Easiest Gluten Free Cake from a Muffin Mix

This super easy and frugal gluten free cake got rave reviews! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

One of the things that made me first love being in the kitchen was baking. I love baking! Warm bread from the oven, juicy pies, sweet cakes, healthy muffins, pizza, bagels ¬– I love it all. I especially loved making baked good for my family and friends. I still have my love of baking, but I don’t always have the time or energy now to spend as much time baking as I’d like. In fact, as we have been in survival mode as I go through treatment for a chronic health issue, I’ve hardly been baking at all.

For us this last year, if we were in the kitchen it was making the most basic of basic things while we tried to figure out my health issues (things like super easy skillet dinners). Dinner was a priority. Making cookies weren’t.

However, when there was a special occasion (such as a birthday), I really needed to make sure I made something special for the girls. To them, it’s not a birthday unless we have cake. A couple of years ago they were horrified that I didn’t have a cake on my birthday. It was like having Christmas without a Christmas tree to them!

So while this addition to my series, The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking, isn’t exactly centered on a healthy main dish, I think it’s important for those of us who need a relatively healthy option for gluten-free cake making for our family.

My youngest has a birthday coming up, and we had two fall birthdays, all during a time of ill health for me. I’ve never found baking to be tiring until recently when I’ve found most kitchen tasks to be tiresome and have had to keep things as simple as possible.

As I was scrambling to make the all important birthday cake, I figured out a method that kept sugar content lower and made things super easy and fast for me. Win-win!

My New “Secret” GF Cake Trick

You all know that I am a make-it-by-scratch all the time type person. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and with the girl’s birthdays coming up, I knew that having a homemade cake for them was really important to them. I was feeling extreme fatigue at that time, though, so I knew my usual soaked gluten-free cakes were not going to be an option. I also knew that all of the gluten-free cake mixes were extremely sweet – something we didn’t enjoy.

In a moment of inspiration, I found a gluten-free muffin mix that was more lightly sweetened and had good (not perfect, but good) ingredients in it. When I compared it to some of the gluten-free cake mixes, the muffin mix was only about half of the sugar content per serving!

We made it into a lemon cake for my ten-year-old’s birthday by simply adding lemon zest to the mix with homemade lemon frosting once it was baked. For my six-year-old, we added vanilla and sprinkles for a fun cake that she adored.

It wasn’t too sweet, they were super easy to make (even for me with my fatigue), and my girls felt loved and happy with their cakes. When I served this cake to guests at their birthday party, I was gratified to see that everyone liked the cake, and even a hard-to-please family member complimented me on the cake. Great news for a gluten-free cake made out of a muffin mix! With a frosting, the sweetness it just right for a birthday cake.

For their joint, Pokemon party, we did the same trick and made it into a Pokemon ball cake.

Tips for Success

This is the gluten free muffin mix we used.
Instead of using muffin tins, I just greased two cake pans. It took roughly the same amount of time to cook as the muffins on the package instructions. Since this will make thin layers, check for doneness a couple of minutes early. You can also make just one cake layer (just add more time to the cooking time).
I added lemon zest to both the cake and a simple frosting for the lemon cake (one lemon for each).
For the sprinkle cake, I added vanilla to the batter along with a generous amount of sprinkles. For the frosting, I used freeze dried raspberries and blended them into a powder in my blender. I added that to a simple butter frosting, and then lightly sprinkled with sprinkles.
For the Pokemon cake, I kept it a simple vanilla cake by adding 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then decorated with dark chocolate chips and red sprinkles on top of a plain butter frosting.
I was in survival mode, so I didn’t think of it in time, but you can order naturally dyed sprinkles! (Examples:This one or this one. )

Other ideas: Chocolate chip cake – add chocolate chips, Orange cake – use orange zest, Lemon Poppyseed: Zest of one lemon and 1 tablespoon of poppyseeds.

Two other bonuses? This is a very inexpensive cake to make. I thought about buying a cake from a gluten-free local bakery, but it would have been at least 6- 10 times the price. Plus, it’s so easy to put together even a beginner baker can easily make it (like one of your children!).

