Gluten-free and Vegan Scones with Chia and Coconut

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Gluten-free and Vegan Scone with Chia and Coconut, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I recently had a pleasure of teaching an evening plant-based cooking class at our local technical and vocational school. I enjoyed the experience immensely and in addition to having a really very pleasant evening  I have also learned about some of the things that people who are relatively new to plant-based cooking wonder and care about.

For example, I had several conversations about vegan breakfast items and whether it is possible to make vegan pancakes (yes!) and vegan crêpes (also yes!). And based on many conversations online, people are just having hard time figuring out what their plant-based breakfast options are.

What’s for vegan breakfast?

Breakfast is not as limited as people usually think. After all oatmeal, cereal with nut milk, fruits, vegetables, toast (including with avocado), smoothies, muffins, cauliflower tofu burritos, vegan “scrambled eggs”, and many, many more options are currently available. Some require a bit more hands on preparation but the offerings are as diverse as for people that eat meat, eggs and cheese. For me, a roasted sweet potato is a great breakfast that keeps me going well into the afternoon!

How about vegan baked breakfast treats?

Of course the number of options increases vastly on those days when you find yourself with extra time to do some baking. Vegan baking is actually not all that difficult. There are quite a few vegan options when it comes to replacing eggs, and nut milks usually work just as well as dairy. Plus: there are now a couple of vegan butters on the market so if the recipe asks for butter there are now alternatives to be used (including the dreaded margarine, but I don’t recommend you go there!)

Are gluten-free vegan treats possible?

Having said all that, if you are trying to be vegan and gluten-free you may be out of luck. In gluten-free baking, gluten, a protein that makes some people unhappy yet provides baked goods with their lovely structure, is usually replaced by extra eggs to keep the levels of protein high. Unfortunately, finding a plant-based replacement for eggs in this context is not easy because most options, like flax meal, bananas, apple sauce, and various starches are not protein rich; they are mostly carb heavy.

Chia seeds as an egg replacer for gluten-free vegan baking

Enter chia seeds! These little seeds are one of my current favorites. Chia seeds can be made into a pudding and they are an excellent binding agent for making seed crackers – and in this category nothing compares to Oh She Glows Endurance Crackers, so give them a try! Amazingly, they also work in these super easy and quick scones. A critical step in this recipe is soaking chia seeds for 15-30 minutes in some warm water. This will transform them into a gel like substance that will keep your scone batter together. And that’s more than half a battle won! The rest is all about mixing things together, adding the right leavening agents to helps things rise high, and some flavors in.

Vegan buttermilk trick

A common way to help a leavening agent like baking powder and baking soda is to add some buttermilk. Acidity is what makes buttermilk so special, and what provides an extra push for the baking powder and baking soda. The easiest way to make a vegan buttermilk is to add some lemon juice or lime juice to your plant-based milk, mix it together and let it stand for 5 minutes or so. And, if you don’t have any sour citrus on hand, you can also use some apple cider vinegar as well. If you are using milk with lots of protein, like soy or pea protein milk, you may see quite a bit of curdling – that’s normal.

These delicious scone will please your entire household – so you may want to make a double batch. So, next time when someone asks you what’s for breakfast you can tell them: freshly baked scones. Enjoy!

 

 

Gluten-free and Vegan Scones with Chia and Coconut

What you’ll need:

3 tablespoon chia seeds
6 tablespoon warm water

1/3 cup almond milk, unsweetened (vanilla flavor or plain)
1 teaspoon lime juice

1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
1/6 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon psyllium powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
Unsweetened coconut flakes and raw sugar, for sprinkling on top

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What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
  2. Mix chia seeds and warm water together and set it aside for 15-30 minutes until a sticky gel-like substance forms.
  3. Measure out the almond milk and add the lime juice to it. Let that stand for 5 minutes before using.
  4. In a large mixing bowl measure out and mix all your dry ingredients.
  5. Mix your wet ingredients (almond buttermilk, agave syrup, soaked chia seeds, and melted coconut oil), then add to your dry ingredients. Combine everything together. The batter will be sticky but not falling apart.
  6. Line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper. Place your batter in the middle of the sheet, and form a round, domed structure. Using a thin and sharp knife, cut your dough into six even pieces. Use your knife to separate the cur pieces out just a bit, but you don’t need to pull them apart. The scones will bake well and break of easily when they are done.
  7. Top the scones with some extra coconut flakes and sugar, then place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Let the scones cool for 15 minutes or so before serving, then enjoy with some butter and/or jam, like his 10 minute, no sugar added blueberry jam I shared some time ago.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Tapioca Pearls with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut

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Tapioca Pearls (Sabudana) with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Most people probably think “bubble tea” when they hear “tapioca pearls”. But these delicious little pearls are definitely worth getting to know more intimately, especially in the context of gluten free cooking. They are inexpensive and very simple to make. They actually require no cooking – just soaking – so although no cooking skills are required, some level of patience (and a good amount of time) is.

