Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: They’re sweet and gluten-free

Giving up gluten doesn't have to mean giving up sweet treats like chocolate cake and muffins

You may already know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, but do you know just how important vitamin C and oranges are for good health?

Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, disarming free radicals and preventing damage both inside and outside cells. A potential result of free radical damage to DNA is cancer.  Arguably, the most important flavanone in oranges is herperidin, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure as well as cholesterol and to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Most of this phytonutrient is found in the peel and inner white pulp of the orange, rather than in the orange flesh, so the muffin recipe below enables us to reap the benefit of herperidin.

California oranges are in abundance right now at local fruit stands, so pick some up today.

So Good Chocolate

Clementine Cake (Gluten-Free)

4-5 Clementines (any seedless mandarin will work)

2 cups finely ground almonds or almond flour.

1/2 cup cocoa powder, packed

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp, salt

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

Prepare oranges ahead of time. Put whole unpeeled oranges in a pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer  1 hour. Drain in colander and cool completely. Put cooked, cooled oranges whole into a food processor and pulse until smooth. You can buy in season, cook, cool and freeze in 2-cup portions for use later in the year.

Prepare an 8-inch springform pan, lined with parchment paper or grease a 10”x2.5” bundt pan.

Whisk together almond flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat eggs and sugar together all at once in a large bowl until well-combined. Add dry ingredients and beat well. Add orange pulp (about 2 cups). Beat on low until just combined, Pour into prepared pan. Bake for one hour at 350 F or until wooden skewer comes out fairly clean — not totally dry and not sticky. It is a moist cake. Cool for 30 minutes. Remove pan.

Serve with a dollop of Devon cream or whipped cream. This cake recipe is courtesy of my dental hygienist, who has been a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gluten-free information and recipes, so thank you, Louise!

Whole Orange Muffins

1 orange*

1 egg

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1-1/2 cups plain flour (I use gluten-free flour plus 1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Process the orange* (peel and all), in food processor with oil and sugar until smooth. Add egg, pulse a few times.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add sifted ingredients to mixture and process until just mixed. Fill greased muffin tins and bake at 365 F for 20 minutes. Lovely served warm.

*I cut the thick top and bottom from my orange and add half an orange (insides only) to make up the difference in volume.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.