Thursday, December 13, 2012

18 Grain-Free Christmas Cookie and Treat Recipes!

All of these recipes are grain-free and gluten-free.  The majority are also GAPS-legal and Primal. I'll be taking a blogging break until mid-January.  Happy holidays everyone!

Leave a comment below to share your favorite grain-free recipes (or links to your favorite grain-free treat recipes)!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

French Apple Pie (gluten free)

French apple pie differs from the traditional apple pie in that, instead of having a crust on top, it has a crumble topping. This pie is sweetened with honey and sucanat.  The apple filling in this recipe is only lightly sweetened, preserving the delicious taste of the apples and cinnamon. For the bottom crust, I combined rice flour and ground nuts; I used a butter, rice flour, and sucanat-based crumble for the top.  Like most homemade pies, this recipe takes a bit of time to put together, but it is well worth it. My family really enjoyed this recipe, and it is sure to become a family tradition for us in the Fall and Winter seasons.

French Apple Pie
  1. This crust recipe will work best with cold ingredients.  Start by chopping the butter into small, pea-sized pieces.  Place the chopped butter into the freezer to cool more while you get everything else ready.
  2. Combine the ground nuts, rice flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, and salt in a food processor*.  Pulse a few times to combine.  
  3. Add the cold chopped butter to the food processor and mix just until the butter is well-incorporated into the dry ingredients and the mixture has a fine texture. Don't over-mix during this step.
  4. With the processor running, add the egg and mix just until well-combined and starting to clump-up.
  5. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter.  Dump the mixed crust ingredients straight into the pie plate.  Use your fingers to spread and press the crust into the pie plate. Make sure the crust is spread evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
  6. Put the crust in the fridge to chill while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Wash and dry the food processor parts so you can prepare the crumble topping next.  
*If you don't have a food processor, I bet you could make this by cutting in the butter and then the other ingredients with a pastry cutter or a couple of butter knives. If you try that, I'd recommend that you beat the egg before adding it and then use a hand mixer to make sure it gets fully incorporated.
  1. Chop the butter into small, pea-sized pieces.  Place the chopped butter into the freezer to cool more while you get everything else ready.
  2. Combine the sucanat, salt, coconut flour, arrowroot, and rice flour in the food processor**.  Pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Add the cold butter and pulse until you achieve a coarse texture, a bit more chunky than a cornmeal consistency.
  4. Put this crumble topping in the fridge to cool while you make the apple filling. 
**If you don't have a food processor, I bet you could make this by cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter or a couple of butter knives.
  • For the apple filling
    • 4 med-large sweet-tart apples, such as Cameo, Fuji, or Granny Smith
    • 2 Tb arrowroot
    • 2 Tb mild-flavored honey
    • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp fine ground celtic sea salt
    • 1 Tb fresh lemon juice
  1. Peel the apples.  Remove the cores and slice the apples thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.
  2. Place the sliced apples into a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir it all together.
  • Putting it all together
    • bottom crust
    • apple filling
    • crumble topping
    • sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows)
  1. Remove the bottom crust and crumble topping from the fridge.
  2. Pour the apple filling into the bottom crust, and then top with the crumble topping.  
  3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is slightly browned.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple hours before you cut into it.
  5. Top with sweetened whipped cream and enjoy!
Sweetened Whipped Cream
  1. Beat the cream and salt together until the mixture starts to get thick and fluffy.  I like to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, but you could also use a hand mixer.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, and drizzle in the honey while the mixer is running.  Alternatively, you could drizzle in the honey a little at a time and mix between each honey addition. 
  3. If you're using a stand mixer, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure you don't have any clumps of honey at the bottom.  I like to beat it until it gets a bit stiff since it will tend to soften up a bit in the fridge over the next few days.
  4. Store the whipped cream in the fridge in an airtight bowl.
***If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homemade Christmas Presents for 2012



Homemade presents are a wonderful way to celebrate the winter and Christmas holidays.  They are also a great way to be frugal. 

