spectacular cranberries

my favorite, and my dad’s favorite, cranberries over plain yogurt and bananas

my dad made cranberries for thanks giving this year, and boy, were they something special. i don’t normally think  that cranberries are something to brag about, just a repeat condiment at the holiday table. i can’t believe i doubted my dad in this manner! i couldn’t stop pawing at these little jewels. i took home a half-gallon or so, and it took all of 3 days for me to polish them off. i had eaten them every single day until the jar was sadly empty. they are warmly spiced with freshly ground cloves and cinnamon, and sweetened with honey. there is some surprise flavor combination lurking in there, but i just can’t put my finger on it. i just know it draws me in to more. they are pleasantly tart, but sweet enough to eat as a light dessert. i have been enjoying them on chicken, in salads, on sandwiches with gluten-free bread, stirred into plain yogurt, and eaten straight out of the jar.

cranberries over pork tenderloin salad

do yourself a favor and make these cranberries for your holiday dinners, or even just to have sitting around to use up throughout the week. they are a healthy way to feel like you are indulging, and a welcome leftover to have in the house afterward!

this is a really big recipe, so if you are not making these for a party, i recommend cutting the recipe in half, or making the large batch and keeping a reserve in the freezer.

note, too, that juniper just LOVED these cranberries. i don’t let her eat sugar, but this was special. plus, it was brown sugar, so it has some antioxidants in it!

in my dad’s own words, here is the magic recipe!

large recipe:
3- 12 oz. bags of cranberries
3- 8 oz. cups of orange juice (any kind)
1- 8 oz. cup of packed unrefined brown sugar
1- tbsp. ground cloves
1- tbsp. ground cinnamon
Add cranberries and orange juice together and bring to a simmer.
Add remaining ingredients.
Simmer and stir occasionally until berries have all popped open.
Cool in refrigerator overnight or longer.  
Will keep in refrigerator 3 weeks.

*personal favorite: serve on top of whole-bean vanilla ice cream!
**other personal favorite: serve with yogurt!

my dad has always been a great cook. he can find a few random things lying around and turn it into a treat.

i learned to make frozen grapes from dad.

i learned to make rhubarb crumble from dad.

i learned how you can grill anything. ANYTHING.

i learned that, “hey, no time to bake the french fries? BROIL them!” actually works in a pinch.

i learned how amazing peanut butter and honey are when swirled around on a warm piece of toast.

i learned what a joy a cup of hot coffee, tanned with a splash of cream, can really be on a sunday morning, spread out with the news paper.

so the message is, people, listen to your dad. he’s got all kinds of tricks up his sleeve.

Pumpkin Bread

we are all settled in at our new (temporary) home in cleveland! finally, i’ve made time to do a little baking, and started with something seasonal. i had been craving pumpkin bread since the chill in the air hit a few weeks ago, and it seemed that everyone around me was indulging. i have been unable to avoid the sights of people eating their pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin spice lattes, and all other goodies that are a major “no-no” for me.

i took my loaf pan out of the cardboard box it was packed in and got to work.

i was so excited to find a recipe using no nut flour. i am trying to cut down a little on baking with nuts, since they can be inflammatory when heated. coconut flour is so easy to digest, and is really a health-bomb all the way around. i found this beautiful recipe that the lovely coconut mama had conjured up. since i wasn’t about to dig for my smaller loaf pans, i doubled the recipe and made a few adjustments.

i am thrilled to say that this recipe was a total win. this bread is unlike other gluten-free or grain free quick breads. the texture is much more like a wheat based bread than an eggy or crumbly loaf that sometimes results from coconut flour or almond flour. it is simply perfect. i think the amount of sweetener used here is just right, so i would wait until you try it as-is before adjusting the levels of sugar added.

this is my little ramekin tester.

TIPS:

*just follow the instructions. the step using tin foil to cover the loaf is essential, don’t even think about skipping it. you would end up with a hard-as-a-rock top on your bread.

*since i doubled the recipe, i was able to pour a little extra into a medium-sized ramekin. it took 1 hour to bake. i immediately poured whole milk over it and ate the whole thing.

*use parchment paper to line the bottom of your loaf pan. trust me, your loaf will rip in half if you don’t line the pan. i don’t care how much oil you use. coconut flour sticks.

*you may wish to sweeten with something other than coconut sugar. in that case, i would just use cane or turbanado sugar. don’t attempt a liquid sweetener here. it could be fun, however, to experiment with using a few drops of stevia in place of 1/4 of the sugar.

*yes, 14 eggs.

