Grain Free Sandwich Bread

Update 1-26-14: I made this again, only this time omitting the applesauce. I found it to be so much better! Not nearly as sweet, moist or fruit-bread like. That’s how I’ll make it from now on, I do believe! I might also try it w/out the agave (I used honey) next time and see. 

I found another grain-free sandwich bread recipe and thought I’d try it. Eh. It was OK. Sandwich bread? No, I would not say it’s sandwich bread. It’s a bit sweet and very much the texture of banana or pumpkin bread. It was yummy toasted, and I could see making it into French toast, but I don’t think I would put salami or roast beef and cheese between 2 slices of it. However, it was a decent bread, didn’t take long to make and was rather simple so I figure, make it yourself, and you be the judge! How’s that for advertising? I don’t remember where I found the recipe so I can’t link it to the original spot…My added comments are in italics

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Sandwich Bread (term “sandwich” used loosely!):

2 c. almond flour

2 Tbsp. coconut flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

5 eggs

1 Tbsp. agave (I used maple syrup, honey would be good too, and I think plain ol’ sugar would be fine!)

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/4 c. applesauce (I’m thinking next time I may cut this amount in 1/2 or just omit all together. I think it’s what made the bread too sweet and heavy)

1/2 tsp. salt.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl.

3. Put eggs, agave, and applesauce in small bowl and whisk together.

4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix to form dough (more like a batter).

5. Pour in greased loaf pan and bake for 35 min.

6. Cool in pan.

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Homemade Sausage Patties

Since changing the way we eat we have increased our consumption of bacon and sausage. And, yes, we’re losing weight! Not gaining it! Anyway, have you ever read the ingredients on pre-made sausage patties in the grocery store? Unless you’re going to pay an arm and leg at a store like Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s, you’re going to have a hard time finding sausage that doesn’t have ingredients in it that is NOT meat and seasonings. I was so excited to find this recipe for homemade sausage! And, let me tell you, IT IS SO GOOD!!!! I’m not a huge sausage fan. I eat it, but it’s not something I crave, or anything. However, this stuff? SO GOOD! So much flavor! I had to share the recipe with you! On a side note, the one thing I will change next time is not adding as much onion to the mix. Other than that–YUM! I have linked the title to the blog I got the recipe from! I added my own notes in italics.

Make Ahead Homemade Sausage Patties:

2 lbs. ground pork, at room temperature

1.25 lbs. ground turkey, at room temperature

1/4 c pureed, or finely chopped, onion (puree in food processor)

2 tsp. finely minced fresh parsley, or dried if you don’t have fresh

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. ground sage

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. pure maple syrup, optional (I left this out)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional (I left this out)

1. Combine all the seasonings and mix until well blended.

 

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2. Add in ground meat, syrup and onion, using your hands to combine thoroughly. If cooking right away, shape into patties and cook over med-high heat on heavy skillet or griddle sprayed lightly with oil (I encourage you to lightly grease your skillet/griddle). Cook until nice and brown and no longer pink in the middle, a few minutes on each side.

 

 

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3. To shape patties you can either use your hands (which is what I did) or…take some meat and place between 2 layers of plastic wrap. With a  rolling pin roll out meat to desired thickness. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Take a round cookie cutter, or top of a drinking glass, and press down to cut out nice, round sausage patties. Transfer to hot griddle, or baking sheet to be frozen. To save room in freezer, put parchment paper down, fill with patties, layer with another sheet of parchment, patties, etc. until all meat is made into patties. I was able to get 3 doz patties made.

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4. Oh! And make sure you have a REALLY cute assistant! This is the most important part of the whole process!

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A New View of Convenience

We all like to throw something together fast for breakfast/lunch/supper, don’t we? The internet is full of blogs, websites, etc that tote having the fastest and best meals for you and your family. You’re just a click away from putting together something quick and easy. Unfortunately, those quick and easy meals usually involve opening a can or box of some kind and then ingesting a lot of salt, sugar and other ingredients you can’t even pronounce. They usually mean putting a bunch of unhealthy (in my opinion) ingredients together to make that easy meal.

As our family has been on our journey of health and wellness this has meant changing how we eat (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a time or 2!). We do our best to eat as Paleo as possible–eating mostly fruit, veggies and meat. My husband is able to tolerate dairy so he still eats cheese and drinks milk, although his consumption of those things has gone down considerably. After the insanity of the holidays and eating way too much junk and sugar, David and I are motivated to get back to being more strict with our diet. And I don’t mean diet as in the eating-cabbage-only diet, or only eating lettuce and celery. I mean, diet, as in what we put in our mouth on a daily basis. The way we eat to be healthy, not to loose a bunch of weight all of a sudden. We are all on a diet, some are on a Hostess cupcake diet, others are not! Anyway, I digress! We have noticed, once again, that when our children eat too much grain their behavior worsens. David has noticed the same in himself. We’ve noticed that when we ALL eat too much sugar we are all more irritable, crabby, tired, etc. And so, with that in mind we are hoping to make some more changes in our eating, or get back to what we were doing initially over 2 years ago!