Special Thanks: Some of the above links may be affiliate links and help support the work on this blog. Thank you for supporting me by purchasing through these links at no extra cost to yourself. 🙂

How to Enjoy Vegetables (Methods and Recipes)

Vegetables can be wonderful - using the right cooking methods and recipes! Check out these tasty ways! - The Nourishing Gourmet

“You gotta eat your spinach, baaaaby.” I grew up watching a young Shirley Temple singing about not wanting to eat spinach in the movie Poor Little Rich Girl. Her sentiment that spinach was that “awful greenery” represents an attitude towards vegetables that many take into adulthood.

That’s too bad because not only are vegetables good for you, but they are really delicious and flavorful. We don’t get to eat often at an expensive restaurant, but when we have had the opportunity it is striking how often vegetables play an important role in the dishes. That’s because chefs know that vegetables can play a key part in making your taste buds sing.

Now obviously making 4-star restaurant food is a gloriously yummy undertaking, but perhaps not practical for our everyday meals. But there are delicious ways to easily prepare vegetables for the daily meals that will help you get those vegetables into your routine.

Let me give just a few suggestions to get you started. I’d also love to hear from you. Tell me about your favorite method for preparing vegetables!

Roasting: Taming with Heat

asparagus2

One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is roasting them. Roasting them makes them sweet, tender, and delicious. I will generally roast them about 400-425 for about 15 minutes. Toss them with a little heat safe oil (like avocado or coconut) sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir about half way through. Yum! This method is delicious with asparagus, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes (cut in half) and so many other vegetables as well! Roast until the vegetable edges are starting to brown and the vegetable is tender.

Braising: Slow and Steady

greenbeans&mashedpotatoes
Braising is delicious because it also sweetens and adds a whole new layer of depth of flavor. This method cooks vegetables slow and long and yields a very flavorful vegetable. The best example I know of this method is this recipe for The Best Braised Cabbage. Make this on a day when you will be home for a couple of hours before dinner. It’s not hard to make but does take time. You can also do a long stove-top braise, such as the following recipe:
Grandpa’s Green Beans

Simple Vegetable Sautes

Easy Pan Fried Cabbage and Apples 2

It really doesn’t have to be complicated! Some of our favorite vegetable dishes are simple vegetable sautés. Take a look at the vegetable below. We combine Brussels sprouts with bacon, carrots with butter, cabbage with apples, and zucchini with onions for delicious results.

Easy Skillet Dinners

This easy dish makes a wonderful and flavorful frugal main dish that is paleo and AIP friendly too! Serve it over desired carbohydrate (AIP - think cauli-rice or sweet potato). -- The Nourishing Gourmet

I’ve sung the praises of skillet dinners recently, and I think they deserve that praise. When you cook meat and a variety of vegetables together, they flavor each other in a lovely way. It makes a great one pan meal, or serve it over rice, quinoa, make them into taco/burrito stuffings, or top baked sweet or white potatoes! Really, the method is so simple you can make them without a recipe, but to get you started check out the following two recipes:

Steaming with Skill

ng_broccoli

Why do we hate steamed vegetable so much? Often they were frozen vegetables (which tend to be much less flavorful), and they are also usually overcooked. It’s vital when steaming vegetables that you cook them until just tender. Overcook, and they will be tasteless. Do a quick Google search for how long to steam whatever vegetable you are serving that night. To serve, we like to add small pats of butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice over it, with a generous sprinkle of unrefined salt. Yum!

Other Ways to Enjoy Vegetables

apple and avocado salad

  • I feel like eating a large main dish salad for lunch helps me have more energy for the afternoon. You can check out some of my recipes for homemade salad dressings and salads here. I wrote a whole cookbook on salads too!
  • Soups are a wonderful way to enjoy vegetables. In my soup cookbook, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons, I have a whole section on creamy vegetable soups, but the majority of the soups have several vegetables in every soup.
  • Don’t forget that you can add lots of root vegetables to braising meats (such as pot roast), add shredded or diced vegetables to pasta sauces, or combine a panful of sauteed vegetables with pasta and a light sauce.
  • Finally, I like to add a couple of handfuls of baby greens to my smoothies. It’s an easy way to get more greens into your diet.

How to Make Healthy Popsicles for Toddlers

How to make healthy toddler popsicles - So fun and easy and a great snack for little ones. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

You know what makes a great snack for toddlers? Mini sized popsicles! My youngest is about a year and a half, and she spends all day running after her two older sisters trying to do everything they do. It’s pretty cute.

