Gluten Free Cupcakes by Elana Amsterdam (Review)

Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry is one amazing woman and in my mind a genius when it comes to coconut and almond flour! Her website is the first one I came across when I was diagnosed almost three years ago and it is one that I continually go back to for inspirations.  Her recipes are straightforward, simple yet unbelievably delicious and you don’t ever miss the gluten or the refined sugars.

While searching her website one day I found a recipe for cupcakes made with coconut flour so I went online ordered some coconut flour and have been making those cupcake ever since.  I’m a huge lover of cupcakes and extremely picking when it comes to them.  There was nothing to pick apart with these cupcakes so when I first heard that she was releasing a new cookbook all about cupcakes I put it on my wish list right away.  Her cookbook has 50 (yes 50!) recipes all made from coconut or almond flour.  When I received my review copy I went through the cookbook about ten times before deciding which to make first.  This cookbook doesn’t only have delicious sounding recipes the photos make your mouth water. I finally decided on making the Garlic Cheddar Muffins and for a sweet treat the Marble Cupcakes. Another great thing about this cookbook is that each recipe has a sweetness scale next to it!

I started with the Garlic Cheddar Muffins because I wanted something more on the savory side and planned to eat them more as a biscuit with dinner.  I ended up taking these to school the next day for breakfast.  Again her recipes are simple and not many ingredients, yet these had so much flavor to them packed in to them and they are nice and fluffy.  So as you can see you can eat these as a snack, along with dinner and even for breakfast ;)  I’ll be making these again soon.

For a sweet treat yesterday, because it was just one of those days that called for baking.  I went for the marble cupcakes made with coconut flour.  We’ve been trying to get away from refined sugars in our house and this cookbook is perfect for that.  I love baking with agave, it adds just the right amount of sweetness and it has a low glycemic index.  I’ve made Elana’s coconut cupcakes for Bryan in the past but he forgot about them so he was a little hesitant to try these yesterday but he really really enjoyed them (in fact he just had another one).  Next week I’ll be making Mocha Chip Cupcakes for a classmate of mine to celebrate her month-long Paleo Diet Challenge.  I can’t wait to make her Strawberry Cupcakes soon, just waiting for my farmers market to open up next month.

I don’t have Elana’s first cookbook – The Almond Flour Cookbook (yet) but if you have that one and loved it, I’m sure you will love this one also.  Who doesn’t love cupcakes?  And who doesn’t love them when they use such fantastic ingredients such as coconut flour, Almond Flour eggs, and agave.

Elana is absolutely amazing, I can’t say enough good things about her and her recipes.  Her website has helped me so much over the years.  She was always very friendly and informative when I had questions for her.  Check out her website and you can purchase her book on Amazon.  Trust me you are going to love this cookbook. Thank you Elana for making this beautiful cookbook and sharing all of your wonderful creations with all of us.
Check out these other great reviews (and some might even have a giveaway) of this fantastic cookbook:

Shirley of GFE-Gluten Free Easily

Kim of Cook It Allergy Free

Sea of Book of Yum

Heidi of Adventures of A Gluten Free Mom

My Journey

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”~Harriet van Horne

Today is National Celiac Awareness Day – so what better way to celebrate and spread awareness then to share my own story of my gluten-free journey.

I have always been a food lover.  I love cooking, trying new foods, recipes and even enjoy baking.  I’m much more comfortable with cooking than baking though.  The  reason is, you don’t have to be extremely precise when cooking, but with baking – you better follow those directions and measure accordingly.  Growing up and learning to cook with my Grandmother it was always “a pinch of this” or “a dash of that” – no real measuring going on, plus you could taste along the way where baking you have to (for the most part) wait until you have the finished product out of the oven and keep your fingers crossed that it tastes good. And I was one of those people who would always say – “Thank God I don’t have a food allergy, I have no idea what I would do if I couldn’t eat…”

In June 2008 I was finally diagnosed with having Celiac Disease.  Ever since I was little I had digestion issues and was told I was lactose intolerant and had irritable bowel syndrome so I did my best to avoid cheese.  Mind you I love cheese so my best wasn’t really that great – I continued to eat lasagna, cheese sticks, mozzarella sticks, cheese and crackers, pizza and cheesecake.  Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?  Well it is something that my doctors have missed all of those years – it wasn’t the cheese that was making me have these issues, it was everything I was eating with the cheese!

