Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Brownies & How to Avoid Box-Mixes

Stacked fudgey brownies
Stack ’em up and eat ’em! (I honestly cannot eat just one. #transparencypost)

A lot of people these days are on gluten-free diets, either because they can’t eat gluten, or because they feel healthier without eating it. But have you ever looked at the ingredient list of some of the gluten-free brownie mixes available in stores? Poly-ethyl-blah-blah-blah…no thank you! But how to avoid it? Well, let me tell you the secret ingredient that will make your life so much easier (and also more brownie-filled!): OAT FLOUR!

That’s right! In this recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Brownies, we’re subbing out the refined white flour (gluten-filled) for some oat flour, on a 1-to-1 basis. And bonus, YOU CAN MAKE IT YOURSELF IN ONLY 5 SECONDS! No need to buy a package of oat flour – just take some regular gluten-free oats and whizz them in the blender (or coffee grinder or spice grinder) for 5 seconds until it’s all powdery. Voila, oat flour! Easy, peasy, amirite?

Ok, so I’ve told you how to avoid gluten when making brownies, but you still like the convenience of store-bought mixes? They are pretty easy to toss together, aren’t they? What if I told you could toss together this brownie recipe in two minutes – the same time it would take to mix up a batch of store-bought brownies? So maybe it takes 30 seconds more to make these brownies than a box mix, but if 30 seconds is the price to pay for healthier food, well, sign me up!

Want to make some gluten-free (not that you’d know it) brownies? Let’s!

Yield: 12 brownies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Brownies
These gluten-free brownies are super-moist, super-fudgey, full of chocolate chunks, and best of all, preservative-free!

Ingredients

  • ½ c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ c. butter melted
  • ½ c. oat flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c. chocolate chips (or chunks)

Instructions

  1. Mix honey, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla together.
  2. Add in oat flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. Don’t worry if you think you can see a few oat bits – it won’t be visible in the final product.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour mixture into a well-greased 9x9 baking pan.
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven, sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on top, let cool in pan, and then cut into squares. Enjoy! (And try not to nom all of them at once. If you can. I may have eaten them for lunch while developing the recipe. That’s right, my lunch was brownies. Je ne regrette rien!)

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 square

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 51mg Sodium: 133mg Carbohydrates: 21g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 16g Protein: 3g

These brownies are deliciously moist and chocolatey. And if you leave out the chocolate chips, they’re even refined sugar free! How awesome is that?

If you like super-fudgy brownies (like me!), take the brownies out of the oven 3-5 minutes early. They’ll seem a bit undercooked, but just let them cool completely before cutting them into squares. Then, revel in those delicious, moist, and fudgy brownies!

If you make these gluten-free brownies, let us know in the comments how you think they stack up compared to store-bought mixes! Isn’t it a good feeling knowing that your yummy gluten-free brownies are also preservative-free? And can you believe how easy it was to make that oat flour? Shockingly easy, right?

If you liked this recipe, please share it on social media! I’m determined to share the word about how easy it is to go preservative-free – health is wealth, after all!

Next Post: Pillar content! 5 Preservative-Free Lunches You Can Make This Week, as promised in last week’s post. Hopefully this week the baby allows me to spend a few hours doing the recipe reformatting necessary to make that post! Ah, that baby…so demanding, yet so cute!

Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole, Plus My Thoughts on Gelatin ‘Salads’

Delicious casserole being spooned onto a plate.
Much more healthy than it tastes!

While I didn’t grow up going to the neighbourhood potlucks or church suppers, I’ve certainly heard of the dishes that are infamous for being brought to those events. Case in point, that goopy mushroom pea casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas, and topped with things like French fried onions. You know the dish I’m talking about? Easy to throw together and full of preservatives? What if I told you I have an EVEN YUMMIER recipe, AND it’s preservative-free?  Well, I do! It’s Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole, and it’s oh emm gee so delicious!

