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My BIG FAT Grain Free Life: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy....

Ok, so forgive the title of this post, but you can take the girl out the Thespian Club, but you can't take the Thespian Club out of the girl...

An amazing fellow blogger, Allie, of Souper Douper SCDer, has just graciously chosen me for the Liebster Blog Award! 

I don't think I've ever gotten an award before.  Wait!  I take that back!  In my pre-grain-free days I won a pie contest at church and was named reigning "Pie Queen".  (A probable self-title, but I did show up next year in a tiara and sash that humbly exhibited this title in silver glitter.  True story.)

Anyhoo, the Liebster Blog Award is bestowed upon bloggers who have less than 200 followers in the hopes of broadening their audiences.  The nominees, should they choose to accept (but who wouldn't?), then nominate five other bloggers.  What a nice way to spread bloggy cheer and encourage support between fellow bloggers.  AND, what a great way to learn about others' stories, inspiration and what we all want more of:  RECIPES!

I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this wonderful award.  Thank you, Allie, from the bottom of my big fat grain free heart. 

Reading about the paths that others have forged in educating themselves, planning and preparing gut-friendly foods for themselves and their families has been such an encouragement to me to "keep on keepin' on".  I have to admit, it's difficult sometimes.  It takes time to plan and prepare foods for specific dietary needs, to resist buying prepackaged foods for quick meals, to think of more ways to be creative with white navy beans...BUT the rewards are priceless. 

The five blogs I've nominated for the Liebster Blog Award are listed below.  Please check out these creative and inspiring bloggers.  You will be blessed and encouraged by doing so. 

For nominated bloggers:
Here's what to do if you choose to accept your nomination.
  1.  Link back to the person who awarded you.
  2.  Nominate five other blogs for the award.
  3.  Inform the five bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog.
  4.  Post the award on your blog.

Share the bloggy love!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pancakes (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

"Mommy, will you make pancakes for breakfast?"  I hear this request almost every Friday and Saturday (and some weekdays, too) from my kid-lings.  They've even been known to ask for pancakes at dinner time! 

Once we started eating grain free, I knew I had to come up with some sort of pancake recipe.  So I went to work.  (i.e. scoured the internet for ideas and then tweaked and tweaked to our liking...)  With blanched almond flour and eggs as the base, these pancakes are high in protein, unlike their traditional gluten-loaded cousins.  

I hope you enjoy!

Pancakes (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

3 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville Grain)
6 extra large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil 

Mix all ingredients (except ghee) in a blender or food processor until well combined.   

Heat griddle on low to medium low. (I've used both cast iron and stainless steel skillet - but prefer cast iron.)  Once skillet is heated, add ghee.  Then pour batter. When edges look dry and bubbly, flip carefully.

I've found it's better to cook these on low to medium low heat.  Cast iron retains heat very well.  I find I have to adjust the burner while cooking these - lowering, then maybe turning up a pinch.  If skillet is too hot, the outside will be overdone with a raw middle.  

It's really not as tricky as it seems...Enjoy!  This makes a lot!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eggnog (Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)

For me, eggnog is tied to childhood memories of Christmas.  My mom didn't allow us to have many sweets growing up, especially sugary drinks.  (But she did make up for it in pasta and bread.)  At Christmastime, however, I remember indulging in the sweet taste of cold eggnog (eggnog the drink and Baskin Robbins eggnog ice cream....mmmmmm).  I looked forward to it every year. 

This recipe is based on Alton Brown's Eggnog - which has received rave reviews from hundreds of home cooks.  I left out the bourbon, made it dairy free, and used coconut sugar (which has a lower glycemic index) in place of regular sugar.

Please note - there are raw egg yolks in this recipe- so consume at your own risk.  To lower the risk of salmonella contamination, I washed the eggs with soap and water and rinsed them well before using. (As one of Alton Brown's reviewers recommended.)  In addition, I used organic eggs from my local health food store which should also further reduce any risk.

I think we've found a new family tradition!  Speaking of family  traditions....I have to share this.  We (ok, I) decided it would be fun to string popcorn and cranberries for a make-our-own garland for the Christmas tree.  We made a fun night of it with family and friends.  We all had a great time and unanimously decided that we had found a new family tradition.
About a week-and-a-half later, my daughter discovered some uninvited guests....

Have a very merry Christmas everyone!  Look to the Christ - the Messiah "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  2 Corinthians 5:21 

Eggnog (dairy free, refined sugar free) 

8 jumbo egg yolks (or 10 large)
2/3 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 cups cashew milk
1 can full fat coconut milk, well shaken (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla 

honey (optional)

Zap the coconut sugar in a coffee grinder to make it a fine powder.

