Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies & Other Stuff

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Yesterday I had a very productive day. I love those days! The days where you wake up at least somewhat refreshed, have a to-do list that’s pretty ambitious, and actually cross off everything on the list by the time you fall into bed.  I used to have many more productive days than I do now, I was full of energy. Now, not so much, but I can still look on the bright side. There are lessons to be learned from life’s hiccups. Good, joyful, lessons! Not just the painful ones.

Having a chronic illness really makes you view your life differently. Very little is taken for granted. So many tasks and things that never even crossed my mind for most of my life, now can sometimes take a lot of effort and can be very exhausting. The little things that I never paid attention to, are very vivid and have a much greater significance. My time, peace, and happiness is more precious now, as is everyone’s, but we typically don’t pay too much attention to that until some or most of it is being used up by something unpleasant.  That’s all in the lesson, I suppose. Learning to deal with each day that is given to you in the way that it needs to be dealt with, and being OK with that.

Well, after “dealing with each day that was given to me” in the form of a migraine all weekend, I was quite happy to wake up Tuesday morning feeling like I could cope with life without copious amounts of essential oils, ibuprofen, epsom salt baths, and ice bags. Yay!

So off I went with the dogs for a hike. There’s a 552 acre conservation area 2 minutes from our front door. It was foggy and gray so you can’t see much, but I promise I’ll take better pictures on a clear day. You can see beautiful farm land for miles and miles! This is the entrance. My goal is always to head all the way up into the hills and hike up to a water tower that’s up to the left. I’d say it’s about 3 miles round trip depending on which trail you take. Not too difficult, but a nice hike and good exercise.

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This is about half way up, looking down toward the entrance. Takes about an hour and 20 round trip. But I am a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of hiker and had to stop twice to catch my breath on a major incline.

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A few weeks ago after reading through Brittany Angell’s new cook book, Every Last Crumb (we’ll talk about that more in a minute), I purchased some Chestnut Flour. It’s been sitting in my pantry ever since, of course. Last week my husband requested his favorite chocolate chip cookies, but I put him off until this week because I wanted to try to figure out a grain and sugar alternative. So after my hike with the dogs I simply Googled, “Chestnut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies”.

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What I found was a recipe SO GOOD I’m pretty sure my world shifted on its axis a little. Perfect taste, perfect texture, perfect moisture. It’s as if chestnut flour was created for chocolate chip cookies. They are that good. I don’t know where James Trenda has been all my gluten-free and Paleo-ish life, but I’m so thankful Google found him for me!

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I used coconut sugar in place of maple sugar, and arrowroot in place of the tapioca because I’m abstaining from tapioca for a while and didn’t have maple sugar on hand. I also weighed all of my ingredients exactly like he advised. The dough will be thick, thicker than you think it should be, but simply press them out a little and all will be well. They are delicious warm or room temperature and are equally good today as they were yesterday.

You can find the recipe for James Trenda’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Paleo Cookies” HERE.

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I am still doing my grain free trial and trying to eat an extremely nutrient dense diet. That means, LOTS of organic vegetables, a good amount of organic grass-fed meats, and a wide variety of colorful organic fruits.

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 I fried up some organic free range chicken liver yesterday, as it’s important to also have organ meats now and then in a nutrient dense diet. I dredged it in a mixture of coconut flour, arrowroot powder, sea salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and then fried them in avocado oil.

Luckily for me, I love liver. For those of you that think it tastes like an old shoe…the key is not to cook it to death.

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After munching on those fabulous cookies and snacking on fried liver, I focused my attention on baking Brittany Angell’s  Baguettes.

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I keep this cook book on my counter because every day I think, today is the day I’m going to spend all day baking Brittany’s goodies. Which of course is wishful thinking, but one recipe every now and then is cool too. If you don’t have her new cook book, you need it. It is the grain free baking bible and I promise, her recipes will blow your mind.

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You can find it online and at select book stores for around $25 and it’s only $9.99 for your Kindle. It is worth every single penny and then some.

Eating “Paleo” has its controversies and people will argue back and forth about what a real Paleo diet looks like. My opinion is that your diet should “look like” what makes you feel healthy and heals your body. Who cares what it’s called or whether you eat legumes or quinoa, brown rice, or potatoes, or no grains at all and live on kale?  The important thing is that you figure out what’s wreaking havoc on your gut and get that out of your diet. Then, add in nutrient dense foods that will heal your gut biome and change the way you feel for the better. If you need to abstain from grains for a while or even forever, along with other inflammatory foods, it’s a Godsend to be able to have a piece of bread or baked item every now and then that won’t make you feel like hell.

