Christmas cookies (gluten & grain free)

 

Christmas Cookies 
(Gluten, Grain, Cane Sugar Free)

We all really loved this year’s version of Christmas Cut-out Cookies! You just have to try them out for yourself. They bake out wonderfully!

It just wouldn’t be the holidays without cut-out cookies, who are we kidding? And I refuse to give them up, even with our dietary restrictions. Cut out cookies are much more than cookies, they are tradition, memories, and togetherness that symbolize the entire reason of the season. That’s a pretty important cookie, so there’s  nothing worse than dough that’s too sticky to release from the cutters or cookies that crumble when you are trying to decorate them.  I absolutely  love the way this recipe turned out; the dough rolls out beautifully and holds up to the cutouts, bakes in 5 to 6 minutes, and provides the perfect canvas for edible decorations! Perfection.

The Cookie Recipe:
2 cups garfava flour (if you can’t find Garfava flour, you can sub. brown rice flour)
1 cup arrowroot powder (or potato STARCH flour)
1 cup organic shortening (Nutiva or Spectrum brand)
2 eggs (or egg replacer or 1/2 cup applesauce)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes.
*Refrigerate dough until ready to roll & cut shapes.

For the icing this year, we mixed together equal parts Nutiva Shortening & honey with some vanilla, and for a festive green, we used liquid chlorophyll. It was the perfect minty flavor, too, for the holiday season. We will be making these again before the holiday is over, that’s a definite, and this recipe will be staying in our repertoire! Hope you enjoy! And please, let me know if you experiment with other natural colorings and decorating ingredients!

~Happiest of holidays from my family to yours.

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Grandma’s Chicken & Dumplings {grain-free}

Grandma’s Chicken & Dumplings. 
Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. Goodness.  This grain-free version was so close to the way I remember my grandmother’s that I want to make it every day this week, I am THAT excited!   Please tell me that you will let me know when you try this recipe! I want to share in the taste party with you.

 

chicken & dumplings

 

Chicken & Dumplings
1 whole chicken
12-14 cups water
2 carrots
2 ribs of celery
Leek tips (you can use any portion of the leek, an onion, or green onion, I just keep leek tops for broths*)
2 teaspoons salt
Cracked pepper
1/2 cup arrowroot powder

Dumplings:
1 cup Garfava Flour** (you can substitute with brown rice flour, but they would no longer be grain free)
1/2 cup arrowroot (you can also use potato starch flour, but I prefer arrowroot)
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon organic all-purpose seasoning
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 egg (This recipe would work fine with an egg substitute)
1/4 cup water

**+ more garfava flour for rolling and dusting hands to handle dough.

In a large stockpot, place your whole chicken, 12-14 cups of water, your carrots, celery, and leeks or onions. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until your chicken is cooked through (1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes).  At this point, remove the chicken onto a carving board. Strain out your broth and set aside the veggies from the strainer. Broth will go back on the stove in the stock pot over a simmering heat (low/simmer). In a mug or glass Pyrex measuring cup, scoop out a cup or two of the broth and set it aside.  (You may also use a longer cook bone-broth is that is your preference, this is just how I did this from scratch).

I separated my carrots and celery out and gave them a rough chop and dropped them back into the broth. Once your chicken has cooled a little and you are able to handle it, remove the meat from the bones. Save those bones for more broth later. Roughly pull or chop your chicken meat and add it back into the broth pot.

Into your mug of broth that you set aside, whisk in 1/2 cup of arrowroot powder until there are no lumps. Pour this slurry into the broth pot and give it a stir for a minute.

Now, mix together your dumpling ingredients to make your dough. It is kind of sticky, so you can use a bit more flour if needed. The easiest way to roll these out is to place the dough between two pieces of parchment. I cut mine into rough square pieces and then pressed them together a bit with my thumbs. As you press each dumpling, drop it into the simmering pot of thickened broth. Continue until all of your dumplings are in. Cover your stock pot loosely with a lid, increase heat to medium, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serve and enjoy!  I served mine in one of my very favorite soup dishes of ALL time, my beautiful Le Creuset Stoneware, one of my favorite gifts from my sister-in-law. Garnish with fresh parsley or sage. I hope this recipe hits that nostalgic part of your heart like it does mine.

Grain Free Lemon Muffins / Cake {and a cake-ball fail}

So, I happened upon this really cute cake-ball photo on pinterest or instagram, I can’t remember which now. The little cake balls were made into golf balls for Father’s Day. I happen to have a cute little silver tin that my mind was picturing filled to the brim and over flowing with these tasty golf-ball-cakes! Since the plan was to serve these to dad for Father’s Day, the obvious flavor selection here at our house was a lemon-cake. I have made a variation of this lemon cake before and we all really enjoyed it, I changed a few things up and baked these in my large muffin tins {the idea was to have more of the browned edges in my cake balls for added flavor}.

