Asian Slaw

Yes, those are peanuts in the picture.  No, I don’t usually eat those.  Sunflower seeds are a better choice.  The second time I made this I did have sunflower seeds and used those.  I liked it better.  I came up with this idea after eating at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.  I get the same salad every time I go there.  Their version likely has soy in it and now that I think about it probably wheat because they use regular soy sauce.  Hmmm and I wonder what they sweeten it with.  I know it isn’t honey… Crap!  The restaurant also adds daikon radish, shrimp and BBQ pork (and does not have the seaweed in it).  I want to try that at home too but that will require some pre-planning.  Does ayone have a good recipe for Vietnamese BBQ pork??   This salad is sweet and salty and was whipped up in 10 minutes.  I almost didn’t post this recipe.  I realize that most people don’t keep Thai basil and arame in their house as a staple. I don’t expect this to be a very popular post.  However, this is currently my favorite salad and if you happen to have access to the ingredients I highly recommend it.

Asian Slaw

Half a head of green cabbage – shredded

1 english cucumber with the skin on – quartered and sliced

fresh Thai basil – handful

fresh mint – handful

big pinch of dried arame (seaweed)

sunflower seeds as a topping


1/4 cup EVOO

3 T Braggs liquid aminos or coconut aminos

1 T sesame oil

1/4 cup unsweetened rice vinegar

3-4 T raw honey

Soak the arame in room temperature water.  It softens in just a few minutes and doubles or triples in size.  Next make your dressing.  Combine all ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until well blended.  In your food processor using the slicing blade shred half a head of cabbage.  You could do this by hand too if you are less lazy than I.  Then slice your english cucumber lengthwise into quarters and feed it through the food processor (or slice by hand).  Very coarsely chop the Thai basil and mint.  Add cabbage, basil, cucumber, mint and arame to a large bowl.  Mix everything together.  Dress the salad as you need it.  The dressing keeps well in the fridge.  Top with a handful of sunflower seeds.

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Cranberry Salad

This is too good to not find the time to share.  This recipe is inspired by my friend Stephanie who makes something similar.  Her version has the same basic ingredients but has jello in it.  It is great but I wanted to try something sugar free.  It was her version of this that first introduced me to eating raw cranberries.  Honestly that had never occured to me.  I had only ever had cranberries as cranberry sauce.  I made this a few days ago and it worked out to be a very big bowl. I figured I would never get to the bottom of it and that it was unlikely that anyone else in my family would eat it.  I was wrong on all sides of that thought.  It was all gone in less than 2 days.  True, it was me that ate 90% of it but that may have had something to do with the fact that I hid the bowl in the back of the fridge so it wouldn’t attract attention.  It was super quick to make.  I want to hurry and write this up so I can go make more.  I was thinking about Thanksgiving dinners as I ate this.  We all have experienced the coma that follows the big dinner.  I was always told that it was the tryptophan so something like that in the turkey that makes us sleepy.  I think it is the carbs.  Think about it.  The usual dinner includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, marshmallows, gravy, cranberry sauce… and that is all before the dessert.  For me anyway that all spells carb coma.  This salad contains all the flavors of fall without all the carbs.  Enjoy.  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Salad

1 12 oz bag whole cranberries

4 peeled oranges cut into chunks

3 small apples – cored (skin left on if they are organic)

3/4 cup pecan pieces

1/4 of a large pomegranate

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1  T honey (optional)

In a large bowl food processor add the cranberries, apples, oranges and pecans.  Pulse until you get a consistency you like.  Transfer into a large bowl and add pomegranate, cinnamon, cloves and honey if you are using it.  Toss to combine.  Adjust to desired sweetness with honey.

Trail Mix

The never ending search to find snacks the kids will eat and that I can feel good about will likely never end. I made this trail mix this week and it is a winner. My six year old has taken a bunch of it each day to school and the container comes home empty. It makes me happy. For me, it was breakfast today. See mom, breakfast is possible without grain! 😉

Trail Mix

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

sea salt to taste

cinnamon (maybe 1/2 tsp) *use more or less depending on preferences

nutmeg (maybe 1/4 tsp)

1 1/2 T melted virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup honey (more or less to taste)

1 T vanilla

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix everything together except the honey and the vanilla. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts with spices and oil on baking sheet. Bake for 2-3 minutes. While that is baking mix honey and vanilla. Then pour the honey and vanilla mix over top of the nuts and mix well. Put nuts back into the oven for about 10 minutes. Every 2-3 minutes stir nuts. Watch that they don’t burn as they can burn quickly. When most of the honey mix has reduced they are done. They will still appear wet when hot but when they cool the honey hardens and dries. Add cranberries or other dried fruit when still hot and mix well. Allow to cool before serving.

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.

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!

