Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

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You are not going to want to miss out on this granola.

It is full of dried cherries, mini chocolate chips, and caramelized pecans and walnuts. 

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This is my third and final granola recipe for the holiday season and it is FABULOUS!

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 The previous two recipes, Maple Almond Raisin Granola and Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates are delicious as well, but this one…

…this one is the crown jewel. 

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Enjoy!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For The Nuts:

1 Cup of Walnut Halves

1 Cup of Pecan Halves

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

2 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cinnamon

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure all ingredients into a medium frying pan (non stick!). Cook on medium stirring regularly until sugar is melted (but thick), and nuts are coated, about 7 minutes. Pour out onto a couple of sheets of parchment and immediately separate with two spoons. Allow to cool completely and then break apart the larger pieces. You will also have caramel that isn’t stuck to nuts. I broke that up as well and put it in the granola.

(**My nuts were still a little buttery after cooling so I moved them to a paper towel to soak up any excess that would otherwise take away from the crunch of the granola.)

For The Granola:

6 Cups of Gluten Free Oats

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, melted

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

1 Cup of Dried Cherries

Caramelized Nuts

Measure the oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until thoroughly combined. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed and cooled is golden and crisp. Mine took about 40 minutes. Pour out onto the counter onto to parchment to cool completely. Then pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips, cherries, and caramelized nuts.

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Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

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Here’s a another fantastic granola to make for your family or share with friends for the holidays!

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Beautiful and golden and made the house smell so spicy and wonderful!

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Tomorrow I’ll post my third and last granola recipe for this holiday season. You can find the first one here.

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The dates add the perfect sweetness to the pumpkin and spice.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/8 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3/4 Cup Canned Plain Pumpkin

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

20 Medjool Dates, seeded & chopped

Place all ingredients except the dates into a large roasting pan and stir thoroughly to combine. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed when cooled is golden and crispy. Mine took about 50 minutes. Pour out onto parchment paper and once it is cooled completely, poor into a bowl and stir in the dates.

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Maple Almond Raisin Granola

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I love granola.

It’s sweet, a bit salty, crispy, chewy. All great things in one.

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Plain, or with dairy free milk, or half and half if you can have dairy.

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On top of ice cream, on top of yogurt, over fruit, on a hike, in the car….It’s delicious any way or anywhere you choose to eat it.

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I can’t eat it often because grains and I don’t get along well, but over the next few days I’m making a small exception.

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Of course, someone has to be here as the taste tester, and that happens to be me!

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I’m going to bring you two more fabulous granola recipes over the next few days that you can make for your family or as gifts to give.

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This recipe was particularly tough for me to keep my hands off of because it happens to have candied almonds. Unbelievably good!

I could not stay away from them.

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In fact, they would make a nice gift all on their own if you didn’t eat them all before you were able to get them packaged.

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Granola is a great gift because most people love it, it’s easy to make, and your creative options are endless!

Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Sliced Almonds

3/4 Cup (kind of small-ish heaping) of Maple Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Syrup

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure the almonds, maple sugar, and butter into a small fry pan. I used my omelette pan so it wouldn’t have any chance of sticking. Turn the burner onto medium and toss and stir lightly until all of the butter is melted and the sugar begins to stick to the almonds. Drizzle in the maple syrup and throw in a good pinch of sea salt and continue to carefully toss. I like to cook mine about 7-9 minutes or so to ensure that the sugar is melting and sticking and will harden lightly when it cools. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn’t burn and turn down the heat a bit if necessary. Pour them out onto parchment and quickly separate them with two spoons. Allow to cool completely.

Maple Almond Raisin Granola

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Organic Raisins

Measure the oats, avocado, maple syrup, maple sugar, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until completely combined. Bake in 7 minute increments stirring thoroughly  until it is toasted and golden in color. It took mine about 35 minutes and I use convection. A good way to test if it is crispy enough is to take a small spoonful and spread it out on the counter to cool. It will cool quickly, then taste test for crunch.

Once it’s crispy to your liking (I like mine lightly crispy), pour it out onto parchment paper on the counter and spread out to cool. When completely cooled, pour it into a large bowl, add the candied almonds and raisins, and stir until everything is distributed evenly.

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Sunday Morning Quiche

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We were finally able to enjoy a great couple of days last weekend.

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Tony and I had been sick for almost two weeks and then something went wonky with his hip joint. That led to a lot of pain, a lot of couch time, and several painful trips to the chiropractor.

