Chocolate Covered Caramel Candies {Paleo, Vegan option}

Caramel Candies

These were a “throw-together” recipe created because I needed a candy that didn’t have coconut (other than coconut oil). They turned out really yummy so I had to share! (both the candies and the recipe)

The “Caramel” inside
8 dates, pitted
1/4 cup raw cashew butter
1 teaspoon organic honey

The Chocolate outside
1/4 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 tablespoon organic honey

For the caramel inside, I combined the ingredients in my food processor and then pressed them into patties. You could do any shape you want! Little cubes, little tootsie-roll shapes, hearts, balls…. get as creative as you’d like! Once formed, place them in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.

Gooey Caramel center

For the Chocolate coating, combine your ingredients in a small saucepan, or a double broiler. (I set a small bowl on top of a small saucepan filled with water. Set heat to medium and melt the ingredients together.

Now for the messy fun of it all : Dip your chilled caramel shapes into your chocolate and then set aside on a plate or sheet of parchment. You will want to chill these afterwards for a bit as well, and until ready to serve. For a thicker coating, you can double dip them, or simply spoon the remaining chocolate over top.

yummy. caramel candy time.

Again, you will want to chill them to let the coating firm up a bit. When you are ready to serve, these need to remain chilled. The chocolate coating will get soft fairly quickly. Not to worry, though, they will likely not last that long!

Enjoy!

VARIATIONS IN THE WORKS: topped with sea salt, a pecan added to the center, other nuts or seeds to try as an added flavor and crunch

PALEO EASTER FEAST

Easter Sunday will be the 1st day AFTER the 30-day GRAIN FREE challenge group that I hosted and tested out with my own family.  Guess what my husband said to me?  It went a little something like this:

>>>”I was thinking, this hasn’t been so bad. Maybe I can be mostly grain-free with a splurge every now and then”<<<

Hello, music to my ears! 😀 I can’t tell you how proud it makes me when I have been able to feed my family healthy meals that they don’t want to run away screaming from. {insert the fist and arm pump and an empathic “YESSSS!!!”}

So, for the upcoming weekend of Easter festivities, we have decided to stick with our grain free program that we are all feeling great on!  I am putting together a delicious {if I do say so myself} menu and I am too excited NOT to share it with the world. I hope this helps someone ull off an amazing Easter meal without using any gluten OR GRAINS at all. Sending out some food love for your family this Easter. Here is what will be on our table for this year’s Easter Feast:

First, I am going to have TWO homemade dips that will be entwined in the day’s meals. Here are the two sidekicks that will enhance several dishes for our day:

Dip 1) Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette ~ This will be served in a small bowl for an optional dip for the Brussels Sprouts Chips; This will be drizzled over the grilled lamb chops; This will be drizzled over the Avocado and Mango Skewers

  • 1/2 cup fresh organic parsley leaves
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons good quality organic olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, organic
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, organic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, organic

Dip 2) Dill Aoeli (or, basically, mayonnaise) ~ This will be used as a base for the Peppered Cucumbers, This will be used in the Slaw, This will be used to make Deville Eggs

  • 1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
  • 1 cup oil of choice (like organic olive oil or organic expelled pressed sunflower oil)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill
  • Salt & pepper to taste

*The key to making this homemade aioli (mayo) is to start with your egg in a food processor and drizzle the oil in VERY, very slowly until it comes together. Add in the dill and lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.

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>>Now to SET the TABLE<<

Devilled Eggs – Yolks Fork-Whisked together with some of the Dill Aioli, some mustard powder, and some pickle juice from lacto-fermented pickles (if we don’t have any of our own made up, we LOVE Bubbie’s brand) Pepper to taste. Perfection.
*Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

A cold relish Tray of Bubble’s Pickles & Lacto-fermented Dill Carrots

Creamy Peppered Cucumbers  (I got this idea from Southern Living Magazine and made a few tweaks~ delicious!)-
3 cucumbers cut into wedges
1/3 cup Dill Mayo
1 tablespoon organic lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

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Mango, Avocado & Cucumber Skewers – Chunks of Mango, Cucumber, Mint, and Avocado all skewered on a festive food stake and drizzled with a tiny bit of the Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette

