you just can't resist the aroma of fresh baked bread, then let it sit about 10-15 minutes before you slice of piece. :)

Makes 2 loaves (24 slices).

Nutrition information per slice:

108 Calories

2 g. fat

less than 0.5 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

123 mg. sodium

21 g. carbohydrates

2 g. fiber

3 g. sugar

3 g. protein

Flaxseed Waffles

These waffles were created when my infant son was diagnosed with food allergies. He was allergic to dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, beef, chicken and seafood. Since he was allergic to so many things, I had to get creative and create some recipes that he could handle . Three years later, his allergies are gone but these flaxseed waffles have continued to be a weekly staple in our house. My family likes to eat them with spreadable fruit or pure maple syrup. Pure maple syrup cost more than regular pancake/waffle syrup but you do not need to use as much because it is sweeter tasting. And the best reason to use maple syrup is that it does not contain any artificial ingredients. This waffle recipe is healthier and lighter than a traditional waffle recipe since it does not have the saturated fat from the butter or the cholesterol from the eggs. And these waffles have more flavor too! The nutty flaxseed, the sweet vanilla and the spicy cinnamon add to the depth of flavor of these waffles. It also has the added benefits of flaxseed. Flaxseed is a wonderful little seed that has been linked to preventing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It has three components that make it so healthy: Omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. Having flaxseed waffles for breakfast is a delicious way to start your day off!

Flaxseed Waffles

2 tbsp. whole flaxseed, milled up right before using (or you could use 3 tbsp. premilled flaxseed, I prefer to buy whole flaxseed and grind them myself right before I use it, that way none of the nutritional value of the flaxseed is lost. I use a coffee grinder to mill up my flaxseed.)

2 1/4 c. water, divided (3/4 c. and 1 1/2 c.)

1/2 canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine the flaxseed with 3/4 cup of water in a food processor. Blend together until the mixture resembles the consistency of egg whites, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add the oil, the vanilla and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend for 1 minute so that the water and oil combine with the flaxseed mixture. Add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse just to combine the ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and pulse a couple of seconds longer. You don’t want to overwork the batter once the flour has been added or else the waffles will be tough. Mix just long enough to combine all the ingredients together.

Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while the waffle iron heats up. Once the waffle iron is heated, spray it with cooking spray and pour on some of the batter. Bake until the steaming slows, or approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Serve the waffles warm. You can keep the waffles warm while you make the whole batch by placing them in a oven set to the warm setting or about 180 degrees. Leftover waffles can easily be reheated in a toaster or toaster oven for breakfast another day. It depends on the size of your waffle maker but mine makes 10 4 inch by 5 inch rectangular waffles.

UPDATE: added the nutritional information for this recipe on 2/21/2011.

Per waffle:

200 Calories

12.5 g fat

1 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol

275 mg sodium

18 g carbohydrates

1 g fiber

2 g sugar

3 g protein