I mean, I didn’t grow up eating gelatin ‘salads’ and dishes like that, but there is something to be said for your classic comfort food dish. So why not make it healthier and just as delicious? This dish is also so, so, SOOOOOO easy to throw together!

Serving of healthy and delicious casserole!
All I need for dinner!

Basically, you mix together a batch of my homemade Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup (way more flavourful than canned, not to mention healthier!) with some peas, top it with grated cheese, then buttered breadcrumbs, then pop it in the oven to bubble and sizzle and…you’re ready for dinner!

Just think, chunks of real mushrooms mixed with sweet peas in a creamy, herbed sauce, topped with melted cheddar cheese and golden buttered breadcrumbs? This is a dish that makes me look forward to dinner, just so that I can have another serving!

Shall we make some? Let’s!

Yield: 12 servings

Not Your Momma's Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole

Not Your Momma's Cheesy Mushroom & Green Pea Casserole
Chunks of real mushrooms mixed with sweet peas in a creamy, herbed sauce, topped with melted cheddar cheese and golden buttered breadcrumbs. Perfect for a large get-together or just cause you want some healthy comfort food!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Butter a large lasagna-sized pan.
  2. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas. You can mix it right in the pan.
  3. Top with the grated cheddar cheese.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs and melted butter together and sprinkle on top.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until top is golden and you can see the casserole bubbling in the corners. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1/12

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 19mg Sodium: 275mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g Protein: 7g

This recipe makes a large lasagna-pan-sized casserole, which means it’s great for large get-togethers or when you want to have leftovers to pack for lunches or just for another dinner.

I like to eat this as a main course, since the peas are full of protein, so I check off my veggie and protein requirements with one dish, but I serve it as a side dish for my husband. Either way, it’s just super-yummy!

I will say, if I don’t want to make a fresh batch of homemade cream of mushroom soup in this recipe, I’ve used leftover homemade soup that I’ve frozen and defrosted but it makes the dish a tad more liquidy, so keep that in mind. If you use frozen-then-defrosted homemade mushroom soup, you might want to let the dish sit for a bit after baking it, just so that the dish has a chance to set a bit. Or not. I personally have no patience for that, and will scoop it steaming into a bowl for me to gobble up, but hey, you do you, boo!

This cheesy mushroom pea casserole is one dish that my husband and I will play-argue over: “You already had a second helping, the last bit is mine!”  “But it’s my main dish, I need to eat more of it!” Yes, it’s that yummy! A preservative-free vegetable dish that people fight to eat? Um, can we say WINNING! (Yes. Yes, we can!)

p.s. – Want something bizarre yet charming to follow on fb? Check out the ‘Show Me Your Aspics’ fb group. So quirky and fun and light-hearted. Also addresses that age-old question of ‘If it’s made of gelatin/agar agar, can it still be a salad?’ What do YOU think? Let us know in the comments!

Next Post: Another core content Pillar Post! This time I’m writing about 5 Preservative-Free Lunches that you can toss together this week, whether for work lunches, school lunches, or is-it-lunch-yet stay-at-home-parent lunches.

5 Preservative-Free (EASY!) Dinner Recipes for the Beginner Cook (& Anyone Who Likes Good Food)

Five Yummy, Preservative-Free Dinner Recipes That Whip Together in a Snap

Yummy, homemade, preservative-free food that is also EASY to make? Is there such a thing? YES! You don’t have to be Martha Stewart in the kitchen to make lip-smacking food; you can be a beginner cook and still whip these up very quickly!
Easy Enchiladas: A 20-Minute Weeknight Meal!

Easy Enchiladas: A 20-Minute Weeknight Meal!

Want Mexican food NOW but don't want the preservatives that come along with the plastic containers? This dish is as quick (or quicker!) than take-out!

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White Wine Alfredo Sauce (Reduced-Fat! So, like, healthy! Ish.)

White Wine Alfredo Sauce (Reduced-Fat! So, like, healthy! Ish.)