Creamy Kraut&Broccoli Slaw – I LOVE adding some homemade sauerkraut into our slaw. First, it’s like a traditional cabbage slaw with a facelift of probiotic goodness; and second, its just plain tasty 🙂 Our concoction will be a mixture of Organic Broccoli Slaw mix, homemade sauerkraut, and a palmful of organic raisins. *Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

The dressing:
1/3 cup Dill Mayo
1-2 tablespoons of organic lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of raw honey
Salt & pepper

Sprouted Lentils –  made with 1 cup sprouted lentils, 3 cups broth, 1 bag of frozen organic lease and carrots, and some seasonings to taste. {* Lentils are not technically found on all Paleo & Primal allowable lists. We do well with them in our house and our Grain-Free plan is more of a modified Specific Carbohydrate Diet, so lentils are on MY PERSONAL allowable list, and they will most definitely be on my Easter table because a couple of my kiddo actually LOVE them! We buy them already sprouted here}
*Can be made ahead of time & reheated

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Brussels Sprouts Chips –  Hand peeled Brussels sprouts leaves peeled, tossed in oil, and baked at 350 until they start to crisp up and brown. We will be serving these along with a tiny dipping bowl of the lemon parsley vinaigrette. *Serve these fresh out of the oven.

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Roasted Beets & Organic Tri-Colored Carrots – These will get chopped roughly, tossed in about 3 tablespoons of the Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette,  and roasted at 400 degrees for nearly an hour. I’ll stir a couple of times through the baking time just to get everything evenly roasted.

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Grilled Lamb Chops – Salted and Peppered lamb chops will get grilled to perfection and drizzled with a little Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette. Um… yes puhlease.

Lamb Chops with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette

>>THE SWEET STUFF<<

Apple Cinnamon Nutbutter Bundt Cake – <Click for recipe
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& maybe even some of these Avocado-Lemon tarts because they are so pretty :).

Lemon Avocado tarts

Paleo Cinnamon Apple Bundt Cake

Bundt Cake

Cinnamon-Apple-Nutbutter Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cup cashew meal (or other nut or seed flour)

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 pastured eggs

1/3 cup raw organic honey

1/3 cup organic unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

3 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons organic cinnamon
Toppings:
1/3 cup Cashew Butter Mixed with 2 tablespoons honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh Organic Apple, finely diced

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, sifted together with a fork or a whisk all of your dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients for the cake and mix to combine.

Transfer to a silicone bundt cake pan. Bake for 38-42 minutes at 375 degrees.

Let cool for 10 minutes or so before turning the bundt out onto a cake platter.

In a separate dish, mix your nutbutter and honey and vanilla extract. Transfer it to a piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off and pipe your thick drizzles onto the cake. Finish off with a sprinkling of fresh diced apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 

Gluten Free Cornbread (Egg-Free Version)

The EGG-FREE version:

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Cornbread

1 cup organic stone ground corn meal
3/4 cup garfava flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon real salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons oil + 2 for the pan
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, pour 2 tablespoons of oil into your iron skillet and place it in the oven. Now mix your batter.

Start with the dry ingredients, mixing them all together in a medium size bowl. Next, add your wet ingredients and stir until you have a lump-free batter. It will be gritty, but should not have lumps. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and add your batter to the oiled skillet. Return the skillet to the 400 degree oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

When done, turn the pan out onto a cutting board or plate. Cut and serve.

Gluten-free Playdough Time

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I always find it amusingly ironic that my little Canary’s favorite color of all time in the whole wide world is – yellow. 🙂

We made up some pink playdough earlier this week and tried a new recipe. It turned out nicely, but got really sticky the following day. So, today, we attempted a new concoction and I am happy with the outcome. Bonus: we did yellow, which makes my sweet girl so very happy.

 

Gluten Free Yellow playdough

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup arrowroot powder/flour

1/2 cup salt

2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup water

 

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the ingredients together until they start to congeal and glob up, becoming sticky enough to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Let cool until you can handle the dough and then spoon it out into your hand or onto a surface. Knead and stretch the dough until it is cool enough to play with! That’s it.

 

Store in an airtight container.

Definitely experiment with other natural colorings.

Green can be made with Chlorella or Spirulina powders or a little liquid chlorophyll.

