Coconut Lemon Bars ~ The Paleo Way

Coconut Lemon Bars

Does anyone NOT like lemon bars.  They might be my favorite treat.  I’ve had good and I’ve had bad.  The bad ones are made with a jello mix, are sickly sweet and taste of fake lemon.  I wanted to make my own using real food.  I wanted them to be super lemony and not too sweet.  I also did not want the crust to be nut or grain based.  I think it is easy to get carried away with nuts so I am trying to switch up my baking and use more coconut than nuts like almonds etc.  Yes, I realize that cicinut is classified as a nut but coconut has a better Omega 3:6 ratio and as an added bonus is low oxalate.  These are not low carb but they are also not a cheat.  A treat, absolutely but not a cheat.  The filling recipe came from here.  (I would highly recommend checking out this guys blog.  He has lots of great looking recipes.  And does anyone else think that a man who can cook and bake is totally sexy??)  I created my own base.  The coconut chips I used are from Wilderness Family Naturals.  They are incredible and I did hesitate to use them in a recipe as they are not cheap (when you include shipping into the cost) and I would have been devastated if these didn’t turn out and I wasted all those coconut chips.  In the end it turned out to be well worth it.  So how good were they?  Me, who really does not have a sweet tooth ate probably 80% of the pan over the course of about 36 hours.  So, yes, they were a smashing success.  The kids hated them as expected due to the lemon in them and this suited me fine.   I do believe that I will have to make more of these ASAP, you know for quality control.  🙂  I believe these are GAPS legal and low oxalate as well as soy, corn, dairy, grain, gluten, refined sugar and nut free.  In case you are interested in seeing the evolution of this blog, check out my first recipe for Lemon Bars.

Crust

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil (expeller pressed is fine if you don’t want to use your expensive virgin coconut oil)

2 T raw unfiltered honey

pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup coconut chips

1/2 cup coconut chips

Preheat oven to 350.  In a food processor combine eggs, coconut oil, salt and honey.  Mix to combine.  Add coconut flour and 1/4 cup of coconut chips.  Again, process until well combined.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining coconut chips.  Grease a glass Pyrex baking dish with coconut oil.  My dish is 7×11 or 2.2 QT/2 L.   Press cookie batter base evenly into dish.  Bake for 18 minutes at 350 until the edges are just starting to brown and center is cooked through. 

Filling

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained so there is no pulp)

6 whole eggs

1/3 – 1/2 cup raw unfiltered honey

1/2 cup coconut oil (I used expeller pressed.)

pinch of sea salt

Whisk lemon juice, eggs, salt and honey together in a large glass bowl or double boiler.  Bring about an inch of water to boil in a medium saucepan or bottom of double boiler.  Set the glass bowl on top of the boiling water.  The water should not be in contact with the bowl.  Slowly whisk in the melted coconut oil.  Continue to whisk as the water remains at a rolling boil.  DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK on this.  Whisk until it starts to thicken.  When it starts to thicken it gets thick FAST.  Remove from heat.  It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Strain the filling through a fine mesh to remove any cooked egg bits.  Top the crust  and smooth it out.  Refrigerate.  My husband and The Civilized Caveman both thought this would have been great frozen too.  It probably would although that would have really slowed me down as I polished these all off.  (Hmmm maybe that is a good thing.)  Top with extra coconut chips as you see fit.  Refrigerate (or freeze) until set then devour!

This post was shared at: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/monday-mania-1232012/, http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/2012/01/fresh-bites-friday-january-27-2012/