Craving pasta and sauce but not craving the preservatives that come in canned sauce? This classic sauce has wine added for a more adult flavour, but still manages to be healthy.

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Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever

Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever

Want to avoid frozen pizza? This incredibly easy (and preservative-free!) recipe yields enough dough to make one large pizza, but is easily doubled.

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Vegetarian (or not) Meat Hand Pies with a Vodka Crust

Vegetarian (or not) Meat Hand Pies with a Vodka Crust

Delish hand pies with a flaky, buttery crust but no preservatives! NOM! (And yes, I said VODKA pie crust!)

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5-Minute Easy Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato Soup

5-Minute Easy Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato Soup

This recipe for a hearty, spoon-it-up soup, contains no preservatives, but lots of yumminess! (Also uses up leftovers!)

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So it’s been a long week, and you’re tired and it would be so much easier just to buy something frozen and stick it in the oven. I get it! Hey, you don’t have to always cook everything from scratch. Start with smaller steps to going preservative-free and then build up. Case in point: my 20-Minute Enchiladas recipe uses canned salsa to make it super-easy to throw together. Could you make the salsa yourself to be extra-sure that it’s preservative-free? Sure. But making homemade enchiladas using canned salsa is still way healthier than buying those frozen enchiladas that are wrapped in plastic.

Take a step at a time, and give yourself some grace. Personally, I am all about progress, not perfection. And also about yummy, yummy food. Mmm…food. *Homer-esque drooling commences*

So try these recipes for easy, yummy dinners, and revel in the fact that you’re cutting out preservatives! You got this!

Next Post: Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom & Pea Casserole! That’s right, I revamped the classic side dish to make it preservative-free (and WAY MORE delicious!)

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup

Bowl of creamy soup with chunks of mushroom.
Creamy, healthy, and delicious!

Have you ever had that canned Cream of Mushroom Soup? Kind of bland and goopy, right? It might just be me, but I absolutely cannot stand canned cream of mushroom soup – so beige and unnatural. But have you ever had HOMEMADE Cream of Mushroom Soup? With chunks of real mushroom floating in a creamy herbed base? There’s a world of taste difference between canned and homemade, not to mention there are no nasty preservatives in homemade soup. But it’s so hard to make homemade soup you say? Pffft! Try this recipe for Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup; it’s surprisingly quick and easy and OMG it’s delicious!

I can easily eat bowlfuls of this soup just because it’s yummy; it’s really just a bonus that it’s preservative-free too. I love that I can feel good knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body, while happily stuffing my face just cause the food is yum.

Plus, any recipe you have that calls for canned Cream of Mushroom soup, replace it with this one – it’ll make the recipe that much more delicious, not to mention healthier too!

Want to make some? Lets!

Yield: 2 servings

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Cream of Mushroom Soup
This fragrant mushrooms soup is full of chunks of real mushrooms, all in a herbed and creamy base.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 square stock
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1 c. yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Wash the mushrooms and chop or slice them. (I like to quarter them.) Mince the garlic.
  2. Melt the butter and fry the garlic and mushrooms until they’re tinged golden-brown and have shrunken about 1/3 in size.
  3. Stir in the flour and fry for two minutes. The mixture will clump up and that’s ok.
  4. Stir in the milk. Again, the mixture will be all clumpy and that’s ok.
  5. Add in the water, stock, thyme, and pepper, and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Let cool slightly and stir in the yoghurt. Serve, and revel in the fresh and creamy taste!

Notes

You can use liquid stock instead of a square of stock plus two cups of water, as long as the liquid is equal to two cups. You can even use homemade vegetable stock -- in fact, I recommend it!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1 c.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 59mg Sodium: 418mg Carbohydrates: 37g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 14g Protein: 16g

Since I was trying to make a healthier version of Cream of Mushroom soup, I used yoghurt instead of cream. Yoghurt will end up the slightest bit grainy in the soup, especially if you stir it into very hot soup. I personally do not care, as I love the health benefits of yoghurt (probiotics, get in my gut!), but if you are super keen to photograph your soup, you could replace the yoghurt with milk and get a smoother final look. Eh. You do you, boo!

