Grain Free Banana Muffins


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Powerhouse Candybars


These candy bars are packed with protein and all kinds of ingredients that are not only delicious, but extremely good for you.


They’re simple to make. You know how I am about fussy recipes. I avoid them if I can.

Just make sure you don’t spill your chocolate all over after you’ve weighed it when you’re opening the honey like I did…that added a little extra work for me.


Chocolate on the floor.


Don’t be put off by the mixture of ingredients.


They fit together like best friends.


Just a small piece will satisfy that sweet craving that hits in mid afternoon. That time of day when you’re looking for that little something to hold you over until dinner.


A couple spoonfuls before they’re set up won’t hurt you either.

You know, just to taste and make sure they’re good before they go into the fridge…


When they come out of the fridge they’ll be solid, but not so hard that you can’t very easily enjoy them cold.


Even my non-nut-loving husband enjoyed them.


Powerhouse Candy Bars

1 Cup of Organic Cashew Butter

1/3 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

1/4 Cup of Organic Coconut Oil

6 Ounces of 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

2 Cups of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Cranberries

2 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Tart Cherries

1/4 Cup of Dry Roasted Salted Almonds

2 Tablespoons of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds

2 Tablespoons of Organic Chia Seeds

1/2 heaping teaspoon of Organic Turmeric

1 teaspoon of Organic Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Organic Ground Ginger

In a medium saucepan melt the cashew butter, raw honey, and coconut oil. Do not boil. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until completely melted. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Spoon into the prepared dish, smooth, and refrigerate until partially set, 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and score into about 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. Return to the fridge to set completely (4 hours or overnight). Run knife along sides of pan and lift chocolate bars out of pan with parchment paper. Using a sharp butcher knife or large knife, cut into bars. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.


Stack between a layer of parchment and store in the fridge.


When In Doubt ~ Go Flourless


Are you as unimpressed with grain free living as I am?


Do you just want to make a quick batch of fresh cookies after dinner that doesn’t require 12 different ingredients and the unsettling chance that no one will like them?


Well then, flourless cookies are a safe bet. I’ve never been disappointed in a flourless cookie.


They’re simple, I mean super simple.


They don’t require fussy flours, a ton of your time, or major cleanup. You’ll have your sweet tooth satisfied and everyone will love them.


You can use any type of nut butter you love and add any kind of chocolate, dried fruit, or anything else that tickles your fancy and they will still be simple and deliciously satisfying.


Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup of Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (stir it first  if the oil is at the top)

1/4 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

1 Organic Egg

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl stir all ingredients except the chips until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon by heaping Tablespoon onto parchment and bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool and set  for 10 minutes. Makes about 12.

Say Goodbye to The Dirt ~ My Corner of The World


The majority of the landscaping for this season has been completed.  What a relief!

Remember the cracked driveway I told you about? (The fence workers drove their big truck on our driveway and broke the concrete.) That has one more day of dry time before we can drive on it.


That machine is unbelievably loud. Prior to removing the whole square of concrete, they tried to drill out the crack and patch it. Not even two weeks later it cracked again so the fence company had to foot the bill for the entire section to be replaced. I’m betting they were not happy about it.


These are the cement guys that handle all of our builder’s cement needs. Just so happens, I recognized the one in the red baseball cap who owns the cement company. We went to junior high and high school together! It’s been fun visiting with him over the past several weeks when he’s working in the neighborhood.

Right after this picture, Skip realized that they didn’t bring him the amount of “mud” he requested. Evidently, they charged him for it though. Then they had to wait for more and then they were going to charge him another delivery fee of $250! Well, after a lot of colorful language was spoken, they brought him a second load of what he ordered with no charge.


Once the cement on the driveway was poured the landscapers got started.

Sprinklers lines being dug. That’s Jamal, he was our favorite. The whole landscaping crew was great, but he was here first and left last every day and had a keen eye for detail. He is also just a genuinely, nice, guy.



Top soil and boulders for the terraced area and yard.



We called Matt and Ken the “rock whisperers”. They knew just how to maneuver the fork lift prongs on that machine to spin all the rocks so they would have their best face forward.


Contemplating where the best place would be to start the concrete curbing on the side of the house. It breaks easily if run over by a car and is $250 to have the curb guy come out and fix it.

We’d like to avoid that.



More contemplating and the beginning of one of the beds. Tony and I purchased and planted all of the trees, bushes, plants, and flowers. We worked as a team with the landscapers and it worked out very well. Saved some big $$$$ by purchasing and planting our own greenery.


Men seem to do a lot of contemplating. I knew exactly what I wanted and where I wanted it.

Women are weird like that.