Coconut Waffles with Fried Apple and Blueberry Topping

Sinless

I haven’t done a dessert/sweet breakfast for a while and I think it is about time.  I wanted to do something without nuts (coconut not included).  I have nothing against nuts of course but it is really easy to go over board with them.  Most desserts I make are nut based as are my muffins.  I made a chocolate almond muffin (not my recipe) a while back and just for curiosity sake I put the data into Nutrition Data.  I have to admit I was stunned with what I learned.  One small muffin was nearly 300 calories. Man, I hope that thing is wrong.   No, I don’t count calories nor do I even pay much attention to it but….holy crap that is a lot of calories for a SMALL muffin.  The other little detail about nuts that I try to be aware of is their omega 6 content.  It’s pretty easy to upset your Omega 6 : Omega 3 balance with nuts.  So anyway, last night I was craving something sweet – no doubt because I had had a smoothie earlier in the day.  (Anyone else like that?  If you have something sweet or higher in carbs than you are used to, then the cravings for other carby things kicks into overdrive?)  I went to my fridge and pulled out organic apples I had bought but turned out all mealy and soft (the kind that you have no choice but to cook them) and the remaining fresh organic blueberries (although I also made this with frozen and it worked out equally as good).  This is what I came up with.  I don’t really know what to call it other than a smashing success.  The kids loved it and literally licked their bowls clean.  Hubby gave it a thumbs up and helped himself to a second bowl.  We ate it right out of the bowl by itself but this morning the leftovers were used to top waffles.  Oh My!  It was incredible.  It’s a nice change from the usual bacon and eggs.  As an added bonus to it’s flavor is the fact that it is lower carb and has no refined sugars so I had one waffle with some of this sauce and didn’t feel hungry for hours and hours.  Had this been the sugary, gluten version I personally would have felt like crap right after and then felt hungry in less than 2 hours.  It also did not leave me craving carbs all day.  This topping would also be great on a minimally sweetened, dense, coconut pound cake.  I am not sure if this will qualify for GAPS legal because of the baking soda in the waffles and the iffy stevia but it is absolutely 100% paleo goodness.

Apple Blueberry Sauce

2 T coconut oil

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup coconut milk

pinch of salt

liquid stevia to taste (I used about 1/2 a dropper full)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

unsweetened coconut flakes

Heat saute pan, add virgin coconut oil.  Add apples and salt.  Saute for 5- 10 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add cinnamon, cloves, blueberries, coconut milk.  Continue cooking until apples are soft and sauce has thickened a bit.  When apples are soft remove from heat and add stevia and fresh lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Serve hot in a bowl alone or serve on waffles or pancakes. Top with coconut flakes for garnish.

This waffle recipe was originally from The Food Lovers Primal Palate.  I made it as they wrote it first then made some changes that suited our tastes.  Here is what worked for us.  For about half of the recipe I made these as pancakes the other half as waffles.  It makes about 8 small waffles if you are only making waffles.

Waffles/Pancakes

1/4 cup coconut flour

4 eggs

pinch of sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

liquid stevia to taste (I used approx one dropper full)

1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil

Combine all ingredients and mix well with electric mixer.  Tough hey?  I used a couple of tablespoons of the batter onto each of the four sections of my waffle maker so that the waffles were small.  They are done when the waffle is lightly brown and separates from the waffle maker easily.  (Or when the light comes on and the steam subsides.)  Top waffles/pancakes with Apple Blueberry sauce.

Chocolate Chip Scones (Almond Flour)

Chocolate Chip Scones, GFDFIt has been freakishly cold here today as it has in the rest of the country. When it is miserable outside I get this need to bake. It’s the only thing I want to be doing. Last week I ordered, for the first time, from Honeyville. I ordered blanched almond flour. I really needed to see if it was a whole lot better than the almond flour that I make. I thought it was going to be more expensive than it was. There is very little convenience in my kitchen so it is nice to be able to have the almond flour ready. Is it better than mine? It depends on what I’m making. If I were making chocolate chip cookies or my Almond Coconut Cookies I would certainly use my own almond flour. I like the slightly coarser texture. The Honeyville Blanched Almond flour is really fine and powdery as well as lighter in color. I made these Cinnamon Bun Muffins yesterday and they were fabulous. I, of course, used coconut oil in place of the grapeseed oil and used coconut sugar and less of it in place of agave. The muffins were very light in texture. The recipe made 8 muffins and they were all gone in a matter of 2 hours. I now need to figure out a bread recipe that uses almond flour. Anyway, back to the chocolate chip scones. I wanted something today that was only slightly sweet. I think the next time I make these I will use only 1 T of coconut sugar. The sweetness of the chocolate chips should be enough. This recipe made 8 scones and they were absolutely perfect with a cup of green tea on this “cold” Arizona day. These are gluten free, grain free and dairy free. If you could save a couple of these for the following morning they would make a great breakfast. See mom, here is another breakfast without toast! 😉

Chocolate Chip Scones

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour

2 T granulated coconut sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp (I used slightly more) sea salt

1 egg

3 T melted coconut oil

1/4 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In medium bowl combine first 4 ingredients. Add melted coconut oil and lightly beaten egg. Mix well with a fork. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet and form a ball. Press ball down until it is about 1 1/2 thick or about 8 inches in diameter. Cut into 6wedges. Separate the slices evenly on the sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the edges are starting to brown slightly and the centers are firm to touch. Let cool to room temperature and serve.

