“A Day in the Life of a Be Free Baker”: A Photographic Essay

So what on earth DOES a Be Free Baker actually DO? How are those Be Free Bombs made? Don’t you have a staff, or machines, like everyone else that make your specialty mixes and baked goods?

Nope. It’s just me in the kitchen, for now. And it’s all done by hand, one at a time. No machines except an oven and a hand mixer for frosting cupcakes. Oh yes, I have had phenomenal human help over the years from time to time: Kelly, Barbara, Missy, Mel and Brooke, to give proper and just credit.  I ADORE those women and am eternally grateful to have shared sacred space in my kitchen with each of them.

How does it all work? I employ the philosophy of “mise en place” and prepare my space in advance with everything I will need for the day’s work. Tools and ingredients are gathered to quickly add to recipes on the fly.

Stainless steel bowls are an integral part of any kitchen. These have never touched gluten, dairy, eggs or nuts and are dedicated exclusively to BFB.

Raw Organic Hemp Seeds

Organic, raw, natural hemp seeds – full of protein, magnesium and essential amino acids.

Journeyman Organic Bourbon

Some ingredients have their own unique appeal. We found an organic, handmade bourbon that matches the rest of our fabulous ingredients!

Organic, fair-trade couverture chocolate

Organic, fair-trade, soy-free couverture chocolate – how often do you find couverture in cookies?

DSC_0030 Food, fun, friends. A cupcake eaten alone is just a cupcake. With friends, it’s a moment of happiness.

Sure, once in a while there are setbacks or spills.  Once I dropped an entire 20# container of Cacao Mix resulting in hundreds of dollars lost and many hours of additional work. Tears flowed freely on that particular day.

Organic coconut oil

Another example of a sideways moment. This lovely spill is coconut oil, just getting ready for our coconut oat raisin cookies.

Making of a Be Free Bomb:

Each Be Free Bomb is hand scooped, hand sprinkled and topped by hand with ganache once cooled.

Hand made ganache. Spoon-licking good.

Voila! The venerable Be Free Bomb, exclusively available at Waldo Pizza in Kansas City, MO and by special order.

You can’t get too far in a blog on Be Free Bakers without talking about cookies–in particular, the chocolate chip variety. If you haven’t been lucky enough to taste this incredibly creamy, raw cookie dough made fresh, you might just need to contact me. You might not end up making any actual cookies at all.

Raw, creamy cookie dough. Is there anything on the planet better than this?

But then, hot, gooey chocolate chip cookies are probably our grandmother’s best feel-good invention ever.

And for the finale: cupcakes.  Just because.

Cappuccino Cupcakes, available at Waldo Pizza finished – or in your own kitchen, via a simple and easy mix.

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Silvana’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kitchen: A New Cookbook “Must Own”

Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

, entry-level, dairy-free, gluten-free Cinnamon-Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing, made at HOME?!

Heck, yeah! Bring it ON!

In her gorgeous new cookbook Silvana’s Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed, Silvana Nardone, writer, editor, chef, baker, columnist, cooking instructor, food consultant, mom – to name a few of her awesome attributes, ponders opening a chain of gluten-free IHOP-style restaurants after creating and testing her first perfect pancake mix.

She seems to merely ponder, but I’m fairly serious: The world could benefit from such a place!
WHAT a great book of recipes! Yum, yum, yum!!!

If you are missing that fluffy, white, IHOP-style pancake, drizzled with melted butter and maple syrup, just-like-you-used-to-eat before “gluten-free, dairy-free”, then you’ve come to the right recipe. If you’ve been looking for great ideas on how to feed your newly diagnosed family meals reminiscent of a bygone era – the rest of the book is excellent, too!  You will not regret making this book a new kitchen staple.

My daughter had been requesting proper gluten-free, dairy-free cinnamon rolls for A Very Long Time, so I started with Silvana’s entry-level version: “Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing”. In a fantastic boon for our entire family, this single, mouth-watering recipe required me to make multiple items in preparation for the “culmination of sweetness” that are these incredible cinnamon roll pancakes: Homemade Almond Milk, Silvana’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour and Silvana’s Gluten-Free Pancake, Waffle and Biscuit Mix.

Was it worth spending the little extra time to prep? Heck yeah! Bonus for additional meals, too!

