Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Muffins (vegan, nut-free, xanthan-free)

Happy Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. As we were heading out to the beach today with the kids, my 6 year old said to me, "mama, that's weird, I thought today was supposed to be the darkest day of the year, but it's the sunniest!" Yes indeed, today was a beautiful day to spend at the beach playing on the warm, sunny rocks and exploring the trails. Also a good day to come home and bake gingerbread muffins to warm us up along with mugs full of hot spice tea!

These muffins use pureed prunes and chia seeds to bind them together and hold moisture. They are made almost entirely of teff flour. I buy 25 pound paper bags of it from Azure Standard for around $40 with free shipping. That comes out to about $1.60 a pound, which is far less than what you pay for those little packages in the health food store, plus the packaging is biodegradable. I buy organic, unsulphured prunes in bulk from my local food co-op.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Morning Winter Fruit Bowls with Hemp Seeds and Cacao Nibs

My mother-in-law was visiting earlier this month and she likes to make fruit bowls every morning along with a green smoothie right after her her morning "blissipline" routine. She's almost 70 and is in much better shape than me! Our children love to watch her do the splits and headstands. When Tom was 10 years old she transitioned the family to a vegan diet with the help of their family doctor at the time, Dr. John McDougall. Tom remained a vegan for about 30 years until last year when he began to eat a small amount of wild fish and pastured meats. My mother-in-law is still predominately vegan with a heavy emphasis on raw plant foods. And you can tell by her glowing skin. You can't beat nature's most perfect food.....plants! These fruit bowls are so packed with disease-preventing, life-enhancing phytochemicals.....your body will thank you.

Every morning she had the kids make a list of what they wanted in their fruit bowls. The boys made large spirals because they can't write letters yet. The girls worked on their lists every day to have ready for her. Then she set each bowl out and filled their orders. Pomegranates, apples, pears, oranges, avocados, cashews, brazil nuts, and chopped fresh ginger (for my oldest ginger-loving daughter). Eating a large bowl of fruit and nuts in the morning is actually quite filling and very energizing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sustainable Gift Giving Ideas

I know I predominantly share recipes here, but I have decided to begin sharing more than just recipes, because our health and the health of the planet is all connected in this intricate web we call life. When we purchase toys and products created from industrial plants and cheap labor in Asian countries we continue the demise of our environment and our children's, grandchildren's, and great-grandchildren's health. With the uprise in food allergies, it is clear that our immune systems are very confused and not functioning properly anymore. Environmental toxins, GMOs, and stress are the main culprits. We CAN support a cleaner, greener world every day by voting with our dollars. What we buy and consume affects everyone else on the globe. So, I thought I would share some wonderful, eco-friendly gift ideas this holiday season!

Girgenta Goat Picture

Worldly Gifts
Support a family in a developing country with the gift of a goat, ducklings, a cow, a pig, or honeybees through Heifer International. Your gift goes a long way in promoting health and self-reliance in communities. Last year Tom's brother gifted a goat in our name and we thought it was such a wonderful idea that this year we are letting our children pick an animal to gift in their names.

Donate money through World Vision. You can Sponsor a Child, Give an Animal, or Contribute to Clean Water for a community in a developing nation.

Donate to the Environmental Working Group. EWG is a nonprofit action group based on science and research that works to protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population, children, babies, and infants in the womb from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants. "EWG's research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know. It shames and shakes up polluters and their lobbyists. It rattles politicians and shapes policy. It persuades bureaucracies to rethink science and strengthen regulation. It provides practical information you can use to protect your family and community."

Donate to the Cornucopia Institute! "The Cornucopia Institute will engage in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute will provide needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media."

Give Experiences
What will your child remember most when he or she grows up: a particular toy they received or time spent with you? I remember the trips and fun hiking adventures we did as a family much more than I remember any particular toy. Here are a few of my ideas, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section. :)

A day sewing with mom. A day skiing in the mountains with dad. A special evening with just the older girls playing cards and having a tea party. Taking the kids to a movie (they have never been to a movie theater yet and our oldest is almost 10)! A little card for the kids saying we will go to Seattle for the day and visit the Zoo and go out to eat. An afternoon at the train museum (for our twin boys).

Unconventional Gift Ideas
Give a six month supply of eco-friendly, biodegradable laundry soap and dishwashing soap to your college student or family member. Most of what you find at your local supermarket is quite toxic to our bodies and local environments after it goes down the drain. These chemical detergents contain hormone disrupters that not only affect ourselves but the aquatic life around us. Plus, they smell disgusting. Products such as Biokleen and Seventh Generation are good choices.

Give a gift certificate to a local food co-op. We received a gift card to our local co-op a few years ago from Tom's family and it was very helpful to stretch the food budget!

Buy a share to a CSA for a friend or family member. Ask your local food co-op or Farmer's Market office to get the names and contact info of a few local organic farmer's who offer CSA's. If you are in the Northwest, this is a good site to look for a CSA.

Eco-Friendly Gifts
Beeswax Candles scented with pure essential oils. Many people do not realize that regular petroleum-based paraffin candles may be emitting solvents like toluene (that can negatively affect the nervous system), and benzene (which has been linked to cancer) when you burn them. As an extra bonus, those candles with wicks that stand up straight may have lead in them. Within an hour of burning these candles, you may end up with an unsafe level of airborne lead that may contribute to learning disabilities in children.