I will be setting up a weekly menu of what we’ll eat breakfast, lunch and supper. My husband has been suggesting I do this for YEARS, and I have ignored him. However, he’s right. (And yes, he knows I said he’s right, and he’s danced his jig of glee over it!) We’ve always found it helpful when I have our suppers listed out for the week, so why not for breakfast and lunch too? Not only will this ensure we have healthy choices purchased while grocery shopping I won’t be left scrambling and wondering if they kids should have an almond butter/jelly sandwich or hotdog for lunch. Also, it will, in theory, keep us from eating out so much! We eat out way too much, and we’re hoping having all 3 meals planned & the food bought for them will help keep us at home more.

As I’m running through my head just what all this entails, and the different meals I’ll put down, I realized this just isn’t very convenient. It is WAY more convenient to put some cereal in a bowl and hand it to the kids then to make a quiche, or oatmeal, or fry up some bacon. I’m not saying cereal is evil, it’s just a difference we want to make in OUR family (and I say difference, because the kids eat a lot of cereal and toast in our home right now). I’m also realizing that by eating in a way we find healthier will make us healthier. It will keep us from getting sick so much and if we do get sick, theoretically we should heal faster. And so, I’m left to look at convenience in a different way. Yes, food out of boxes, cans and the freezer are fast, easy and convenient, but they do not promote health. And being sick is WAY less convenient. It’ll take time, practice, diligence, and we’ll need to form new habits, but I do believe we’ll find this way of eating in a not-so-convenient way to actually be far more convenient.

As we continue on this new leg of our journey to wellness I will do my best to post how we’re doing, & share recipes we all like. I was thinking of even sharing a menu for a week that we’ll be eating. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate when someone else has information to share and if it helps me, then I hope it will help you!

Hot Cocoa

About the only hot beverage I like to drink is hot cocoa. I can’t stand coffee, hot tea is OK, but not something I get excited over. However, hot cocoa? LOVE IT! Before I had to change the way I eat every time we went out to eat between October and March (give or take…) I would order hot cocoa. I just love it.  I’ve pretty much had to stop buying the mixes from the store and have been making my own. The Hershey’s baking cocoa container will give you a good recipe. I have modified it some as the kids and I don’t do dairy any longer, and David rarely does. If you’re looking to do a non-mix hot cocoa this is a good recipe. I simply use almond milk in place of the cow’s milk. It’s just as yummy! I have made the recipe from the Against All Grain cookbook too. This is a really good recipe, but takes a long time to make, and I found it VERY rich and too much for the kids, especially. So, Monday I kinda put the 2 together and came up with my own concoction! Don’t let the recipe make you think you MUST have it that way! Shake it up and get the mix to the point that you and your family enjoy it the most (this goes for pretty much any recipe, not just hot cocoa!). Anyway, here’s what I did!

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HOT COCOA:

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/3 c sugar

1/2 c water

dash of salt

Bring to a boil and boil for 5 min, stirring pretty regularly.

Add the fat from 1 can of coconut milk and 2 1/2 c almond milk. Stir until hot. If it doesn’t taste chocolatey enough, add more cocoa powder.

Take off heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. I really think the vanilla pushes it over the edge! So yummy!!!!

ENJOY!

Grain Free Brownies

My friend, N, made some brownies for me last week when our families and another family were all together. She knows I love chocolate and also knows I can’t have grain, and I so appreciated her doing this for me! To top it all off the brownies were DELICIOUS! So, I understand I have been eating non-grain things for over 2 years now and may not be the best judge anymore if something is good or not if it is lacking grain. However, let me tell you that my husband and my friend’s husband BOTH loved them! They are moist, fudgy and full of brownie goodness! I wanted to share the recipe with you. I have shared my zucchini brownies before, but these are much better! So, without further ado, here is the recipe. I’ve linked the title to the original blog the recipe came from!

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DECADENT FUDGY BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips (plus extra for sprinkling on top)

1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder

3 large eggs

3/4 cup rapadura (or coconut sugar) (I used pure maple syrup. You could also just use honey or plain ol’ sugar if you wanted!)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with coconut oil. In a small bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Cut the butter into chunks. Then, place the butter chunks into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and the cocoa powder. Stir until the chocolate chips begin to soften. Then, remove from heat and continue stirring until the chocolate chips are completely melted and the mixture is well combined. Set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, add the eggs, rapadura and vanilla. Whisk together until well combined. Then, slowly whisk in the cooled chocolate-butter mixture, using a rubber spatula to get all of the chocolate mixture out of the saucepan.

