Friday, December 16, 2011

Grain-free Christmas Cookie and Treat Round-up (gluten-free, paleo/primal, GAPS)

As Christmas approaches, I think about cookies and sweet treats. We seldom eat desserts, so we are rather excited when the holidays arrive. Here is a list of some grain-free, GAPS-friendly cookies and treats for the holidays. Some of these recipes are from my blog and some are from other sources.
Nourishing Tip: Freeze the cookies and treats you make!  This will prevent you from feeling like you've got to eat so many before they go bad.  And then you can enjoy the fruits of your labors for several months to come.

I'll be taking a short holiday blogging break.  Happy holidays to you all, and see you in 2012!

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bacon-wrapped Salmon Cakes Revisited (GAPS-legal, nut-free, gluten-free, grain-free)

Some of you may recall that I posted a recipe for bacon-wrapped salmon cakes almost a year ago. I admit to being a person who has a hard time following recipes without adding a few tweaks. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes not so much. But, the latest version of these salmon cakes is definitely a winner and is my new standard for this recipe.

This is a great recipe for those out there who aren't fond of fish. Tartar sauce and bacon make everything better! Both kids and both adults in our house love this recipe.  This recipe would also make a great appetizer at your holiday party!

Bacon-wrapped Salmon Cakes with Tartar Sauce
Serves 6
Salmon Cakes

  • 3 - 7.5 oz cans of wild-caught Alaskan salmon, drained
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1/3 of a white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 Tb coconut flour
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp dill pickle juice or lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz nitrate free bacon
  • Tartar Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Equipment required: food processor (or you could try mashing everything together)
  1. In a small skillet, saute the onion and red bell pepper in butter until soft and translucent.  
  2. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Put eggs, coconut flour, dijon, Old Bay, parsley, dill, lemon/pickle juice, salt, and pepper in food processor.  Pulse to combine.
  4. Add the onion/red pepper mixture to the food processor and pulse until well mixed and chopped. 
  5. Add canned salmon and give a few pulses (if you pulse too much, the consistency will get very smooth instead of slightly chunky).  Stir if necessary to ensure that the mixture is well-combined. 
  6. Cut bacon in half (so the slices are half as long). Scoop 3 Tb salmon mixture onto each slice of bacon, and wrap tightly.  Place into glass baking dish (you will need either two 8X8 square baking dish, or one 9X13 dish).  
  7. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably several hours (overnight would be fine as well).
  8. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, turning once to allow bacon to crisp on top and bottom.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  
  9. Serve with tartar sauce.  A bed of fresh greens dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper makes a great accompaniment.
Tartar Sauce
  • 1/2 c. homemade mayo
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 dill pickles, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp dill pickle juice or lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients.  Stir, and refrigerate until ready to use.
This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Warm Vanilla Milk (GAPS-friendly, no refined sweeteners)

    Even though cocoa is allowed occasionally on the Full GAPS Diet, I try to really limit it on our house.  With our recent snowy weather, I've wanted something warm-and-cozy to drink as a nice treat.  Vanilla milk is a delicious alternative to hot cocoa.

    Our family has progressed far enough on GAPS to tolerate raw milk with no problems, and I like to keep the temperature of the milk low enough to keep the milk "raw".  If you can't drink raw milk, try this recipe with coconut milk or raw cream instead.

    Warm Vanilla Milk
    • 2 cups raw milk OR 1 cup raw cream* plus 1 cup water OR 1 cup full-fat coconut milk plus 1 cup water**
    • 3 Tb raw honey
    • 3/4 tsp organic vanilla extract
    • dash celtic sea salt
    • optional: pinch ground cinnamon
    1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. 
    2. Heat gently over medium-low heat and whisk to fully incorporate the honey.  NOTE: If you want to keep your milk "raw", make sure you don't heat it past 110 degrees F.  I find a digital probe thermometer to be crucial for keeping the milk from getting too hot, as I can set the thermometer to alert me when 110 degrees is reached. This also ensures that the milk is the perfect temperature for kids to drink without having to blow on it or burn their tongues.  If you are using coconut milk or aren't concerned about keeping the milk raw, then go ahead and heat until nice and toasty hot.
    3. Serve immediately.  If you find that the warm milk coos too quickly for slow drinkers, try serving it in a thermos.
    *Raw cream may be easier to digest for people with lactose problems as it has hardly any lactose at all.
    **You may want to add a touch more vanilla if you use coconut milk instead of dairy.