Gifts for Everyone
These ideas are sure to please.
 Gifts for Grandparents
Gifts for grandparents can be especially easy.

  • photo albums featuring the grandchildren
  • handprint or footprint ornaments - paint some silver paint onto your child's hand or foot, then place onto a large glass ball ornament; allow to dry and then write the year and child's name with a silver Sharpie
  • letters, stories, or pictures made by the kids - if they are too young to write themselves, type up a story dictated by your child and print it on nice paper; I like to leave a space on each page for my daughter to draw a picture to accompany the text
Gifts For the Real Foodie
All of these recipes store well, which makes them great for gift-giving. They are all grain-free.
What are your favorite homemade gifts?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Molasses Cookies (grain-free : primal : gluten-free)

I developed this recipe for grain-free molasses cookies at the request of some readers who couldn't use my last molasses cookie recipe (which included some rice flour).  These cookies are crispy on the edges, and soft in the middle. Straight from the freezer, they are crunchy like a gingersnap. Yum!

Molasses Cookies
Makes 35 cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, ground nuts, salt, baking soda, and dry spices.  Whisk to combine and break up any lumps.
  3. Beat together the softened butter and sucanat with a hand or stand mixer. Add the molasses and beat some more.
  4. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. With the mixer running, pour the eggs into the wet mixture one at a time.  Allow each egg to become incorporated before adding the next.
  6. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients a bit at a time. Make sure everything gets mixed together well. 
  7. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. There is no need to press/flatten these cookies down.
  8. Bake the cookies at 325 F for about 17-20 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you are cooking them on stoneware). They are done when they are nicely browned.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  10. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer.
*Sucanat is an unrefined sweetener that is rich in minerals, but it is not GAPS-legal. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Asian Beef Soup with Mushrooms and Bok Choy (grain-free : primal : dairy-free : paleo : GAPS : gluten-free)

Looking for some variety in our soups, I came up with this Asian Beef Soup.  It is lightly spiced with ginger and cumin, and the mushrooms and bok choy lend a hearty flavor to the broth.  Everyone in my family enjoyed this soup, and it freezes well too!

Asian Beef Soup with Mushrooms and Bok Choy
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small-to-medium head of bok choy (or use 3 heads of baby bok choy), white and green parts separated and chopped
  • 3/4 pound of brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 pound of ground beef, preferably from a pastured animal
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup filtered water (if your chicken stock is very rich, you should increase the water and decrease the chicken stock to equal parts making up 5 cups total liquid)
  • 1 Tb refined coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • celtic sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 inch fresh ginger, minced or pressed
  1. In a 4-qt heavy-bottomed pot, melt the refined coconut oil over medium-low heat.  Add the chopped onion along with a sprinkle of salt. Saute for about 5-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the carrots and the white parts of the bok choy.  Season with salt. Saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, another little sprinkle of salt, and cook for a couple minutes, just until the mushrooms release their moisture.
  4. Crumble the ground beef into the pot, season it with salt, and cook for a few minutes.  There is no need to fully cook the ground beef during this step.
  5. Add the ginger, cumin, and garlic.  Saute for a minute. 
  6. Add the chicken stock and water.  Bring to a low boil and skim off the foam.  Maintain a low simmer and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the meat is nearly cooked.  Taste the broth and add more salt as needed.
  7. Stir in the green parts of the bok choy and cook for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat.  
  8. Ladle into bowls, cool a bit, and enjoy!  This pairs especially well with a green salad dressed with homemade honey mustard mayo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Homeopathy Isn't Widespread in the United States


I've recently completed a 16-hour beginning homeopathy class, and am eager to share the knowledge I've gained. This post is the first in a series on homeopathy basics. 
 
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is fundamentally different from conventional (allopathic) medicine.  Whereas allopathic medicine focuses on suppression of symptoms, homeopathy seeks to correct the underlying imbalance that caused the symptoms in the first place. Homeopathy achieves this by strengthening the body's own defenses, thereby allowing the body to heal itself. 

