I find that being frugal and caring about the environment go hand in hand, at least for me. I hate spending a lot of money on things. Although, I will willingly spend good money on a good product, such as grass-fed beef or a good pair of sneakers or toilet paper. I am willing to spend a lot of money on food. In fact, I insist on buying high quality items as much as possible. Some things are worth the money. One thing that is often NOT worth the money is toys for the kids. Buying new is expensive (not that each little toy is expensive, but it adds up over time). It uses resources, such as oil for the plastics and gas to get toys here. Even if they are wood toys and made in the United States, there is still a cost, though it is definitely better for the economy and the environment. We try to buy used toys as much as possible, from Ebay, the thrift store, etc.
So what do I do when we are at the thrift store and there is an Easy Bake Oven and Aidan wants it? I mean the packets that come with it or that you buy at the store are awful. How is it even possible to make a cake where you just add water? The good thing is that I am not the only person who thinks like this. And the other good thing is the Internet. Oh how I love you, Internet! Where else can you find recipes for Easy Bake Oven sized desserts? I found a few good recipes on this site. We used the brownie recipe, but I admit I tweaked it to make it gluten-free*.
Also, I made my own chocolate sauce from scratch to avoid the high fructose corn syrup and other artificial stuff (see a list of the ingredients in Hershey’s chocolate syrup here). So anyway, I found a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup. I, of course, modified it as well. It seems I am constantly modifying recipes. In fact, Tim calls me Ida after some lady who made some substitutions to his mom’s recipes and then said it didn’t quite taste the same. I like to think that I am a better cook than Ida, though. Obviously I know what I am doing and she didn’t! :)
So, now that I have given credit to the recipes that inspired me, here is what I ended up doing.
Allergen Friendly Easy Bake Brownie Recipe (Gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free and easily corn free):
2 T succanat (though honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar would work)
1 t sunflower oil (a light olive oil would work in a pinch, as well as any other light vegetable oil)
1/8 t vanilla extract (NOT imitation vanilla!)
4 t homemade chocolate syrup
1 1/2 T buckwheat flour
1 T brown rice flour
1/8 t baking powder (if you have a corn allergy, it’s easy to make your own or you can buy Hain Featherweight brand)
- Mix the wet ingredients together first, including your sugar if you are using syrup or agave. If you are using some granular sugar, I’d add it with the dry ingredients.
- Add in the dry ingredients and stir until mixed.
- Grease Easy Bake pan lightly and pour batter into pan (mine was thick and didn’t really pour, but I patted it in there nicely).
- Bake 15 minutes.
Aidan said it was good. I asked him if it cooked all the way and he said yes. I asked him if it tasted good and he said it did, but could have more chocolate in it.
Now, for the chocolate sauce recipe:
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c succanat
1/4 cup agave syrup**
1 1/4 cups water
1 t vanilla extract
- Mix sugar(s), cocoa powder, and water in a small saucepan.
- Stir together and heat until boiling. Boil for about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla. (I let it cool a bit before adding the vanilla, but I’m not sure it matters).
Next time I make this, I am going to try to use stevia, maybe mixed with a bit of maple syrup.
*At the moment I’m not supposed to be eating gluten or sugar or dairy or a whole big, long list of things. The kids can eat those things, but I figured nobody needs that much gluten anyway and the buckwheat flour is tasty and more nutritious than wheat flour.
**I’ve been using agave syrup/nectar, but I keep reading bad stuff about it so I probably will not be using it anymore. It’s a shame because it’s one of the few sweeteners my doctor said was OK. I think perhaps she doesn’t know the bad stuff about it. If you are curious, read Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? at Food Renegade.