The house came with front landscaping but we felt it needed a little tweaking . We removed a few things that didn’t look like they would make it through the winter and added two trees and a few bushes and flowers.

I am in love with these two trees. I love their “uniqueness”. The nursery lady suggested I name them.

I may just do that. Is that weird?


This is a Weeping Atlantic Cedar.


And this is a Topiary Pine…but I can’t remember what type.


These are the curbing guys. What none of us know at this point of my picture taking is that their FIVE hours of hard work will be destroyed by a massive rain storm three minutes after they drive out of our neighborhood.



You can see the storm brewing…


I asked him about the sky, but he said, “a few sprinkles won’t hurt”.




We got more than just a few sprinkles and all of the edging was destroyed. They had to return the next day, dig all of it up and replace it.


I spared him photo taking on the second day. I figured when he returned to replace all of their hard work on his weekend off, it was probably the last place he wanted to be. So I stayed in the house and kept my camera off and my mouth shut.


Once the majority of the beds were in, greenery planted, and new edging was dry, they started placing the sod.




Finishing touches were made to the beds, sprinklers were adjusted, drainage ditches were dug along the driveway, and the  gravel for the parking space for our trailer on the side of the house was completed.


More men contemplating.

Nick on the far left, Tony my husband in the middle, and Jamal on the right.


Then flagstone was brought in for the path to the future hot tub and the small terraced corner.


Jamal cutting out grass for the flagstone path.


I think all landscaping was accomplished in under 10 days.

To the right is a Maple Leaf Hydrangea. Gorgeous. I can’t wait until next year to see what it can really do.


All of the hills beside us and behind us were sold by a local farmer (right next door) to the county for walking trails. We’re blessed to be able to enjoy that view every day and the wild life that goes along with it.


Two Magnolia trees (Alexandria Magnolia), and a Fernleaf Buckthorne in the corner.


A Flowering Cherry (Little Twist Cherry) that will only grow to be about 6-8 feed wide at the top…we’ll see. The area with hose and gravel will be the home for the hot tub.


A Bloodgood Japanese Maple. Right now up close it looks like it’s in shock. Hopefully it will perk up. If not, we have a one year warranty on all the trees. Phew.


A Crabapple tree (Prairifire Crabapple).

All the trees in the backyard are flowering trees with the exception of the Buckthorne.

A beautiful water feature will go in on the left side of this bed next spring.


The tree in this bed is a Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Pine Tree. It will grow to be 35 feet tall and will live for at least 100 years.



Gates go up this sometime this week.


Then we’ll get our trailer out of storage and pray that it fits in the space its supposed to. Behind that fence post and future gates.


Another gate will go on this end and they’ll finish off the fence.


So all in all, working with our landscaping crew was an enjoyable experience. I actually kind of miss not having the hubbub going on outside and their funny personalities here every day.

Enjoying our coffee and tea on the patio and not having to deal with a dirt backyard and filthy dogs?



Halibut & Shrimp Tacos


Years ago when I heard someone mention how delicious the fish tacos were they had eaten at a restaurant downtown, I thought it was the most appalling thing I’d heard in a long while.

Fish tacos? Ugh.

But then…


I realized I had the form of a traditional taco stuck in my head, with fish. No one would like that.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Finally, I was talked into trying them and there was no turning back.

I was hooked.


Ha, no pun intended.

Fish tacos when made correctly, are bright and light and absolutely full of fresh flavors.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

There’s texture and flavor contrasts, which are an absolute must in a fabulous fish and shrimp taco.

A lightly fried corn tortilla brings all of the flavors and textures together.


Just a couple of seconds in avocado oil  is all it takes. If you’ve never fried corn tortillas, you’re missing out on fabulous comfort food.

They are fried quickly, just a couple of seconds on each side in very hot oil. This leaves them soft and supple and they have such an amazing aroma and flavor. I make traditional tacos like this as well.


The halibut is steamed so it turns out flaky and gorgeous.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Once it was finished steaming, I gave it a good squeeze of fresh lemon.


The shrimp is sautéed quickly in olive oil and pressed garlic, and finished with fresh parsley.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.



Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

It may look labor intensive, but the entire meal comes together very quickly.


Make the broccoli slaw and pico first. Then while the shrimp is sauteing and the halibut is steaming, fry your tortillas. Keep a close eye on your shrimp though, it cooks very quickly and you don’t want it being over done. It will cook faster than the halibut.


When it was just at the done point I quickly removed it from the heat and set it on the back burner while the halibut finished and the tortillas fried.

You can make it as casual or as fancy as you’d like. We went casual. Served it right off the kitchen counter and we ate while watching a movie.


