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My BIG FAT Grain Free Life: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sausage Dressing (Stuffing) with Apples, Dried Cherries and Chestnuts (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

I promised to post some recipes for Thanksgiving.  That being said, what is Thanksgiving dinner without dressing? (I don't prefer to stuff my bird, (a little scared to try it) so we call it dressing around here, not stuffing.)

Dressing is a personal thing.  It differs as much as people do.  Our favorite dressing includes sausage, steamed chestnuts and fruit such as apple and dried cherries.  

Taking our new grain free diet into consideration, I thought all was lost this year.  After all, how do you make dressing without cornbread or Williams-Sonoma Focaccia Stuffing Mix?

Hopeful, I tried my traditional Thanksgiving Dressing recipe using Yummy Grain Free Bread in place of the usual bread.  The results?  My husband and I breathed a sigh of relief...Thanksgiving dinner was saved!


Sausage Dressing with Apples, Dried Cherries and Steamed Chestnuts 


1/4 cup ghee
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 lb. mild Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup steamed chestnuts (I buy mine at Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma)
1 teaspoon dried sage
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder 

4 cups cubed and toasted Yummy Grain Free Bread
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
Pecorino Romano, grated, to taste if tolerated


Preheat oven to 375F.

Heat large frying pan to medium heat.  When hot, add ghee, onion and celery, sauteing until soft.  Add sausage and break into bits. Cook sausage through.

Add apples, dried cherries and chestnuts.  Saute for a few minutes until apples soften.

Add spices and cook for about a minute.

In a large bowl, mix toasted bread cubes, sausage-apple mixture, chicken stock and eggs.  If it seems dry, add more chicken stock.

Pour into greased baking dish.  Top with grated Pecorino.  Cover with tin foil and bake in over for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes. 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Bread with Coconut Sugar, Cinnamon and Pecan Topping (grain free, gluten free and refined sugar free)

I hope you all like this as much as I did.  The topping takes pumpkin bread to a little fancier level - perhaps serve it at a tea party, holiday brunch, give as gifts to neighbors, or bring a loaf to my house....:^)

This recipe is almost identical to the Pumpkin Muffins I recently posted.  The topping is the only difference.

(This recipe has been shared on Allergy Free Wednesday's Blog Hop and Gluten Free Fridays)

Pumpkin Bread with Coconut Sugar, Cinnamon and Pecan Topping (grain free, gluten free and refined sugar free)


1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans, cooled
3 jumbo eggs  (see FAQ re:  eggs)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup cooked pumpkin (my preference is Libby's canned pumpkin)

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves 

For topping:
1/2 cup batter
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, chopped


Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 8"x4" loaf pan and line with parchment.  (For pics on lining the pan, see Yummy Grain Free Bread.) 

In a food processor, puree navy beans, eggs, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, honey and pumpkin until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until combined.  Add dry ingredients to wet and pulse until combined.  Scrape down sides and pulse again.

Place 1/2 cup of batter in a small separate bowl.  Add coconut sugar, cinnamon and pecans to reserved batter. Scrape the rest of the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Tap pan on counter a few times to bring air bubbles to the surface.  Pour topping over batter in pan.  

Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on how many loaves you are baking at a time.)

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins (grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free)

Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday at our home.  One of our favorites, in fact.  I had hoped our grain free, refined sugar free diet would not hinder our enjoyment of our traditional Thanksgiving fare.  On the other hand, I didn't want to make our annual menu and bear the weight of putting my daughter's health at risk, not to mention feeling poorly myself from the carb overload.

I've been working up some recipes, many of which are revamped favorites that accommodate our new way of eating.  I have been pleasantly surprised and hope you will feel the same.

I tested the recipe below on several people - it got great reviews as being moist and flavorful.  You can also bake this up as a pumpkin bread.  Directions can be found below.

