Grain-Free (Nut-Free) Brownies


When I feel a little down I often choose to bake. Baking is exciting for me. The idea that you can pop a batter into the oven and it transforms into something new- like a cake- (or in this case ridiculously good brownies), is so gratifying. Then there’s the down side. A gooey failure, made from expensive ingredients that goes straight into the trash. (That happens when you are messing with baking chemistry sometimes.)

So, a few days before Mother’s day I was feeling a bit low and I decided to make brownies from the leftover baked Hannah Yam in my refrigerator. Without any consideration for baking science I put together this batter that should not work and yet it did! Over the next few days I made three more batches- tested a few theories- and perfected the recipe for Mother’s day.

GFE is having a fun little blog post featuring grain-free, nut-free recipes that satisfy a craving for nuts. This recipe is so perfect for that, my mother-in-law even mistook the sweet potatoes for nuts!
These brownies break a blog promise. I claim to be dairy-free and this recipe calls for goat’s milk whey protein powder. But at the bottom of the recipe I offer an alternative, so if you want dairy-free, read that before you start mixing.

Grain-Free Brownie Recipe

1 cup cooked Hannah Yam ** (baked is best, steamed is OK too), mashed but not completely smooth
1 banana (medium), mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey (*not for dairy free version)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon oil/fat (anything is fine, I use coconut)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (to activate the baking soda)
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup goat’s whey protein powder, unsweetened (cow’s whey will work too- other protein powders? – egg white protein should be fine too) (*not for dairy free version)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

* For dairy-free, replace the honey with 1/4 cup coconut sugar plus 1 tablespoon honey. Omit the protein powder entirely. If you can tolerate the goat’s whey I highly recommend using it.
** Hannah yams are white and have a more mild flavor than orange sweet potatoes. If you can get them, they are preferable. Or the Japanese (white) sweet potatoes would be good too.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare a baking dish (8×8 or 9×9) with parchment paper and grease the sides.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients in the order they are listed. Mix together and pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes. Less time for gooier brownies, more time for cakey brownies. The brownie will feel firm with a slight give in the center. (Toothpick testing does nothing here.)


I am sharing this recipe on GFE, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy Free Wednesday,

Chocolate Coated PB Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches

Creamy, soft, sweet and salty peanut butter cookie dough encapsulated in the crunch of rich chocolate sets the tone for this perfect dessert.


Crunch through rich chocolate exteriors into creamy peanut butter cookie dough. Extra crunches sneak in with slightly bitter bursts of cacao nibs. The flavor is rounded out with salted peanuts that surround the sandwich… And I could go on and on. Oh my goodness these are so good! So, so, so good.

If you don’t eat peanuts try these with almond butter and toasted almonds. It will be so yummy!

Chocolate Coated PB Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe

1 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (lightly salted, 100% peanuts)
1/2 cup raw agave nectar (honey would probably be fine)
2 tablespoons butter or buttery spread
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cacao Nibs

1 quart (approximate) Chocolate Ice Cream from my cookbook or purchased chocolate ice cream

2 (9.7 oz) 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars or about 19 ounce of any chocolate that you like
1/2 cup salted, roasted peanuts, chopped


Prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper and make sure they will fit in your freezer.

In a large mixing bowl combine the almond meal, peanut butter, agave, butter, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine then mix in cacao nibs. Chill in the refrigerator until the dough is firm enough to handle.

Scoop one level tablespoon of cookie dough, roll into a ball then flatten onto the prepared sheet pan. Make about 24 cookies then place the sheet pans in the freezer.

Melt the chocolate bars in a double boiler.  There are two ways to coat the cookie dough in chocolate: dip them or paint them (one side at a time). If you plan on dipping the cookies, keep most of them in the freezer and dip only a few at a time (as they soften quickly). After coating both sides of all of the cookies with chocolate, set them in the freezer.

Make sandwiches with the ice cream and cookies. (The ice cream may need to soften a bit in order to form the sandwiches.) Roll the sides in chopped peanuts.

Freeze to set the ice cream, then serve.


I am sharing this recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday,

Cultural Studies: China Day

We are starting a new family project. Each week we are choosing one culture (or country) and teaching our children about the food, language(s), religion(s), and government. These are very brief, simple lessons, as our children are four- and six-years-old. On Saturday nights we have a dinner that somewhat represents the food of that culture. Of course we adapt it to our diets, so we don’t worry too much about authenticity.

This week was China. I made two recipes from my cookbook, Culinary Creativity. Sesame Chicken (oh that one is so good!) and Fried Rice but I subbed cauliflower for the rice. If we create a new recipe on Culture night I will be sure to share it in the future.


We also printed coloring pages for the kids- always a big hit.



