Banana Pecan Muffins

Banana Pecan MuffinsI had been wanting a Vitamix for what feels like years. I see it mentioned over and over on so many blogs. At first I thought it was just a pricey blender. Then I found this page showing 52 video demonstrations of everything it can do. After seeing all that I really wanted one. So I went to work trying to convince my husband that I needed yet another appliance. This was a tough sell since I have so many appliances. My Kitchenaid blender was working just fine and it was a rare event that I even pulled it out. The Vitamix is not cheap… as in >$600 however Costco carries them and does demos once a year or so and they sell them for $394 I think. The trick of course was finding out when Costco was carrying them and then waiting. Delayed gratification is so not my thing. Imagine my excitement when I find out that the Costco nearest to me had them for that entire week. It was the final day. I talked my hubby and kids into grocery shopping. I was so excited. We got there and Ron seemed receptive to me getting one. And then…. there was no demo to be found. I was crushed. It would be months until I might have an opportunity again. Then a couple of weeks later we were at Costco and low and behold the Mighty Vitamix was there. It was hard to contain my excitement. I stood there watching the demo and asking countless questions and of course sampling many different treats. I was so sold. Ron… not so much but he did however agree!! I love this thing! I use it several times a day – everyday. These muffins are made using it. I’ve made them a couple times now. They are fun to make and always disappear in a day or two. These muffins are grain, gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, corn, and brewers yeast free. They are low to moderate carb and are GAPS legal. They make a great snack or a quick on the go breakfast. They are just sweet enough, dense and moist. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Banana Pecan Muffins

3 over ripe bananas

4 pitted dates

3 eggs

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups lightly packed almond flour

1 cup roughly chopped pecans

Add bananas, eggs, dates and salt to Vitamix. Blend until smooth and there are no date pieces visible. (The Vitamix is so impressive – the dates I used were very dry and hard and it was still able to puree it into invisible bits.) Next, add coconut oil and mix briefly. Add almond flour and mix until well blended. Pour/scoop muffin mix into a large bowl. Fold in chopped pecans.Line 12 regular sized muffin tins. Divide batter equally for 12 muffins. Using an ice cream scoop is easiest. Bake for approximately 50 minutes at 325. Store in airtight container in the fridge. I actually enjoy these best cold.

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Almond Flax Crackers

Almond Flax CrackersI miss crackers. Sometimes you just need something crunchy and something to dip that is still grain free. I have made almond flour crackers before but I used my own homemade almond flour. They tasted great but they broke easily and were very tender, almost soft. I think that had something to do with the fat content in it. This time around they were perfect as I used store bought almond flour. They were super quick and easy to make and were crunchy, not soft or crumbly. I ate them with my homemade chicken liver pate and they were exactly what I was craving. Here is what I did.

Almond Flax Crackers

2 cups blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour)

1/4 cup ground flax meal

1-2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 egg white

sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325. Mix everything together with your hands. If the dough is a bit dry and won’t quite hold together you can add 1 tsp of water at a time until it just holds together. When everything is well mixed and the dough sticks together transfer it in a ball onto a piece of parchment paper. Press the dough down to flatten it a bit then cover with a second piece of parchment paper and roll the dough out until it is uniformly to the desired thickness. If the sides crack apart just push them back together a bit. Carefully transfer the rolled cracker onto a large cookie sheet. The flattened dough should take up most of the sheet. Score with pizza cutter into small squares. Sprinkle the tops of the crackers with a coarse sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Check for light browning the crackers. If they are not browning yet bake in 5 minute increments until they are. If they are not baked enough they turn out a bit soft. If they are too brown they don’t taste as good. When they are done leave them on the cookie sheet to cool completely. They firm up and become crispy once they are cool. When cool break them apart and store in an airtight container.

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! ūüėČ

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.

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.

Donut Muffins – Grain Free, Dairy Free

Donut Muffins, Grain and Dairy Free

Score!¬† Goal!¬† Home run!¬† Touchdown!¬† In the kitchen I mean.¬† In sports – never.¬† I hate sports.¬† All of them.¬† I used to be engaged to a guy who loved ALL sports.¬†¬†He watched sports on TV any chance he could get.¬† He would always scream excitedly for me to “COME QUICK!!!¬† HURRY!!!”¬† It was said¬†with such urgency¬†that I would come running as fast as I could in somewhat of a panic.¬† Then he would follow that up¬†with, ¬† “You HAVE to see this replay!!”¬† My dislike for sports deepened and became hatred.¬†¬†¬†I¬†was born and raised in Canada.¬† Every guy I ever dated played hockey – except one – he was a referee.¬† ¬†I figured that if I were to have a man in my life then I was going to have to learn to tolerate sports.¬† I had resigned myself to that.¬† Then I met my husband.¬† He is the polar opposite of fiance number one.¬† He hates sports even more than I do.¬† I think it is highly possible that he may be one of a kind.¬† He is perfect for me in every way.¬†¬† The lack of sports in our life is just icing on the cake.¬† We’ve been together for 16 years now and I still marvel at how lucky I am to have scored myself such a catch.

