An Apple A Day

I’m working to prove the saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. We were given apples from an orchard of somebody at Brian’s work. A lot of apples! So many that I don’t feel bad using them all the time, they seem endless. In fact, I already made some homemade applesauce (amazing recipe from the Against All Grain cookbook, so easy, no added sugar or juice and very tasty!) and didn’t even put a dent in the apple quantity. Other than that I’ve been feeding them to the girls at least once a day with breakfast or lunch. As for me, I am currently obsessed with an apple dessert I created.

I’m embarrassed to admit how often I’ve made this dessert in the last week because that means that I have eaten a lot of it. Brian has eaten very little of the dessert, mostly because he knows how much I am enjoying it (read: I’m not sharing!). You know I’ve made it often when I have a good idea of the measurements and ratios of the ingredients. Usually, I throw things together until they look and taste good but since I’ve made this numerous times I’ve got an idea of the actual quantities involved.

I’m calling this Apple Cookie Crumble:

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Two apples are cut into chunks and sprinkled with cinnamon. The apples are placed in a pan greased with coconut oil. The topping is the fun part! I use about 2 cups of nuts and seeds and process them until they are flour like in texture. I’ve been using 1 cup of peanuts and a mixture of other nuts and pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. Almond flour would work too but I tend to have more peanuts on hand. To the nut/seed flour I add 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/3 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut, and 2 tablespoons coconut flour. I process it all together with some cinnamon and nutmeg until it is crumbly but sticking together. At this point I’ve made something similar to a grain-free cookie base (and it’s pretty yummy eaten just like this too) but to finish the dessert the cookie mixture is scooped and spread on top of the apples to cover them. I cook this at 350 degrees for about 20 mins  and then press a few dark chocolate chips on top to melt into the warm topping.

This dessert has stolen my heart! The apples are soft and warm and the cookie top is a little crumbly, crisp but still soft. Brian enjoyed his with some whipped cream but I prefer mine as is, warm out of the oven. I’ve got some leftovers from making yet another one last night and I’m exercising some serious restraint to not eat it every time I walk by. The only thing stopping me is the fact that if I eat it now, I’ll have to make more for later (problem, I know!) or there definitely won’t be enough for sharing. Apples, warm apples with cookie topping, stop calling my name!

New Recipes Are Fun

Can I just say how much fun I’m having with the recipes in the Against All Grain Cookbook?! I’ve been making my way through some of the recipes, quite successfully. Oh no! It makes me want to actually have the cookbook instead of borrow it from the library. But I’ve already done that recently with a cookbook so no more cookbook buying for me in the near future. (Santa do you hear me?)

I made the Allergy-Free Breakfast cookies. Oh my, they were so good it was hard to remember that they were a healthy breakfast option. They tasted like such a treat, especially warmed up.

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I adapted the recipe slightly to use pumpkin puree instead of the banana and added pumpkin pie spices to give them that seasonal flavor. They ended up being quite soft and needed to be handled with care. The cookies are made with coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sweetened with dates and applesauce.

Next on the list is chocolate swirl banana bread. The chocolate swirl was my own addition since it is our family’s favorite version of banana bread. But the base recipe for this banana bread was incredible! Grain-free, sugar-free banana bread that actually tastes like traditional banana bread! I’ve made grain-free banana breads before but they were too dense and just not quite what I was looking for in a banana bread. This recipe has mostly coconut flour in it and a little almond flour (and 4 eggs!). The bananas add most of the sweetness.

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Delicious slices of banana bread!

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We sprinkled the top of the loaf with mini chocolate chips to give it a special chocolate bonus. The bread is so moist and banana flavored. Chocolate swirl = excellent addition

I even packed some for Izzy to take as lunch one day this week. Since it’s filled with wholesome ingredients I don’t even feel bad about making it the main portion of her lunch:

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Pumpkin Patch and Pumpkin Eats

A trip to the pumpkin patch deserves to begin with some pumpkin flavored eats, right? I think I used to make pumpkin pancakes before our pumpkin patch trips….but that was before. I didn’t want to make pancakes this time. But pumpkin flavor is still necessary! Pumpkin eggs? No. How about eggs and pumpkin mini doughnut bites next to them? Yes!

Well I didn’t take a picture of the eggs, just regular over-easy eggs, but here are the pumpkin doughnut bites:

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I adapted the recipe from my Oh She Glows cookbook to include pumpkin and pumpkin spices. They are still loaded with chia seeds and oat flour and sweetened with maple syrup.

