Cranberry Walnut Cookies

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2017-11-10 13.14.19

*Grain Free *Dairy Free *Egg Free

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

*Makes About 24 Cookies

(preheat oven to 350 degrees)

2/3 Cup of Dried Cranberries, roughly chopped

2/3 Cup of Walnuts, finely chopped

1/3 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Butter, melted

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

3/8 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Coconut Milk

2/3 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

3/8 Cup of Arrowroot

3/8 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Freshly Grated Ginger

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Chop the cranberries and walnuts and set aside. Cream the coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the coconut milk and beat, scraping down the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and vanilla and mix well.

Using about 1-2 Tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball and flatten with fingers into a circle on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and frost when cooled.

For The Frosting:

For the frosting I just put together a simple glaze with powdered sugar, melted dairy free butter, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and maple syrup. You’ll only need about a finished 1/2 cup for drizzling. Whisk until smooth and drizzling consistency.

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Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

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This is fall wrapped up in a cookie.

Before I lose those of you who can’t stand anything pumpkin spice, you can rest easy because there’s no pumpkin or spice in this cookie just  a whole lot of amazing maple goodness.

When we lived in New Hampshire I discovered maple sugar. OMG. I had no idea there was even such a thing! Yes, it tastes and smells as wonderful as you would think it would. Pure maple syrup in the form of granulated sugar.

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(photo ilovemaple.ca)

I do love pumpkin spice, but even I get bored with it. So while I was going over ideas for our neighborhood block party, I knew I didn’t want my contributions to involve anything really predictable in those types of fall gatherings…like pumpkin spice everything. Plus, it’s a gamble. It’s like cilantro. It’s either a love or hate relationship for people.

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So I settled on my Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Pastries and these Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies. The perfect cookie to satisfy my love for all things maple and to get away from the expected.

And then there’s the sugared nuts on top which are a special treat themselves…oh my.

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Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

For the sugared pecans:

About 1 1/2 Cups of pecans, roughly chopped (You will also need another 1/2 cup of pecans for the cookie dough)

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/4 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

Pinch of Kosher 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. Set aside.

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For the cookies:

(Makes about 32 cookies)

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 Cups of Mamas Almond Flour Blend

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Pecans

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy scraping down sides once or twice. Add the egg and vanilla and beat. Add the dry in ingredients and finely chopped pecans and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill for 45 minutes (or longer).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with parchment. Shape into about 1″ balls and place a couple of inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until set and very lightly browned on the edges. (Don’t overcook or they’ll become too crispy.) Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

For The Frosting:

For the frosting I just used a basic powdered sugar mix with dairy free butter and powdered sugar. About 3 Cups of powdered sugar and about 1/4 Cup of melted dairy free butter. Stir that together and to thin it, instead of adding a little water, I added Pure Maple syrup to get it to the consistency I liked for spreading on top of the cookies. Sprinkle each cookie with a generous amount of the sugared pecans. 

 

Apple Tart

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2017-09-01 16.06.13

We have one more day of somewhat summer weather this week and then we start the road to fall. We spent much of August socked in with terrible smoke conditions due to all of the fires in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Canada. All of that time spent with the windows closed and the air conditioning running 24/7 made my brain think the seasons had already changed. I found myself making soup and comfort foods like this delicious apple tart.

Now that summer is winding down, my vegetable garden has been cleaned out, and the mornings are calling for sweaters, I find myself day dreaming about all of the wonderful options for fall baking and cooking.

Stay tuned!

Apple Tart

1 Pie Crust From Heaven Crust Portion

6 Cups of Your Favorite Apples, sliced

Juice of 1 Whole Lemon

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanillla Extract

6 teaspoons of Dairy Free Butter

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Add the sliced apples, lemon juice, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla to a large bowl and let sit for one hour, tossing every 15 minutes.

While the apples are marinating, press the dough into a 9×1 inch tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Overlap the apples in a circle starting at the outside edge and work your way to the middle. Drizzle half of the marinating sauce over the apples. Dollop the butter over the top of the apples.

Bake for 50-60 minutes (it will depend on your oven) until apples are fork tender. Cover the tart with loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark so that the apple tips don’t burn. Drizzle the tart with the remaining marinade and cool before serving.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Pesto Soup

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2017-08-29 14.31.34

Ahhhh…summer. We are having a wonderful summer.

I hope you are too.

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We’re trying to squeeze in as much camping, hang gliding, trips to the lake, puttering around the garden, and picnics in the park as we can before the long winter arrives.

