Crispy Coconut Tea Cookies

2 Comments

2015-07-27 15.47.18

The weather has been a bit “chilly” the past few days around here. We’ve been in the 70’s instead of 100 degree weather, which we’ve actually gotten used to and like. It feels cold now!

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When it’s chilly my body goes into almost instantaneous Fall mode. I like to turn on the fireplace, grab a good book, have hot cups of tea and crispy cookies to go with that tea. My favorite tea right now is organic green tea, raw honey, and coconut milk. To. Die. For.

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Yesterday while these cookies were cooling, I had three failed batches of grain free bread. Had these cookies not turned out, it would have been a very disappointing day!

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I was able to salvage one batch of bread and turn it into something else, so at least all was not lost. You’ll be seeing that recipe in a few days.

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Testing recipes can be very time consuming and expensive. Grain free baking is a big challenge compared to gluten free baking. All of the science is different, the flavors are different, the textures… and I’ve probably had more fails than I have wins.

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Having numerous fails are disappointing of course, but I don’t shy away from challenges because when I finally come up with a win, it’s like a super duper win and very satisfying!

I’d consider this new cookie recipe a super duper win and I think you will too. Now, I’m off to have my afternoon tea and cookies and muster up the energy to bake yet another loaf of bread so we can have it for french toast this weekend.

Fingers crossed!

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Crispy Coconut Tea Cookies

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

3/4 Cup of Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

1/4 Cup of Organic Powdered Coconut Sugar

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

3/4 Cups of Organic Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Chestnut Flour

1/8 Cup of Arrowroot Flour

1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Sugar

1 3/4 Cups of Organic Shredded Unsweetened Coconut (Let’s Do Organic brand)

Organic Coconut Sugar

Organic Cinnamon

Beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl. Add the extracts and mix well. Add the coconut flour, chestnut flour, arrowroot, the 1 tsp of coconut sugar (not powdered), and the shredded coconut. Mix until fully incorporated. 

Roll dough into small balls and press with fork. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and coconut sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Serve with tea, hot cocoa, coffee, or dairy free milk

Homemade Organic Super Green Powder

2 Comments

2015-06-22 09.56.42

I couldn’t be happier with our weather this summer. Heck, even spring was fantastic! The abundant sunshine and high temperatures have been great for the garden (and me!). I can’t believe I haven’t been gardening in raised boxes my entire life. From this point forward, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

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It just makes it SO easy. I haven’t had to pull even one weed of course, watering is a breeze, and all the plants seem to really enjoy being nestled together. Two thumbs up for square foot gardening.

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The only small battle I’ve had is with beetles on my zucchini and squash plants. By the time I started to notice the bugs and figured out what was happening, the plants quickly went downhill. I’ll probably lose the zucchini. It has yet to produce anything edible.

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But I caught the yellow squash in time and we’ve been enjoying them grilled, in smoothies, egg scrambles, and salads.

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We’ve already gone through three plantings of spinach and two waves of different types of lettuce.

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One wave of beets and carrots. The kale is abundant and I love how it just continues to grow as I snip.

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I planted more beets and carrots yesterday and another wave of snap peas in hopes that we’ll continue to have great weather and I’ll have a vegetable crop well into late October.

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I planted all heirloom tomatoes and they are growing like crazy! After a small issue with blossom rot I added organic bone meal to the soil and now all is well.

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The Sunsugar tomatoes were the first to begin to ripen about a week ago.

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Very sweet and wonderful in our salads.

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The other tomato plants are just now beginning to ripen. Fingers crossed they won’t all ripen at once or we’ll be up to our ears.

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I’ve already dried several batches of herbs.

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Not wanting to let carrot tops and beet greens go to waste, I also dried those along with kale, swiss chard, and spinach.

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Simple to do and an easy way to add super nutrients to almost anything. In fact, it dawned on me that I could make my own Super Greens powder to add to smoothies, soups, stews, or even baked goods. You probably already know that super green powders sold online and in stores are quite pricey for the good ones. Mine is about as inexpensive as you can get. The price of a packet of seeds basically.

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All I did was dehydrate the greens I wanted in my powder, put them in a baggie to crush them, and then whiz them up in the Nutribullet.