Homeopathy Used to Be Well-Known in the United States
In the 1800's, homeopathy was much more well-known here in the United States than it is now.  According to Homeopathic Medicine at Home,
In 1890, there were 14,000 homeopaths as compared to 100,000 conventional physicians.  In some areas -- New England, the Middle Atlantic States, and the Midwest-- one out of every four or five physicians was a homeopath.  There were twenty-two homeopathic medical schools and over a hundred homeopathic hospitals.
The allopathic medicine establishment took strong measures to suppress homeopathy as a form of medicine.   
The American Medical Association was formed in 1846 as a direct response to the founding of the American Institute of Homeopathy two years earlier. Homeopaths were denied admittance to standard medical societies.  A member of such a society who consulted with a homeopath was punished with ostracism and expulsion. (In 1878, a physician was expelled from a medical society in Connecticut for consulting with a homeopath -- his wife!)
The AMA and the pharmaceutical industry paired up against homeopathy, eventually buying the homeopathic medical schools and hospitals.  Once these homeopathic institutions were bought, they were converted into allopathic institutions such as New York Medical College and Marshall Hale Hospital. That of course led to a complete decline in homeopathy in the United States in the early 1900's.
 
Use of Homeopathy is Widespread in Other Parts of the World
While homeopathy was nearly eradicated in the United States, it's use continued to proliferate in other parts of the world.  Currently, one-in-two doctors in India are homeopaths. Homeopathy is used extensively throughout Europe, and there are homeopathic hospitals and pharmacies in nearly every major city.  According to a Homeopathic Medicine: Europe's #1 Alternative for Doctors
(I)n France...[homeopathy] is the leading alternative therapy. In 1982, 16 percent of the population used homeopathic medicine, rising to 29 percent in 1987, and to 36 percent in 1992 (8). In 2004, 62 percent of French mothers used homeopathic medicines in the previous 12 months. A survey of French pharmacists was conducted in 2004 and found that an astounding 94.5 percent reported advising pregnant women to use homeopathic medicines...
...17 percent of the British population use homeopathic medicines. The respect accorded homeopathy and homeopathic practice by British physicians is evidenced by a 1986 survey in the British Medical Journal that showed that 42 percent of physicians referred patients to homeopathic doctors. 
Good Enough for the British Royal Family
According to The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, the British royal family has used and advocated homeopathy since the early 1800's and they still use homeopathy todayThere are also many other famous people who use homeopathy, including:
  • literary greats such as Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, and Alfred Tennyson,
  • sports stars such as David Beckham, Martina Navratilova, and Elvis Stojko,
  • celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Aniston, and Ashley Judd, and
  • politicians and peacemakers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Benjamin Disraeli, and U.S. Presidents Lincoln, Tyler, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Harrison, McKinley, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Clinton. 
In upcoming posts of this series on basic homeopathy, I'll explain the Law of Cure, the Law of Suppression, differences between homeopathy and herbalism, using single remedies versus multi-remedy formulas and more!

Have you tried homeopathy? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Immune System, Grains, and Behavior, including a recipe for Millet Porridge (gluten-free)


While we are transitioning back into eating grains, we've had troubles finding grains that don't cause behavior problems in our daughter.  Her immune system has always been weak, but I only recently learned that this is likely the cause of her issues with grains as well.  In consulting with our homeopath I've learned that, while most kids have a very strong immune system by the time they are 2 years old, some kids' immune systems don't fully develop until 8-12 years of age. My 5&1/2 year old daughter seems to fall into the latter category (given her history of illness and enlarged tonsils), whereas her little brother definitely has a more robust immune system even though he is only 2&1/2.


This means that my daughter's immune system is reacting to grains, which leads to a nervous system response that manifests as poor behavior.  If she eats gluten grains, the next day my daughter will be overly emotional and have meltdowns repeatedly over things that seem trivial.  She can handle small amounts of white rice and soaked oatmeal, but if we overdo those she has the same behavior issues. The homeopath says it's likely that her grain issues will spontaneously resolve on their own once her immune system develops fully.  That is great news!