Wooden Toys made in the USA. I have been on a mission since I was pregnant with my first daughter, ten years ago, not to allow plastic toys in the house. We have succeeded for the most part except for last year when the plastic Legos made their appearance. Other than that our children have wood toys and cloth dolls stuffed with wool to play with. What happens to all of these plastic toys when they break? They end up in the landfill or our oceans causing pollution for many years to come, not to mention the pollution caused during the production of the plastic and toys themselves. Wooden toys can biodegrade once they are old and worn. Before you go online to shop, see if you can find a local wood worker who makes and sells solid wood toys. If you can't find anyone, then shop online at stores such as Nova Natural, A Child's Dream, Bella Luna Toys, or Rosie Hippo.

Non-Toxic natural art supplies such as Beeswax Block Crayons, Gluten-Free Aromatic Play Dough, Hemp Sketch Pads, Unlacquered Colored Pencils, Natural Glue, and Hemp Fabric for sewing projects.

Hand-Painted Silk Scarf from Siren Silks on

Shop on Your money goes directly to the person who made the toy, clothing item, house decor, or jewelry. I am amazed at all of the beautiful creative works of art you can find on this site. Everything from upcycled wool clothes to wooden blocks and hand painted silk scarves. This felt play food makes a great addition to your child's wooden play kitchen.

Fair Trade Stores are also a good place to shop for unique gift ideas. The communities and people who make these products are not exploited and the materials used often are sustainable or recycled.

Stainless steel lunch containers such as Lunch Bots, Kids Konserve, or a 10-ounce Stainless Steel Thermos for soups and other hot food.

If you have any other ideas you'd like to share, please leave a comment, thanks and Happy Holidays!

Subscribe to this Blog via Email

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grain-Free Cupcakes with Vegan Coconut Frosting

These gorgeous chocolate-banana-honey grain-free cupcakes are from Elana Amsterdam's latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour. If you are looking for simple, healthy grain-free cupcake recipes, this is the book to turn to. All but one of the cupcake recipes contain eggs. It isn't easy creating grain-free recipes without using a lot of eggs. There are also a bunch of healthy frosting recipes to choose from, many of them being dairy-free.

My children love flipping through her book picking out the recipes they want me to make.....which is all of them I think! I love that all of Elana's recipes contain very few ingredients and can be made in a snap! Be sure to check out her blog too if you haven't already.

Although I can't share the recipe photographed above, I wanted to mention that I have substituted honey for the agave nectar called for in this recipe with great results. This particular recipe as well as many others are made with coconut flour. Great for those of you who are nut-free. I do have another recipe to share from the book that I think you'll like. And if you are interested in winning a signed copy of this book, please leave a comment below.

If you are interested in checking out another recipe in this book before purchasing it, you can read my friend Shirley's review from last April where she shares Elana's Marble Cupcakes.

Grain-Free Lime Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Yield: 10 cupcakes

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons firmly packed lime zest, plus more to decorate (about 3 limes)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 10 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and 2 tablespoons lime zest. Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then frost, sprinkle with the remaining lime zest, and serve.

Vegan Coconut Frosting

Yield: 2 cups

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon water
1 cup coconut oil, melted over very low heat

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and agave nectar to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the ingredients together, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to reduce just slightly, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot powder in water, stirring to make a slurry. Increase the heat under the saucepan to medium-high so the mixture is bubbling. Add the arrowroot slurry to the coconut mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and turns opaque and shiny, about 1 minute. Once the mixture becomes shiny, remove the pan from the heat and gradually blend in the coconut oil with a handheld mixer until well combined.

Allow to cool on the counter for 15 minutes. The mixture will not look like frosting yet—don’t worry; this is okay.

Chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the frosting fully solidifies and looks opaque white in color. Remove from the refrigerator and whip with a handheld mixer until thick and fluffy. The frosting will be sticky looking and lumps will dissolve during whipping.

Use immediately or store in a glass Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow the frosting to soften a bit after removing from the refrigerator. Stir with a flexible spatula until spreadable.

(Recipes reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press).

Enter to Win!

For a chance to win a signed copy of Elana's book, Gluten-Free Cupcakes:

1. Leave a comment (please include your email address or make it VISIBLE in your Blogger profile by clicking edit and checking a box). If it were me, I wouldn't leave my email address out in the open on a blog. It is super duper easy to set up a Blogger account. And you can always uncheck the box that makes your email address visible. A very large part of the comments left on my last giveaway were not counted because there wasn't an email to contact you with if you won. Thanks! :)

2. Share this post on Facebook and come back and leave a second comment saying you did so.

3. Share this post on Twitter mentioning us (@nourishingmeals) and come back and leave a third comment. (When you mention us on Twitter I will see your tweet in my inbox and if you follow us I can send you a message if you won). 

This drawing will be open until Friday (12/16/11) at midnight PST. 

