Monday, July 30, 2012

Crustless Strawberry Cheesecake (primal : grain-free : gluten-free)

Cheesecake is traditionally my chosen dessert for celebrating my birthday.  This year, my daughter asked my husband to help her make my birthday cake, so they baked me a cheesecake!

I wrote out a recipe for them and tried not to hover while they made it (except when my husband asked me to show him how to line the springform with parchment paper, and of course my obligatory taste-test to make sure I had planned out the batter properly).  My husband joked that I should call this 2-hour Husband Cheesecake, since it took him 2 hours to put together (whereas it would have taken me only 30 minutes or so).  The results were fabulous, and oh so pretty!

Strawberry Cheesecake (a.k.a. 2-hour Husband Cheesecake)
Serves 8-12
  • Three 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup mild-flavored honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 Tb lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • 2 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 2 whole eggs, preferably from pastured hens
  • 2 egg yolks, preferably from pastured hens
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • Strawberry topping (recipe follows)
  • Equipment needed: springform pan (see note below) and large roasting pan or oven-safe skillet
NOTE: If you don't have a springform pan, you could certainly cook this in a greased casserole dish (skipping the parchment paper and foil).  BUT, don't expect to have picture-perfect pieces of the cheesecake as it will likely get a bit smooshed as you scoop it out.  The springform is nice because the sides come off the pan, so you can easily cut and scoop the pieces out.
  1. Line the bottom and sides of a springform pan with parchment paper.  The reason for the parchment paper is to make sure the cheesecake will not stick and that it will be easy to serve.  You can trace the bottom of the pan onto the paper to make it the right size, and then you'll need a long strip or two for the side of the pan. One more tip: you can use a little softened butter to "glue" the paper to the bottom and sides if you have a hard time getting the paper to stay in place. Then grease the parchment paper with softened butter.
  2. Wrap the bottom and sides of the springform with a double layer of aluminum foil.  Since the cheesecake will be cooked in a pan of hot water, the foil will keep the water from getting into the cheesecake.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  4. Use a stand mixer with a wire whip attachment (or a hand mixer) to beat together cream cheese, honey, lemon zest, 4 Tb lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-low for a minute, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. 
  5. Beat the eggs and yolks into the cream cheese mixture one at a time on medium speed. Then beat in the sour cream.   Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix a bit more to make sure everything is well-mixed.
  6. Pour the batter into the springform pan. Place the springform into a large roasting pan or oven-safe skillet. Then pour enough hot water into the roasting pan/skillet to go about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  7. Carefully place in the oven.  Bake for about an hour, until the middle is starting to set (but still quite jiggly).  
  8. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in for another 15 minutes with the door closed.  Then crack open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in for another 30 minutes. 
  9. Move the cheesecake onto the counter to cool a bit more, then transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 3-4 hours hours (or overnight). 
  10. Remove the side from the springform pan, then remove the parchment paper from the side of the cheesecake.  Slice and top with the strawberry topping.  One trick to make sure the slices are all pretty is to clean the knife and pie scooper well between each slice. 
Strawberry Topping
  • 10 oz frozen strawberries*, thawed enough to slice
  • 2 Tb raw honey (or more if your berries aren't very sweet)
  • 1 Tb lemon juice
  1. Slice the strawberries.  Combine them with the honey and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Stir well.  Cover and place in the fridge for several hours.
*Except during our local strawberry season, I find that frozen strawberries have far superior flavor to the fresh ones sold in grocery stores.

This post is part of Fat Tuesday!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review: The Five Love Languages

My husband and I have been together for over 13 years.  Throughout this time, our lives have changed through different jobs, having children, and the change to being a one-income family.  Lately I've been reflecting a bit on our marriage and how much it has changed after having our second child. It has been easy to focus solely on the kids, and not put much effort into the marriage.  I'm open to ideas and inspirations for improving on our life and marriage, so I like to read books on marriage for new perspectives.

