Friday, May 16, 2014

Creamy Hazelnut-Pecan Ice Cream:

Yes it's dairy free, but I don't think you need a food allergy to love this stuff. 


We've been on somewhat of a "food journey" for a while now. When you're trying to eat a diet that mostly consists of no processed sugar, no artificial ingredients, no dairy and no gluten, ice cream is all but impossible. Sure there are commercial dairy free ice creams, but in my opinion, the almond milk ones taste gritty and the coconut milk ones are too light and have a weird texture. So, what's there to do (because I am not about to deprive myself!)?

Buy an ice cream maker:

You can get a decent little ice cream maker for around $50 bucks. I have a Cuisine Art and it works great for us. 

Next, comb the internet looking for recipes that fit your needs (i.e., dairy free, sugar free, yada ya...).

The one common thing that I found with all of the delicious looking recipes, is that all of their pictures had these perfectly scooped balls of ice cream... And mine? Well it tasted great but it was more like soft serve. Not what I had in mind. Then if I'd try and freeze it, it would turn out brick hard and icy.  

So what's their secret?? And why is no one telling?? I think I've figured it out:


       *Gelatin absorbs the extra liquid and acts as a stabilizer: no ice crystals.

       *Alcohol doesn't freeze. Adding a little into your ice cream helps prevent it from becoming an ice cream brick in the freezer. I use a vanilla that's made with alcohol and problem solved. If yours doesn't, then throw in a little vodka. Calm down now, I'm talking less than a tablespoon;)

*Blender because I found that it adds air into the milk and that also helps in our solid-but not brick hard- ice cream attempt.

*The quality of milk is important too. If you want to avoid needing to put raw eggs yolks into your ice cream, you need something that's really high in fat. The brand of coconut milk I use is off the charts amazing. Sometimes the cans are literally coconut cream. I stumbled upon the brand Golden Star (at Wal-Mart of all places!). I hope that WholeFoods never catches wind of this brand because it's the first I've found that the only ingredients are water and coconut milk! That's it, nothing else. And the quality of this milk is absolutely unsurpassed by any other brand I've tried. It's the first coconut milk that I've been able to put the can in the fridge over night and then make whipped cream using the entire can-it's that thick and creamy. And it doesn't even separate. Did I mention that at $1.48, it's half the price of other coconut milks? Oh and bonus-the can is also BPA free! I want to hug these people. I went back and bought every can they had on the shelf. It's that good.
Ok, now on to the recipe. It is sooo good! You can play around with the amount of nuts, but I wouldn't add more until you've made it once.

  • 1 can of cold coconut milk (I refrigerate mine overnight. You don't have to do this, but it works better).
  • 1/4 Cup honey (I use a raw honey that's mild in flavor)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla*
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Gelatin (I've only used Great Lakes and it has no flavor)
  • 1/4 Cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 Cup pecans (plus about 1/4 cup, give or take, of chopped pecans for later)
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
                                            *Add about 2 teaspoons of vodka if your vanilla is alcohol free

Start buy adding your hazelnuts, pecans and one pinch of salt into the blender and make somewhat of a nut butter:

You'll have to stop a few times and shake it around but in the end, it should look like this:

Next, add the vanilla and honey and blend. It'll be really thick.

Then add about half of the can of coconut milk and blend for a minute or two, until it's nice and smooth. It should look like this:

Now add the rest of the coconut milk, scrape the sides and blend for about 30 seconds or so. You don't want a bunch of froth, so you don't want to over do it on the blending the second time around. It should look like this:

Pull your ice cream bowl out of the freezer and follow your directions. I let mine go for about 5 minutes after it starts to look like soft serve:

After running for about 15-20 minutes in your ice cream maker, scoop it out of the ice cream maker bowl (do not leave it in there or you will either ruin your bowl getting it out, or you'll lose your batch of ice cream) and put it into a different freezer-safe bowl:

Stir in your chopped pecans, put a lid on it and put it back into the freezer for a few hours while it hardens up. 

I haven't had any trouble scooping mine out, but if yours is too hard straight out of the freezer, just let it sit on the counter for a couple of minutes.

This is by far the best dairy free ice cream I've ever tasted-let alone made! This is my personal recipe. If you try it and like it, feel free to share it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Perfect Grain-free Peanut Butter Cookie

You know when you're smacked with the need for cookies and milk? You know what I mean... that warm cookie that soaks up all the ice cold milk, does the waltz in your mouth and dances all the way down to your stomach?