Red/pink can be made with cherry juice, beet juice, pomegranate juice, elderberry syrup

Purple / blue can be made with blueberry juice, soaked red cabbage, purple grape juice

experiment with your own natural colorings! (If using liquid, your liquid + water should equal 1 cup for the recipe).

 

Happy, healthy play-doughing!

 

Gluten Free Holiday Cut-Out Cookies {dairy-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free}

GFCF Cookies w/GFCF Cane-Sugar free icing & Food-Dye Free Decorations
Gluten-Free Holiday Cut-Out Cookies ~ Food-Dye-Free Decorations

 

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My little elves, making cookies.

Probably one of the clearest examples of how FOOD traditions get entwined in holidays and other celebrations is that of the CHRISTMAS CUT OUT cookies to our Christmas holiday. It is just part of the MAGIC of this holiday season. Even though we don’t make recipes anymore that call for 2 cups of sugar (yikes!) or 3 cups of powdered sugar (double yikes!), or bright chemically-food-dyed frostings and sprinkles (holy brain cells batman!) CUT OUT COOKIES ARE A MUST for a complete Christmas holiday at our house.  taste tester

This year, I was churning through recipes ideas and past recipes and trying to find the perfect cut out cookie. This is pretty easy to do with traditional flour, but with gluten & sugar free baking, this can be a little bit tricky. I wanted a dough that was firm enough to roll out, baked up with a good crunch but still soft and crumbly in the center, and a sugar cookie that doesn’t actually use any sugar. This is what we came up with and I was pretty happy with the outcome! We certainly had no problem testing the batches ;).

IMG_20141220_200031DecorationsThen, we raided the pantry for topping ideas! Here’s what we came up with:

~Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

~Elyon Mini Marshmallows

~Let’s Do Organic Sprinkles

~Hammond Candy Cane crushed into “peppermint dust”

~Organic Shredded Unsweetened Coconut

~Cinnamon “Sugar” {cinnamon mixed with granulated coconut sugar}

The toppings were definitely not sugar free, but I get much satisfaction from minimizing the harmful ingredients in our family’s food, and even MORE satisfaction in being able to maintain such wonderful traditions despite our food allergies! From our house to yours, and no matter WHAT you celebrate this time of year, we hope you have a wonderfully delicious & abundantly healthy holiday season!

Holiday Cut-Out Cookies

1 1/2 cups almond flour (you could use any nut flour)

1 1/4 cups brown rice flour (plus more for dusting your rolling surface and rolling pin)

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs (or 1/4 cup applesauce)

1/4 cup spectrum organic palm shortening (Coconut oil should work too)

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon real salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer), cream together the shortening and honey and vanilla. Now mix in the eggs until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and salt and whisk them together (or sift if you want to take that extra step). Slowly add your dry mix a half cup at a time into your creamed mixture until everything is combined. The dough will be a solid ball, but still fairly soft. At this point, you can cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to a couple of days).

Once your dough is chilled, you can begin the fun of rolling and cutting. Collect the cutters you want to use and clear a flat surface to roll the dough out on. You will want to generously flour your surface. If the dough seems sticky, simply roll it in some of the brown rice flour. I work with half of the dough at a time, keeping the half I am not working with back in the fridge.

Roll the dough out to desired thickness. We like ours about 1/4 inch thick. Press out your cookies and transfer to a baking sheet (I like to line mine with parchment paper).

Once your cookie sheet is full of your cut outs, bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should be crisp on the edges, a light golden color, and as long as you don’t over bake them, will still have a soft crumb when you bite into them.

Repeat until you have used all of your dough. Cool on a wire rack until you are ready to decorate.

 

The Icing

1/3 cup spectrum organic palm shortening

1/3 cup honey

4 drops of liquid stevia

5 tablespoons arrowroot

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk or hand-mix the shortening and honey together. Stir in the vanilla and then one tablespoon of arrowroot at a time.

~NOW~ Before you start adding in chemical food colorings to your beautifully refined-sugar and chemical-free icing, please consider doing a quick read on the research that has been done on these and their effects on the brain and even on behavior. I really like the Feingold website’s information, particularly on food dyes. We choose not to use them in our house.  You can purchase some naturally colored food-dyes (amazon or the natural candy Se should carry either or both of the India Tree or the Let’s Do Organic) Or, you can get creative with other things. This year, we used come Enjoy Life chocolate chips, some cinnamon “sugar”, some dye free sprinkles by Let’s Do , some organic coconut shreds, and some gluten free marshmallows (just a few ;)) . The kids were proud of their creations, and everyone certainly enjoyed EATING their artwork.

