Carrot Cake Biscotti

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During the colder months I love to have hot tea or a spicy coconut creme with a little something sweet and crunchy as my afternoon treat. I love all types of biscotti but especially unique flavors and ingredients. If you’re a purist, these may not be for you. But if you’re a biscotti adventurist, you’ll love them!

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They have just the right amount of sweet and crisp and make the perfect companion for tea, coffee, or your favorite afternoon latte.

Carrot Cake Biscotti

*This Recipe Is Grain Free & Dairy Free*

1 3/4 Cups of Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

3/4 Cup of Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Plain Pureed Pumpkin

2 Cups of Grated Carrots

1/2 Cup of Chopped Walnuts

1 Cup of Raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line one baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar, add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin and mix until thoroughly incorporated and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. With mixer on the stir setting, add the carrots, nuts, and raisins.

Divide the dough in half and scoop two halves onto the baking sheet. Pat lightly into two loaves about 2″ high and 9-10″ long. Bake for 40  minutes. Cool.

Slice, (makes about 23 servings depending on how thick you slice them. If sliced too thinly, they won’t stay together and will crisp too much during baking) and lay each piece on its side. Bake side #1 for 10 minutes, remove from oven and carefully turn each piece over and bake side #2 for 10 minutes. Cool Completely before frosting.

Frosting

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, melted

Zest of a Whole Small Lemon

1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

1/2 teaspoon of Almond Extract

1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Water (If necessary for drizzling consistency)

Whisk together until smooth and drizzle lightly over biscotti.

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My Favorite Coconut Creme

1/2 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I use Arroy-D)

1/2 Cup of Filtered Water

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoon of Raw Honey

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Nutmeg

Heat the coconut milk and water to almost boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the ginger, honey, and vanilla. Pour into a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Pour into your favorite cup and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

 

 

Instant Pot Beef & Vegetable Soup

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There was a little snafu with the photographs on my phone when our son was fixing another snafu with my computer. So this is the one and only photo I have of this delicious soup! It’s actually a photo of a photo because that’s the only way I could figure out how to get it from “out there” to here. ha

My eyesight has changed and I can no longer focus through the view finder on my good cameras so I didn’t have all my photos on a memory card. I’ve been using my iPhone for all my food photos. I’m hoping the optometrist will have a solution because currently I have two very expensive cameras aging in a drawer. Fingers crossed! Until then, we’ll just go with the flow and have a bowl of this soul warming soup to get us through these chilly days.

Instant Pot Beef & Vegetable Soup

12 ounce Top Sirloin Steak, sliced thinly

1 Medium Sweet Onion, sliced

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

14 oz Bag of Brussels Sprouts, stems cut, outer layer peeled, then halved

8 ounces of Cremini Mushrooms, halved

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced on the diagonal

2 Large Carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 Cup of Kale, ribs removed and chopped

1/2 Cup of Parsley, chopped

1 Medium Sweet Potato with Skin, cubed

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Rosemary, minced

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme, minced

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Oregano, minced

64 ounces of Beef Broth

1 1/2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

About 2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

Heat the Instant Pot to saute the steak. Add 1 Tablespoon of the avocado oil and quickly saute the beef until it begins to brown and remove to a plate. (I removed mine at rare-just barely medium rare.) Add the remaining Tablespoon of avocado oil, the onions, garlic, celery and carrot and saute until the onions are aldente. Add the meat and the remaining ingredients, stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and secure the lid.

On “Manual” set the Instant Pot for 5 minutes. (It will take approximately 30 minutes to come to temperature and THEN the 5 minute timer will begin.) When the timer sounds, release the steam and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

 

 

Clementine Yogurt Cake

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Often when people hear the words “gluten free” or “grain free” or even “dairy free”, they think those terms equal = weird texture, odd tastes, and punishment. Which is kind of bizarre to me considering the real punishment is eating foods you’re sensitive to that make you sick, stiff, hormonal, anxious, and grumpy.

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Once you realize there’s a whole world of other options out there, you can let go of all of those negative attachments to what you “think” eating allergen free tastes and feels like.

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My goal when I started this blog (and still remains) was to create recipes that anyone would love to eat – but especially those people who have the mindset that they’re getting robbed by not being able to eat what “normal” people eat.