That’s where Brittany Angell’s, “Every Last Crumb” comes to the rescue.

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Peace & Health ~ And a Few Other Tidbits

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Happy New Year!

I absolutely love the refreshing start of a new year. So many possibilities lie ahead.

Do you make a New Year’s Resolution list? I typically make one every year. I really enjoy looking back on the previous year and thinking about all the great things we accomplished and all of the challenges we faced. Then I sit down with pen in hand and scribble down a few things I’d like to focus on more throughout the following year.

This year I’ve chosen two words to pray about and focus on.

Peace

&

Health

Peace, because I think far too often we get caught up in the craziness of this world and allow the chaos of it and other people to get us off track. Before we know it, we’re being pulled away from what’s really important and life just seems to rush by in a cloud of running around and living life to “just get things done or get it over with”. I hate that. As a Christian I know that I have all the peace I want if I could just slow down, take control of what I do and do not want, learn how to say “no!”, and enjoy it without feeling guilty. So much of what stresses us out, makes us dread a situation, or makes us feel like there’s never enough time, is all because we didn’t put our foot down when necessary or handle our time properly. Peace is a process and I want more of it.

Health, because for me it’s a struggle.  Every day I am at some level of “sick” and although some days are certainly better than others and typically I function quite well even when feeling sick, I’m going to spend even more time focusing on the holistic, natural, healing of Lyme Disease. Much of this can be done with food, exercise, natural supplements and natural antibiotics. I’ll keep you posted and share what works for me.

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On top of my two favorite words for 2015, I also make a little list of things I want to spend more time focusing on. Not a list to stress me out or overwhelm me, or make me feel bad. Little reminders of things I think have room for improvement:

1. Use my time more wisely.

2. Be more mindful of the words I speak and think. No more dwelling on an issue.

3.  Pray more. About everything. All the time.

4. Really think about the “should-s” and “have to-s”. Necessary?

5. Choose wisely. All things. People. Situations.

6. Love more. Praise more. Laugh more. Relax more.

7. Let go of the heavy things.

8. More Joy.

So that’s it. Nothing fancy, or outlandish, or anything anyone cannot accomplish. But they are all things that sometimes fall by the wayside when we allow life to get messy or we forget who is in control.

I would love to hear your resolutions if you make them! Or things you like to focus on for a new year.

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 “And every day, the world will drag you by the hand yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”

~Iain Thomas

Happy New Year to you and your families. Exciting things are ahead! Here’s to a healthy, joy filled, peaceful, 2015!

Lemon Blueberry Snack Bread

1/2 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Arrowroot Flour

1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

4 Eggs

Zest of 1 Medium Lemon

Juice of 1 Medium Lemon

1/2 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter, melted (maybe coconut oil…I haven’t tried it)

1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and Spray an 8 1/2 by 4/12 (5 cup) baking dish with coconut oil and line with parchment. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, and coconut sugar and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and coconut milk. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and add the lemon juice and melted butter. Stir together just until combined, then fold in the blueberries. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Frosting:

*You can also blend coconut sugar in a high-powered mixer (vitamix) to make coconut sugar powdered sugar. I did not do that for this recipe just for aesthetic purposes. I wanted a white frosting rather than brown. I think if you use the coconut sugar then the whole recipe would be considered “Paleo”. But Paleo itself is a rather relative label.

About 1 1/2 Cups of Corn Free Organic Powdered Sugar

Juice of 1 Small Lemon

About 2 Tablespoons of Melted Dairy Free Butter

Depending on how juicy your lemon is, you may have to adjust the dry or the wet ingredients a bit. Whisk thoroughly until thickened and of spreading consistency. Not too runny, you only want it to lightly drip down the sides.

Cherry Chocolate Banana Muffins

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I’ve been trying to stick to a grain free diet for the past few months to help with the inflammation that goes along with Lyme Disease. Abstaining from grains has definitely helped, but I’m not going to lie, it is not easy.

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I’ve found I can sometimes cheat a little every now and then, but not much. So on those days where I’m really craving something “bread like” and sweet, muffins typically fit the bill and they can easily be made grain free.

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They’re quick, satisfying, and can be frozen and heated up for a fast craving curbing snack.

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Muffins are versatile, of course. You can add pretty much anything you like to them. I happened to have dried cherries and chocolate on hand so that’s what I chose, but you can switch them up any way you’d like.

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Here are some ideas: Any type of nut, any type of dried fruit, chopped apple, white chocolate, candied ginger, diced pear, sliced strawberries, blueberries, replace half the banana with pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, you could do a streusel topping, a cinnamon and sugar topping, you could add a dollop of your favorite jam in the middle before baking…the options are endless.