CHAPTER 9:  Reinvented Dairy-Free Milk, Cheese + More Opener A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014
Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

The Homemade Almond Milk is super easy – I first learned how to do this from Tess Masters in The Blender Girl Cookbook – another FAVORITE and must have addition to your kitchen.  This recipe takes so little effort, you’d be amazed!  With two minutes of preparation, an overnight soak and a quick blend/filter, you have an awesome Homemade Almond Milk that tastes insanely fresh, has no additives, definitely no carrageenan, and you can sweeten, flavor, if desired, or leave as is. Perfect!

Silvana’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour rocks. You can use this easy blend to make just about anything, sweet or savory! I’ve made amazing white fluffy pancakes, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon swirl pancakes and have plans for biscuits, waffles, beignets and more. Try it! You won’t regret spending the four and a half minutes it takes to weigh, measure and whisk. In addition, the beauty that is this cookbook is that you can customize your ingredient purchases to be as organic (or not) as you like. She even has an option for making it more “whole grain” – which I love.

CHAPTER 8:  Reinvented Flour, Breadcrumbs + More Opener A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014

Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Silvana’s Pancake, Waffle and Biscuit Mix
is a fantastic blend based on the All-Purpose Mix, above. I had to read and re-read the directions multiple times – I actually emailed Silvana to clarify before blending. “Are you sure you want me to add the shortening to the dry flour mix and store it that way?” YES! Indeed, she’s right: it’s perfect!  Those little bits of shortening are the secret to keeping the pancakes fluffy and full of beautiful AIR with a lovely texture that reminds me of Chicago breakfast joints in my 20s.

If you are looking for that perfect breakfast comfort food that is a fluffy, airy, melt-in-your-mouth pancake experience – this is the closest gluten-free, dairy-free mix I’ve found to achieving that old-fashioned buttermilk pancake experience! For those that are familiar with our line of mixes, yes, we also offer a pancake mix, but our Be Free Bakers Sugar-Free Ancient-Grain Pancake Mix is a completely different product for those serious whole grain, healthy moments. Some days, though, you just crave that old fashioned stack of fluffy cakes, topped with butter and maple syrup and maybe even chocolate chips – and Silvana’s Pancakes fit this bill perfectly!

The penultimate recipe, though, which inspired me to make all the others, was the Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes with Maple Icing.  Holy Sweet Awesomeness!

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes Beauty A131110 Silvana's Kitchen 2014

Photos: ©John Kernick  Text: Excerpted from SILVANA’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE KITCHEN © 2014 by Silvana Nardone. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

While these incredible pancakes were definitively a DESSERT rather than simply breakfast, I have to admit we gobbled them down – at breakfast. In full disclosure, it was a Hobbit-style, second breakfast, after the eggs! What an absolute winner, especially with my daughter who could finally eat a true, gorgeous cinnamon-roll style treat. This pancake, frankly, was superior in flavor, texture and sweetness to a traditional cinnamon roll, as it didn’t have the cloyingly sweet heaviness that so often accompanies traditional cinnamon rolls. Serious gratitude here. I don’t think my daughter, nor my husband, even paused to breathe between stacks!

Thank you, Silvana Nardone, for a gorgeous addition to the world of gluten-free, dairy-free baking and cooking!

I will definitely and lovingly add your beautiful book to my gluten-free, dairy-free, ever-expanding cookbook repertoire.

Jennifer Ward
Be Free Bakers


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“Pumpkin Muffins” by Be Free Bakers


We couldn’t let yet another October come rushing in without at least one pumpkin recipe, now could we?

Well, as a dear friend of mine would attest, yes, yes, we could indeed avoid all those infernal pumpkin recipes that tend to pop up like toaster pastries on steroids this time of year.

But what fun would that be for the people who only eat pumpkin once a year for a month?  No, not fun at all!  For that soul, though, I feel sorry, because pumpkin is allowed to come and go as the mood pleases in our home.  It’s such a powerhouse of nutrition, why not incorporate it into pancakes, muffins, smoothies and soups year round?

Let me warn you, though:  this is not the typical pumpkin muffin you might have had in the past.  It’s not that sweet, contains lots of healthier ingredients, is lower in sugar, and can be enjoyed simply as it is, without any extra sweet toppings, chocolate chips or, heaven help us, frosting.  That being said, if the mood strikes, go for it!  I won’t tell anyone.

This is a muffin you can feel comfortable eating guilt-less.  Watch out though: they’re tasty!  You might be tempted to have more than one!

“Pumpkin Muffins” by Be Free Bakers

Preheat oven to 350°

Whisk or sift the following dry ingredients in a separate bowl:

1 cup BFB / Jen’s Blend
½ cup organic coconut palm sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Set aside:  2 tablespoons organic evaporated cane juice or fine/castor sugar, for dusting muffins prior to baking

Add the following wet ingredients to your stand mixer, or, if you don’t have one, make sure you incorporate all ingredients very well together before adding dry mix, above.