Lemon Cake

Step one turned out deliciously! One taste test, honestly, was not quite enough.

Then, I crumbled the muffins in my mixing bowl and added a mixture of 1/4 cup of honey and the juice of 1/2 of a large organic lemon (careful to not include any seeds). I rolled this delicious crumble of goodness into golf-ball-sized balls and stuck them into the freezer for a bit while I concocted my icing.

Crumble

Enter: The icing, a.k.a the beginning of the end, a.k.a the reason for this epic cake ball FAIL! 😀

I think it is just as important, on occasion, to post about the flops as it is to post about the successes. Even those of us who have been gluten free home-chefs for as long as we can remember will have a recipe that just doesn’t quite come together. Don’t ever be discouraged about the misses, because you will learn a little something from each one! Maybe that’s why I have learned SO much over the years! 😀

Today’s Grain Free Lemon Muffins / Cakes:

1 1/2 cup cashew meal
1 cup almond meal*
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
3 large pasture-raised eggs
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 large ORGANIC lemon
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut)
2 teaspoons organic lemon extract
Juice of 1 lemon

* you could also use almond flour here, I just only had meal on hand and we are okay with the thicker crumbles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix first your dry ingredients until well combined. Then, add in your wet ingredients. Stir well. Transfer to oiled muffin tins. I used large tins and this made 6 large muffin sized cakes.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges and top begin to brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes in your tins.

NEXT STEP IF MAKING CAKE BALLS:

Next, I crumbled the muffins into a mixing bowl. I added a mixture of lemon juice from 1/2 a large lemon (about a tablespoon) and 1/4 cup honey. I stirred this mixture up and then rolled cake ball shaped in my hands.

THE ICING FAIL:

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So, I tried using a mixture of honey and cacao butter for an attempt at a white-chocolate dipped icing. I really wanted it to be white for the golf balls. My idea was to use the end of a stir stick to make the dimples once the chocolate started to set up. HAH!! This never really occurred. I couldn’t quite get the consistency of the white chocolate right. The recipe I was going from was from the amazing blog site The Spunky Coconut. Kelly has a recipe for strawberry white chocolates that use these ingredients along with coconut mana / coconut butter and powdered freeze-dried strawberries to sweeten instead of the honey that I used. It was a good thought, but just didn’t quite work for this application, so I may just have to go back to the drawing board on this one ~ but our Daddo still enjoyed the cake-balls, even though they never quite made it to the golf-ball stage.
Cake Ball Fail
I will say, though, the concoction worked as chocolate candies, so we used the last little bit in our mustache molds for these little cuties. All-in-all the project at hand was not exactly a success, but we all enjoyed our time in the kitchen and got some delicious eats from the venture ~ Happy Failures, canaries! ;o)
White Chocolate Mustaches

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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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Scared Of The Dark Cherry Gummy Bears

scaredofdarkgummy

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

Elvis-Cakes (Coconut Flour Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes, Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free)

Elviscakes2

Pancakes. One simple word. But I would be willing to bet my stainless-steel bowl collection that this one simple word can arouse oodles and oodles of memories. Some of you may be salivating jsut reading it. {…she types as she wipes the dribble from her chin.}

Most of us moms {and dads} who have braved the rough waters of a gluten-free or allergy-friendly diet have, somewhere in the beginning, been struck with the urge to recreate the all-time-kid-tastic-morning-wonderland of — PANCAKES —!  We’ve all gone there. Some of those gluten free pancake mixes that you can buy at the store produce this psuedo-cake, not truly worthy of the pancake title, that look close enough to the real thing; yet, when you dig the side of your fork gracefully into the pile, you find your grace leaving the table, trying to pull apart a gummy bite, most likely with a scrunched look on your face and not at all convinced that the bite you are about to take is going to satisfy the craving your tongue, tummy, and heart are having. Such a dissappointment. And after trying a few mixes, you begin to throw those boxes that promise a fluffy pancake into the same category as GMO’s, almost,  holding a burning grudge in hopes of honest labeling!

Admittedly, my very favorite breakfast treat is the gf crepe (which is a pancake of sorts, right?), but these Coconut Flour Pancakes are one recipe that visits our breakfast table loyally.  The original recipe with maple syrup is fine on its own, but the fun part for me, the mom-chef, is creating masterpieces of flavor and fun – suitable for very  ~happy eating~ !  I especially pride myself on getting them to scoff down a plate with something other than syrup – and, since we have a cane-sugar allergy, completely free of refined sugar.

This morning, I was channeling my inner-elvis. I had about 12 bananas getting over-ripe and ready to be moved to the freezer, and so I decided to pair them with a classic organic creamy peanut butter for.

I took the original recipe and added a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of our cinnamon sugar to the batter.  I cooked them up in coconut oil, and topped with more sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, sliced bananas, and a dollup of organic pb. Plates were cleaned. Pancake breakfast complete.

elviscakes1

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.