*yes, 315f.

*as always, i would love to encourage comments regarding substitutions, adjustments, failures, and success! this is a give and take blog, so please let the readers know what this bread is really about!

pumpkin bread

(adapted from the coconut mama)

approx 12 servings

ingredients

1 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/4 cup tapioca flour (tapioca starch)

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

14 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 tbsp vanilla

method: grease up and line a standard loaf pan (8.5 x 3, roughly) with parchment to cover at least the bottom.

preheat oven to 315f.

begin with beating the egg whites in a large, dry bowl, until stiff peaks form. set aside while you complete the next steps.

combine the melted oil with the egg yolks, pumpkin, and vanilla. stir well.

mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

combine the dry with the wet. you will get a paste.

now fold in the egg whites.

pour into your loaf pan, then make a tent out of tinfoil to go over the loaf. this is where you may also wish to pour some batter into a ramekin, or a few muffin cups.

bake covered loaf (and other portion) for 45 minutes. remove ramekin portion, it is likely done.

remove tinfoil from loaf and continue to bake for 15 more minutes.

turn heat off after 15 minutes, and allow loaf to set up in oven, about 20 additional minutes.

loaf may now be cooled on countertop. allow a bit before removing from pan.

i love warm pumpkin bread served with cold milk poured over it. that, or a chunk of melty butter and sometimes a drizzle of maple syrup. this would be such a phenomenal treat with vanilla ice cream, also!

yes, this is a treat. enjoy a slice slowly and occasionally! the carbs, although high, are much less than most snacks are.. heck, lower than a large banana!

here are the facts per 1/12 of the loaf:

calories: 300g

carbs: 32g

protein: 9g

tropical tease yonanas

have you guys seen this thing yet?

it makes what this primal crowd of mine calls “bananas ice cream”. yes, it makes nearly the same product that we do in our blender, but with a superior result. also, i don’t like to waste the use of my blender (which is old, yucky, hard to clean, and limited on its final days) on frozen bananas. at times, it takes my blender 5 or so minutes just to make one serving of bananas ice cream, stopping the blender frequently to mash the bananas into the blade.

flash to yonanas. this thing is awesome. i’m not normally impressed with single item specific devices, but i love this. what a healthy way to push non-dairy treats into our ice cream heavy diets. let’s not forget how wonderful this could be with a waffle breakfast! -i’m just sayin!

it comes with a recipe book, though every “recipe” is flexible, and making your own up is totally legit.

blend cocoa sprinkled frozen bananas for chocolate yonanas.

blend it with any other favorite fruit that is frozen for a sorbet.

spread into the bottom of a pie tin lined with your favorite crust for ice cream pie.

between 2 grain free cookies or brownies for a sandwich.

throw in fresh mint for mint ice cream.

pour booze over it like grandma did for “kahlua ice cream”. (she has the good ideas!)

visit the website to learn more about this wonderful little gadget!

the recipe we enjoyed tonight was tropical tease. really simple, and super tasty. this was incredibly refreshing on a hot night, i think it would be a relief on a super hot afternoon playing out in the sun. oh, and don’t skip the coconut!

this recipe is taken directly from the yonanas recipe page. there is a wealth of simple, delicious, and incredibly nutritious recipes on that site. enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 frozen ripe bananas, 1⁄2 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1⁄2 cup frozen mango chunks, 1⁄4 cup shredded coconut

Directions:
1. Insert one frozen banana
2. Add 1⁄2 cup frozen pineapple
3. Add 1⁄2 cup frozen mango
4. Insert second frozen banana
5. Stir pineapple mango Yonanas into bowl to combine
6. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of Yonanas

if you’re feeling a little wacky, put your yonanas into your favorite gluten free/grain free cone!

What is life without dessert?

longer.

and healthier.

this is what i say.

when talking to people about my W30, or even about my grain free diet, they often ask “what is life without_____?”.. rice, sourdough, spaghetti, doughnuts… whatever you could imagine that one would think they may be addicted to.

well, i agree that these foods are a tasty, fun novelty to eat. but that doesn’t mean it is a reasonable excuse for food.

and even when we make cheater, grain free versions of such treats, it really still isn’t a great excuse for food, though it is made from real, whole ingredients instead of old syrupy corn and milled wheat.

i try to keep in mind when i’m scouting sweetie treats in the store, or online, or in my freezer…. sweetie treats are for treats.

do i deserve a treat just because i finished a meal?! heck no!

limits.

