Almond Flour Crackers (A Different Kind of Valentine)

February 14, 2012

Heart crackers

In spite of the nourishing food, in spite of the extras like homemade elderberry syrup, in spite of being careful, sickness happens. Today is Valentine’s Day and my husband is sick. On top of that, I’m not feeling well. I’m trying to keep things simple today, but wanted to give my husband’s lunch that “loving touch.” Knowing I would be serving the chicken/turkey soup I made yesterday from homemade broth for lunch, I decided to make the rosemary crackers he loves and cut them into heart shapes. These crackers (from Elana’s Pantry) are like all of my favorite recipes: few ingredients, easy to make. I had already thought about this post a while back, because I wanted to show how I square off the outer edges of the regular shaped crackers.

Almond Flour Rosemary Crackers

1 3/4 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350o.

Ingredients

Separate rosemary leaves and chop fine.

Fresh rosemary

Measure almond flour, salt, and rosemary into mixing bowl.

Dry ingredients

In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and egg until well mixed.

Wet ingredients

Add wet ingredients to dry.

Add ingredients

Mix well to form ball. Place on sheet of parchment paper.

Cracker dough

Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out to about 1/4″ to 1/3″ thickness. At this point, I used my heart shaped cookie cutter.

 Heart cut outs

Take the top sheet of parchment and place it on a baking sheet. Place crackers on parchment.

Crackers ready to bake

Bake at 350o for 8 – 12 minutes. Remove them just as edges begin to brown. (The ones on the outer edges of the pan will be slightly brown, while the ones in the middle will not be)

I served them with the homemade broth for Valentine’s Day lunch.

Chicken broth and rosemary crackers

Here’s how I make the regular shaped crackers. Roll out dough as described above (parchment on top and below). It usually looks something like this:

Rolled out dough

Then I square it off by cutting a line around the edges.

cutting outer edges

I then take these outer pieces, turn them around and lay them down on top of the places where it is needed to form a square. (See how the part I cut off above has a straight line on the inside? This is the part that should be facing out when you lay it upon the inner square)

squaring dough

I then roll them lightly with a rolling pin or work them in with my fingers.

smoothing dough

Cut dough into squares. Here I have cut them into rectangles, because this is just the leftover dough from my heart crackers.

Cut lines in dough

Bake at 350o for about 10 minutes or till edges turn lightly brown.
Note: when baking the entire batch as squares, the baking time is increased to around 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool slightly, then gently separate crackers where lines are visible.

Rosemary crackers

These crackers have the most wonderful flavor and are great when you need some crackers in a hurry!

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Monday Mania, hosted by The Healthy Home Economist.

Traditional Tuesdays, hosted by Cooking Traditional Foods.

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Almond Flour Buns

February 9, 2012

Hemp-topped buns

*I’m editing this post to include some changes I’ve made to the recipe.

This recipe is based on one from Elana (of Elana’s Pantry) that she calls Paleo Bread. I’ve only made a couple of changes and have made it into a bun instead of a loaf. (Her recipe calls for a special loaf pan and doesn’t produce good results in a regular loaf pan) It’s been a life saver for our grain-free diet, so I wanted to share it with you. The pan I use is a muffin top pan. You can use a regular muffin pan, but the buns may need to cook a few minutes longer. (I was making a double-batch, so some of the measurements in the pictures may be different than the recipe lists)

Ingredients
In this picture I was using coconut sugar instead of honey.

Almond Flour Buns
makes 6 buns

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup Salba, ground (can use regular chia seed)
2 Tbs coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil + enough to oil pan
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs honey
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350o. Grease muffin top pan and set aside.

Muffin top pan greased

It takes 2 Tbs of Salba (or chia) seed to make 1/4 cup ground. (This is 1/4 cup, because I was doubling the recipe)

Salba
(Okay, maybe I was a little short there)

Put the seed in a coffee grinder if you are using seeds.

Seed in grinder

Pulse till they are well ground.

Ground Salba

Put almond flour, coconut flour, ground Salba, baking powder, salt, and coconut crystals if using, all in a large mixing bowl. (This can be done easier in a food processor, I just prefer to do it by hand)

Dry ingredients

Mix well, breaking up any clumps in the flours, then add coconut oil.