I had all the symptoms of a person with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome – which is what I think clouded my doctors diagnoses.  I was very much on the sever end of the symptoms for both of these.  I was always tired (also diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and at the age of 15 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  I am now 28 so 13 years ago, it was very uncommon for someone my age to be diagnosed with such a thing. I went to at least five different doctors and it was always the same result “Oh, she is just looking for attention” or “There is nothing wrong with you, it is just in your head”.  I don’t know what 15-year-old would want to be in that much pain, and trust me if you don’t have this, I hope you never are diagnosed with it.  There were many days that I couldn’t get out of bed.  Being in high school, that isn’t a good thing – I missed way beyond the max days of school both my junior and senior year.  I have been on and off of muscle relaxers ever since.  I do my best to stay healthy, exercise and maintain a healthy diet to avoid taking these as much as possible.

Over the past two years since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease I have done quite a bit of reading on the connection of all my previous diagnoses with Celiac Disease – it is pretty amazing that they are all tied together some how.  It made me wonder for quite a while how my doctors over the years could have missed this connection.  But I am not here to dwell on that, I’m just here to share my journey with you.

So what is Celiac Disease?

Definition By Mayo Clinic staff

Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. If you have celiac disease and eat foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in your small intestine, causing damage to the surface of your small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.

Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. This can lead to other illnesses and stunted growth in children.

No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease through changing your diet.

Symptoms By Mayo Clinic staff

There are no typical signs and symptoms of celiac disease. Most people with the disease have general complaints, such as:

  • Intermittent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating

Sometimes people with celiac disease may have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Celiac disease symptoms can also mimic those of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, Crohn’s disease, parasite infections, anemia, skin disorders or a nervous condition.

Celiac disease may also present itself in less obvious ways, including:

  • Irritability or depression
  • Anemia
  • Stomach upset
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis)
  • Tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy)

Some indications of malabsorption that may result from celiac disease include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily
  • Stunted growth (in children)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia

Another gluten-related condition
Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also stems from gluten intolerance. The rash usually occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks. Dermatitis herpetiformis can cause significant intestinal damage identical to that of celiac disease. However, it may not produce noticeable digestive symptoms. This disease is treated with a gluten-free diet, in addition to medication to control the rash.

When to see a doctor
If you notice or experience any of the signs or symptoms common to celiac disease, see your doctor. If someone in your family is known to have celiac disease, you may need to be tested.

Seek medical attention for a child who is pale, irritable, fails to grow, and who has a potbelly, flat buttocks and malodorous, bulky stools. Other conditions can cause these same signs and symptoms, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before trying a gluten-free diet.

So with no medicines to try (which I was very excited about, I hate taking pills!) I changed my diet.  It wasn’t the easiest of things to do.  Like I said before I love food and at first I got really nervous that things wouldn’t taste good.  I cleaned out all of my gluten containing food items and brought them to work to give away.  When I came back home I realized I had nothing left!  It was mind-blowing to me where gluten was actually hiding in these food items. Soy Sauce!? Really!! I went to whole foods and about had a panic attack right in the store when I ever saw the prices of everything.  I picked up a few of the basic things and decided that for now I would just eat fresh foods (veggies, fruits, non-marinated meat) and will eventually teach myself how to bake gluten-free.  I searched and searched the web to find blogs, articles, recipes etc.  The first one I came across and is still one of my favorites is Elana’s Pantry.  Reading her site and trying her recipes helped me realized that this isn’t so bad.  You can bake and cook gluten-free and it still look, smell and taste wonderful.

I started this blog shortly after being diagnosed for several reasons.  To keep track of my journey, my recipes (both created by myself and those that I have adapted to be gluten-free), my experiences and to potentially help others that were in the same boat as myself.  It has been an amazing two years.  I have learned so much, yet there is so much more I have to learn (for example how to blend flours to bake with).  Changing my diet and lifestyle to be gluten-free wasn’t nearly as bad as I was first expecting it to be.  I realized I just needed to be creative with my cooking (hence my blog name).  There are so many wonderful recipes out there that are naturally gluten-free or are easily adaptable to become gluten-free, you just need to think outside the box a little bit, be creative and realize that somethings aren’t going to look, smell or tastes exactly the same.  I love it – even if I could eat gluten again, I don’t think I really would (maybe some french bread though).  I have found many great recipes to replace my favorite gluten containing foods. I’m happy, healthy and feel great.  Since eating gluten-free my fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and ibs have been under control.  I rarely get flare ups and it is such a wonderful feeling.  I’m not saying that this works for everyone but for me this diet has helped in so many wonderful ways!!  I don’t have to take my muscle relaxers as much, and for the most part only the weather has affected my fibromyalgia -ahhhhh relief.