Pumpkin Muffins (grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free) 


1 1/2 cups cooked white navy beans, cooled
3 jumbo eggs (see FAQ re: eggs)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup cooked pumpkin (sorry purists, I like Libby's canned pumpkin)

1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

coconut sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F.  In a food processor, puree navy beans, eggs, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, honey and pumpkin until smooth.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until combined.  Add dry ingredients to wet and pulse until combined.  Scrape down sides and pulse again.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Then sprinkle the tops with coconut sugar.  Bake 20-25 minutes. 

For pumpkin bread, scrape batter into 8x4" greased and parchment lined loaf pan.  (See Yummy Grain Free Bread recipe for pics on how to line pan.)  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on how many loaves you are baking at once.  (One loaf took me 30-35 minutes and two loaves took closer to 45)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Life, Baking Pans, and Other Sundry Things...

I recently enjoyed a wonderful vacation with my family in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  It was fun (hiking and apple picking), beautiful (mountains, colorful foliage and cool weather - sigh) AND we found some neat places to go that I wanted to share with you.

I'm baking a lot of grain free things these days and don't normally like to cook out of aluminum.  As much as possible, I use glass bakeware, but sometimes have to resort to an aluminum baking pan.  While shopping in the charming town of Black Mountain, NC, we strolled into one of my favorite stores, The Common Housefly.  Their tagline is "toy store for the food conscious".  My kina peeps, know what I mean?

The Common Housefly is a foodie's haven carrying high quality cookware, bakeware, utensils, and lovely loose leaf tea and tea gadgets. While perusing the store, I found this baking pan made by USA Pans and toyed with getting one.  It was such a nice and heavy pan and was coated with something, yet not a Teflon-type surface.  Low and behold, it's made of aluminized steel (65% of the steel is recycled) and coated with an environmentally friendly silicone that is free of PTFE's or PFOA's.  Still having some concerns about aluminum leaching into our food, I contacted the company to ask about it.  Michelle of USA Pans told me that the silicone coating - Americoat - provides a protective barrier which would prevent the aluminum from leaching into the food as long as the coating doesn't get scratched.  She said it's very important to use silicone utensils to serve out of the pans (I flip my baked goods out.) AND don't use abrasives when cleaning the pan.  (There's no need, mild soap and water did the trick quite nicely.)

Anyhoo, I bought the 9" round pan and baked banana cake in it.  I wouldn't have believed the difference a baking pan could make!  I am absolutely sold.  The corrugated bottom of the pan allows air to circulate and bake more evenly than traditional pans.  I noticed a huge difference in the texture and color of this banana cake as opposed to any I've made previously.  And - I greased the pan, but used no parchment just to see how it would release.  The cake released without any problem.

Using grain alternatives in baking can be tricky, yet this pan made it, well, a piece of cake!

OK -onto more lovelies...balsamic vinegar to die for and ICE CREAM!  Whilst strolling through the adorable town of Biltmore Village, we found a charming, locally-owned establishment called The Tree & Vine specializing in the most wonderful imported olive oils and vinegars I have ever tasted in my life.  I'm Italian and I'm serious.  THE BEST.  I've been making salad with their traditional balsamic (the fig balsamic was another favorite) and my whole family (except a cute minor that couldn't care less about oil or vinegar) tastes the difference.

We're not only indebted to The Tree & Vine for opening our palates to wonderful oils and vinegars - they also recommended a local ice cream shop called The Hop Ice Cream Cafe that makes out-of-this-world homemade ice cream daily- AND - they make non dairy and even vegan options for people with sensitivities. 

Because of our daughter's food sensitivities and tummy trouble, ice cream is simply OUT.  To be able to walk into an ice cream shop on vacation and order a delicious, creamy treat that our girlie can have is a wonderful thing.  It was a joy to see her eyes light up with excitement and go into dramatics over the deliciousness of this ice cream.  (I'm not sure where she gets that...)

The first time we went, she had chocolate ice cream made with coconut milk.  I tasted it and am dead serious when I say you could not tell it was dairy free.  Our second trip, she chose their vanilla latte ice cream made with almond milk.  She could NOT get over this flavor that tasted like a special coffee drink.  She was beside herself.  