Singapore Quinoa

Singapore Quinoa

Years ago I used to love going to Asian restaurants and ordering the Singapore Noodles.  They were my favorite.  It is a one dish meal that sometimes has shrimp and fried pork in it.  It is made with vermicelli rice noodles.  I have recently made this at home since we don’t eat out much anymore.  I loved it.  It was really easy to make and it was quick.  The problem for me is the noodles.  White rice and I do not get along.  Too carby with a very high glycemic index.  I ended up feeling like I just ate a whole bag of cotton candy.  Not good!  So this time I tried it with quinoa.  It was soooo good.  It was even more satisfying and no bloating or carb coma.  As a bonus, because quinoa is a great protein source it left me feeling full for hours.  Unfortunately, the kids hated it.  Unfortunate for them as I will definitely be making this again!  

Singapore Quinoa   

1 1/2 cup quinoa     

1 tsp salt     

 2 T coconut oil     

 1/2 large onion sliced thinly in half moons     

 5-6 cloves minced garlic     

 1 heaping T grated ginger     

 1 thinly sliced red pepper   

 1 T mild curry powder     

 1 tsp turmeric     

 1 tsp sugar     

 2 T (more or less to taste)  soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)      

 1/2 pound asparagus chopped into inch length chunks     

 1 yellow squash (cut into match sticks – I used a mandolin to do this)     

 1 small zucchini squash (cut into match sticks)     

 6-8 large button mushrooms, sliced     

 2 large handfuls raw baby spinch     

 garnish with cilantro, green onions, chopped peanuts, lime wedges.     

Place a fine wire mesh colander in a large bowl.  Put the quinoa in the colander and then fill the bowl with water.  Let the quinoa soak for a couple of hours or all day if you have time.  Soaking will do two things, it will make the grain swell a bit and if there is any sand trapped inside the quinoa it will come out when you stir and rinse it.  Soaking will also rinse off the natural reside that is a bit bitter.  You don’t have to do any of this if you have purchased pre-rinsed quinoa.  Once the quinoa is done soaking, drain and rinse again.  Dump the quinoa into a rice cooker and add 3 cups of water and a bit of salt to taste.  It will be done in about 20 minutes.  You can do this on the stove top too.   Just treat it like rice.      

While the quinoa is cooking.  Heat a wok or large saute pan.  Add coconut oil and heat.  When hot add onions, garlic and ginger.  Saute for a couple of minutes.  Add red pepper.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so.  Add curry powder, turmeric, sugar and soy sauce.   Add squash, asparagus and mushrooms.  When veggies are done to desired tenderness add cooked quinoa and spinach.  Toss to combine.  Garnish with any or all the above options and serve warm.

Apple Crisp (gluten, sugar, dairy and grain free)

Gluten and Grain Free Apple Crisp

Call it what you like: Apple Brown Betty, Apple Crisp, Apple Crumble.  Whatever you call it, this version is a remake of the sinful one that most of us are probably familiar with.  It is not only gluten free but free of grain, dairy, eggs, soy and refined sugar.  I used dates that I ground up in the food processor as the sweetener.  It is total comfort food minus all the guilt.  Low carb?  Maybe not but it is low on the glycemic index and a whole lot lower carb than the original version.  All five of us loved it.  Ron didn’t even know it was sugar-free.  I knew he liked it when he kept making passes through the kitchen to grab just one more bite.  

Guilt Free Apple Crisp  

1 1/2 cups raw almonds  

1/2 cup flax seeds  

8 dried dates  

2 T  melted coconut oil  

pinch of salt  

1/2 tsp cinnamon  

1/4 cup xylitol (you could probably use stevia to taste too)  

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor add almonds, flax seeds, salt and cinnamon.  Process until it is as fine as it can get.  Add dates and process again until well incorporated.  Add coconut oil and xylitol and process until blended well.  When you pinch it between your fingers it should stick together loosely.  If it doesn’t, add a bit more coconut oil.  Reserve approx 3/4 cup of the topping.  With remaining mix spread out evenly in a glass baking pan.  (I used the glass Pyrex one that is one size smaller than the 9×13, maybe it’s 8×10??  It says 2 L on the bottom.)   Gently press down but don’t pack it firmly.  Set aside.  

14 dried dates  

1/4 cup melted coconut oil  

In a clean food processor add both the oil and the dates and process until you end up with a paste.  Set it aside.   

6 – 8 apples  

1/2 tsp ground cloves  

1/4 cup xylitol (again, you could probably use stevia here)  

pinch of salt  

I used a mix of granny smith apples and fuji because that is what I had on hand.  Peel, core and thinly slice the apples.  I used my food processor to do this so it was super fast and the apples are uniformly sliced.  In a large bowl combine date paste, apples, cloves, salt and xylitol.  With your hands combine everything.  Keep mixing until the date paste is uniformly distributed.  Taste it to see if it is sweet enough for your liking.  You can add more xylitol if needed.  Spread apple mixture over almond crust evenly.  Then sprinkle remaining almond crumble over top.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  This would be great with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream but then it isn’t vegan any more and it is no longer guilt free.  We had it alone and like I said we all loved it.  The kids had no idea that this was actually good for them.  I think mom scores a point for this one.