I recently read a book that has really changed my outlook on love and marriage: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. This short book has taught me so much and has the potential to really improve upon my marriage for both my husband and myself. This book should be required reading for anyone in a long-term relationship.  It has so much valuable information, and is peppered with stories that illustrate the concepts of the book.

Falling In Love Versus Real Love

The book has a great discussion of the differences of falling-in-love versus intentionally loving someone.  The in-love experience lasts an average of two years, and is just the beginning of the lifelong, intentional love that will be required in a successful marriage.  The book describes that,
'the falling in love experience is not real love for three reasons. First, falling in love is not an act of the will or a conscious choice... Second, falling in love is not real love because it is effortless... Third, one who is "in love" is not genuinely interested in fostering the personal growth of the other person.'
Real love differs from being in-love in that it is a conscious choice.  This is the heart of marriage, and the part that will last throughout the decades.
Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct... true love cannot begin until the "in-love" experience has run its course.
The Love Tank
'The need to feel loved by one's spouse is at the heart of marital desires...  Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists an invisible "emotional love tank" with its gauge on empty?  Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank?  If we could find a way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn?... Could that tank be the key that makes marriages work? 

The love tank can only be filled by using our primary love languages. And when we don't know each other's language, we can easily have our love tank become empty and consequently feel unloved. Once the love tanks are on empty, it is so easy to fall into the idea that,
"Our love is gone.  Our relationship is dead.  We used to feel close, but not now."
Five Love Languages
As indicated by its title, the main focus of the book is learning about the five love languages. These languages are the key to understanding our own needs in our relationships, as well as the needs of our spouses.  I was amazed to learn that I had no idea of the specific things I need to feel loved by my husband, and I had no idea of what specific things he needs either.  This book really sheds light on how both people can feel like they are doing everything they can, yet both be dissatisfied in the relationship: they are speaking different languages! 

The five love languages are:
  • Words of Affirmation, such as encouraging words and praise
  • Quality Time, such as doing things together and quality conversation 
  • Receiving Gifts, such as presents but also including the gift of self
  • Acts of Service, such as helping out around the house and lovingly prepared meals
  • Physical Touch, such as massages and cuddling (and this is different from the biological need for sex that men feel, although sex would be especially important to a man whose primary love language is Physical Touch)
While we may enjoy and use all of these love languages in our relationships, most people will have one or two languages that are their primary means of showing and feeling love.  And usually, people in a relationship do not share the same primary love language, which is why they can both try hard to show their love but yet still feel unloved.

Loving the Unlovely

The book also has a chapter for those who may have reluctant spouses that aren't willing to work on changing their marriages. The stories in this chapter are really inspiring and show just how much difference the five love languages can make, even when things look very bleak.

Our Story 
My husband and I read the book together, one chapter at a time, and discussed each chapter before moving on to the next one.  When I read the chapter about Quality Time, I had so many lightbulbs turn on in my head. Finally, I understood what I need to feel loved, and have so missed since we have had kids: having shared activities together and being able to have quality conversations with my husband.  It is amazing to me that I had no idea how to express these needs and couldn't even have put them into words.     

My husband's love language is Acts of Service, and this is the language that would probably be last on my list.  I was shocked when he told me that he shows love by doing things like washing dishes and taking out the trash.  I certainly appreciate those things, but never would have associated that they were his way of showing me love! And I also had no idea of the value my husband places on the acts of service I do, like cooking, cleaning, and making time for him to pursue his hobbies.

Now that we know each other's love languages, we can both make more of an effort to intentionally use them. We are now able to talk about our needs in a constructive way, and this is really amazing.  It seems impossible that we could have been together for so long and just now learned the keys to making each other feel loved. 

Love Languages and Children
The book ends with a chapter  about love languages and children.  It has been enlightening to think about my eldest daughter's love languages, and to realize that she may not have her emotional needs met if we're not using her primary love language.  My son is too young to really show his primary language yet, but I look forward to discovering it.

