Flourless Cherry Sweetheart Cookies {Grain-Free & Paleo}

These were created with LOVE for the Valentine’s Bake Sale Boxes that got delivered last week. In keeping with my passion, I was thrilled to get to bake up some delicious treats for kiddos and families that are very particular with their ingredient lists; and, better yet, I was able to raise a little money for a couple of charities that are local to me and to my heart. I know I keep saying this, but it really was the Best. Bake Sale. Ever.

Grain-Free Cherry Sweetheart Cookies

super- duper simple nut butter cookies turned into these:

Cherry Sweetheart Cookies
1 cup organic almond butter
1/3 cup organic raw honey
1 pastured chicken egg
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar
10 + 24ish dried organic & unsulphered cherries
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees {fahrenheit}.

I find these are easiest to mix together in a food processor.  I hope you love how easy these are as much as I do!

In your food processor, combine the almond butter, honey, egg, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and 10 of the cherries. Pulse or mix on low spear until ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. I used my #70 disher (or 1 tablespoon) spring disher. YOU can use a large spoon or even a tablespoon measuring spoon, but if you do not own a #70 disher, just hop onto Amazon and purchase one for your kitchen drawer. They are so great for cookies and mini muffins!

Spoon your dough onto your parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. I have found that the amount of “spread” that these cookies get depends on the amount of oil in the nut butter. But, they always taste delicious!   Now, take the remaining cherries one at a time and, using a knife or the tip of your fingernail, make a small slit in one of the edges and separate it, mimicking the shape of a heart. Press the heart-shaped cherry into the center of each dough mound.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 9 minutes. remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Refill your pan with the raining batter and repeat.

I get 24-28 cookies per batch. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container, that is IF they make it that far.
The cherries give each cookie a sweet and tart element, the fact that the entire batch only has 1/3 cup of honey as its sweetener, and the simple, throw-in-the-food-processor method here make these so very appealing to me as the chef of my household. And this basic recipe has endless possibilities! Chocolate chips are the obvious choice, yes, but I enjoy experimenting with less ordinary treasures.

Hope you Enjoy these as much as we did. <3
~Kendra

GhostMallows {Sugar-less Marshmallows}

GhostMallows
GhostMallows
Honey marshmallows with coconut cinnamon pie spice sugar
Honey marshmallows with coconut cinnamon pie spice sugar

Hooray! It’s Halloween ~ one of my very favorite days of the year. It has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. But now, it has even more meaning to me. Last year on this spooky & fanciful holiday, our third little ‘punkin’ decided that he wanted Halloween as his birthday. I will remember that day forever. It was a peaceful morning, and by no means unexpected, since we were one day shy of 42 weeks and had been expecting an arrival “any day now” for many, many, many days. I awoke at about 6 in the morning feeling unmistakeable contractions that came about every 5 minutes. I rang my mom to start heading over to be here for our older two. By the time she arrived just a little over an hour later, I could barely talk or walk through each crashing wave of contraction.

This was a very special birth for me because we had chosen a more intimate setting at a birth center with a midwife. After two hospital births, I was anticipating an unforgettable and triumphant experience, and I got just that. Things went quickly and, even though the midwife never made it to our birth, I feel like the experience happened just as it was meant to. Even with a very quick turn of events that led to 4 very large calendar-style paramedics rushing into my little quaint birth center room, an ambulance ride downtown to the children’s hospital, an almost immediate intubation, and a week-long stay at NICU. Just in case you were wondering: no, going straight to NICU 3 hours after having a baby and having to experience your postpartum “rest” on a hard sofa in the corner of the room  for a week is NOT ideal.  All things considered, I still look back on that day with a very warm glow in my heart. It was the best morning of my life. Honestly & hands down. My little Halloween pumpkin is one year old today. {typed with a pouty face}

Our family and a few friends will be here on Saturday for a birthday celebration, so I am starting early in preparation, making lots of FUN Halloween treats for my sugar-free kids. Last Easter, I made marshmallows from beet-sugar and brown-rice-syrup, and the kids absolutely LOVED them. On this eve of Halloween, I whipped up a batch of spooky Halloween mallows, partially to try again with a sugarless marshmallow recipe (with an unrefined sweetener), and also because my son’s preschool is handing out orange (food-dyed orange) pumpkin marshmallows as a fun Halloween snack today. Now, my little punkin’ will have a clean and allergy-friendly version of food-love to enjoy.