1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup pumpkin – canned is fine
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup almond milk, preferably carrageenan-free

Slowly add dry mixture to wet ingredients in stand mixer, incorporating gradually.

Put cupcake liners into muffin pan and fill ¾ full of batter.

Top each muffin with a light layer of sugar to dust/coat top.  This will provide that lovely crunch on top of muffins that we all love!

Bake for 18-20 minutes, turning once.
Makes 12 muffins

If any are left over, store in a tightly sealed container and enjoy within two days.

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Quick Cinnamon Cake: Gluten Free, Vegan, Nut Free, using Jen’s Blend by Be Free Bakers

Last night I was craving cinnamon for some reason, so Cinnamon Cake just had to be made. This is an easy, quick and painless recipe with a great crumb and lovely moist texture. It took 40 minutes conception to plate, from scratch. Of course it’s gluten free and vegan. This version is soy free too, but we used almond milk because that’s what was in the fridge. Our daughter is not allergic to almonds, luckily!  In fact, she asked for “seconds, please, Mommy!”

Whisk or sift dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
1 cup Jen’s Blend
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1  1/2 Tbs cinnamon (need about half that if using ceylon cinnamon)

In a one cup measurer, add the following wet ingredients:
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs coconut or soy creamer
Fill cup to top with almond or soy milk to equal one cup (we used vanilla almond milk this time)
Allow to curdle.  It’s “kitchen magic”.

Melt 1/2 cup coconut oil just to warm; not hot. We used a metal cup measurer and just placed it in the oven while preheating. One less cup to wash!

Pour oil and milk into dry ingredients and use rubber spatula to gently combine.

Pour dough into a lightly oiled 8 x 8 baking dish.
Dust the top with some cane juice/sugar for a crunchy top.
Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, depending on oven.

If it lasts more than a day, cover lightly with cello and leave on counter.

Makes about 12 pieces, depending on who’s cutting them.


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Gluten Free Vegan Autumn Apple Tart using Jen’s Blend, by Be Free Bakers

Gluten Free Vegan Autumn Apple Tart

This is an incredibly delicious tart – not too sweet, fabulous crumb and much lower in fat and sugar than a traditional apple pie.  Have fun baking!

We picked this apple the day the pie was made!

To Make Tart Filling:

7 small to medium green apples – we used local apples from our friend’s tree picked that day
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon orange peel, dehydrated
1 heavy tablespoon corn starch, potato starch or arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon high quality cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples.  Place in bowl with all above ingredients. Stir to fully coat apples in seasonings.

Allow apples to soak while you make the crust, stirring occasionally.

This is what the crust looks like before you press it into the pan for the pie. Don’t forget to save some for the streusel topping.


2 cups Be Free Bakers Jen’s Blend All Purpose GF Flour Mix
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon high quality cinnamon
½ teaspoon orange peel, dehydrated
1 stick Earth Balance Buttery Stick or Butter, cut into pieces, plus ½ stick cut into dots for topping just prior to putting in the oven
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup soy or coconut creamer

Mix together all dry ingredients with whisk in medium bowl.

Add apple cider vinegar to creamer in a small bowl and allow to rest for a few moments.  It might curdle.  This is good.

Drop butter pieces into dry ingredients and smash dough.  I enjoy the feel of the dough, so I used clean hands to blend, but a hand mixer on slow will work well also.

Add the creamer mixture slowly, blending as necessary to a somewhat crumbly texture that sticks together when squished.

Put a piece of parchment paper into a 9” or 10” tart pan, round or square, and drop about 2/3 of the dough into the pan.

While you can use a rolling pin to flatten the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, transferring it to the pan later, we have found it far easier to simply press the dough into the pan with our hands, allowing about an inch to come up the sides.

If you want to get fancy, feel free to create a pretty edge.  As you can see, I did the rustic edge look.


Once you have pressed the crust into the desired thickness and shape, put it in an oven at 350°F and pre-bake for 8-9 minutes.  Do not allow to brown.

After removing crust from oven, let cool slightly, and spoon DRAINED apples into pre-cooked crust, reserving liquid.

Top with remaining crumbled dough pieces throughout top to make a streusel topping.

Drizzle remaining liquid over top of streusel, and dot top with very small pieces of Earth Balance or butter – approximately ½ stick.