In the mean time, the homeopath recommended that we try a few other grains to see if she can tolerate them.  Quinoa is one that we've tried before, but my daughter really doesn't like the flavor so we don't know whether or not it gives her any issues.  One grain we had never tried before was millet, so I decided to give it a shot.  My daughter LOVES millet porridge, and it gives her no behavior problems even if she eats it for breakfast every day!  My husband and I also really enjoy the flavor of millet porridge. (My son isn't much of a porridge/starch/bread-eating kid regardless of what it is made of; he'd be happy to subsist on meat, pickles, fruit, and dairy.  He will occasionally eat millet porridge, though.)

[As a side note, my daughter was on the strict GAPS Diet for over 18 months.  It definitely improved her immune system and sleep, but over time her weight gain stalled.  Given that she has always been underweight (as you can see in the picture with her brother who is three years younger), and that my husband and I were suffering worsening adrenal problems on GAPS, we decided to stop the diet.  It seems that our health problems are too deep for diet alone to solve, but I'm hopeful that homeopathy will be the additional boost we need to regain health.]

Recipe: Millet Porridge
Millet has a very neutral, almost bland flavor that makes it a great base for porridge.  It soaks up lots of liquid when cooking, so a little millet goes a long way. I like to make plenty of millet to last throughout the week, and then just reheat single servings in the toaster oven or in a small pot on the stove.

Serves 3-5
  • 1 cup organic millet
  • 2 cups of filtered water, for soaking
  • 2 Tb raw whey (or substitute lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt)
  • 3.5 cups filtered water, for cooking
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 4 Tb (half stick) butter, preferably from grassfed cows
  • Additional butter and raw honey for drizzling over each serving
  • Optional add-ins:
    • Chopped pears
    • Chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon
    • Sliced bananas, chopped crispy pecans, and a dash of maple syrup
    • Blueberries with maple syrup or molasses
  1. Carefully sort through the millet, looking for small pebbles.  I always seem to find at least one pebble each time I make millet, so don't skip this step!
  2. Combine the millet, 2 cups of filtered water, and whey in a glass bowl.  Cover the bowl and allow the millet to soak for 8-24 hours.
  3. Pour off most of the soaking liquid, and then combine the millet, salt, and 3&1/2 cups of water in a medium pot.  (If you want your millet to be tangy, feel free to cook it in the soaking water and just reduce the amount of additional water you add.)
  4. Bring to a low boil and skim off the foam.  Add the butter and cover the pot. If you like, you can stir in some chopped apples at this point.
  5. Reduce the heat to very low.  Set a timer for 20 minutes and allow the millet to cook, stirring occasionally.  If necessary, stir in another 1/2-to-1 cup of filtered water towards the end to reach your desired consistency.
  6. Turn off heat and serve!  Add a little dollop of butter to each bowl, and plenty of raw honey.  If desired, you can also add fruit such as pears, apples, bananas, or blueberries to each bowl. This makes it especially easy to add in variety during the week when the leftover millet is consumed.  When reheating leftovers, you may need to add some additional water.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grain-Free Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up


I thought I'd share some links for grain-free Thanksgiving recipes.  Some are from my site, and others are from around the 'net.

  • Slow roasted turkey - This recipe from Nourished Kitchen looks fabulous.
  • Herb gravy - Elana uses cooked onions to thicken the gravy instead of flour. Genius!
  • Caramelized beets and carrots - This recipe is loved by both of my kids and would make a great Thanksgiving side dish. 
  • Simple buttered veggies - Broccoli, peas, or cauliflower are great this way.
  • Roasted cauliflower with garlic and lemon juice - I adore this recipe from Emeril. I cook it at a lower temperature for longer, and substitute a combination of butter and refined coconut oil for the olive oil (since I prefer not to cook with olive oil because most of its benefits are lost with heat).
  • Caramelized green beans - Caramelized green beans are a staple item at every Thanksgiving feast for my family.  For our holiday, I'll use chicken stock in this recipe.
  • Mashed butternut squash - Mashed butternut squash is a great alternative to potatoes or even sweet potatoes.  My favorite ways to season mashed butternut squash are savory (with butter, garlic, and thyme) or sweet (with ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a touch of honey). 
  • Mashed cauliflower - This recipe from Wringing Out My Sponge sounds like a delicious stand in for mashed potatoes. (It is not quite GAPS-legal, though, since it uses cream cheese.)
  • Ginger-dill sauerkraut - Sauerkraut is a delicious, digestion-promoting ferment that pairs well with lots of foods.
  • Cranberry sauce with apples and ginger - This cranberry sauce is wonderfully tart, and spiced with ginger and orange.
  • Pumpkin pie clafoutis - This recipe is a wonderful stand-in for the traditional pumpkin pie.  I like to make it with homemade pumpkin puree
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Banana Clafoutis (grain-free : primal : gluten-free : GAPS-legal)