Our Cookie CreationsIMG_20141221_0941152014-12-20 19.58.07

Santa Hat Brownie Bites

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Santa Hat Brownies

Brownie (adapted from the Babycakes Brownie Recipe):
1 cup garfava flour
1/4 cup potato starch flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup honey (or cane sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder (I use a corn-free, Hain’s brand)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 + 2 tablespoons coconut oil (liquid measure)
2 eggs
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1/2 – 3/4 cups enjoy life chocolate chips
pinch of salt

325 degrees.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt)  in a medium size mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients as follows: 1/2 cup of the liquified coconut oil, vanilla, and water. Stir together until the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a basting brush, use the remaining oil to grease mini muffin tins. Spoon each tin until they are about 3/4 of the way full.

In a preheated 325 degree oven, bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick come out clean and the edges are firm.  Let cool I the tins for 10-15 minutes.

For the Icing, I made a buttercream frosting using Organic Powdered sugar and Spectrum Shortening (palm shortening).

Add a ring of icing and then sit your Strawberry down in snugly. Fish off with a little squirt of icing that resembles the fluffy ball on Santa’s hat.

Merry Christmas To All…. and to ALL a …..delicious treat! :9

Santa Clause Is Coming to Class

Santa Clause Is Coming to Class
Who says healthy Food Can’t be Fun?!

This year, I have two school-goers. My second grader, and my kindergartener. If you follow my posts, you might have heard a little of my griping about pre-school last year. Last year proved to be QUITE busy for me, keeping up with the daily snack of Standard American sugar and gluten-filled fare. Don’t get me wrong, I am a total sucker for a cute theme-based treat, but powdered sugar donuts and food-dyed icing galore, and every single DAY…. well, I was creating our own versions of the theme food every single morning to send with my little healthy eater.

This year, I sent out my standard email to the room moms in both kids’ classrooms.  The room mom for my kindergartener replied right away and I was thrilled that she was understanding! She Said that her own son had allergies, so she would LOVE to hear more suggestions. Of course, I have tons of those up my sleeve :P. LOL! SO, I sent back a reply with a couple of crafty ideas and waited to hear back. Except that I never did. And then I got the sig up sheet for bringing Chex mix, Capri Suns, And the craft was going to be decorating a sugar cookie. Of course with your standard food-dyed toppings. Big sigh.

But then, my Christmas angel appeared! My second grader’s room-mom was BEYOND understanding, she was an angel! I will keep it short and simple: This was the very first class party in all of our years on our special diet that my Molly got to show up and have & do everything that every one else was getting to have & do! She made requirements for special gluten-free fare and only organics on the fruit. Honestly, an amazing would to understand to the limits that she did. And to create an environment that didn’t exclude a single soul! My appreciation was sky-high.

And, for the kindergarten party, I signed up to bring fruit (the only healthy time on the list) and I didn’t just bring ANY fruit tray 🙂 I guess I like to take my frustrations out creatively 😉 And so the Santa Scene Fruit Tray was created.

The tray: an 11×14 glass found in the framing section at the craft store

Santa’s Hat and Suit: Strawberries
Santa’s Beard: Bananas
Santa’s Nose: A Cherry
Santa’s Belt: Blueberries
Santa’s Buckle: Watermelon
The fuzz on Santa’s hat and the ball: Rice Whip whipped cream.
The tallest tree: Green Apples
The middle tree: Red Apples
The Smallest Tree: Orange Segments
Stars: Watermelon
Ornaments: Blueberries
Writing and Santa’s face details: Melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Some helpful tips:
*I soaked the apple and orange slices in lemon water
*I put the bananas on last (they lasted about 3 hours before they started browning too badly)
*I used a little rice while to outline the belt so that the outline of blueberries would stay I place. I also did this to secure a few of the edge strawberries just to keep everything in place.

Thankful Givings

g&gcoverI have been hard at work creating a DELICIOUS feast of Thanksgiving recipes that are entirely GRAIN & DAIRY free, and I really, really want to share them with you.

