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.

Advertisements

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!

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!

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 candy cane ice cream

i didn’t really have a recipe to speak of for an ice cream like this, so i used a few ideas from around the blogosphere and made some modifications. thanks to vegan ice cream paradise for the foundation for this recipe! it turned out perfectly creamy. this was not at all icy or hard like many coconut milk ice creams. my family, brian and i really loved this ice cream, so mildly sweet and chocolatly! we were able to find candy canes with sugar rather than corn syrup, but any candy cane or peppermint candy could be used here if you can’t find them.

i feel good about this recipe. using palm sugar meant i didn’t have to feel too guilty about glucose spikes. using full-fat coconut milk meant a good dose of healthy fats, not to mention no worries about a belly ache afterward. enjoy this treat without remorse!

a few recipe notes:

*be sure to separate half a cup of the coconut milk to combine with arrowroot before you even begin anything else.

*i’m not sure how well erythritol or other alcohol based artificial sweeteners would work here, since they impede freezing.

*be sure to add extract and oil to the mixture after it has cooled down from the boil, otherwise much of the flavor will steam out.

*cocoa powder may be omitted if you simply want candy cane ice cream!

*the candy gets stirred in very last, so don’t even think of putting it in until i say so!

chocolate candy cane ice cream

3 cups + 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

2 tbsp arrowroot powder

1 tbsp coconut or other solid oil

3/4 cups palm sugar, or other granulated sweetener

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tsp peppermint oil

1 cup crushed candy canes or starlights

method: whisk arrowroot powder with 1/2 cup coconut milk and set aside.

pour remaining 3 cups coconut milk into pot and stir in sugar, oil, and cocoa powder. whisk continuously to let the sugar and cocoa to dissolve. allow mixture to come to a slow boil.

turn heat off and whisk in arrowroot slurry quickly. continue to whisk, not allowing any lumpies to develop. once everything is well combined, add in vanilla extract and peppermint oil. whisk again, like a nut.

stick mixture in the freezer for an hour or so, or in the fridge for a few hours. get it nice and cold, every so often.

finally, once cold, pour into ice cream maker and run according to your maker’s instruction. i split the mixture in half as not to overwhelm the ice cream maker. it took mine 30 minutes or so to freeze the ice cream. when it is done, stir in the candy, and pour into a large freezer safe bowl. freeze, covered, until ready to serve.

we had our ice cream with peppermint patricks, which brian and i cut out and decorated christmas eve morning. they were perfect with the ice cream. stay tuned for the recipe for these pretty little treats!

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!