Subscribe to this Blog via Email

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creamy Herb Sunflower Dressing/Dip

We receive quite a few comments and requests about nut-free recipes. Indeed, we do eat a lot of nuts, but we enjoy seeds quite often as well. This creamy ranch-style dressing is perfect to top any type of green salad, be it a crispy romaine salad or a picnic potato salad. If you use less water the dressing is a creamy dip for carrot and celery sticks. I also love that this dressing is raw, made from soaked raw sunflower seeds. Before you go to bed at night just place the seeds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. If I am making this dressing for dinner then I would begin soaking the seeds around lunchtime.

I use lemon juice and garlic in this dressing, which for some breastfeeding moms might be problematic (if your baby is very young). Our baby just turned 3 months and can tolerate just about anything I eat now. Early on I could not eat lemon juice or raw garlic. So if you are making this recipe for a new mom or are breastfeeding yourself (or cannot tolerate citrus), I would replace the lemon with about 3 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar and omit the garlic.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookie Recipe

Or shall I call them Gingerbread Hazelnut Cookies since they are made primarily with hazelnut flour? Our children have so much fun cutting out and decorating these lovely gluten-free Christmas cookies! Just look at that photo, what is not to love? I am sharing this recipe as part of a wonderful blogging event called Home for the Holidays....Gluten-Free Style hosted by Shirley from gluten-free easily! Twenty-four bloggers were asked to create and share recipes that meant both home and holidays to them. In addition to the recipes, we’ll also be hosting giveaways of the resources you value the most....cookbooks, resource books, apps, and the grand prize, a Vita-Mix!

You can view yesterday's post from Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom. She shared her Gluten-Free Fritter recipe. Tomorrow Sunny from And Love it Too will be sharing a holiday recipe. So be sure to go check their sites as well.

For me, Home for the Holidays takes me back to baking gingerbread and sugar cookies with my mother. My brothers and I would decorate dozens of cookies with beautiful colored sprinkles and bright white icing. I wanted to share that experience with my own children, only with a healthier, gluten-free version, and thus this recipe was born (actually the recipe came to me in a flash one night). It uses coconut sugar as the main sweetener, along with a powdered coconut sugar icing. Although coconut sugar is definitely a low-glycemic sweetener, it is still sugar, and these cookies are to be considered a sweet treat.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Make Powdered Coconut Sugar

I like to use coconut sugar when making a treat for our family and friends. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor that isn't too sweet. Plus, coconut sugar doesn't have that heart-palpitating affect like cane sugar does. This powdered coconut sugar recipe can be used to make icing for cookies and cakes, or used wherever powdered sugar is called for in a recipe.

Coconut sugar is a low-glycemic granulated sweetener, with an index of 35. Compare that to honey with a glycemic index of 75, cauliflower at 30, lentils at 35, and watermelon at 100.

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm blossoms. It is dried and granulated making it perfect for cooking and baking. Use it to replace any other granulated sweetener in equal amounts. Coconut sugar is dark so keep in mind that it will turn your "white cake" brown. It is best used in chocolate or spiced molasses type treats. Use it in sweet or savory sauces and in marinades. Use it basically anyplace a granulated sugar is called for. Now you can also replace regular powdered cane sugar with coconut sugar using this method.

Powdered Coconut Sugar

Powdered sugar is harder to replace, but you can make your own by grinding granulated coconut sugar in your Vitamix or coffee grinder. Please read my Cranberry-Pear Sauce post where I talked about potential gluten cross contamination in some coconut sugar brands before you go out and purchase any coconut sugar.

1 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

Place the coconut sugar and arrowroot into the dry container of your Vitamix. Place the lid on tightly. Start on low speed and gradually work your way up to the highest speed. It will take a few minutes to powder the sugar. You can start and stop the machine if you need to. Just don't open the lid or you will have powdered sugar floating everywhere in the air! The dry container of the Vitamix is designed to keep dry ingredients moving and not get hot and cake to the bottom of the container. I don't think the regular liquid container would work for this recipe but you could try it.

Keep blending the sugar until it is all powdered and light brown in color. Keep the lid on for a few minutes to let it settle to the bottom. Then place into a glass jar and cover tightly with a lid. Store it in your pantry until ready to use. Source:

Use powdered coconut sugar to make icing for cookies!

The above photo of gluten-free gingerbread cookies is a recipe that will be coming soon. So stay tuned! If you do not own a Vitamix and have been thinking about getting one, the Vitamix 5200 package is on sale for over $100 off on!

Other recipes using coconut sugar:
Coconut Sugar Apple Crisp
Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
Vegan Corn Muffins

Subscribe to this blog via Email
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Make Turkey Stock

For many of you Thanksgiving revolved around a turkey, right? You can make good use of the leftover bones and skin and create a nourishing bone broth. Stock made from leftover vegetable scraps and the bones of animals is extremely economical. Think of how much that box of organic chicken broth costs at your local grocery store? And think of the added flavors and strange ingredients in those store-bought stocks. A gigantic pot of homemade stock can be made for less than the cost of one store-bought carton of stock.

Turkey stock is dark and richly flavored. It can be used to make soup (such as wild rice and veggie soup or turkey-noodle soup), turkey tetrazzini, turkey meatballs, in sauces, or simply heated with garlic and herbs to sip on if you have a cold. And it is remarkably easy to make! All you need to do is add veggies, water, and the leftover turkey bones and skin. Then cover and walk away from it. Come back a few hours later and strain into jars. That's it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yam Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping (Grain-Free)

This is my healthier take on the traditional Thanksgiving yam casserole recipe. It has a delicious grain-free crumble topping made from ground pecans, a little arrowroot, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and real butter. I think the topping would also work on top of an apple or pear crisp/crumble. It could also be the streusel topping to an apple pie. Lots of ways to use it!