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

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Pork Carnitas (GAPS-legal, grain-free, gluten-free)

    Carnitas translates to mean "little meats".  These pork carnitas cook all day in the slow cooker.  This recipe is subtly spiced, and the flavor of the pork shines through.  These carnitas are wonderful when served in grain-free tortillas and garnished with sour cream, salsa, and avocado.

    The latest issue of Wise Traditions had a very interesting article showing the results of live blood cell analysis on people who ate pork prepared in various ways. Based on this article, I chose to make the pork healthier by using a traditional method: marinating in lime juice. The results are tender and flavorful, but not overly tangy.

    Pork Carnitas
    Serves 6
    • 6 bone-in pork chops (or use a roast that has been cut into several pieces)
    • 4 medium limes, halved
    • Celtic sea salt
    • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 3-5 Tb leftover bacon grease, or more! (no brown bits)
    • Garnish: sour cream, avocado, and salsa
    • Optional: grain-free tortillas
    1. Place the pork into a large glass dish and season with salt. (I would not use anything other than clear glass since the lime juice will be very acidic; I would especially not use a metal dish.) Use a reamer to juice two limes over the top of the pork chops.  Flip the pork chops over and juice the remaining two limes over the top.  Use a spoon if necessary to ensure the lime juice is distributed evenly over the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
    2. In the morning, place the meat and any juices into a slow cooker (or use an oven-safe pot).  Sprinkle the sliced garlic and spices on top.  Add the bacon grease in a few plops (use more if your meat was very lean or less if your meat is fatty). Traditional carnitas are cooked in lots of lard, so don't be shy with the bacon grease!
    3. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours (or in the oven at 225 degrees).  
    4. 30-60 minutes before dinner, pull the meat out onto a cutting board.  Shred with a fork, and discard the bones.  Put the meat back into the pot, stir around a bit, and check the saltiness.  Add more salt as needed, 
    5. Turn the heat to Warm (or put back into the oven and just turn the oven off) for 30-60 minutes.  Do not skip this step, as it will allow the meat to become very tender and flavorful. 
    6. The carnitas can be served over a green salad, in lettuce wraps, or in grain-free tortillas.  Garnish with sour cream, avocado, and salsa. Enjoy!
    This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!

      Sunday, December 4, 2011

      Homemade Christmas Presents

      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
      • letters, stories, or pictures made by the kids

      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?

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

        Thursday, December 1, 2011

        Tallow Container Candles

        Tallow, which is rendered beef fat, was traditionally used to make candles hundreds of years ago.  The last time I rendered some tallow, I found that making tallow candles is very easy! We've been enjoying the soothing light created by these tallow candles in the evenings.  And I have not noticed any beefy smell from these candles. They would also make a wonderful Christmas present!

