MAN, OH, Maaaaaan are these a winner! I had lost my hand-scrawled, barely legible recipe for my flourless banana muffins and tried a few others I’d found online. It was…disappointing to say the least. I dug through every single recipe paper I had until I finally found the damn thing, and it was SO worth it!!! I’ve adapted my original recipe to be even more incredible. I prefer gluten-free recipes that don’t require an alternative flour as they rarely have much, if any, nutritional value (though, I’ll admit, sometimes you just want a damn baked good!). I pretty much keep these in stock at our house and make a double batch (24 mini and 12 regular muffins) whenever we start to run low. We eat these for breakfast more often than not!

Oh and I buried the lead! This recipe is whipped up quicker than quick in a high speed BLENDER!!! You’re welcome;)

Roasting the bananas is totally optional but quite delicious if you have 15 minutes to spare. You can customize this recipe with walnuts or pecans. I usually use my homemade almond butter but have also used the raw store bought variety that is only almonds and it works great too!

Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

*makes ~ 12 regular or 24 mini muffins

  •  1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 medium ripe bananas (if desired, roast bananas in skin on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.

~ Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. If the batter is warm, let cool before stirring in the chocolate or it will melt. Stir in chocolate.

~ Pour into muffin tins filling each hole a little over 3/4 of the way full.

~ Bake at 350 degrees. Bake regular muffins for 15-16 minutes and mini muffins for 12-13 minutes. Baking times may vary depending on the amount of natural oil in your particular almond butter so keep an eye and don’t over-bake. They should be fluffy and very moist.


 Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

Flourless chocolate banana bread muffins

Since giving up gluten to make my guts happy, I’ve tried plenty of gluten-free breads and confections. Some have been downright terrible (truly an affront to the senses!) while others have so many gums in them I end up with “bubble guts” for days. Mostly I just avoid substitutes entirely and stick with foods that never had flour in them to begin with. But sometimes, just sometimes I daydream of a crusty baguette to dip into a rich Coq Au Vin or a toasted roll slathered in butter and honeycomb. A friend introduced me to Against the Grain’s breads and they were delicious. Expensive but tasty and with real ingredients (no gums!! Hooray!). Lately I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of their products so that is where this recipe comes in. It’s a slight adaptation from this one from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. From what I understand, her recipes are usually spot on but I just could not get it to work for the life of me and it seems like I wasn’t alone. Here is the adaptation that made these babies…

ps: this recipe is tapioca based so it has a crusty outside and slightly chewy inside. Lovely:)

pps: the brand of tapioca flour matters. I use Vitacost brand with great success (Bob’s Red Mill was a fail). Gluten free on a Shoestring also recommends Authentic Foods and brand, which I have not personally used.

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2016

  • 2 1/2 cups (Vitacost brand) tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (tamped on counter) shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons liquid coconut oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 Tablespoons milk (I believe this is around 5 oz but don’t have a scale)

~ Put first 5 ingredients in a food processor with the steel blade. Turn on then add milk very slowly while machine is running. Turn off machine and scrape down sides if necessary. Process until dough is smooth ( around 2.5 minutes in my Cuisinart). The dough will be quite slack and sticky.

~ Set a large piece of plastic wrap on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with more tapioca flour. Scrape dough onto it and freeze until firmer for about 10 minutes.

~ Unwrap dough and divide into 6 equal parts. Use wet hand to shape the dough into rounds. Note that this dough does not have a lot of spread so you’ll want to shape them into a real round, not a ball. Place equidistant on a baking sheet and freeze for another 10 minutes.

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees while you wait.

~ Remove from freezer and bake in center of oven for 20 minutes. Then quickly cut a small slit on the top of each roll for steam release and bake for another 10 minutes or so until golden. Note* these won’t get super golden like regular bread.

~ Remove and let cool completely. Eat fresh or slice in half, wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze. Defrost for 30 minutes then toast in oven.


