Coast-to-Coffice: Gluten-free goodness at Cuppprimo

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I don’t always get to meet the owners of the coffee shops I work in; when I do, they’re always nice. But I’ve never met one more exuberant than Amy Brown of Cupprimo. Sitting with a friend at one of the tables, she was joking with me and my husband from the moment we walked into her compact space, before we even knew she owned the place. Glancing around, I recognized her shoulder-length blond hair and sparkling blue eyes in the oversized photos that decorate the walls. The pictures include Amy’s husband and kids and lots and lots of cupcakes.

Speaking of cupcakes, they’re delicious here, even the gluten-free ones, which can be hard to make taste good. That’s probably one of the reasons why Cupprimo was featured on the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” back in 2012. Aside from TV stardom, baking fresh gluten-free cupcakes every day is really what sets Cupprimo apart from other bakeries in north Austin. Cupprimmo always offers at least four GF flavors, and custom orders are more than welcome. The “regular” the cupcakes are freshly made each day, too, and they’re just as yummy as they’re GF counterparts.

The flavors range from familiar – Primo Vanilla, Double Chocolate, Strawberry – to fantastical – Lemon Pistachio, Drunk Pineapple. Be sure to try the Blue Velvet made of old-fashioned wedding cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s almost too pretty to eat, but that won’t stop you. Or, at least, it didn’t stop me! If you have flavor ideas, don’t hesitate to tweet them Amy (Twitter handle: @cupprimo). She’s very open to new flavor combos and very responsive on social media.

From a working standpoint, Cupprimo is a pleasant space to toil away on the laptop. There’s free wifi, a bar looking out over the parking lot, and small tables in the front. The back has comfy chairs for reading or conversation.

If I lived in Austin, Cupprimo would be a regular stop for me – but not more than once a week. With their scrumptious offerings, it’d be too easy to expand my waistline while emptying my wallet!

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Pineapple M&M Cake

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This Pineapple M&M Cake is inspired by a cake I saw at an Iron Skillet restaurant at a truck stop in California. It was so pretty with colorful mini M&Ms on top and plenty of sweet pineapple filling between layers of yellow cake. I had a single, luscious bite and instantly had a very strong urge to dash to the buffet and haul the entire cake over to our table. Good manners kept me from doing it, but it was a close call!

Here’s a recipe to try at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk (to increase the pineapple flavor, sub 1/4 cup pineapple juice for part of the milk)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple filling
  • 1 can whipped white frosting (or your favorite homemade frosting)
  • 1 bag mini M&Ms

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two round nine-inch cake pans.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  • When well incorporated, add the baking powder, and then the flour and milk a little at a time, alternating the two.
  • On medium speed, beat the batter for about 2 minutes, until thick and creamy.
  • Split the batter evenly between the two cake cake pans.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Set aside cakes to cool.
  • Spread about 1/2 a cup of frosting on the bottom layer of the cake, to about a 1/2 inch from the edge. Then top with the same amount of pineapple filling.
  • Carefully place the top layer on, and frost the top and sides of the cake.
  • Sprinkle the top with mini M&Ms.

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Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Granolas

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Granola is so delicious, and it’s healthy. At least it is when it’s prepared right. Most packaged granolas have too much sugar and hardly any little fiber, not to mention gluten. Leave it to the good folks at Bob’s Red Mill to create a ready-made granola that packs in the good stuff like whole grain rolled oats and leaves out the nasty gluten.

Bob’s Red Mill has two flavors of gluten-free granola: Honey Oat and Apple Blueberry. Both are vegetarian, but only the Apple Blueberry is vegan. The Honey Oat flavor actually contains honey, not just honey flavor. I really liked both variations. Very crunchy and lightly sweet. Yummy! But I was a bit disappointed that the Apple Blueberry doesn’t have any blueberries. Instead, it’s got natural blueberry flavor and blueberry concentrate. Aside from that, they’re delicious, and with 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving, these cereals will keep you full all the way to lunch.

Caveat Eater, though. Even with the top-notch ingredients, a bowl of the stuff can contain 500 calories or more, without milk. Nosh smart by sticking to the recommended portion size on the nutrition label.