This banana clafoutis (custard cake) is spiced nicely with cinnamon and a touch of lemon zest.  It makes a great breakfast, and can be dressed up with some whipped cream or ice cream for a special dessert.

Banana Clafoutis
Serves 6
  • 10 Tb (1 stick plus 2 Tb) butter
  • 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey
  • 5 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tb sour cream  
  • 1.5 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • heaping 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • zest from one large lemon (zesting is super easy with a rasp)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tb coconut flour (this should be sifted if you are not using an immersion blender)
  • 2 large bananas*
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Turn off heat, add honey, and stir a bit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, vanilla, spices, lemon zest, and salt.  I like to use my immersion blender to mix it all up together, but you could certainly use a whisk or mixer instead.
  3. Add melted butter and honey to wet ingredients and whisk or blend.
  4. Add coconut flour and blend until well-combined (or use mixer/whisk until smooth).
  5. Use a bit of butter to generously grease an 8X8 glass dish
  6. Slice the bananas and spread them over the bottom of the dish.
  7. Pour the batter into the glass dish and bake at 325° for 50-60 minutes. This will puff up during baking and then deflate while cooling. The clafoutis is done when the edges are lightly browned and the center is no longer wet with just a bit of jiggle.
  8. Remove from oven and cool.  Don't cut into this while it is piping hot. Banana clafoutis can be served at warm or cold. For a special treat, top with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
*Bananas are a low-spray crop, so save money by not buying organic ones!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tips to Make Once a Month Cleaning Work

This post is the second in a series on Once a Month Cleaning.  The first part of the series is here

In the previous post, I discussed how Once a Month Cleaning can reduce stress throughout the month and make sure that no cleaning tasks slip through the cracks. Some planning is definitely involved in making Once a Month Cleaning a success.


