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More than likely you’ve heard, buy now, the term “gluten-free”.  Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barely and rye.  At first, gluten-free was just a buzz word to me.  But now, I am seeing the popularity of this lifestyle change, growing rapidly.  So I decided to take a closer look, and try a few recipes that follow within the guidelines.  Along the way, I came across several other diets/lifestyle changes that were “free” of a certain element.  Casein-free is another lifestyle that maybe you haven’t heard of yet.  Casein is a name for a family of phosphoproteins, found in milk.  You know what this means, no dairy!  I’m sure you’ve heard about being vegan… vegan’s are animal free.  Not only does this mean no meat, but things like eggs, and even gelatin are no no’s.  And the latest that I have taken a bigger interest into, is whole food eating.  Which is basically staying away from foods that have been over processed and refined.  Can’t we all just get along?!  Can we come together for a common purpose and make something delicious!  Can we get all these diets in the same room?  I’m afraid it might turn out like a bad high school reunion!  People from all walks of life, with their own opinions, all together acting like it’s great… then everyone leaves, and you just have a bad taste in your mouth.  I’m up for the challenge.  I love those awkward moments.

First thing is first.  When baking, gluten-free style, it is a must to find a flour substitute.  Since I am a beginner in all of this, I just bought an all purpose, gluten-free blend.  (Garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour and fava bean flour) Kind of a cop out, I know, but so far it seems to turn out consistent results.  So I’m sticking with it.  Most grocery stores are including small sections of gluten-free options, so this shouldn’t be hard to find.

Not all baking powder is created equal!  Check your baking powder to make sure it is gluten free.  Some variations use a wheat starch (which contains gluten) verses a cornstarch or potato starch.  It might not be labeled in bright letters that it’s gluten-free, so just turn it over and look at the ingredients.

Tofu.  There, I said it. TOFU!  Tofu gets a bad wrap, but it’s used in this recipe!  Just don’t tell anyone till after they taste how delicious it is.  Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.  There are several varieties, all depending on their firmness.  You want the soft kind for this recipe.

Soy Butter, isn’t butter at all.  Basically you need a non dairy margarine.  If your not sure, turn the label over and look for whey, lactose, casein, and caseinate.  (Don’t forget wheat, barely and rye to stay gluten-free too!)  If you see any of those on the ingredient list, put it down and walk away.  The Earth Balance brand is what I used.  It’s non-GMO and gluten-free.

Okay, heres the recipe!

Mini Coconut Cakes

4 oz. silken (soft) tofu

1 1/4 cup raw sugar

1 cup coconut milk

6 oz unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil

1 cup + 2 tbsp gluten-free all purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder (gluten free)

3/4 tsp baking soda

Puree the first 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor till smooth.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Slowly stir in the blended mixture a little a a time, till well combined.  Line a regular sized muffin tin, and a mini sized muffin tin and pour the batter in.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.  Check the smaller ones, they may need to come out before the big ones.  Cool on a wire rack.

Coconut “Butter”Cream Icing

1/2 lb soy “butter” (non dairy & gluten free margarine)

1/2 lb sifted powdered sugar

2 tbsp coconut milk

Mix the butter, powdered sugar and 1 tbsp of the coconut milk together.  Add the rest of the coconut milk as needed to achieve your desired thickness.

Ice the tops of each cupcake, then stack the smaller one on top of the larger one.  Sprinkle some extra coconut flakes on top, and garnish with sliced almonds.

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