Please read my last post on possible gluten cross-contamination in coconut sugar before making this recipe. I like to use coconut sugar because it is a low-glycemic sweetener, meaning it doesn't cause huge fluctuations in blood sugar. Plus, I can't stand how sweet cane sugar is now if I ever try it, yuck! But I also don't crave sugar. Ever. When I was pregnant I craved raw sauerkraut and ate it daily. Large bowlfuls with quinoa, avocados, and toasted sunflower seeds. That was my first trimester staple! However, if you want to use something other than coconut sugar, you could try maple sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cranberry-Pear Sauce (refined sugar-free)

This year's cranberry sauce recipe uses ripe pears to sweeten up the tart and tangy cranberries. I've added a smidgen of coconut sugar to help balance the flavors but I imagine that stevia could be used instead. Coconut sugar is a low glycemic sweetener but stevia is a "no-glycemic" sweetener meaning it doesn't raise blood sugar at all. This recipe can be made days ahead of the big day and served cold or warm.

If you are gluten intolerant be sure that the coconut sugar you are using is gluten-free. Anything that is dry or granulated like sugar, flours, cornmeal, polenta, etc. can be processed in a facility where wheat or gluten products are processed. I use coconut sugar from Big Tree Farms, which is sold under the brands, Sweet Tree and Essential Living Foods. Our wonderful local food co-op also stocks coconut sugar in the bulk section but it is NOT gluten-free. It comes from Glory Bee Foods. I called them and none of their products are anywhere near gluten-free, so beware. Our other health food store in town, Terra Organica, sells coconut sugar in bulk and it comes from Essential Living Foods so it is okay. My friend Melissa from Gluten-Free For Good made a comment in the post we recently did on gluten cross-contamination pointing out that some coconut sugar brands are contaminated with gluten. Other than the one I mentioned above, I have not seen any sold around here. If you know of one, please leave a comment to help each other out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black Quinoa and Roasted Pumpkin Salad

Ever tried black quinoa? It is delicious, and very nutty-flavored. A bit fibrous. Great for salads. Cooks up quickly like its white counterpart. This quinoa salad embodies the flavors of autumn. Roasted sugar pie pumpkin with a hint of cinnamon combined with dried cranberries, roasted pecans, shallots, and a zesty dressing. Perfect for a simple, nutritious lunch or as part of your Thanksgiving feast.

Black quinoa is colored by a class of compounds called anthocyanins which protect the plant against oxidation and UV damage. Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that when ingested, protect our bodies against chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Our modern lifestyle has caused many people to become chronically inflamed. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, elevated toxins in our environment, and lack of sufficient antioxidants causes our bodies to produce higher levels of cytokines which cause inflammation and tissue damage. Cancer cells grow and reproduce under inflammatory conditions. Anthocyanins decrease inflammation and cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis).

Not only is black quinoa a rich source of anthocyanins but also are blueberries, black rice, black beans, blackberries, black raspberries, purple broccoli, purple cauliflower, red cabbage, cherries, and many more. Just think black, purple, dark blue, and dark red.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lentil and Kale Dal + a Video!

Lentils are what we make for dinner if I have not planned ahead of time to soak beans or buy ingredients for a meal. Lentils are inexpensive and cook quickly without the need for soaking. However, if you are gluten-sensitive or celiac, there is one thing you need to know about lentils. They are often cross-contaminated with gluten grains. We made a short video in our kitchen to show you. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade Halloween Candy

This is a super simple recipe for making your own refined sugar-free, nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free candy. It has only two ingredients plus a little sea salt. It kind of reminds me of a Tootsie Roll but without all of the cell-damaging hydrogenated oils, genetically engineered corn syrup, artificial flavors, and sugar!

I am not sure how we have gotten so offtrack when it comes to celebrating holidays. Holidays have become completely commercialized. Halloween is now celebrated by giving pounds of chemical and sugar laden "food" to children wrapped up in plastic packages that end up in a landfill. Our children don't need one more thing damaging their growing bodies. But what do you do? Keep your children from a tradition that has been taking place in our country since the 1930's or let them be part of the fun?

Our tradition on Halloween began when our first daughter was three years old, which was her first year trick-or-treating. We take our children out early, all dressed up in costumes (this year purchased at our local consignment store). They trick-or-treat for about an hour. Then come home and get to choose one piece of candy to eat, usually a lollipop. Then the rest gets put under their bed for the Candy Gnome. The Candy Gnome lives off of candy alone and is very happy to find it there waiting for him. So in return he gives the children each a special treat (a healthy treat)! This is usually a pomegranate, fruit leather, and an herbal tea bag for each child. Our children are thrilled when they wake up on November 1st. Seriously. Though last year the Candy Gnome didn't get much to eat because they happily gave most of it away to other trick-or-treaters later in the evening!

