paleo banana pecan muffins

banana pecan breakfast muffins

I have been away. From my computer, I mean. I miss sharing recipes and projects here, but I have just been so busy that I haven’t really had the time. I began working again outside the home back in October, and though I am thankful for the additional financial support and benefits the job offers, I am struggling to accept that I am being required to set aside the things I feel I am meant to be doing. I know that nothing is permanent, and this is a necessary phase in my life, but sadness and self-doubt have been frequent companions.

That said, all I can do right now is embrace the situation. I am doing my best to be fully present, not only when I get to be home with my kids or doing something else I enjoy, but also while I am working and would rather be someplace else. There is no benefit to feeling regretful, to doubting the validity of past decisions. There is only now.

I know there is a balance, and I will find it.

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I haven’t been doing breakfast very well lately. Before leaving for work I sometimes have enough time to make my usual smoothie, but that has been becoming less and less frequent. One of these will be perfect to grab as I go, and Lu helped make them, so there’s a little love in there (and probably a little spit from when he licked the spoon, but love kills germs, right?).

This recipe is Paleo; free of gluten, grains, dairy and sugar. Oh yeah, and they’re super yummy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ripe bananas, mashed, 2 1/2 cups (about 4)
  • organic, free-range eggs, 4
  • almond butter, 1/2 cup
  • coconut oil, 4 tablespoons
  • vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons
  • raw, local honey, 1 tablespoon
  • coconut flour, 2/3 cup
  • flax seed meal, 1 tablespoon
  • ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon,
  • baking powder, 1 teaspoon
  • aluminum-free baking soda, 1 teaspoon
  • pecans, coarsely chopped, 1 cup

METHOD:

  1. Beat the eggs and place them in the bowl of a stand-mixer along with the bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla and honey. Mix well at medium-high speed.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the coconut flour, flax seed meal, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda.
  3. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the banana mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl until smooth.
  4. Stir in the pecans.
  5. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups, and divide the batter evenly between them.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool completely before serving.

paleo banana pecan muffins

Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. 
This universe is not outside of you. 
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want, 
you are already that.
–Rumi

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baby’s three

We recently celebrated Luca’s 3rd (already?!) birthday. My brother-in-law’s birthday is the following day, so the boys were able to mark their special days together. Luca just loves his uncle and I think finds it very special to be able to share his birthday with him. It was a lovely little party, with just the grandparents and us in attendance. Lu had a great day, and I was so happy to see him having fun.

 
This little guy has changed my life in so many ways. He is loving, feisty, smart, funny, stubborn (have no idea where he gets that), challenging and delightful. I am having to learn how to be a mama all over again, but hopefully the experiences only he can give me will make me a better person and more versatile in my parenting skills! I can’t imagine my life without this sweet little man in it.

Oh, and since I always have to bring it back to the subject of food, this birthday cake was amazing. It’s a chocolate layer cake with strawberry filling, made vegan and free of gluten refined sugar (I did, however, use confectioners’ sugar in the frosting). I neglected to photograph it after it had been cut, so I’m not posting the recipe just yet. I plan to make another one for Tracy’s birthday this weekend, so that post will be coming soon.

 

Independence Trail

nature walking: the independence trail

We are so lucky to live where we do. Nevada County (that’s in CA!) is a beautiful place to grow up and raise a family, with so many things to do and see. I have lived here for most of my life, and still there are many areas of the land to which I haven’t been. We try to experience the natural splendor of our area as much as we can, and to teach our kids about the rich history of our town and its surrounding areas, all while having fun and enjoying the beauty of nature.

A few weekends ago we took a “hike” (really just a walk – the trail is very easy) along the Independence Trail just outside Nevada City, only about a 10 minute drive from our home. The trail crosses, and at times overlooks, the gorgeous South Yuba River, and the trail’s uniqueness is enhanced by the fact that it is wheelchair accessible, making it enjoyable for almost anyone.

The trail began as an abandoned miner’s ditch, previously known as the Excelsior Canal. It was built to carry water from the South Yuba river to hydraulic mining sites many miles downstream. After hydraulic mining was outlawed in 1884, the ditch was used for irrigation until 1967, when it was abandoned. In 1975 visionary naturalist, John Olmstead, spearheaded the transformation of the ditch, berm, and the wooden flumes into this local treasure now known as the Indepndence Trail.

