(photo by Celine Saki, as seen in Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free)
There’s a new gluten-free cookbook on the block from my friend Ricki who writes the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs (now RickiHeller.com). Ricki is a sweetheart inside and out. One of my favorite aspects of blogging is the friends I make along the way. Ricki and I got to know each other through our blogs a few years ago and have been pals ever since.
And she just wrote a new cookbook! I was presented with an advanced copy for review long before the book hit the shelves. Here’s the endorsement I wrote for Ricki’s book that appears on the first page:
“In every one of her creative recipes, Ricki proves that incredible taste and stellar nutrition can indeed coexist. With wisdom, enthusiasm, and a whole lot of heart, Ricki…offers [us] a heartfelt tribute to the soul-satisfying power of healthy cooking.”
Need I say more?
Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free goes way beyond “just gluten-free.” All of the recipes are also vegan (no dairy or eggs) and free of refined sugar. They have a lower glycemic index than most “regular” desserts, which I always appreciate. Ricki has taken great care to deliver satisfying recipes that meet the needs of a very specific audience: those wanting healthier recipes that are also vegan and not loaded with sugar! Quite a feat, but she makes it look easy.
And there are pictures! They’ll make you want to eat every single crumb of these delicacies. A few recipes that caught my eye:
- Ginger Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
- Giant Baked Upside-Down Apple Pancake
- Chocolate Pecan Pie
- Glazed Almond Bars
Two recipes that also called my name were the Sweet Potato Brownies and the Raw Fig & Cherry Bars. I started out by making the brownies.
It was hard to believe that there were sweet potatoes in these brownies. They were moist and sweet, but not cloying. And they froze very well, too.
When the weather turned hot a few weeks ago, I wanted something sweet but didn’t want to turn the oven on. So that’s when I decided to make the Raw Fig & Cherry Bars.
I’m a sucker for raw desserts, so I always gravitate towards these types of recipes. Figs and cherries with just a hint of lemon was a refreshing and unique pairing. (These froze well, too.)
But you know me. I also gravitate towards cookies. So I couldn’t help from making the Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies. I’ll be honest. When it comes to baking with stevia, I’m a Nervous Nelly. I’ve had good experiences and horrible ones. But in Ricki’s capable hands, I had nothing to fear. She knows her way around stevia and won’t steer you wrong.
Ricki has generously allowed me to share the recipe with you today, so have fun baking up some naturally sweet and gluten-free (and vegan and refined sugar-free and nut-free!) cookies.
Get your copy of Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free here. For more low-glycemic recipes, connect with Ricki…
- ⅓ cup (55 g) coconut sugar
- 20 to 30 drops pure plain or vanilla liquid stevia liquid
- ¼ cup (60 ml) water
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 ml) natural smooth pumpkin seed butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (25 g) finely ground flax seeds (from about 2 Tbsp whole seeds)
- ½ cup (75 g) brown rice flour
- ⅛ tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
- ¼ cup (50 g) unsweetened carob chips or dairy-free chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, stevia, water, and vanilla until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the pumpkin seed butter, flax, flour, and salt and mix well to form a very thick and sticky dough. Stir in the chips.
- Using a heaping teaspoon (5 ml), scoop the dough and roll it into small balls, placing them about one inch (2.5 cm) apart on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with your palm (or use a silicone spatula).
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until the cookies are light golden brown (the dough will lighten as the cookies bake). Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. May be frozen.