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It was a nice change of pace on Friday to realize we both at least felt decent enough to get out and have some fun.

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We went to the county fair. I always look forward to it even though every year they’re pretty much the same. This year I was happy to see there were a couple of changes.

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They had a large, free petting zoo which was fun to walk through. Along with a good excuse to eat an embarrassing amount of kettle caramel corn…the animals are my favorite part of the fair. I mean, who doesn’t just melt over a baby goat? Or the eye lashes on the Lamas? Or the cows that have shiny coats the color of corn silk?

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There’s also a booth with Asian massage therapists who do the most incredible chair massages! I mean seriously. They have perfected the chair massage. We partake in one every year and it is heavenly.

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The only picture I took at the fair was of this adorable baby zebra. We had just walked out of one of the animal barns and he was being led back to his stall. The owner wouldn’t let us get near him, but we were close enough to get a good picture. He was just stunning!

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Saturday we packed up the truck and headed about an hour from here so we could meet up with my husband’s hang gliding group.

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It was a gorgeous day so we took snacks and brought the dogs along.

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I was able to get a lot of really good photos of the pilots and it was fun to watch all the different levels of experience.

My husband is the yellow and light blue glider.

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Some of the pilots have been flying for more than 30 years! They started in the 70’s when it was pretty loosey goosey and quite dangerous.

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Now pilots have to study and be trained and tested, and there are different levels of training that can be achieved. When a hang gliding pilot reaches the highest level of training, it’s the equivalent of a private pilot’s license.

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The majority of people aren’t aware of what it takes to become a certified hang glider. It’s serious business. I’ve heard many people just assume that someone goes out and buys a glider, straps it on, and off the mountain they go! Only crazy people do that. And in fact, now it’s almost impossible to even purchase a glider without an OK from a certified instructor to the manufacturer.

This guy hangglides and paraglides.

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This is him again. He flew at 7200 feet for well over an hour.

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Even pilots who’ve been flying for 30 + years can occasionally misjudge and end up in trouble. It’s happened twice this summer with Tony’s group but thankfully, both the pilots came out of it relatively without injury.

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Last flight of the day.

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Regardless of risk, for those that have the flying bug, I’m sure there’s just nothing like soaring like a bird with your own set of wings. They all have radios on their gliders and it’s fun to hear them explain what they’re experiencing when they’re soaring at 7200 feet.

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After a few hours at the fair on Friday, and several hours on top of a mountain on Saturday, by Sunday morning we were feeling pretty worn out. Especially after having that much activity after not feeling so hot the last few weeks. Even the dogs were beat.

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So we lounged and had a slow morning. I made us vegetable quiche for breakfast and as we sat at the table and discussed our weekend. We both agreed that it was worthy of two thumbs up!

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Vegetable Quiche

1 Pie Crust Portion

1/2 Red Onion, diced

1/2 Large Bell Pepper, diced

About 1/2 Cup Broccoli Florets

2 Cups Packed, Fresh Baby Spinach

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Fresh Thyme

Bacon Fat

8 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Hemp Milk

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

A Few Grinds of Pepper

A Couple Sprinkles of Garlic Powder

Couple Pinches of Dried Oregano

1/4 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Parmesan

1/2 Cup of Sheep’s Milk Mozzarella

Freshly Chopped Tomatoes & Parsley For Garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the crust and line pie plate. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

 In a large skillet, saute the bacon fat, onion, pepper, broccoli, garlic, and thyme until onions and broccoli are aldente. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Grate cheeses.

Whisk the eggs, milk, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano in a bowl. Place the pre-baked crust on the middle rack of your oven and pour the egg mixture carefully into the crust. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Grain Free & Dairy Free Chocolate Pancakes

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It is possible to indulge in your favorite things even when you are focusing on being grain and dairy free. It’s not necessary for you to suffer and think that you’ll never be able to eat anything fabulous and naughty ever again.

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I mean seriously. Does this look like I suffered at breakfast this morning?

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I certainly did not and you don’t have to either. These are easy to make and incredibly delicious. The whole family will love them and absolutely no one will even notice that they are free of grains and dairy and made with coconut sugar.

You can top them with anything you like. I’m a dairy free butter & pure maple syrup kind of girl, but powdered sugar and chocolate chips, and even peanut butter go quite well.

Bacon provides the perfect salty side.

