Fake It 'Til You Bake It

Or, Gluten Free Eating In Eastern Massachusetts

Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
The other day, my husband and I went on a little bit of an adventure. We drove out to a large local farm stand to do our grocery shopping, instead of going to our usual supermarket. It was adorable - fruit, flowers, herbs, and potted plants were all piled up attractively outside. So attractively, in fact, that I had already grabbed mangoes, tomatoes, and blueberries before we had even gone in! When we did finally make it inside the actual store, I found myself in foodie heaven. Every kind of nut, dried fruit, or grain (whole, roasted, raw, and puffed) that you could want; artisanal mustards, jams, salsas, cheeses, beers ... it went on and on. I probably drove my husband nuts. it took me about ten minutes to go ten feet, because I had to look at EVERYTHING. And then, it hit me. I was smelling something absolutely divine. It was fresh, sweet, and aromatic - it was lemon poppy seed pound cake.

That smell chased me all over the store. I might have been choosing my favorite cheese, but I was smelling that lemon pound cake. Of course we left with a cart full of goodies, including a chocolate goat cheese and the sweetest cherries I've had in years, but the memory of that smell haunted me. I absolutely had to have it. And that is how my reduced fat, lower calorie, gluten free Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf was born!

You will need:

3 1/4 Cups Oat Flour
5 Scoops of Vanilla or White Chocolate Protein Powder
8 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
3/4 Cups Granulated Splenda
2 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
The Zest of 2 Lemons
1 Tbsp Lemon Extract
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Imitation Butter Flavor
2 Cups Almond Milk
1/2 Cup Liquid Egg Whites
2/3 Cup Sugar Free Maple Syrup
4 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (about 1 Large Lemon juiced)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice Concentrate

In a large mixing bowl, measure out your dry ingredients - the oat flour, protein powder, baking powder and soda, salt, Splenda, poppy seeds, and zest - and give it all a quick whisk to combine together evenly. Next, puree all the liquid ingredients - the extracts, almond milk, egg whites, maple syrup, bananas, and lemon juice and concentrate - in a blender. Once everything is pureed together, pour it over your dry ingredients, and whisk until your batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Now, preheat your oven to 375, and let your batter rest a little bit while it heats up. Spray your mini loaf pans with PAM or another no-calorie spray. This mix made a baker's dozen (13) loaves for me. You can use this recipe to make traditionally sized loaves, but the baking time will be different; closer to 45 minutes to an hour.

Once your oven is heated up, ladle about 1/2 a Cup into each mini loaf pan, and set in the oven to bake for 17-20 minutes. Once they are golden brown on the top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, they are done! And these babies are only 215 calories each. I know, right? AND they have over 10 grams of protein, tons of fiber, and taste like a decadent cheat. Your stomach will thank you. Your waistline will thank you. And your friends and loved ones will wonder how you do it, eating dessert all the time! Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Gluten Free, Guilt Free Samoas Doughnuts
Recently I woke up, logged onto social media, and was bombarded by images of doughnuts. Doughnuts everywhere. Why? Apparently in America we have something called 'National Doughnut Day', and everyone was celebrating. The vast majority were going to large chains and posting delicious looking Boston cream filled, chocolate glazed, sprinkle dusted, delicious pillows of sugar. These I could have resisted - maybe. The killer posts, though, were the people lucky enough to go to Voodoo Doughnuts or other cool little places. Bacon topped, salted caramel, fruity cereal crusted, deep fried, unique treats ... that's what I wanted!

Unfortunately, not only do I not have a place near me that makes gluten free doughnuts, most doughnuts would DEFINITELY not be in my healthy meal plan for the day. All day I was trying to decide what to do. Do I go get the gluten-free doughnuts from the freezer section of the specialty store? Do I just not have doughnuts? Or ... do I make my own?

If you know me at all by now, you know I can't resist a challenge to make it (whatever *it* is) myself. So, the Samoas Doughnut was born, to combine the texture of a doughnut and one of my all-time favorite cookies! They're baked, not fried, so they're even good for you - only 175 calories, and they even have a little bit of protein!

