This Walnut Cinnamon Quinoa Loaf is a delicious and healthy bread recipe that is loved by kids and adults. It is gluten and refined sugar free.
From Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free, photo by Celine Saki
I am so excited to have Ricki Heller here with us today! Not only is she sharing an amazing Cinnamon Walnut Loaf with us, but she was also kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about her new book and allergy friendly baking.
Some of you might remember Ricki, who shared these muffins with us before. For those of you who don't know her, you can thank me now for the introduction. Not only is she one of the most wonderful people I've met in many years, she is also and absolute wizard in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baked goods. Did I mention that all of her recipes are vegan, allergy friendly AND refined sugar free? (Hence the term wizard.)
I was lucky enough to get my hands on her recent book, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free and I am absolutely blown away. First, it is utterly gorgeous. The boys came in while I was reading it and I ended up having to stop reading and flip through the book with them so that they could inform me of all the recipes I WOULD be making in the near future. 🙂 If I didn't love Ricki so much I might be a little upset by all the additional time I'll be spending in the kitchen thanks to the boys infatuation with her scrumptious treats.
Good thing I found the time while Skye was napping to go back and read it carefully. I consider myself a pretty decent gluten free baker, but I learned so much from the introduction alone. It's an amazing reference that I feel so lucky to have.
And then the recipes. So many amazing ones to choose from. The Cinnamon Buns are at the top of my list and will be making an appearance on Christmas morning. (I have a very weak spot for Cinnamon Rolls and they are one thing I really miss now that I'm Gluten Free.) I'll also be trying the "Notella" (Chocolate Hazelnut Butter). The boys are craving the Butterschotch-Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Free Peanut Butter Cookies (YAY! Alex has a peanut allergy so this is perfect!), and the Chocolate Mystery Cupcakes. And that is just a start.
Needless to say, I think you should all run out and get it now.
Now, here's what Ricki had to say when we had a chance to chat:
1) Why did you decide to create a book of recipes that are "free-from" so many ingredients? Isn't it difficult to bake this way?
Let me answer the second part of the question first: only at the beginning. At this point, I’m so accustomed to baking this way that honestly, no, I don’t find it difficult at all. But I do understand that for people who’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease, or have just found out that they are allergic to eggs, or nuts, or whatever, yes, it can be devastating. Like anything else, though, we humans are infinitely adaptable, and we learn things over time. So, now that I’ve been cooking and baking this way for more than a dozen years, it’s just second nature. And I can assure any of your readers in the same situation that it will feel that way for them, too, in time.
In answer to the first part of the question, I created the book, partly, because this is the way I bake nowadays; so for me, this is what’s “natural” and what I know. But as someone who had to learn the ins and outs of “free-from” baking over time, I very much wanted Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free to offer people an idea of what they can still achieve when they bake without gluten, eggs, dairy, sugars or whatever else might be missing in these recipes. As I’ve said many times before, living with food allergies or sensitivities need not feel like a culinary prison sentence. You can still enjoy all of the yummy treats you’re used to—and more. And people don’t even need to know that they’re “special” desserts!
2) For many people, the idea of gluten-free baking on its own is onerous. You've added vegan to the mix. Can you talk a little about how someone new to this kind of baking can accomplish this without feeling overwhelmed?
My best tip for people happens long before they start reading labels, or clearing out their kitchen, or go to the grocery store: it involves your attitude about the dietary changes, and the willingness to embrace a whole new way of cooking and eating. Think of it like visiting a new and exotic country, one that offers its own charms, and a native cuisine that is equally delicious to the one you already know, but a little different. When we go on holiday, we’re often willing to try out foods that we don’t necessarily eat at home. I think approaching a “free-from” diet that way can make all the difference for people.
In practical terms, I’d say the best thing you can do when starting out is to find one or two established experts whose work you trust, and just go with what they do for a while. So, when I first started baking with alternative ingredients, I bought a couple of cookbooks by authors I knew, and used their recipes exactly as written for the first few months. Once I was familiar with all the vegan egg substitutes, or once I was comfortable with the different kinds of gluten-free flours, their tastes and textures, and so on—then I ventured into starting to experiment with my own recipes.
Like anything else, it will take a while to acquire new skills. If I could find a reliable recipe for gluten-free, vegan brownies when I was new to the diet, why would I fiddle around on my own and make mistakes? Many of these ingredients are not exactly inexpensive, so you don’t want to have to throw away your mistakes. I think it’s better to go with recipes you know will work at first; then, slowly move to adapting your own later on.
3) What are your favorite gluten-free flours, and why?
Can I say “all of them”? Honestly, now that I’m so used to baking gluten-free, I just love all the variety and choice of flours when I’m about to bake something—I enjoy this kind of baking far more than I did the “everything-all-purpose-flour” wheat-based baking! With gluten-free flours, I can choose according to the type of recipe (whether it’s a delicate layer cake, for instance, versus a heavier, more robust pumpkin loaf); the flavor profile I want (whether something strong and rustic or light and neutral); or the dietary needs (whether grain-based or grain-free).