Place in oven for first 20 minutes at 350°F.  Then lower temperature to 325°F and cook for remaining 35 minutes.

Check periodically to ensure it doesn’t brown.

This apple tart actually tastes better the next day after flavors have had time to meld.

The perfect end of summer dessert that can be made on a weekend and enjoyed throughout the week – if it lasts that long!


Jennifer, Be Free Bakers

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“You Say Tomato” Fried Chicken Recipe Using Jen’s Blend, by Be Free Bakers

This is a fabulous recipe for fried chicken or veggies! The crust is crispy, tender and chock full of flavor. You can make this completely vegan with gorgeous veggies and unsweetened non-dairy milk. You’re in for a gluten free treat most folks wouldn’t know was gluten free!

Home-Made Fried Chicken or Veggies: Eggplant, Zucchini, Squash, Carrots, and/or Parsnips
Recipe courtesy of “You Say Tomato” – our wonderful local Kansas City Restaurant at 2801 Holmes, KCMO

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus overnight soak if making chicken
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 free-range organic chicken cut up into serving pieces, skin removed – or –
3-4 cups veggies, sliced in chunks
1 – 2 quarts buttermilk*, divided, for marinating chicken and preparing soaking slurry
*non-dairy/vegan buttermilk is easily made with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for each cup soy/rice/almond milk

1 Tbs of poultry seasoning (herbes de provence work well for veggies)
5 bay leaves
1 1⁄2 cups Be Free Bakers Jen’s Blend Flour Mix
1 Tbs fine ground pepper
2 tsp granulated garlic (not powder); fresh is beautiful – use 2 cloves
3/4 cup kosher salt
2 cups dehydrated potato flakes

Peanut oil for frying
*Other monounsaturated frying oil options (with high smoke points) include almond, avocado or canola oil.


For chicken:

Put chicken pieces in marinating container. Use adequate buttermilk to cover. Let sit overnight in fridge. If you cannot soak overnight, 4-5 hours works great too.

Bring a heavy pot of water to a boil. Add chicken, poultry seasoning and bay leaves. Poach chicken until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (approximately 10-15 minutes). Remove and let dry on mesh cooling rack.

For both chicken and/or veggies:

Prepare slurry with buttermilk, gluten-free flour, pepper, garlic and salt (add herbs at this time for veggies – skip bay leaves). Add buttermilk last, a little at a time to ensure proper consistency – slurry should have texture of heavy cream.

Heat 1⁄2 inch of oil in frying pan (preferably cast iron) to 325 degrees. Coat chicken/veggie pieces with slurry, then dredge through potato flakes. Carefully place in frying pan and adjust heat to maintain temperature. Cook until brown and crunchy – or slightly lighter for al dente veggies.

Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

Enjoy! ☺

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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Gluten Free, Vegan, Nut-Free Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Oh my… These cupcakes just begged me to make them. I was enjoying a sip (or two…) of a beautiful chocolate stout on the back deck when suddenly I had this craving for cupcakes. Bingo! Into the kitchen I trod, bottle in hand, ready to tackle the world.

The first time I made these, I did it completely from scratch with Jen’s Blend and the ever-gorgeous Rogue Chocolate Stout. (Recipe below.)  This batch was made as a present for our awesome neighbors who aren’t gluten free. They were delivered at nearly 11 p.m., immediately consumed and declared “Heavenly!”

Then we made them again the following week with Green’s Duppel Dark Ale and our Be Free Bakers Cocoa Bean Cupcake Mix. Both beers and both batches were amazing. We even used the beer in the frosting!  The small amount of stout in the frosting takes the frosting to a whole new level.  It’s quite subtle, but lends a great flavor undertone to the sweetness of the frosting.

Here’s the recipe for you to try. If you prefer making things from scratch, use the Jen’s Blend. If you would prefer a mix, our Cocoa Bean Cupcake Mix is super easy and requires no extra dry ingredients – just use 2 cups of the Cupcake Mix instead of all the dry ingredients.  Let us know how you like them!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes


1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cup Green’s Dubbel Dark Ale
1 tsp chocolate extract (if you don’t have this, add 1 tsp instant coffee)

1 1/4 cups jens blend
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t xanthan gum


Preheat oven to 340° convection or 350° standard.
Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

In quick succession, add wet ingredients and fold into dry mix using a rubber spatula. Do not allow to sit. With an ice scream scoop, fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 full and sprinkle with a little sugar for a crunchy top.

Place in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, depending on oven and pan.

While cupcakes are cooking, prepare frosting.