My ice cream of choice?  The full-dairy salted caramel...I can't GET OVER THE DELICIOUSNESS OF THIS ICE CREAM!!!  (Uh oh.)


Monday, October 17, 2011


Salsa is delicious and sooooo easy to make!  I thought my days of salsa were over, since tortilla chips are no longer a part of our diet.  (It's ok, I've pulled through.)

Who needs tortilla chips to eat salsa?  (Don't answer that.)  It's actually great by itself, in place of or on top of salad and served atop carnitas.  Our friends from Puerto Rico serve their salsa with cooked shrimp tossed right in - which reminds me...I need to make that! 


6-8 ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2-3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 capful of white vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large lemon, juiced
sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice plum tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Cut out seeds.  Dice tomatoes and toss into a medium bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Smoked BBQ Turkey Legs

Easy...Delicious...Cheap Economical.  

My daughter loved this so much - she asked me to make it again for dinner the following night.   

Don't be intimidated by smoking chips.  I buy mine from Walmart (foodies can still shop there) in the outdoor area where grills are sold.  I like these smoking chips because they are in small pieces and easy to work with.

This dish would be wonderful served up with Paula Deen's The Lady's Coleslaw recipe.  It's our favorite coleslaw  - not dripping in mayo, crisp and fresh.  I would use a mayo that's "safe" for our diets and substitute honey for the sugar.  

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Smoked BBQ Turkey Legs 

turkey legs
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper

hickory or mesquite smoking chips
Just Peachy Barbecue Sauce 

Prepare grill:  Take a long sheet of tin foil.  Fill the center lengthwise with smoking chips.  Wrap up smoking chips and poke large holes in foil.  Turn all grill burners to high and place packet of smoking chips on back burner.  Allow grill to preheat for 15 minutes.  Chips should be smoking.

Rub turkey legs with olive oil.  Then salt and pepper on both sides.  Place turkey legs on grill.  Keep the burner with the packet of smoking chips on high.  Turn other burners to low.  Close lid on grill and cook for 30 minutes.

Brush with Just Peachy BBQ Sauce.  Turn, brush with more sauce, and cook another 30 minutes.  Serve with extra sauce on the side.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carnitas! (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Have you eaten at Chipotle Mexican Grill?  Well, my family and I eat there on a regular basis.  My daughter's diet limits eating out a bit, but we have found Chipotle to be consistently delicious (they only use fresh ingredients) and not harmful to her tummy.  (We skip the rice in our burrito bowls.)

After having Chipotle's carnitas for about the 57th time, I decided to try and make them at home.  I doubt that highly esteemed chef and owner, Steve Ells would make carnitas this way, but I have to say - it has become one of our favorites.  Does it mean I will forsake my beloved Chipotle carnitas?  No way!  But, it is nice to make a big batch at home and freeze the leftovers.

This recipe is easy to make and my husband, especially, oohs and ahhs over it.  I hope you enjoy it too.  Ingredients are important, so be sure to use good quality pork.  I buy boneless pork shoulder roast (a/k/a pork butt, Boston butt or Boston shoulder) from Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

Serve the Carnitas over a heap of cooked white navy beans and top with homemade salsa, guacamole (both recipes to come soon) and lettuce.  If you or your peeps can tolerate grain, they'd be good in a flour tortilla OR a delicious grain free version such as The Spunky Coconut's grain free tortillas.
Carnitas! (Mexican pulled pork)  gluten free, grain free, dairy free

**This recipe can easily be doubled.

1 (3-4 lb.) pork shoulder roast (See note below.)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 bay leaves
1 orange
1 lime
1 onion, peeled and cut into eighths
4 cloves of garlic, smashed

NOTE:  This recipe works with boneless or bone-in pork roast.  Depending on where you get it, it can have a thick layer of fat on top.  If so, trim most of it away, leaving a thin layer.  Whole Foods and Fresh Market do a great job of selling it already trimmed.

