Monday, November 28, 2011

Grain-Free Tortillas (GAPS-legal, gluten-free)

This recipe for grain-free tortillas has brought much-loved tacos back into our diets.  Since the tortillas are coconut-flour based, I was worried that they would taste too strongly of coconut.  But once you stuff them with great-tasting filling, you barely notice the coconut taste at all! These tortillas are also a great way to use up egg whites leftover from making homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or smoothies.

I include some optional spices in the recipe; leave these out (or replace with something else) if you're not using the tortillas for mexican food.  The spices make the tortillas extra tasty, though, and would go great with fajitas, tacos, or carnitas.

Grain-free Tortillas
Makes 5-6 small tortillas (perfect amount for our small family, but double the recipe if you want to have lots) 
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted if you're not using an immersion blender*
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (from 6-8 eggs, depending on the size) OR 1/2 cup egg whites plus 2 whole eggs**
  • 1/4 cup plus 3Tb plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • Optional spices: 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder (omit these if you're not making mexican food)
  • Butter, to cook the tortillas in
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well using a mixer or immersion blender.  Let sit for about 10 minutes to let the coconut flour soak up some moisture.  The end result should be slightly runnier than pancake batter.  If it seems too thick, add a touch of water (or more yogurt).  If the tortillas break too easy while you are flipping them, add a touch more coconut flour.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle over medium heat.  I love to use a cast iron griddle for cooking these.  
  3. When a drop of water sizzles immediately, the griddle or skillet is ready.  Try not to overheat it, as coconut flour burns fairly easy.
  4. Melt a little butter to cook the tortillas in.  I like to use a cold stick of butter, and just rub it on the griddle.
  5. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to get consistent tortillas that are the right size (if they go much bigger, they will break too easily). 
  6. Cook the tortillas in the butter.  They are ready to flip after 1-2 minutes (depending on how hot your cook surface is).
  7. Top with taco meat, carnitas, fajita fixins, or even just some shredded cheese and avocado. Enjoy!
* Using an immersion blender is great because it saves you from having to sift the coconut flour, and results in less dirty dishes.
** The tortillas are definitely a bit more rich when you use some whole eggs, but they are still great.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Two Ways to Render Beef Tallow

Beef tallow is a wonderfully healthy fat for cooking.  It is very heat stable, even for frying. Beef tallow from grassfed animals contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a fatty acid proven to help in the fight against cancer.

Making your own tallow is easy, if a bit time-consuming.  The most difficult part is chopping the meat into very small pieces, but a food processor makes this easier. Once the fat is finely chopped, you can render it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.  Both methods work well.

When we place our yearly order for beef, we make sure to request the fat from the butcher.  If you don't buy beef in bulk, you could check with a butcher to see if you can buy some beef fat. They may even give it to you for free!

How to Render Tallow
Ingredients needed: raw beef fat
Equipment needed: food processor, slow cooker (optional)
  1. Make sure your beef fat is cold.  This will make it much easier to chop with your knife, and the fat must be cold when you put it into the food processor.
  2. Chop up beef fat into 1-2-inch pieces using a sharp chef's knife.  Both cubes and small strips will work. Remove and discard any meaty bits from the fat. 
  3. To chop the fat into very small pieces, use a food processor.  The best way I found to do this is to drop the chunks of fat into the food processor while it is running.  This keeps the fat from binding up the blade of the food processor.  My food processor has a hole in the pusher lid that can be used to drop food in while the processor is running.  Drop in the fat a bit at a time, in fairly rapid succession. You don't want to over-chop the fat, as it will turn into a sticky paste.  Ideally, the fat will look shredded when you are done processing it.  If you are making a lot of tallow, plan to do several batches in the food processor. 
  4. To render the tallow on the stovetop, place the finely chopped fat into a heavy-bottomed pot.  Use the lowest possible heat, and stir occasionally. I was surprised at how quickly the fat started to melt down on the stovetop, even with the tiniest flicker of flame under it.  Continue to cook the fat until all that remains is meaty-looking pieces. It took about 1.5 hours for my tallow to render on the stovetop.
  5. To render the tallow using a slow cooker, set the cooker on low.  You may want to stir it every hour to speed things up a bit.  Continue to cook the fat until all that remains is meaty-looking pieces. It took about 3.5 hours for my tallow to render in the slow cooker. 
  6. Allow the rendered fat to cool slightly, and then pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the meaty bits. 
  7. Transfer the tallow to the fridge and cool completely.  
  8. Scoop the pure tallow from the top of the container and store in airtight containers.  I like to put the bit from the bottom of the bowl (that had little tiny flecks of meat) into the fridge and use that up first.  The pure tallow does not need to be refrigerated.
This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Grain-free Thanksgiving Round-up (GAPS-legal, grain-free, gluten-free)

    This will be our second Thanksgiving while on the GAPS diet.  I remember being fairly stressed about it last year (we were just wrapping up intro), but this year it will be a breeze! Our holiday will feature free-range turkey (with pan drippings instead of gravy), homemade cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, buttered broccoli, caramelized green beans, salad, and pumpkin pie clafoutis. 