W30 has reminded me of life’s limits. separating “needs” from “wants”. this includes relying on fruit binges as a treat, just because it is “allowed”. why binge on fruit? because my body knows it is still sugar, and my tongue LOVES sugar.

i encourage all out there to look deeply at food rewarding. be honest when you think about it. if you see yourself doing this, stop it. stop it for just 5 days, break the routine, and i promise you will realize how silly it is to think that there is no life without dessert!

lemon meringue cake

is it just me, or does lemon meringue provoke nostalgia? it always reminds me of the 70′s. it feels like such a retro dessert!

this dreamy cake made its way into my life far too late. tart, cold lemon curd in a sweet, cakey layered sandwich?

of course.

but..

with meringue?

yes, meringue instead of frosting!

why didn’t i think of that? where has this been all of my life? the pillowy swiss-style meringue is honey sweetened, and is more like a lightly sweetened, toasted marshmallow blanketing the cake than a traditional, dry, stiff coating over that lemon meringue pie at the grocery store.

this recipe is a culmination of many put together. while i will reference all of them, i will write out the recipe as i made it.

the guilt-free treat is loaded with protein from the eggs both in the cake and in the filling and topping. don’t forget about the healthy, clean fats, fiber, and its refreshing and light flavors on a hot day. we demolished it during out 90 degree day last weekend at our BBQ, and there were only leftovers because i hid the last slice deep into the refrigerator before friends came back into the kitchen for seconds.

what a crowd pleaser! i could not detect the taste of coconut that people are always anticipating with coconut flour, so don’t be afraid. alternatively, if you love the flavor of coconut, a little coconut butter (1/4 cup or so) would be delicious in this cake if you want to give it some concentrated coconut flavor. the texture is much like a sponge cake, but a little denser. it would make an excellent base for any yellow cake, poke cake, or pound cake.

i halved the recipe, making only one layer, then slicing it through to make a layer cake. i am posting the recipe for one layer, double it if you have a big crowd.

this recipe works best if all of the liquids are at room temperature. it should be made a few hours before, or the day before you put it together with the curd and meringue.

lemon meringue cake

adapted from nourished kitchen’s coconut flour cake

6 eggs

1 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut flour, sifted to remove clumps

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

method: preheat oven to 350f, place racks in center of oven. cut a round of parchment to stick to the bottom of an 8″ cake pan. use butter or oil to stick it to the bottom, and grease up the sides of the pan.

beat eggs, honey, vanilla and milk until well combined.

separately, combine all dry ingredients together in a dry bowl.

combine the wet with the dry ingredients, and stir until everything is evenly mixed. allow it to sit for 2 or 3 minutes to let the coconut flour soak up some of the wet ingredients. the batter will be thick, but pourable.

pour the batter into prepped pan. bake for 40 minutes.

allow to cool for half an hour before carefully separating the sides of the cake from the pan, then inverting onto a cooling rack.

cake should cool completely before you cut it in half to layer it. also, the flavor will be most excellent when cold. you may refrigerate it to get it cold before you make the curd.

lemon curd filling

variation of my own recipe

4 egg  yolks at room temperature (save whites for meringue)

2 whole eggs

2/3 cup honey

zest of one organic lemon

1 cup of lemon juice

12 tbsp coconut oil or butter

method: whisk first 3 ingredients in a bowl. transfer to sauce pan and, over low heat, whisk like crazy until it gets a little pale in color. remember, you don’t want to be making scrambled eggs here, so low and slow is the key here.

add coconut oil, whisk for a few seconds until melted, then quickly whisk in lemon juice.

cook over medium heat whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and a few bubbles rise from the mixture.

remove from heat immediately after you see your first few bubbles, and pour through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a clean bowl, pushing mixture through. discard pulp in sieve.

allow curd to cool at room temp for an hour before pouring it into the center of your cake. once you place it between the layers of cake, refrigerate it for a few hours so it sets up nice and firm without layers slipping around.

swiss meringue

adapted from cook, eat, love

1 tbsp cornstarch (or 2 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca flour)

1/3 cup water

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup honey

method: mix the cornstarch and  honey in a small saucepan, then add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. using a wire whisk stir briskly and boil for 15 seconds. remove the thick paste from the heat and cover.

in a clean, very dry bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.

add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites, and slowly pour in hot honey and cornstarch mixture while continuing to beat. thick white waves will form, and when you continue, stiff white peaks will form.

once stiff white peaks form, stop mixing.

spread all over cooled cake while meringue is still warm. this way, it will really stick to the cake and take a stiff form. you may fire the meringue now, or put it into the refrigerator until ready to serve. use a kitchen torch to fire the meringue until it is dark brown.

