Sincerely Carolina

recipes. lifestyle. fitness. fun.


Day Four: Gluten-Free with RR Challenge — We’ve Gone Gaga!

by caroline

Yesterday was a blast — completely Gaga! :)

It started off, naturally, with a yummy breakfast treat:

Day Four of the Gluten-Free with Rachael Ray Challenge: Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins!

I found this recipe in an April 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray that I found in my mom’s magazine collection. Score! I decided to make these for the fam because who doesn’t love waking up to the smell of just-baked banana bread?

Gluten-Free, Vegan Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins:

RR’s Ingredients The G-Spot Used
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ___________
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • ___________
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (1 to 2 bananas)
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (1 to 2 bananas)
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 cup gluten-free, soy vanilla yogurt
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of safflower or canola oil
  • ___________
  • 1/2 cup of gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips (Why? Because we can!)



  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, walnuts and raisins.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together the banana, yogurt and flaxseed meal with a fork. Stir in the oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Fill the lined muffin cups with the batter. Sprinkle the reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture on top. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out dry, about 20 minutes.

Note: This is a gluten-free, vegan recipe. (If you have allergies or food sensitivities, always check specific manufacturer’s products for allergens and/or cross-contamination issues.)


These muffins are so unbelievably moist — they practically melt in your mouth! And the cinnamon and sugar mixed with the chocolate chips give it just the right of sweetness.

After munching on these guys, visiting and relaxing it was time to get ready to head to my sister’s house, so that we could go to the Lady Gaga concert! When I arrived, my sister was BEAMING with excitement. That’s not to say that I was not excited, but my sister is pretty much a freaking ray of sunshine on a near 24/7 basis. I always tell her that she needs to share a bit of what ever she’s sipping on. Kidding! The amazing part is that she doesn’t even need any stimulants — coffee, soda, chocolate — to adhere to her pumped-up personality. I’ve never heard someone talk as fast as she does at 6 a.m. It’s amazing!

Dan came along with me to my sister’s house, so that he could hang out with Amanda’s fiance, Anthony. They figured they would have a guys’ night while we did our girl-y thing. Works for me! Before we left for the concert we asked Dan to take a few pictures of us. Naturally, he had to be a bit goofy and take a couple (not-so-stealthy) close-ups:

Then, it was time to head off to the concert! As we arrived, it was unbelievable to see how many people were there to see The Lady. And the array of people — everyone from an 80-year-old man to kids in middle school to a 6-year-old girl dressed in a Gaga costume. Unbelievable! Everywhere you turned there was a Lady Gaga lookalike: Women and men in fishnet stockings, leather bikinis, blonde wigs, black lipstick, red pleather outfits, gi-normous hats and 5-inch heels.

The opening act, Scissor Sisters, was actually awesome! Not that I don’t appreciate opening bands, but sometimes all you really want is for the main event to get started. But they were sassy and fun. I’m looking forward to downloading a few of their songs, especially “Filthy/Gorgeous” — it will totally hype up my next run!

Then, it was time for Ms. Gaga to make her entrance:

I have to tell you: It doesn’t matter what your opinion of Lady Gaga is, it’s hard to ignore the message of equality that she is consistently spreading at her concerts and through the media. She is an avid advocate for non-discriminatory attitudes, including gay rights and anti-bullying campaigns. My favorite thing she said, “Don’t leave here loving me more; leave here loving yourself a little bit more.” How cool is that?!

We had a total blast dancing and singing! By the time we arrived at Amanda’s house around midnight I was good and ready to hit the pillow.

This morning Amanda and I went for a run on the Schenley Park Trails. I was looking oh-so-forward to running my beloved Pittsburgh hills. Is that weird? Probably. But when you grow up living and running around Western Pennsylvania like I did, you learn to love the hills … or not run. Unless you want to hit the treadmill or track, but we all know that can get a bit ho-hum.

We actually didn’t plan on matching at all. I guess sisters think alike! :) Another one, this time with our best tough-gal faces.

The trails were still a bit slushy from the snow Pittsburgh was hit with a couple of days ago, but luckily we had our YakTrax and were able to power through it. But one thing is for sure — my legs are going to be sore tomorrow! Running in snow like that is similar to running on the beach; your leg muscles work in a completely different manner to propel you forward.

I was pretty covered in muddy slush, but it was worth it. I miss running in Pittsburgh so much!

When we came home to Amanda’s, I was happy to see this guy, George, waiting to say hello. How gorgeous is he?


Tonight’s Rachael Ray recipe is already in the oven and it looks A-MAZING. Can’t wait to share with you! And then, it’s time for the Oscars!!! My family and I like to play a game where we watch and guess who we think will win in each category, and then tally up our results at the end. I am gunning for a victory!

Are you watching the Oscars? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Any specific films/actors/etc. you would like to see win?