    Grain-free, GAPS-legal recipes for Thanksgiving 
    I thought I'd share some links for grain-free (and GAPS-legal of course) Thanksgiving recipes.  Some are from my site, and others are from around the 'net.
    • Caramelized beets and carrots - This recipe is loved by both of my kids and would make a great Thanksgiving side dish. 
    • Herb gravy - Elana uses cooked onions to thicken the gravy instead of flour. Genius!
    • Simple buttered veggies - Broccoli, peas, cauliflower, or green beans 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).
    • 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 is not quite GAPS-legal (because of the cream cheese), but it sure sounds delicious! I'd like to try it with yogurt cheese (or maybe creme fraiche) instead of the 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!
    • Pecan-crusted apple crisp - I keep meaning to try this tasty-looking recipe from Real Food Forager.  
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

      Friday, November 18, 2011

      Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Ginger (GAPS-legal, refined sugar-free)

      I love cranberry sauce! Tart cranberries, apples, ginger: this recipe is bursting with flavor!  I like to leave this sauce nicely tart, but you could always add more honey if you want it to be sweeter. To save on food preparation on Thanksgiving, I prepare this a week or two in advance, and store it in the freezer until the holiday arrives.  You could also just make it a day or two ahead and store it in the fridge.  This cranberry sauce goes wonderfully with turkey, and would also be great stirred into yogurt or mixed with coconut and fruit granola.

      Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Ginger
      Makes 2.5 cups
      • 10 ounces cranberries (I use frozen, but I'm sure fresh would work too)
      • 2 medium apples, peeled and chopped (rome, pink lady, or granny smith work well) 
      • 1-2 tsp minced fresh ginger (or use about 1/2 tsp dried ginger)
      • 1/4 tsp orange extract
      • dash celtic sea salt
      • 1/4 cup plus 2Tb honey (add more if you don't like the tartness)
      • one small squeeze of lime juice
      1. Combine all ingredients except lime juice in a medium pot.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. 
      2. Cook the cranberry sauce for about 15-20 minutes, until the cranberries start to break down and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
      3. Add the lime juice.  Using the back of a spoon, lightly mash the cranberries, and cook a little bit longer.
      4. Cool and serve! 
      This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday!

        Wednesday, November 16, 2011

        Pumpkin Spice Bread (GAPS-legal, grain-free, nut-free option)

        Pumpkin spice bread is a favorite Fall food in our house. This is a rich, moist bread recipe that has optional nuts and raisins. Without the nuts and raisins, it has a very soft texture (preferred by my husband).  With the nuts and raisins, it has a more hearty texture (preferred by the kids and myself).  

        Pumpkin Spice Bread
        Makes 2 loaves or 24 muffins
        • 1 cup butter, preferably from grassfed cows
        • 3/4 cup honey
        • 6 eggs
        • 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
        • 1 Tb vanilla extract
        • 1 Tb cinnamon
        • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
        • dash ground ginger
        • dash ground cloves
        • 1 tsp celtic sea salt
        • 1/2 tsp baking soda
        • 1 cup coconut flour
        • 2 cups pumpkin puree, preferably homemade
        • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crispy pecans (optional)
        • 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
        1. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat.  Turn off heat, add honey, and stir slightly. Allow to cool a bit.
        2. Combine eggs, yogurt, and vanilla in a bowl.  Mix well using an immersion blender or hand mixer.
        3. Add butter/honey mixture to egg mixture.  If you are using an immersion blender, go ahead and add the spices, salt, and baking soda now as well.  Mix thoroughly with the immersion blender. If you are not using an immersion blender, just mix the honey/butter into the egg mixture very well with a hand mixer. 
        4. If you are not using an immersion blender, the coconut flour must be sifted.  Then whisk in the spices, salt, and baking soda.
        5. Thoroughly mix the coconut flour into the wet ingredients using an immersion blender or hand mixer. Because coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of overmixing it.
        6. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Then fold in the optional nuts and raisins.
        7. Pour the batter into two buttered loaf pans (mine are 8.5 X 4.5 X 2.5).  Alternatively, line two muffin tins with paper cups and then fill with the batter.  
        8. Bake loaves for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees. You may need to cover the loaves with foil partway through if they are getting too dark.  Bake muffins for about 40-50 minutes. This is a very moist recipe, so leave it in the oven a few minutes longer than you think to make sure it gets baked thoroughly.
        9. Cool. Serve it plain, with a smear of butter, or even topped with some honey buttercream frosting for a special treat! 
        This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Real Food Wednesday!