Add coconut oil

Mix until coconut oil is well combined. Add eggs and vinegar (and honey, if using in place of coconut crystals). There are 10 eggs, because this was the double-batch.

Add eggs and vinegar
(The white stuff is where the vinegar reacted to the baking soda when I used the same tablespoon to measure it)

Stir until well combined.

All mixed up

Spoon into muffin top pan, so that it is even with the top of the pan.

Batter in pan

Bake at 350o for 17 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Baked buns

Let cool approximately 5 minutes, then transfer to baking rack to cool.

Buns cooling

Regrease pan and put remaining batter in pan, filling to top of pan as before. (See above)

Use as you would any sandwich bun.

* Here are the changes I’ve recently made:

Instead of using just Salba, I use 1 Tbs Salba seeds and 1 Tbs chia seeds, ground. I add 1 tsp ground hemp to the batter, then I sprinkle hemp seeds on top of the buns before baking. Very nice flavor!

These have so many uses! Here I used them for sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches.

Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit

I found a use for my biscuit cutters!

Biscuit cutter

This post is part of the Fight Back Friday blog carnival, hosted by Food Renegade.

You can follow me on Facebook by clicking on the link in the above, right-hand corner.


Fermented Ketchup

February 1, 2012

Fermenting Ketchup

In my effort to post more often, I decided to share some of the things I take for granted. Like ketchup. So easy to make; so much better than store bought. Any time you can control the ingredients in the food you eat, it’s a good thing.

My recipe is based on the one found in Nourishing Traditions with tweaks from various other sources. The end result is my recipe. While using whey to ferment the ketchup isn’t necessary, it does cause it to last much longer. If you use a lot of ketchup, that may not be of any concern. If you use ketchup sparingly and don’t want or aren’t able to ferment with whey, you can reduce the recipe accordingly. With whey, the ketchup lasts several months in the fridge. Without whey, it lasts about two weeks.

Lacto-fermented Ketchup
makes 1 quart

3 cups tomato paste
1/2 cup fish sauce (I use this)
1/4 cup whey1
10 drops liquid Stevia
1 Tbs Coconut Crystals2
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder (or 1 tsp prepared dijon)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp paprika (or cayenne)
1/8 tsp ground clove

Ketchup ingredients

Forgot to set this out when I took the previous picture:

Cinnamon

If you are using a stick blender, put all ingredients into a large container. I start with the tomato paste, add the liquid ingredients and then the dry. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you use a large enough container. Not like this:

Ketchup Ingredients

If you do not have a stick blender, put all ingredients into a food processor or blender until well blended. If using a stick blender, simply blend thoroughly. That’s it!

Ketchup finished

It’s preferable to put the ketchup in a glass jar to ferment. Cover with a coffee filter or some cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Let sit on the counter for 3-4 days. Yes, I said 3-4 days.

Ready to ferment

Refrigerate and enjoy at will!

Fries and ketchup

One of my favorite ways to enjoy ketchup: with sweet potato fries fried in homemade lard or tallow.

1 Whey: I use the whey I get from draining it off of my homemade yogurt. If you don’t make yogurt, you can still drain some whey off of commercial yogurt. Just make sure it is only yogurt, plain, no gelatins, gums, fruit or sweeteners added. The resulting product (besides whey) is yogurt cheese. You can use this like you would cream cheese. The tangy part of the yogurt is mostly found in the whey. To drain they whey off, put the yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter that has been placed in a larger container (i.e., bowl). Make sure there is plenty of room between the bottom of the strainer and the bowl, so that they whey can drain off. Set this in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight. The liquid in the bottom is the whey.

2 I use a combination of coconut crystals and liquid stevia, because I try to cut sweeteners wherever possible, for health reasons. The usual recipe calls for using 1/2 cup pure maple sugar to the other ingredient amounts listed above. It’s yummy with the maple syrup.
:)

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday blog carnival hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Making Sauerkraut

January 25, 2012

Sauerkraut

I’m trying to post a little more often, so I decided I would share my experience with making sauerkraut. I know there are a lot of websites full of this same information, but they don’t have my pictures and my thoughts. With that in mind, let’s begin!

You should make organic cabbage your first choice. I was able to get this cabbage from my local health food store and it has a really nice flavor. I’m definitely putting cabbage on the “Things I Plan to Plant This Year” list. Because, for me, putting anything on a list is always the first step.