I share hundreds of recipes a year on my blog and on my Facebook groups, and I don’t do so to get rich. {chuckle}. I do it because it is my art, and like most artists, it is the craft that feeds my soul. It is my purpose, as small as that might seem to some. My “thing” is helping people eat food that works for them and not against them, and to do it in a delicious way!

So, when one of my very best friends in this world was given the opportunity to have her daughter (who has Autism) seen by one of the leading physicians for Autism in this country, arguably in the world, I immediately wanted to use my craft to help.

This Thanksgiving compilation was created for Ashlyn. For a small $10 donation {or more if you feel it in your heart}, this DELICIOUS grain free Thanksgiving cookbook can be yours.

Giving thanks for your generosity and hoping that each of these recipes will bless you and your family!

Some recipes included:
Grain Free Pumpkin Waffles
Grain Free “Corn-Bread” Dressing
Grain-Free Pecan Chocolate Chunk Pie
Maple Marshmallow topped Sweet Potato Casserole
Grain & Dairy-Free Green Bean Casserole
& more…..

You can make donations through Ashlyn’s fund page at http://www.gofundme.com/ashlynsrecovery

Or you can email me at kendra@greatertots.org for more details.

Sauerkraut & Kielbasa

Oktober Feast

This is by far one of my favorite meals that my mother passed down to me.  I honestly have no idea where this recipe originated from, But it is a favorite and it has transitioned wonderfully into my gluten-free, whole-food kitchen! I made a few changes to the original recipe, like making sure that our kielbasa is nitrite free and humanely raised without any hormones or additives and buying naturally fermented sauerkraut of making my own from scratch. I also add apple to mine, which my mom never did. But, for the most part,  it is the same meal & this remains a staple during the fall and winter at our house.

1 large jar naturally fermented sauerkraut (recipe below)
About 2 cups cubed organic potatoes (* FOR SCD use celery root/celeriac instead of potato)
1 large organic apple, cubed
1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil 1 organic onion (small to medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Real Salt
1 package (4 links) Applegate Farms Pork Kielbasa* (or your favorite nitrite free kielbasa)*
1-2 cups filtered water

*For SCD, look for a kielbasa that is free of nitrites and has no sugar. You can find some here.

Heat oil in a large dutch-oven over medium heat.  Add in your onion and garlic and cook until soft.  Add in the sauerkraut, potatoes, and apple pieces. Season with about a teaspoon of real salt and add in about 1 cup of water, stirring to combine all of the ingredients.
Cover and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low, adding more of the water of you need to. Recover  and continue cooking for 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Check on it about every 10 minutes to be sure more water isn’t needed.

This has always been one of my favorite fall one-pot dishes. Growing up, my mom always served this dish with steamed rye bread. Since Rye is not a gluten-free grain, try pairing this gluten-free meal with some Udi’s Millet & Chia bread.

Tip:  If you don’t eat pork, try the Applegate Farms Chicken & Apple Sausage instead.

Home-Made Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

2 ½ pounds of cabbage; green, purple, or a combination of the two.
1 tablespoon Real Salt
1 quart-sized glass canning jar

Finely shred cabbage. Start by placing a couple of handfuls of the cabbage into your jar and sprinkle just a little of the Real Salt in. Using the back of a wooden spoon, pound your cabbage to release some of the juices. Continue with a couple of handfuls of cabbage and a sprinkle of salt, tamping each layer down and repeating over and over until your jar is filled.
Place the lid on loosely and let your jar rest for 30 minutes to an hour, allowing the juices to
come out of the cabbage and form a brine ( If you still need extra brine, mix ½ teaspoon of Real Salt to ½ Cup of filtered water. )
Open your lid and press down on the cabbage to see how much brine the cabbage made. There should be enough liquid to completely cover the cabbage, and you will want the cabbage to stay moist as it soaks up the liquid during the fermentation process.
Tightly screw on your lid. You will let the jar sit at room temperature for 3 weeks*. After 3 weeks, check your jar by opening the lid and checking to see if there are little bubbles on top. Re-lid and then place in the refrigerator to continue fermenting to your taste. You can eat it at this point, or let it sit for longer to let the flavor come out even more.
*Tips:  -You may have to gas (open the lid of) the jar occasionally as it ferments. If you press the top of the lid and it doesn’t give at all, simply open and reapply the lid.  -Do not use unfiltered tap water. Be sure it is filtered.