Brioche (Gluten and Dairy Free)

 

Heavenly Brioche
Heavenly GFCF Brioche

Have you ever come across one of those recipes that at first glance it instantly makes you drool and crave?  Then the feeling of such intense need overcomes you that you completely forget about your diet or promise to yourself to eliminate sugar and grain?  Well this is what happened to me yesterday, at 5pm, while I should have been making dinner.  I found this recipe quite accidentally.  I certainly wasn’t looking for a Brioche recipe but there it was and I had to make it – right then.  The original recipe comes from The Culinary Life.  It looks like she got the recipe from a cookbook called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  How this particular bread could be deemed healthy is beyond me but I’m not going to worry about that today because this bread is OUTSTANDING.  We all need a little treat sometimes, right?  Anyway, the original recipe was not dairy free.  It also contained brown rice flour which I have never purchased before so I had to make several changes to the recipe to suit our needs.  The result was surprisingly light, moist, sweet and flavorful.  It looks like and smells like wheat bread.  Best yet it has the texture of wheat bread.  It is soft, fluffy, tender and elastic.  The original recipe made 3 loaves and the directions explained how to make the dough and store it in the fridge so you could have 3 fresh loaves days apart.  I purposely made enough for only one loaf.  This stuff would be dangerous to keep around the house.  Here is what I did with the recipe.

Brioche – Gluten and Dairy Free

1/3 cup teff flour

1/3 tapioca flour

1 1/3 cup corn starch

2 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

2 small eggs

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup melted coconut oil (I used expeller pressed)

1 tsp vanilla

raw sugar for sprinkling on top

melted coconut oil for greasing pan and for handling the dough

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine wet ingredients.  Add dry into wet and mix until there are no lumps of dry flour.  Scrape down sides of bowl a couple of times during mixing.  Using a spatula, form dough into a ball in the bottom of the bowl.  Cover mixer bowl with a clean dish towel and let it rest and rise at room temperature for 2 hours.  Meanwhile prepare a nonstick loaf tin (8.5 x 4.5 inch) by greasing with coconut oil.  After the 2 hours, liberally coat your hands with melted coconut oil and form dough into a ball with your hands.  Transfer dough into loaf pan and gently shape and smooth the loaf to fit the pan.  Smooth the top of the loaf (something I could have done better).  At this point I sprinkled some raw sugar on top and allowed the loaf to rise for another 40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is a caramel brown and is firm to the touch.  After cooling a bit remove it from the pan.  Now here is the really difficult part, the part in which I failed: let the loaf cool before slicing and eating.  Hope you have better luck than I did.  Because I was impatient, I compressed the loaf a bit during the slicing.  It would have appeared fluffier had I waited.  I didn’t care, it tasted great. 

 GFCF Brioche

Since I finished this loaf just before 9pm I refrained from eating more than one slice which took an enormous amount of willpower.  In the morning this Brioche became amazing french toast.  The recipe for that is coming soon!

If this recipe is up your alley go check out The Culinary Life.  She has some amazing looking recipes.  The next time I have a blow it day I am going to try her Brioche Cinnamon Rolls.  They look amazing.

Coconut Palm Sugar – Friend or Foe?

Do you know about palm sugar or coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar?  I didn’t until a commenter here told me about it.  That truly is the coolest thing about blogging; the sharing of information.  I had never heard of it so I had to do a little reading up on it.  Now I am wondering how I didn’t know about this.  It’s good stuff.  It is made from the sap from the flowers of a date palm.  It is actually good for you. Here are some things I have learned.

  •  Here is a link that compares its mineral content to other sugars.  Impressive I must say.  Honey…. disappointing.
  • The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has reported that coconut palm sweeteners are the single most sustainable sweetener in the world.
  • It hasn’t yet been commercialized so it is still farmed by small farms as opposed to gigantic corporations.
  • Coconut sugar has an extremely low glycemic index.  It’s 35!!!  This is amazing.  A low GI is important for everyone, especially diabetics.  It is also helpful for weight loss.

Those are all really great things.  There are however some negatives.  You need to read a bit between the lines to see them.  The information was originally circulated by the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute.  The Philippine government has a whole lot to gain by having coconut palm sugar portrayed in a positive light.  I re-read the same original research over and over on several different web sites.  They are all the exact same.  It’s like there is only one source of original information.  My concern was the amount of fructose in coconut sugar.  Fructose is what does the damage to your liver over time and that in turn causes a plethora of illnesses, namely diabetes.  If you haven’t watched the video by Dr. Robert Lustig about fructose yet, here is the link to see it.  It is sooooo worth the time.  The articles explained the fructose content like this: 

Coconut palm Sugar is naturally low on the Glycemic Index (GI), which has benefits for weight control and improving glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2).  Coconut palm sugars are rated as a GI 35.   By comparison, most commercial Agaves are GI 42, Honeys are GI 55 and Cane Sugars are GI 68.

palm-sugar1

The major component of coconut sugar is sucrose (70-79%) followed by glucose and fructose (3-9%) each.  Minor variations will occur, due to differences in primary processing, raw material source, tree age and variety of coconut.