Plan Ahead for Successful Cleaning Days
  • Make a list of all the cleaning tasks you want to accomplish on Cleaning Day. 
    • This list should include all of the tasks you find to be most important.
    • This list should NOT include deep cleaning tasks, such as scrubbing baseboards.
    • Print or copy this list, preferably in a chart so you can mark off each task as you go.  I like to use a chart showing multiple months; that way I can see if any tasks were skipped during the previous month (for instance, I may skip a task or two during a particularly hectic month).  If you'd like to use a copy of my cleaning chart as a template, e-mail me at nourishedandnurtured[at]gmail[dot]com
  • Make a list of cleaning tasks that need to be done throughout the month between cleaning sessions to make your home liveable.  In our house, this includes:
    • Daily clutter/toy pickup - this only takes about 10 minutes a day, but reducing daily clutter goes a LONG way to making the house seem neat and tidy between cleaning sessions.
    • Sweeping the dining room at least once a week
    • Cleaning the guest toilet if guests are expected
  • Mark the calendar to set aside time for Cleaning Day.
    • In homes with small children, Once a Month Cleaning will likely take 2-to-3 days.
    • In homes with older children, Once a Month Cleaning can likely be accomplished in one day.
    • My youngest child is now 2&1/2, and I am able to easily complete the cleaning tasks before lunch on the second day.
  • Limit non-cleaning activities on Cleaning Day. If you plan in too many other activities on Cleaning Day, it can easily get de-railed.
    • Limit parent-tutored homeschooling on Cleaning Day.  I plan ahead so that my 1st-grade daughter can be relatively independent in her schooling on days that I am cleaning.  She knows that on Cleaning Day, she will do her morning reading lesson, and then be responsible for doing her writing practice and perhaps a math review worksheet or two. I give her a timer that she can use to take a short break after each subject, and she seems to like being in charge of her schooling on these days.
    • Limit doing laundry on Cleaning Day.  I try to limit laundry to only washing bathroom and kitchen rugs on Cleaning Day.
    • Don't plan any out-of-the-house activities on Cleaning Day.
    • Plan to have leftovers or some other easy dinner meal on Cleaning Day.
  • Prepare the kids for Cleaning Day.
    •  If your kids are old enough to understand, make sure they know that on Cleaning Day you will be rather busy and they will need to be relatively independent. 
    • My daughter knows that she will be responsible for cleaning up the accumulated clutter in her room on cleaning day.  She also has the option to help out by doing other cleaning chores. If she chooses to do this, then she is rewarded with watching an hour-long video (which also serves as a great time for me to sweep and mop the tiled areas in our house without any little feet in the way).
  • Be flexible.
    • If you have young kids at home, there will of course be interruptions in cleaning.  Don't get too stressed, and just try to get back on track as soon as you can.
    • During particularly hectic months, feel free to skip non-crucial tasks.  The sky will not fall if the toaster oven doesn't get scrubbed!  Just make sure to start Cleaning Day with the most important tasks first.
What tips do you have for successful house cleaning with young children?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Maple Coconut Cookies (grain-free : dairy-free : primal : paleo : gluten-free)


Sometimes the accidental recipes are the best ones.  I first made these cookies on a day when we had run out of butter and were running low on honey.  Now these are one of my favorite types of cookies! The flavors of maple syrup and coconut combine wonderfully in these tender cookies. 

Maple Coconut Cookies
Makes 40-50 cookies
  1. Set your oven racks so that none are in the bottom third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, and coconut flour. Whisk well to combine and break up any lumps of coconut flour.
  3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the coconut oil, maple syrup, and honey together for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. If you are using a stand-mixer, make sure you scrape the sides and bottom a couple times with a spatula to get everything incorporated well.
  4. In a small bowl or pourable glass measuring cup, combine the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Don't worry about stirring this up.
  5. Pour the eggs into the sweet coconut oil mixture one at a time while the mixer is running.  Let each egg get incorporated before adding another one. (Note: the batter may look curdled during this process, but don't worry about it!)
  6. While the mixer is running, add the dry ingredients a little at a time.  Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it.
  7. Stir in the optional pecans. 
  8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Do not press/flatten the cookies, as they will spread enough in the oven.
  9. Bake the cookies at 325 F for about 16-20 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you are cooking them on stoneware). They are done when they are golden brown on top and a little darker brown on the edges.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  They are nice and chewy straight from the fridge, and even soft enough to eat straight out of the freezer!  Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup (primal : grain-free : GAPS : gluten-free)


Meatballs, veggies, and yummy broth: Italian wedding soup is one of our favorite soups. The meatballs are so tasty, and lightened with the addition of grated veggies instead of the typical breadcrumbs.  The kids are always excited whenever they see me making meatball soup!

Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 6 

Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably grassfed
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini and/or finely grated carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1&1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, preferably from pastured hens
  • 3/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Soup:
  • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (it is fine if there is some fat in the stock)
  • 1/2 cup vermouth* (or just use more chicken stock)
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed well and trimmed 
  • Optional garnish: freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix with your hands or a spoon until well-combined.
  2. Melt the butter in a 4-qt heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute for about 10 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary and stirring occasionally. It is fine if the onions get a little caramelized color while cooking. Then add the chopped carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 8 more minutes.  Keep the heat just high enough to keep the water released from the veggies from accumulating in the pot. Stir occasionally.
  3. While the veggies cook, roll the meatballs.  They should be small and bite-sized.  Roll the meatballs between your palms to make them nice and round, then set them aside on a plate or cutting board.  There should be about 40 meatballs.
  4. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the vermouth.  Let it cook down a few minutes, and then add the chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam (which should be discarded).  Add the dried dill and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to keep a simmer going.
  5. Drop the meatballs into the simmering chicken stock.  If necessary, push the meatballs down into the liquid.  Cover the pot and simmer for 15-18 minutes.
  6. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Drop the spinach into the pot and cook for 1 minute, until it is just wilted.  Turn off heat.
  7. Ladle into bowls and serve! If you like, sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.  This soup would be fabulous with Cheesy Bread!
*I love to use vermouth, as it doesn't go bad like unused wine. Vermouth is shelf stable, can be used in place of dry white wine in cooking, and can be stored at room temperature indefinitely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cheesy Bread!! (grain-free : primal : gluten-free)

