Gluten-Free Vegan Baking

If you are vegan and gluten free you may have found yourself wondering what is left for you to bake with. As you scan recipes on the web or look at the variety of gluten free cookbooks at your book store or library, you will find that many of them use eggs to help make up for the lack of gluten. Leaving the eggs out of gluten free baked goods is not quite as easy as it is with glutinous baked goods but it is possible.

To start, read our previous blog post about substituting for eggs in vegan baking to give you an idea about what you need to keep in mind about eggs.

Substituting gluten free flours begins with the same question as substituting for eggs: What is this (flour, egg, etc.) doing in this baked good?

Wheat flour has two parts – the gluten is protein composite (that’s what we make our Lentil Burger with), while other part of the wheat flour is starch. In addition, gluten has a special property whereby when it is mixed with water it become sticky and forms a stretchy dough. Gluten helps dough to rise and hold its rise after being baked, it helps control the moisture of a baked good and it can give a chewy, crusty texture when baked.

A gluten free baked good needs to substitute for all these things: protein, starch and the binding quality of gluten. In addition, wheat has its own flavor that ranges from almost invisible in refined white wheat flour to strongly whole-grain and nutty in whole wheat flour. Gluten free flours have a variety of flavors and sometimes which one to use comes down to what flavors work well together.

But for the basics:

Starch: this should comprise about 60% of your total flour mix. The two main starches we use are tapioca flour which is a very fine white starch and white rice flour which is more granular and gives more texture. Both flours are very mild and the flavors hardly add anything to the final product. We also use cornstarch, potato starch and arrowroot in some of our recipes.

Protein: these flours should be about 40% of your mix. The most common ones we use are sorghum, millet, amaranth and teff. We also use chickpea flour in our gluten free bread, but as it has a very savory, beany taste we only use a little and only in savory items. Sorghum and millet are the mildest of these flours – both taste a little like cornmeal. Millet can taste bitter, but it gives a nice cakey texture. Teff and amaranth taste more whole-grainy – good for spice and chocolate cakes, or cookies, but not as good for a very mild “white” cake.

Binding: at Chaco we use xanthan gum, which is a polysaccharide made by fermenting sugars with a specific type of bacteria. The resulting gel is dried and powdered. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill as it has consistent quality and good results. It adds viscosity and volume to your Gluten Free dough as well as texture. You have to be careful though – too much and you will get a rubbery texture and a slippery feel in your mouth. Usually 1/2 to 1 t per cup of flour mix is enough. Start with the lower amount and increase as needed.

Other options besides xanthan gum include other gums (such as guar gum), flax or chia seeds. Each one acts differently though, so do your research and be ready to experiment.


Try this flour mix for cakes and cupcakes – for each 2 cups of wheat flour use:

1 c tapioca starch

1/2 c white rice flour

1/4 c millet flour

1/4 c sorghum flour

1 t xanthan gum


If you run into any trouble, or questions. Please Reply in the Comments Below!

Cheers & Much Love,

The Chaco Canyon Bakers!


This post was created by Laura Wilson.

Chaco CanyonGluten-Free Vegan Baking
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Vegan Eggs, which do you use? “Egg”istential Questions

What Vegan Egg to Use in your Baked Goods

If you are experimenting with converting baking recipes to a vegan version, you’ve probably run into the question of what to use instead of eggs. There are so many suggestions out there, it can be confusing to decide which one to use. The main guideline that we use here at Chaco, when converting or inventing recipes, is to ask what do we want our egg-substitute to do?

Eggs do a lot of things in baked goods: they act as a binder, as leavening, provide substance, provide texture, add color and add moisture. So it is important to figure out what the egg you are replacing is doing, before you choose a replacer.

