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

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

Salted Maple Candy {Sugar-Free}

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A gluten-free, sugar-free Halloween Treat.

This week, Autumn is in an upswing, as we just turned the calendar page over to my favorite month of the year, OCTOBER! I can’t quite put into words why I am so enchanted with October, except to say that there is something majestically promising about the changes that are always in October’s air. There is comfort in the crispness and fancy in each fall-breeze, as if magic is blowing through my bones. Collections of birds can be caught on their migration paths. So many birds! Kind of creepy, yet mesmerizing. Leaves turn to those golden Autumn hues. We all watch as nature shifts to protection -mode, and the shear fact that it all happens so fluently and artfully makes me feel grounded and cozy.  It seems like each day of October is a giddy anticipation of the playful holiday that punctuates the month {for those who celebrate it} and kicks off the “holiday season”! Now, more than ever, too,  I have such an intimate connection to Halloween, because just last year , at about 10:30 on Halloween morning, our little family welcomed to the world our 3rd little squirrel in the nut-bunch. And his birth was such a cozy affair, gentle and peaceful and natural and wonderful. Yes, October is absolutely my favorite month of the year.

So, if you have read any of my other posts, you know that we are a sugar-free family. You can find some great selections, now, of candies that are chemcial-dye-free and high-fructose- corn-syrup (hfc) free; but, it is tough to find cane-sugar-free candies, I have to say.

On this fine fall morning, I was dreaming of salted caramel. My little wheels got to turning about the little maple candies that I usually buy for my munchkins to have around this time of year, and I got a whim to create my own “Salted Maple Candies”.

This recipe, like most candy recipes, takes a special touch and some caressing ~ but it IS NOT difficult to make. It is actually very simple if you follow the directions well and stay on top of it. If I can do this with an 11 month old on my hip half the time and a five year old chanting,”Is it done yet” on repeat ~ well….you get the picture.

Now, I tend to get excited about special food finds, and last weekend, as you may have read in this post, my husband and I shopped am artisan oiler. There, we picked up some maple-infused aged-balsamic vinegar {yum! yum! yum!}, as well as some vanilla bean sea salt. These are merely options for this candy, and I will put them in the recipe here as such, but these candies will work just as well with more readily available ingredients in their same category, so please don’t feel like this in one of those recipes that you have to spend tons of money on crazy ingredients for in order for this to even work. Not so. Plain ol’ maple syrup and sea salt will work just fine!

Salted Maple Candies

2 cups Pure Organic Maple Syrup (I use Grade B)
1 tablespoon maple balsamic vinegar (optional!)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla bean sea salt, or any course ground sea salt

1) Bring your maple syrup and vinegar to a boil over medium-low to medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. I used a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan.

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2) Remove from heat or turn off gas and let sit WITHOUT STIRRING until the temperature cools to 175 degrees fahrenheit. (10-15 minutes)

3) Now, take a wooden spoon (wooden spoons are less likely to cause drastic temperature changes to your sensitive mixture) and briskly stir the cooled syrup for 4-5 minutes, until the color gets light and the consistency is thick and smooth. {Note, I did not get a picture of this because this is a time sensitive part of the recipe. As the candy cools, it will harden quite quickly so you should move as quickly as possible here}

4) Either transfer the mixture to candy molds now until your candies cool completely, or, if you are feeling adventurous, try my method:

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Transfer the thickened mixture, carefully as it will still be hot, to a piping bag (you may use a ziplock if that is all you have and snip off the end). Carefully and quickly pipe out nickle-sized dots and then pull up, to get a sort of “chocolate chip” shape. Again, work quickly as your candy will start to harden. I piped mine onto a silpat (silicone baker’s mat), but parchment will work just as beautifully. I like the uneven shapes of doing these by hand, and my goal was to make the candies look like witches hats, some standing straight up, some flopping over, and some just plain weird. Hey ~ afterall, its HALLOWEEN. 🙂

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5) If you work quickly enough, your candies might still be wet enough for a sprinkle of coarse salt to stick. If not, simply brush the tops with a tiny amount of maple syrup and then sprinkle your salt to the tops of your candies.  I used a Madagascar vanilla bean infused sea salt.

maplecandy3
They are bewitchingly delicious and sickningly sweet {exactly how Halloween Candy should be!} and the texture is like a fresh candy corn. Hope you enjoy the treat.

~Happy October Eats to you and your family~
Kendra

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

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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

Grain Free Pumpkin Muffins

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Baking this morning with my very own “admiral underpants”. There’s really nothing like an underoo-clad 4 year old to make your baking experience a delight. With slow-but-steady little four-year-old-sized fingers, he carefully pulled apart each little mini-muffin liner and placed them into the muffin pan. My mommy-hands hovered above, pressing the scooper lever to fill each of his liners. Soon, we were ready to bake, and a short time later, we shared some pretty big smiles as we devoured 3 muffins each. Memories officially made.

PALEO / GRAIN-FREE PUMPKIN MUFFINS

First, we preheated our oven to 325 degrees f.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic peanut butter
3 eggs, pastured-raised
1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon organic cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons organic lemon juice

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In a mixing bowl, we lovingly combined these grain-less ingredients, spooned them into our lined mini muffin cups, and placed in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

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Perfect, golden, fluffy, yummy, grain-free pumpkin muffins were ours for the tasting!

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Happiness.

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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.