You will need:

1 1/2 Cups Oat Flour
2 Scoops Cinnamon (or Vanilla) Protein Powder
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Granulated Splenda
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Imitation Butter Flavor
1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 Cup Liquid Egg Whites
1/3 Cup Sugar Free Maple Syrup
2 Ripe bananas
30 grams Sweetened, Shredded Coconut

1/2 -1 jar Coconut Butter (NOT coconut oil), instead of Icing
30 grams Mini Chocolate Chips
30 grams Carmal Baking Bits
30 grams Sweetened, Shredded Coconut
Chocolate Sea Salt (or Fleur de Sel, or a good quality sea salt; Table salt is not delicious here!) to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a full-sized doughnut pan (or several, if you are lucky enough to have more than one!) with a no-calorie, gluten-free baking spray like PAM original. In a blender, blend together all of your ingredients until combined. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times, and then blend again. You should end up will have a batter that is about the consistency of a waffle or pancake batter - slightly thick, but nowhere near a 'dough'. If you like a super fluffy doughnut, let the mix rest for 15-20 minutes before using. I don't know why (there is some science behind it, I'm sure) but if you use the batter right away, it's dense, almost like a cake doughnut; the longer you wait, the fluffier it gets! Once everything is blended, take a Quarter Cup measuring scoop, and pour 1/4 Cup of batter into each well in your doughnut pan. Bake for 12-13 minutes until they are fluffy and golden yellow on the top. This recipe made (for me) 17 doughnuts, so if you only have one 6-doughnut pan, you will have to repeat the process a few times. Let the doughnuts cool on a baking rack, and set up your toppings in the meantime.

If your coconut butter is rather solid (if it is cool), warm it up slightly in the microwave until it is liquid, and pour it into a shallow bowl. Put each of the other toppings into little bowls close at hand. Taking each cooled doughnut, dip it into the coconut butter, let the excess drip off, and set it back on the baking rack while you repeat the process with each doughnut. Then, sprinkle all of your toppings over the top of your doughnuts! The chips, coconut and caramel bits stick to the coconut butter. Hit it generously with your choice of sea salts - this is the key that takes these doughnuts over the top! The sweet/salty combo is absolutely killer. As I said, each doughnut is only 175 calories. (Say WHAT?? Yeah!) So enjoy guys, indulge intelligently, never restrict yourself from the things you love, and as always, let me know what you think!

No-Bake Protein Java Chip 'Brownie' Bars
It's a constant battle. Every day, your brain (and stomach) says 'chocolate', but your summer clothes say 'salad', right? Well, tell your summer wardrobe to STUFF IT. You don't have to constantly eat salads, even though salads can be absolutely delicious. There is absolutely no reason to deprive yourself of the things that you love - like chocolate - to lose fat or maintain a healthy weight! It just requires a different way of thinking. So, eat the chocolate, but make it a protein treat to keep your blood sugar down and help keep you full!

These no-bake bars are the perfect grab and go snack, but are delectable enough for dessert. I've had these several times with my dessert, and it tastes like it is so very bad for you. Naughty chocolate treats with 10 grams of protein and no hot oven heating up your house? Yes! Keep these babies in the freezer for an even more refreshing treat.

You will need:

1 Cup Almond Meal
1/2 Cup Oat Flour
4 Scoops JavaPro Mocha Protein powder (or chocolate protein + 1 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in the almond milk)
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
50 grams Sweetened Shredded Coconut
60 Grams (1/2 Cup) Pecans
100 grams Pitted Dates
6 Tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Tbsp Sugar Free Pancake Syrup
6 Tbsp Chia Moxie Coffee Peanut Butter (or your favorite peanut butter), warmed
2 Tbsp Coconut Butter, warmed
1 tsp Coffee Extract
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
45 grams Mini Chocolate Chips

Simply place the almond meal, oat flour, protein powder, chia seeds, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, pecans, and dates in a food processor or a high-powered blender, and pulse to combine. When your dry ingredients reach a sandy consistency, add in the almond milk, pancake syrup, peanut and coconut butters, and the coffee and vanilla extracts. Your mix will quickly become sticky - that's okay! You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times. Once everything starts to ball together, dump your 'dough' into a small (8"x10") brownie pan that is lined with saran wrap. With your fingers, press the dough into the corners until you have even coverage. Sprinkle your chocolate chips evenly over the top. Cover with more saran wrap, and using the flat bottom of a glass, lightly tap until the top of your brownies is even and flat. Let set in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes, and then slice into 18 consistent bars.

Each bar is only 195 calories each, and they are a very generous size - about the same size as a Lara Bar, but with more protein (10 grams!) and fewer calories! And hey, it's chocolate, so it's something you will actually *want* to eat while you are running around, and it will help to kill the cravings for less healthy treats. Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Macadamia Butter and Sauteed Pineapples for a Tropical Brunch
Is there real butter in this? Hell yes! Are there some serious carbs going down? Yep! Every once in a while, you need a treat. You need to celebrate. You need to enjoy the finer (read: gloriously fat filled) things in life. This is the beauty of being on point with your diet and nutrition 99% of the time; a treat meal every once in a while won't destroy your progress! So go ahead and live life, and enjoy it, and eat real salted butter every once in a while. Get down with your bad self.