Maple-Sunbutter Candy

I use organic grade B pure maple syrup in this recipe. Grade B syrup is less refined, richer in minerals, and also cheaper! I use Organic Sunbutter which is made from roasted sunflower seeds (the non-organic versions have sugar and other stuff added). This candy can be made with other nut butters if you desire. Almond butter is particularly delicious! I have not tried peanut butter, but I bet it would work too. Adding a few dashes of vanilla would also be good. This candy can easily burn if it is not tended to or if the heat is too high, so watch it carefully. Note: these taste best the day they are made!

1 cup grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup organic Sunbutter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients into a 2-quart stainless steel pot with a thick, heavy bottom. Whisk together.

Then turn heat to high and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once it is boiling, immediately turn heat to medium or medium-high, whichever maintains a steady, low boil. Whisk continuously for about 8 minutes or until the candy thickens and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove pan from heat and remove the whisk (otherwise the candy will get stuck inside of the wires as it cools). Let it cool until it is cool enough to handle, about 5 to 10 minutes. Any longer and the candy will begin to get too hard to work with.

Place a piece of parchment paper down on a clean work surface. Roll warm candy into thin, long logs. You will make about 5 of them. Then slice into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Wrap each piece in unbleached parchment or waxed paper. Let cool completely before serving. Source:

More Healthy Gluten-Free Treats:
Maple Caramel Corn
Cinnamon-Sunflower Truffles
Sugar-Free Chocolate Macadamia Clusters
Almond Goji Berry Truffles

Healthy Candy Recipes from Other Bloggers:
Healthier Candy Recipes from The Nourishing Gourmet
Peppermint Patties from Elana's Pantry
Healthy Butterfinger Candy from Book of Yum

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Kale Chips

Warning: Kale Chips are highly addictive! There are so many different ways to make kale chips. Usually I just toss kale pieces in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Blended cashews, red peppers, lemon, and nutritional yeast is another popular combination. Here I combine a little almond butter, lime, olive oil, maple syrup, and chili flakes to create a very addictive, yet healthy snack. This kale chip recipe is the perfect thing to bring to any spooky Halloween parties you may be attending this weekend!

Kale chips can be baked at a low temperature in the oven or dehydrated in a food dehydrator at 115 degrees overnight, or about 10 to 12 hours. I always have great intentions of making large batches of kale chips and then storing them in glass jars on the counter for the kids to munch on but they never make it that far. I prefer making kale chips with curly kale because all the good stuff that you drizzle over the kale tends to stick a bit more. But since we have a lacinato kale forest in our back yard that is what I have been using. Lacinato kale is also called black kale, Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale by the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

After multiple failed attempts to create a grain-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free cupcake recipe I finally got it! We couldn't decide whether or not to call these muffins or when frosted they are cupcakes and when plain they are muffins. I sweeten these little treats using pureed medjool dates. Combined with the coconut flour, they taste fairly sweet!

I have found that different brands of coconut flour yield very different results. Most of my coconut flour creations needed to be composted (ok, I have much more experience using grain flours) until I began using a different brand of coconut flour. Has anyone else experienced this? If you bake with coconut flour, what is your favorite brand? Please leave a comment if you have a moment. I have had best results using the Let's Do Organic! brand of coconut flour.

For detailed instructions on making your own pumpkin puree go to the post I did last year on How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree. It is important to make it correctly otherwise your puree could end up too moist which would affect how the cupcakes turn out. I use a Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe I posted over a year ago. I didn't have any opened jars of applesauce so I used 1/4 cup of Tom's freshly made dairy-free coconut yogurt (I normally use 2 tablespoons applesauce). I also increased the coconut oil to 6 tablespoons.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harvest Green Smoothie

It is harvest time and we are working on ways to not only preserve the harvest but also to use up nature's bounty while it is nice and fresh. Green smoothies are a great way to use up fresh produce. Plus, they are the perfect vehicle to deliver raw, digestible green vegetables to your children! We began giving green smoothies to our children when they were around nine months old. We always made them without lemon until they were at least twelve months old because citrus can sometimes be harsh on a baby's digestive system.

Offering smoothies when they are young primes their taste buds and other sensory organs, such as the eyes, to like and beg for these drinks. Children who don't get them when they are very young sometimes have a harder time adapting to drinking something bright green when first introduced. Our 3 year old twins love green smoothies. You can watch them help prepare a smoothie with Tom in this video when they were two years old. The other day, I told them that I was going to make a green smoothie but I was still busy in the kitchen with another project. One of my twins said...."mommy when are you going to make the green moothie......momMY, PLEASE make the moothie NOW!" After I made it they each gulped down about 12 ounces. If your child isn't fond of green smoothies, try making them with mostly fruit and maybe only one kale leaf, then, over the days and weeks that you make them, slowly add more greens to let your child's taste buds adapt. Keep trying! Sometimes it takes 15 times of tasting something new for your child to accept it. A straw can also make smoothie time fun! I don't buy plastic straws, but if I were ever to buy some I would purchase either stainless steel or glass drinking straws.