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My vegetable garden is doing really well this year and has left me with an abundance of tomatoes. We’ve been having them on omelettes, in salads, in pasta, and I’ve been roasting them and freezing them so we can sneak in some tastes of summer in the dead of winter.

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When we returned from camping last week the tomato vines were heavy with the weight of beautiful fruit! Rather than roast more tomatoes to freeze, I thought I’d start making home made tomato soup to put up for the winter instead.

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It looks like I’m going to have to do a few batches because I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite especially alongside a dairy free grilled sandwich or a grilled tuna sandwich. The flavors are so delicious and this time I added a pinch of crushed chipotle peppers that added a hint of heat and a warm, smoky flavor.

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The best part is that it’s a very easy recipe that will bring the taste of summer into a chilly winter afternoon and most of us have all the ingredients on hand –  along with gardens bursting with tomatoes.

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Slow Roasted Tomato & Pesto Soup 

7 Cups of Red Cherry Tomatoes & Yellow Pear Tomatoes stems removed, rinsed, and dried

1 tsp of Dried Oregano

1 Medium Vidalia Onion peeled and sliced

10 Cloves of Garlic peeled

Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

2 Generous Pinches of Kosher Salt

1 tsp of Dried Basil

1/8 tsp of Dried Crushed Chipotle Peppers

A Few Grinds of Fresh Pepper

4 Cups of Gluten Free Chicken Broth

1/2 tsp of Coconut Sugar

3 Tablespoons of Vegan Nut Free Pesto 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the oregano, basil, chipotle peppers, kosher salt, and ground pepper. 

Roast for 2 hours. 

Remove the roasted veggies, garlic, and herbs with a spatula into a medium saucepan  add the chicken broth, coconut sugar, and pesto.  Use an immersion blender (or put into a regular blender, then add to a saucepan) to puree the tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Simmer (slowly) for 30 minutes. 

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If you’d like to see more frequent posts from my day to day cooking and read articles and tidbits about healthy living, you can also follow me on Instagram and my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page.

 

Nut & Groat Granola

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It’s been so long since I’ve done a blog post I was a little worried that I’d forgotten how! I’m finding it easier time-wise to post quickly in “real time”, on Instagram Stories and on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page.

I do love to blog though and I like that I have a place to reference recipes and share my favorites with all of you. I’ve made a pact with myself to try to figure out how to balance life a bit better and to focus more on the things I love to do like cooking, baking, and blogging.

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Spring and summer months are the best for natural light photography so I should be taking advantage of it. Not to mention the beauty of all the fresh fruits, summer desserts, and outdoor cooking that are headed onto the scene.

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Hope you are doing well! We’ll catch up more on my next post and as always you can pop over to Instagram and Facebook to visit too. I do a lot of health research and reading and like to post articles on my FB page that may be of interest to you. On Instagram, I’m more loosey goosey and you can see and hear me in real time, see what I’m up to, and cook with me. As always, I only do this for fun. No earnings involved, I just have a love of wanting to teach people about healthier choices and alternative ideas about life, food, and overall health.

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See you soon!

~ April xo

Nut & Groat Granola

*Makes about 3 cups

1 Cup of Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Groats

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Sunflower Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Roasted & Salted Cashews

1 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 teaspoon of Organic Ceylon Cinnamon

Couple Pinches of Sea Salt

Contents of 1 Vanilla Bean Pod

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup of Organic Montmorency Dried Cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together the oats, groats, seeds, and cashews. Add the cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla bean pod and stir well. Add the oil and syrup and stir until ingredients are evenly coated.

Spread onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in 5 minute increments, stirring between each. Once it starts to lightly brown, keep your eye on it because it will quickly burn. You want it to be browned evenly, then remove from oven to cool. About 12 minutes or so in a convection oven. It will crisp more upon cooling. Toss in the chopped cherries.

Serve with non dairy yogurt or non dairy milk, as a post workout snack, car snack, hiking snack. Anything goes!

 

Smart Cookie

3 Comments

2017-04-05 15.41.04

I’ve been trying to come up with a cookie that has as few allergens as possible that still kicks the sweet craving and of course, tastes good. It’s not as easy as you may think to remove most of the things that make a cookie, a cookie and have it turn out like well…a cookie!

I’ve made numerous attempts that ended up being “okay”.  More attempts that ended up in the garbage.

This cookie only took two experiments of ingredient tweaking, tastes fantastic (even got two very big thumbs up from the husband) and because it only makes 12 cookies, I didn’t waste too much on the first attempt, so I’d call that a win.