One of the things I’ve been making for the older two are homemade popsicles (you can get some of my favorite recipes on this list here: 41 Recipes for a Sweet and Refreshing Summer). But I quickly realized that the normal sized popsicles are significantly too large for my littlest.

I did some research and ended up buying a baby popsicle mold, and I love it. I love it, because she loves it. Now when the older girls are eating their popsicles, she gets one too. It’s such a healthy snack too!

Here are a couple of quick tips for making toddler popsicle molds.

(Of course, always talk to your pediatrician about any dietary changes)

Buy a properly sized popsicle mold

How to make healthy toddler popsicles - So fun and easy and a great snack for little ones. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

It cuts down on waste and is made to fit their hand size. Also, be aware that there are mini popsicle molds that may not be safe for young children to use (for example, when they are in the shape of a small ball, it could be a choking hazard). This is the mold I use.

Perfect for little hands!

Perfect for little hands!

You Can Use Just fruit

If you are still introducing foods one by one, you can simply puree a single fruit with water and use in the mold. (These molds are for 6 months and up). If you have pumped breast milk, you can also use that in combination with the fruit. This is especially helpful if you are just starting to introduce other foods.

Cook the Fruit for Easy Digestibility

Some young children have difficulty digesting raw fruits and vegetables. Add fruit, such as frozen berries, into a small pan with added water, and cook until soft. This can then be blended with desired liquid for the smoothie.

How to make healthy toddler popsicles - So fun and easy and a great snack for little ones. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Use the Smoothie Method

What I’ve been doing is making a giant smoothie so that we have leftovers to use in molds. They are usually a combination of coconut milk, kombucha or water, greens, and fruit. I love that I am killing two birds with one stone – I make part of our breakfast and a snack at the same time.

Make it Weston A Price Friendly

Weston A Price believed in feeding children a very nutrient rich diet. One way to do that is including especially nutrient rich proteins and fats. Use Coconut Cream (<< brand I use), or whole fat grass fed dairy, yogurt, kefir. You can even use cream! A nutritionist recently recommended adding cream to a friend’s toddler’s diet as she was underweight. Healthy fats help our kids grow strong and well, and we shouldn’t be afraid of it. Other possible additions include Avocado, greens, lacto-fermented beverages such as kombucha or water kefir.

Those are just a few quick tips for making toddler popsicles. Have you tried any of the above before? I’d love to hear!

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41 Refreshing and Sweet Recipes for a Healthy Summer

These easy and healthy refreshing snacks and desserts will keep you (and your kids) going all summer long! Made with real food, and dairy free, gluten free and paleo friendly, too. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Glorious summer days are upon us! And with those hot days, our meals are transforming into lighter meals. I’m reaching a lot more often for my blender to make smoothies for us all, and ice cream sounds just about right on a hot afternoon.

With me pulling out various recipes from my recipe index, I thought I’d compile some of my favorite summery and sweet recipes here so that you all can find them easily too!

There is surprisingly little need to stock up on sugar-y ice cream, dye-filled popsicles, and other typical store bought treats with these easy homemade treats on hand! But you will notice, that just for fun, I’ve linked to some fun add on products that you can buy for special treats (like gluten-free ice cream cones!). I’ve used affiliate links when possible.

frozen grapes 1

1- Frozen Grapes: Before I get to the recipe links, I have one very simple “recipe” to suggest for summer. Frozen grapes. These are so delicious and freezing them changes them in surprising ways. Try it on the next hot day. You won’t be sorry.

Refreshing Smoothies

2. Creamy Raspberry Vanilla Smoothie: The vanilla and kombucha in combination with coconut milk really make this recipe splendid. Plus, it’s lower carb and banana-free, for those who don’t want a high in carb recipe.

3. Healthy Shamrock Shake: Very fun, very green, and sweet with dots of dark chocolate and plenty of mint flavor. Yum!

4. Orange Mango Smoothie: Still one of my favorite combos – orange and mango.

chocolate-hazelnut-smoothie

5. Chocolate Hazelnut Smoothie: Protein-rich, creamy, and makes me think of Nutella. Need I say more?

Fun and Healthy Popsicles

Keep in mind that any favorite smoothie recipe can also be used to make popsicles! I have been using these silicone popsicle molds recently and they are a lot of fun, as well as these star popsicle molds . But I’m thinking of getting these mini popsicles for my toddler to enjoy!