I made this to celebrate my birthday, and it was absolutely perfect. Inspiration came from some of my breakfasts in Disney World, where I was served gluten free waffles with warm pineapples and a compound butter with macadamia nuts. It was some of the best food I ate my entire vacation, and I wanted to recreate it! It's also super easy and quick to put together, and if you wanted to make a large batch for a bunch of people for brunch, you can make it ahead of time!

You will need:

4 Cups Fresh Pineapple, roughly diced
1 Ripe Banana, diced
2 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2  Ground Cardamom
2 Tbsp Salted Butter

4 Tbsp Salted Butter, softened
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Roasted Macadamia Nuts

Rudi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Toast (or Gluten Free Waffles)

Additional options for a full brunch:
Scrambled or Sunny-Side-Up Eggs
Chicken or Breakfast Sausage
Socially Acceptable Alcoholic Brunch Beverages (Mimosas, Bellinins, Mai Tais, etc)

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the pan and butter is hot, add in the pineapples and banana, honey and spices, and reduce the heat slightly to medium low. Gently saute, mixing every once in a while, letting the fruit caramelize with the honey and spices. While the fruit warms through, put the macadamia nuts into a food processor, and pulse until you have a rough sandy texture with some larger chunks. Pour the ground nuts into a small bowl, and add in the butter and salt; mix together with a fork or a spatula until your compound butter is well combined. Set aside, reduce the heat on your fruit to low, and cover partially.

Now it's time to toast your toast, scramble your eggs, fry your sausage, and make your mimosas! Oh yes, mimosas. The fruit will only get tastier while you put everything else together. Once everything else is done, spread a layer of the macadamia compund butter over your toast or waffles, and spoon some of the hot pineapple mix right over the top. If you are having a lot of people over for brunch, simply pop these elements into pretty bowls and set on the table for everyone to make their own plates. Enjoy this tasty mini vacation guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Rustic Italian Sausage and Fennel Bake
My favorite thing to do at the end of a long week is to take all the stragglers in the fridge - all the produce that needs used up, that half a carton of chicken stock, the beans that you made for taco night - toss them into a big ceramic baking pan, and roast it. It's easy, it clears out the fridge, and it goes together in minutes. I decided to take this in a rustic Italian route - I had a couple heads of fennel, peppers, meatballs, sausage, and cannellini beans that all needed to be eaten, so you can see why! Man, did it come out tasty. I served this over rice, but you can also incorporate rice into the mix before baking and make it a true casserole!

Feel free to alter the ingredients depending on what you have in your own refrigerator, but this is what I did to make my Italian one-dish-wonder, and it was a total hit!

You will need:

1 Pkg Al Fresco Italian Chicken Meatballs (16), halved
1 Pkg Thin'N'Trim Italian Chicken Sausages (5), quartered
2 Heads of Fennel, sliced thinly
6 Mini Peppers (or 1 Large Bell Pepper), chopped
1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly
2 Yuca (Cassava) Roots, peeled and chopped
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Cannellini Beans (or Roman Beans) drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Capers in Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Italian Dried Herb Blend
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
    Optional: 1 Cup of Uncooked Rice (If doing this, use 4 Cups of chicken stock instead of 2)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Chop all your veggies and proteins, and then toss them all together with the tomatoes, beans, and seasonings in a large lasagna pan. Pour the chicken stock over the top, and place in the oven. Every ten to fifteen minutes, I like to toss everything up and baste with the chicken stock; this just ensures that everything bakes evenly. Since the sausage and meatballs are already cooked, the dish is done when your veggies are roasted, which should take about 45 minutes.

It's as easy as that! I love end-of-the-week meals. The veggies in my bake ended up being about 114 calories for a half cup (100 grams); the sausages are 70 calories each, so one quarter is 17 calories; and half of a chicken meatball is 20 calories. I added it all up together, and with a half cup of cooked rice and a pile of protein, my plate still came to under 500 calories! Yay! It will taste like you spent all day on it, and more like comfort food than 'health food', but will still leave you plenty of time to catch up on your DVR. Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Maui Macadamia 'Ono' Bars
If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably know that when I am longing for warm weather, my food tends to take a tropical vacation. I love to use mangoes, papayas, pineapple, tamarind, all kinds of equatorial fruits. These fruits aren't just for cooking and baking, though - dried pineapple is great for no-bake snacks, too! And while we're at it, why not throw some other tropical ingredients in, like coconut and macadamia nuts? These had me hankering to go back on vacation and to the warm weather, no matter *what* the humidity did to my hair.