My family was so excited by this Cheesy Bread that they requested another batch immediately after dinner! My husband proclaimed that I had "created something magical", and this recipe really did turn out amazingly delicious. Cheesy Bread is great by itself, served alongside soup, dipped in your favorite marinara, or even as the base for an open-faced sandwich.  It refrigerates well, too, and can be warmed up very quickly in a toaster oven.

Cheesy Bread
Makes enough for 4 people as a side dish, but don't be surprised if it gets completely gobbled up by even less people
  • 1 egg, preferably from pastured hens
  • 1/2 cup packed grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup packed shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tb plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot*
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix with a hand mixer until well-combined.
  3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Use a silicone spatula to spread the mixture out as thin as you can make it without seeing any holes. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.  The edges should be very browned, and the top should be nicely browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes.  Then use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the bread into wedges or pieces.  
  6. Serve!  Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container, with a piece of parchment paper between each slice of bread.  To reheat, just place the slices in a toaster oven set at 200-250 degrees for a few minutes.
*Arrowroot is not GAPS-legal.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Avoiding Halloween Candy Overload


This is an updated version of a post from October 2011.
Although we've never allowed our kids to have much candy, Halloween is still a holiday they greatly enjoy.  Pumpkin carving, costumes, and trick-or-treating! This will be our third Halloween while on a (mostly) grain-free diet, so I thought I'd share some ideas for avoiding candy overload.  With all of these options, make sure you talk to your kids in advance of Halloween so they know what to expect. 
  1. Non-edible treats: In advance of Halloween, I buy a few small items that my kids will enjoy, such as small puzzles, coloring books, animal figurines, and even Halloween socks.  I leave these items at my mother's house so that, when we arrive there and say "trick-or-treat", these items get dropped into my kids' goodie bags.   
  2. Natural sweets: Since my kids aren't often allowed to eat things like fruit leather, they serve as a great candy replacement on Halloween.  I'll drop a few natural sweet treats in their bags along with the other items they've collected while trick-or-treating.  Some ideas for natural sweet treats are: 
  3. Candy Fairy: Before bed on Halloween evening, my kids leave their bags of candy on the back porch for the Candy Fairy (they knows that the Candy Fairy is really just me, but nonetheless they enjoy the idea that it is a fairy).  In the morning, they find that their bags of candy are gone, but instead their are a couple new games or toys.  This has worked particularly well for us.  It may not work as well for older kids, but may be worth a shot. 
  4. Teach moderation: In advance of Halloween, take the time to talk to your kids about moderation.  They should know that, while tasty, candy is not good for their bodies.  This can help soften the blow when they are not allowed to gorge on candy.  
  5. Compromise: I would guess that moderating the candy intake gets more difficult with older children. A compromise may be in order, such as allowing the child to select a few pieces of candy that are favorites and then allowing the child to pick a toy or game to have in return for the rest of the candy.
  6. Trade money for candy: Where we live, there are several dentists who will pay kids for their candy.  This may be a good option for some kids.
  7. Celebrate without trick-or-treating: Having a Halloween party or going to a harvest festival at a local school or church can be a great way to enjoy Halloween without trick-or-treating. (This great idea was shared by a commenter.)
Do you have any ideas for limiting candy on Halloween?