MC Squares: A Gluten & Dairy-Free Dessert

This past holiday my son wanted his favorite dessert we call “Squares”. It is a graham cracker crust with alternating layers of chocolate and peanut butter chips, coconut, walnuts, and marshmallows. It is pretty easy to make. The important part is to pour sweetened condensed milk over it before you add the marshmallow topping. The sweetened condensed milk acts as a ‘glue’ to hold the whole thing together. It’s really a candy bar cut into squares.

My darling daughter wanted to make it but she wanted it so that her sister-in-law who is dairy and gluten sensitive could eat it. Lots of people are finding dairy and gluten hard on their digestive system, and for various reasons have cut them out of their daily diets. Avoiding gluten and dairy can be difficult during holidays, so I wanted to share this variation of the above dessert. My daughter and daughter-in-law created it, and it had delicious results, even better tasting than the original.

The graham cracker crust was completely out since it is made of butter and wheat, so we made an oatmeal, nut butter, coconut sugar, and coconut crust. We didn’t measure anything, but I would guess a cup and a half of oatmeal, several tablespoons of nut butter (we used cashew and almond), and a few teaspoons each of coconut sugar and coconut. The important thing here is to have the whole glob of food kind of sticking together with the nut butter so you can flatten it in the pan. We also sprayed the pan with a little oil first. We did not cook the crust separately.

The layers we made with dairy-free chocolate chips, almond slices (or chopped walnuts would be good), dried cherries, coconut, and a few chopped up dates. Instead of sweetened condensed milk, the girls decided on sweetened condensed coconut milk. It is just as gluey as the dairy kind and worked well to hold the whole thing together. We topped it with marshmallows and put it in the oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes), cooled it, and put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

The dessert turned out beautifully, and very tasty. It stuck together just like the original dairy one, and the crust held together even better than a graham cracker one! We all loved it. The cherries were delicious with the chocolate. The whole recipe was a complete success and worthy of sharing. I call them MC Squares, for Megan and Claire, my two darling daughters.

God puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). I would be very lonely without my family and I am ever thankful for them. My daughter’s  desire to give her sister-in-law a sweet treat over the holidays was an example of loving kindness that warmed my heart, and is attributable to the Spirit that God has given her. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is loving-kindness.

Jesus said if we who are evil know how to give good things to each other, how much more so does God our Father who gives the Holy Spirit to us when we ask for it. (Luke 11:13) God has given us this great gift through Jesus Christ, His very own Spirit, as a deposit for a most wonderful future He has planned for those who love him. He is our family and a great comfort to us in this life. His love is the ‘glue’ that holds us all together. Let us praise and thank Him for the love he has placed in our hearts for each other, and may God bless you in the new year.

The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.

1 Corinthians 12:7

Teff Loves You and So Does God

Teff“Have you heard of teff?” I asked my brother-in-law. He’s one of my favorite foodies. I can always count on Joe to serve up something I’ve never tasted before. “It’s a grain from Africa that has lots of calcium.”

Teff is new to me but is actually an ancient grain that has been around for thousands of years. It’s a food-hottie of late not only because one serving provides ten percent of our daily needs for calcium, 7 percent for protein, and 14 percent for iron, but it is naturally gluten free. For someone on a wheat-free diet, teff is real find.

Teff is versatile too. It comes as a whole grain that can be cooked as a hot breakfast or added to stews and breads. As a flour it can be used for almost anything: veggie burgers, pancakes, cookies, breads, muffins, etc. It is often coupled with cinnamon and maple sugar to give it a nutty sweet taste. One drawback is the price. It is a few dollars more than our more familiar grains and flours, but the expense is worth it.

Our bodies love healthy foods and once we begin to eat more healthfully, it is easy to tell this. We feel energized, full but not bloated, and the extra pounds start pouring off. It is easy to lose extra weight by making a diet of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. When we first begin eating like this our vision of what it can do for us and how much better we can feel is limited by our lack of experience. However, the way we eat is a habit and habits can be changed. The better we feel after a healthful meal often compels us to make our next meal a healthful one, too. Concentrate less on giving up unhealthy foods and more on adding healthful foods into our meals. Is it hard to give up soda? Try drinking more fruit smoothies instead of denying all sodas. Is it hard to give up chips and snack food? Eat more beans which are much more satisfying and the hunger for snack food will diminish.

God loves us in much the same way. It is hard to begin trusting God because we lack experience and our realization of God’s love for us is so small. Even when we read the wonderful promises and hope for the future written in scripture, we skim right over it and concentrate more on the do’s and don’ts. Like diet rules, the do’s and don’ts are easier for us to grasp a hold of and control. We are more comfortable with structure like this and at the end of the day we can judge our successes.

Unfortunately, perfection is the goal of the do’s and don’ts and sets us up as a failure because we rarely achieve it. Try putting more God into your day just as you put more vegetables into it. Simply spending time with God will open our eyes to the amazing love He has for us. It is God’s love that we feel when we pray to Him and which compels us to spend more and more time with Him. After a while, we begin to cherish His presence in our lives and because we love Him, we begin to seek ways to please Him. We will never achieve perfection, not in our spiritual lives or in our physical lives, but we will achieve a transformation that will lead us to a greater vision of both.

[I pray] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:18-19