GFGranola2 Disclosure: I always have Bob’s Red Mill products in my cupboard, and I really believe in what they stand for. So when they send me wonderful products to review,  like these granolas, I am delighted to do so. 

Cloud Bread (high-protein, low-carb, gluten-free)

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This protein-packed “bread” tastes like a popover right out of the oven: melt-in-your-mouth lightness with a hint of sweetness from the Stevia. As the little clouds cool, they firm up and can be used for sandwiches (be gentle when spreading the PB!) or hamburger buns. I like to make multiple batches to save for later since they’re a little time-intensive.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons cottage cheese
  • 1 packet of Stevia
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Lay parchment paper over a baking sheet and set aside. (If you don’t have parchment paper, generously spritz the baking sheet with non-stick buttery spray.)
  • In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until very stiff, dry peaks form, about 4 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, cottage cheese, Stevia and salt until well combined.
  • Gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture.
  • Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop mounds onto baking sheet. You can vary the size as you’d like.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, watching carefully to ensure they brown but don’t burn.
  • Let cool slightly and use a spatula to gently lift them off the parchment and serve.

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Hazelnut Coconut Chicken Tenders {gluten-free, paleo, slow-carb}

Hazelnut Coconut chicken tenders made with Bob's Red Mill hazelnut meal and unsweetened shredded coconut

Ah, gluten! The latest nutritional devil that we need to avoid at all costs. There’ve been so many of  them over the years that it’s sometimes hard to know what to eat. In the case of gluten, though, I’ve found the less I eat of it, the better I feel. I still like “comfort” foods, and luckily there are ways to make them healthier. These chicken tenders are rich tasting, thanks to the hazelnut flour. The unsweetened coconut gives the dish a tropical feel. Serve with sliced avocado or a side salad.

Hazelnut Coconut chicken tenders made with Bob's Red Mill hazelnut meal and unsweetened shredded coconut

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spritz a baking sheet with non-stick olive oil spray.
  • Mix together hazelnut flour, shredded coconut, salt and pepper.
  • Dredge each piece of chicken in egg and then coat with hazelnut mixture.
  • Place chicken pieces on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 25 minutes and serve.

Hazelnut Coconut chicken tenders made with Bob's Red Mill hazelnut meal and unsweetened shredded coconut

Disclosure: I always have Bob’s Red Mill products in my cupboard, an I really believe in what they stand for. So when they sent me some wonderful gluten-free products to review, like the hazelnut flour in this recipe, I was delighted to do so. 

Bittersweet Flourless Brownies

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I found this recipe over at My Whole Food Life. You could almost call these Fruit & Veggie Brownies because they’re made with black beans and unsweetened applesauce instead of flour and oil.  Somehow, though, I don’t think that would sound too appealing.  And it’d be shame to turn people off these goodies because they’re delicious.  Moist and fudgy.  So nice that they’re gluten-free and healthy for you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bag (2 cups) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon dark cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Blend the beans and the chocolate chips in a food processor.
  • Blend in the remaining ingredients until a smooth batter forms.
  • Spritz an 8×8 baking pan with non-stick buttery spray.
  • Pour batter into pan and bake for 30-35 mninutes.
  • Cut into squares and serve.
  • Store leftover brownies in the fridge.

Eat in downtown Las Vegas

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As downtown Las Vegas becomes ever more hip and cool with the Container Park and artsy festivals, its restaurant scene gets better and funkier.  Eat is a breakfast and lunch joint right across from the Container Park with a charming atmosphere and a gourmet menu,  mimeographed and presented on an old-school clipboard.

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When Mike and I met our friend Kimberly there for lunch after Christmas, the place was packed; we waited 20 minutes for a table.  The staff was friendly but slow.  We didn’t mind the leisurely pace because we were there to chat and relax.

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It’s a bit spendy, but the choices are creative and generously sized.  I had Shrimp and Grits, which with came with bacon, two fried eggs and pico.  It was very flavorful but quickly became a rather soupy mess.  I would have enjoyed it more if it’d be served in distinct sections on a plate.

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Overall, I’d recommend Eat for savoring freshly prepared food in a conversational environment that provides a nice break from the bright lights and loud noises of touristy Vegas.