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I was being a little lazy because I actually didn’t think the recipe would work so I didn’t even bother getting the good camera out. These pictures are all from my phone, which really don’t do the cookies justice.

These cookies are grain free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, organic, and free of refined sugar.

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Smart Cookie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees/Makes 12 Cookies

1/3 Cup of Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil

3 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup of Organic Sweet Potato Flour

3 Tablespoons of Organic Arrowroot

3 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Flour

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Organic Pure Almond Extract

2 Tbs of Organic 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/3 Cup Organic Dried Cherries, roughly chopped

About 1/2 Cup of melted chocolate (I use Theo’s Organic 70% Dark)

Beat the coconut oil until it is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the coconut sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the arrowroot, coconut flour, and sea salt and do the same. Add the almond extract and coconut milk and beat until smooth scraping down the sides. Fold in the dried cherries.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly roll cookies into balls and place on parchment. Pat down with fingertips into small circles.

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely.

While cookies are baking melt the chocolate. Place a piece of parchment over a cooling rack. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate, lightly shake off excess. Place on parchment and allow to set. If you want them to set quickly, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Ritual Multivitamin Review

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About a month ago I shared about my struggle with supplements and the products that I have found work best for me. You can find that post Here. I also mentioned that I was waiting for the arrival of a new multivitamin that I was very excited to try.

I have been searching for a new multivitamin for 6 months. I tried 5 different brands over that time, none of which agreed with me. It was an expensive search.

I’m very serious about my supplements because I have Lyme Disease and my body is sensitive. I’m also very frustrated with the amount of research and knowledge that has to go into finding the right multivitamin. The average person doesn’t dig into things like I do, so there are countless amounts of people suffering through crappy vitamins and wasting their money.

Even high end supplements are packed with a huge list of things we really don’t need, that aren’t great for our health. The average person also doesn’t understand that the more they pack into a vitamin the less there is of the actual ingredients we need. It’s just fluff to make them seem more beneficial and exciting. I hate fluff. I want simple and easy to understand, which is how ALL supplements should be presented so it doesn’t feel like we have to take a master’s course to figure out how to weed through all the B.S.

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When I had just about given up, I ran across Ritual. I am not being paid by them to review the vitamin, I found it completely on my own, and paid for it. After thoroughly researching their website and learning more about them, I was THRILLED! Could it be true?

They believe in simplicity. Their research and ingredients are backed by science. They are low dose. They have a simple ingredients list. They are completely transparent about their product. They are specifically geared toward women and they are affordable! Just $30.00 for a month’s supply.

It’s like someone swooped down and answered all of my vitamin prayers.

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Here’s what you’ll find in their multi:

K2, D3, B12, Boron, Iron, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Folate, and Omega-3. At low doses based on what the “average” woman needs. When you visit their website you can click on each ingredient and they give you the complete rundown. Form, dosage, source, manufacturer (and when you click on the manufacturer you get even more in depth information), why they use that form, and how it works together with your diet and other vitamins. Amazing, right?

As with all new supplements I took the lowest dose for the first few days which in this case, was one capsule. Then after about 4 days I increased it to the normal dose of two capsules.

I am pleased to report that after taking them for about two weeks now, I am noticing a significant difference in my energy levels. What I really love is that it has been a gentle incline of healthy feeling overall energy, not a nervous buzz that we get with some vitamin supplements. I also love that I know EXACTLY what is in them and what they do for me. I don’t feel like I’m overdosing myself like I have with other multi’s with 42 unrealistic, not scientifically backed, ingredients that promise everything from clear skin to the healing of all diseases known to man.

Also, when taken with my breakfast there is no tummy upset and zero fish burps! I take my other large fish oil capsule along with it, so it surprises me that I haven’t had any fishy issues. Amen! I also notice a lessening of joint stiffness (common with Lyme Disease), my skin is brighter, my  fingernails are growing faster, my skin is less dry, and I’m sleeping really well (when Abigail isn’t howling with the coyotes).

The capsules are a really reasonable size. I swallow a handful of supplements every morning, but for those of you who have a difficult time swallowing pills, I don’t think they’re going to be an issue.

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Here’s my breakdown:

Transparency & Truth In Advertising: Two Thumbs Up

Simple, Easy To Understand, Healthy Ingredients: Two Thumbs Up

Low Dose: Two Thumbs Up

Capsule Size: Two Thumbs Up

Cost: Two Thumbs Up

Efficacy: Two Thumbs Up and if I had three I’d give it three! 

I have zero complaints.

(Cover photo courtesy of TechCrunch)