Harvest Green Smoothie

I have been making smoothies out of all of the amazing fruit and greens we have available right now. Honeycrisp apples and bartlett pears create the most delicious fruit base with lovely flowery undertones. The greens are sweet and delicious right now, not as bitter as they are in the middle of the summer. These cold, crisp nights cause them to become sweeter. We like to create green smoothies with whatever we have on hand. I have been freezing plenty of pears and peaches to use when these fruits are out of season. Right now there are plenty of varieties of apples to choose from, pears, grapes (blend the seeds in too), still some peaches, and of course plenty of dark leafy greens to choose from (kale, collards, carrot tops, bok choy, cabbage, arugula, spinach, lettuce). You can be very creative with your smoothie. If it doesn't taste right just add more fruit, lemon juice, or more greens. Please note that this recipe is designed using a Vita-Mix which can make about 2 quarts at a time. Cut this recipe in half if you are using a regular blender. This recipe is acceptable for Phase 2 of the Elimination Diet.

2 honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 small bartlett pears, cored and cut into chunks
1 white peach, pitted
1 lemon, juiced
1 chunk of ginger
3 to 4 cups water
3 to 4 collards leaves
3 to 4 kale leaves
2 to 3 large handfuls spinach leaves

Place the apples, pears, peach, lemon juice, ginger, and water into the Vita-Mix, blend until smooth. Add the greens, a little at a time, blend, and then add more greens, blend again until smooth. Taste the smoothie to determine if it needs more greens, fruit, lemon, or water. I usually taste it and if it too sweet I just keep adding greens until my Vita-Mix is practically overflowing with green smoothie! Source:

Breastfeeding Update: Now that our daughter is a month and a half old I am making smoothies with kale and collards. I like to drink a quart at a time in between meals as a late afternoon snack (green smoothies are an awesome energizer!). For the first few weeks after she was born, Tom was making smoothies for me using just fruit, spinach, lettuce, and no lemon. She seems to be fine now when I eat many different foods including kale, collards, raw sauerkraut, a small amount of lemon or lime, and even cauliflower soup! You can read the post I did a few weeks ago where I talked about foods for a breastfeeding mama if you are interested.

More Smoothie Recipes:
Blueberry Cucumber Smoothie
Cherry Beet Detox Smoothie
Super Antioxidant Smoothie

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Plum Cobbler

This simple gluten-free oatmeal cobbler is also refined sugar-free and vegan, though you can use butter if you like. I make it with Italian plums but you could use any variety of plum or pluot. It can also be made with peaches, blueberries, or blackberries. I've been dehydrating Italian plums like crazy lately. My children love to eat them as a snack in the winter. I keep filling up glass jars and storing them in the back of the pantry. Italian plums can also be halved, pitted, and frozen to use throughout the year. In fact, I have also made this recipe using frozen plums from last year!

Every year in late summer or early Autumn I take the kids around town and harvest plums with them. Usually there are so many trees with plums dropping to the ground and never enough people picking them. We just knock on doors and ask if we can pick plums. People are usually more than happy to have help with the harvest. And we are more than happy to have boxes of local plums to enjoy. This year plums trees around here were not as bountiful so we bought cases of plums from Eastern Washington.

Oatmeal Plum Cobbler

A cobbler is a fruit dessert with a sweet biscuit-like topping. I use gluten-free rolled oats as the main "flour" in the topping. I have also used quinoa flakes in place of the oats but I don't think the flavor is as good. You can substitute peaches, berries, or apples for the plums in the filling if desired. If you are using frozen fruit then be sure to let it partially thaw before using. If you don't have coconut sugar you can replace it with maple sugar, sucanat, or brown sugar. I usually use unsweetened hemp milk or homemade cashew milk in the topping. If you eat dairy then cow or goat milk would work as well.

6 cups chopped Italian plums
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour or arrowroot powder
2 to 4 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 1/2 cups GF rolled oats, lightly ground
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
6 tablespoons organic palm shortening or butter
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set out an 8 x 8-inch glass baking pan.

Place the chopped plums into a medium-sized bowl. Toss with the sweet rice flour and coconut sugar. Pour into the glass baking pan. Set aside.

I use the dry container of my Vita-Mix to lightly grind the rolled oats into a coarse flour. Place the ground oats, sweet rice flour, flax seeds, coconut sugar, baking powder and spices into a mixing bowl. Whisk together. Then cut in the shortening or butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter. Add the milk and mix together using a fork. Dough will feel slightly thin at first. Let rest for 5 minutes for some of the liquid to be absorbed.

Drop topping by the large spoonful on top of the fruit. Bake for about 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbling up and topping is cooked through. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Source:

More Autumn Recipes:
Apple Crisp
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Deep Dish Apple Pie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fresh Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

This recipe in not the traditional way to make pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes. I take the easy and fast route. I just don't have time to remove the skins and seeds from 20 pounds of tomatoes each time I make sauce! Place fresh tomatoes in a blender and blend the seeds, skin, and all. Plus, this way we use the *whole food* -- the whole tomato. Once you begin to make your own you'll never want to go back to store-bought pasta sauce!

I have been buying cases of fresh, organic tomatoes from Smallwood Farms in Eastern Washington. If you grown your own tomatoes, this recipe is a great way to make use of them. The sauce can be canned in mason jars or stored in your freezer for later use. The other day I asked Facebook fans what everyone was doing with the tomato harvest this season. There are so many great comments. Be sure to head over there and check them out if you need more ideas!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rice Breakfast Porridge

We have a newborn baby in the house now and that means that our meals have changed a little. A few weeks ago our sweet new baby girl, Camille Rose Malterre, arrived peacefully in our home by candlelight.....a successful VBAC at home! Our children were all there to witness her birth, though we couldn't really wake our 3-year old twin boys to be fully present. I put myself on a mildly restrictive breastfeeding elimination diet once she was born to help ease the transition into life outside the womb.

