Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar-Free Strawberry Cupcakes

Gone are the days, seemingly, when I could pick up most anything to eat and enjoy it thoroughly with no consequences. A delicious slice of warm bread, fresh out of the oven, thick fluffy pancakes, donuts dripping with sugary goodness, crispy pita chips to dip in some hummus, grilled naan bread to scoop up buttery curry, just to name a few.

The change started during my pregnancy with Lalaith. It began as an intolerance to milk, which slowly spread to an intolerance to all dairy. After L was born I was able to consume some dairy products in small amounts again, but milk was still out of the question. This was tough for me, as I grew up a milkaholic. I could down a gallon jug of milk myself in just a few days. I loved milk.

But as I would find, letting go of assorted dairy products was nothing compared to what I was about to embark on.

As the days carried on following L's birth, it seemed that no matter what dairy I cut out, I was still having tummy issues and couldn't pin point what it was. A few months ago I finally figured out the culprit of my demise…..wheat, or gluten. But interestingly enough, it's only the new variations of wheat that I have a sensitivity to. Where there used to be only about 3-4 varieties, the wheat has been altered to include a much higher gluten content (for lighter, fluffier and oh so yummy breads) and now there are 30-40 varieties. My mother purchased some ancient, organic red fife wheat, one of the unaltered and original varieties, and I had no reaction whatsoever to it. However, most everything on the market is made with the new, gluten rich wheat, thus, cutting it all out was the only solution at this time. That is until I learn to make my own bread :D This is not as bad as it would seem, however, as it has made for a healthier lifestyle for myself and a boost to be creative with my cooking and baking. Thankfully we live in a country where gluten free products are available most anywhere, though more expensive they may be.

I'm proud to say I've made some amazingly delicious meals, all gluten free, that even my husband has enjoyed, some of which I have already blogged. Today, however, I'm going to share something more on the sweet side, as I do love my sweets. And what could be more glorious then a delicious treat that is not only gluten free, but refined sugar free and dairy free as well. And it doesn't taste like sawdust! It truly is amazingly delicious!

I have my friend Toni Quincey to thank for lending me this fabulous cookbook. I'm excited to try many different cupcake recipes within these pages.

I asked Hayden, my husband, to choose a cupcake for me to try first. His choice, the Strawberry Cupcake with Strawberry Meringue frosting. I was up for the challenge.

The cupcake recipe is simple:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Lg eggs
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners. 

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave nectar, and vanilla extract.

Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined, 

then fold in the strawberries.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then frost and serve.

Now for the Strawberry Meringue Frosting:

1/4 cup agave nectar
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh strawberries

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the agave nectar to a boil, stirring constantly.

Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 6-10 minutes, watching constantly and stirring occasionally, until the agave nectar darkens slightly from its original amber color, then remove from the heat and set aside.
In a deep bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks using a handheld mixer. Be sure to push the beaters around the bowl to incorporate air into the whites. This step is important; if your egg whites are not whipped to stiff peaks, the recipe won't work. Stop whipping as soon as the egg whites are stiff; overwhipping will result in egg whites that are dry and grainy. The foam of the whites will be stiff enough to stand up in well-defined, unwavering peaks.

Drizzle the warm agave nectar very slowly into the egg whites, while whipping with a handheld mixer, to keep the peaks stiff. The meringue will become pearlescent and shiny.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then fold the strawberries into the meringue. Use right away.

I then piped the meringue onto the cupcakes in a fun way and voila! a yummy, but still healthy, treat :)

If there is one thing I notice, more then anything, is that I feel SO much better after having taken out wheat from my diet. It's been a few months now and I have no wish to re-introduce it at this time in my life. Reducing or eliminating wheat from your diet can be a good, healthy choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight. I encourage you to read Dr. William Davis' book "Wheat Belly". It will change your outlook on what you put in your mouth and hopefully help you develop a healthy lifestyle that is not lacking in food, just changing which foods you consume. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have and stay tuned for more gluten free recipes that are sure to be delicious!

Happy Eating!

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