Onto¬†my latest kitchen success.¬† donut muffins!¬† If you like cinnamon sugar cake donuts but feel guilty about the white flour, sugar, seed oils…then you might have just found a great replacement.¬† My kids LOVED these.¬† All three!¬† That never happens.¬† Sage ate 2 right away and then came back for a third.¬† For a kid who normally eats enough to stuff into a birds ear this is amazing.¬† I have made these before but they were not dairy free.¬† I do not use agave or Truvia anymore.¬† These muffins¬†are super high in fiber and protein and would be a great on the go breakfast.¬† Best though is that they taste great.¬† They are best right out of the oven but if you have any left over store them in the fridge.

Donut Muffins – Take II

1 cup slightly packed almond flour

1 cup flax seed meal, sifted

1 T baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup water

Topping

2 T melted virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup palm sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 muffin tins.  Mix dry ingredients well (exclude those used for topping). ***I have whole flax seeds and grind them in my little coffee grinder.  I then sifted them so that the larger pieces were removed to help create a finer textured muffin.*** Add beaten eggs, melted coconut oil, water, and honey to the dry mixture. Mix well. Divide batter into 12 muffins. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Then melt coconut oil in a small bowl.  Mix cinnamon and palm sugar in separate bowl.   Dip a muffin top into the oil then dip it into the cinnamon sugar bowl.  YUM!

How To Make Your Own Almond Flour

Can anyone tell me what makes a man tick?¬† Because I am at a loss.¬† My husband whom I think is (usually) a genius leaves me scratching my¬† head.¬† Why?¬† Let me tell you how my day started.¬† We have 2 of iPod touches, the ones that have Face to Face which is video calling.¬† First just let me say that I hate the idea of video calling.¬† I don’t want to be bothered worrying about how I look just to make a phone call.¬† It’s great for the kids and Grandma and for the kids and my husband or I while at work.¬† However it’s not great when the iPod rings at 5:20 am because my husband, who was at work, thought I would be awake and he wanted to demonstrate to a male co-worker how the thing worked.¬† Seriously?!¬† I ignored the call and tried to go back to sleep.¬† Then he called back at 6:30.¬† I had just woke up and was barely upright or even thinking yet.¬† I answer the call and while waiting to connect see myself on the screen and ponder what has become of me.¬† Can you now imagine how mortified I am when the call connects and there is Ron’s co-worker staring back at me.¬† Seriously, what was my husband thinking?!¬† Now I know better than to¬†show my face when I answer a call.¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†

One of my favorite blogs is¬†Elana’s Pantry.¬† Nearly everything this woman posts looks great.¬† For me the problem is that she uses a lot of almond flour.¬† I love almond flour, just not the price.¬† She recommends one particular brand, Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.¬† While I’m sure it is a great product, I just can’t see myself spending that kind of money on¬†flour.¬† As I have said before on this blog, we grind a lot of our own flours.¬† We grind¬†amaranth, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and corn.¬†¬†We save a TON of¬† money doing it this way.¬† Since I am leaning toward a grain free diet lately it got me¬†wondering if I could make my own almond flour.¬†¬† Turns out that yes, I can.¬† It’s quick and easy.¬† I have used this almond flour for cookies, muffins and pancakes.¬† So far everything I have tried with it has worked out great.¬† I have never purchased almond flour so I guess I have nothing to compare mine too but I expect that mine is moister so I need to use a bit less oil in whatever recipe I am using if the recipe calls for commercial almond flour.¬† The only things you need to make this is a coffee grinder (preferably not one that you use coffee beans for) and a wire mesh sieve.¬†¬†¬†

Here’s how I do it.¬†¬†

Larger Pieces Sifted Out

Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of whole raw almonds to the coffee grinder.  Grind until you have a fine meal.  When you hear the grinder make a different noise and the almond meal inside is not moving well anymore, stop.  If you continue you will be making chunky almond butter.  Pour the almond meal into a sieve which is sitting in a large bowl.  Shake out the almond flour into the bowl.  The larger meal and some bigger pieces will be left over.  Just leave them in the bowl for now and repeat the process until you have the amount you need.  Then add back into the grinder all those small pieces and the courser meal and grind again.   

Closer Look

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I must get at my day now.¬† The kids found the small head of a salamander in the living room this morning.¬† I have got to locate the rest of him.¬† Yup, that’s desert life!