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One of the fun things I like to do every now and then when I run across a traditional recipe that really peaks my interest, is to see if I can tweak it to fit the needs of people who cannot eat certain foods. This recipe was inspired by an orange cake I ran across in Better Homes & Gardens. Once you learn the basic science behind baking with allergen free ingredients, it’s all a matter of swapping and understanding the balance between the liquids and dry ingredients, and what you need to make it hold together and rise, if necessary.

It really is as easy as that.

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This cake not only came out of the oven smelling and looking beautiful, the flavors were out of this world after allowing it to rest covered for 24 hours. It’s perfect lightly heated with a scoop of coconut milk vanilla ice cream, or just eaten by itself alongside a hot cup of tea for breakfast or an evening snack.

Clementine Yogurt Cake

8 Clementines

1 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s Vanilla Yogurt

3 Eggs

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Avocado Oil

2 Tablespoons of Raw Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with a piece of parchment. Spray generously with nonstick spray (I use avocado oil spray). *When I “line” a pan with parchment, I only cut a long piece that will go over the middle of the pan and hang off of each side. This makes is much easier to remove the bread and keeps it from sticking on the bottom.

Measure the sugar into a medium bowl and zest 6 clementines into the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar until it is completely incorporated and the sugar is moist and aromatic. Set aside. Peel the tangerines with a sharp knife and cut out the orange sections onto a few folded paper towels. Blot dry.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the yogurt into the sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time to form a smooth mixture. Whisk in the vanilla, then lightly whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a large spatula, and fold in the avocado oil. You should have a smooth batter with a light sheen.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Scatter the clementine segments over the top.

Bake (I use convection) for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then remove the cake from the pan to a cooling rack that has parchment placed underneath.

To glaze the cake, zest and juice the remaining 2 clementines into a small bowl. Add the honey, and heat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake. You can eat this warm and right away, but if you cover it and keep it at room temperature to serve it on day 2, it’s much better – rich and full of flavor.

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Coconut Sugar Dark Chocolate Macaroons

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These are delicious and absolutely simple to make. From start to finish they’re done in under 30 minutes. Healthy ingredients and the perfect snack when you’re craving just a little something sweet.

Coconut Sugar Dark Chocolate Macaroons

(Makes 14 Small Cookies)

1 1/3 Cup Let’s Do Organic – 100% Organic Shredded Coconut Unsweetened – plus a few pinches for sprinkling

2 Tablespoons of Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour

1/3 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

3 Organic Egg Whites

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 – 1 1/2 Squares of Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Organic 72% Cacao Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar (green packaging)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Stir all ingredients except the chocolate until thoroughly combined. Drop 14 dollops of dough onto the baking sheet. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and poke 1 piece into each cookie. Sprinkle with a little extra shredded coconut.

Bake (I use convection) for 18 minutes.

Butter Lettuce Steak Wraps

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I’ve cut down dramatically on red meat. In fact, I haven’t had a steak in almost three weeks. If you aren’t familiar with me and my love affair with steak, I could easily eat a gigantic, bloody rib eye every day of my life. I would never tire of it. However, I’m really clamping down on inflammatory foods so we’ve been focusing more on chicken, fish, and seafood with a treat of some kind once a week or so.

As I was running errands today I was thinking of all the ways I could eat a somewhat small amount of red meat, combine it with all the vegetables in my diet, and still have it be really tasty.

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This is it. These wraps are now my new favorite. And that butter lettuce was live – root and some dirt intact when I bought it. That’s the first time my store has offered that choice and I have to say, I think it does make a difference. Next year we’ll be planting rows and rows of butter lettuce. It is so delicious and holds up really well as a wrap.

This recipe on its own feeds two people as a main course (about 3 small to medium wraps each). If you are going to serve it with a couple of side dishes, I’d say you could feed four people but you would likely need to get two heads of the butter lettuce and increase the toppings just a bit – the one steak if sliced thinly, goes a long way.