These sticky sweets are going to be perfect for my treat-table for Saturday’s festivities, especially piped out into these fun ghost shapes, I got nothing but giggles from my peanut gallery when they saw them. My daughter especially appreciates the silliness of these GhostMallows, and has been talking to them since she got home from school.  Hope you enjoy these as Ghost Mallows or as plain ol’ squares. It is definitely a recipe for the “keeper” bin.

I tried these with maple syrup last week and they didn’t turn out as well as they did today, so this is definitely the recipe I will stick with for future batches.

1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin (prefereably from humainly-raised, grass-fed cows. I like this brand)**
1/2 cup honey (or 1 full cup if using all honey and no maple)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon real salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

** FOR FULL SQUARES INSTEAD OF PIPING GHOSTS, DOUBLE THE GELATIN AND WATER – SO 3 Tablespoons GELATIN & 2/3 CUPS WATER**

In a large mixing bowl, I stirred together the gelatin, water, and vanilla and let stand while I heated my sweeteners. {I used a hand mixer, but you can use a stand mixer, too, if you prefer that. I like the hands on of making things like these. Its kind of like baker’s therapy for me, so simply use the mixing bowl here that goes with your stand mixer}

In a saucepan, I brought to a boil over medium-high heat my honey, maple syrup, and salt. I let the sugars heat to 240 {soft-ball stage}. I use a candy-thermomter, but you can always use the old-school method of dripping into ice cold water.

I carefully poured my hot honey mixture in a steady stream into my bowl of gelatin and water mixture, beating on medium speed with my hand mixer.

Once all of the honey mixture is incorporated, commence singing “WHIP IT!” because you will be whipping the ever-loving-yumminess out of this bowl of sweet goo until you have a cloud of fluffy marshmallow {about 10 minutes}.

[When a problem comes along….YOU MUST WHIP IT!]

Now – the SKY is the LIMIT with this marshmallow fluff!

Note: You will need some sort of powder substance to help with handling the complete and utter stickiness of the situation these marshmallows will create. Its a good problem to have, trust me.
What I used was my fall cinnamon-pie-spice-“sugar” mixture {which is just my cinnamon and coconut sugar recipe with pumpkin pie spice added in}.
You can use cinnamon, or if you feel like splurging on a bit of cane sugar here since you used honey in your recipe, powdered sugar can be used.

I sprinkled my powdered cinnamon-pie-spice-“sugar” generously on a sheet pan and rolled out half of the fluff. I spread with a spatula I had greased up with some coconut oil. These are now little squares of marshmallow.

Then, I transferred the remainder of the fluff into a zip-top bag and a cut about a half inch wide corner off. To pipe these little GhostMallows, start piping a pretty wide base and pull up. Hard to describe the technique, but you will get the feel of it after your first one or two; and the beauty of these little spooks is in the uniqueness of each little ghost. I used two ENJOY LIFE CHOCOLATE CHIPS for my eyes, but you can certainly keep with the sugar-free theme and try cutting a raisin in half for two eyes, or using a small slice of date.  Whatever you choose, you most definitely should play with your food!!

The mallow that I had spread out into a sheet, I used a few ways:
First, I chopped half of it into squares. Easy to pop in your moth or stick in a cup of cocoa squares. Yum!

Second, I took the remaining half and spread a layer of cashew butter on top. Then, I rolled the sheet of mallow, carefully and stickily, up into a “log” and sliced about 1/2 inch wide slices. You can see these at the back of a couple of the pictures here. they were delicious too!