Newborn babies have such delicate digestive systems up until around three months of age. Compounds in certain foods can cause fussiness and crying, excess gas, and even skin rashes in the breastfeeding baby. Luckily it is really simple to just remove the most common offending foods from your diet at birth or before to keep baby calm and happy. I actually removed any dairy I was eating a few weeks before she was born as it can take up to a month for dairy to clear your system. Dairy, specifically the casein protein, is often the cause of a lot of digestive and skin issues in newborns. Our sweet baby girl has been sleeping through the night since she was a few days old and is a very peaceful, happy baby.....just like our first daughter, Lily. She has had a few bouts of fussiness, you know the kind where they are really uncomfortable and want to nurse and then cry and then nurse and then cry and so on. I realized those were the days that I had eaten citrus. Testing it one more time to make sure, we found that this is the one food that I simply cannot eat. I have not tested them all, such as dairy, cruciferous vegetables, or raw garlic, and in fact, I would suggest not testing these three foods for many months. I can eat cooked onions, a little cooked garlic, and tomatoes....oh we have been enjoying tomatoes in all sorts of recipes lately, thank goodness!

Baby Camille, 3 weeks, with big sister Grace
I did a great post a year or so ago on Nourishing the New Mom with a list of foods to eat and not to eat in the postpartum period. You can refer to that for more information. Below is a short list on the most common foods breastfeeding babies can react to. I would suggest to avoid them all at the time of birth and then if you are feeling up for it, slowly challenge each food in every 4 days, similar to our Elimination Diet. Please note that some babies require mom to go on a much stricter elimination diet, usually eliminating most foods and sticking with only with rice, millet, quinoa, chicken, turkey, yams, squash, salad greens, olive oil, and sea salt for 2 weeks and then slowly adding back in foods like nuts and seeds, other mild fruits and vegetables, and lastly, those listed below to determine the source of baby's upset.

Foods that most often cause issues in the breastfeeding baby:

  • dairy (including goat and sheep)
  • eggs
  • raw onions and garlic (sometimes cooked can also aggravate babies) 
  • citrus
  • tomatoes
  • a lot of acidic fruit
  • peanuts/peanut butter
  • chocolate
  • soy
  • wheat/gluten
  • beef
  • caffeine 

Rice Breakfast Porridge

After all of my babies have been born I have craved rice porridge for breakfast and sometimes even as a bedtime snack. It is easy to digest and easy on baby's newly functioning digestive system. Rice porridge can be made out of any brown rice but our favorite is Brown Jasmine Rice. You can try sweet brown rice, short grain, or even black rice if you desire. I like to top my bowl with a little coconut sugar, ground raw almonds, and lately, fresh nectarines or peaches. We have been buying boxes of fresh, organic fruit every week from Smallwood Farms (delivered to Bellingham once a week). They have the most delicious fruit imaginable, plus we save a lot of money buying it by the case! I have been working to freeze and dehydrate most of it to store for the winter.

2 cups uncooked long grain brown rice
6 to 8 cups water
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Optional Toppings:
ground raw almonds
coconut sugar or maple syrup
frozen blueberries 

diced apples
chopped peaches or nectarines

Place the rice into a coffee grinder or high-powered blender and grind into a very fine meal, not as fine as flour, but not too coarse either. We use the dry container of our Vita-Mix to grind the rice and then the almonds for the topping.

Place the water into a 3-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm. Pour in the ground rice, whisk together immediately. Turn heat up and bring cereal to a boil, stirring constantly.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove lid and whisk cereal occasionally, adding more water if necessary depending on desired thickness. Cook for a few more minutes then remove from heat. Cereal will thicken as it cools.

Scoop into serving bowls and top with your favorite toppings. Source:

Baby and I in the kitchen of course! 
More Breakfast Ideas:
Subscribe to this Blog via Email

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Creamy Summer Zucchini Soup

This creamy, refreshing soup is a great way to use up all of that zucchini growing in your garden! Or, perhaps you bought too much from the Farmer's Market and need more ideas on how to use it. This dairy-free zucchini soup doesn't use any type of cream, coconut milk, or nuts to make it creamy. Just a few tablespoons of rice does the trick! My girls, who normally pick out zucchini in meals, love this soup and asked for seconds this evening. Pureeing vegetables into a creamy soup usually doesn't cause the same food aversions in children as does eating the vegetable in its whole form.

I got the recipe idea for this soup during my appointment with my midwife today. She actually gave me a few ideas of how to use zucchini that I had not thought of. The verbal recipe she gave me uses white rice, which is what I used. I believe cooked brown rice would work as well. I would add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice. Don't use uncooked brown rice as it will not cook fully in the 15 to 20 minutes needed to simmer the soup. You could also use uncooked quinoa or even 1/2 cup of almond flour if you are grain-free.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Honeydew-Cucumber-Mint Popsicles

I know my blog posts have slowed down quite a bit lately. Remodeling a house, finishing a book, and being pregnant have taken up most of my time. I wanted to share this very easy, nourishing popsicle recipe with you and your children. These popsicles are sugar-free, sweetened only with the fruit itself. Ripe honeydew melon is very sweet, in fact, when I make these with the melon and mint alone, my children think they are too sweet! Adding the cucumber balances the flavors and adds nutrients like silica, and extra potassium and vitamin C.