This is a great summer meal for company as well. Larger quantities of course, but you could make a taco bar on the deck or patio and enjoy an outdoor meal. A Lemon Lime Margarita would be the perfect touch.



Broccoli Slaw

1 10 oz bag of Organic Broccoli Slaw

About 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

About 1/8-1/4 Cup of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

A Generous Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Ground Pepper

Whisk the mayo, vinegar, and sugar together. Pour over slaw and add ground pepper. Toss well to coat. Refrigerate.

Pico De Gallo

14 Organic Cherry Tomatoes (I used red and orange), chopped with seeds and juice

About 3 Tablespoons of Organic Red Onion, chopped

1/4 Cup of Fresh Pineapple, chopped

2 Tablespoons of Organic Fresh Cilantro, chopped

1 Large Clove of Organic Garlic, minced

1 Whole Jalapeno, diced (if you don’t like spicy, remove the seeds and membrane before dicing)

Juice of 2 Organic Large Fresh Limes

Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss. Refrigerate.

Fried Corn Tortillas

*Be careful to check the ingredients on the tortillas, I ran across a bag the other day that was a combination of flour and corn and they looked exactly like the plain corn tortillas

1 Package of Corn Tortillas, they are small…I would do 3-4 per person

Avocado Oil

Medium Saute Pan


Several Paper Towels

*Hot oi is extremely dangerous and of course, children and pets should be kept out of the kitchen while making the tortillas

Place a plate next to the area where you’re going to be frying. Tear off several layers of paper towels and set aside. (Don’t catch them on fire with the gas flame like I did…Ha.)

Fill the saute pan 1/4 to 1/2 way with the oil. Heat on medium high. When oil is hot, carefully dip the tortilla in the oil and fry for about 2 seconds. Quickly flip the tortilla with the tongs and fry for another 2 seconds. Remove tortilla to paper towel and cover with another paper towel. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. It’s important to make sure the oil is hot. The tortillas should start frying immediately when they touch the oil.

Allow the oil to cool completely and then dispose. I pour mine in the garbage can…not a good idea to pour it down the sink.

Halibut & Shrimp Tacos

1 lb of Wild Caught Halibut

1 lb of Wild Caught Shrimp, shelled and cleaned

1 Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Parsley

Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, pressed

Fresh Lemon for Squeezing

1/8-1/4 cup of Water

Oil two medium-large skillets with olive oil and heat to medium. Add the shrimp to one and the halibut to the other. Add the pressed garlic to the shrimp and a pinch or two of sea salt. Saute for just a few minutes until the shrimp curls and is pink. While the shrimp is sauteing, sprinkle garlic powder across the top of the halibut and add a pinch or two of sea salt. Add about 1/8 cup of water and cover, steaming for 10 minutes. If you’re using very large shrimp, slice them down the middle as if you were butterflying them but all the way through. After sauteing, cut them again, but in half.

A Recovered Bread Fail


Yesterday I told you I’ve been trying to find the “Best” gluten free, grain free, bread. I’m working on my own creations as well as trying other blogger’s recipes.


Have you visited the gluten free, dairy free, paleo blog, The Spunky Coconut?

Almond milk, eggs, cinnamon, & pure almond extract.

Almond milk, eggs, cinnamon, & pure almond extract.

Kelly’s recipes are gorgeous and exciting, the blog itself is beautiful, but the best part is that her recipes are creative and fun. Something you don’t experience very often when leading an allergen free life.


I tried her Coconut Milk Bread recipe a few days ago, but didn’t follow it exactly… Remember yesterday when I discussed how frustrated people get when they say they followed a recipe “exactly” and didn’t get the same results as the person sharing the recipe?


Exactly means exactly. I knew full well that because I wasn’t following it exactly, I more than likely wouldn’t get the same results she did. And I was right.

Here’s what the Spunky Coconut’s Bread looked like:


And below is what mine looked like.

I didn’t have the psyllium husk powder her recipe called for. After a little research on how to substitute, I used ground flax instead. The result was something that didn’t look anything liker her bread. Go figure…ha! But, that’s how we learn, right? Ground flax is not a good substitute for psyllium husk powder.

Now we know.


She also uses a special 5 Cup glass bread pan to get the shape and rise. You can find the link for ordering within her recipe link above.


However, all was not lost.


This slightly adjusted bread recipe didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but it made for some excellent French toast.

Fry in dairy free butter and a bit of coconut oil until golden.

Fry in dairy free butter and a bit of coconut oil until golden.


Forever Searching For That Perfect Sandwich Bread

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Sandwich bread is the number one complaint and the most sought after item by people who are gluten-free and/or grain free. Seriously, I cannot believe with the information and technology we have today that no one has been able to make the perfect gluten-free, grain free, or Paleo sandwich bread. How is this possible?

