Treats

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Make a Healthier (and easy!) Pancake

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten a pancake.  Ok, quite a while, actually.  Although gluten-free pancakes are pretty easy, grain-free is a different story, especially for those of us who find almond flour too tough too handle.  Then I saw something online (I think it was on Facebook) about making pancakes from eggs and a banana.  Seriously!  Well, I was so curious I just had to try it.  It works!  I’ve made them a few times now, and I have been pleasantly surprised.

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The recipe is easy – 2 eggs, beaten + 1 smushed banana.  That’s basically it, although I usually throw in a dash of cinnamon and a couple drops of vanilla, just because.  As you can see in the picture, they aren’t as thick as a “grainy” pancake, more like a thicker crepe. Still yummy, especially smeared with almond butter.  (Fair warning:  a pretty strong banana flavor so if you aren’t crazy about banana, this recipe might not be your favorite).

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Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I found this recipe on www.101cookbooks.com, the original name is Nikki’s Healthy Cookies (click here to check it out, along other great recipes) and I was so excited to get this recipe and play with variations.  Although this is pretty close to the original, this is a good recipe to use when working with substitutions for food allergies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid (or alternately, olive oil)
  • 2 cups GF rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 – 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

2. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning.

Substitutions:

Substitute applesauce or other fruit purees for the bananas

Substitute raisins or other dried fruit for the chocolate chunks

 

Espresso Brownies

Espresso Brownies

Once again, the original recipe comes from Elana Amsterdam.  She is such a great resource for grain-free snacks.  Her books are great, and her website is such a valuable resource.  You can see the original recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons decaf espresso powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour

Directions:

1. Melt chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat

2. Add coconut oil and stir until completely dissolved

3. Stir in ground espresso and remove from heat

4. Blend in eggs, coconut sugar, vanilla and salt to mixture in pan using a handheld mixer

5. Blend in almond flour and coconut flour

6. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish

7. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes

8. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour

9. Serve

Coconut Bars

Coconut Bars

This recipe was adapted from the Coconut Bars recipe from Elana Amsterdam.  Click here to find the original recipe, then check out the rest of her site.  She as great recipes, cookbooks, and all things yummy for people wanting to eat healthier.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup honey*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

Directions:

1. Mix eggs, coconut milk, oil, coconut nectar, and vanilla in a food processor

2. Pulse in almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt

3. Transfer ingredients into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes

5. Cool for ½ hour, then place in refrigerator and serve when chilled,

* Note:  Original recipe calls for honey instead of the coconut nectar, and an added 1/8 tsp. stevia.

 

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free…. and Delicious Pumpkin Pie!

Recipe coming soon – I had to take a picture before it all disappeared!

Christmas Cookies – Part of the Solution

After spending my life making tons of Christmas cookies full of fat, sugar, frosting, and sprinkles (of course!), this year, I decided to be more a part of the solution than the problem.  As much as I enjoyed making pretty cookies and sharing them with friends, I hated hearing about how everyone was sick after Christmas.  I know how sugar crashes your immune system (among causing countless other problems), and here I was, giving my loved ones little bundles of immunity-busting sugar.

This year, I decided to go against the grain, so to speak, and make treats that are gluten-free, refined sugar free, mostly grain free,  low in carbs, high in protein,and  high in fiber.  For you Paleo/Primal eaters out there, these are pretty close!

I used recipes from some well-known sources and tweaked appropriately.  Below is the list  – I encourage everyone to think about creating some new, healthier traditions and maybe try some of these recipes.  For those of you who have tasted some of the ones I made, let me know what you think. (Really!)

Molasses” Spice Cookies, by Elana Amsterdam – www.elanaspantry.com.  I substituted molasses for the yacon syrup since I couldn’t find it locally.  I’ll have to order some online and try them again, but these came out great using the molasses, and they ended up tasting like a gingersnap but they were soft and chewy like a molasses cookie.

Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe from www.101cookbooks.com.  These have become favorites!

I used Elana Amsterdam’s recipe for Hamantaschen for the triangle-shaped cookies, and also used the same dough recipe for the  traditional Thumprint cookies, filling them with cranberry-blueberry fruit spread.

Pecan Shortbread from Elana Amsterdam’s book: The GlutenFree Almond Flour Cookbook which is highly recommended!

Dina’s Delightful Cookies from www.elanaspantry.com.  (I added 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and substituted date paste for the agave nectar – date paste is just dates and water put through the food processor till smooth…. ratio is 1 cup dates to 1/2 cup water).  I made one batch with raisins, then a second batch with apple juice-sweetened cranberries, some orange zest, and a dash of cinnamon.

Dark Chocolate Bark – dark chocolate with cashews, pistachios, raisins and apple juice-sweetened cranberries.