 

Now that all sounds good, right? However, sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  Let’s do some simple math and look at the actual fructose content. 

70/2 = 35  —–>  35 + 3 = 38%  (not too bad)

79/2 = 39.5   —–> 39.5 + 9 = 48.5% (pretty close to the same amount of fructose in table sugar)

So the actual amount of fructose can range from 38% to 48.5%  (High Fructose Corn Syrup is 55%)  In addition to the fructose content, it is not low carb.  It is a slow carb.  Unfortunately for me this means that I need to use this in moderation instead of like the free for all like I was really hoping.   While I do think it is far and away the best choice for a sweetener (I really don’t care for stevia which probably is best), it’s not the loop-hole I was hoping it was.   

How does it taste?  Awesome!  It is much like honey except less floral and more caramel.  I have been using it like I would honey by melting it a bit with some oil.  The price?  I got it at a local Asian market for about $1.40 a pound.  If you buy it online I saw it for as much as $8/lb!  Some brands from Thailand are whiter than the rest which are anywhere from brown to beige.  Check the ingredients list.  Many of the whiter ones have table sugar added to them.  It comes in hard discs or in jars.  The sweetness and flavor will vary in each batch. 

If you have more information on coconut palm sugar please post a link in the comments.  What are your thought?  Have you tried it?

Nut Bars

I’ve made these nut bars twice in 3 days. I love love love them. They are perfect as a quick snack. They are filling and satisfying. They are exactly what I need when in between meals and craving a little something sweet. That said, they are not overly sweet. They are much more subtle. My kids love those Lara Bars but I can’t stand them because they are too sweet and pretty high in carbs. I got this recipe from Mark Sisson’s Cookbook, “Primal Blueprint Cookbook.” I’m not much into cookbooks because there is so much you can get online for free. However, this cookbook is actually worth the money. Everything I’ve tried has been really, really great. Everything is grain free, sugar free, free of processed foods and largely dairy free. It’s the only cookbook I have purchased in years. As always I have made a few changes to the original recipe. Here is what worked for us.

Nut Bars

1 cup raw almonds

1 1/2 cup pecans

2/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut

2/3 cup whole flax seed

1/4 cup almond butter

1/2 tsp sea salt if your almond butter is not salted – less if it is

1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil

2 T raw honey (agave for vegan)

1/4 cup gluten and dairy free chocolate chips*

In a large bowl food processor add the first six ingredients. Process until the meal is as fine as it will get. Then add the coconut oil and honey and process until it is well combined. Hand mix in chocolate chips if using. Line a 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Press down to cover bottom of pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or until firm. These bars are gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free, vegan if you sub agave nectar for the honey, free of processed sugar, low carb and high in protein.

*I use Enjoy Life miniature chocolate chips. Not only do they taste great but I like them because they are tiny so the chocolate doesn’t over power. They are also soy free and only have 3 ingredients.

Pumpkin Custard Squares (Grain Free, Dairy Free)

I have 3 kids who seem to be living on air. They won’t eat. I am so frustrated that I have resorted to disguising healthy food as dessert. I made these squares today and 2 of the 3 kids liked them. They are gluten and dairy free with no refined sugar. I am going to pretend they are good for us.
 
Pumpkin Custard Squares
 
Crust:
 
2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup coconut oil
 1/4 cup honey
 1/4 tsp cinnamon
 
Custard:
1 29 oz can pumpkin
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
5 eggs
1 cup honey
1 14 oz can coconut milk
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put almonds into food processor.  Process until you have a fine meal.  Add cinnamon, salt and honey.  Slowly add the coconut oil while the motor is running and stop when you have a mix that sticks together when you pinch it or when it starts coming together into a ball.  It may well take less than 1/2 cup.  Lightly press into 9 x 13 inch baking dish. For the filling mix all ingredients well and pour into unbaked crust. Bake at 350 for 1 hr 10 minutes or until custard is set and toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool and refrigerate. And no, the topping on top of the square in the picture is not dairy free.