        Tallow Container Candles
        Equipment and ingredients needed:
        • hot glue gun and glue sticks
        • small mason jars (or other glass containers of your choice)
        • cotton wick material
        • pure tallow
        • spoons and clothespins (for centering the wicks in the jars)
        1. Plug in your glue gun so it can start warming up.  I like to place it over a paper towel to catch any little drips.
        2. Cut wicks to the appropriate size for your containers.  Make sure you leave a bit extra to be glued onto the bottom of the jar, as well as for holding the wick in the center of the jars.  It worked well for me to make the wicks about 2 inches longer than the height of my jars.
        3. Use hot glue to glue the wicks to the middle of the bottom of the jars.
        4. Use a spoon and clothespin to stand the wick upright in the jar.  Try your best to get the wick right in the middle of the jar.OF course, if you pull too hard the glue wil detach from the bottom of the jar.
        5. Melt the tallow.  I actually just scooped it right off the top (once it had been strained) the last time I rendered tallow, which saved the step of melting it.
        6. Pour the tallow into the jars.  Let them sit for several hours or overnight to harden before you remove the spoons and clothespins.
        7. Allow the candles to fully harden before you light them.  This will take at least 12 hours. Beware that the tallow does not get super-hard like paraffin candles from the store (I'm sure this depends on just how cool your house is in the winter).
        8. Trim the wicks and light the candles. Enjoy the soothing atmosphere of candlelight! 
        This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday and Handmade Christmas Gift Carnival!

          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!

                          Sunday, October 30, 2011

                          Caramelized Beets and Carrots (GAPS-legal)

                          If you're looking for a new grain-free side dish, try out these caramelized beets and carrots!  This recipe actually morphed out of a mistake when I was trying to make cold beet soup last summer.  Since then, this has become a favorite side dish in our house (excepting my husband who has a very strong aversion to beets; both of the kids and I just gobble this up). The combination of beets, carrots, and garlic give this dish a wonderful flavor.

                          Caramelized Beets and Carrots
                          Makes 4-6 servings
                          Prep time: 10-15 minutes
                          Cook time: 1 hour
                          • 4 beets, rinsed very well*, peeled and chopped
                          • 7 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
                          • 4 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
                          • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
                          • celtic sea salt
                          • beet greens, rinsed very well* and chopped (optional)
                          • 1 to 1&1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade (use 1 cup if you aren't including beet greens; use 1&1/2 cups if you are including the greens)
                          • Optional garnishes: balsamic vinegar, sour cream, fermented bread and butter pickles
                          1. Place the butter, beets, and carrots in a pot and season generously with salt. Cook over medium-high heat for about 20-25 minutes, allowing the beets and carrots to caramelize in the heated butter.  Stir occasionally. 
                          2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, and saute for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant. 
                          3. Add the broth and optional beet greens.  Season with salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
                          4. Simmer 30-40 minutes, uncovered, allowing the broth to cook down.  Stir occasionally. The beets are done when they are nice and soft.  Check for saltiness and turn off heat.
                          5. Cool slightly and serve.  Delicious on its own, or you can add either a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a scoop of sour cream.  The beets and carrots pair particularly well with fermented bread and butter pickles. Leftovers are great when served with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
                          *If you don't rinse the beets and beet greens very well, you may end up with sandy grit in your teeth. Ick.

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

                          Thursday, October 27, 2011

                          Apple Cinnamon Muffins (grain-free : nut-free : GAPS-legal)

                          This time of year, fresh local apples are showing their colors at our farmer's market. These apple cinnamon muffins are a wonderful breakfast treat, sure to please the whole family.

                          Apple Cinnamon Muffins
                          Makes 12 muffins
                          • 1/2 cup butter or unrefined coconut oil
                          • 1/2 cup honey
                          • 3/4 tsp celtic sea salt 
                          • 6 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
                          • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
                          • 3/4 to 1 tsp cinnamon (use 1 tsp if you like lots of cinnamon flavor, or use 3/4 tsp if you like the cinnamon flavor to be subtle)
                          • pinch ground nutmeg
                          • 3/4 cup coconut flour 
                          • 2 cups shredded tart apples, such as Rome or Granny Smith (leave the skins on and shred them with a box grater)
                          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, cinnamon, and nutmeg 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. Fold in the shredded apples.
                          7. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  Scoop the muffin batter into the paper cups.  I like to use a 3-Tb scoop for this, but you could just use a large spoon.
                          8. Bake muffins in 325 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, until muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  If you are in a time-crunch, you could bake them at 350 degrees initially, but you'll need to reduce the heat after a bit so they won't burn before being set in the middle.
                          9. Remove from oven and cool.  Delicious with a pat of butter and a big glass of raw milk or milk kefir!  Pair these muffins with bacon or eggs for a hearty meal.
                          Time-saving tips:
                          *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!
                          **While you are at it, why not make a double batch of muffins and throw one dozen into the freezer?  It doesn't take much more time, and they will make a very easy breakfast for some other week.