'Ono' means 'delicious' or 'good to eat' in Hawaii, and these bars certainly fit the bill. They taste like the tropics and borrow heavily from the Polynesian and Hawaiian palates, hence the name. So even when it is 50 degrees and raining in New England, and it's almost June ... well, these will help you pretend you're at the beach!

You will need:

1 Cup Whole Almond Meal
50 grams Sweetened Shredded Coconut
2 Tbsp (26 grams) Chia Seeds
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
4 Scoops Cinnamon Swirl Protein Powder (Or Vanilla, plus 1 Tbsp Cinnamon)
2 tsp Cardamom Powder
2 Tbsp Coconut Butter
6 Tbsp Macadamia Nut Butter (Or Peanut Butter, if you have that)
50 grams Dried Cherries
75 grams Dried Pineapple
6 Tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 Tbsp Sugar Free (Or Calorie Free) Pancake Syrup

In a food processor, or a particularly powerful blender, blitz together the almond meal, coconut, chia seeds, and oats, until thoroughly combined, and the texture is sandy. Then warm the macadamia and coconut butters in the microwave slightly so that they are liquid, and pour over the mix, and pulse until combined again. Finally, add in your dried fruit, almond milk, and syrup, and pulse until your mix forms a ball of nice, sticky 'dough'.

Line a small brownie pan with saran wrap, and then tip the dough into the lined pan. Press the mix until it is in an even sheet from corner to corner, and then freeze for at least an hour. If you can freeze it for two or three hours, it will be easier to cut. Then tip out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 even bars. Pack into airtight containers with saran wrap or wax paper in between the layers, and store in the freezer or fridge. Enjoy the beach vacation guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Taco Tuesday Turkey and Bean Filling (For Fajitas, Burritos, and More)
To celebrate making it through Monday, I can think of little better than Taco Tuesday. Tuesdays are usually my busiest days; I run most of my errands, do most of my housework, and by the time I get home I just want to eat and catch up on my DVR while relaxing on the couch. I'm also usually HANGRY, which means dinner better be fast! Tacos are the perfect Tuesday quick and easy dinner - and will be even faster if you meal prep and make this turkey taco filling ahead of time. It's still super fast, and comes together in less than half an hour.

You can even use this filling in many different ways: You can make tacos, but you can also use it in burritos, enchiladas, over rice, over squash or other vegetables, or even over a salad. Yum!

You will need:

1 Pkg (20.8 oz) Lean Ground Turkey
2 Medium Yellow Onions, diced
6 Mini Peppers (or 1 Large Bell Pepper), chopped
2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Can Red Beans (or Black Beans if you prefer)
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Powder
1/4 tsp Chipotle Powder
1 tsp Southwest Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Optional, if making tacos or burritos:
    Rudi's Gluten Free Wraps
    Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese
    Cooked Rice
    Squash (trust me, it tastes amazing!)

Spray a large non stick pan with PAM or another low calorie spray, and turn your burner on to medium high heat. Saute the onion and peppers together with a little salt until they are a little transparent, and then add in pinches of ground turkey and the garlic. If you are planning on making rice to go along with your tacos or into your burritos, go ahead and start that now. Saute until the meat is browned nicely and mostly cooked, and then add in the tomatoes, beans, and seasonings, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for another ten to fifteen minutes to reduce down and thicken the tomato juice, and then serve!

Remember to get creative with this. I love this mix just over spaghetti squash, in a spinach salad, in a quesadilla, even made into a pizza on a gluten free crust with some extra cheese! Tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, burrito bowls, this is just the beginning. Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!

Rustic Egg, Kale and Meatball Bake
Have you ever had a night when you wished that dinner would magically appear? When you get home, and you're hungry and tired, and that ad for pizza looks really really good? Well, I have the solution. This dinner takes practically no prep whatsoever, just a few simple ingredients and a short time in the oven. You'll be sitting down to a hearty, filling, and *healthy* dinner in about half an hour!