Third, I needed an icing for the tops of the little sweet pumpkin muffins I made for Finlay’s birthday, so I melted a couple of squares of these marshmallows onto the top of the muffin and it was the perfect, sticky, sugarless topping.

See, the sky is really the limit. So play away, canaries!!
~Happy Ghostmallow Making~

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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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Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales (TaMOLLYs)

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Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales

When it comes to the title of a recipe, I have been known to get QUITE CHEESY (especially for a dairy-free cook). What can I say? Being that I am a momma bear, sometimes I have to sell my kids on the healthy foods I want them to love, and what makes selling easier than a catchy name! I’m just marketing :)! My sweet Molly Rose got quite a kick out of dinner being named after her last night.

We live in Texas, and in Texas, everyone knows what a tamale is. Traditionally, they are done with masa harina (corn flour).   I have been thinking about the execution of a corn free TaMolly for a while now, and yesterday, I had some sweet potatoes that were staring at me from the potato basket and some corn husks that were wanting to be used, and so began the makings of a ‘Meatless Monday’ masterpiece ~ a QUINOA TA”MOLLY”! They were so yummy and have oodles of potential for flavor and filling combinations. I can’t wait to post more as I make these again and again.

What you will need:

1 bag of Corn husks (found at most grocers)
1 cup Organic white quinoa
1-2 teaspoon Salt of choice (I like “Real Salt”)
2 Sweet potatoes
1/3-1/2 cup pecans, chopped (if you don’t soak and dry your nuts already, just soak them while you prepare the rest of the meal and drain them when ready to use)
1/2 teaspoon organic chile powder
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water (homemade stock is best, if buying, try to avoid yeast extracts in the ingredients)
1/4 cup coconut oil (straight from the jar, no need to liquefy)
A Steamer or way to steam the TaMollys (I use a stacking bamboo steamer basket like this one)

First, submerge your corn husks in water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. I like to do about half the bag so that I can choose the best of the bunch and have enough to cover my ingredients. (You can also do these in double batches or more and freeze for later)

Peel and dice your sweet potatoes. Cover with water in a sauce pot, add a nice pinch of salt to the water, and boil for 10-15 minutes to soften your potatoes. They don’t have to quite be fork tender because they will continue to cook in the tamale. Strain the water out of the pan and fork-mash a bit, stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a spice grinder, food processor, or blender, grate 1 cup of quinoa until you have a fine to medium-grained meal (similar to a corn meal texture).

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring together the quinoa meal, 1 3/4 cups of vegetable stock or water, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Stir slowly and frequently just until the mixture comes together to a thick consistency similar to a breakfast porridge and stir for about 5 minutes to soften the quinoa. Remove from heat and set aside.
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Bring your 1/3 -1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the assembly party, along with your quinoa mixture, your sweet potatoes, and the soaked corn husks.

To assemble your TaMollys, simply spoon some of the quinoa mixture onto a soaked corn husk. I like to fold the husk over and use a pulling motion to spread the meal across. You will want about 1/4 inch thickness. Top with some sweet potato and a pinch of pecans. {You can see my photo of a layered husk before it is bundled up}. Now, Fold in the sides and place the bundle seems down onto a steamer tray. Try not to stack them directly on top of one another if you can help it. This bamboo steamer basket that I use was perfect!)   Continue with more tamales until your fillings are gone. I was able to get 11 tamales last night.

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Steam for 1 hour. Make sure you check our steaming water frequently and add more when needed.  Pull them out and get ready to open a little gift of food love.

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They may not look like much as you stack the corn-husk-bundles onto a serving tray…
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But when you unravel the contents inside, you find a delicious texture, very similar to that traditional corn-cake layer; and, inside, you have the deliciously mushy sweet potato and the perfect texture and nuttiness of the pecans. SO YUMMY!

