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.

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: www.NourishingMeals.com



More Healthy 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
Raw Chocolate Raspberry Candy from The Spunky Coconut
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.



Sweet and Spicy Kale Chips

Even though the recipe calls for 2 large bunches of kale, once out of the oven, there isn't really that much to go around. I like to use the full teaspoon of chili flakes, which creates a medium-spiciness. One of my 3 year old twin boys loves the spice on these and the other one doesn't. Same with my girls, one loves them and one doesn't. Use 1/2 teaspoon for a mild spiciness. I have found that baking kale chips at any temperature over 250 degrees causes them to burn. It may take longer at a lower temp, but the flavor and crisp are worth it.

2 large bunches kale, stems and inner ribs removed
1 small lime, juiced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Use a knife to cut out the tough inner rib that runs lengthwise through the center of each kale leaf. Then cut the kale into large pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Place the kale into a large bowl, or two, and pour the mixture over the kale. Use your hands to gently massage the mixture in, coating each leaf.

Use one very large cookie sheet or two medium sized sheets and distribute the kale evenly so they are in one layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, removing the pans every so often to stir and flip the leaves. You should only need to do this 2 to 3 times during cooking. If they are not crisp and dry at the end of cooking time just pop them back in until they crisp up. Once they are done, let them cool on the cookie sheets then transfer to a bowl to serve.

Nut-Free Variation: Replace the almond butter with sesame tahini or sunflower seed butter. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

If you make kale chips, how do you make them? Have a really great recipe you would like to share? Love to hear! :)

Part of our backyard kale forest ~ these plants are taller than my children!

More Kale Recipes:
Raw Kale and Avocado Salad
Blanched Kale and Pomegranate Salad
Winter Green Smoothie



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 cupcakes.....so 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: www.NourishingMeals.com



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.

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

Topping:
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: www.NourishingMeals.com



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