You will need, per person:

6 Al Fresco Chicken Meatballs
1/2 Cup Gluten Free Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Frozen Kale
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Diced Red Onion
2 Whole Eggs
Sprinkle of Reduced Fat Shredded Italian Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Optional: Diced Peppers, Yams, Carrots, Fennel, Tomatoes, Broccoli, whatever fresh produce you have that needs to get used
Optional: Hot Sauce


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and arrange individual sized baking dishes on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray them with PAM. Lay down a layer of kale first, and whatever additional vegetables you want to use. Then, ladle in your tomato sauce, and nestle in the meatballs, onion, and garlic. If you want a spicy egg bake, sprinkle some hot sauce in with the tomato sauce. Crack the two eggs right over the top, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle your cheese on top of everything, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on how done you like your eggs.

Simply plate and devour, basking in the adoration and praise of your family members or friends. You will look super duper fancy with your individual serving dishes, and no one needs to know how easy it was! Each portion is only about 510 calories too (depending on what veggies you use, and how much), and has 40 grams of protein. How great is that? It might not be magic, but it's as close to it as it comes. Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!


Fresh and Easy Mango Chutney
Spring is here! Warm weather, sunshine, and one of my favorite things - fresh summer produce! This is great timing, since when the weather is warm all I want to do is eat super fresh, raw fruit and veggies. Don't get me wrong, I love my protein, but I crave the clean, pure taste of raw produce instead of steamed or roasted veggies.

Full of flavor and vitamins, this is an easy way to fill those fresh fruit cravings! And even if you can't take a tropical vacation, you can bring those flavors into your own home. If you decide to have a Mai Tai to go along with it ... well, you probably have the calories after your fresh warm-weather meal to have one!


You will need:

1 Mango, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely diced
6 Scallions, diced
1/2 Cubanelle Pepper (or 1-2 Jalapenos), finely diced
10-12 Fresh Mint Leaves, chiffonaded
1 Lime, juiced
Pinch of Salt
Optional: Zest of 1 Lime
Optional: Thai Basil, chiffonaded

So I told you this recipe was easy, right? Well, once you have everything diced up, simply toss everything in to a serving bowl with the lime juice (and zest, if you like it tart!) and mix together with a serving spoon. Then, go ahead and top pretty much anything with it! I popped mine on top of some curry spiced chicken and Jasmati rice, but you can serve it with anything: Poundcake, barbeque pork, steak, chickpea curry, tuna, chicken and waffles ... anything! This recipe is also incredibly calorie friendly, very similar to a fresh salsa: It's only 1 calorie per 2 grams of salsa, so 60 grams (about 4 Tablespoons) is only 30 calories. Fresh and easy - I don't fool around when it comes to food. Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!


Coffee and Spice Braised Pork Roast
Pork, more than beef, or even chicken in my opinion, plays extremely well with unconventional seasonings and ingredients. Mint, chocolate, fruit like apples and pineapple, maple syrup and honey, florals like lavender, peanut butter ... the list goes on and on! Pork has a gentle sweetness to it that lends itself so well to other traditionally 'sweet' ingredients. I love a good coffee based rub on my pork, but I decided to play this up even more and braise my pork roast in brewed coffee! What could go wrong with that experiment?

Nothing. This was absolutely perfect. The meat was so tender I didn't use a knife at all - both when serving, and eating! It simply falls apart and melts in your mouth. I also added some cocoa to intensify the flavors, and spice and chilies to add another layer of interest to the flavors. This might very well be my favorite way to prepare pork now! And the best part? It takes pretty much zero effort.


You will need:

1 Large Pork Roast, well-trimmed, with a minimal fat cap
8 Cups of Strong Unflavored Brewed Coffee
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
6 Dried or Fresh Thai Chilies
1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
Salt and Pepper to Taste


In a large slow cooker, add your pork roast, and pour the coffee and vegetable stock over top. Add in the rest of your seasonings, and mix in gently with a spoon or spatula. Set your slow cooker to Low for at least 8 hours, and forget about it! The pork is better and more tender the longer it goes, so anywhere from 8-10 hours is ideal. You can, if you don't have a slow cooker, do this in a dutch oven on the stove top, and very slowly simmer for anywhere from 4-6 hours. If you choose to do it this way, before you add the liquid ingredients and seasonings, turn the heat up to high and get a good sear on the pork on at least one side. The caramelization of the meat will add a depth of flavor to your roast. Once you have that sear, turn the heat down to very very low, cover it with the rest of your ingredients, and let it simmer until dinner time!

Once you remove the roast from the liquid, let it rest for a few minutes, and then enjoy! I served this over a bed of quinoa and beans, but let your imagination run wild. This recipe is also ideal for Taco Nights, advanced food prep, alongside eggs for breakfast - pretty much anything! Enjoy guys, and as always, let me know what you think!



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