Next week we are doing Mexico and after that Iceland and Greenland are sharing a week. I am really curious about what kind of recipes I can sort out for Iceland and Greenland- trust me it won’t be one of their favorites- horse meat! Any suggestions? Anyone from Iceland or Greenland?

Everything Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches (Vegan)

Everything Cookies

I love “everything” about these Everything Cookies! I had to promise myself I wouldn’t make them again for a month… because… I have difficultly controlling myself around them. I keep sneaking back into the kitchen for “one more”.

Well, I only waited about a week and then I got the idea to make the cookies into Ice Cream Sandwiches.  I can’t decide which version is more delicious, but I have several ice cream sandwiches calling to me from my freezer so I have plenty of opportunity to try them again.

Everything Cookie Recipe

2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter- or Sunbutter), unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup carob chips or chocolate chips (or raisins)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (or other nuts or dried cranberries)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mash the bananas in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the maple syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla.

You can either mix the dry ingredients separately (as you “should”) or you can do less dishes like me and just mix them all in together in one bowl!

Scoop level tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheet. The cookies don’t spread so you can place them fairly close together.

Bake the cookies on the middle rack for about 12 minutes. Check the cookies at 8 minutes, and if the bottoms are already golden, move the baking sheets to the top rack for the last few minutes.

Place the cookies on a cooking rack promptly after removing from the oven.

Makes about 24-30 cookies.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

When making the cookies:

* omit the macadamia nuts and carob chips
* spread the scoops of batter flat before baking (and consider using more batter for each cookie if you want bigger sandwiches)
* after they cool put them in the freezer

Making the Ice Cream

* Make the vanilla ice cream base from my cookbook and add 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the saucepan after adding the other ingredients. Stir thoroughly. You will need to freeze the ice cream for several hours after it is made to get it firm enough for making sandwiches.


* Use a store-bought ice cream and let it get slightly soft for scooping.

Making the Sandwiches

* Assemble sandwiches and roll the edges in chocolate chips or carob chips.
* Freeze for an hour or more until firm. (Although I always let them get a bit soft before I eat them because I like softened ice cream.)

Makes about 10 sandwiches (depending on how big you make them).


I am sharing this recipe on Whole Food Fridays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend,

Peanut Butter “Cookie” Cupcakes


Imagine a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie topped with a peanut butter cup with creamy frosting on top of that. Then imagine promising yourself you won’t eat 10 of them!

PS. I created this recipe for an Earthbalance contest, so I featured their products but substitutions work just fine.

Peanut Butter “Cookie” Cupcake Recipe

3/4 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup Earth Balance Coconut and Peanut Spread (or peanut butter plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil)
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons buttery spread or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut and Peanut Spread or peanut butter

1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut and Peanut Spread or peanut butter
1/4 cup 100% vegetable shortening
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare mini muffin tins with paper cups (about 24).

In a large mixing bowl combine the almond meal, baking powder, 1/3 cup Coconut and Peanut Spread, 1/4 cup agave, Buttery Spread, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine then mix in 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Scoop one level tablespoon of cookie dough into each muffin cup. Gently flatten each one with your finger.

Bake for 6-7 minutes. Take them out just as the edges are barely starting to get color. If these over-cook they will be dry. (They will continue to cook in the hot pan after being removed from the oven.)

Place the muffin tins on a cooling rack until fully cooled.

Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a double boiler. Mix in a 1/4 cup Coconut and Peanut Spread. Pour the mixture over each cookie, filling the paper to the top.  Set aside until the chocolate is set (you can speed this up by placing it in the freezer).

In a mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup Coconut and Peanut Spread, shortening, and 2 tablespoons of agave. Whip the frosting with an electric mixer until smooth. Taste and add more agave if desired.

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and serve or store covered in the refrigerator.


I am sharing this recipe on Wellness Weekend, Whole Food Fridays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,

Nightshade-Free Chili


I love bean chili. I had a version of this that I made with salsa which I made several times a month before giving up nightshades. This is is not only a great substitute for that chili but also well-loved by my daughter. I know this ingredient list is long, I apologize for that, but the flavor really needs to be developed, and thus the long list.

Nightshade-Free Chili Recipe

1 (15-ounce) can black beans- including liquid
1 (15-ounce) can chili beans (I use Westbrae’s mix of three beans)- including liquid
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dillweed
1-2 teaspoons whole grain prepared mustard (not Dijon- use to your tastes)
1/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (adds a nice tang but optional because let’s face it- you probably don’t have any)
1 cup petite green peas (frozen- thawed)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Serve with:
Basmati rice


In a large sauce pan combine all of the ingredients except the peas and vinegar. Bring to a simmer then add the remaining ingredients, salt to taste and enjoy!


I am sharing this recipe on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy Free Wednesday, Wellness Weekend, Whole Food Fridays,