I’m currently on my second round of making sauerkraut. I absolutely loved how the first batch came out. Mildly sour, slightly crunchy. I’ve never tasted true homemade sauerkraut, but this is how I imagine it should taste.

SAUERKRAUT
makes approximately 1/2 gallon

1 1/2 large heads of organic cabbage or 2 small
Purified water as needed
3-4 TBS sea salt

Wash cabbage thoroughly and dry. Remove outer layers until clear of blemishes, cut into quarters and core. Some recipes include putting the core into the mix; I threw mine away. The first time, because I failed to read that part and the second time, because I wasn’t feeling well and it was a challenge to just get the cabbage chopped. In the future I plan to do this. I really try to avoid waste where possible.

I really recommend using a food processor with a shredder attachment. Chopping all that cabbage by hand was not much fun. If you have to chop it by hand though, try to chop it as thinly as possible, making it as uniform as possible.

Chopped cabbage

I put it in a bowl as I went. When I finished each head, I added the salt and mixed well by hand (making sure my hands were very clean). After doing some research, I came to the conclusion it was perfectly fine to ferment the sauerkraut in my empty coconut oil gallon bucket. You can also do this in a fermenting crock or glass jar. Consider how the kraut needs to be pressed down at the end when choosing a container. Put the sauerkraut in your container, packing it down as you go. Then take a potato masher or meat mallet and pound it down for a minute or two. If you don’t have anything to do this with, you can use your fist. Just keep pressing down on it until the cabbage begins to release its liquid.

Packing cabbage

I added about 1 cup of purified water to mine (both times), because it seemed a little dry. You’re supposed to dissolve some salt into the water before adding, but I had already put close to 4 Tbs of salt and figured it was plenty salty already. Besides, I’m famous for shortcuts and this is one that seemed to work out okay. Once you’re done pounding the cabbage down well and adding any additional water, place a plate or something similar on top. Whatever you use needs to cover as much of the cabbage as possible. I used a saucer.

Update: I’m now on my 4th batch of sauerkraut and realize that the fresher your cabbage, the more natural liquid it will have. The reason I had to add water before is because I let the cabbage sit in the fridge too long before using it. (Not proud to admit that, but it is an important aspect)

Covering with saucer

Then I filled a 1/2 gallon canning jar with water and set it in the middle of the saucer.

Canning jar on top

Then I pressed down on the jar to bring the liquid to the top of the cabbage.

Liquid coming to top

You’re supposed to apply this pressure about every 4 hours for the first day or two. If, after 24 hours, there isn’t enough liquid to sufficiently cover the cabbage, you should add some purified water (just enough to cover).

I set my bucket in a pie plate, then put a tea towel over the top of the whole thing to keep bugs and dust out.

Ready to ferment

I realized later I should put a rubber band around it, as I read of someone losing their kraut to fruit flies that had managed to get under the towel. At this point, most recipes call for setting the kraut in a dark place to ferment, checking every few days for scum. If you find scum, also known as “bloom” (but I call mold), you can scrape this off the top and proceed with fermenting. Thankfully, I never found this. Not sure why, but thankful nonetheless. I don’t like dealing with mold. After about a week, I took the jar and saucer off, tasted the kraut (yum!), rinsed off the bottom of the jar and dried well, put a clean saucer on, and repacked the whole thing. I usually checked on it daily or every other day, but slacked off in the last two weeks. Somewhere between the second and third weeks, I had a hankering (did I just say hankering?) for sauerkraut. I decided to use some chicken sausages I had in the freezer and incorporate the kraut. Here’s how I cooked it:

Sliced about 1/4 of a purple onion into somewhat small slices, then cooked them on low in some homemade butter. Once the onions were soft, I removed them from the pan and added the sausages. At that point, I had to add a little more butter. Once the sausages were browned on all sides (they were precooked sausages), I added a cup of homemade chicken broth and the cooked onion. I let that simmer until the liquid was reduced and at the point of being too dry, then removed the pan from the burner and put about 1 1/2 cups of sauerkraut on top, spreading it around evenly. I let it sit there until the kraut was just warm (remember, at this point it started at room temp, so it didn’t take long). Here’s the end result:

Sausages and Kraut

It was delicious! I could eat this (almost) every day. Since then I have tried it with Italian flavored chicken sausages. My husband liked it, but I wasn’t crazy about it. However, that’s what being creative is all about! The reason I only slightly warmed the kraut was so as not to destroy all the health benefits it provides.
Note to self: come back and insert link to websites showing all the great benefits of eating homemade sauerkraut.
(Sorry, having to write in a rush!)