4. Next, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet while whisking vigorously. Continue whisking until no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle 1/4 cup of chocolate chips evenly across the top of the batter. Then, use a spreader to gently press the chocolate chips into the batter and smooth out the top. (Doing this, instead of mixing the chocolate chips directly into the batter, keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan.)

5. Bake for approximately 26-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the baking dish before slicing and serving. For an extra special treat, top with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. YUM! (Recipe inspired by The Wannabe Chef.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, it’s been over 2 years since I’ve had a chocolate chip cookie. I’m not a huge cookie person, but I do enjoy chocolate chip, probably because of the chocolate! In my attempts to find good recipes to use that I can eat (meaning no grain in them and little to no dairy) I came across this recipe. It’s from a lady, Danielle Walker, who has a blog called “Against All Grain.” I have tried a few of her recipes and they have all been really good! These cookies are no exception! I will say this: the flavor is great! You can really taste the chocolate! The texture is a bit different. They are more spongy. However, don’t let that keep you from trying out the recipe. They are worth it. And, as I’m learning with grain-free recipes, the quantity is small–you only get about 12 cookies. I suppose if you made them really small you’d get more but that wouldn’t be much fun, huh? Here’s the recipe! The title is a link to the original.

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Real-Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/4 cup palm shortening or grass-fed butter (I used butter)

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (I used regular ol’ sugar)

2 Tbsp. honey

1 large egg, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

2 Tbsp coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces

1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips (I used 1/2 a cup of semi sweet chips)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a food processor, cream the palm shortening, coconut sugar, honey, egg and vanilla for about 15 seconds until smooth and fluffy.

3. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt, and mix again until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed in order to incorporate all of the flour. Pulse once or twice more.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

5. Place golf-ball sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a SilPat. (this is very important as they WILL stick otherwise! I used parchment paper.) Using another sheet of parchment on top of the dough, flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand or a spatula. The cookies don’t spread much so create the size and thickness you want prior to baking them.

6. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges.

 

2 Years and Still Pressing On

While on vacation we hit the 2 year mark of us changing the way we eat, the way we look at food, the way we grocery shop, and the way we pretty much do life. It’s been quite a crazy 2 years. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, about our weaknesses, and what foods are most difficult to give up (dairy and chocolate!). We’ve learned how cheating just isn’t worth it and sticking to a mostly paleo diet is simply what works best for our family. We feel healthiest and best when we eat meat, fruits and veggies and keep the other stuff (starches–potatoes, bread, grains of any kind–sweets, pop) to a minimum, or in my case not at all on the grains. I did a long post last year about all the changes we had made in our first year. You can look at that list here. We have continued with these changes and have added a few others.

One of the biggest things we’ve started doing is seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis. I wrote about that here. I know it’s helping to keep us healthy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much healthier our winter will be. For Cora, who always gets sinus infections during the fall/winter, she’s been getting sinus massages the past few times we’ve gone. We see the effects (eyes and nose running) of the massage as it’s happening. This is helping to keep her sinuses clear, and the thought is this will prevent infections. She’s already had 1 sinus infection (before we started doing the massages), and I’m praying it’ll be the only one. 

I have been doing a lot more baking using almond meal, coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour. So far the things I’ve made have been good and are things David says he doesn’t mind eating! One thing I probably make the most often are biscuits. We all like them and though they’re made with almond meal and not wheat flour David says they remind him most of the biscuits his grandmother used to make. I have lots more recipes to try, but so far I’m having fun learning to bake differently and learning the different qualities of the different meals/flours. 

Something we have discovered is we are a family who is trying to become as natural and chemical-free as possible. This means I am cleaning exclusively with a tea tree oil/water mixture, baking soda and vinegar. I clean our fruits/veggies in vinegar and water and make our laundry detergent. We don’t burn scented candles or use air fresheners of any kind. This has helped our allergies and the biggest improvement is David’s asthma, which is pretty much non-existant now! I am beginning the long process of researching the things to avoid in hair care products and make up. Changing these things in our home is the next big thing I need to do. We’ve come so far in our attempts to live a healthier life, and this is one area that has seemed very overwhelming to me. However, I (we) believe it’s the next step. We have the food pretty much figured out, and the cleaning products. Now, we need to finish with our own personal care products. 

We are also going to be adding regular exercise to our routine. Now that I’m entering my 3rd year of the best health I’ve ever been in there is no excuse to NOT exercise! I hate to do it, but I know it needs to be done. 

What have we learned thus far? Change is hard. Change takes time. Change can often be a daily struggle. Change is good. There are a lot of benefits to change despite the difficulty in it. And, most change is absolutely worth it! What is 1 thing you can change in your daily life TODAY to put yourself on the road to better health? I encourage you to do it! If you make just 1 change a week, or month, you’ll be further ahead than the person not making any changes at all.