          Sunday, November 13, 2011

          Coconut and Fruit Granola (Grain-free : Nut-free : GAPS-legal)

          While we've been on GAPS, my family has noticed that we sometimes have a hard time digesting nuts, particularly almonds.  I developed this granola recipe as a nut-free, grain-free alternative.  It is crispy and delicious, and a new favorite travel snack for both of our kids. Snack on it dry, drizzle it with yogurt, or eat it in milk like cereal! 

          Coconut and Dried Fruit Granola 
          Makes 8-10 cups
          1. Combine coconut flour, water, and yogurt using a hand mixer or stand mixer. 
          2. Add remaining ingredients except fruit, and mix well. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if desired. 
          3. Mix in the dried fruit.
          4. Crumble the mixture onto dehydrator trays*. I like to use the fruit roll trays for my dehydrator, but I'm sure you could use parchment paper instead.  One batch takes up 4 trays in my Nesco dehydrator.  Dry at 150 degrees for 8-12 hours.  
          5. To check for to see if it is done, remove a piece of granola from the dehydrator and allow it to cool completely.  It is done when it is nicely dry and crisp.
          6. Allow to cool completely before transferring to air-tight containers.  I like to store the bulk of it in the fridge (since there are no preservatives) and just keep a small container in the cupboard.  It will easily keep in the cupboard for at least a week, and should keep in the fridge for several weeks.
          *If you don't have a dehydrator, I'm sure you could spread this onto cookie sheets and bake it in the oven (I would use the lowest possible temp for several hours).  You'll probably need to stir it a couple times so it doesn't burn.

          This post is part of Handmade Christmas Gift Carnival, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter, Real Food WednesdayFat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

            Thursday, November 10, 2011

            Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

            My kids, Hubbard squash, and Cinderella pumpkin
            Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it is time to make pumpkin puree.  My method is simple: bake, scoop, and puree!  This year, I made 16 pints of pumpkin/winter squash puree, to be stored in the freezer.  Lots of pumpkin pie clafoutis, pumpkin bread, and butternut squash soup will keep us happy over the winter.

            Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Puree
            You can use any type of winter squash you like, such as pumpkin, hubbard squash, and butternut squash.  Hubbard squash and Cinderella-type pumpkins are my favorites for making pies.  They have such a beautiful orange color and much more flavor than your typical big round pumpkin.

            This year, I figured out that baking pumpkins whole is the easiest way to cook 'em. It does take a while, but it is so much easier than trying to cut up a raw pumpkin as they are VERY hard before they are cooked.  
            1. Place the whole pumpkins on your oven rack (I placed a cookie sheet underneath just in case of any drips).  
            2. Bake for several hours at 200 degrees F.  My 11-pound hubbard squash took about 4 hours to cook, and the others took about 3 hours.
            3. To test for doneness, wrap your hands with a dish towel and gently squeeze the pumpkins.  Check them on multiple sides (and you may even need to rotate the pumpkins partway through if you cook more than one at a time, like I did). If the pumpkins are soft enough to squeeze a bit, then they are done!
            4. Remove from the oven and place on a cookie sheet or large baking tray (such as a 9X13 glass dish).  Carefully use a knife to make a slice down one side of the pumpkin, slicing all the way down to the bottom.  This will allow the water and heat in the pumpkin to be released (and I was amazed at how much liquid came pouring out).  Let cool for awhile.
            5. Once cool enough to touch, finish cutting the pumpkin in half. This is amazingly easy to do since the pumpkin has already been cooked. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.  
            6. Being careful to not get any of the skin, scoop the soft flesh out with a spoon and place it into a food processor.  Let the food processor whir the flesh to make a beautiful puree (and of course this may take several batches depending on the size of your pumpkin and food processor).
            7. Store the puree in the fridge if it will be used in the next few days. Otherwise, store it in the freezer. 
            This post is part of Sunday School, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday and Pennywise Platter!