Sooooo I’ve been pretty M.I.A. recently with quite a surge of craziness in work and life (the good stuff) but I’m back now and ready to eat and cook and make beautiful things just for the sake of making them, no paychecks attached (tho I do love a good paycheck;)

As you’ve heard me say a time or two, I don’t like baking. Flour makes me crazy, which hasn’t been much of a problem since I’ve been gluten-free for a couple years. I simply found that gluten really upsets my stomach, like A LOT, so I cut it out despite my love for crusty breads. Fast forward a bit and I read that true traditional sourdoughs with a long fermentation period can often be tolerated by people who would normally be intestinally torn up by bread. This bread is a long, overnight fermentation and no-knead in the style made famous by Jim Lahey.

I was dubious and didn’t want to get my hopes up BUT I was also getting pretty desperate because, a bit of news from the Cartier house, I’m pregnant with a little girl (our first! yay!) and the first trimester “quesies” had me really missing things like bread! When I feel sick, I just want toast. Toast, toast and more toast! Not to mention it’s an easy “meal” that anyone can make you when you’re trying to calm your (adorable?) baby belly. I call this sickly sensation “swamp belly” as it felt like miserable, bubbling guts. Our ultrasound at the time showed the baby looking like a little gummi bear so I affectionately dubbed her the “sour gummi” when she made me horribly sick. Now in my second trimester, she’s no longer sour but the experience did make me try this bread making method which totally WORKED!!! I know everyone is different, but this bread gives me no digestive problems whatsoever. If I try sourdoughs out at restaurants or from the store they still make me really miserable (couldn’t be easy right?), so it’s lucky that this is a pretty simple, passive recipe so that I can have bread on hand daily.

I make several loaves, slice them up, throw them in freezer ziplock bags and freeze only taking slices out when I want them. You’ll have to toast those frozen slices but they toast up  beautifully! This recipe makes a bit of a flatter loaf with a nice crust and a chewy, flavorful inside. I’m SOOOO happy to have bread back in my life:D

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you!

bread, no knead, sourdough, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  •  3 cups flour (scoop and sweep method)
  • 1/2 cup fed sourdough starter
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (filtered or bottled, tap water is chlorinated which kills the bacteria in the sourdough)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

~ Mix the starter in the bowl with the warm water. Add flour and salt and mix until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be shaggy but not crumbly. Work the dough as little as possible.

~ Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Leave in a warm place to rise overnight (12-18 hours). This long rise replaces kneading and also allows the bacteria to sour the dough and improve the bread’s digestibility.

~ The next day, dust a work surface and the dough very generously with more flour, folding the sides in to form a loaf. Dust your towel with cornmeal and place the loaf seam side down onto the towel. Dust the top of the loaf with more cornmeal and fold the towel loosely around the dough. Allow to rise until doubled, about 3-4 hours.

~ A half hour before the 2nd rise is complete, preheat the over to 425 degrees WITH the cast iron dutch oven inside (including the lid). This allows the cast iron to completely get up to temperature.

~ Carefully place the dough seam side up into the dutch oven, this dough will be a bit slack so work gingerly. Replace lid and bake for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 13-15 minutes more until the top is nicely browned and crusty.

~ Remove and let cool completely before cutting. You can slice and freeze loaves in advance, taking individual slices out and toasting them as you want them.

bread, no knead, sourdough, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

I lost one of the great loves of my life in 2013 when I had to go gluten-free. The sandwich and I have been through a lot together over the years and it was hard to say goodbye. As an homage to a beautiful relationship, may I present this photograph of the most epic sandwich I have had the pleasure to meet in all my years on this spinning orb. Isn’t he a beauty?! Gorgeously food styled by the talented Sienna DeGovia. What you see is what you get in a stacked monster sandwich, the softness of bread, the salty tear of deli meat, the crunch of lettuce and onion…can you feel the longing in this sentence? Oh dear, I need a second to compose myself…

I had to include this abstract pickle shot, sliced and ready for action. This image is the lock screen on my phone, can’t get enough of it!

sandwich, stacked sandwich, cold cuts, deli, food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


Stacked Sandwich ingredient possibilities include but are never limited to:

  • salami, mortadella, turkey, chicken, prosciutto, ham, bacon, capicola
  • swiss, cheddar, provolone, jack, brie
  • sprouts, lettuce, tomato, onion, cornichons (the tiny pickle), pickle slices, avocado
  • mustard, mayo, olive oil and vinegar

Hooray for PICKLES!!!!

pickles, sliced, fast food, food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier


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