Pumpkin Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Pecans, Coconut and Chocolate Flecks

Remember, back in the day, when the leaves would begin to fall and the breezes started turning cool, what would we all start thinking about? Pumpkin. Pecans. Pies straight from the warm oven, the house smelling of cinnamon.  Was there any better way to welcome the change of seasons?  Around our house, my friend, Phil, and I always turned to our favorite recipe, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins, to start off the holiday baking.  I think I started the tradition, then he carried it on, both of us making countless little pumpkiny treasures with just that little bit of chocolate to surprise the eager recipient at our respective offices and Halloween parties.

From then on, it was all about the pies – pumpkin and pecan, of course.  “Yes, of course, I’d love a small piece of both please.  After all, it’s the holidays!”  Before we even got to dive into the Christmas cookies, we’d all be feeling awful, already putting on our holiday “puffiness” and stressed to the max from all those carbs and sugar.

Well, times have changed.  When you know better, you do better.  The leaves are falling and the breezes are just beginning to cool, so it’s time to create new traditions. Don’t be tempted to fall back into old habits that may sabotage your Primal progress.  Instead, reinvent your traditions, use your favorite ingredients, and transform them to something unexpected.

As a twist on my favorite dairy-free ice cream recipe, I decided to add pumpkin to help usher in the fall season as quickly as possible.  I included pecans and coconut because when toasted, they take on such richness and added dimension, and they provide a great contrasting crunch to the creaminess of the coconut milk and pumpkin.  For flavoring, I used vanilla paste along with a bit of vanilla extract.  I like using vanilla paste for the smooth flavor it brings, and besides, it’s just really cool stuff!  I love seeing all those tiny little specs of vanilla bean in the ice cream – it makes it all a bit more special. (Using just vanilla extract works fine, too).  As for adding some flecks of chocolate, well it’s chocolate.  ‘Nuff said!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pulverized unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup loosely packed dates (approximately 21 dates – add more if you like things on the sweeter side)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or use 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. ground ginger (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 14 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk (I used full fat, but lite works too)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup small chunks of dark chocolate, melted and put in plastic bag for “flicking”

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil, place chopped pecans in pan and toast in oven for approximately five minutes.  Keep an eye on them, and as soon as you get a whiff of toasty nuts it’s time for them to come out.  Put nuts into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Pulverize coconut using a mini chopper and put into same baking pan and toast.   Do not step away from the oven!  Seriously, it takes only a few minutes to toast coconut so no bathroom breaks.  Peek in after 2 minutes, shake the pan a bit to mix it up, and put back another minute or two until brown.  Add to bowl of nuts and set aside.

Put dates into a food processor and pulse a few times to rough chop.  Then turn on your food processor and let it go for several minutes until the dates get totally smushed,  scraping a few times along the way.  You want the dates as pureed as possible.

Add vanilla paste/extract and puree a moment longer.  Then add pumpkin, spices and pinch of salt, and pulse a few times until combined.  Slowly add coconut milk, puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl and chill in refrigerator, or put into an ice bath to hurry up the process.  When cold, pour into your ice cream maker and start processing according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Now comes the fun part!  To add chocolate flecks, melt chocolate double boiler style (I use a small bowl over a saucepan of warm water) and pour into a plastic bag.  A few minutes before the ice cream is done, snip a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag and as the ice cream swirls around, slowly “flick” the chocolate into the mixture. The warm chocolate going up against the ice cream instantly freezes, making little flecks….. really!  Have fun with it and don’t worry about getting a little chocolate on your countertop, it’s just part of the creative process!

When you are happy with the amount of chocolate flecks you have “flicked” (ok, I couldn’t resist!), toss in pecans and coconut and let them swirl together for a few minutes.  By this time, your ice cream should be done.  Spoon into containers and freeze.

This ice cream will freeze to a very hard state, so be sure to take it out and set in refrigerator for about 20 minutes or so before serving. This ice cream is yummy anytime, but makes a great healthy (and Primal!) dessert for your holiday meals.

Variations:

Pumpkin Ice Cream is great plain, or with just the chocolate flecks.  You can also substitute walnuts, and try a bit of maple flavoring in place of the vanilla.

Pumpkin Snack Cake

This recipe is adapted from a Pumpkin Brownie recipe by Shelley of www.thisprimallife.com.  Anyone interested in a primal lifestyle should definitely check out her site.  This is a pretty generic recipe, similar to the nut butter muffins I make which are great for all of us with multiple allergies.  Shelley suggests getting creative with substitutions, and I look forward to trying lots of combinations.  The pieces shown above were made with the following recipe, but don’t stay in the box with this one.  Try different nut butters, spices, sweeteners, add-ins, etc. and if you come up with something you love, please share!