For the vegan option, these were delicious served with a tiny drizzle of cashew sour cream*.  If you prefer the real deal dairy, then a regular or raw sour cream would be equally as yummy.

The best part of recipes like these are the endless possibilities for variety! I am already dreaming up some flavor combinations to try again very soon:
Chicken and Green Chile, Chicken Tomatillo, Braised Beef and Sweet Peppers, Chicken & Apple, Pumpkin and Black Bean ….. Okay, now I’m hungry again. I might have to make more of these today!

~Happy Eating, Everyone! Ole’~

* Cashew Sour Cream: Process or Blend 1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup pure water
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional, garlic powder and/or onion powder to taste

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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Pepi-Chia Herb Crackers

When I began on our special diet journey for our suffering then-3 year old, we removed in one fail swoop the triad of typical Standard American Eating : Wheat, Milk & Eggs. This is how my career-in-the-kitchen began.

Molly is our little canary in the kitchen, and we have since learned that her immune-dysfunction provides us with a perpetual game of guessing as to what her immune “soldiers” may be bullying around each day.  We have come an amazingly long way since those days of desperate prescription filling (with no avail). Her rashes were given so many names and so many treatments, but it was not until we removed the underlying cause of inflammation that we began to see big changes; and the bonus changes ~ her neurological issues associated with sensory processing disorder, obsessive compulsion, and Aspberger’s Syndrome actually began to improve.  Behaviors that we were settling in on with a “non-progressive but incurable” diagnosis were actually changing. Hope. Light. and a Passion beyond comparison to share this “Secret” with the world, just in case what worked for us may work for other suffering families.

As we began, I worked hard to mimic the flavors and textures that we were all used to eating. But once you go as far as I had to take out milk and wheat and eggs, and once you understand how calming that inflammation has long-lasting effects, effects that may mean the difference between her having to be put on dangerous drugs with very long lists of side effects, or the difference in her developing cancer in her 50’s or 60’s and her living a long a healthful, vibrant life, those choices don’t seem so difficult at all! Quite the contrary.  I get excited about finding new ways to promote our health through food!!

Since I started, I have been traveling ever-further into healthful choices in our kitchen, subsequently we actually do very limited grains now and have severely  down-sized our consumption of animal proteins.

We eat rices, and some quinoa, and occasionally gluten-free oats (on a 4-day rotation), but every once in a while, I still get that craving for a crunch that a simple nut won’t appease. Today, I was having such a craving.

We are relaxing at home today, football playing for dad, kids enjoying the cooler outdoor weather and making “gluten-free mud pies” and I have put on a pot of chili with beans and zucchini and some chopped greens and stewed tomatoes.  In our past life, I would have eaten my chili on a bed of frito chips and a large handful of cubed colby ~ not today.
We now are dairy-free (processed) and have recently decided to take corn out of the equation as well.  So today, I went into creative mode to come up with a cruchy cracker that fit the bill.

My challenge: No Grain, No Sugar, No Fruit, No Eggs, No Milk Crackers
My solution: Pepi-Chia Herb Cracker
My surprise: Everyone loved them, including our 2 year old grazer.


Pepi-Chia Herb Crackers

1 cup + 1/3 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

½ cup non-dairy milk (I like almond or hemp)

2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons raw shelled sunflower seeds (or more)

1-2 tablespoons dried parsley

1-2 tablespoons dried rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon Real Salt (optional)

In your food processor or spice grinder, grind 1 cup of the pepitas into a meal
or course nut flour.

In a medium mixing bowl, dump in your pepita meal and stir in the chia seeds, sunflower
seeds, herbs, baking soda and Real Salt. Now add the non-dairy milk (or you
could use water) and the oil and stir just until combined.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread the mixture into one even layer about
1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the remaining pepitas over top and bake at 325 degrees
for 25-30 minutes. Take out to and cool on baking sheet. Cut or break into desired shapes.