During our pumpkin patch adventures Brian likes to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. As fate would have it just the day before I came across a no-refined sugar, no crazy junk, recipe for a homemade pumpkin spice latte. Armed with the recipe I set out to make my hubby a real food version of the fall drink and avoid the chain coffee shop. To make this recipe I had to bust out the blender, a little used appliance in my house (thanks to the food processor). However, the food processor was not going to cut it for this job. We followed the recipe instructions but found that when it came to combining the homemade pumpkin spice creamer with the coffee we preferred a higher coffee to creamer ratio than suggested. Brian is a mostly black coffee drinker so even half the creamer amount was good enough for his tastes.

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Homemade pumpkin spice latte! Made with real ingredients: pumpkin puree (shouldn’t it have the real pumpkin instead of artificial flavor!), almond milk, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spices, and coffee (of course!). It was tasty (though I didn’t use quite enough pumpkin) and the leftovers were enjoyed the next morning as well.

Real pumpkin flavors followed by a fun trip the pumpkin patch. AND somehow it didn’t rain on us! Good times!

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Eating In

Truth be told eating out is not as exciting as it used to be. Because I cook all day everyday I’ve become very accustomed to having my food the way I prefer it. So much so, that when I go out to eat I’m not as thrilled about my food because it’s not as good or how I would do it. Also, we have now become those people who are very particular about their food order. Can I sub this for that and please leave off the bun, dressing on the side, etc.

Well, to be fair I have had some really unexpectedly great meals out to eat and those always seem to come when I am fairly specific about my requests. Hmmm, maybe be an annoying orderer is worth it. I’m thinking specifically of a dinner Brian and I went out to together a month or so ago when I requested that the contents of a mushroom burger or wrap, not sure which, be put on a salad instead. That salad was made for me! It had portabello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, pesto, Dijon mustard, and balsamic. I’ve been recreating various versions of that salad since.

However, for the most part I’d say I prefer to eat in. There are plenty of recipes to experiment with out there that are just as good and better than what you would get eating out. All this came up because we went out to dinner tonight as a family. My food was ok, not amazing, and likely to make me feel not my best tomorrow. And little Lexi, the girl who knows no limits, could not resist a hot dog and fries. She will be a little off tomorrow as well. And funny little side note: Isabelle has outgrown the kids menu. Kid’s menus are always the same: hot dogs, burger, breaded chicken, or macaroni. Lame. I recently heard a thing that most other countries do not have separate menus for the children. “Kid Food” is a totally American thing. So, now, Isabelle prefers to order something off the actual menu that is a little more “real food”. I totally support her not wanting to eat the typical kid food. Her choice tonight? Southwest chicken salad. And with the exception of the little bit I ate she finished that thing! And she was full!

So, eating out is not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. It reminds me of some pretty great dinners we’ve had recently. Dinners that got a lot of yummy noises.

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First up is this one. I actually commented while I was eating this dinner that it was so much better than anything we’ve had in a restaurant. These tacos are made with my homemade tortillas. They have sautéed broccoli, beans, onion, and garlic with taco seasoning inside. As well, as a hint of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives. Salsa, plain yogurt, smashed avocado, and a little cashew cheeze sauce on top. All those flavors! Next to them we had roasted green beans (my fave!) and cob corn (or corn cut off the cob if you are my husband, he just can’t get down with the corn on the cob).

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This dinner was a snap to prepare. The veggies come in a big fresh stir fry mix filled with chard, carrots, snap peas, broccoli and kale. I cooked up some onions and added the veggies with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Toasted cashews top the stir fry. That little tiny brown stuff next to the veggies is kaniwa. We found it on our most recent trip to the natural market I love so much. Apparently, this kaniwa stuff is related to quinoa and cooks the same way. We call it mini quinoa because that’s exactly what it looks like. Kaniwa and quinoa are both seeds and you definitely get that sense with stuff because of how little each one is. It tastes very similar to red quinoa.

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Stuffed pepper casserole! I used to get so excited to have peppers on hand and want to make stuffed peppers. Then I would make them and we would always struggle to eat them (they just tip over or have the stuffing spill out!). What’s more is that it never seemed like the ratio of filling to peppers was enough. I have learned! Now, when I get the urge to make stuffed peppers I tell myself, no, and make a stuffed pepper casserole instead. Same idea, easier to eat, more filling! Problems solved. I made this stuffed pepper casserole with beans, riced cauliflower, peas, kale, canned diced tomatoes, and, of course, the roasted peppers. Mine and Brian’s got the last bit of cashew cheeze leftover from the tacos above. Mmmm. I can still remember the warmth of this filling casserole in my tummy. Piping hot casseroles in colder weather, yes please!

I’d gladly take these dinners over what I ate at the restaurant today (a lettuce wrapped burger, in case you wondered). However, we didn’t go to the restaurant because we didn’t want to cook or didn’t have the time to. We went, purposefully, to spend time as a family doing something different and going to a new place. The girls look forward to doing these kinds of things and we don’t eat out very often. In the end it’s much less about the food and more about being together. (But darn those kid’s menus!)

