Honey Caramel Popcorn Balls {Sugar-Free Caramel Corn}

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Oh, sweet Caramel.
Such a beautifully, buttery sweetness, melting on my tongue; oh my caramel, how I do love thee.

On our journey to sugar-free eating, I wondered if I would ever achieve quite the same delight I had always so loved in the flavor of caramel but in a healthier allergy-friendly version. I now wonder no more. This caramel popcorn is so delicious! And it is the perfect recipe as the holiday season commences. Perfect for the Halloween treat-table, or to gift for the holidays.

{dairy-free, sugar-free, additive-free, clean eating ingredients!   mmmm, mmmm, good}
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This caramel is simply made with honey instead of over-processed, highly-refined brown-cane-sugar. I molded mine into these kid-friendly popcorn balls and we so enjoy the treat. From our happy kitchen to yours, we hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

6 cups popped organic non-gmo popcorn
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 (generous) cup raw honey
1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda***
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

***If making popcorn balls, OMIT the baking soda and add 1/4 cup of water to the liquid mixture.

Heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat the oil, honey & molasses ***(and 1/4 cup of water if you will be making popcorn BALLS as opposed to just caramel popcorn).

Bring to a boil , then turn heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes without stirring.

Remove heat source and:
OPTION 1 for caramel corn: stir in the salt, baking soda***, and vanilla. The caramel will fluff and rise like a delicious science experiment.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!  Fold out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 250 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes

OPTION 2 for Popcorn Balls: stir in the salt and vanilla.
Pour over the popped popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as evenly as possible. Do this with a bit of finesse, as the caramel will be very hot!
When the caramel corn has cooled enough to be comfortable to handle, form your popcorn balls. Let cool completely ~ if you can keep your hands off of them long enough!

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Scared Of The Dark Cherry Gummy Bears

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I’m not quite sure when Halloween became synonomous with massive quantities of food-dyes and high-fructose-corn syrup, but I don’t have to tell you that these are not the healthiest selections for our kids. The last thing you want to read, I’m sure, is another study about how dangerous some of theses  chemical food colorings can be (or why many other countries don’t allow them into their foods), or how high fructose corn syrup will get your child closer to diabetes by the day.

I know this is a major sugar-buzz-kill for so many parents. They escape into the “one day out of the year won’t hurt them” mentality, and they may be perfectly right (at least a percentage of them). As a family who already battles a neurological disorder, I have made a choice to remove all chemical additives from our diet, so most of the store bought “goodies”, we simply walk past as if they are a piece of store furniture,  When I happen upon a circumstance where I have to admit to the layman that…

“We Don’t Eat Candy.”
or
“My Kids Are Allergic To Sugar”

…I undoubtedly get a look that, if I could freeze-frame the moment, would most appropriately be marked with a scribbled thought bubble and a big. red. question-mark.  Then comes the pity. Its really kind of comical at this point. Do I dare tell them the real kicker? That even if they weren’t allergic I wouldn’t give them sugar. {{{(gasp!)}}}

Huh?
Huh?

I assure you, though, that I AM NO PARTY POOPER!  My kids have fun stuff. Almost daily! And holidays are just a creative person’s dream because they provide a theme, a canvas for creation.   Halloween is no exception.

The past few Halloweens, I have ordered some really great candies from our go-to allergy-friendly candy shoppe, Natural Candy Store. But even here, it is tough to find candies that aren’t made with sugar.  So, it has been my mission this year to create some great home made candies and treats (adding more by the day) to make our Halloween celebration SCARY FUN this year!

These Gummy Bears will be PERFECT.

Three Littel Bears


SCARED OF THE DARK CHERRY GUMMY BEARS (also, see below the Valentine’s Version)

1/2 cup black cherry concentrate*
1/2 cup pure water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons gelatin**

*You can find this in the supplements section of most health food grocers, or simply order online from a source like amazon or vitacost.
**For the healthiest option, try a brand of gelatin that is from grass-fed cows. I use the Great lakes Brand {the red or orange can, not green}.


Directions:

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine all the liquids.