And don’t go getting too excited, because this post isn’t the post where I tell you I have it all figured out either.


Sifted Almond Flour

Sifted Almond Flour

I constantly search thinking there has to be someone out there who has this all mapped out and is sitting on a revolutionary allergen free sandwich bread . Oh, there are people who think they have it figured out and have shared some decent recipes, and I’ve tried tons. But I have yet to find that one recipe that screams “BREAD!”

I mean come on. They’ve created crazy GMO foods and cloned animals and who knows what else… you’d think someone could come up with the perfect allergen free sandwich bread.


I too am guilty of putting “the best” or “fabulous” in front of some of my creations. And truth be told, I do feel those are the best or most fabulous of the numerous variations I’ve tried. However, there are those recipes you run across and try that have all of those colorful and hopeful descriptions that leave you scratching your head when they come out of your oven.


Something else to keep in mind…sometimes for no rhyme or reason you can follow an allergen free recipe exactly and it still won’t turn out like the photo or the comments of the person sharing it. I have no idea why.


I have recipes that I’ve used for years and years that are consistent and reliable and occasionally people will write me and tell me they’ve followed it exactly and it didn’t turn out the way I said it would. I have no idea how to address that. It would have to fall into the category of what is your definition of “exactly”? Or, I just do not know why. Which is frustrating for people.


One of my biggest complaints lately is that many of the grain free recipes I’ve tried all have the same texture. In between bread and a muffin or banana bread texture.

Promising because it's a pretty loaf, but still, a low rise.

Promising because it’s a pretty loaf, but still, a low rise.

For some reason, this really irritates me. And after a while, grosses me out. I want to say really? This is it? The BEST sandwich bread? Are we all just so desperate for a decent bread that we have lowered the bar…dramatically?

About half the height of the loaf pan...

About half the height of the loaf pan…

I would say the biggest complaints I have and the biggest complaints I hear from other people are in this order:

1.  It doesn’t rise and is too small

2. The texture is weird. Either grainy or dense or crumbles and falls apart

3. It lacks in flavor

4. It needs to be toasted to be used for sandwiches

5. Too eggy, especially in Paleo bread making

6. Too many uncommon ingredients

7. Too expensive to make (many grain free recipes call for up to 6 eggs! If you’re using organic and it doesn’t turn out, it’s a huge waste of money)

The first words out of my husband's mouth, "it kinda tastes like banana bread...without the banana."

The first words out of my husband’s mouth, “it kinda tastes like banana bread…without the banana.”

But because we are in this together, and you love bread as much as I do, I’ll keep looking. And I’ll share the recipes I create and recipes of others that I’ve tried, because not everyone’s tastes are the same. But, I will always be honest about how I feel about them and why or why not I was or was not impressed.

BLT's with Avocado, Olive Oil Mayo, & Spicy Ground Mustard

BLT’s with Avocado, Olive Oil Mayo, & Spicy Ground Mustard

I tried two “sandwich” bread recipes the other day. One that I created and the other I followed exactly with the exception of 1 ingredient.

We’ll start with the one that I created and I’ll share the other one with you tomorrow.

Toasted it worked well for our lunch. I was fine with one, but because of the small size, my husband had two.

Toasted it worked well for our lunch. I was fine with one, but because of the small size, my husband had two.

Sandwich Bread

Out of 1-10 for toast I rate this bread a 7. Toasts well, holds together, nice texture, good taste, still doesn’t taste like “real” bread but it’s totally livable. Again, size is an issue. Don’t burn it in the toaster, it will make your house smell like popcorn.

Out of 1-10 for sandwich bread un-toasted, I rate it a 2-3 because of small size, muffin/banana bread like texture, and crumble

Out of 1-10 for hot out of the oven slathered with dairy free butter, I rate it a 6 because it’s hard to complain about hot bread right from the oven when you haven’t eaten bread in three weeks 

2 Cups of Almond Flour, sifted

1/3 Cup Flaxseed Meal

1 Tablespoon of Raw Organic Pumpkin Seeds, chopped

1/2 teaspoon of Organic Chia Seeds

1/2 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/2 Cup of Arrowroot Powder

4 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, melted

3 Organic Eggs

1 teaspoon of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup of Coconut Milk

1 teaspoon of Organic Raw Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a loaf pan and line bottom with parchment, set aside.  Sift the almond flour into a medium bowl and add the flaxseed meal, chopped pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, salt, baking soda, and arrowroot powder. Whisk together and set aside.

In a large measuring cup add the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and melted dairy free butter and whisk together. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until combined. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.