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Such a gorgeous, healthy, color.

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Incredibly easy and inexpensive. A 1/4 cup of dried powder holds the contents and nutrients of at least 12-16 cups of fresh greens. A tiny bit goes a long way.

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Easy gardening, easy dehydrating… high yield happiness.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.

~Alfred Austin

2015-06-26 09.02.08

Independence Day & Grain Free Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

1 Comment

2015-07-04 16.21.51

Ahhhh…summer. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

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After having an unusually sunny and warm spring, we’ve been blessed with a sunny and hot summer. The sunlight, the heat, the patio and gardening time…cupcakes and barbecues… It fills my soul.

Homemade coconut sugar powdered sugar.

Homemade coconut sugar powdered sugar.

I cringe when I hear people complain about it. Don’t they remember our long, long, gray winter just a few short months ago here in the Northwest? I want to yell, “bite your tongue!” God forbid we get stuck with a terrible summer that sneaks its way into 6 months of winter.

We need to appreciate every second of it.

I try to absorb as much sunlight and heat as possible to prepare for the long winter ahead, skin cancer be damned.

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 In fact, I read an Australian study that stated that people who cover themselves with chemical laden sunscreen and spend less time in the sun are actually more likely to get skin cancer than those of us who bask in gorgeous rays. The key is to get just enough, not too much.

We celebrated a quiet Independence Day a couple of weeks ago. I made a big batch of Double Chocolate Raspberry Filled Cupcakes…grain free and dairy free of course! And, some fantastic roasted red potato fries, broccoli and veggie slaw, and burgers topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions.

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I splurged and allowed myself potatoes and an Udi’s gluten-free bun. My body doesn’t like those things on a regular basis, but once in a blue moon, it’s a real treat.

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Broccoli slaw and diced veggies. Toss with dressing of olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper.

Broccoli slaw and diced veggies. Toss with dressing of olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper.

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This year’s Independence Day was not quite the same party we had in New Hampshire last year, where it’s legal to set off any kind of firework anywhere that your heart desires.

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Personal fireworks are illegal in Washington.

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There are three public firework shows to choose from that are close to us, but wanting to avoid the thousands of people who attend, we opted for a nice relaxing 4th of July dinner and evening at home. No crowds, no traffic.

And it was worth every bite.

2015-07-04 16.20.08

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

*This recipe is adapted from Satisfying Eats

Preheat oven to 350°

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

8 Organic Eggs

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

3 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup + 1/2 Cup of Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup of Strong Brewed Decaf Coffee

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips or Chopped Dairy Free Dark Chocolate

Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla, coffee, and 1 Cup of the coconut milk. Mix on medium to blend well, scraping down sides. Let the batter rest while you’re getting the cupcake tins ready. Add the 1/2 Cup of coconut milk and mix on medium just until combined.

Spray each of the cupcake liners lightly with non-stick spray and fill each 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 22 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter

3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar (I use homemade coconut sugar powdered sugar)

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Almond Extract

3-4 Tablespoons of Full Fat Coconut Milk

About 1 1/2 teaspoons Instant Coffee Granules

Pour the coconut milk in a measuring cup and add the instant coffee granules, stir to combine. Set aside and allow the coffee granules dissolve.

Cream the butter in a mixer until it is light and fluffy, scraping down sides once or twice. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and almond extract. Mix on lowest setting (so you don’t end up with a cloud of powdered sugar and cocoa powder over your whole kitchen) until mixture starts to come together.

 With the mixture on medium, slowly add the coconut milk coffee mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time (keeping an eye on the consistency…not too soft!) scraping down the bowl once or twice in between. Once all of the coconut milk has been added, beat on medium for 3 minutes.

Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch

8 Comments

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According to Dr. Terry Wahls who healed her Progressive MS with a nutrient dense diet that she specifically designed for her mitochondria and her brain, we should be eating 6-9 cups of leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day. Per DAY. The largest part of our diet should be vegetables. Many people don’t eat 6-9 servings of vegetables in a week.

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In fact, here’s a visual of what most American’s yearly diets look like. And don’t let the vegetable category fool you. The most highly consumed vegetables among most Americans are corn and potatoes, which are actually considered a starch, not a vegetable.