This is what the sauerkraut looked like about halfway through the four weeks I allowed it to ferment:

Fermentation process

I had planned to let it ferment another two weeks, but it was pretty tasty at four and I needed my bucket to make more.

On this second round, I decided to use two of the three heads I bought and make it the exact same way. I’m trying a different method with the third head; I’m using less salt and adding 1/2 cup of (liquid) whey. This is because I have too much whey on hand and because rumor has it that it will ferment in a fraction of the time. We’ll see. I finally got it chopped up and in their respective containers last night. Here you can see the rubber band around the original (larger) set-up.

Second batch sauerkraut

I opted to use one of the jars I bought a couple of years ago to put raw milk in for the smaller “whey” batch. I liked it because it has a wide opening and it was large enough. I’m not thrilled with the method of pressing the cabbage down, but will share it anyway. Once I got the cabbage all in the jar and pressed it down, compacting it as much as possible with my fist, I took a quart-sized baggie and fitted the bottom of it all around the top of the cabbage as best I could. (Make sure the top of the baggie is open) Then I filled the baggie about halfway with purified water (in case it springs a leak). I zipped the bag closed and tucked the top of it inside the top of the jar.

Cabbage with baggie

Then I put a coffee filter on top and secured it with a rubber band. Today it has some bubbles showing throughout. I will update this post when it’s done fermenting.

We’ve been enjoying the sauerkraut as a side dish. It’s purported to help with colds and flu. Interesting, because I managed to catch a pretty nasty bug, but was only seriously down for two days. The other days I felt better, just not great. Perhaps the sauerkraut helped. Who’s to say it didn’t.
:D

Sauerkraut side

Leftover bbq pork on a paleo bun with sliced onion and raw cheese, Bubbies pickle sliced, and a side of sauerkraut. Good stuff!

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Health Beyond Food

January 22, 2012

My Bathroom

Welcome to my bathroom!

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a while. I wanted to cover some other ways we can achieve better health and really feel this is the best way to do so. For me, personally, it was a while before I really began to connect the dots with products I was using and my health. I want to say upfront, I have not arrived in any fashion. Like everyone else out there, I’m a work in progress. But if we wait until I’m perfect, you’ll still be waiting long after I’m gone. So I’d like to share with you the things I DO know.

This is my shower:

My Shower

If you pull back the shower curtain, you’ll see this:

Chlorine filter

See that white thing attached to the shower head? That’s a filter. A chlorine filter, to be exact. Did you know that when you shower with chlorinated water for 15 minutes, it’s like the equivalent of drinking eight cups of chlorinated water?! Imagine the heat opening up your pores and all that chlorine being absorbed into your body. Not to mention the dangers of inhaling it! Vaporized chlorine is 100 times greater through inhalation in bathing than compared to drinking it! I got this information from Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness. Here’s his blog post with a video about this subject: How to Filter Your Shower Water. Sean has tons of good information. He recently wrote the eBook, Dark Side of Fat Loss. (You know, the one with my recipe in it)
;)
You should link up to his blog and Facebook page to stay abreast of some really important subjects. Just be prepared, every video begins with a loud, “Yo! What’s up y’all?!”

Okay, back to the filter. Sean recommends picking one up at Whole Foods. That’s probably because a lot of people shop there. I don’t happen to be one. A) Because I moved to Fargo, and there isn’t one here and, B) I prefer to give small businesses, farms, farmers markets, etc, my money. The problem is, none of those places sell shower filters. So I did what I do when I need a non-local item. I got on Amazon. There I was able to find the same filter sold at WF ($50) for $30. I don’t know how much difference there is in the various brands, but I’m happy with the one I have. I can tell a big difference. Before the filter, I would feel like I was suffocating in the shower and my eyes would really burn. And it’s not like I feel it just because I’m aware of it. This used to happen all the time in our old house, long before I was wise to it. (I’m sensitive, what can I say?) Now, nothing like that happens. For this reason, I will share the name of the brand: New Wave Enviro. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t try another brand; I’m just sharing my experience with this one. Which brings me to the next subject: coconut oil.

