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.

IMG_2268

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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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.

 

banana blueberry muffins

I have been craving muffins for quite some time – I can’t remember the last time I actually had one. Luckily I had just enough fresh blueberries and all these other ingredients in the kitchen the other morning to make them. They came out just right – moist and delicious. The kids loved having them for breakfast (um, so did I), and they kept well for about 2 days afterward.  These muffins are gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan.

This recipe makes 12 muffins.

INGREDIENTS

  • ripe bananas, 2
  • ground flax seed meal, 6 tablespoons
  • hot water, 2 tablespoons
  • coconut oil, 1/2 cup
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • lemon juice, 2 tablespoons
  • raw, organic, local honey, 1/4 cup
  • sorghum flour, 1 & 3/4 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/4 cup
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • baking powder, 2 teaspoons
  • fresh blueberries, about 1 & 1/2 cups
raw batter, ready for baking

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the hot water and the flax seed meal in a small bowl, and whisk until thick. Set aside.
  4. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice, honey and flax mixture to the bananas, and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the flours, salt, cinnamon and baking powder, then add to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.
  6. Carefully add the blueberries to the mixture.
  7. Grease your muffin pan lightly with a little coconut oil, then place the liners.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the cups in the pan.
  9. As an option, you can sprinkle a little coconut sugar on top of the muffins before baking them. This will give them a bit of a crunchy topping. I did this with half my batch.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Allow the muffins to fully cool on a wire rack.
just out of the oven

eat up

delicious (no, really) gluten-free, sugar-free vegan brownies

It’s hard to believe, I know. But trust me, these brownies are REALLY good. It’s all I can do not to make them every day for breakfast. The hints of coconut flavor are quite complimentary to the cacao.

They are totally free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and sugar. I’m no expert on the diet’s rules, but I believe they are Paleo friendly, too.

INGREDIENTS

  • ground flax seed meal, 3 tablespoons
  • filtered water, 9 tablespoons
  • coconut milk {unsweetened}, 1/2 cup
  • coconut oil, 1/2 cup
  • local raw organic honey, 2/3 cup
  • vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • coconut flour, 3/4 cup + 1/8 cup
  • tapioca flour, 1/8 cup
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup
  • baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon
  • fine sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • 100% cacao bar, about 1.5 ounces, chopped
chopped cacao bar

chopped cacao bar

brownie batter, ready to bake

brownie batter, ready to bake

METHOD

  1. As a replacement to eggs, combine the flax seed meal and water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until very well combined. Set aside and allow the mixture to thicken for a few minutes. Stir with the fork again before adding to the batter.
  2. In a large bowl beat together the coconut milk, coconut oil (warmed), honey, vanilla and flax egg replacement.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and stir until well combined and creamy, then stir in the cacao bits.
  5. Grease an 8″ x  8″ square baking dish and spread the batter evenly into it.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the dish set on a cooling rack. Once the brownies have cooled you can cut them into pieces and remove from them from the dish.

coconut carob cookies with apples and cinnamon

These two-bite sized cookies are a great gluten, sugar and dairy free treat. They are super quick and easy to make, too. My kids love these, and they are the perfect alternative to a sugary or otherwise unhealthy snack.

INGREDIENTS

  • applesauce {unsweetened, no additives}, 1 3/4 cup
  • shredded coconut {unsweetened}, 1/3 cup
  • rolled oats {gluten-free certified}, 2 cups
  • coconut flour, 1/3 cup
  • baking powder, 1 teaspoon
  • vegan carob chips, about 6 ounces
  • cinnamon, generous 1/2 teaspoon
  • coconut oil, 1/4 cup
  • salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, vanilla and coconut oil. The coconut oil needs to be warmed just a bit so that it is liquid and will mix well. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl combine the oats, coconut, coconut flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until well combined.
  5. Fold in the carob chips.
  6. Drop dollops of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I use a one-inch scooper, and pack the dough into it a bit before placing on the sheet, so that the dough holds together well. You could use your hands for this, too.
  7. Bake until the tops of the cookies just start to turn golden in places, making sure not to burn the bottoms, about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Let these cool on the baking sheet for about a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
coconut carob cookie

coconut carob cookie

 

 

gluten-free, sugar-free, fruity oatmeal cookies

Oh, did I forget to mention DELICIOUS in the title?

Being on an insanely strict diet and possessing the rival insane sweet tooth is an epic bummer. I consider myself to be a pretty darn good baker, but my specialties consist of nothing gluten or sugar-free. I am never one to skimp for the sake of low-fat (ugh) or low-calorie (lame) achievements – I believe in cooking with real, whole foods, and the same goes for desserts – as long as moderation is being exercised, let’s have the good stuff, please.

While I have still been baking once in a while over the last few months, there just isn’t as much pleasure in making things that you can’t eat. I have decided it’s time to turn a new leaf when it comes to how I bake and the ingredients I use, but there is quite a learning curve here. I have stocked up on alternative flours, seeds, spices and sweeteners, but I have seen, and wager I will continue to see, more frogs than princes for the foreseeable future.

Here is my first real success, and humble though it is, it’s truly delicious. It really does satisfy my cookie craving, and is completely healthy, containing not even one no-no.

INGREDIENTS

  • Gluten-Free Certified Rolled Oats, 2 Cups {I like Bob’s Red Mill}
  • Raisins, 1 Cup {use dried cranberries here if you can (I can’t) – I think that would be even better}
  • Pumpkin Seeds, 1 Cup {you could use any nut or seed here that you like best}
  • Butter, softened, 1/3 Cup
  • Very Ripe Banana, Mashed, 1 Cup {that works out to about 3 medium}
  • Applesauce, 1/2 Cup {this needs to be either homemade or a store bought sauce that contains nothing but apples}
  • Vanilla Extract, 2 teaspoons
  • Cinnamon, 1 1/4 teaspoon
  • Baking Soda, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon

making oatmeal cookies

METHOD

  1. Toast your pumpkin seeds in an iron skillet over low-medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 -7 minutes. You could do this in the oven or a regular pan, too, I just find it works best in the iron.
  2. Combine the seeds, oats and raisins in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine bananas, applesauce, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and combine well by stirring gently.
  5. Let this mixture sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and drop heaping spoonfulls of the batter onto the sheet. I use a handy scooper for this, but a spoon works just as well.
  8. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Let them sit on the sheet for about a minute before transferring them to cooling racks.
raw batter, ready for baking

raw batter, ready for baking

These cookies come out looking a bit like haystacks, and don’t hold together as well as a regular cookie due to the moisture in the fruit and absence of flour, so you will want to handle them delicately. After they have sufficiently cooled though, you should have no trouble moving them directly from the rack into your mouth. Have a cuppa too, would ya?

cooling cookies

cooling cookies