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Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with MS in 2000, by 2003 she was at stage 2 on heavy duty drugs including chemotherapy to fight the MS. The medications and therapy didn’t help and she continued to get worse. Slowly, each night after seeing patients all day, she began to research and read everything she could get her hands on that involved MS. She started researching vitamins and nutrients that were important to the brain and overall health and began integrating them into her diet. Then, in 2007 she discovered functional medicine and redesigned her diet. She used the knowledge she had from medical school, what she had learned in medical literature, through functional medicine, and through her research of nutrients to design a specific diet where she could get the majority of the nutrients necessary for healing through food. This diet is now called the Wahls Protocol. She was in a reclining wheelchair and headed for a life in bed when she started that diet in 2007. Within one year, she was able to walk through the hospital where she was a physician without a cane, and even complete an 18 mile bicycle tour.

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Why do we need such a nutrient dense diet? Why can’t we just pop a few vitamins and continue on with unhealthy eating or eating like “normal”? Well, let’s talk about our mitochondria.  According to Harvard Medical School, “In some way, just about every cellular process is linked to mitochondria. Malfunctioning mitochondria have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even resistance to radiation therapy. There’s also a set of rare, inborn metabolic diseases that stem from genetic changes that alter the function of mitochondrial proteins.”

Your mitochondria need a certain type and a certain amount of nutrients to function properly. If your mitochondria isn’t healthy and being fed what it needs to perform its job, then you aren’t healthy either. The mitochondria in your cells manage the energy supply for your cells. Dr. Wahls chooses to get the majority of her nutrients directly from the food she eats. She feels that although we know some things about the benefits of fruits and vegetables to our bodies, we don’t know about all of the benefits we’re getting from eating whole foods. Her theory was why take a supplement with one nutrient or a synthetic form, rather than eat the actual food and get all of the nutrients naturally?

The roasted ginger slices are delicious!

The roasted ginger slices are delicious!

If you haven’t read Dr. Wahls book, I would highly recommend it. Not only is her story quite amazing, it’s inspiring and you’ll learn valuable information about how to feed your body well and heal it naturally.

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 I have a few different ways I try to integrate as many vegetables as possible into my diet. My favorite routes are via smoothies, salads, and large batches of roasting. All are extremely simple and an excellent way to get multiple servings of vegetables in one meal. I also saute a lot of vegetables for our meals. If we’re eating something that can have a vegetable added, I add it. We eat vegetables with every lunch and every dinner and the majority of our breakfasts. If you’re new to eating large quantities of vegetables, I would start with 1-2 cups a day via salad. Then the next week add a cup and so on until you are able to consume 6-9 cups a day with no intestinal issues. Your body will adapt very quickly. Make big salads and trays of roasted vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy snacking. Keep fresh sliced carrots, celery, broccoli and other vegetables you like in small batches in baggies so they’re easy to grab on the go. 6-9 cups of vegetables may sound like a lot, but over time it will become habit and your body will crave them. In fact, you’ll find yourself on many days easily eating that amount without even a thought about it.

Veggie Power!

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Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch

Organic Red Cabbage

Organic Carrots, unpeeled

Organic Cauliflower

Organic Beets

Organic Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled

Organic Ginger, peeled and sliced

Organic Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The quantity will depend on how many people you’re serving. But know that if this is my entire lunch meal, I can eat at least 1/3 of a baking sheet of roasted veggies! So if you have people with a big appetite for veggies, it’s always better to make more than you think you’ll need. They refrigerate and re-heat nicely and are also good cold.

Slice vegetables so that they are all relatively the same size. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Load with the veggies, ginger, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt and toss.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes until aldente and fork tender, stirring once . Don’t cook them too much!

Pina Colada Ice Cream

4 Comments

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I’m still on that ice cream kick.

It’s hard not to be when it is so easy to make!

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You only need a few ingredients, and the options are endless.

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Have you tried the Dang Toasted Coconut Chips?

They are delicious! Just coconut, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Gluten free, non GMO, and vegan. They are a perfect little sweet snack or you can put them on top of ice cream, brownies, cake…anything you like really.

(photo courtesy of Dang.com)

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They went perfectly with the pineapple and rum flavor in the ice cream.