Have you read "The Five Love Languages"?  Did you find it to be valuable, and sis it improve your understanding of your spouse's needs?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ChocoNanaBerry Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting (grain-free : primal : gluten:free)

At the request of a young houseguest, I recently made some cupcakes.  We combined chocolate chips, strawberries, and bananas to make a new cupcake recipe that was very tasty.  Topped with a very simple whipped cream frosting, these cupcakes were a hit!

ChocoNanaBerry Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
  1. Melt butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and baking soda 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 (or coconut oil) 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. Add mashed banana and mix to combine.  Stir in the chopped strawberries and chocolate chips.
  7. 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.  The cups will be quite full, and the batter will be fairly thick.
  8. Bake cupcakes in 325 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.  Store these in the fridge, else they will be a tad crumbly!
*Do NOT thaw the strawberries all the way!  If you choose to use fresh strawberries instead of frozen, they will probably not meld into the cupcakes, but will be a bit more chunky.  I find that, unless it is local strawberry season, frozen strawberries have far superior flavor to the ones you can by fresh at the store.
**I use dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips, but they are still not GAPS-legal. To make this recipe GAPS-legal, you may have to omit the chocolate chips or try to make your own using honey as a sweetener.  Or, you could replace a little of the coconut flour with cocoa and have the whole muffin be chocolate-flavored.
**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!

Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 cups raw cream
  • pinch of fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raw mild-flavored honey*
  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.  
  4. Continue to beat the frosting until it forms stiff peaks.  Store this in the fridge in an airtight bowl, and don't frost the cupcakes until immediately before serving**. 
  5. To frost the cupcakes, either spread on a thick layer with a small spatula, or you could use a plastic baggie to pipe the frosting on (as I've done in the above photo).  Since this frosting is very fluffy, I find that a rather small hole in the baggie works best.
*If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.
**If you need a frosting that can be applied ahead of time, try this buttercream frosting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (gluten:free : primal : grain-free : refined sweetener-free)

During these hot summer months, we've been enjoying some homemade ice cream.  And I don't feel guilty about it since ice cream is a superfood.  My latest ice cream experiment was a resounding success: vanilla chocolate chip ice cream!  The trick to making the sure the chocolate chips aren't like super-hard bits that ruin the overall texture is to chop them up into very small pieces.

This recipe makes a rather large batch of ice cream.  If your ice cream maker is on the small side, you may need to reduce the amounts a bit.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Makes about 7 cups of ice cream
  • 3 cups cream, preferably raw and from pastured cows
  • 1 cup whole milk, preferably raw and from pastured cows 
  • 3/4 cup raw mild-flavored honey, or use half Grade B maple syrup and half raw mild honey*
  • 4 raw egg yolks**
  • 1 Tb plus 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups mini chocolate chips***
  1. Use a food processor or chopper to chop up the chocolate chips.  Stop chopping before they start turning to powder, but you do want them to be nice and small. If you don't have a machine to use, I'd recommend shaving chocolate off a bar of chocolate and then chopping it finely.
  2. Combine the cream, milk, honey, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt in a blender.  Blend for a minute or two to thoroughly combine everything. Do NOT add the chocolate during this step.
  3. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your maker.  I use the Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker attachment, and it works great! If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can instead follow these instructions to make ice cream without a machine.
  4. When the mixture starts to set up and get thick, add the chopped chocolate.  It took about 10-15 minutes for the ice cream in my Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker attachment to get to the right consistency for this.  If you are making ice cream without a machine, it will take several hours before the mixture gets thick enough to add the chocolate.
*Combining maple syrup and honey together somehow results in a very neutral flavor; the maple syrup and honey flavors seem to cancel each other out.  It also tastes great with all honey, which makes it more GAPS-friendly.
**Any time you'll be consuming raw eggs, make sure you trust your egg supplier.  To prevent salmonella, make sure to wash the eggs before you crack them.
***I used dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips, but they are still not GAPS-legal. To make this recipe GAPS-legal, you may have to omit the chocolate chips or try to make your own using honey as a sweetener.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teething Pain is No Match for Homeopathy

This article is a guest post by Joette Calabrese.  This is the fourth in a series on homeopathy for infants and children. 