I love the huge gluten-free (dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free etc.) community that I have found.  Granted I have yet to meet any of them in person their blogs, wisdom, recipes, funny stories, generosity, and kind hearts have helped me on this amazing journey that I am on. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being the wonderful people who you are, for sharing your experiences and always sending encouragement along to others.

Along with all of the wonderful gluten-free bloggers out there I have to thank Bryan for being my wonderful taste-tester!  Even though he isn’t gluten-free he eats all the gluten-free meals, snacks and baked goods I put in front of him.  He is truly amazing and the most wonderful man in the world.  I have no idea where I would be without him, he truly is my best friend. (and I am slowly turning him into a foodie).

If you haven’t been tested for Celiac Disease please do so, especially if someone in your family has Celiac Disease!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes over the last two years:

Garlic Basil Shrimp

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Cauliflower

Thai Chicken Soup (Elana’s Pantry)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Apple Crisp

Bacon Cheddar Scones


Happy Celiac Awareness Day – What are you doing to spread awareness??

Almond Joy Chocolate Bark – Elana’s Pantry

I truly love all of the recipes I have tried from Elana’s Pantry.  This woman is amazing!!  Her recipes are simple yet filled with flavor.  She posted this recipe not that long ago and today was the second time I made it.  Actually today I made a double batch of it!!  Everyone that has tried it loves it.  Best part…its only 3 ingredients!!  Who does that not appeal to??

Almond Joy Chocolate Bark – Elana’s Pantry

1 ½ cups dark chocolate 73%
½ cup almonds, toasted
¼ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (toasted at 350° for 6-8 minutes)

  1. Melt chocolate over very low heat
  2. Pour chocolate into a parchment lined 8×8 inch baking dish
  3. Scatter almonds and 3 tablespoons of coconut over chocolate
  4. Using a spatula spread the mixture evenly back and forth to  ½ inch thickness
  5. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of coconut on top of mixture
  6. Place bark in fridge for 2 hours to set
  7. Break into square bars
  8. Serve

Favorite Cookbooks (at the moment)

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there but I read cookbooks, not just skim the recipes but read them like they are a novel.  I truly love cookbooks (and books in general).  Then I go back and put little sticky notes on all the recipes I want to try. This past Christmas I got a few of them as presents and sadly some of them I haven’t even cooked from yet.  Once the big move is over and we are finally settled somewhere my big plan is to make weekly menus for at least a month from all of these cookbooks that I have in my collection.

There is one in particular that I can’t wait to cook from, and that is Tom Colicchio’s Think Like A Chef. The recipes in this cookbook are simply amazing sounding.  I would love (and I mean LOVE) to eat at one of his restaurants in the near future!  Who knows maybe it will happen.

Lately I’ve been adapting recipes from a cookbook that my friend Janine had signed and sent to me by Ellie Krieger called So Easy.  And she isn’t kidding her recipes are very easy and extremely tasty.  One of my favorite ones so far is her Garlic-Basil Shrimp.  I could probably eat this once a week (but I don’t).

Another current favorite cookbook of mine is the Allergy-Free cookbook by Alice Sherwood.  I use many of her recipes also.  For example the great blueberry muffins that I just made are from this cookbook.  This cookbook is so helpful because it will take a recipe and tell you how to make it: gluten free, nut free, dairy free, and or egg free!!

A friend of ours got me a cookbook for Christmas because he always sees me posting recipes or pictures of food on facebook and saw that it said gluten free.  Turns out to be an amazing cookbook that got some rave reviews!  Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking.  I’ve made a few recipes out of here and they were all very very good.  Even Bryan’s mom made a recipe out of here on my last night in New Jersey.

On the list of cookbooks to concur when we move (besides Tom Colicchio’s) are the following:

The Flying Apron


On the list of cookbooks to buy are the following:

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Jamie’s Food Revolution

The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook

Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Coconut Macaroons by Elana’s Pantry

I truly love the recipes on Elana’s Pantry. They are tasty and easy to do. Today I made Elana’s Pantry’s Coconut Macaroons and they are awesome. The only alteration I made to the recipe was I topped it with some melted chocolate. I’ll be honest, it’s really hard not to eat these all tonight. I’ve had about three little ones already and could continue to eat them. You should all give these a try.