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Butter Lettuce Steak Wraps

1 Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Australian Strip Loin Steak (you find these in their freezer section)

About 1/4 Cup of Red Onion, sliced

About 1 1/2 Cups of Red Cabbage, sliced

About 1 Cup of Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

About 1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano

About 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder

Celtic Sea Salt To Taste

1-2 Large Radishes, sliced

1/4 Cup of Parsley, chopped

About 1/4 Cup of Daiya Jalapeno Havarti Style Dairy Free Cheese, finely grated

1 Head of Butter Lettuce

Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Vegan Salad Dressing

Avocado Oil Spray

Cut any large pieces of fat off of the steak, slice thinly (this is easier to do when the steak is still a little frozen), and set aside. In a medium pan sprayed with avocado oil, saute the sliced onions, cabbage, mushrooms, oregano, and minced garlic until the cabbage and onions are aldente and the mushrooms are browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spray another medium pan with avocado oil and heat on medium high. When the pan is hot, add the sliced steak. Season with salt and 1/2 of the garlic powder. It will cook quickly, don’t over cook it or it will be tough. When the steak is beginning to brown on one side, quickly flip them over season with salt and the other half of the garlic powder and brown for 1-2 minutes. (About 4-5 minutes total cook time.) Remove from the heat and set aside.

Here is how I assembled the wraps:

Two lettuce leaves stacked, a little salad dressing, then cheese, then sauteed veggies, then steak, a little more sauteed veggies, radishes, and a sprinkle of parsley.

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Grain Free Date Cookies

2018-09-09 15.45.51My husband has eaten several of these over the past few days and enjoyed them – without ever asking me what was actually in the cookie.

A couple of days ago I was having a medjool date as an after dinner treat and offered him one.  He told me with a little bit of disgust on his face that “he doesn’t like dates because someone put them in fruit salad once”. I’m not sure if he’s remembering correctly or not,  but I always question whether people really know they dislike something or if they just think they do. Clearly, he liked the dates in my cookies. He also tells me he doesn’t like nuts besides peanuts and almonds, but also seemed to enjoy the pecans in these cookies.

I’ve heard many people say they don’t like something, but they’ve actually never tried it. Or, maybe they have tried it and that one time was not a good experience. My rule for most normal foods is that you really need to try it if you want to convince me you don’t like it. And I want to see you taste it in my kitchen, the way I’ve prepared it, with my own two eyes. haha

If you’re on the fence about Medjool Dates, I say give them a try. They’re not scary or smelly or gross. Just sweet and have a nice texture, they’re full of vitamins, have lots of fiber, are an antioxidant, and are low glycemic.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Grain Free Date Cookies

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Makes about 24 cookies

2/3 Cup of Medjool Dates, pitted and diced

2/3 Cup of Pecans, finely chopped

1/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Butter (aka coconut manna)

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

6 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I like Arroy-D)

2/3 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

6 Tablespoons of Coconut Flour

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of Dried Ginger

1 teaspoon of Vanilla 

2 Bars of Trader Joe’s Organic 72% Dark Belgian Chocolate 3.5 oz each

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 for soft cookies and 15 minutes for a crispier cookie.

Remove to cooling racks. Melt chocolate bars and drizzle each cookie. If you need them right away, you can quick set them by putting them on trays in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. 

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The Big FIVE OH! Or Otherwise Known As, My Best Birthday Yet

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How do you feel about your birthday? Dread it, love it, celebrate it, pretend like it never happened? It IS the only birthday at that age that you will EVER have. I wonder if people understand the significance of that? I turned 50 this summer. I wasn’t about to celebrate my 50th with a black balloon mentality. No way! I didn’t want this particular birthday to just go by with a flutter and a pffft either. I planned my own birthday trip!

I don’t expect or need big birthday celebrations but I was particularly excited about this birthday because some significant changes had taken place over the past few years. 2018 has been by far, the healthiest year for me in the last 11 years since I became sick with Lyme Disease.  Also, we have been on a wisdom ride that I will never forget. We have experienced the full range of all the heaviest emotions crammed into a five-year period. It felt like a friggin’ tornado.

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We moved from one end of the country to the other twice, we lived in our camping trailer for a few months because we couldn’t find a house, my husband changed careers and jobs three times, I had two really terrible Lyme flares, and during that time we also had to deal with some ongoing significant extended family issues. We were experiencing several of the top ten things on those lists psychologists put out in articles about extreme stress – all at once. But we knew we wanted something different, so we powered through. Once we were settled into our new house, I hit the ground running. Going through all that stuff at once had stirred up some questions for more and I needed to figure out how to get them answered.

