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.

Sorghum & Almond Flour French Bread

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I was  beginning to wonder if it was possible to make grain free french bread.

(Read here: Not All Seeds Are Grains)

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Turns out, it  is possible. I had my doubts, but here it is. In fact, when I spread the dough on the pan, I didn’t even bother taking  before pictures because it just didn’t seem possible that it was going to rise and turn into bread. Remember that tidbit if you choose to bake this bread. The small amount of batter and the moistness of it will freak you out.

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I’m not going to say that it’s perfect. The texture is fabulous, the taste is very good both warm and cooled, with or without dairy free butter, but I still think it could use just a little more tweaking to be absolutely perfect.

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When it comes to french bread, the end goal is perfection.

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It has to work well with pasta dishes, olive oil and balsamic, for bruschetta, garlic bread, and make a fantastic crouton. That’s asking a lot of a plain loaf of french bread, but what can I say?

My standards are high.

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I want it to be the recipe that is your “go to” recipe for the best grain free french bread you’ve ever had. That’s what I’m striving for. So as I experiment, I will keep you and this recipe updated. And when I finally think I have the perfect “go to” recipe, then we’ll celebrate.

For now, we’ll just be thankful for french bread that is quite tasty, but not yet perfect.

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Grain Free French Bread

1 1/2 Cups of Organic Sorghum Flour

1/4 Cup of Organic Blanched Almond Flour

3/4 Cup of Tapioca Flour

3/4 to 1 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

1 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk, warmed

3 Organic Eggs

1 Tablespoon of Organic Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Organic Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Organic Raw Honey

1 1/2 Tablespoons of SAF Instant Yeast

Line a french bread loaf pan with parchment and lightly spray with coconut oil. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the almond milk, eggs, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Mix to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside.

In a medium bowl measure the flours, salt, and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping down sides once.

Spoon batter (it will be very wet and won’t seem like enough), on both sides of bread pan and smooth out into a baguette shape. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with coconut oil and lay over the top of the bread pan. Top with a light tea towel or light dish towel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Allow to rest on top of stove for 30-35minutes.

Remove towel and plastic wrap and bake for 30-35 minutes or until it is nicely golden and hollow sounding when tapped.

Grain Free Banana Muffins

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I give these banana muffins an 8 on the 1-10 likability scale. The number one being awful and ten being perfect.

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They’re grain free, gluten free (of course), dairy free, and refined sugar free. They’re moist and fluffy. They aren’t overly sweet but they still satisfy that sweet tooth craving and the bread craving that has been dogging me since I went grain free.

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I’m going to be honest with you though.

I’m not loving this grain free adventure I’m on. I find bread items made with just coconut flour and almond flour pretty much unpleasant. Maybe the texture? And I think the fat content, even though I’m using “healthy” fats, freaks me out a little.

And the eggs….holy cow.

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Most grain free recipes call for a TON of eggs. For some reason, that grosses me out too. Every time I’m cracking all of those eggs I can’t help but wonder…”is this really necessary”?

Either my muffin tin is warped or my oven isn't leveled properly...

Either my muffin tin is warped or my oven isn’t leveled properly…

At this point I haven’t tried flax or chia eggs, but believe me, I will. Because using 4-6 organic eggs for a single recipe that turns out nothing like the cookbook picture or sometimes even inedible after I’ve paid anywhere from $3.99 to $5.99 for a dozen organic eggs,  makes me irritable and angry.

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Since I’m not doing a true Paleo diet, I’m going to do some experimenting this week with different non-grain flours such as teff and sorghum along with the almond flour and coconut flour. My goal is to come up with at least 3 different grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, breads that can be used for toast, sandwiches, and buns.

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Stay tuned, hopefully I’ll have some winners!

For the muffins I used Against All Grains recipe for banana bread. Except of course I used muffin tins, liners (make sure you spray with non-stick spray!), omitted the chocolate chips (but you don’t have to), and reduced the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.

You want them a bit golden on top.

Enjoy!