I gave up lotion quite a while back and started using coconut oil. I use it all over my body and even use it for deodorant. Even though it seems like it would be greasy (and I don’t like greasy things), it is quickly absorbed and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. I mean, with what other product can you moisturize your hands while cooking? I was having a little trouble with some dryness later in the day, until I heard about the way someone else applied it. She turns the water off and while still in the shower and still wet, puts the coconut oil on. So I decided to try it that way. I love it! I just take a quick swipe at the water, so I’m not quite as drippy, and then start putting the oil on from top to bottom. It’s like it helps trap moisture with it. In fact, it was this very reason I stepped up the purchase of a shower filter. I hated the idea that I was trapping even more chlorinated water in my body. And I love the smell of coconut oil on my skin (even though it quickly fades). It reminds me of that expensive tanning oil I never could afford. I have a little container that is for brewing tea that I keep it in. When I am about to shower, I take the lid off and set it on the side of the tub. The heat from the shower helps to soften it.

Coconut Container

Let’s pan up a little. The way we opted to mount the shower filter caused me to have to find a new home for the shampoo/soap holder. I decided it would work just as well at the back of the tub. Actually, it works better there, because I can reach the top shelf better.

Shampoo/Soap Holder

So what kind of shampoo do I use? Well, one that’s probably better than the popular brands, but I’m pretty sure I could upgrade. It has ingredients I can’t pronounce. I don’t like that. At some point, when I become truly “crunchy” I will dispense with shampoo, or “poo” as the crunchy crowd calls it, and make my own out of baking soda. Anyway, I have two types of Giovanni shampoo there; one called 50:50 Balance and one called Smooth as Silk. Here’s a link to the 50:50. I also have a tiny bit left in another bottle. The name of that one is Tints of Nature. As I said, I haven’t arrived.

Also up there with the shampoo is my soap. Now my soap I will brag about! I love this soap! And I love that I know the person that makes it. And she has the cutest names for them. Like this one:

Country Bubbles Soap

Seriously, how cute is that?! I’d recommend you go join her Facebook page. Sometimes you can get a really good deal. And in case you are wondering, my husband uses the Giovanni shampoo and Country Bubbles soap also.

Panning to the left of the shower, not that it has anything of value to offer this post, but just for people (like me) who have curious minds, we find the towel hook, the towel rack, and my nemesis (aka The Scale). It’s that very slim thing leaned up against the cabinet. It must be broken, because it’s been stuck on the same number for quite a while. One of these days, I’ll throw it out. And buy something cute to put in that spot.

Empty Looking Area

Yes, moving right along we come to the cabinets behind the bathroom door. I love these cabinets. You can stash a lot of stuff in there. Which is both a pro and a con. Because there is a lot of stuff in there that should be in the trash. It’s what happens when you unpack in a hurry. I’m only baring the contents so you’ll know I’m a real person with real faults.

This is the bottom section. I could have straightened it up before taking a picture, but I don’t want to perpetuate any myths that my cabinets are perfectly organized.

Lower Cabinet

See that deodorant? Well, that’s for emergency or extreme situations. Like, when I’m pretty certain the coconut oil will fail me. It doesn’t happen very often and I ALWAYS make sure I have coconut oil on first. That way I can reason that it’s not quite as bad for me. One day I’ll experiment with adding things to the coconut oil (again, baking soda) to see if it helps. Or use cut citrus on my pits first. Something.
See the little bag next to the vitamins? It’s my make up bag. Why it’s in there I have no clue. I have two different beauty routines. If I’m going somewhere that people know me, I apply a touch of powder to my nose (some organic type of mineral powder that I forgot to take a picture of, but will update soon), along with a quick brush of some name brand long-lasting lipstick and a little gloss on top, then a tiny bit of black eyebrow pencil over the worst of the gray eyebrow hair. That’s mostly on the innermost corner of one eyebrow, sort of like Ron Paul’s.
:D
If I’m just going to the store where no one knows me, I skip the powder. My longest beauty routine is about 38.5 seconds long.