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I felt like I needed a new approach to an old way of thinking. I read everything I could get my hands on that was related to what I wanted to learn. Then, I went completely out of my comfort zone and joined a support group run by an out of the box family and relationship therapist. The people in my group were from all walks of life with past experiences and current challenges to share. If I wanted growth, I was going to have to share too, which meant setting aside my fears of exposing all of those emotions and scary questions we all try so hard to cram down.

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When I let go of the fear of being totally transparent, it became one of the top three absolute best experiences of my life. We were all working toward one common goal – personal growth and a better understanding of relationships with ourselves and others. I had found my tribe. After the first couple of weeks, I could clearly see that healing and growth is a full body experience. You must work on the not so obvious as well as the obvious. I know, it sounds like a fluffy new age book. But it was nothing like that. It was an intense, humbling, and fulfilling experience that no self-help book (and I am an avid reader) has ever provided.

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There’s a lot of wisdom in people’s stories even when you have nothing in common with them. Their choices, and how they deal with life can be a significant learning experience for you if you choose to really listen and apply it. I came out the other side about two years later knowing myself better than ever. I thought I already had that down, but it turns out  there were some old patterns that were allowing negative things to happen that I didn’t think I was in control of. And because I took the time to really practice pulling the wool from my eyes – I came away with a very clear view of the underlying issues all of us face, and how those issues play out in our lives based on our own belief systems, patterns of behavior, family influence – and the choices we make based on how much or how little value we think we hold in other people’s eyes. I am the master (on earth) of my own destiny as far as my relationships and how I my experience with life pans out. I learned how to say no, how to better recognize red flags, and to set boundaries and it opened up endless growth opportunities.

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That journey is a very large part of why I was so excited and looked forward to turning 50. I thought to myself, Now THIS is what celebrating a birthday feels like. Beyond the surface of fun, lies the true reason to celebrate: Growth. I cannot sit stagnant in my life just going through the motions when I know there’s blossoming to be had! We need growth and pruning because it all works together. Then when we come to the end, we’re a beautiful full blossom – not some number we should dread! I can see concrete changes in how I feel, think, and react to what life has to offer whether it’s an irritating challenge or a welcome one. THAT is certainly worth celebrating along with a year of pretty dang good health!

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 There is another side of growth that doesn’t involve all the unicorn and rainbow feelings. Growth doesn’t just fall in your lap. Your mentality doesn’t just flip without a fight. It’s painful at first. Sometimes excruciatingly humbling. Changing ingrained patterns of behavior and choices that have been with you all your life and recognizing how they have played a role in the things you’re unhappy about, takes time and some serious nerve. I had no idea what would come of joining that support group. Several times I felt like turning around and running the other way. Just quitting and pretending like I’d never stirred “that” pot. But I forced myself to stick with it and the others did the same and it created a really unique and amazing bond that I’m not sure I’ve ever had with any other human being. I forced myself to stick with the work of being fully transparent and it paid off in ways I never could have imagined. Real growth provides a clear lens and when you get used to living with those wool free lenses, you can’t believe you ever lived any other way!

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 If you are seeking a new way of doing things, you may have to be your own cheerleader for a while or find a group like I did. Being transparent and strong in your character and convictions isn’t truly promoted and celebrated in the outside world. Some people will say they are supportive but really they just want you to fall in line and not think outside the box. They’ll try to convince you to keep quiet and that not upsetting the apple cart is more important than living your best version of the life God has planned for you. They’ll think you’re selfish or crazy or that you’re not Christian “enough” or forgiving or empathetic “enough” when you change long ingrained patterns that people are used to. They’ll take it personally and it will make them mad. But that’s OK, because when you stick to what you know is best for you and the people you love, there are no negative outcomes regardless of other’s opinions.

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For your next birthday, I challenge you to lovingly embrace that number. Make it something special and CELEBRATE IT!  It’s your gold medal for that year and it means you’ve made it through like a champion. You have marched through 365 days of every single challenge and every single dip in the road and over every mountain and every amazing thing that you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing and being a part of.

You didn’t compromise on some of the stuff that shouldn’t be compromised (you don’t have to be perfect), and you lived your best life that you knew how to that year. That birthday number people try to outrun, represents miraculous growth if you let it. Championship level growth if you focus on what you want.

Your actual outer “age” means nothing when you’re busy getting wise and slaying demons and seeking your most joyful, peaceful, loving life!

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