store assembled cake in the refrigerator or at room temp. it will keep in the refrigerator for no longer than one full day. meringue, even cooked, will weep slightly over time.

coconut butter macaroons

my mother in-law sent along this vegan macaroon recipe she found on williams-sonoma blog, the blender, months ago. i’ve had the strongest intentions of making it, and happen to always have all of the ingredients in my pantry. i am always looking for new recipes using coconut, and even desperate to find recipes using coconut butter. through my entire pregnancy and now after, i have been craving coconut like mad.

these macaroons came together so quickly, a matter of minutes really. i melted the coconut butter over low heat in a pot, threw in the syrup and other ingredients… stir, stir, stir, form, bake, done.

easy.

delicious.

these cookies turned out light and sweet. the edges and crust of them were crisp. the flavor of coconut was delicate, but very present. the use of coconut butter is a brilliant way to boost the coconut flavor without the use of artificial extracts.

macaroons should not be heavy, sticky or dense. they should be lightly sweetened, moist and light in the center, heavy on coconut flavor, and given a crispy crunch on the outside after toasting in the oven.

my only recommendation is to resist rolling the macaroons in a tight ball. simply spoon them onto the parchment and form into a loose ball. this will prevent the dense, thick-as-a-brick uncooked inside.

thanks to my mother in-law, cindy, for thinking of me when she saw this! i should make her a batch to say thank you!

this recipe makes 18 or so smallish macaroons.

for the macaroons:

ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut butter

6 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened

method: preheat oven to 350f. line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

melt coconut butter over low heat in a medium pot. keep stirring until most lumps and bumps are gone.

stir in maple syrup and vanilla until well blended.

add coconut and salt and mix well until coated evenly.

spoon onto cookie sheets, shaping lightly into snowballs.

bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are just toasted golden-brown. macaroons set up when they are cool, so don’t expect them to be crisp or firm right out of the oven.

allow to cool for 30 minutes or so.

chocolate drizzle

slowly and gently melt 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips in a pot.

use a small spoon to drizzle over cooled macaroons. alternatively, you can dip the bottoms of the cookies into the chocolate. -or both. is there such a thing as too much chocolate? lets be honest.

chocolate banana ice cream in a cone

normally, i don’t do pre-packaged foods. like, at all. however, when i was getting my life ready for life after juniper, i made the decision that the day after her delivery, i would deserve an ice cream cone. i knew that there was an awesome homemade hard-dip ice cream joint just down the street from the hospital, and that i would be able to send my husband out for ice cream, and he would come back and put it in the cone for me. so, into the hospital bag went an unopened package of “let’s do gluten-free” ice cream cones. since this was a treat that i would be working very hard for, i didn’t care much about its nutritional content aside from it being gluten-free.

however, upon inspection, i couldn’t help but notice it’s awesomely simple ingredient list:potato starch, tapioca starch, palm oil, demerara sugar, potato fiber, cocoa fiber, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, vanilla extract.

not only did the short and responsible list of ingredients impress me, but also did the nutrition facts. per cone, i was consuming 10 calories (yes, 10, not 100) and 3g carbs.

i’m only sorry i wasn’t introduced to this box of cones years ago.

turns out, they now make waffle style cones, which is a personal favorite of mine.

i have always purchased their organic coconut and coconut products, but i will now gladly delve even further into their delicious pre-packaged foods.

yesterday it was 85f. it was super hot. brian and i wanted an icy treat after our dinner, but really cringed at the idea of spending any money on treats right now… budgeting with a baby is tough, but necessary. at brian’s suggestion, i dug deep into the freezer, pulled out some cut up frozen bananas, and proceeded to prepare our favorite summertime treat.

also, we were in need of something special to celebrate juniper’s one month birthday! i can hardly believe that a month ago i held her precious little body for the first time. brian and i looked at her amazing little face for the first time. we welcomed the most special little person into our lives for the first time. i can’t wait to be amazed by her, more and more, each day.

from my cheap gluten-free home to yours, i present to you, once again, bananas ice cream…

but in a cone!

chocolate banana ice cream… in a cone!

this recipe will serve 2

2 bananas, sliced and frozen

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 let’s do gluten-free cones

method: throw bananas and cocoa powder into blender. run blend until just smooth. do not over do it or the heat from the motor will warm the bananas and you’ll have pudding.

scoop your chocolate banana ice cream into cones, enjoy!

it’s been one month, little juniper, and we love you more and more each minute that passes, you goofy adorable thing!