Enjoy!

Cherry Chocolate Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

3/4 Cup Coconut Flour

1/4 Cup tapioca Flour

4 Very Ripe Bananas (dark brown skins)

4 Organic Eggs

1/4 Cup Organic Coconut Oil (solid, but room temp)

1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Dried Cherries (chopped)

1/2 Cup 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate (roughly chopped)

Measure all ingredients into a mixture except the cherries and chocolate. Mix on medium high for 1 minute, scraping down sides once. Fold in the cherries and chocolate and fill muffin papers. Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Frosted Pumpkin Chai Pudding Cakes

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We’re finally getting a light dusting of snow in our neck of the woods.

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I was just lying in bed this morning praying for it.

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Not world peace, the end of hunger, an end to violence, or that my husband would stop snoring so I could get some sleep, or even that Romeo would quit passing gas on the floor next to me…but…snow.

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 It’s just so peaceful and beautiful.

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The thing I love most about the omnipotent One, is that our little prayers matter too.

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When I came downstairs at 5:30 this morning to let Romeo out, there was not only a dusting on the ground, it was still falling from the sky!

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I immediately said my thank you’s, turned on the Christmas Instrumentals on Spotify, and started to put some of the recovered ornaments back onto our 11 foot tree in the living room.

We had a tree “issue” yesterday. I’ll share more about that tomorrow. Until then, I’ll be doing this and that and tackling the never ending to-do list… but never forgetting to stop by each window as I go, thankful for the snowy winter blessing.

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Frosted Pumpkin Chai Pudding Cakes

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Makes 10

2 Cans of Pumpkin Puree

1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup + 1 Tbs. Coconut Oil – solid

4 Eggs

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Coconut Flour

1 Cup of Tapioca Flour

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

5 teaspoons of Chai Spice Mix, + extra for sprinkling

Measure all ingredients into mixer and beat on medium until combined. About 1 minute. Spoon a generous amount of batter into muffin papers. (Cooking time will depend on the size of the cakes. Mine were in tall muffin papers, I would say about 1 1/2 times the size of a normal muffin.) Bake for 85 minutes. Do not overbake or they will end up dry without a bread pudding texture on the inside. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before frosting and serving. Best served slightly warm or at least at room temperature.

While the cakes are baking, make the frosting:

Frosting

About 1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Butter, room temperature

1 1/2 Cups of Corn Free Powdered Sugar 

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice

A Few Drops of Pure Almond Extract

1/2-1 Tablespoon of Non Dairy Milk, I used Hemp

Combine the butter and sugar with a fork until it forms a rough paste.

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Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and non dairy milk and whisk until smooth.

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Refrigerate and about every 15-20 minutes or so, give it a quick whisk. It will become fluffier as it chills.

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Place a generous dollop on each cake and enjoy.

Pumpkin Spice Buckwheat Bake

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This recipe is adapted from my sister-in-law, Alysia’s recipe for Buckwheat Bake.

She adapted hers from a friend’s recipe.

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It’s made with buckwheat groats. You just simply grind them into flour in your blender. I’m not sure why they don’t just use buckwheat flour…I’ll have to ask her that the next time I see her. It does have a different color than the buckwheat flour I have in my pantry. Buckwheat flour when cooked takes on a bit of a purple-ish hue, these buckwheat groats do not. But I must say, there was something very satisfying about making my own flour. I have a Vitamix so it went from seed to flour in under 20 seconds.

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You grind the flour, add the salt, water, and chopped nuts before you go to bed. Stir, cover, and let it do its thing while you get your rest. That’s why I don’t have any prep pictures for you. I thought I’d spare you the terrible late night lighting.

Have you read up on why it’s so important to soak nuts? It’s enlightening. For those of you who have issues with nuts, that could very possibly be a thing of the past if you soak them.

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I’ll be honest, I had my doubts about this recipe. So far I have not been very impressed with grain free baking.

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But this has me surprised and excited…and relieved that it is absolutely delicious! And also very good-looking without being doctored up. So many grain free recipes I’ve run across, I can tell they’re being doctored with other items to hide the unsavory texture or color.

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There’s all kinds of sneaky secrets in food blogging and photography. That’s annoying to me and you can always count on me to be honest with you. This is SO versatile. You can add any type of nut, coconut, grated carrots, probably grated zuchini…sweet potato, all different kinds of spices and dried fruits, chocolate, banana, garlic, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes…the options are endless.