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Pina Colada Ice Cream

3 Cups of Organic Non-BPA Full Fat Coconut Milk

2/3 Cups of Organic Coconut Sugar

1Vanilla Bean, Split down the length and scraped

8 Organic Egg Yolks

2 Cups of Fresh Organic Pineapple, peeled and cored

1/4 Cup of Small Pineapple Chunks

Juice of 2 Key Limes (Or about 2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice)

5 Tablespoons of Dark Rum (Or Rum Extract but you would only need probably 1/2 teaspoon)

Dang Toasted Coconut Chips (Or, toasted coconut flakes)

In a blender, add the 2 Cups of fresh pineapple, the key lime juice, and the rum. Blend until smooth, set aside.

In a medium saucepan add the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla bean and scrapings, and the egg yolks. Heat on medium stirring constantly until it comes to a tiny bit of a simmer and the liquid coats the back of a spoon. About 20 minutes or so. You should be able to run your finger down the back of the spoon and it will leave a line. Fish out the vanilla beans with a slotted spoon or large fork and discard. Add the pineapple puree and stir. Stir in the 1/4 Cup of pineapple chunks.

Pour the liquid into a heat proof container and allow to cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, 4-8 hours. It can also be left over night.

Pour the chilled liquid into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions. Serve as soft serve or scoop into a freezer proof container and allow to set in the freezer at least 3 hours before serving. When ready to serve, allow it to sit out on the counter with the lid off for 15-20 minutes before serving with an ice cream scoop. This helps it to defrost, allowing for a creamy consistency, avoiding the ice crystal texture that coconut milk ice cream sometimes has.

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Vanilla Bean Nectarine Ice Cream

5 Comments

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I’m on an ice cream making kick.

A couple of years ago I bought the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer. It makes ice cream making an absolute breeze.

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The ice cream making bowl goes in the freezer for several hours. I usually put mine in a day ahead. Then, you make your ice cream base, chill it, and attach the bowl and paddle to your mixer.

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Pour the chilled ice cream base into the frozen bowl and let it churn on low for about 20 minutes.

It’s as easy as that.

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Vanilla Bean Nectarine Ice Cream

3 Cups of Organic Non-BPA Full Fat Coconut Milk

2/3 Cups of Organic Coconut Sugar

3 Vanilla Beans, Split down the length and scraped

6 Organic Egg Yolks

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

5 VERY Ripe Organic Nectarines, 3 sliced with peels, 2 pureed with peels

In a medium saucepan add the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla beans and scrapings, cinnamon, sliced nectarines, and the egg yolks. Heat on medium stirring constantly until it comes to a tiny bit of a simmer and the liquid coats the back of a spoon. About 20 minutes or so. You should be able to run your finger down the back of the spoon and it will leave a line. Fish out the vanilla beans with a slotted spoon or large fork and discard. Add the pureed nectarines and stir.

Pour the liquid into a heat proof container and allow to cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, 4-8 hours. It can also be left over night.

Pour the chilled liquid into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions. Serve as soft serve or scoop into a freezer proof container and allow to set in the freezer at least 3 hours before serving. When ready to serve, allow it to sit out on the counter with the lid off for 15-20 minutes before serving with an ice cream scoop. This helps it to defrost, allowing for a creamy consistency, avoiding the ice crystal texture that coconut milk ice cream sometimes has.

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream

12 Comments

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What is normal?

“I just want to eat like a normal person.”

I hear it in the allergen free isle at the grocery store, I hear it from people with chronic illness in the numerous health groups I belong to, and I read it on social media all-the-time. And although those words haven’t really slipped from my lips in years and years, sometimes I do fantasize about what I would eat if I had one 24 hour allergen free day and a promise that I wouldn’t feel terrible.

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So, I do understand the mindset of wanting to eat like a “normal” person. Having to eliminate things from your diet in a such a major way because it’s harming your health can be overwhelming. It takes research, extra time, and usually involves a lot of whiny grumpy family members, and friends who think you’ve lost your mind who try to sabotage your diet.

I have to continually be diligent and try new ways to help my body feel well. I started dairy free living many years ago, then went gluten-free, and as of about 6 months ago, I’m grain free the majority of the time as well. Believe me, I feel your struggle. That’s why I try to come up with tasty things for you and I to eat so we don’t feel like we’re missing out.