Before we go any further lets try to answer this questions first: “What are tapioca pearls?”. They can come in different sizes and colors. The ones I will focus here are white and small, close to the size of Israeli couscous. But unlike the couscous, which is made with wheat and thus off limits for those watching their gluten intake, tapioca pearls are made from starch extracted from cassava root. So, they are little starch balls when all is said and done. Think micro potatoes that don’t need peeling!

If you are into Indian food, you have likely already had some tapioca pearls because they are often used to make desserts, like kheer pudding. Earlier this summer I had some homemade Sabudana Khichdi and I loved it. Sabudana Khichdi is a traditional dish and usually consumed during Hindu fast days. The dish includes tapioca pearls, finely chopped, cooked potatoes, finely chopped peanuts, finely grated coconut flakes, and a nice combination of spices (curry leaf, cumin seeds and green chilis). There are some variations on the recipe and the ingredients may vary depending on whethe Sabudana Khichdi is served during the fast or outside the fasting days, and my friend who made the dish for us also mentioned that a more protein-rich version of Sabudana Khichdi can be made using quinoa, and she suggested I check a blog by another friend of hers called Indfused, which I did and so should you, especially if you are interested in creative Indian/American fusion cooking (FYI: Infused is not a vegan blog, so keep that in mind).

Back to the the version of Sabudana Khichdi I had – it was a delicious addition to our summer cook out and prompted me to get some tapioca pearls of my own and start experimenting. The recipe below is the second iteration and deviates from the original recipe quite a bit. I took some liberties so my Tapioca Pearl Salad is Sabudana Khichdi inspired, but not meant to be “traditional” in any way. First point of difference is that I left the potatoes out. In my view, leaving potatoes out does not affect the taste nor the nutritional profile of the dish, yet saves some time and effort. I also left the peanuts out and replaces them with slivered almonds. I used slightly different spice mix, to make the dish a bit more fragrant. Finally, I toasted my coconut flakes, because in my mind coconut is just better toasted!

The key to making tapioca pearls is patience. All you need to do is rinse the pearls in cold water, then soak them in enough cold water, usually in 1:2 ratio (for example 1 cup pearls and 2 cups water), for 2-3 hours. How do you know they are ready? They should feel loose, not stuck together, and soft, yet slightly chewy, to bite – think pasta al dente. You can go a bit further if you prefer softer texture, but you do want your pearls to remain pearly, not mushy, so don’t overdo it.

Now a key to make the dish really flavorful and spices vibrant, is toasting the spices. I use a frying pan here, and, although you can dry toast the spices, I do add a bit of oil in this case and let the spices toast for one to two minutes before adding the almonds to finish it off. I pour the toasted spice and almond mix over the drained tapioca pearls, instead the other way round, but that’s more of a personal preference I suppose. The toasted coconut flakes come next, and the chopped fresh cilantro is the final touch. You can serve this dish immediately, you can heat it up more and serve hot, or you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight and serve it cold. It actually works across the range of temperatures so it could work as a surprising pasta salad at your next picnic. It is a great, easy and inexpensive dish to make for your next pot luck or any other get together!

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Tapioca Pearls with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

 Tapioca Pearls with Almonds and Toasted Coconut Flakes

What you’ll need:

2 cups tapioca pearl

4 cups water

1 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup coconut flakes or shreds, unsweetened

2 tablespoon vegetable (or canola) oil

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped


What you’ll do:

  1. Rinse the tapioca pearls under cold water and place into a large bowl. Cover with water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. The pearls will absorb water and they should become soft and al dente.
  2. Drain the pearls well, pat dry with a paper towel and put into a large mixing bowl that you will use for serving as well. You can use the same bowl you used for soaking just remember to dry it well in the meantime.
  3. Heat the oil over medium high in a large frying pan. Add the dry spices (cumin, curry and turmeric powder) and toast in oil for 1 minute.
  4. Add slivered almonds and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes, until almonds start to brown.
  5. Pour the hot almond and spice mix over tapioca pearls and mix well.
  6. Toast coconut flakes in a toaster oven or a frying pan for 2-3 minutes. You need to keep an eye on your coconut flakes as they go from beautifully toasted to inedible in a blink of an eye! If you are using the frying pan, you can use the same pan you just used for almonds and spices, just don’t add extra oil as coconut flakes should be fatty enough.
  7. Add hot, toasted coconut flakes to your tapioca pearls and mix well.
  8. Let the mix stand for couple minutes and while those flavors are combining, wash and chop fresh cilantro.
  9. Sprinkle the cilantro over your tapioca pearls, mix again and serve!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017