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Grain Free & Dairy Free Chocolate Pancakes

*Makes 12 medium to large pancakes

2 Organic Eggs, Separated

3 1/2 Cups of Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk (or milk of choice)

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Groat Flour (Ground Groats)

1/2 Cup of Organic Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Organic Arrowroot Flour

3/4 Cup of Organic Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Crystals

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Separate the eggs and beat egg whites to stiff peak. Set aside. Whisk the buckwheat, coconut flour, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium sized bowl. Add the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Carefully fold in egg whites.

Heat a griddle on medium and oil. I used bacon fat but you can use avocado oil or coconut oil also. Spoon batter onto hot griddle and cook for 4 minutes or until bubbly on top. Flip and cook for about 3 minutes.

Korobuta Ham Asparagus Scramble & A Small Thyroid Lesson

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I really prefer to wake up and start the day with a vegetable, protein, and fruit smoothie. I think it’s a fantastic way to pack a lot of nutrients into a really easy meal and it’s a great way to start my day off right away with a lot of anti-inflammatory foods.  However, after getting my lab test results and hearing that my thyroid antibodies are out of range, I’m having to switch it up a bit. At this point, all of my other thyroid numbers are optimal, so rather than treat with medication, we’re going to keep an eye on it.

After a bit of research I came across some interesting information. Evidently, there’s a whole list of vegetables that interfere with your thyroid when eaten raw on a regular basis.

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These are called Goitrogen foods. “Most goitrogens are naturally-occurring chemicals that are ingested in foods or drugs. These chemicals can interfere with thyroid function in different ways. Some compounds induce antibodies that cross-react with the thyroid gland; others interfere with thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the enzyme responsible for adding iodine during production of thyroid hormones. Either way, the thyroid isn’t able to produce as many of the hormones that are needed for regulating metabolism.” – Marcelle Pick OB GYN/NP

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The good news is that you can still enjoy these foods. Dr. Pick says you can steam, cook, or ferment the Goitrogen foods to decrease the compounds. Then, make sure you’re rotating these foods in your diet so you’re not eating a lot of one type daily.

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 My plan is to steam spinach and kale, puree it, and then freeze it in smoothie portions, being mindful not to add it to my smoothies every day.

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Below is a list of Goitrogenic foods from Paleohacks.com, and at the bottom I’ve listed some websites for you for further reading and research.

Top 11 Goitrogenic Foods

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard and Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Soy (anything)
  • Turnips

Foods with Smaller Amounts of Goitrogens

  • Bamboo shoots
  • Millet
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Pears
  • Pine Nuts
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Wheat and other gluten-containing grains

Thyroid issues are nothing to mess around with. And as you already know, I am a big proponent of helping heal the body naturally whenever possible. If you have thyroid issues, or your antibody numbers are out of whack like mine, it may very well make all the difference simply by changing your diet.

Thyroid Antibody Test -What is it? 

Hashimoto’s – Your body is destroying itself

Easing Out Of Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) 

10 Foods To Heal Hypothyroidism

12 Facts On Healing Your Thyroid Every Tired Person Should Know

13 Ways To Treat Hypothyroidism Naturally

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Grain Free Biscuits ~ 2 Ways

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Happy Saturday! This week feels like it kind of went by in a whirlwind. Isn’t it strange how when you’re older life does that?

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Tony and I have been feeling kind of clunky the past two weeks so that has put a damper on things. Then, a couple of days ago I ended up with shingles. I haven’t had them in over a year and was really hoping that virus had gone dormant for good. Lyme Disease taxes the immune system and the reality is that along with it comes other unpleasant things. Throw in a little life stress and it’s the perfect storm.

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I’m not one to lie in bed sick unless I’m very, very, sick. I have a high tolerance for pain and illness. Not that I’m “special” or anything, I think that I’m just used to it, and I cannot stand being cooped up. So I’ve taken epsom salt baths, rested when I needed to, taken ibuprofen, slathered the shingles with Carmex (I’ve found it works great for pain and healing) and got on with life.

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I think that’s important when you have a chronic illness…the getting on with life part. I can choose to not do it, or I can choose to do it sick. So most of the time, I choose to do it sick and try my hardest to keep a positive attitude. Biscuits help.

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My husband was home a few more days than usual this week, which was nice. Thursday afternoon we drove to Steptoe Butte State Park so he could go hang gliding.

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He hasn’t been able to go much in the past two years so it’s important that he keeps up his skills.