Watching a movie one night I was hit with this craving, so I whipped up a batch of the ever so addictive and delicious crack cookies. I excitedly sat down to enjoy my santa snack only to be smacked in the face with disappointment.

Almond flour doesn't absorb milk. It kind of does what we should do when people say negative things to us: it rolls off its back. I was utterly bummed when I took a bite and realized that this heavenly cookie tasted like nothing more than wet almonds-not at all what I had in mind.

This put me on a mission, a mission to google my heart out until I found a grain free peanut butter cookie. I tried recipe after recipe-nothing fit the bill. Either they were so dense that you had to drink an entire glass of milk just to keep from choking, or they were so light and airy that they disappeared before you got a chance to actually chew.

Only one option was left: come up with my own recipe. This was a bit daunting because I'd never actually come up with anything from scratch before. I mean sure, I'd tweaked other recipes, made changes here and there, but never made my very own.

Many failed batches and tossed cookies later, I give you (in my opinion ;), The Perfect Grain-free Peanut Butter Cookie:

**Edit: The trick to keeping them soft and chewy is to pull them out of the oven BEFORE you think they're done. They should be firm around the edges, but still look a bit undercooked in the middle. Even the ones in my picture are a little on the over-done side. Once these bad boys cool, watch out-they are off the charts** 

1/2 C + 2 Tbls almond flour (does not need to be blanched. I just put almonds in my blender and   
blend until it's nice and fine)
1 1/2 Tbls coconut flour
1/4 C real shredded coconut (the only ingredient should be coconut) 
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted peanut butter, double this amount)
2 Tbls coconut oil
1/3 C honey (if you pour the coconut oil into this measuring cup first and then empty into the bowl, 
the honey will not stick and will plop out nicely :)
3 drops of Sweet Leaf Stevia (this is optional. They still taste good without it, but 3 drops [and 3 drops only] add that last bit of cookie sweetness. As far as brands-this is the only stevia brand I can vouch for as far as there being no hissy after taste-but like I said, only use 3 drops!) Also, this seems expensive, but it's chemical and alcohol free and lasts forever.
1 egg room temperature or run it under warm water just before adding 
2 tsp vanilla (if you're strict on GAPS, make sure that this is grain-free)
1/2 C real peanut butter (the only ingredient(s) should be peanuts and salt-if you get salted)

Preheat your oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine all wet ingredients (if the egg is not room temperature run it under warm water before cracking-the reason for this is cold egg + coconut oil = clumpy mess). Using a hand mixer, blend all of the wet ingredients until smooth.
In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients and then combine with wet, stirring with a spoon until incorporated. 

Let the batter sit for 5-10 minutes (this is optional, but I find that it makes the batter less sticky).

Like I said, the batter is sticky. Dampen your hands and take about a tablespoon of batter and lightly roll into a ball. Place them about two inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet (don't worry about flattening them). Bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to your stomach to a plate or wire rack.

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do! If you try my recipe and like it so much that you share it, being that it is my original recipe, please include a link to my blog. Thanks!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grain [& nut] FREE Cereal :)

We have missed cereal-bad. Thank God for the woman who created this recipe! Now we can pour ice cold milk over our cinnamon toast crunch [health edition] cereal, and enjoy its crispy crunchy goodness. Oh, and don't be intimidated by the thought of making cereal. It's way easier than I thought, and probably easier than you think too.

A few little extras to add to her recipe:

I (accidentally) found that adding about 1.5 tsp of coconut oil to the recipe eliminated 
the dough sticking to the parchment paper, problem

I cut the squares with a pizza cutter


I also used honey instead of maple (if you use maple, be sure and use the real thing-it may taste weird otherwise)

Make sure to use real coconut shreds

I blended the chia seeds separately in my coffee grinder-keeps those pesky seeds from hanging out in our front teeth (my thought is that it may be easier on the digestive system this way as well)

Ok, try not to eat it all at one time. I dare you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sugar and grain free? No problem.

That's what we call these. They don't last long at our house. They almost have a caramely/pecan pie-ish taste. Mmm, they're so good! They're sugar and grain free, but they don't have that I'm healthy taste to them, at all!

