Sunday, March 21, 2010

Orange Date Muffins

I went into a baking frenzy during spring break since I can't cook as much as I used to in my new dorm. I love having muffins to eat on the weekends before going to work at Starbucks and thought these sounded good (plus I had all the ingredients in the house). I got the recipe from Eat Better America, but tweaked it a bit. I didn't have any whole wheat flour, so I used all-purpose flour instead. The muffins tasted good but were heavy, maybe it's because I didn't use any whole wheat flour? I also added some textured vegetable protein. The original recipe is here: Orange Date Muffins.


2 1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup textured vegetable protein

Get Cookin'

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups ( The directions told me not to use paper baking cups).

Mix flours, baking powder and salt; set aside. In medium bowl, beat brown sugar, orange peel, rice milk, applesauce and egg until well mixed. Stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Fold in dates and textured vegetable protein. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and tops begin to brown.

Next time I'd double the amount of protein. I started off with a small amount in case it left a weird texture or taste; it didn't. Since 1/4 cup spread over 12 muffins doesn't give much added protein to a single muffin I want to increase the amount next time I make these.

According to Eat Better America (based on the original recipe), each muffin has 190 calories and 4 grams of protein.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flavored Coffees

When I drink black coffee I add cinnamon to the coffee to give it some flavors without adding calories. A barista I know adds cinnamon to her ground coffee before she brews it at home. It's better to flavor coffee yourself since companies typically use chemical flavoring. Yuck.

Here are some other tips to flavor coffee from Joy of Cooking. Add any of the following to one pound of ground coffee (before brewing).

4 ounces ground chicory
4 ounces cocoa nibs
4 ounces cracked cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 vanilla beans (halved lengthwise and cut into pieces)
several large pieces of citrus zest

photo from here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eating Gluten Free Without Breaking the Bank

Trying to maintain a gluten-free diet on a budget can be difficult. This list offers suggestions on how to lower grocery bills for a gluten-free household. Cooking at home with a focus on budgets is a hot topic this year. As a result, the web is full of web sites and blogs to help. One great resource is the blog, Gluten Free on a Budget, it hasn’t been updated since 2008, but the low-cost recipes still are current.

Tip 1: Eat naturally gluten-free foods. Processed foods that are labeled “gluten-free” are expensive because a chef, dietician or scientist had to figure out how to substitute gluten in a recipe. However, foods that naturally do not contain gluten will be cheaper because there wasn’t a middle man involved. For example, chicken, veggies, fruit, rice, quinoa, beans and fish are all gluten-free. Look at regular recipes and find ones that are already gluten-free; don’t start by searching for “gluten-free recipes” and “gluten-free food.”

Tip 2: Buy pantry items on sale and in bulk. This is common knowledge, but not many actually follow through. Grocery stores have semi-annual case-sales that heavily discount canned items. offers many gluten-free products in bulk at a discounted price such as Tinkyada White Rice Pasta and Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour. Sprouts Farmer’s Markets has gluten-free sales occasionally as well. At these sales, all gluten-free products in the store are usually 25 percent off the usual price.

Tip 3: Make friends with your crockpot. Cooking with a crockpot makes cheap food taste better. This is not an overstatement. Cheap cuts of meat turn out great in the crockpot. The energy used to cook in the crockpot is the same as a light bulb, so you’ll save in food and energy costs. Stephanie O’Dea’s blog, A Year of Crockpotting, is solely dedicated to gluten-free crockpot recipes.

Tip 4: Eat less animal protein. Lentils, beans and grains serve as main sources of protein. Try eating meatless meals twice a week; it will save money and some say it’s good not to eat meat every day. Some good vegetarian recipes are: lentil burritos from $5 Dinners (instead of using tortillas I used corn taco shells, making lentil tacos), bean stew, or