The top cabinet is mostly my husbands stuff and stuff we hardly ever use (and should probably get rid of). He takes several prescription drugs, but we are working hard on correcting those problems and believe he will get off of them. Sooner than later. I hope. And most of our vitamins and supplements. Which he mostly takes.

Top Cabinet

I will definitely keep those two water bottles (top shelf) here in North Dakota. Once in a great while, when I’m cold and can’t warm up, my sweet husband will go fill them and bring them to me. He’s very nice like that. :)

Continuing the tour, we come to the sink area.

Sink Area

I just HAVE to stop at this point and say something about the decor. My ego forces me to say it. We rent. I’m using stuff I brought from our old house. I’m going to change it, one of these days. But it may not be until we move into a more permanent situation. Like a cute little farm, with a place to garden and room for a cow and a pig and…oh, pardon my daydream!

I love this flashlight/nightlight my husband bought. It gives off a nice light at night while charging.

Toothpaste and nightlight

And, of course, there are our toothbrushes and toothpaste. Fluoride free, always!! I’ve been using Jason brand. My husband is happy with it, so that’s a plus.

Here’s a close up of my coconut oil container and my oregano oil:

Coconut oil

And my hairspray full of icky stuff. I will research that next. Mostly for my husband, because I rarely use the stuff. In fact, the only reason I’m using this one is because I bought it for him and he didn’t like it and I hate waste. How dumb of a reason is that to put toxins on my body?

Here’s the shelf above the toilet with my husband’s hairspray that I will hopefully replace soon, along with some icky candle that can’t be good but has never been burned, I just like the color:

Bathroom Shelf

And now, for the piece de resistance: the throne.

The Throne

In case you haven’t heard and don’t know, how we “go” can have a very large impact on our health. See that cute little stool? I’m going to get very personal now. It’s called…

the Squatty Potty. See how it fits neatly underneath there? If you aren’t using it (because it’s only used for one thing), you hardly know it’s there. Very handy. To use, simply pull it out away from the toilet:

Squatty Potty

It’s very stable and those little gray circles are grippers. I’m forced to say this: gripping, you know, for keeping your feet from slipping. Since this is such a delicate subject, I am going to direct you to the website where you can read all about this little stool and why no bathroom should be without one. That way I can end this post with some dignity left.

Squatty Potty

Sorry the website is feet up butt down. I can’t do anything about that. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, if I didn’t think it wasn’t important. (Did I say that correctly?)

For more information, you can always see this post by Sean Croxton (where I first heard of the SP). He has overcome his, um, shyness in regards to this issue and, as always, has tons of important information.

This is the brochure that came with the product, which helpfully explains why the product is important:

Inside Brochure

Back cover:

Back Cover Brochure

Gee…I wonder if that’s a copyright issue. Hmm…

Well, on that note I conclude this tour of my bathroom. I hope that you have found something of value here. They say knowledge is power; let’s use that power to better our health.

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Healthy 2day Wednesdays hosted by day2day joys.
Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade.

You can follow me on Facebook by clicking on the link in the above, right hand corner. Thanks for reading!


Yummy Spinach Salad

January 7, 2012

Yummy spinach salad

I have a sweet friend from church, Sue, who gave me this recipe a while back. It sounded so good, I went out and bought some spinach right away. Then I needed some salad greens and ended up using the spinach. Since I only shop at one store that sells the spinach and since I hadn’t been there in a while, I hadn’t been able to try this recipe out. I knew it would be yummy. Sue always brings yummy salad to church potlucks. I bought the spinach a couple of days ago, but finally got around to making this today. I really would like to up our fresh vegetable consumption. Since I discovered Elana’s paleo bread, I find myself falling back into a rut of making sandwiches when I fail to plan for meals. I was so glad I had the ingredients on hand to make this salad. It was so delicious and filling!

Yummy Spinach Salad (a la Sue)
serves 4

1/4 cup light olive oil (I recommend Bragg)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (again, Bragg)
1 Tbsp honey (I used raw local)
2 organic apples
2 Tbsp organic butter (optional)
1/3 cup pine nuts or pecans (I used chopped, crispy pecans)
6 cups fresh, organic, baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded cheddar (I used shredded Gouda)
2 stalks organic celery, sliced
6 slices of “range fed” bacon (optional)

I started by putting the spinach into a sink of cold water with some grapefruit seed extract.

soaking spinach

While that was soaking for a few minutes, I made the dressing.

dressing ingredients

Combine oil, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and whisk until blended. I can’t believe I failed to get a picture of the dressing all mixed up!