Baseball!

I am a lover of baseball, have been for years. A lot of people complain about how slow baseball is and how it’s not much fun to watch but I just love watching it (playing is a whole different story). Unfortunately for me, our lack of real cable means I don’t get to watch much baseball. A few years ago we ditched cable and Brian installed an HD antennae so we could get locally broadcast stations. What that means is I get the basic channels: ABC, NBC, FOX, and a few random extras. Do you know how much baseball they show on those stations? Well, I do, once a week, usually on Saturday they will show one game. Which game? Who knows, not the local game that’s for sure. And to keep it even more interesting, it’s always at a different time. Sometimes, the game will be on at 10 am or noon or 5 pm. There is just no telling. I have a better chance of actually going to a baseball game (I’ll take either the Mariner’s or the Rainiers, both fun to watch) than catching one on tv.

Except during playoff time. Those games are broadcast on the basic channels and that is my opportunity to soak up as much baseball as I can! Baseball Saturday happened at our house. And what says baseball better than hot dogs and french fries?!

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We really jazzed up these hot dogs with cream cheese, relish, tomatoes, onions, and banana peppers. Next to the hot dogs we had peas, sweet potato fries, and roasted zucchini. The hot dogs were leftovers from camping so we only had a few and I supplemented with lentils for the girls and me. That salad you see is actually what I ate. I put all the hot dog toppings (including ketchup and mustard) on my greens. Also on my salad are the lentils and sweet potato fries. I have gotten to the point where it’s just easier (and honestly tastier) for me to just add the things to my salad instead of eating them separately. I’d rather have a salad that tastes like hot dogs and sweet potatoes than eating a boring salad next to sweet potato fries and lentils.

Remember, earlier this year when I had seen my fair share of hot dogs and couldn’t stand the thought of another? Well, I’m still there except that I can tolerate watching my family eat them, sort of. I do limit the girls, they only got half a hot dog, and I definitely don’t give them a whole bun. But the hubby makes his own choice. He is able to tolerate a little bread every now and then much better than me and probably better than the girls. So as long as this is not a daily in our house we’re ok. It sure made for a great baseball Saturday!

 

Sunday Brunch

The family and I decided to go for the early church service in Tacoma. Early service means getting up and leaving the house earlier than on a school day, yikes! It also means there is no time for a real breakfast. A bowl of cereal or grain-free granola was all we had time for. However, in addition to actually making it to church we were looking forward to having brunch afterward.

Brunch is very much a fall/winter thing in our household. During the spring and summer we are gone camping or doing other activities that lazy weekend mornings are rare. In the fall, though, football starts and Brian loves to watch it so we end up lounging around the house and brunch begins making its way into our weekends.

Our brunch this past Sunday was not spectacular in terms of spread but it was spectacular in terms of taste. I like brunch to be buffet style with lots of different options: sweet and savory, fruits, and even a little dessert. And the girls like the idea that they get to fill their plates themselves with all the choices. Not this brunch. This brunch was made when I was hungry and didn’t want to go overboard with the making of all the food. No choices for this brunch, I dished up the plates and that was all there was.

The most exciting part of brunch was that I, for the very first time ever, made eggs benedict! Brian likes eggs benedict and I’ve always thought it seemed so fancy. Too fancy for me to actually make on my own. Inspired by the recipe I saw in a cookbook I decided to give it a try. So glad I did because now I am also a fan of eggs benedict! The recipe I used is actually from the Against All Grain Cookbook and it’s here. The method in the cookbook was much easier and gave a lot more information but the online version has the ingredients and ratios so I’ll be using those and sticking to the cookbook methodology.

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Yeah, we went a little heavy with the hollandaise sauce (oh so good!). The poached eggs are hiding under there, I promise, as is some roasted cabbage and chickpea flour pancakes. I cannot say enough good things about chickpea flour pancakes. They are my new go-to. First, they are easy: chickpea flour and water with some spices! Second, I can make as few or as many as I want at a time. Third, the flavor is so unique. And lastly, they are incredibly versatile. I used them for my tacos the other night, I’ve used them as wraps for lunch, and here they serve as a nice hearty base to soak up all that delicious hollandaise.

The flavor combination of the chickpea flour pancakes, the roasted cabbage, the poached egg, and the hollandaise was out of this world good! Since, it was my first attempt I only made one for everyone but we really could have used a second one (note for next time). Brunch was rounded out with some apples, some leftover fruit salad (various fruits, unsweetened coconut flakes, and homemade honey sweetened whipped cream), and a sample of sausage (also leftover).

No, this brunch wasn’t brimming with variety but what we did have was so tasty it didn’t matter.