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

                          Saturday, October 22, 2011

                          Apple Season!

                          Fresh apples are a wonderful treat at this time of year.  I try to avoid buying apples at other times of year when they are not in season (like during the spring and early summer).  Eating fruit as it comes in season is a great way to ensure that the fruit you buy will always be fresh and delicious, rather than picked and then transported for weeks from some far away locale.

                          Enjoy them fresh
                          We love to eat apples raw, but there are also some great ways to cook with apples.  If you haven't tried apple clafoutis yet, give it a whirl.  It is one our top five grain-free breakfasts. Cooked apples make a delicious side dish alongside pork or chicken.  I'm also working on a recipe for grain-free apple cinnamon muffins.

                          Preserve some apples
                          To extend our apple enjoyment, I am preserving lots of apples this year.  An apple corer-peeler-slicer has been essential to save time.  So far, I've put away one bushel (40 pounds), and hope to buy some more apples while the season lasts.  I've made:
                          • Dried apples: Core and slice the apples; then dry them in a dehydrator or oven at the lowest temperature.  We like to dry them until they are nice and crispy.
                          • Spiced apple butter: Throw cored apples (whole or sliced, with the peel on) into a slow cooker and let them cook all day.  Add spices like cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and cloves.  Add a pinch of salt and some honey if desired.  Then blend it all with an immersion blender until it is nice and smooth.  I just store it in small jars in the freezer rather than canning it. I can't wait to try this on some homemade ice cream.  It is wonderful stirred into a bowl of yogurt.
                          • Apple worms: Rather than throwing the apple peels into the compost bucket, I sprinkled them with a touch of cinnamon and then dried them in my oven for several hours at 200 degrees F.  The result is a wonderful, crispy snack!  My 4-year-old gets a kick out of eating these "worms".
                          • Frozen raw apples: In a large pot or bowl, combine cold filtered water and some sea salt (I used 1/4 cup salt to one gallon water). Core, peel, and slice the apples, and then chop them a bit more into smaller pieces.  As each apple is prepared, drop the pieces into the salt water.  Once all the apples are immersed, give them a stir. Drain into a colander and do NOT rinse the apples.  Put the apples into quart freezer bags, and transfer to the freezer.  These will be wonderful in the middle of winter cooked into clafoutis or an apple crisp. 
                          • Frozen cooked apples: Peel, core, and slice apples.  Cook them over low heat with a dash of salt and a little butter or coconut oil.  When they are nice and soft, they are done!  Scoop them into glass jars or bowls and freeze them.  These will make a great quick side dish or treat. 
                          What are your favorite apple recipes? Are you preserving any apples this year?

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

                            Wednesday, October 19, 2011

                            Ways to Avoid Halloween Candy Overload

                            Although we've never allowed our daughter to have much candy, Halloween is still a holiday she greatly enjoys.  This includes, of course, trick-or treating.  This will be our second Halloween while on the GAPS 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 daughter will enjoy, such as a small puzzle, 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 daughter's bag.   
                            2. "Legal" sweets: Since my daughter isn't often allowed to eat things like fruit leather, they serve as a great candy replacement on Halloween.  I'll drop a few "legal" sweet treats in her bag along with the other items she has collected while trick-or-treating.  Some ideas for legal sweet treats are: 
                            3. Candy Fairy: Before bed on Halloween evening, my daughter leaves her bag of candy on the back porch for the Candy Fairy (she knows that the Candy Fairy is really just me, but nonetheless she enjoys the idea that it is a fairy).  In the morning, she finds that her bag of candy is gone, but in its place is a new game or toy.  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.
                            Do you have any ideas for limiting candy on Halloween?

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