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Now, let’s think about how these so called “normal” people really eat. If we base a normal person’s diet just on what people in the U.S. are consuming, the majority of their diet is fast food and prepackaged food, which is loaded with chemicals, pesticides, and hormones. They drink gallons of refined sugar laden, caffeine boosted, carbonated drinks every year. They eat meat that is fed GMO corn and wheat, and meat that is saturated with growth hormones. They eat chickens that have never seen the light of day and are fed only grains and chemicals.

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“Normal” eaters consume vast amounts of soy in all of the packaged and fast foods they eat. Which is not only highly estrogenic, but also the most genetically altered food on the planet. The majority of their diet is white. They fill their bodies all day, every day, with things that their systems no longer even recognize as food. Enter leaky gut, candida overgrowth, and auto immune disorders. Our guts are damaged, and what we know now is that our gut is the epicenter of our immune system. A damaged gut puts your immune system and histamine into overdrive which means that your body is working against you and the inflammation in your body sky rockets. This leaves you vulnerable to a whole host of auto immune issues, viruses, bacterial infections, and parasites which leads to big trouble.

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These people with a “normal” diet who some people think are so lucky to be able to eat whatever they want, are suffering dearly. They can’t really eat whatever they want without any issues. Let’s be logical. Our nation, along with many others are having major health issues. Human beings are on TONS of pharmaceuticals because they are treating only the symptoms of what really ails them. And sadly, many of these “normal” people, along with their under educated physicians, often have their heads in the sand when it comes to learning and implementing new ideas about diet and health.

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 A “normal” person’s school lunch program considers a chemical laden ketchup packet a vegetable serving. Cancer is rising, chronic illness is rising, psychiatric issues are rising, pain levels are rising, heart disease is rising, obesity is rising, children’s behavioral issues are rising, auto immune diseases are rampant. There are all kinds of studies now that link what we eat and how those eating habits wreak havoc on our bodies inside and out.

In fact, they are learning more and more now about how the damage we’ve done to our bodies changes our cells and affects future generations. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle can determine which DNA is switched off and on for your descendants. Diseases, mental illness, deformities, behavioral issues… Scary stuff.

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The good news is that by taking care of yourself and eating well, you can actually reverse damage. It’s a pretty amazing thing to know that the way you live can determine how your future generations will fare, health wise. If you’ve been negative and acting like a Debbie Downer about the dietary changes you’re required to make, work at changing your perspective.

Taking control of your health and educating yourself IS normal. Getting rid of allergen foods that are setting you up for chronic illness and slowly killing you, IS normal. Trying to focus on eating real food, and loving your body for your own sake and those you love, IS NORMAL.

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Jump for joy that YOU are NOT society’s definition of “normal”!

You have been empowered to make a positive change in your life and the lives around you. When you are healthy and feeling good, you are happy. You are energetic, you sleep well, love well, and enjoy life. Life is meant to be so much better than settling for “normal”.

Be well.

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Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream

3 Cups of Organic Non-BPA Full Fat Coconut Milk

2/3 Cups of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Instant Coffee Granules

1/2 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Baking Cocoa

Pinch of Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon of Organic Ground Cinnamon

1 Can (drained) of Dark Sweet Cherries (15 oz)

6 Organic Egg Yolks

3 Ounces of Organic 70% Dark Chocolate, chopped/chunks

In a medium saucepan add the coconut milk, sugar, instant coffee granules, cocoa powder, sea salt, cinnamon, cherries, and egg yolks. Heat on medium stirring constantly until it comes to a tiny bit of a simmer and the liquid coats the back of a spoon. About 20 minutes or so. You should be able to run your finger down the back of the spoon and it will leave a line.

Pour the liquid into a heat proof container and allow to cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 4 hours.

Pour the chilled liquid into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Serve as soft serve or scoop into a freezer proof container and allow to set in the freezer at least 3 hours before serving. When ready to serve, allow it to sit out on the counter with the lid off for 20 minutes. This helps it to defrost, allowing for a creamy consistency, avoiding the ice crystal texture that coconut milk ice cream sometimes has.

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