We like to make our frosting uncomplicated and simple, using 1 cup non-hydrogenated organic palm shortening, 2.5 cups (+/-) corn-free powdered sugar (Whole Foods generic brand or Wholesome Sweeteners are both corn-free), 2 Tbs non-alkaline cacao powder, 2-3 Tbs gluten free beer, and a teaspoon each of vanilla and chocolate extracts. Very simple and easy.

Using a hand mixer, whip the shortening first, gradually adding the powdered sugar until incorporated fully, adding extracts and beer last. Taste. If you need it, add some more powdered sugar and/or beer until you reach the desired texture and flavor. Try not to finish off the beer before the cupcakes are out of the oven.  Save a glass to accompany your cupcakes – it’s worth it.

To top the cupcakes you can go fancy schmancy with cake decorating skills or simply spread with a knife or pipe using a common ziplock bag with a little bit of the corner cut out. Pipe in a circle, starting at the outside in a semi-circle, working your way to the middle and up to the top.

The best part? Diving in and sharing with friends.  If there are any left over, they freeze beautifully, but who has leftover cupcakes when there’s friends and neighbors around?

Seriously, we’d love to hear from you. Call, write or comment on any one of our media outlets. We love hearing from customers!


Jennifer, Be Free Bakers

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“Gluten Free Baking with KitchenAid”

Gluten Free, Fair Trade Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

A few weeks ago I was invited to submit a recipe to a truly beautiful blog, Healthy Blender Recipes, as part of “Gluten Free Baking with KitchenAid”.  KitchenAid has very generously donated a 7-qt (yes, SEVEN-QUART) mixer as part of this fabulous giveaway during April. Don’t forget to register – you have until the end of April to do it.  Mention “Be Free Piggy” and double your chances.  Good luck!

So about that recipe…

What?  Me?  A recipe? Published? On someone else’s blog?  With dozens of other wonderful and highly accomplished gluten-free bakers?  Oh my goodness!

I hadn’t shared a recipe of any real significance since before I started Be Free Bakers, thousands of cookies and nearly three years ago.  I have talked about how to cook, taught classes in gluten free baking, visited people in their homes for private consultations, and probably talked an ear or two off at a farmer’s market – but to submit a recipe on a national, insanely-beautiful blog, well, now, that was a bit of a different story!

Now what do I do?  I was so nervous!

The lovely Tess Masters, who runs this gorgeous blog, told me to submit one of my “show stopping” recipes.  “That would be a good idea,” she said.

Show stopping?  Did I even have any of those?  Our cookies are pretty good, I thought, but those were already being produced.  Cupcakes, well, I’m coming out with a mix to make those.  She wanted something new, fresh – interesting.  Hmm…

Frantic baking sessions began.  What should I make?  Should I share my cracker recipe?  Pizza crust?  New bread?  Those all work beautifully at home, but will take weeks of tweaking – I tend to bake intuitively when developing something new, so few things are written down.  Should I do pancakes?  I make a ridiculously delicious, completely whole grain, sugar free beauty that needs no eggs or even egg replacers.  Those would be good.  But we already sell the mix – and surely, in a month of other gluten free offerings, a beautiful pancake recipe would be in the lot (yes, indeed, there already has been a fabulous pancake recipe submitted – check it out:  Gluten Free Cat’s High Protein Sugar Free Banana Pecan Pancakes.  Whatever shall I submit?

After many sleepless nights and countless emails to Tess and friends, testing madly for proper proportions, I settled on a standby that has worked magic with my own children for many a moon.  It’s easy, it’s quick, it uses a Be Free Bakers’ whole grain flour blend – and, honestly, how could one go wrong with bananas and chocolate anyway?  Alas, Chocolate Monkey Business, made with Be Free Bakers very own Jen’s Blend.

Before we get to the recipe actually submitted, however, I feel it is my absolute obligation to tell you that you truly will be in heaven by trying any one or all of the recipes submitted in this month’s ““Gluten Free Baking with KitchenAid”.  Family and friends have tried too many to count and have not been disappointed with a single one!

One recipe in particular has been made a record 3 times – and that was within ten days!  Yup – it was THAT GOOD!  Thank you, Kelly Courson and Celiac Chicks!  Here is the recipe, featured on Healthy Blender Recipes’ beautiful blog: Celiac Chicks Gluten Free Dairy Free Peanut Butter Love Bars.  We made a few minor modifications to accommodate peanut and egg allergies: almond butter instead of peanut butter; flax/egg trick instead of eggs and had to wiggle and poke them a bit while baking as the almond flour wanted to puff up, but they were “silly easy”, very fast, super delicious and highly healthy.  Yes, we took Kelly’s suggestion and added some chocolate chips on top.  These were so good they didn’t last more than 18 hours in our home!  We wolfed them down pronto.