These 5 healthy and delicious recipes for ice pops and popsicles are so simple and easy to make! They are all dairy-free, paleo and vegan-friendly, and kids love them. ---- The Nourishing Gourmet

6-10. Five Healthy Popsicle Recipes (shown above): Get Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mango Green Monster, Strawberry Cream, Carrot Apple and Pina Colada recipes here! All of them sweetened naturally, and dairy-free.

11. Creamy Tropical Popsicle: Banana, mango, and coconut make a delicious popsicle.

12. Strawberry Creamsicle: Super creamy and naturally sweet, we love this beautiful popsicle!

Gelatin Treats

I loved it when my mom made me Jello back in the 80s when I was little. Now I make gelatin based desserts for my kids without the higher sugar amounts and the artificial dyes. One good brand of gelatin to try is this one.

Tart Cherry Fruit Snacks - Great for the kids, lunch boxes, and summer camp. ---- The Nourishing Gourmet

13. Tart Cherry Fruit Snacks: Take five minutes and 3 ingredients, and make this fun and much healthier treat for your kids (or yourself!). Tart cherry juice is also supposed to help you sleep well at night, so there are added benefits, too.

14. Fruit Juice Gelatin: “Jello” without the dyes and sugar!

15. Tangy Orange Lemonade Gelatin: So refreshing and flavorful too.

16. Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows: With some gelatin and honey you can make super fun homemade marshmallows. How fun is that?

17. Kombucha Jello: Light on the tummy, and very flavorful and bright.

Dairy Free Ice Cream

We just got our ice cream maker out of storage and I’m thrilled to have it back! Ice cream is delicious all on it’s own, but very occasionally I buy my kids these gluten-free ice cream cones and dye-free sprinkles for a special ice cream treat. Yum! I buy them locally, but the brand I buy has a set that they sell on Amazon which looks very fun, it has gluten-free cones, sprinkles, and edible ice cream bowls!

Chocolate-Banana-Ice-Cream

18. Simple Banana Ice Cream: No ice cream maker needed, just frozen bananas and a couple of other ingredients!

19. 3 Ingredient Pineapple Whip: Same idea as the chocolate banana ice cream, but this one uses frozen pineapple for one of my favorite Disneyland lookalike recipes.

20-31. 12 Amazing Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipes: Everything from vanilla, to Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, to Mint Chocolate Chip, these dairy-free ice cream recipes are the bomb!

Whipped Cream

You’ll, everything improves with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Dip whole strawberries in them, top your ice cream with it, or top iced homemade coffee shop style drinks with them. For those who tolerate cream, here are a couple of recipes (and for those who don’t check out the following coconut cream ones!)

32. Strawberry Whipped Cream: Strawberries and cream belong together.

chocolatewhippedcream

33. Chocolate Whipped Cream: My husband grew up having this with angel food cake for his birthday. I also love it with fresh strawberries.

34. Maple Whipped Cream: Classic flavor with sweet notes of maple.

Coconut Milk Whipped Creamy (Dairy-Free, with ISI Dispenser)

35. Maple Coconut Whipped Cream: Sweet with notes of maple, this dairy-free whipped “cream” is a treat!

Chocolate Coconut Milk Whipped Cream is a rich and delicious treat! (Dairy-free and Paleo-friendly!)

36. Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream: Same as above but enriched with cocoa powder. Because cocoa makes everything better.

37. Stevia Coconut Whipped Cream

Fauxccinos

These blended coffee styled drinks are yummy, refreshing, dairy-free friendly, and save you a trip to the local coffee shop too.

Vanilla Bean Fauxccino-www.thenourishinggourmet.com

38. Vanilla Bean Crème FauxccinoUltra creamy and sweet.

39. Salted Caramel Mocha Fauxcchino: Need I say more?

40. Chai Fauxccino: When you don’t want yours hot, drink it ice-y cold!

Freezer pie

chocolatebananapie

41. Banana Coconut Freezer Pie: This fancy looking dessert is very easy to make and is sweetened only with bananas! It uses coconut milk for a creamy dessert that is dairy-free, and has a grain-free nut crust. Yum!

Enjoy!

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