Let us know in the comments how you think this preservative-free Cream of Mushroom Soup stacks up compared to the canned version! And share it on social media, so we can get a preservative-free revolution going on!

Next Post: I’ve been a busy little blogging bee and am working on my pillar posts, so will have a summary post of 5 Preservative-Free (And EASY!) Dinner Recipes for the Beginner Cook (and Anyone Who Likes Good Food)

Ginger Garlic Broccoli & Mushroom Ramen Soup, Plus Progress Over Perfection

bowl of noodles and vegetables in broth
Healthy, hearty, and delicious!

I’ve been eating a lot of soup lately, as part of my plan to lose the baby weight, and this Ginger Garlic Broccoli & Mushroom Ramen Soup hits the spot! There’s enough carbs, protein, fibre, and broth to keep me full, and lots of deliciously flavoured veggies because…deliciously flavoured veggies!

I actually started with a recipe for ginger garlic bok choy, but subbed in broccoli instead because that’s what I had. I added in mushrooms and a bit of an egg omelette, for a meaty bite. Once I quickly stir-fried the broccoli, pan-fried the mushrooms (and then fried up the omelette in the same frying pan), I spooned it all over the noodles and broth. Et voila, a hearty, healthy meal!

While I used (egad!) prepackaged noodles for the soup, I highly recommend just making up some broth and adding noodles. It’s pretty easy to do and fewer preservatives! But, I believe in progress not perfection, and I’m slowly cutting out almost all preservatives in my kitchen. It’s a trade-off — if I only have 15 minutes to make dinner, do I want to stick a frozen something (that is definitely full of preservatives) into the oven, or do I want a bowl of soup where only the noodles aren’t preservative-free, but the stir-fried vegetable topping is pure healthiness? For me, I’m happy to quickly whip up this easy veggie noodle soup; it only takes 15 minutes to make!

Want to make some too? Let’s!

Ginger Garlic Broccoli & Mushroom Ramen Soup

Ginger Garlic Broccoli & Mushroom Ramen Soup
This healthy, hearty noodle soup whips up in 15 minutes -- faster than take-out!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package ramen noodles (packet w/ broth)
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ginger, zested or finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Prepare noodles according to package.
  2. Wash and cut florets off head of broccoli, chop garlic, and wash and slice mushrooms.
  3. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a frying or saute pan, and add garlic, hot pepper flakes, and ginger. Fry one minute or until fragrant.
  4. Add in broccoli and water and put a lid on the pan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. While the broccoli is steam frying, fry the mushrooms in the remaining 1 tsp. of oil.
  6. Set mushrooms aside, and use the same frying pan to fry up the egg (either as a sunny-side up egg or as an omelette -- whichever you prefer).
  7. When broccoli is done, stir in sesame oil and mushrooms.
  8. Split the noodles and broth between two bowls, top with the broccoli and mushroom mixture, and put half of the egg on top.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes

Pro tip: I prefer to zest my ginger as opposed to chopping it finely, as it's soooo much easier. I pre-peel ginger and then freeze it, and zest it straight from the freezer.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 93mg Sodium: 861mg Carbohydrates: 29g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 9g

The soup isn’t spicy, as I was also cooking for the spice-adverse DH, but you could easily add in some more hot pepper flakes for a bigger oomph per bite ratio. You could also easily switch out the veggies for other ones. Kale? Swiss chard? Ooh, I think Swiss chard would be really nice in this!

If you make this recipe, let us know which vegetables you used! And, if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate a share on social media! This blogger has goals! (Very delicious chocolate-chip studded ones.)

Next Post: I’m in a soup kinda mood these days (see above), so I think I’ll share my Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe! Better than any preservative-laden canned soup you’ll ever have!