We have prepared even more amazing recipes from Tess’s amazing recipe selection (vegan cauliflower soup = new favorite) and have clicked over and explored each and every one of the lovely GF Baker’s blogs and websites included in this month’s collection.  Check out the top chef lineup here : I am dreaming of gorgeous food lately…

Each of these women are truly remarkable human beings.  I am truly honored and humbled to be included in such an amazing cast of professional women!  Now go enter the contest and win that KitchenAid – please, so you can keep on baking on and enjoying this world of culinary delights!

Chocolate Monkey Business


1 cup Be Free Bakers’ Jen’s Blend

1/2 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice

3/4 teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt (the beautiful pink salt full of minerals)

3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Scant 1 teaspoon Xanthan or Guar Gum

Scant 1 teaspoon Baking Powder (we use Featherweight, by Haines – gluten-free, corn-free)

3/4 cup Organic, Soy-Free Mini Chocolate Chips – we used Organic Callebaut for this recipe; Enjoy Life makes some lovely mini chips as well.

1 Medium/Large Ripe Banana, broken into 1-2” pieces

1/3 cup canola or melted coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon Organic Almond Extract

1 teaspoon Gluten Free Vanilla – Costco’s is gluten free

2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar – Bragg’s is our standby

1 cup Almond, Rice, Coconut or Soy Milk


Add 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts

Add blueberries instead of chocolate; use ½ cup instead

Delete banana and add ¼ cup additional Jen’s Blend plus 1/3 cup additional almond milk instead


  1. Preheat oven to 340° convection or 350° conventional oven.
  2. In a 1-cup measurer, add 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar; fill cup with almond milk. Set aside for a few moments to allow it to curdle.
  3. With paddle attachment on your KitchenAid mixer, put all dry ingredients into already lifted-up bowl.
  4. Add curdled milk, extracts and banana.
  5. On slow speed, mix just until all ingredients are combined.
  6. Place cupcake liners into your favorite muffin pan.  If you have a favorite pre-seasoned pan, (cast-iron muffin pans are magical, for example) liners are not necessary, but if not using paper liners, we recommend slightly oiling the pan and then lightly coating with flour for easier release.  (We love these eco-friendly liners – even the name of this muffin came from Siege, with the owner’s permission.)
  7. Using a traditional ice cream scoop, fill liners to ¾ full, sprinkle a light coating of sugar on top (to aid in extra crunchy yumminess on the top of the muffin) and place in oven.
  8. Cook for 18-20 minutes, 2-3 minutes less with a cast iron muffin pan – or until tops are slightly brown and muffins feel solid when tapped.

Allow to cool – just enough not to burn your mouth – and dig in!  These are phenomenal warm.  We’ve served them to groups of small children and adults alike – not one has ever been refused!

If any happen to have any left over the next day, wrap them individually in a zip lock bag and put them in your lunch – or sneak them in the car on the way to work.  Just be sure to wipe the chocolate off your face before going inside.

Also, don’t be afraid to play with this flour blend.  Jen’s Blend is a highly versatile blend that can be used to make cupcakes, muffins and cakes of all varieties. We’ve even been known to make bread and/or seaweed scones with it from time to time!  One local restaurant, You Say Tomato, uses it to make the best Fried Chicken (or carrots, squash or other roasted veggies) on the planet. They’ve given us permission to publish that recipe on our website – so stay tuned, it’s coming soon!

Thank you for the love you put into your food.  All the best to you and your families!



"Chocolate Monkey Business"

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Ode to a “12-Year-In-The-Making” Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ah, the joy of making Chocolate Chip Cookies from scratch! Your mouth begins to salivate as you imagine the most beautiful smells wafting through your kitchen – as you work your ingredients into a smooth and creamy dough, from the soft raw gooeyness to the still warm, melting chocolate dripping all over your cheeks as you bite into your freshly baked creations. What an incredibly happy moment you are having!

And so you begin to gather up your ingredients: butter, flour, eggs, sugar, milk, chocolate, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla to begin the joy of creating this magnificent moment of life.

But wait! STOP!

Imagine for just a second, however, that the ONLY ONE ingredient you are allowed from this entire list is the baking soda. That’s it: just the baking soda. Not even the baking powder, as most brands contain cornstarch, which makes your mouth itch. The chocolate and butter have dairy, which would send you to the hospital; eggs, forget it – you’ll pay later for those; flour, well, we won’t go there – your stomach hurts just imagining it; vanilla, corn again, and the itchy mouth. Sugar, highly processed.