1/4 C coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
1/4 C honey
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 C blanched almond flour
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 C chopped nuts (I use pecans... mmmMmmm)
1/2 C shredded coconut, unsweetened

Before you get started, preheat your oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, combine oil, honey and vanilla, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, nuts and coconut.
Add dry the ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix throughly (I use a big spoon).
Take about a tablespoon or so and roll/shape (they can be a little sticky so they may not "roll") them into a ball and slightly flatten.
Bake them on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool and then move them onto your serving tray (I made the mistake of trying to move them too soon... Just trust me, don't do that).
Enjoy. My mouth is watering just typing the recipe out!

Adapted from Simply Living Healthy

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tantrums. Bad Tantrums.

(this is not a picture of a tantrum:)

Personal story:

Ezra is my sweet boy, but he used to throw terrible, and I mean terrible tantrums from time to time. All kids misbehave and throw fits, either because they’re tired, have had too much sugar, need discipline... But these aren’t the type of fits I’m talking about.

How to describe them? It’s like for a few minutes, my sweet boy isn’t there. He turns into someone who is screaming and yelling at the top of his lungs; growling, throwing things, kicking the walls and crying uncontrollably. Then, after it’s all over and we’re talking, and I ask him why he threw such a fit? He will usually look bewildered and say very genuinely, “I don’t know” and then star down at the floor very sad.

For a while these outbursts seemed to happen all of the time. Anyone who’s experienced these kinds of tantrums knows, you seriously wonder what’s happened to your kid? We figured it was the “terrible two’s” carrying over into the three’s.

Then, one day we noticed that he hadn’t had a tantrum in a while. They began to happen less and less, until it was only one every week or two; then they seemed to pretty much stop... Interesting.

Around this time we’d changed up our disciplining techniques and cut out TV (except for “special occasions”). Those were the only reasons we’d accredited seeing such an improvement in Ezra’s overall wellbeing. It was so nice having our goofy, innocent crazy kid back! Yet, with all of the changes we’d made it didn’t make sense that every now and then one of these tantrums would pop back up. Granted, it wasn’t as big of a deal because we knew that they would pass and he’d be fine, but it was confusing.

It wasn’t until one night, after we’d been out celebrating with family, that Josiah and I connected the dots. When we got home Ezra was bonkeroos!! He wasn’t being “bad” necessarily, he was just bouncing off the walls and was going ninety to nothing in his eyes. At one point he ran up behind Johnny and just whacked him on the back of the head! “EZRA!!” I yelled. “Why did you do that?” Again, he looked down, and then back up at me and slowly and quietly said “I don’t know.” “Ezra” I said “No, WHY did you do that?? You could hurt Johnny...” And that’s when it clicked.

That night he’d had red ice cream.

No. This could not be it. I didn’t believe it. I went to Josiah and told him and we both just stared at each other. Food dye? That just seems too weird. I’ve heard about those people who are sensitive to food dyes and I think it’s a bunch of crap... at least, that’s what I thought.

Hello google.

I found stories of the kind of behavior that we were experiencing and the culprit was indeed, artificial food coloring.

Up to this point, I had never had a second thought about food dyes. If the word “food” is in the name, then it’s got to be safe to eat... But, these are a few of the things I learned about artificial food coloring:

Many of them contribute to hyperactivity, restlessness and attention problems in children.

Some of them are known carcinogens. In short, a carcinogen is a substance that is capable of causing cancer in humans or animals.

The FDA actually recommended that one of the Red dyes be banned because of it’s link to thyroid tumors; Yet, it is still being used today.

In Europe they have to put a warning label on products that contain certain food dyes.

So, besides coloring the food, what do the dyes do? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. They add no nutritional benefit or flavor. Something else that’s interesting, it is completely possible to use natural food coloring, most companies just choose not to. For instance, in Europe (again) Kraft Foods uses natural food coloring in it’s Mac ‘n Cheese, but here? Nope.

Once we started entertaining the idea that food dye could be a huge culprit in Ezra’s tantrums, it clicked with us that the uncontrollable behavior began to lessen around the same time that we changed our diet to a more plant based, whole foods, natural way of eating. We would still let Ezra have cheats if we were out somewhere (hence random tantrums?), but the more real ingredient foods we ate, naturally we ate less processed artificial foods. Looking back it’s plain to see a direct correlation to our diet and Ezra’s behavior.

There are a lot of stories out there like ours. Your child doesn’t have to have an “allergy” to something for it to not be good for them. I encourage you to educate yourself and not assume, like I did, that things are safe just because they’re for sale to eat. Check labels out. I was shocked this Easter when I couldn’t find one jar of relish at the grocery store that didn’t have yellow dye in it. Really? Food dye in pickles?? I would never have thought.