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg yolks until they turn a pale yellow.  Gradually add coconut sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved.  This is difficult to tell with coconut sugar.  I just whisked it for about 5 minutes or so.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Pour into container that can be shaken.  Refrigerate until very cold.

If you'd like your eggnog to be a little sweeter, you can add honey by tablespoons to taste.  Shake well before serving.

Here are more eggnog recipes to enjoy:
The Spunky Coconut's Eggnog (dairy free, refined sugar free)
Diet, Dessert and Dogs' Holiday Nog (egg free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, gluten free, vegan)
Elana's Pantry Vegan Eggnog

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken No-Noodle Soup (a/k/a Chicken Zoodle Soup)

What says "comfort food" when you're sick?  For me and mine, it's chicken noodle soup.  It has always been my children's favorite comfort food.

With our grain free lifestyle, noodles are out.  But, fear not!  They've been replaced by something healthier - something I call "zoodles" or zucchini noodles.  The first time I made them, my daughter happily exclaimed, "They don't even taste like zucchini!  They taste like real noodles!"

DOH!  No one around here appreciates whole foods cooking...nor my slaving in the kitchen.  Will someone please cue up the musical score from The Godfather while I wallow in self pity?

I first learned about these delicious "noodles" from one of my favorite bloggers, Lexie, from Lexie's Kitchen when I came across her recipe for Ginger Umeboshi Broth and Black Bean Noodles.

I've tried using spaghetti squash as a substitute for noodles.  However, though I adore squash in any and every variety, I prefer to grab zucchini when I want the taste of the sauce to shine through, not compete with the squashy flavor of "noodles".  (Example:  When I make my family's Italian meat sauce recipe - the real thang "meat swuace" - my daughter and I eat it atop zucchini "noodles".  Whoa Baby!)

I use this tool to make the noodles, but you can also use a vegetable peeler to make flat ribbons like fettuccini.  I personally prefer the spaghetti-like noodles because they don't stick together like the fettuccine kind, but that's just me. It's sooooo easy.  Enjoy! 

Chicken "Noodle" Soup or Chicken Zoodle Soup (grain free, gluten free, dairy free) 

1 recipe Delicious Chicken Stock (10-12 cups)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
4 medium to large zucchini, made into noodles
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked shredded or cubed chicken

Prepare zucchini:  to make noodles - trim and wash zucchini.  Holding the zucchini firmly in one hand, use the julienne tool to slice noodles down the length of the zucchini.  Stop when you get to the seedy part.  For ribbons:  do the same as above, only use a vegetable peeler to slice ribbons down the length of the zucchini.

Heat a stockpot on medium to medium high.  Add olive oil and then onion, carrots and celery.  Saute until starting to become soft.  Remove pot from heat and add garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Add chicken stock and bring to simmer.  Add zucchini noodles and cook until tender.  Finally, add chicken and just heat through.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

White Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage, Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini

 Zoup for You!

I'm a soup person.  It's healthy comfort food at its absolute best and quite simple to make.  In addition, soup has endless flavor combinations, so it works well for those of us who tire of the same thing over and over.  

My family (and an outside taste-tester) loved this soup.  I cooked the beans a day ahead and had them ready in my fridge, so it was easy to throw together for dinner. 

My kidlings do not prefer chunks of cooked tomato.  So, to please their picky palates I pureed the roasted tomatoes.  Feel free to chop them if you prefer.

We've hit a cold snap here in sunny Florida - a FRIGID 73F.  And so...it's time to make soup. 

White Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage, Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 pound Italian chicken sausage, casing removed (I buy Greenwise from Publix)
1 recipe Roasted Tomatoes, pureed
4 cups soaked and cooked white navy beans
8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 medium to large zucchini, diced
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil
Pecorino Romano (optional) 

Heat a stockpot to medium high.  Once hot, add olive oil and then carrots, celery and onion.  Saute until starting to get soft.  Next, add sausage, breaking it apart with wooden spoon.  Cook, stirring until sausage is cooked through.  

Remove pot from heat source and add minced garlic.  Stir for a few seconds.  Return to heat and then add pureed roasted tomatoes, navy beans and chicken broth.  Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Just before ready to serve, add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with ribbons of fresh basil and a spoonful of Pecorino and enjoy!  

(This soup is great leftover and can be frozen easily.)

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