It also has me wondering if you can bake it in two bread pans, slice it, and bake it again for biscotti…hmmm…or made in a french bread pan with savory add-ins as more of an artisan baguette…an interesting idea for later.

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My sister-in-law adds syrup, nuts, raisins, and cinnamon to hers. Her friend is more of a purist and prefers hers plain.

What I love about it is that it can easily be made sweet or savory.

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The texture reminds me a little of carrot cake. Dense but not too dense, a nice crumb, but doesn’t fall apart the minute you touch it like many grain free items.

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And for you non-grain purists, please remember that Buckwheat is related to sorrel and rhubarb and comes from the seeds of a flowering plant. It is not a grass and is therefore, not a grain. A fantastic option for grain free eating. Hallelujah and amen. No coconut flour or almond meal  here.

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Pumpkin Spice Buckwheat Bake

The night before you want to make the buckwheat bake:

2 1/2 Cups of Organic Buckwheat Groats, ground into flour

3 Cups of Filtered or Bottled Water

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Organic Walnuts, chopped

Grind the buckwheat groats in a high-speed blender until it turns to flour, pour it into a large bowl and add 3 cups of water, sea salt, and chopped walnuts. Stir to combine and cover with plastic wrap.

The next morning: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 Cup of Organic Ground Flax

1 Cup of Organic Raisins

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder

1/2 Cup of Coconut Sugar

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 1/2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

Add everything into the wet ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Spread batter into a 9×13 inch baking dish and cook for 23-29 (it will vary depending on the ingredients you use) minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Serve with dairy free butter and organic, raw, honey.

Veggie & Chicken Goat Cheese Melt

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Last weekend at the farmer’s market just down the road from us, we stumbled upon a local goat’s milk cheesemaker.

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He had lots of samples which is always fantastic and I came away with two different types of goat cheese.

A spreadable garlic dill cheese and a goat mozzarella. We used the goat mozzarella on pizza a few days ago and it was delicious. Melted perfectly without being too moist. I think I even prefer it over buffalo mozzarella.

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I decided to use the garlic dill goat cheese and another cheese I found at our local grocery store for the melts. The garlic dill is incredibly flavorful. The dill really stands out and I love the balance of garlic and salt. The Beemster goat cheese tastes similar to a  light swiss cheese.  Alone, or together, they are fabulous.

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I sliced up an onion, pepper, a couple of mushrooms, chopped a clove of garlic, and sautéed them in olive oil.  When they were almost finished I added three chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in oil) and tossed them around until they melted nicely.

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Then I cut a piece of french bread in half and toasted it under the broiler.

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This is such an easy lunch.

I then spread the garlic dill cheese on the toasted bread, added a layer of sautéed veggies, then a few slices of left over chicken breast.

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Then, another layer of veggies, a drizzle of olive oil on each…

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and a generous amount of grated Beemster cheese.

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Popped it under a 500 degree broiler until the cheese started to bubble…

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Easy as that.

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Fabulous and full of flavor. I served mine with a side of spicy mustard.

Delicious!

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Time For Fall ~ Spicy Pumpkin Bread

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It’s getting to be THAT time of year again…

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When pumpkin everything comes onto the scene.

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There’s a hint of crisp air in the breeze, and you begin to get that little tickle for sweaters and your favorite pair of boots.

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The days are getting a tiny bit shorter, school has started, and summer is slowing down.

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And even though we’re trying to hang on to that beautiful warmth and sunlight of summer for as long as possible, we can’t deny that stir within us as the seasons change.

I’m happy we had such a hot and sunny summer here in Washington state. I like all four seasons and I like all of them to be very distinct. It’s hard to transition when they aren’t distinct and one just flows and mixes in with the other.

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We won’t have to worry about that this year. In about another 30 days we’ll picking pumpkins, decorating the porch with corn stalks and hay bales, and enjoying all things pumpkin flavored and fall scented.

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And then sweaters, scarves, and boots. Mmmmm….just cozy!

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Spicy Pumpkin Bread

* This was baked in a 5 cup bread pan which is smaller than an average bread pan

1/2 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Flour

1/2 Cup of Organic Sorghum Flour

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot Flour

1/4 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Baking Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Ground Cinnamon

2 teaspoons of Ground Nutmeg

1/2 (heaping) teaspoon of Ground Cloves

1 Cup of Canned Organic Pumpkin (100% pumpkin, no sweeteners, etc.)

4 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

2 Organic Eggs

Measure all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In a mixer, measure all of the wet ingredients and mix on medium until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients and beat just until incorporated, do not over mix.

Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-37 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan and then remove and cool completely before slicing.