Drain the spinach. I opted to rinse mine with some of my “Berkey water,” because the fluoride in the water here is very high.

rinse spinach

This is supposed to come later, but I got out of order. :)
Divide the spinach among 4 plates.

gathering ingredients

I just want to take a moment to show what kind of bacon I was using. Since we don’t have any more bacon from our Missouri farmer, I bought this kind:

bacon

I used what I had left from making bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on paleo bread last night for supper. (I cooked it all then, because I had planned to make this salad today)

Quarter and core apples; slice into 1/4 inch wedges.

I didn’t do this next part, but only because I was in a rush. I definitely plan to try it next time.

Melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat, then add apples to pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook apples just until browned, turning once or twice. Remove from heat and cool. Lightly toast pine nuts in oven at 325o for 5 minutes. Cool before placing on salad. (I used the crispy pecans I had on hand)

This is where I pick it up. I chopped the apple (I was only using one, because the salad was only for two people), sliced the stick of celery (again, just one for two people), and then I sliced up some red onion. It’s not in the recipe, but we love red onion and look for opportunities to eat it.

chopped stuff

If you haven’t already, place 1 1/2 cups of spinach on each of 4 plates.

Here’s all my stuff ready to be put on top. The dressing looks green, because of the olive oil. (Don’t be put off by that though; Bragg is very mild)

Ready to assemble salad

Divide apple slices evenly among the plates, placing them on top of the spinach. Follow with celery. Sprinkle bacon, nuts, and cheese (and onions if using) evenly over the salads. Drizzle each salad lightly with dressing. Sue’s recipe calls for sprinkling Mrs. Dash over them, but I opted to use some Bragg Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning and some pink Himalayan salt.

Sue’s Note: Apples may be served raw if desired, by omitting butter and frying directions. (Which is what I did, due to rushing)

Serve and enjoy!

Sue's yummy salad

This salad was a huge hit and I can’t wait to get some more spinach to make it again! The only thing I might do is change the name from “Yummy Spinach Salad” to “Yummy Spinach Salad with Really Yummy Dressing!”

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GF Low Carb Cheesecake

January 6, 2012

cheesecake slice

Warning: this is a photo intensive post.

I’ve made two cheesecakes in the past two weeks. The first one was for Christmas and was a cranberry cheesecake. While the taste was amazing (minus the sour cranberries I put in the center on top), the carb/sugar count was higher than I wanted. Also, because it was for our Christmas meal (which was a day late) and I was rushing, I failed to follow directions. Since I’d only made one other cheesecake in my life and since it had been awhile AND since I failed to follow directions, not only did I not cook it long enough, I failed to leave the side ring on the springform pan in place. As if all that didn’t already spell disaster, I cut into it while it was warm. Result? Not good. A yummy, liquid-y, cheesecake tasting mess that required a spoon to eat. I decided right then and there that I would go back to the drawing board. With its almond crust and healthy ingredients, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to make another one so soon. Besides, someone asked me for the recipe and I couldn’t very well give them one I didn’t have confidence in. (You see the sacrifices I go through for my blog?)
:)

cranberry cheesecake
Homemade cranberry sauce swirled into the top of the cheesecake. (I did this prior to baking) I used my basic cranberry sauce recipe, but adjusted the cup of turbinado for 1/2 cup of turbinado and liquid stevia to taste.

So I went back to the drawing board, determined to lower the carb count and bake a cheesecake that would hold its form on a plate. Before I post the recipe, I want to say that we all make a choice of what sweetener we use. Let me also say, this recipe can easily be adapted to your sweetener of choice. Just make sure that whatever sweetener you use, it needs to be added in a measurement that is equal to sugar. For instance, if you use xylitol, where it says 1 Tbs sweetener, the xylitol would be 1 Tbs, because it measures 1:1 (spoon for spoon) with sugar. Hope that makes sense! If not, you can always taste as you go (especially if you’re using quality eggs; if not, adjust sweetness before adding eggs). I tried to make it all of stevia, but the stevia taste was becoming too strong long before the desired sweetness was achieved. I will include some alternate sweeteners at the end of the post (see footnote 1). Lastly, I used blueberries in this cheesecake and opted to put them on the bottom, rather than the top. You can use whatever fruit you like or none at all. You can bake the fruit (fruit puree, fruit jam, etc) into the cheesecake or use it on top of the baked cheesecake. Here’s a cool trick if you want to get really fancy.