For everyday baking, I like to use my all-purpose flour mix, which is a good stand-in for the old all-purpose flour and can be measured one-for-one instead of wheat flour. For recipes with strong flavors or more robust textures like muffins, quickbreads, or savory flavors, I love to use quinoa or amaranth; I also love teff flour, which is tan colored and adds a slightly nutty, slightly chocolatey flavor to baked goods.
For very lightly flavored or a more tender crumb, I think sorghum or millet flours work best as the main flour in a mix (since most gluten-free baking requires at least two or three different flours combined to achieve the desired texture). Oat flour also has a lovely flavor, but it can be a bit gluey if you use too much in a recipe.
For grain-free baking, almond flour comes to mind as the main flour, but these days, coconut flour is often added to grain-free recipes, and of course there are the grain-free starches like arrowroot or potato starch (which I love). They add tenderness and binding power to baked goods. Lately, I’ve also been playing with seed flours like sunflower and pumpkinseed, and I love them both, too.
4) What's your favorite recipe in from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free?
Well, it’s become pretty clear to me that I’m incapable of answering this question with a single recipe—I’m like the actor whose favorite movie is always “the most recent one I did”! I love all the recipes (which is why I included them in the book!), but some of my favorites are the Allergy-Free Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, which is perfect for anyone with just about any allergy at all; it’s free from gluten, grains, nuts, soy, corn, eggs, dairy and any high glycemic sweeteners, yet it’s light and fluffy and can be piped to decorate cakes, and holds its shape at room temperature. That’s the frosting you see on the vanilla cupcakes on the cover of the book.
I also love the Fluffy Fruited Pancakes, which are very light and cake-like, yet provide a good hit of protein and fruit. Those are one of my hubby’s favorites, too. And because I’m such a chocaholic, I’m going to say that the Sweet Potato Brownies or the Ultra Fudgy Brownies are my last picks—they are great to serve to people who may be skeptical about whether “free-from” can still be decadent and delicious. Either one of these will convince them!
5) This is your second dessert book. Do you have any non-dessert books planned?
Yes! I don’t want the world to think that I’m totally dessert-obsessed (in reality I’m only 90% dessert obsessed). Seriously, I do eat real meals, savory breakfasts and other foods that aren’t dessert on a regular basis. My blog contains over 600 recipes for everything from appetizers to soup to salad to entrees to side dishes. My next book will focus on the other parts of the meal from those different categories—but of course will feature a few low glycemic desserts, too.
Walnut Cinnamon Quinoa Loaf
Walnut Cinnamon Quinoa Loaf
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp 25 ml whole psyllium husks
- 1 tsp 5 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp 15 ml pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp 30 ml natural smooth almond butter or tahini (sesame seed paste), at room temperature
- Enough unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk to total 1 1/2 cups 360 ml (see instructions)
- 1/3 cup 55 g teff flour
- 1/2 cup 55 g amaranth or quinoa flour
- 1/4 cup 40 g potato starch
- 1 1/2 tsp 7.5 ml baking powder
- 1/4 tsp 1 ml baking soda
- 1/4 tsp 1 ml fine sea salt
- 1 Tbsp 15 ml ground cinnamon
- 1 ?4 tsp 1 ml pure stevia powder or 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste
- 1 ?3 cup 40 g walnut pieces or chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 350 ?F (180 ?C). Lightly grease an 8.5- or 9-inch (20-22.5 cm) loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
- Place the psyllium, vinegar, vanilla, and almond?butter in a 2-cup (500-ml) glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to reach the 11?2-cup (360-ml) mark. Using a small whisk or fork, whisk everything together until the almond butter is well dissolved in the liquid and no lumps remain. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl, sift all remaining ingredients except for the walnuts. Whisk well to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Add the walnuts and stir to distribute.
- Whisk the liquid again to ensure that it’s smooth and everything is incorporated, then pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just to combine (do not overmix!). Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. It will only fill the pan about halfway; this is as it should be.
- Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through baking, until the bread is well browned on the bottom and sides, and the top springs back when touched lightly (there will be a fairly thick crust by this time, but it should still spring back). A knife inserted in the center should come out moist but clean.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the?pan and set on a cooling rack; allow to cool completely before slicing. The bread is very moist on the first day and dries a bit by the second. Store, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. May be frozen.
Using only whole foods ingredients, a generous pinch of humor and input from her two chatty canines, Ricki shares gluten-free, allergy-friendly and sugar-free recipes on her blog, RickiHeller.com
Ricki’s second cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free, became an instant amazon.com bestseller on its first day of sales. Her first book, Sweet Freedom, is one of only three cookbooks recommended by Ellen DeGeneres on her website. Ricki is also Associate Editor for Simply Gluten-Free Magazine and has written for Clean Eating magazine, Allergic Living, Living Without, VegNews, and many other publications.
Ricki lives near Toronto, Canada with her husband and two dogs.