Now, I still believe in fun foods and candy; I just want the real stuff, not something that was formulated in a lab. This is a link to a store that sells candy that is 100% natural and artificial dye free. Not only is it not harmful to you or your child, but there is no comparison to the taste. Hide your debut card before you click though. Trust me.

Friday, March 22, 2013


The other day, as I was driving home, I passed some kids selling Girl Scout cookies. I don’t know about you, but I attach memories to different things, good and bad. Let me tell you, I have all kinds of great memories attached to those delicious little bits of heaven. There’s something nostalgic about them. Popping a sleeve of those guys into the freezer and then enjoying them while watching movies on Friday night... Ah, the good ol’ days.

I want my kids to have those same good memories attached to delicious little treats too, and this is what I was thinking about as I passed the Girl Scouts. Only, I don’t want them to have to eat a bunch of hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup or any other crap ingredients to be able to have fun, happy, party foods. This gave me an idea... Could I make thin mints?


Are they “easy” to make? Well, they’re not “hard”, but they’re time consuming. This isn’t that big of a deal to me though. Good tasting healthful food, takes time. My one rule in the kitchen is that is HAS to taste good. Eating healthful foods doesn’t have to taste like cardboard.

So, this is where I got the recipe. I had to adjust it a little to make it dairy, gluten and soy free (she gives some good ideas). Instead of butter, I used coconut oil. Instead of whole wheat flour, I used 1/2 C brown rice flour and 1/4 C sorghum flour. Instead of regular chocolate chunks, I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (I am in love with whoever started this company, by the way. I want to hug them for like an hour straight).

Now, she makes these cookies look like everything magically falls into place; but we know that when you’re actually the one making them, that rarely happens. So, I’m going to give you a pictorial play by play.

Should you choose to make these cookies, you absolutely will not be disappointed. I honestly like them more than Girl Scout thin mints, and I didn’t think that was possible. They’re light and crisp and don’t leave that plasticy feeling in your mouth when you’re done eating. Oh, my one bit of advice: don’t eat too much of the chocolate as you're baking them... you won’t realize how much you’ve eaten until you’re about ready to barf, and that just takes away from the goodness of the cookies:).

My thoughts at this moment are, what the eff? It's a bunch of crumbs!! Fight the urge to add water. She says to "shape into a ball and then flatten into a disc and then place it into the freezer". Right. As you can see, that didn't work for me. I just stuck it into the freezer like this (but don't leave it in the freezer too long or you'll have a rock on your hands... trust me).

After removing it from the freezer and pressing it around in my hands (a lot), and then rolling it out (I put a piece of parchment paper between the roller and the cookie dough) it came together like this.

I used a glass to make the cookie cut outs.

This is my hodge-podge of cookies.

Once they've cooled, right before the chocolate dip. You want to avoid making them too thin, or they'll crumble and you'll yell obscenities.

My homemade double broiler. Hey, use what you got, right?

Freshly dipped cookies. Had a little chocolate left over, so I grabbed some strawberries. Whoa, was that a good decision! To coat the cookies, I just dropped them in the pan (one at a time), spooned the chocolate over the top and then took them out with my fingers, shaking off the excess chocolate.

I like them best once they've been in the freezer for a little while. Oh my. These are so good. And the best part is that you can feel good about eating them!:)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

[hash tag] #food allergies

I feel like my life the past 8 months could best be described as #dairyfree #soyfree #oatfree #glutenfree and most recently, #xanthangumfree. This has definitely not been by choice. Yet, in a weird way, I'm glad. I would never have discovered how many more options are out there, besides plane ol' wheat (in all of its beauty). I would never have realized that I could create recipes. I feel like a room to a different part of my brain has been opened. I see food in a completely different light. And it's all thanks to this guy:


In the days following his birth I started noticing that, at times, he would sound like he was choking. I began hearing a gurgling sound in his throat, especially at night. It scared me so badly that I would hold him through the night to make sure that he wasn't choking. He was also "collicky", meaning he would cry and cry without end. He would only stop if he were being held. Exhausted, I felt like I was losing my mind.