I made a large batch of this recipe the other day, thinking they would make a great snack during labor. I made about 15 popsicles in varying sizes. Today we have five left. I usually only keep foods in the house I feel comfortable having my children eat; meaning they can go into the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer at any time and make themselves a snack. Today, though, I needed to cut them off from these healthy popsicles!

Everything is ready now for the homebirth our new baby. I have scrubbed the house down, pulled out the cloth diapers, slings, and blankets. I've washed and folded the little newborn clothes. The girls are really looking forward to being "mini-doulas" helping get the receiving blankets and hats when the time comes, as well as anything else that needs to be done. It could be anytime in the next few weeks.....oh the excitement around here lately! The boys ask everyday when the baby is coming.

Honeydew-Cucumber-Mint Popsicles

I like to use a very ripe honeydew melon for this recipe. You could also add the juice from one to two limes for a refreshing tart flavor. If you don't have very many popsicle molds, I would suggest using either a small melon or half a melon and a medium cucumber. You could also add ice cubes to any leftovers that won't fit into the molds and make a refreshing smoothie. Please note that this recipe is also suitable for all phases of the Elimination Diet!

1 medium to large honeydew melon, seeded
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large handful fresh spearmint leaves

Cut the melon in half, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop out the flesh into a bowl to catch the juices. Add the melon and juices to a blender or Vita-Mix. Then add the chopped cucumber and fresh mint. Blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight. Source:

More frozen summer treats:
Watermelon Sorbet
White Nectarine Ice Cream (dairy-free)
Avocado Fudgesicles

Frozen treats from other bloggers:
Watermelon Fruit Popsicles from the Spunky Coconut
Banana Ice Cream Pops from Gluten-Free Goddess
Red, White, and Blue Popsicles from Cook It Allergy Free

Subscribe to this Blog via Email

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Creamed Kale (Dairy-Free)

Do you need more ideas for using up all of that kale growing in your garden? We've been making green smoothies, raw kale salads, sautéed kale with garlic....and now creamed kale as well. This dairy-free version is very easy to make as long as you have a blender. Raw cashews and water make the cream-base, sautéed onions and garlic give it depth, and the jalapeño gives it flavor! Our three year old twins love this recipe, in fact, one of them had three servings tonight and the other one literally licked his bowl clean!

You've probably noticed my lack of blog posts lately. This is because we underwent a small but significant house remodel. We have only begun to make meals again in our new kitchen for the last week. It has taken me quite a bit of time to put the house back together but now our kitchen, living, dining, and family rooms are super organized and clean! Just perfect before the new baby arrives.

I've talked about the nutritional benefits of kale before and will probably continue to do so. You can click here to view all of my kale recipes and read about the health benefits of this powerful cruciferous vegetable on other posts!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie (dairy-free)

Anyone remember those orange creamsicle popsicles we enjoyed as children? This frosty dairy-free smoothie captures those flavors and provides a host of nutrients and protein. I got the idea for this smoothie from one of our favorite restaurants, Thrive Cafe, in Seattle. Whenever we are in Seattle or driving through we make a stop there either to dine in or to get take-out for the road. It is a mostly raw, vegan, organic cafe with very reasonable prices. All of the to-go containers are biodegradable too!

This smoothie is made with raw almond milk. I have a recipe in my cookbook for making raw almond milk if you need one. I usually soak a big bowl of truly raw organic almonds overnight and scoop out some for almond milk and leave the rest for smoothies and snacking. Place the almonds and water into a high-powered blender. A pinch of sea salt and a dash of maple syrup is all you need to add. Blend, adding more water if needed, and then strain and squeeze though thin dish towel or a nut milk bag. Tom likes to eat the leftover pulp. You can also use the pulp to make dehydrated crackers or cookies.

Raw Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

This smoothie is more like a frosty beverage rather than a thick smoothie. It is quite refreshing on a very hot day. If you don't want to use raw almond milk or have a nut allergy then use any milk of your choice, such as hemp milk or rice milk. I prefer freshly squeezed orange juice because all of the enzymes needed to help digest it are intact, but you could also use store-bought orange juice. I use valencia oranges because of their high juice content. Omit the frozen bananas if you would like and just use a few cups of ice cubes. This recipe makes a large batch (to feed our family plus some). You can easily make a half batch. Leftovers can also be poured into popsicle molds for a healthy frozen treat later on.

4 cups raw almond milk
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 medium frozen bananas
1 to 2 handfuls ice cubes

Place the almond milk, orange juice, and bananas into a high-powered blender (I use a Vita-Mix) and blend for about 60 seconds or until smooth. Add ice cubes if desired and blend again. Drink immediately or pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Source:

More Smoothie Recipes:
Blueberry-Cucumber Smoothie
Super Antioxidant Smoothie
Cherry Beet Detox Smoothie