Now what?

Your task, should you even choose to accept it, is to recreate that chocolate gooey loveliness from completely alternative ingredients – ones that won’t make you nauseous, give you a headache, make you vomit or send you to the ER gasping for your every last breath. And then imagine that you don’t really have any idea what those ingredients actually are, what to look for, where to buy them, what brands to use, or even what proportions or recipe to use, much less how they’ll even taste. Will they measure up? Will they be even half as good as you were used to? Will your friends, partner, spouse, parents, children, ANYONE, even like them?

Be Free Bakers first attempt, back in 1999…

Chocolate Chip Cookie #1: “Chocolate Bean Slop-Mess”

Ever try to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch using untested alternative ingredients without an allergen-friendly recipe? How’d that turn out for you? In this case, attempt #1 was a stinky mosh pit of chocolate flavored bean slop.


The naiveté! Who knew?

Back in 1999, there were no beautiful gluten free blogs. (What is that weird word? Blog?)

There were no top chefs making gorgeous creations for people with gluten allergies. (Gluten? What the heck is that?)

Garbanzo bean flour was the only “alternative” ingredient purchased (that’s what was available at Whole Foods Market in the “alternative baking” department, which, honestly, consisted of one lonely shelf at that time).

The recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse package was used, merely substituting 1 for 1 this random yellow bean flour for the white all-purpose flour. After all, the only allergen we knew about at that time was the gluten, and we were just beginning our healthy eating process, so out it went and in came “garbanzo bean flour”. Oh my!

Few had even heard of xanthan gum, much less what it was. (It’s a bacteria that grows on stuff?) This “yellow bean cookie dough” was lovingly made by hand, carefully placed on a baking sheet and in and out of the oven it went.

The fumes were intoxicating, nauseating, revolting (among other things)! HOLY MOLEY!

Windows were opened, fans turned on, promises were made: garbanzo beans must never, ever be used in chocolate chip cookies again. Not like that please. Maybe in the future some time we’ll revisit? ☺

Years, yes years—nine approximately, went by, along with literally hundreds of failed attempts at the perfect allergen friendly chocolate chip cookie. Children with allergies were born, friends with new allergies were made, and the quest continued in earnest. Cookies and various brownies were created, played with, and the recipes declared “good”; but the Chocolate Chip Cookie became an ever-evolving concoction of recipes.

So many recipes, in fact, that had we bothered to do a v1, v2, v3, etc., we might possibly be at #862.

By the time Be Free Bakers began in earnest, in the summer of ‘09, our chocolate chip cookie finally “went to market” – quite literally, at The City Market Farmers Market in the River Market area of Kansas City.

But we were restless: we knew we could do better.

More testing. Better ingredients. Different ratios.

Our chocolate chip cookie had whole grains; it was already gluten free, vegan and didn’t have nuts.

But it was far from perfect.

There could be no compromises.

Our chocolate chip cookie had to be great, not just good or even average. Better than that. It had to have a good texture and flavor. The ingredients had to be as organic as possible and sourced fairly. We didn’t want to use traditional sugar. We liked Palm Sugar for its amazing health properties. But it also had to be organic and sustainably harvested. We wanted the cookie to have a lower glycemic index; less sugar; more flavor.

No GMOs. Out went the traditional canola; in came the Organic, Non-GMO Canola Oil.

Our chocolate chip cookie had to be consistent, outstanding, environmentally sustainable and sourced with integrity – plus it had to have a decent shelf life. It couldn’t get dry in 3 days. (We already lost two accounts for that problem.) Did we mention that it had to be packaged in something good for the earth too? (Compostable cookie bags and recyclable/compostable boxes, no coatings. Soy ink.) On top of all that, this chocolate chip cookie had to have the very best chocolate available – fair trade, organic AND soy-free.

We wanted it all.

We set the bar high and with purpose. It took 12 long years from our first attempt to our current recipe. We’re done for now. No more changes for a while, we promise. ☺

Did we accomplish all of our lofty goals? Well, we think so! Our customers are happy. Our clients are happy. Cookies continue to be made, packaged and shipped. People keep eating them. Mixes are starting to take shape in their awesome American-made compostable bags and recyclable/reusable cartons. More and more stores are asking us to bring BFB goods in for their customers. For now, we are content. Life is good.