In a saucepan over medium heat, I started with about half of the liquid mixture and all of the gelatin and whisked together while the pan was heating. When I had a sort of paste, I added the remaining liquid in and continued to whisk until the gelatin was completely dissolved.

I turned off the heat and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, just to cool.

The next step is where the fun comes in! I added powdered probiotic at this stage and then poured into my molds. You do not have to add anything at this point, but the sky is the limit if you want to make these “gummy-vites”.

Pour into your mold or desired dish. Refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).
I used these fantastic bear ice cube trays. I first saw them on one of my favorite blogger’s sites (Elana Amsterdam’s Elana’s Pantry) and marked them as a MUST HAVE!! She had done some other great bear flavors, as have many other bloggers, so this is by no means a new recipe. They are a healthy take on the old “Knox-Blox” recipe (A favorite of our Papa’s … hopefully we can pass these off as the knox-blox he loves so dearly and save him from himself! :))    I found the bear molds here.

The existential Gummy Bear

As you can see, there is much fun to be had with these gummy bears. PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

When Halloween night comes this year, I will be making a batch of these “Sacred Of The Dark Cherry” bears, and also an Apple Cider version. Yummy!!

~Happy Halloween Eats~

For Valentine’s Day, I ordered these cute little heart-shaped molds and we had a blast making Very Cherry (with cherry-pomegranate juice) and Very Berry (with Cherry & Raspberry Juice) Gummy Hearts. <3 <3 <3

Very Berry Gummies

Pumpkin-Pie-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

Pumpkin-Pie-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn into the best treats! The fall flavors of pumpkin-pie-spice pair beautifully with the sweet & nutritious sweet potatoes. Use coconut oil and bake and you have a healthy version of french fries to make your fall meals spooktacular!

These were hand-cut organic sweet potatoes, sliced into thin strips. 2 tablespoons of coconut oil melted to a liquid and tossed to coat the sweet potato strips. About 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and a couple of pinches of salt and these were quickly on their way to a 450 degree oven. The cooking times will vary greatly depending on the size of your fries. These cooked for about 25 minutes and were perfectly browned and crispy in parts and deliciously “fluffy” on the inside.

Pumpkin Pie “Milk”Shake

Dairy-Free
Dairy-Free

Pumpkin Pie in a cup. I absolutely love the flavors of fall. This is a healthy way to do a milkshake, with that hearty fall-favorite gourd,  deliciously creamy coconut milk, and spices that fill your heart and your belly with Autumn abundance!

1 cup organic pumpkin puree
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or 1/4 cup coconut nectar)
1 1/2 tablespoons organic pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons vanilla

This one is topped with Cinnamon Cream:
2 tablespoons cream from the top of the canned organic coconut milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon raw honey
~WHISK TOGETHER~

Pumpkin Pistachio Banana Bread {Grain-Free, Sugar-Free}


Pumpkin Pistachio Banana Bread
– O, Sweet Fall Delight!
{Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free}

Are the words AUTUMN and PUMPKIN not synonomous? They are in my kitchen. And we are all happier for it! Those warmly fragrant pumpkin pie spices are out in full-force as the weather here in Texas, just this week, really ( post the Harvest moon’s fantastic showing ), has turned from stagnant heat to crisp, breezy, refreshingly-fall temperatures.

Just this morning, I sat out on the side porch, enjoying the cool breezes against my skin and watching my son draw chalk pictures. I had a little dream of a mash-up of banana bread and pumpkin bread. I used some of my grain-free recipes in combination and whipped up this DELIGHT of a quick bread. This is definitely a TREAT!

3 Ripe Bananas
3 Eggs, Pasture-Raised Preferably
1 cup chashew butter
1/2 cup organic pumpkin pie puree
1/2 cup pistachios (ground/blended to a rough meal)
4 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice

I used my Vitamix and blended first the eggs, bananas, nutbutter and pumpkin. Then I added the rest of the ingredients until I had my batter. I love using the vitamix to do batter. It feels so easy to me.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

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Bake for 55-60 minutes. Mine got a dark golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center came out clean.

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Let the feeling of fall officially begin!!

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