Binding: our two favorites for this are ground flax and banana. Flax: The easiest way to use ground flax for an egg is to mix 1 teaspoon ground flax with 2 Tablespoons water for each egg you are replacing. Do this at the start of your recipe and as you let the flax sit in the water it will form a thick goo which can be mixed into your recipe as you would mix an egg. Pre-ground flax can be an iffy purchase as the oils go bad very fast. We grind our own flax fresh, but it will store in the refrigerator for a little while if you grind too much. Flax will add a nutty flavor to the baked goods. Banana: Baked goods with banana will have a fruity, sweet flavor, so adjust your sweetener down a tiny bit. The pectin in bananas helps bind the baked goods as does the protein. Use ¼ cup very well mashed banana for each egg. These work well to make delicious chewy chocolate chip cookies if you don’t mind the hint of banana in the flavor.

Leavening: Frequently, this can be as simple as increasing the baking soda or baking powder slightly – about ¼ t baking soda or ½ baking powder per egg. Remember if you are using baking soda you need something acidic to activate it. We usually use a baking soda/apple cider vinegar combination in our cakes and cupcakes. Remember to add a tiny bit more liquid to replace the liquid lost from removing the egg. Also, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or tapioca starch with the dry ingredients can help with a little of the lost binding action, if you are not adding flax or banana.

Substance (for custards, quiches, puddings and whips): Our favorites are blended silken tofu and blended soaked cashews. Depending on your recipe you will most likely need a binder as well. Agar works well to create unbaked pastry creams, puddings and whips. Cornstarch and arrowroot work well in baked items. One trick is to add as little liquid as you can get away with, so that you are not trying to later subtract liquid by baking or binding.

Color: Lastly, if you want a hint of the yellow of the egg yolk, try adding a little bit of ground turmeric dissolved in your dry ingredients or a little bit of hot water. We’ve used this method to color lemon bars and custard pie, among other things. Use a light hand as you don’t want to taste the turmeric, however it is surprising just how much you can add before it starts changing the flavor.

Pictured: Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart – using both cashews and tofu with cornstarch and a little bit of turmeric for color – delicious early summer pie!




This post was created by Laura Wilson.

Chaco CanyonVegan Eggs, which do you use? “Egg”istential Questions
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Wedding Season – a Cake for the Ages

Tips for Vegan Wedding Cakes

Did you know Chaco Canyon does vegan wedding cakes and we can do gluten-free cakes as well? Summer is the most popular time for weddings, but it is important to consider how the extra heat will affect your delicious cake.

Plan ahead! The sooner you begin the process the more likely we can make a cake for your special day. We will arrange a tasting so that you can choose your favorite flavor of cake, frosting and fillings. Some of our past wedding cake flavors flavors include Lemon Mousse, Chocolate and Vanilla, Gluten-Free Curried Carrot, and Coconut with fresh Strawberries.

If only a few of your guests are gluten-free, consider getting gluten-free cupcakes in the same flavors as your cake, so that there is something for everyone.

Because we believe in using the most healthful and natural ingredients, we never use artificial colorings in our frosting. This does limit the colors we can create; however we can do lovely designs with ivory, yellow, peach, pink and all colors of chocolate, from pale tan to deep, dark brown.

Our vegan frostings are more fragile than non-vegan options and our cakes do best refrigerated until close to serving time. They should never be set out in direct sun, so if your reception is outside consider a shady space for your cake. If your venue has a refrigerator that can fit your cake, be sure to have it cleared out and ready to hold it. Another option is to have us deliver your cake right before you want to serve it.

If you are planning your wedding or another special occasion keep us in mind for you special cake needs – and congratulations!

wedding cake display for blog post



This post was created by Laura Wilson.

Chaco CanyonWedding Season – a Cake for the Ages
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Now Canola-Free!

At Chaco Canyon Cafe, we’re always looking for ways to improve and become more sustainable. Just this week, we’ve eliminated canola oil from our food (caveat: it’s still in the Wildwood Soy Creamer we carry, but you can easily avoid that). We’ve found a refillable commercial oil sprayer that we can use on our grilled items, which means less waste! No more aerosol single-use spray cans. We are now using organic safflower oil on our grills instead. Such awesome, much wow!

Chaco CanyonNow Canola-Free!
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Italian Vinaigrette

Take advantage of the beautiful lettuces, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes available right now at your local Farmers Market to make an amazing salad with this easy Italian vinaigrette

Easy Italian Dressing
This is a super delicious dressing you can make at home in about 5minutes.