GF Low Carb Cheesecake
serves 16 thin slices or 8 better slices

Almond Crust

1 1/2 cups almond flour
3 Tbls softened butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs sweetener (anything that equals 1 Tbs sugar)
Pinch of stevia powder (to taste)

Note: this crust is not very sweet, so make adjustments that suit your personal taste.

Preheat oven to 350o. Butter a 9″ springform pan. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add butter till combined. Place almond mixture in pan and spread across the bottom and up the sides as well as you can. Like so:

unbaked crust

Bake for 8-10 minutes, watching carefully that you remove just as it begins to brown. Remove and set aside. Lower oven temp to 325o.

baked crust

Cheesecake Filling

3 (8 0z) packages of cream cheese or neufchatel (softened)
2 cups plain, mild yogurt (I used Greek)
3 large eggs + 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup xylitol1 or sweetener of choice (I use LC-Sweet)
Stevia to taste
2 drops English Toffee flavored liquid stevia (optional)
1 cup blueberries (optional -I used frozen/drained)

Note: this filling may not be sweet enough for some. Adjust as necessary.

Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, but keep your mixer speed relatively low. Slowly add sweetener of choice and stevia (if using) and continue beating till creamy.

blending cream cheese

Add eggs one at a time, incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla and yogurt and mix just till well blended. (Don’t overmix) Adjust sweetness as necessary.

cream cheese filling

This next part deals with the bain marie (water bath). I should have done this first but didn’t and since the pictures show the filling poured into the pan already, that’s how I have to post it. (Sorry, not ready to bake another cheesecake just yet!) You can prepare the pan and then pour the filling into it.

Take 2 sheets of foil paper a little longer than the edges of the pan, like this:

take 2 sheets

Line them up with the top sheet about halfway over the bottom sheet, like this:

place one on other

Fold edges a couple of times to seal ends, like this:

folded edges

Here’s a panned out view:

panned out view

Unless you are working with the extra wide, heavy-duty foil, repeat the process with 2 more pieces of foil (making them into one). Lay the second set on top of the first.

Begin to wrap the outside of the pan in a way that would best keep out water. Sort of like this:

wrapping pan

Continue wrapping with remaining foil, making sure foil isn’t above edge of pan.

first layer finished

Continue with second layer, so that it looks like this:

second layer

If you are using fruit, take approximately 1 cup of the filling and put it in a bowl with the fruit. Mix well and pour onto crust.

blueberry mix

Now carefully pour the remaining filling over fruit mix. (If you are not using fruit, simply pour all of the filling over the crust)

cover fruit mix

Place pan with filling in a larger baking pan. I found that the bottom of my broiler pan worked perfectly. There’s even an indentation in the pan that the springform fit in exactly!

place in larger pan

Set the whole thing on the oven rack. Using hot water, carefully fill outer pan with water until it is 1/3 of the way up the side of the springform pan.

ready to bake

Bake for one hour, then turn off oven and leave in for one more hour. Remove foil. Run a knife all the way around the edge of the cheesecake. (I’ve read this helps with cracking) It should look like this:

baked cheesecake

Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Remove outer part of springform pan, slice and serve.

slice of cheesecake
Yes, that is a 1/8th serving.
:D

We really enjoyed this cheesecake. The addition of cinnamon really gives the crust a graham cracker crust taste and the blueberries were just the right touch. I also like that the ingredient list is short. Short and sweet; my favorite kind of recipe!

1 The xylitol and stevia can be replaced with any sweetener that equals 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I’m guessing 3/4 – 1 cup of honey would work, but can’t guarantee what it would do to the texture. (Found a similar recipe here that is made with honey) Hope any of that info helps!

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Fight Back Friday
hosted by Food Renegade.
Fresh Bites Friday hosted by Real Food Whole Health.

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