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup mashed pumpkin, fresh or canned
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup date paste*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup currants

Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 8×8″ pan.  Bake at 350° for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  9 large servings.

* Date Paste:  Easy to make by putting about 1 cup of dates, 1/2 cup of water, pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice into a food processor.  Puree till smooth.  If you feel like it’s too sticky, add water slowly until you get the consistency you desire.

Ice Cream For The Rest Of Us

For those of us who can’t/won’t eat dairy products, ice cream has been a treat relegated to childhood memories.  Now we can enjoy a cold, creamy treat that is not only dairy-free, but refined sugar-free as well.  And with such an easy recipe, the possibilities are endless (not to mention that taste testing is awfully fun!).

Either full fat or the lite coconut milk work fine, although I’m loving the lite coconut milk I can get at Trader Joe’s. I am using dates as a sweetener because I have no tolerance for typical sweeteners.  Dates are so naturally sweet you don’t need to use a lot. I use anywhere between 12-18 per batch, depending on other ingredients.  It’s sweet enough for me, and I can have a small scoop without feeling that “sugar rush” or get any hot flashes, so that’s good enough for me!

  • 1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk or lite coconut milk
  • Approximately 15 dates, more if you like your ice cream sweeter, less if you are adding fruit, chocolate, etc.
  • 1/2 tsp. flavorings/extract (vanilla, coconut, almond)

That’s it!  This is simple to prepare, although best results require a food processor and an ice cream maker.

First, put your dates into the food processor, pulse a few times, then turn on until they are as smooshed as possible.  Not sure that’s a true culinary term, but you need to keep processing the dates until they first get broken up, then they form a ball, then they smear all around the sides of the food processor bowl.  So…. smeared or smooshed, you get the idea.  You can add your bit of vanilla extract or whatever flavoring you like to the dates and it makes it a bit easier to get to the smeared stage.

Scrape all that down and add a bit of your coconut milk, and process so that the dates get incorporated into the coconut milk.  Continue scraping, adding coconut milk and processing until it is as smooth as possible.

Pour into ice cream maker and continue as directed by your machine’s manual.  With mine, it takes about 15-18 minutes, then put in containers and freeze.  Because homemade ice cream is really pure, it freezes very hard, so remove from freezer and either refrigerate for about 15 minutes or just set out on the counter for a few minutes before serving.  Just don’t forget it, or else you’ll be so disappointed that it’s melted!

This is a basic recipe, and it just begs for experimentation.  I’ve added chopped peaches, chopped bananas, pureed mangoes, had it just plain with a bit of vanilla and almond flavoring, and made a wonderful coconut version using coconut extract and pulverized unsweetened coconut (about 1/4 cup worked fine).  If anyone experiments, let me know what you come up with.  Or if you have any suggestions on flavors I should try, you can always suggest…!

Muffins!

Any of  you who have been attending the Healthy Priority get-togethers, or have just been hanging around with me lately, know that I’ve been really excited about making grain-free/sugar-free (and therefore low carb) baked goods that are really tasty.  Now, I am sure that people who are used to eating those small cakes that pass for muffins at your local grocery would be used to way more fat, sugar, and carbs.  But for the rest of us who try very hard to feed our bodies foods that help and not hurt, having these muffins are a real treat!

These two have been the favorite recipes so far.  Both come from Elana Amsterdam’s fabulous cookbook called The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  It’s been mentioned on this site lots of time because it has become somewhat of the gold standard for baking with almond flour.  If you are interested in healthy, grain-free and low-carb baking, go buy her book!

Both of these recipes have been used and changed a number of times already.  These are the basic recipes, but try experimenting to make them your own.  One change is that I sometimes have used melted butter instead of the grapeseed oil just for a bit of richness.  I’ve used dried cranberries instead of blueberries in the Banana Blueberry recipe, and I’ve only tried the Cinnamon Apple Muffins using unsweetened apple butter in place of the agave nectar in the original recipe.  I might try applesauce next time, and maybe add some raisins?  You get the idea – be creative!  If you guys come up with some good variations, let me know in the comment section below so we can all share!  And don’t forget – these muffins taste fabulous with a spread of nut butter on them.  My favorite right now?  Homemade Macadamia Nut Butter.  Yum!

BANANA BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbls. grapeseed oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (4-5) mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and eggs.  Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.  Stir the bananas into the batter, then fold in the blueberries.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve.

CINNAMON APPLE MUFFINS

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (I used unsweetened apple butter)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbls. vanilla
  • 2 medium apples – peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4″ cubes

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line 10-12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, egg, and vanilla extract.  Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined, then fold in the apples.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve.