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

cheesy tapioca flat bread

thanks to paleo hacks, i’ve found an AWESOME chebe cheat. i mentioned in my post on chebe pizza that i had a hack recipe so i wouldn’t have to buy the mix, and i must say that it worked charmingly.

i made this flat bread last night to go with our caesar salads because i wanted something to soak up all the extra dressing at the bottom of the plate. oh man, this bread is addictive.

i was craving it all night long after dinner, but managed to wait until morning to have with my greasy, dippy eggs and bacon. oh man. me likey.

i also made a cinnamon & sugar flat bread, which i dipped in coconut cream. i used the same recipe, omitting most of the salt, and stirring in 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup palm sugar, and spreading melty butter over the top to help more cinnamon and palm sugar stick. bake for 15 minutes, or until bread appears firm.

dear lord, tapioca has been my savior for the past few weeks while i’ve been craving starches.

if you’re like me, and have gone primal but still get starch cravings every few weeks, this is a pretty safe way to get your cinnamon bread, cheesy flat bread, pizza (or whatever you can dream up) fix out of the way without sacrificing what you’ve been working hard for! yeah, a little carb-heavy. but i pile on the protien and fat with it to even things out. this really tastes like a soft, stretchy english muffin. perfect for eggy sandwiches.

cheesy tapioca flat bread

2 cups tapioca flour, leveled

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk at room temp (coconut milk or cow milk)

1/4 cup butter or coconut oil melted

2 eggs, room temp, beaten

any herbs or seasonings you may want, fresh or dried

3 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 asiago, romano, parm, whatever hard cheese you so desire

method:

preheat oven to 450f. get a pizza sheet or cookie sheet out, no need to grease.

combine all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

separately, combine all wet ingredients together in a bowl.

combine both dry and wet. i find a rubber spatula works best for this.

knead dough until well combined. place onto cookie sheet, working onto surface as you would pizza dough. if dough seems too wet for this after it is well worked, add 1 tbsp more tapioca flour. if dough seems too dry and “squeaky” after working, add a touch more oil or butter.

press dough out as you would pizza, keeping it as even as you want. if you want lumpy bread, who am i to judge?!

use a pastry brush to brush butter over dough, then sprinkle cheese all over the top.

place into oven, baking for 10-15 minutes. don’t over cook it, don’t let it brown. it should stay light in color, otherwise it will become stiff and cracker-like.

remove from oven, slice, and serve. to store, place in a big baggie and keep in the fridge if storing longer than 2 days. to reheat, put in tin foil and into toaster oven for a few minutes. if you toast it without foil, it will become super hard.

enjoy with eggs, salads, or as a sandwich bread. i just can’t get over how good this bread is with bacon!

i slice this into 9 pieces, and here are the facts, per serving (without cheese): 166 cals, 25 carbs

banana coconut muffins

can you believe i managed to bake 12 muffins with a new-born baby?! and on the first day without daddy home?!

i am obviously quite impressed with myself. juniper and i have spent no time apart since she was born, aside from my shower times. i have been giving her all of her naps on my chest, but today i decided to try letting her nap alone. i waited until she was all drunk and sleepy after i fed her, then put her in her carrier.

shock.

it worked.

time to bake.

i have been pretty hungry at night during our 3am feedings. i think i just need excess calories right now. i got to feeling guilty for snacking on gluten-free pretzels and starchy store-bought items like this, and had been itching to bake anyhow. searching for a high protein recipe, i found this one from all day i dream about food. she uses raspberries, and glazes them with a coconut milk treat. i modified it using bananas instead of raspberries, and used coconut sugar in place of stevia and granulated erythritol. also, i used yogurt instead of cream cheese., because that’s all i had on hand. it all worked like a charm! i have also subbed the coconut milk out for more yogurt, just because i didn’t have any coconut milk.

this recipe is pretty darn guilt free, high in satiating, heart-healthy fats, high in protein, and pretty low in carbs for a muffin! nutrition info is at the bottom of the page.

these muffins are slightly sweet, full of banana coconut flavor, and really moist. the tops are a little crisp, which is my favorite part of the muffin.  and i love that they have me feeling filled up but not bloaty and sugared up!

this recipe makes 14 muffins

banana coconut muffins
2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup palm sugar or other sweetener
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz yogurt, room temp
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten and room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups chopped ripe bananas

method:

preheat oven to 350f. line muffin tin with paper liners.

combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

separately, combine all wet ingredients in a bowl.

mix the two together, then fold in bananas. scoop batter into lined tins.

bake for 25 minutes. allow to cool 10 minutes before you dig in.

nutrition per muffin: 229 cals, 18 grams carbs, 7 grams protein, 15 grams fat

eat like a dinosaur!

i have been looking forward to reading this recipe & guidebook since it came out. i have been following the blog of the writers of this book, paleo parents, for sometime now. their journey through rearing their children the paleo way has been fun and interesting to watch, especially after we found out that we were expecting our own little cave-person soon enough. i have been reviewing in my mind my future conversations with caregivers and babysitters about why they can’t give our kids conventional snack foods, grains, or gluten. i imagine these explanations, so complicated, might become numerous and exhausting.

including the special chapter “a children’s story” will be a fun way to explain to children, and maybe even adults, what special diets, personal food choices, and dietary restrictions are all about, and why it important to respect our bodies. in my own experience, it can be difficult to explain to anyone, and i have caught a lot of “picky eater” or “tree hugger” flack for my restrictions and choices. this chapter, and the recipes in the book for that matter, remind kids and adults of all of the fun, tasty foods that they can eat on a paleo diet.

another amazing feature in this book is that every recipe includes steps on how kids can help in the preparation of the food. using their own tiny hands to form lamb around skewers for kebabs, adding sauces and veggies to a wok.. these are the ways we keep our kids interested and involved in their own responsible food choices.

i hope you buy a copy of eat like a dinosaur for a hundred recipes just as great as the one below. -graham cookies, teriyaki beef jerky, pulled pork, coconut cream pie, honey nut ice cream.. you will not starve as a caveman, i promise. click HERE get to eat like a dinosaur on amazon.

i wanted to choose a recipe out of this book to make and review, because i believe that people like to see how a recipe works before they buy a cook book, and also that they can relate to the ingredients used. so i chose something i miss most in my primal eating: granola.

this recipe was super easy to execute, and super easy to wolf down. it was hard to resist eating it by the hot handful as it came out of the oven, but somehow i managed to wait until the morning after i baked it. i ate it the old-fashioned way, the way that i miss most: with cold, drippy milk, and sliced up bananas. i chose not to include a dried fruit in this recipe because i can’t seem to find any unsweetened/unsulphured fruits at the store lately. other than that, i made no alterations. the coconut in this recipe is what i like most. what a delicious stand-in for oats. it really comes off as oats when you are eating it, but less… cardboardy. i love adding this grain-free granola to my unsweetened applesauce, my lunchtime yogurt, and eating it out of the bag for a snackie. what a yummy recipe.

thanks again to matt and stacy for working so hard on such a charming and useful book. i can’t wait for the pages to get all worn,  to have little fingerprints marking up the pages!

grain-free granola

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups coconut flakes, chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped or pureed into a meal

1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped or pureed into a meal

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup fresh medjool dates, chopped to size of cranberries

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup honey

2 tsp cinnamon

*note: i chose to use a meat tenderizer to beat the crap out of the macadamia nuts in a large ziplock bag, since my food processor is in heaven right now. it worked really well.

instructions:

combine almonds, coconut flakes, nuts, and fruit in a bowl.

whisk together oil, honey, and cinnamon.

pour oil-honey mixture over nuts and fruit, then mix.

spread onto a well-greased baking sheet.

bake for one hour at 275 f, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning.

store in airtight container at room temp for up to several months.

eat this yummy, crunchy, kinda sweet cereal up with super cold coconut milk, sliced bananas, and a hot cup of coffee (if you’re a grown-up). half a cup serving kept me full until lunchtime. -try that, oats!

chocolate banana walnut muffins, vegan & grain free

chunky!

we’re licking the scraps of muffins off of the muffin papers as i write this. chocolate clings to every surface of my coffee mug.

chocolate for breakfast?

yeah. what do you want from me. i’ve been living off of sweet potatoes and sausage for weeks now, it was time for a change.

now i admit, chocolate is not typical in my home as a breakfast option. like, ever. i’m not sure if we’ve ever eaten chocolate before 1pm in our married lives, so this seemed like a fun step out of the safety box for us. not to mention, this was pretty healthy for chocolate ANYTHING, so i don’t feel too badly.

i’d been hunting for grain-free & egg-free baking recipes for weeks now, and it looks like i’ve finally found a great start. in fact, i’m thinking of making a pumpkin version by subbing bananas out for pumpkin puree next time, and tapioca flour for cocoa powder. we’ll see just how crazy things get.

these muffins set up perfectly once cooled, the coconut flour doing its job wonderfully at soaking up all of the wet. they are soft and moist, but not very gushy, which seems to turn most people off of coconut flour baking. this was also the first time i’ve ever used dates to sweeten any recipe, and they worked like a charm. their flavor was completely undetectable in the finished recipe, leaving only their sweetness behind. if you are afraid of dates, or just don’t have them, i think any liquid sweetener would suffice here as a switch-out, though i do recommend giving this method a whirl first.

many thanks to the ever inventive paleo parents for this recipe! click the link to see the recipe, including modifications to omit the cocoa from the muffins.

this recipe makes a baker’s dozen.

chocolate banana walnut muffins

2 large black bananas, chopped

1/2 cup creamy almond butter

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup dates

method:

preheat oven to 350f.

begin by boiling 2 cups or so of water. pour over dates, and let them steep for 10 minutes. drain.

sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

put dates and 1 banana in food processor with the oil and puree. add in almond butter and vanilla. puree briefly, just to mix in. add dry ingredients.

by hand, stir in the other chopped banana until well combined. i like to do this separately so i end up with a few banana chunks in my muffins.

scoop batter into paper lined muffin tin, top with nuts, chocolate chips, or both, and bake for 20 minutes.

allow muffins to cool for half an hour or so before removing from tin, and another few minutes before serving.

what a delicious mess!

fitday nutritional analysis per muffin, with chocolate and walnuts:

282 cals

27 carbs

3 grams protein

add a few strips of bacon and your breakfast is complete. this is why i’m not worried about the lack of protein. noms away!

pumpkin bread

pumpkin loaves

a few months ago, i attended an estate sale of a deceased great-uncle. in his home being sold was a treasure trove of baking and cooking tools. i restrained myself, and chose 3 practical items. -a potato ricer, a tart pan, and a set of bread pans that happen to be a really funky size. who in the world uses a 7 3/8 x 3 3/8 loaf pan?? i have no clue. i just knew that aunt willow marie would be proud of all of the baking that i do. she would want me to have these tools. her and my grandmother were the stars of the show with their cookies and cakes, and i remember very vividly helping to bake warm breads, gingersnap cookies, nut rolls, and amazing pies. i had been waiting to use these special pans until i found something i was super confident would turn out on the first try.

this is one of the easiest and most delicious recipes i have ever whipped together. i knew exactly what i wanted the result to be, and actually ended up with exactly that.

i used whey protein powder here not only for extra protein, but also to soak up some extra water from the pumpkin puree, though coconut flour could be subbed into its place. this is a fairly healthy recipe, as all of the ingredients fit into the primal blueprint that i try to follow. it is packed with protein, and the sweetness level can be adjusted to individual taste. add chopped, toasted pecans for even more of a protein fix if you so wish.

as you can see, i like a nice tall loaf. many times quick breads are short in the loaf pan, never exceeding half of the height of the pan. not here. i like nice, full slices.

the bread turns out perfectly moist, without feeling soggy or wet. i think the sweetness is perfect. -just enough for a dessert, not too much for midday snacking. i even think it would make a great breakfast slice.

it tastes just like it should, full of pumpkin flavor and a little bite of spice. i hear people say often that pumpkin breads using wheat flour doesn’t taste much like pumpkin, rather like pumpkin spices. i don’t do that. pumpkin should taste like pumpkin as the main ingredient, not a component. just as apple based recipes should taste like apples, not like apple spices.

substitution reminders:

coconut flour may be subbed in for whey protein.

honey may be subbed in for maple syrup, if you must.

9×5 standard loaf pan would be a fine stand in here if you don’t have funky loaf pans like i do. also, i’m sure this recipe translates very well into muffin, just be sure to shorten the baking time.

this could be given a cream cheese frosting, but i really like it without. it is totally sweet enough to stand alone.

slices perfectly

pumpkin bread

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2/3 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 packed cups almond meal

1/2 cup whey protein powder or coconut flour, measure, then sift

optional stir-ins: handful of toasted, chopped pecans, chopped crystalized ginger

method:

preheat oven to 350f. grease 2 small (7 3/8x 3 3/8) or 1 regular (9×5) loaf pan. i like to cut a large strip of parchment paper for easy removal.

combine all ingredients, beating well with handmixer. pour into loaf pans.

bake for 45 minutes, until toothpick comes clean when inserted in the middle.

remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes or so before using knife to separate edges from pan. gently remove loaf. i like to slice when it is still pretty warm. place on a wire rack to allow it to cool completely. the crisp edges of the end piece is my favorite.

try to allow 20 good minutes to cool before removing from pan.