                Sunday, November 6, 2011

                Ham, Bean, and Bacon Soup (gluten- and grain-free)

                This easy soup simmers all day, and is sure to be a hit with the whole family. It is a wonderfully healthy way to make the most of the leftover ham bone from your holiday dinner. This recipe was inspired by a delicious pot of soup my mother-in-law made. I like to freeze the leftovers in 2-cup glass containers that can be reheated easily in the toaster oven. This recipe is featured in Real Food and Health Magazine.

                Ham, Bean, and Bacon Soup
                Serves 6-8
                • 16-oz dried white navy beans
                • one medium white onion, chopped
                • 2 stalks celery, left whole
                • 2 bay leaves 
                • one meaty ham bone 
                • 6 cups filtered water
                • celtic sea salt and pepper
                • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
                • 1/2 tsp paprika
                • 1/2 tsp oregano
                • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
                • 8 oz nitrate-free bacon, chopped
                1. Soak the beans in filtered water for 8 hours or overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.  
                2. Place the beans, chopped onion, celery stalks, bay leaves, and ham bone into a slow cooker or oven-safe pot. Season with salt and pepper.  
                3. Add enough filtered water to cover the beans and vegetables (it is okay if the ham bone sticks out of the water a little bit).
                4. Cook in slow cooker set on LOW for 6 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours.  Alternatively, place oven-safe pot into 225 degree oven for about 5-6 hours.  Add water as needed to ensure the beans can soak up plenty as they soften.
                5. Then add carrots, paprika, oregano, garlic, and bacon to pot.  Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours, until carrots are cooked to your liking.
                6. Pull ham bone out onto a cutting board.  Use a knife and fork to shred the meat off the bone, or slice it across the grain.  Discard the bones.
                7. Return the meat to the pot and nestle it down into the broth. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper as needed. Turn the heat to "Warm" (or the oven to 150) and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes.  This step allows the meat to soak up the juices and get super moist.
                This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday and Monday Mania!

                  Thursday, November 3, 2011

                  Yellow Cupcakes with Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (grain-free : GAPS-legal : gluten-free)

                  Looking for a recipe for a special birthday or party? Try these yellow cupcakes!  They are moist, decadent, and no one even needs to know that they are grain-free.  The buttercream frosting is so delicious and buttery, much better than any store-bought frosting.  These cupcakes are not overly-sweet, so be sure to add plenty of frosting. 

                  Yellow Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
                  Makes 12 cupcakes
                  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
                  2. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a large bowl.  If using an immersion blender, pulse a few times to combine. Otherwise, mix to combine with a whisk or mixer.
                  3. Add the honey to the butter and stir slightly.  Pour this mixture into the wet ingredients and blend well with immersion blender or mixer.
                  4. Measure out the coconut flour.  Since coconut flour clumps, it will need to be sifted if you are not using an immersion blender*
                  5. Pour the coconut flour into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Use an immersion blender or mixer to thoroughly combine all ingredients, making sure there are no lumps.  (Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it).
                  6. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  Scoop the batter into the paper cups.  I like to use a 3-Tb scoop for this, but you could just use a large spoon.
                  7. Bake cupcakes in 325 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
                  8. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.  
                  9. Frost with vanilla or chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe follows).
                  *Time-saving tip: If you use an immersion blender to combine the ingredients, you can skip the step of sifting the coconut flour.  This also gives you less dirty dishes!

                  Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

                  1. Break eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the vanilla extract and salt. Using the whisk attachment, mix on low-medium speed for a few minutes, until the eggs are light and fluffy.
                  2. In the meantime, put the honey in a small saucepan over low heat.  Bring to a boil. 
                  3. With the stand mixer running, pour the hot honey into the eggs a little at a time. Turn up the speed to medium-high and whip for 5-7 minutes, until it is thick, light, and cool.
                  4. While the eggs and honey are being mixed, put the butter into another bowl and cream with a hand mixer until it is light and fluffy.  
                  5. Beat the honey mixture into the butter until well-mixed.  About halfway through mixing, the frosting may appear to curdle; just keep beating it and it will smooth out.
                  6. With the mixer running, add the optional cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time.  Mix thoroughly.
                  7. Using a spatula or butter knife, spread the frosting over the cupcakes.
                  8. Store leftover icing in the fridge, or freeze it! (If you freeze it, let it thaw for a day in the fridge and then re-whip it before you use it.)
                  **I think this recipe is probably pretty particular about how it needs to be put together.  If you try this another way, let me know how it turns out!

                  This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Real Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday and Pennywise Platter!