Rinse pork roast and pat dry.  In small bowl, mix all spices together (oregano through pepper).  Rub spices on the roast, coating all sides.  Place roast in slow cooker and turn on low.  (Throw any leftover spices in slow cooker.)

Squeeze lime juice into slow cooker.  Squeeze orange juice into slow cooker and throw orange halves in as well.  Add bay leaves, onion and smashed garlic.

Cover and cook on low 10 hours.  Remove meat from slow cooker - it should be falling apart.  Shred into chunks, removing large pieces of fat.

Now, for the sauce....ohhhhh the sauce!  Heat a large pot on medium to medium high.  Strain the sauce from the slow cooker into the pot, discarding the solids. 

Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by about three quarters.  This should take around 10-20 minutes if you are boiling it pretty steady.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or spoonula.  (When in doubt, keep reducing.)

Pour sauce over meat and carefully mix together (folding sauce into meat).  

You can eat it at this point BUT - the following extra step takes delicious to fabulous and is very easy:

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil.  Place a stainless steel cooling rack into rimmed pan.  Spread the meat (with the reduced sauce incorporated) onto the cooling rack.  Broil the meat for a few minutes until the edges are crispy.  Just a note: WORTH THE EXTRA STEP!  

My mouth is watering right now.  Enjoy!


Monday, October 3, 2011

White Navy Beans

White navy beans are easy for my daughter and me to digest if soaked and prepared according to the SCD diet.  I throw them into soups, top them with carnitas, and use them in salad and hummus.

Share some of your favorite ways to use white beans by posting in the comments below. 

White Navy Beans

3 cups dried white navy beans (rinsed, picked over and soaked 24 hours or overnight)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (1/2 inch) slice of pancetta, diced
1 onion, diced


Drain beans.  In large pot, saute diced pancetta until crispy and fat is rendering.  Add onion.  Saute until soft.

Add beans, smashed garlic and enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down, but make sure it's simmering. 

Cook for about two hours, adding water if necessary.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away...Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV)

  The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
  And delivers them out of all their troubles.

  The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
  And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

  Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
  But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

I briefly mentioned in a recent post some details of what has been happening in our lives these past three to four weeks.

Long story short, my husband and I have been trying to adopt for several years.  We got word about four weeks ago that we had been "picked" by a birth mother who was due in three weeks.

As much as I would have loved for this child to be the newest addition to our family, God had another plan - a plan that yielded many tears, yet one we believe and trust has been ordained by His hand and, therefore, for our good. (Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.)  NKJV

God never promised us a pain-free life.  But over and over He states through His Word that He wants to carry our burdens.  He wants us to come to Him in prayer and pour out our hearts.

Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you..." and,

1 Peter 5:7 says, "...casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (ESV, emphasis added)

Matthew Henry states in his commentary on Psalm 55:22:

"Care is a burden; it makes the heart stoop (Proverbs 12:25); we must cast it upon God by faith and prayer, commit our way and works to Him; let Him do as seemeth Him good, and we will be satisfied.  To cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on His providence and promise and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good.  If we do so, it is promised...That He will sustain us, both support and supply us, will Himself carry us in the arms of His power, as the nurse carries the sucking-child, will strengthen our spirits so by His Spirit as that they shall sustain the infirmity.  He has not promised to free us immediately from that trouble which gives rise to our cares and fears; but He will provide that we be not tempted above what we are able, and that we shall be able according as we are tempted."  Henry, Matthew (2010).  Unabridged Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (best Kindle navigation) (Kindle Locations 105983-105989), OSNOVA.  Kindle Edition.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers throughout this whole situation and for kind words of encouragement.  

Most of all, I would like to thank our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for never leaving nor forsaking us, sustaining us through trials, deepening our faith, girding us up these past months with excellent teaching on the providence of God, (Pastor Carl Robbins, Woodruff Road PCA) and countless other specific ways He has been faithful and merciful to my family and me. 

May God be glorified in all things.