I called his doctor and explained what was going on and they wanted us to come in. It was confirmed: reflux. GERD to be more exact. Relieved that it was figured out, I filled the prescriptions. After reading the possible side effects of the medications, the risks far outweighed the benefits. So, I got him started on the more mild medicine and began my search to find out what causes GERD in infants. This led me to Dr. Sear's Elimination Diet. Sure enough, my diet was the culprit. One by one, I began learning which foods were causing his reflux.

I felt very lost at first. No dairy? Ok. I can do that. No oats? There go my favorite cookies, but oh well. No gluten?? Wait, what? Seriously?? What will I eat?? I mean, you can only eat so many salads. Oh, now there's no soy??? Who cares. I stopped paying attention after "no gluten." So this is where I decided that I had to do something because I love food far too much to be in misery for the next year. I dove into this whole thing head first, and it's actually been pretty fun. My only prerequisite: It has to taste good. That's non-optional. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a couple of snack/breakfast recipes that we love.

The first is Maple Morning Granola Cereal

This stuff not only tastes great, but it's loaded with nutrients-specifically, protein. With quinoa as one of its main ingredients, it's one of the few breakfast cereals that provide a complete (meaning, it has all of the amino acids present) protein.

So, for this you'll need:
1 1/2 C Oats (if you're like me and can't have them, omit them and add more quinoa. Play with it to find the ratio that you like)
2/3 C quinoa
1/2 C pecans
1/2 C almonds
1/2 C walnuts
(the nuts were measured before chopping)
1/4 C cranberries
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C real maple syrup (if you want it even sweeter, just add a little more! But I'd start here)
Other optional highly recommended ingredients: 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

Heat large skillet to med/high heat and toast the oats, stirring often. Err on the side of a little too toasty. Once you begin to smell their nutty scent, add the pecans and continue toasting and stirring. I use this time to chop the rest of the nuts put the nuts in a zip lock and smash with a cup because I don't have a chopper! Next, add the quinoa and the rest of the nuts and cranberries and continue toasting and stirring (are you noticing a theme?). Add cinnamon and stir it all around. If you're using coconut oil and/or vanilla, (liquify the oil first) mix them into the maple syrup an then pour over the granola in the skillet and stir, stir, stir. It'll sizzle and be a little wet. Just keep stirring until everything is coated and it's completely dry. Allow it to cool.

And viola! All you need is milk, a bowl and a spoon:)

*If it didn't turn out as crispy as you would have liked, either you didn't toast it long enough, or you need to scale the recipe down for the size of your skillet.

Next are the Nut Bars (inspired by Kind Bars)

For these you can use whatever nuts and dried fruit that you have on hand (in all of my recipes the nuts I use are unsalted). All of the ingredients except the honey and dates are optional and can be interchanged.

What you'll need:
10-15 dates (remove pits)
1/3 C honey
1 C almonds
2/3 C cashews
2/3 C pecans
1/3 C sunflower seeds
1/3 C pumpkin seeds
1/3 C walnuts
1 or 2 tbs ground flax seed (I use my coffee grinder)
2 tbs hemp hearts
1/3-2/3 C cranberries
1 tbs chia seeds
3 tbs water

Combine the chia seeds and water and set aside. Blend dates in food processor/blender until smooth (it'll be sticky and you'll have to scrape the walls a few times). Add the chia seeds, honey and hemp hearts to the dates, and pulse. Don't over blend, you want it chunky. Empty contents into a bowl. It will not all be blended. The majority of the nuts won't even have the honey/date mixture on them. Now, rub a little (I use coconut) oil on your hands and mix everything together. Next, empty the mix onto a piece of wax paper (on top of a pan) and flatten, press together and shape into a big square (keep adding oil to your hands to avoid it getting too sticky). At this point you can top it with any toppings you wish, or just leave it simple and plain:). Next, I usually dehydrate mine for an hour or so and then stick it in the fridge to firm up. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can either put them in your oven, on the lowest setting, for 45 minutes (give or take-keeping a close eye that they don't start toasting) or put them directly into the fridge, they just may not get as firm this way. After about 4 hours or so, you can remove them, cut them into bars and store them in the fridge. They usually don't last long in ours:)

Here's another batch topped with coconut flakes:)

Unless specified, my recipes are extremely versatile. You can interchange ingredients, omit them, add more of them... they're pretty hard to mess up.

Oh, and if you're wondering about this guy...

He's been medication free for about 6 months. Anytime I hear some reflux, instead of reaching for the Zantac, I just realize that my cooking's about to get a little bit crazier!