Let’s just say we’ve come a long way from the recipe on the bag, made with bean flour.

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The Whole Foods Market Experience

Back in 2008 (when the market crashed) I applied, and was accepted, to work at Whole Foods Market.  I felt it was a privilege and an honor – and I was THRILLED!

I couldn’t wait to start.

I had shopped WFMs since they first opened in my neighborhood in Chicago many years earlier.


Felt like a kid in a candy shop about the job. Training was awesome. The people were awesome.  The department, bakery – what else? Awesome! What more could a girl ask for in a job? A company? It was perfect.

As much as I loved Whole Foods, I missed my two very small children tremendously! Luckily, I had options; thus, my very short stay: six months.  Three years later I truly cherish that incredible experience and the friends I made along the way – I could have benefitted exponentially on so many levels from a longer stay, though. It was a great place to learn, grow and work. It was a magical time, complete with incredible food, great friends, phenomenal life training and an opportunity that forever changed the course of my career.

Launch Pad

While working at Whole Foods Market, I met the most delightful woman names Chris, who ran the Culinary Studio at the time.  When I shared with her my passion for all things gluten free, she challenged me to create something especially for her. It had to be gluten free, healthy, sugar free and use whole grains.  That’s easy, I cried, would you like to try my pancake mix?

So I brought her some.

And she loved it.

And then she invited me to teach a class on how to bake gluten free – at the Culinary Studio.  Wow.

What an honor!  But… the gauntlet was thrown.  Me? Teach a class? To others? How to bake gluten free?  Uh, sure, I can do that.  (Inside my stomach churned – what in the world would I teach these folks? I only had a handful of recipes at that time that were truly worthy of one of her WFM classes.)  We discussed what would be taught and I was on my way – to dozens of tests, retests and reworks – and gaining 10 pounds in the process!  Sheesh! Gluten-Free Baking was FUN!

That class was a complete turning point in my relationship with gluten-free, dairy-free baking.  I cannot tell you how much I learned and how many people came up to me afterwards and encouraged me to do more.  Some even brazenly suggested I start a gluten free baking company, based on these few products, my passion for baking them, how much fun I had in teaching coupled with the enjoyment in seeing others truly appreciate what I had made.

Moi? A gluten free baking COMPANY?

It was overwhelming, honestly.  You see, in between the time I was asked to teach the class and when I actually taught it, I had already given my 6-week – yes, 6-week notice.  I didn’t really want to leave, but well, there was that freezer, and I and “it” needed to break up, honestly.  There was also the gigantic and most important fact of all:  I was truly missing my 3 and 4-year old children like crazy getting up super early and working long hours!!! Scott was dropping them and picking them up from preschool without me, day after day… So off I went, to be with them again.  I felt lucky.  And restless…

The thoughts began to churn – could I really do this? What would it take? Would people actually buy food I made?  Would they like it?  Would I like it?  Would it be fulfilling?  Rewarding?  Would it be healthy? Taste good? So many questions and none answered.  Someone mentioned The City Market, so I went to investigate.  Yes, looks intriguing. But where do I bake? What kind of permits do I need? Business licenses? Health department inspections? Paperwork? Deposits? How much would it cost? Could I afford it?

A health department official recommended churches, so I started calling them to use their kitchens.  After a dozen or so “no’s” I quite nearly gave up, but then my husband had taken the kids to one lovely little church a few Sundays when I was working at Whole Foods – and he gave them a call.

They said yes.

We were thrilled and felt so incredibly fortunate.  I still feel incredibly grateful to that beautiful little church. I baked there for over a year and was happy.  Thank you, MLLC!

For the past 14 months we have been mixing, baking and packaging our cookies, mixes, pizza crusts and cupcakes at the Ennovation Center in Independence.  My have I learned!  What an incredible facility – it is a dream kitchen with an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Be Free Bakers would not exist if it were not for so many factors coming together:  family and friends (even strangers) encouraging and testing my baked goods; our family’s multiple food allergies (wheat/gluten, dairy/casein, peanuts, some tree nuts); a lovely woman named Chris from Whole Foods Market asking me to teach my first class; having a chance to bake out of a sweet little church 4 miles from home for The City Market that was our very first testing ground; and now being able to expand and grow and use this gorgeous, brand new facility called The Ennovation Center to service a dozen local restaurants, health food stores and sweet coffee shops.  Of course, we couldn’t bake a thing if customers didn’t like our baked goods, so we saved the best for last:  our customers.  Big giant hugs to all of you!

I am forever grateful and am still pinching myself that this is real.


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