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons
6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups shredded coconut

  1. In a mixing bowl whisk egg whites and salt until stiff
  2. Fold in agave, vanilla and coconut
  3. Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time
  4. Pinch each macaroon at the top (like a kiss)
  5. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned
  6. Serve

A few of my favorite blogs

I Blog Gluten Free

I love finding new recipes, trying them out and altering them (if not gluten free).  I own too many cooking magazines and cookbooks (to some peoples standards, but not mine).  I read cookbooks like some people read novels.  I love them.  Now, with technology I find myself reading tons and tons of blogs.  Getting new ideas, new recipes to try and of course continually learning more and more about this gluten free world.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs (you can also find these and a few more on the blog roll tab)

101 Cookbooks

Heidi has some amazing recipes on here, and plenty of gluten free options! Here is a little blurb from her site:

Hi there, my name is Heidi Swanson. 101 Cookbooks is my recipe journal. It’s where I write about the recipes that intersect my life, travels, and everyday interests. Often the recipes are from my cookbook collection, sometimes not – they might come from a friend, or I might write about a recipe I created myself.

I focus primarily on natural, whole foods and ingredients – vegetarian recipes that are good for you and for the planet. Welcome!

Elana’s Pantry

After finding out I had celiac disease this is the first blog/site that I came across and it is by far one of my favorite ones.  I am continually going here for idea, trying her recipes and sharing it with others.  I find Elana’s knowledge and creativity amazing.  (I still need to buy her cookbook!!) Here is a little blurb from her site:

In my 20’s I studied ayurvedic cooking. When my son and I were diagnosed with celiac disease, this three-year study came in handy. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder triggered by eating gluten. Out of necessity my cooking took on an entirely new dimension as we both went on a gluten-free diet.

Unwilling to cook two separate meals each night for my family, I needed to make gluten-free food that tasted like regular food. Would I be able to do this well enough to convince my husband to come home for dinner?

I threw myself into this culinary challenge and my husband, a tough critic, held nothing back. With much trial and many errors, I developed a gluten-free repertoire that tastes delicious. Friends and family now ask for my recipes, even those who are not on restricted diets!

While my cooking might not be complex, I appreciate that my food brings people together –those who eat regular food and those who can’t –to break bread in the warmth of my kitchen. I love to make food that is not only good for you, but actually tastes good. This has become a passion for me.

If you are interested in buying her cookbook you can get it on AMAZON

Four Chickens

I absolutely love this blog.  Jeanne has some tasty tasty recipes.  I’ve made her doughnuts and her scones…both are wicked good!  I’m very excited to try her new puff pastry recipe hopefully in the near future.  You should defiantly check out her blog and recipes.  Here is a little blurb from her site:

I have 1 daughter, 1 husband, 5 chickens, 1 organic garden in a constant state of disrepair, 100 million books, 10 million skeins of yarn, 5 million cookbooks, 2 million projects in progress rolling around the house, and 1 PhD in theatre history/theory.

I am gluten-intolerant. I also have a life-threatening allergy to wheat. My daughter has a life-threatening peanut allergy. This combo platter keeps life interesting, to say the least.

I make fabulous gluten-free baked goods and it’s my goal to help others do the same.

Adventures Of A Gluten Free Mom

This is my latest obsession.  I was drooling looking at all of her recipes tonight.  I came across Heidi’s blog the other day because she had posted a link on my Creative Cooking GF Facebook page.  I can’t seem to get enough of her site right now. Sadly I don’t have a little blurb from her page about her.

I hope you take some time and check these out and the others listed on the blog roll tab.

Thai Chicken Soup

Thai Chicken Soup
(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry – Thank you!!)

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
28 ounces coconut milk
1 tablespoon agave
½ pound crimini mushrooms
1 head broccoli
1 can of baby corn (strained and cut in half lengthwise)
1 pound chicken breasts skinless-boneless, halved lengthwise, sliced on bias, cut into 18 inch thick pieces
2 Serrano chilies
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Garnish (Optional)
Minced cilantro
Lime wedges

~ Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
~ Add shallots, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, cilantro, stirring frequently until softened (about 2-5 minutes)
~ Stir in stock, coconut mil and agave and bring to a simmer
~ Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids (shallots, cilantro and red pepper flakes)
~ Return broth to saucepan
~ Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms and broccoli and cook until tender (2 to 3 minutes)
~ Add Serrano Chilies
~ Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink (1 to 3 minutes)
~ Combine lime juice, curry paste and fish sauce in a small bowl then stir into soup
~ Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, scallions and a lime wedge

(Elana, Thank you for letting me add this to my blog with my own adaptation of your Thai Chicken Soup. )