Checking the wind speed and gusts.

Checking the wind speed and gusts.

Plus, we pay $5,000 extra per year on his life insurance policy because of the hang gliding. Go ahead and gasp, I did. And then some.

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So the goal is to get enough flights in every year to make it worth that ridiculous clause in his policy, not to mention the expense of the gear.

Takes about 30 minutes to set up the hang glider.

Takes about 30 minutes to set up the hang glider.

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My job is to help stabilize it now and then while he’s setting up so it doesn’t blow away. Then, when he’s ready for take off, I also need to help keep it balanced. The last time (my first time) we did this, it was gusty and the wind kept picking me up off the ground while I was trying to hold the hang glider down. We ended up having to scrap it because it was just too difficult and the weather was dangerous. Very nerve-wracking and made me question his sanity. But this time things went much more smoothly.

High tech wind direction equipment.

High tech wind direction equipment.

One more check for the best place to take off.

One last check for the best place to take off.

 

Suited up and ready. There's a parachute in the pack on his chest in case of an emergency.

Suited up and ready. There’s a parachute in the pack on his chest in case of an emergency.

I was shocked at how fast the wind took him up! I had planned to get step by step photos of his take off but before I knew it he was flying around.

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It wasn’t a too lengthy a flight this time because there wasn’t enough lift, but it was perfect for his first flight of the season. He had a safe landing, which is the important part. We ran out of time and wind for him to make another flight so we headed the hour and a half drive home so he could pack for another flight (on a plane) to LA the next day. He had been feeling wonky all day and unfortunately, some bug really got a hold of him because he was violently ill all night before his flight to California. Being the person he is, he mustered the energy to get on that plane Friday morning, and I don’t know how he did it.

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I would have been terrified I’d have to throw up in front of people.  A lesson for the rest of us…stock up on immune boosting aids when you get on a plane because you never know what someone is bringing on board.

But, one must earn a paycheck, so off he went.

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Romeo and Abigail had great fun running around in the field while Tony packed up the glider.

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I woke to Abigail’s feet in my face and song birds chirping this morning. We’ve been guaranteed to have a beautiful day and the next 10 days are supposed to be in the 60’s. Spring is early this year and you won’t get any complaints about that from me. I thought I would start the morning off with a batch of grain free biscuits. I had such luck with the first batch, I decided to experiment with another one.

And now I’m off to sun myself on the patio. Blue skies and sunshine. Food for the soul!

Grain Free Biscuits

*Makes 4 biscuits

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

1/8 Cup Arrowroot

1 teaspoon Double Acting Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Coconut Sugar

6 Tablespoons Cold Dairy Free Butter

3 Large Eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Measure all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Measure the butter, and work through quickly with your fingers until it has a somewhat large mealy texture.

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 With a mixer and whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high until frothy and doubled in size, just before they hit soft peak stage. Add the yolks and whisk until thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. Pour the egg mixture on top of the flour mixture.

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Fold with a spatula, just until combined.

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 At this point you will say, “April, there’s no way this runny mixture is going to turn into biscuit batter”, but it does. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or scoop to scoop out four biscuits.

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Bake for 17 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. They’re a bit fragile when they come out. You could probably safely cut them while warm after 15 minutes.

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Grain Free Frosted Blueberry Orange Biscuits

1 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3 Cup Arrowroot

1/3 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon Double Acting Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

3/4 Cup Cold Dairy Free Butter

2 Eggs, separated

Zest of 1 Medium Orange

Juice of 1 Medium Orange (1/4 Cup)

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pie dish with parchment paper and spray (under and over).

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Measure all dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk. Measure butter. Work through with fingers quickly until combined and mealy.

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Whisk eggs in a stand mixer until they reach soft peak. Add egg yolks and whisk to combine. Add zest and orange juice.

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Pour we ingredients over dry ingredients. Fold just until combined.

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Quickly fold in frozen blueberries just until combined. The blueberries will stiffen the batter if you take it too slowly.

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With a 1/4 inch scoop, generously scoop 9 biscuits from the batter into the prepared pan starting in the middle.

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Bake for 27 minutes. You may have to lay a piece of tin foil over them the last 10 minutes.

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In a small bowl melt 1 Tablespoon of dairy free butter. Add the juice of 1/2 orange and 1 Cup of corn free powdered sugar. Stir until combined.

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Drizzle over the biscuits once they have cooled for 15 minutes.

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Allow to cool completely before serving.