Independence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence TrailIndependence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence Trail

berry bread

fresh berry bread with chocolate chunks

This delicious sweet bread is vegan and gluten-free, as well as low in {coconut} sugar.

A slice of this loaf makes a great guilt-free post-meal treat, or even a nice breakfast with a cup of good coffee 🙂

 

The recipe yields two loaves.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • mashed ripe bananas, 2 cups
  • strained unsweetened applesauce, 1 cup
  • sorghum flour, 3 cups + 2 tablespoons {reserve for berries}
  • tapioca flour, 1 cup
  • baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, 1 teaspoon
  • coconut sugar, 2 cups
  • coconut oil, 1/2 cup
  • ground flax seed meal, 1/4 cup
  • hot water, 3/4 cup
  • plain coconut yogurt, 2/3 cup
  • vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons
  • fresh blueberries, 1 cup
  • halved fresh raspberries, 1 cup
  • Enjoy Life {soy & dairy free} chocolate chunks, 10 ounces {1 package}

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, mix bananas and applesauce. Add the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and yogurt, mixing well until creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours {minus the 2 additional tablespoons of sorghum}, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the hot water and flax seed meal, then set aside for a few minutes before slowly adding to the banana mixture.
  4. Add in the dry mixture and stir gently until moist. Do not over mix.
  5. Toss the berries with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sorghum until coated, then gently stir them into the batter.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between two greased 5×9 inch loaf pans.
  8. Bake the loaves for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely before slicing.

 

 

nut butter coconut raisin cookies

nut butter coconut raisin cookies

These cookies are a huge favorite around my house, and everyone I share them with seems to love them too. I think they’re a good “breakfast cookie”, since they really are quite healthy, made with whole grain and fruit. They do have a bit of sugar, but coconut sugar is unrefined and low-glycemic. I have made them two ways – the traditional way with peanut and almond butters and butter, and the allergen-free/vegan way, which really IS just as good. Most people don’t even notice the difference. Both versions are gluten-free.

Here is the recipe, with allergen-free substitutions noted. You’ll love these! xo

INGREDIENTS

  • organic unsalted butter, 4 T {vegan substitute: warmed coconut oil or coconut spread}
  • coconut sugar, 3/4 cup
  • peanut butter, almond butter or combination of the two, 1 cup {nut-free substitute: sesame seed butter}
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk {vegan substitute: 1 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons warm water}
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • gluten-free rolled oats, 2 1/4 cups
  • aluminum-free baking soda, 1 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • raisins, 1 1/2 cups
  • shredded coconut, 1/2 cup

METHOD

  1. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Slowly mix in the nut butter, egg and vanilla until creamy.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, baking soda, salt and coconut, then stir into the butter mixture until well combined.
  4. Gently stir in the raisins.
  5. Drop spoonfulls of batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. You’ll want to form the cookies a bit with your hands by pressing down and shaping them.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for about 12-14 minutes. The bottoms of the cookies will be golden brown, and the center of the cookies may seem a little less than done, which is okay.
  7. Allow the cookies to set on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.

bavarian china finger plate

grace henry vintage

My mom and I have been working together to get a little shop going on Etsy, and it’s finally up! We’re very excited to be working together on something that is really enjoyable for us. We’re selling vintage and antique finds with no real theme in mind, just things that we love and think someone else may love too. We’ll be adding many more items soon, and a little further down the road we’ll start selling vintage inspired goods, handmade by us.

Shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/GraceHenryVintage

Blog:  http://www.gracehenryvintage.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/gracehenryvintage

Here are a few of my favorites that are currently for sale in the shop. I hope you’ll check it out!

xo

art nouveau poppy vase

art nouveau amphora poppy vase

vintage italian scarf

vintage italian scarf

victorian silent butler

victorian silent butler

vintage patent clutch

vintage patent clutch

platinum rimmed tumbler set

summer’s early end (and more embroidery)

Well, here it is again: the first day of school. I remember when I was of school age, summer vacation began at the start of June and didn’t end until the after Labor day – a full three month stretch. Now, where we live at least, it’s right around two months, which seems painfully short to me. It was a great summer this year, though. It was the first summer since Bella was 17 months old that I was able to spend it at home with her. Being home with the kids is fantastic and hard and fun and exhausting (did I mention that I’m tired?), but mostly it’s wonderful, and really is just what I have always wanted. I am extremely grateful to be here with them, and to have been able to be fully present for Bella’s summer break.