No Oatmeal Porridge

Weekday breakfasts are tough! It doesn’t matter what time I get up, I always end up in a breakfast crunch. And there are too many things to do at night to make breakfast ahead of time consistently. I do try to do that a few times a week but I like to feed my family a variety and pre-made breakfasts rely on having the same thing multiple times a week. No fun!

I tried a new breakfast recipe yesterday morning (adventurous for a weekday morning)! And I loved it! The recipe was for a grain-free coconut porridge. My girls love their porridges. They like grits, cream of rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, steel-cut oats, etc, etc.

Ever notice how traditional breakfast foods are so grain heavy? Like that is the only option other than eggs for breakfast. I do make a lot of eggs for Brian’s breakfast and the girls partake in that as well. But they really like their oatmeal and such. In fact, I’d say most people will tell you they can’t give up their morning oatmeal. Enter the No-Oat Porridge. It is grain-free, and sugar-free and can be completely nut-free (if you use coconut milk or other alternative)!

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This porridge was simple enough for weekday morning prep. It is made of almond milk, coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and an egg (or a banana if you want to be egg free). I made the version with an egg to add some extra creaminess but maybe next time I’ll experiment with the banana. The texture is similar to any creamed cereal (wheat, rice, etc).  I topped the porridge with toasted almonds, dried cranberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and dash of maple syrup. Both girls had a hard time finishing their portion, it was so filling. So we saved some and they were thrilled to have it again the next morning. Even I had some as my breakfast forgoing my usual greens (oh, missed opportunity, I should have added some to it!).

Looks like oatmeal without the oats is possible and satisfying.

Grain-Free Pizza Crust Adventures

I came across a very different pizza crust recipe that used cashew, eggs, almond meal, and coconut flour. I’ve tried my fair share of grain-free pizza crusts and don’t have one that I really love. We usually just try to go for thin crust (or pitas) or use an alternative such as eggplant or zucchini slices. We’ve eaten almond meal crusts, coconut flour crusts, crusts made of beans, and cauliflower crust. They were all just ok, sufficed for the moment but not something I was excited to recreate.

So as I had come across the new recipe I was reminded of an additional recipe that I had pinned on Pinterest awhile ago that was a cauliflower crust recipe without all the cheese and egg needed to bind the cauliflower together. A Seahawks football game seemed like a good reason to test out both pizza crust recipes. My rationale for doing both was that neither crust recipe on its own seemed like enough pizza for the whole family so why not do both for a crust taste-off.

First up, is this crust made with a trifecta of grain-free flours: cashew, almond, and coconut. The crust does include eggs to bind it all together.  The good news is this whole thing can be processed in the food processor eliminating the need for multiple bowls and such. It has some olive oil and herbs for good measure. While the recipe says that you can roll the “dough” between parchment paper there was no way my dough was rolling, it was pretty wet, so I just spread it on parchment and baked it as directed.

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These pizzas have slightly different toppings based on the family’s tastes but essentially they have roasted eggplant and broccoli, sautéed onions, red peppers, and mushrooms, and ham. Topped with mozzarella cheese and some olives on part of it.

The second crust is made of cauliflower. I loved the idea of this one because of the cauliflower and that it doesn’t use eggs. Instead it uses flax eggs and almond meal to bind the whole thing together. While the use of cauliflower seems extra healthy you squeeze all the moisture out of the cauliflower so that pretty much negates that idea. But if we are looking for something better than grain crust I guess cauliflower pulp does it. This one was a lot more hands on (literally, squeezing out the cauliflower) and then mix in the remaining ingredients. I had no problem getting it mixed together and it seemed a lot more “dough” like than the prior recipe.

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The cauliflower pizza crust was topped with pesto sauce and all the veggies listed above. My half did not have mozzarella cheese but a few walnuts instead.

Ok, so to be honest these crusts were a lot of work, maybe because I did both at the same time. As with most grain-free crust recipes you bake the crust first and then add your toppings afterward and cook briefly. Which means your pizza toppings have to be cooked beforehand (more work!). However, the great news about these crusts is they were both good in different ways and I have plenty of pizza leftover for another meal or two (thank goodness, after all that effort!).

Both crusts held up in our hand and came off the parchment after baking with no problems. The nut and coconut flour crust was thicker and a little more dough like. The herbs really came through and were awesome. The cauliflower crust got crispy around the edges (that’s a good thing!) and was more like a thin crust pizza. We all liked both of them. The girls had opposite favorites and Brian and I agreed that they were a good complement to each other because of their differences.

The best part is that neither child had any questions about why the crust was different from what they were used to. That is a big win considering their love for pizza. Grain-free pizza crust that you can eat like a regular pizza, tastes good, and filled with good ingredients, did it!