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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mama's Lasagna
made gluten-free, of course, and with a reduced glycemic index option

An aunt recently exclaimed about my lasagna that it was the best lasagna she has ever had. That's high praise considering it had been in the freezer for a year! We haven't eaten dairy in about that long, so it just sat there. I finally gave it to someone who would love it. I thought, since I am sharing the recipe with her, I would share it with you all too!

Photo source: Chatelaine.com

My mama's lasagna is super easy to make. Her recipe goes like this:

1. Prepare meat sauce
2. Grate cheddar cheese
3. In casserole layer [gluten-free] lasagna noodles, sauce, and cheese
4. Top with sliced mozzarella
5. Add a little water (~1/2 cup)
6. Bake covered with foil

Ya... it's not rocket science. You'll notice there are no measurements. Just think about the deliciousness of the lasagna you are preparing and let your love of cheese guide you in determining how much is enough. :) Generally, one box of lasagna noodles is enough to make one lasagna. I do recommend making two at a time and freezing one for a future meal.

I think the secret is in the sauce... which is mine, not mama's. I never really liked mama's sauce, as much as I loved mama and appreciated her efforts. Actually, it's not my sauce either. It's one I have copied for years, ever since I bought the Pasta Presto cookbook by Norman Kolpas as part of some book-of-the-month club I was too weak to resist. Totally worth it, just for this sauce.
6 Tbsp olive oil
6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp double-concentrate tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt 
     In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion; sauté until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
     Add the beef and raise the heat slightly. Sauté the beef until it has lost all its pink color and left a brown glaze on the pan, about 10 minutes.
     Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dissolve the pan deposits. Stir in the remaining ingredients and gently boil until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta. 
Source: Pasta Presto by Norman Kolpas 
If you want to reduce the glycemic index of this sauce, you can substitute coconut palm sugar or xylitol for the sugar. Click here to view the glycemic indexes of various sweeteners.

I hope you enjoy this lasagna as much as we used to. One day soon, now that we are a dairy-free household, I will try this recipe with some vegan cheese. Daiya makes a decent product. It doesn't melt completely the way that cheese does, but it does melt enough to give a cheesy texture and taste on the tongue. I've used it in this Spaghetti Pizza Pie and it was delish!

Bon appétit!


Sunday, February 02, 2014

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Low Glycemic Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Recently, a friend's gluten- and dairy-consuming six-year-old called these cupcakes "The... best... cupcakes... ever!" They were an experiment based on a recipe for a cake that I have been making for a while now, combined with a favourite muffin recipe. I'm tempted to call these muffins because they're so healthy, but I'll resist and call them what they taste like: "The... best... cupcakes... ever!"

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Low Glycemic Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Based on the Chocolate Cake recipe from the Pulse Canada recipe booklet Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet, with substitution for white sugar


1 cup brown rice flour blend (see below)
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or Xylitol)
1/3 cup cocoa (I like Organic Traditions brand)
1/2 tsp gluten-free baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)


1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously grease a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the pumpkin purée and egg and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add the hot water, oil, vinegar and vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended. Gently mix in chocolate chips. Distribute evenly between 12 muffin cups.

3. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Optional: dust with powdered sugar or add frosting. Freeze any cupcakes that will not be eaten within a day or two.

Brown Rice Flour Blend:

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)

Whisk together and store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
NOTE: I keep mine in the fridge, and I keep my starches in the freezer.

The original chocolate cake recipe calls for black bean purée rather than pumpkin purée. You could also use another type of bean such as pinto or navy, lentils, or a different vegetable purée such as sweet potato. You can also add applesauce (canned or simply puréed from a peeled fresh apple) if short on pulse or vegetable purée. Just watch the cooking time.  TIP: Every oven is different. Set the timer for a few minutes less than suggested in any recipe and check every one to two minutes when close to done.

To purée beans or lentils:

Rinse and drain a 14-15 oz can of beans; discard liquid. Place the beans in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup hot water and purée, scraping down the sides of the bowl or blender as required, until the mixture has the consistency of canned pumpkin purée. If needed, add water 1 Tbsp at a time to reach this consistency.

Makes a little over 1 cup. Refrigerate or freeze unused portions, or just bake a double batch like I do, and freeze the second batch to eliminate the need to bake another day.

These cupcakes freeze well.



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Friday, January 31, 2014


For a dear friend who recently experienced a great loss:

If words could ever be enough, I would speak them to you and heal your pain, or if it were allowed, I would help you at least to carry it. Instead, I will be a constant mirror to you so that you can one day see what I see: a miracle, woman and mother, vulnerable and strong, beautiful and loving.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She is forever changed.

Still a beautiful woman inside and out, still a good mother (though not as good as she thinks she should be), still herself but different in hard to perceive ways.

She wears a veil of grey now that clouds and distorts all experience. It dulls the colours. The veil will lift someday - some - enough - but in no one's time but her own. Even she can not say when this will be.

When the veil does lift she will not be as she was. Though she will begin to see the beauty in things again, begin to laugh fully the way the innocent do, she that was is gone. She now is more serious than others, more grateful, more conscious, and more alive in ways than those with the luxury of seeing through rose-coloured glasses. This is as it should be, but she will not know this for some time yet.

In the meantime...

She will be strong, because she has no choice. She will bend and nearly break to do the things that the rest of us find simply annoying because we have much and appreciate little.

And I will let her know that...

She is a gift. She is both what has been lost and what has been saved. She is strength, vulnerability, beauty and love. She is me and she is enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Your grace and courage are an inspiration to me, dear friend.