Our last little trip of the summer was to Portland, Oregon. My youngest cousin on my father’s side was married in Salem, so Bella and I took the trip up with my parents to attend the wedding and visit for a few days with family afterward. I love it up there. It’s cool and green and wide, wide open, with rivers, mountains and farms, all near the beautiful city of Portland. I have long dreamed of leaving California for someplace farther north, and this area in particular is very appealing to me.

We had wonderful visiting time with my lovely Aunt, Uncle and cousins who live up there; they are warm and generous, and so much fun. I so wish we were nearer to them so that our connection could grow deeper – they really are some of my most favorite people on Earth.

For my cousin’s wedding gift, I wanted to embroider towels like I did for Nat & Buck, but I couldn’t seem to come up with a design that I thought was appropriate. I am not at all sure of their personal tastes, since we live so far from one another and the age difference between myself and my cousin is relatively large. They had designed their wedding invitations in a very particular way though, using symbols and styles that I though must be expressive of their taste, since it was all so unique. So, not really knowing the meaning of all of the included designs, I decided to use them, in their chosen colors, on the towels instead of the usual girly stuff I would be inclined to include.

I drew the designs from the invitation at a larger scale onto tracing paper, then went over the drawings with a transfer pencil. I then used an iron to transfer them to the towels. Easy.

Though to me they’re not necessarily the prettiest towels I have ever seen, they were made with love and I hope they are meaningful to Kara & Kevin.

gluten-free buckwheat sandwich bread

After my grandma passed away, I inherited her bread machine, among many other small lovely treasures. After bringing it home, I used it a few times, making recipes from the accompanying manual, and a few mixes I picked up at the co-op. They were all okay – I remember that a spelt mix I used was actually quite good, but I never attempted to create my own recipe.

Four years or so later, I decided to pull it out, dust it off, and give it another go – this time I would try my hand at coming up with a gluten-free recipe. As I did research on bread makers and gluten-free breads, I learned that I may not have the best machine for what I wanted to do, but really wanted to try anyway. I have been buying gluten-free breads for the kids at the store, which they like, but they contain a lot of ingredients that I didn’t feel comfortable serving. Also, a tiny loaf of bread is about $6, so my pocketbook wasn’t too stoked either.

After three miserable failures, I finally did it. This recipe is SO yummy. It doesn’t taste yeasty, or too “white”. It’s not gummy in the center, and it rose pretty well. It’s also nice to look at, smells delightful, and the texture is just right.

What finally helped me get it right in my bread machine, which doesn’t have a gluten-free setting, was a stellar review on Amazon – the woman who wrote the review explained how she had learned to manipulate the settings to achieve good results. I am so thankful to have found it, though next time I am going to bake this in a regular glass bread pan in the oven, and see how that goes.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • warm water (about 110 degrees), 1 1/2 cups
  • organic local honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • dry active yeast, 1 tablespoon
  • tapioca flour, 1 cup + 4 teaspoons
  • sorghum flour, 1 cup + 4 teaspoons
  • oat flour, 1/4 cup
  • buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
  • fine sea salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • xanthan gum, 2 teaspoons
  • organic free range eggs, 2 large
  • extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon
  • golden flax seed meal, 1 tablespoon
  • gluten free rolled oats, 2 tablespoons
  • raw brown sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon

METHOD

  1. In a small bowl, pour the water over the yeast and stir gently. Add the honey, and continue to stir for a minute, then set the mixture aside to let it foam up and rise for a while.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, salt and xanthan gum.
  3. In a small bowl beat the eggs together with the olive oil and vinegar. Pour into the flour mixture and mix for a minute, then add the yeast mixture, mixing all ingredients together well.
  4. Pour batter into your bread machine pan.
  5. Mix the flax seed meal, oats and sesame seeds together in a small bowl, then pour over the raw batter. This is optional, of course, but gives the breas a nice nutty topping. If you’re going to use a bread machine, you’ll want to wait to do this until your kneading cycles are complete.
  6. Follow the instructions for your particular machine to bake your bread. If you have a Sunbeam 5891, be sure to read that great review!
  7. Wait until the loaf has cooled completely, then slice it. If you want to save it, wrap each slice in paper, place in plastic bags and freeze.

gluten-free buckwheat bread

brown sesame banana bread

This perfectly moist, yummy banana bread is vegan, gluten-free, and is sweetened with raw agave. I love the sesame seeds – they give it just that little bit of crunch and “nuttiness”, while still being nut-free.

This recipe makes two mini loaves. If you want to make a regular sized bread loaf, just double it.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • sorghum flour, 1/4 + 1/8 cup
  • oat flour, 1/4 + 1/8 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/4 cup
  • baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, rounded 1/4 teaspoon
  • ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • raw brown sesame seeds, 1/4 cup
  • very ripe bananas, 2
  • coconut oil, 3 tablespoons
  • flax seed meal, 1 tablespoon
  • warm water, 3 tablespoons
  • raw agave nectar, 1/4 cup
  • vanilla, 1 tablespoon
  • plain coconut yogurt, 1/8 cup

METHOD

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sesame seeds.
  2. In another medium bowl, mash the bananas, leaving them a little chunky.
  3. Add the coconut oil, agave, vanilla and yogurt to the bananas and stir gently until well combined.
  4. Whisk together the flax seed meal and warm water until creamy, then stir into the banana mixture.
  5. Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet ingredients until all the flour is moistened.
  6. Grease and flour two mini loaf pans, then divide the batter evenly between the two.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely.

 

good, good gluten free pizza crust (finally)

God, I love pizza. Or should I say, I loved pizza. Everyone who has had to give up dairy and gluten feels my pain – it’s hard enough to begin your life again without cheese (it does get easier, rest assured), but saying goodbye to pizza is a sad, sad thing. And while I have actually come to enjoy cheese-less pizza, the crust is a different story. There are many places that offer gluten free pizza dough, and while it may be good (or at least passable), it contains other ingredients that aren’t so great. I have corn and soy allergies – try finding gluten free almost anything without at least one of those two things in it. And potato starch is another common ingredient, which is also not okay for me.

Here is a recipe I adapted from Gluten Free Girl that is REALLY good. It comes out just a bit fluffy and crispy at the same time, which is just how we like it. It’s super quick to prepare, too.

This recipe makes two crusts, and if you roll them out pretty thin like I do, they’re each about 12 inches in diameter.

Topped with homemade tomato sauce (just organic diced canned tomatoes, salt, pepper and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand), fresh vegetables and basil, it really is a delicious treat.

I hope you enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS

  • ground flax seed meal, 1 tablespoon
  • hot water, 2 tablespoons
  • tapioca flour, 125 grams
  • brown rice flour, 187.5 grams
  • sorghum flour, 187.5 grams
  • kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • active dry yeast, 4 tablespoons
  • extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • hot water, 1 cup

top: raw pizza dough; bottom: pre-baked dough

METHOD

  1. In a small bowl add the 2 tablespoons of hot water to the flax seed meal, and whisk with a fork until thick. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another small bowl combine the yeast, olive oil and 1/2 cup of hot water. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes.
  4. Pour the flax seed mixture into the flours and mix, then add the yeast mixture and mix everything together well. Slowly add the warm water until the dough is soft ant pliable. You may not need all the water, or you may need more. Set the dough aside and let it rise for at least an hour. I let mine rise for 1 hour, turn it over, and then rise for another hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, and if you have a pizza stone, heat it inside the oven.
  6. Separate the dough into two equal balls and roll them out to your desired thickness then turn the outer edge over.
  7. Bake each crust for about 10 minutes, just until the edges are turning golden brown.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool before adding the pizza toppings. You can also freeze or refrigerate the crusts to use later.
  9. Bake the pizza at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until your toppings have sufficiently cooked and the crust is a little more golden brown.

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