  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Put all ingredients into a dressing bottle and shake well! Let sit at least 10 minutes before using, to allow the flavors to blend together. Store refrigerated.



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Willowood Farm

We’re currently getting most of our lettuce from Willowood Farm. Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie is a small, 4th generation farm located on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. Run by Farmer Georgie, the farm grows mixed vegetables selling to local markets, grocery stores and restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. Here is what they say about their growing practices:

While we have chosen to not pursue organic certification, we do grow to organic and natural standards. We use techniques like crop rotation, cover cropping and natural fertilizers and bug control products to grow happy, healthy veggies that are as good for you as they are tasty. Our growing season is long, running from about February through November or even longer, depending on weather.

Because Willowood is not certified organic, and for Chaco Canyon Cafe to comply with our certification, we label it as conventional. However, we are purchasing lettuce and other produce from them because they grow great stuff! We support local farmers.










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Oh My Gosh We Have a Blog, How Did That Happen?

A not so long time ago, not too far away from where I sit, Chaco Canyon began as a sparkle in Chris Maykut’s imagination. What Chaco is today is barely recognizable compared to that 1st idea – not just in terms of what we offer (our menu), but also in terms of what we’re making real in our community through outreach efforts and partnerships with local farms, businesses, activists and non-profits.

Maybe 10 years is a long time for some, but the past decade has gone by in a flash for us. When we first started, raw cuisine and veganism was just going mainstream, with awareness being brought to alternative diets as a pushback from the baby boomer packaged food craze out of the 60’s & 70’s, and let’s be honest it continues today (Stoffer’s anyone?).  Chris recognized early on that our food system is of vital social importance, and that corporations may not have our health and well-being at the forefront of their intention. Not only humans’ health and well-being, but the planet’s as well (which full circle is also the key to humanities survival). It has not been that long (about 100 years), since our food production was so controlled outside of our personal experience. We may harvest some fruits and vegetables, but the interconnectedness between the transportation network, and our global food system, has really distanced us from it all.

Chaco Canyon strives to act as a foodie time-capsule, to a time when everything about a meal was made from scratch, especially when eating out at restaurants. We firmly believe you should feel better after eating than you did before, not the opposite. We must also take that same care of what we put into the planet, because it does, and will come full circle back into our bodies, and is already showing up across our ecosystems and in our food chain. That’s one of many reasons we are such nut-balls about what we do in our restaurant, and why time and again we get interesting responses to the information we don’t have plastic forks, but folks can take our metal ones! It forces recognition of importance of an item most people consider disposable – we’re not trying to mess with people’s heads to fight for the planet, but if it helps people recognize their impact, even in a small way, for just an instant,  yay! It’s also why we have entirely mis-matched plates, forks and mugs. It’s not because we’re cheap, it’s because we’re trying to put a break in the consumer & production cycle, and to keep more things from being thrown away.

We created the Chacoteer program, to be the interface of our intention with the World, and our first projects have been great fun. Our next target is the Really Really Free Market, an idea born of sharing, and things not going to waste just because we don’t want it anymore, or because someone will not buy it. The idea is that folks would bring anything they no longer desired possession of, which would be sorted and cleaned for display, repaired, or potentially recycled. Hopefully this initiative would help arrest illegal dumping in our area, and also build community in a really fun and random way.

This Blog will serve as the voice of the chacoteers, bringing recipes, tips on organic produce that’s available locally, highlights about what’s happening in this lovely city, and how we can make it better! We will answer questions, as in depth as possible, about nutrition, vegan cooking & baking tips, philosophical inquiries, history of food and our infrastructure, you name it really.

At the end of the day, if as a restaurant (and for me personally as a human being), we can breathe life into ourselves, our community (our staff and customers), and the planet, rather than suck life from those things – well, we’ll consider that a successful day.

Many Thanks for Reading,

Arielle Benson


amor vincint Omnia,

Love Conquers All Things. 

Chaco CanyonOh My Gosh We Have a Blog, How Did That Happen?
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