In my last guest post, I covered using Chamomilla to help babies sleep better, but I also want to share its efficacy for teething.

As you’ve probably learned by now, such a pat prescription is rarely the case with homeopathy.  Homeopathy treats each person as an individual and so the prescriptions are individualized.  Teething is a bit of an exception because this single remedy is likely to work for most children.
When we think of the typical picture of teething, we think of a child who is normally pleasant, but whose personality suddenly takes a turn for the worse in a matter of days or even hours.  All of a sudden, he’s whiny, needy, and capricious.  As moms I’m sure you know exactly the kind of mood I’m describing.  Your baby constantly wants to be picked up, but when you comply, he arches his back and screams for something else.  Nothing satisfies.  If you check his gums, you might find redness or swelling around an emerging tooth.  He’ll be chewing on toys and all the while drooling, drooling, drooling.  
Try Chamomilla 30 every 2 hours for up to 5 doses.

Another remedy to consider for teething if Chamomilla didn’t help or wouldn’t hold is Calc carb.  As odd as it may sound, a child who has a rather large head, and particularly one who tends to perspire when nursing or sleeping, is an excellent candidate for the use of Calc carb.  Administer it in the same way as Chamomilla.
The last remedy to review is Silica.  This is also for a sweaty baby, but this child generally has a smaller head with fine textured hair and light skin. The hands and feet also perspire and the child often is milk intolerant.

Whichever remedy suits your babe, watch soon after you administer it for the emergence of the little tooth.  “Soon after” can be any time from a few days up to a month. Teething can be a trying time for our little ones, but as long as you’re prepared with homeopathy, you’ll all be able to sleep better and your child will flourish.

Please don’t think of teething as only something affecting very young children.  The exact same principles apply for the seven-year-old appearance of the adult teeth and again when the wisdom teeth appear in the late teens or adulthood.  Review the remedies above and approach it in the same manner, always including the assessment of temperament.

Some time ago, my 24-year-old son was acting rather cranky. Nothing was right in his life. I asked him what the matter was and he said, “I don’t know, I just feel irritable lately for some reason.  And besides, I think I feel a wisdom tooth coming in because it really hurts back there. My friends are getting theirs extracted.  Should I do the same?” 

All the symptoms stacked up.  A few doses of Chamomilla and he was right as rain!  A few months later, I noticed he was a bit irritable again. Not as intensely as the first time, but nonetheless measurable. 

“How’s that tooth?” I asked.  “It’s sore again.” “Ok, here you go.”  And I popped four pills of Chamomilla in his mouth.  Not a peep from him since, and that was over three years ago.  
Unlike his friends, he avoided surgery, anesthetics, dry sockets, and antibiotics. One bottle of Chamomilla 200 cost me $15.  Compare that to a $1000  surgical bill! Once again, the body’s curative ability stimulated with a well chosen remedy won the day.

Here’s one more trick that I’ve learned over the years: use Calc phos 6x as an everyday remedy.   It is useful for children in particular because its main purpose is promoting  growth.  For teeth that are too soft or form cavities too easily, or for the pain of teething, it’s unmatched.  You may alternate Calc phos 6x  2-3 times per day along with your chosen remedy to get through the teething stage.  When improved, stop.

For years when my children were growing, I’d put about 8 pills of Calc phos in a gallon of their raw milk so I’d be sure everyone got his allotted amount.  It’s particularly valuable for kids who are teething or for any growth issue, as well as growing pains in the legs. This is one of the few homeopathic remedies that can be administered daily as a matter of course.
Joette Calabrese, HMC,CCH,RSHom is a homeopath and mom who has depended solely on homeopathy and nutrition in raising her family without a single drug….ever!
If you find this kind of information valuable, you can learn more about homeopathy at her site:  Contact her office at 716.941.1045 to schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation to learn if homeopathy might be a good fit with your health strategy.  Lots more homeopathic tips at her blog: