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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Silver Dollar Pancakes with Cinnamon Fried Apples

I am still pretty obsessed with pumpkin flavors right now. Nothing screams fall to me like pumpkin! So, here is another pumpkin recipe for your cool and crisp fall mornings.

This time its a simple paleo pancake recipe. It has a slight pumpkin flavor and a really good texture. I whipped up a batch of these pancakes for J and I after I got home from the gym this morning. They are such a good breakfast because they are packed with protein, fiber, good fats, and lots of good things from the spices (cinnamon is so good for your body!) and the pumpkin.

I ate my pancakes with some pumpkin dip and these wonderful southern inspired cinnamon fried apples with pecans and coconut. J just wanted lots of butter on his pancakes and some fresh apples on the side.

The key to perfect paleo pancakes is to use a cast iron (or non-stick) skillet and let the pancakes cook longer than you would usually cook regular pancakes. They should cook about 4-6 minutes on the first side before flipping them.
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Paleo Pumpkin Spice Silver Dollar Pancakes
(original recipe here)

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut or almond milk (if your batter is a little too thick)
Whisk together the dry ingredients (coconut flour, almond meal, baking soda, spices and salt) until well combined.

In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (eggs, pumpkin puree, vinegar, and oil) until well combined. Add milk if needed. 

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and melt some coconut oil, bacon grease, or ghee in the bottom of the skillet. When the skillet is hot spoon small scoops (about a tablespoon) of the batter into the skillet. Leave these to cook about 4-6 minutes before flipping, do not flip too early or you will have broken and messy pancakes. When cooked on the first side flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown.

Cinnamon Fried Apples
  • 2 apples, cut into chunks (Granny Smith apples are wonderful for this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons organic butter or ghee
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and saute for about a minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and saute until caramelized. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Social Media Fast - How I stopped comparing and started CREATING

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest or is friends with me on Facebook will surely have noticed a lack of interaction over the past month. This is because I have been on a fast.

It all started with me complaining to my dear Hubby about the lack of time I had to do things that I wanted to do and that were fulfilling. Such as, sewing, crafting, decorating, baking, blogging, etc... Hubby challenged me to give up my "time wasters." He speculated that I was spending way more time than I realized gathering inspiration on Pinterest or catching up *cough*stalking*cough* with friends on Facebook.

I put off the challenge for a while (like months). I really didn't want to give up my addictions. I love looking at all the decorating, food and crafts people make and post on Pinterest. I also like feeling included and in the loop which I get from Facebook.

Truthfully I was doing a lot of "I'm feeling unfulfilled" complaining to my loving Hubs and he kept telling me that I needed to stop complaining and be proactive. I think I had gotten into a rut and was treading water right next to the dock, hoping someone would come along to rescue me when all along all I had to do was reach out to the ladder and pull myself out.

The hubby was pretty insistent that I should take a serious look at my time. He had read about a study on how social media can make people feel left out or like everyone is living awesome and fulfilling lives while we are living in our day to day boring existence. We see everyone's glamorous and fabulous lives and we forget that what we are seeing and reading is edited and Photoshopped. Not to say that our friends are lying to us over Facebook, but who is going to post something that makes them look boring and conventional.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” 
~Steve Furtick

Turns out the Hubs was right. Like really right. Like really REALLY right. Ugh! Hate it when that happens.

I was spending so much time "being inspired" by things that other people were doing that I didn't have time to create anything of my own. My time was literately being sucked away from me without me even noticing.

One of the stipulations I put in place for myself during this 30 days was that I would be very intentional with my time. I have a limited amount of focused time. That is, time that I am able to actually be working on something without being pulled on, cried at, or just generally distracted. Nap time is pretty much my only time without distractions. That's when I'm not focusing on my kids and can focus on myself for a short hour or two.

I knew that I wanted to used the time, that I was used to wasting, to do the things that I was feeling jipped of. So I made it a goal to be intentional with that nap time. Sometimes that was intentionally taking a nap myself, and sometimes that was blogging or working on a project. It truly is amazing how much better I felt about my life. Whatever it was that I chose to do with that hour or two was fine as long as it was what I was choosing to do. It was my time and I was going to choose  to do with it what I wanted. Making a choice was very important because it made me the owner of my time. I wasn't a slave to it, it was mine to do with as I chose.

I very quickly started getting more done. I get some sewing in. I got art up on the walls. I played with my kids more. My house was cleaner. I was inspired by everything around me. My kids watched less TV. I went to the gym more often. I did more thrifting. I finished a book. I wrote snail mail letters to friends. I was blogging more often. I even did some serious dreaming and soul searching. In essence I found my creativity and soul again. I can't even tell you how liberating this month was for me. I felt so alive! It was an incredible experience.

There have been so many times that I want to scream: "I WAS CREATIVE BEFORE PINTEREST!" and this fast helped me prove to myself the truth of that statement. I am a creative person. I have been given gifts of creativity and I don't want to waist them. I also don't want to compare my creativity or my life to other peoples', I am who I am and I am living the life I chose. I will be free and fulfilled in that life.

I would like to challenge anyone who is feeling like their creativity has been stripped, or is stuck in the mindset that everyone is living a cooler life that you, take some time off. Its just 30 days and you will be so invigorated and feel so alive!

If you take this fast on, I would love to hear about hoe it goes for you. I know it has made a huge difference in my life and I know it could do the same for you.


If you need more inspiration:
The Innovation of Loneliness (a video)
Melissa Joy - Stop Comparing Your Behind the Scenes with Everyone Else's Highlight Reel (a great blog post)
The New Rules of Resolutions Part 4  (a sermon by Pastor Steven Furtick)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Crispy, Spicy, Cheesy, Raw Kale Chips

Let me introduce you to the most addictive healthy snacks you will ever eat. 
Everyone, meet the kale chip. 

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Kale is one if those trendy greens, and for good reason! It's packed with good stuff! Low calories, calcium,  vitamins, minerals, and is supper yummy! (The Truth About Kale by WebMD)  There are tons of recipes floating around for using kale: smoothies, salads, boiled, etc... Kale chips are by far my favorite way to enjoy this "Queen of the Greens".

The Hubby and I have seriously gotten in spats over who ate the last of the kale chips. We have to divide them evenly so as not to risk our marriage, okay maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. These suckers are crazy mad good!


There are a few kale chips on the market and they are pretty good but a) they are not as good as this recipe; and b) they are really expensive.

These kale chips are pretty easy to make, fast (if you don't count the overnight dehydrating), and really cheap.

My mom ended up buying a dehydrator after my dad became addicted to my kale chips. She now makes them even more often than I do. As is her style with everything she cooks, she changes the recipe every time she makes them. She has done a salt and vinegar, various spice combinations, and her most common is tossing them in Todd's Dirt Seasoning

before dehydrating
As for me, I am too in love to venture outside of my original recipe. It's just too good! It's a little spicy, a little salty,  a little garlicky, a little smoky, a little tangy, and a little cheesy. Just the perfect amount of everything delicious! 

Apparently you can make kale chips in the oven if you don't have a dehydrator, but the one time I tried (I had loaned out my dehydrator) I burned the heck out of my kale. I would suggest just getting a dehydrator. They aren't that expensive and you can do so much with them! Dried fruit, granola, fruit leather, jerky, dried spices, etc... I have only used my dehydrator once for something other than kale chips, but it was defiantly one if the best wedding gifts we got! 

after dehydrating
If you are looking to save time you can get packages of pre-washed kale that has been cut into strips or bite-sized pieces in the bagged salad section of the grocery store. You can also use any and all kinds of kale, rainbow kale included.

I hardly ever measure anything when I'm making kale chips, so the recipe below is an estimation of measurements. You will need to adjust according to your tastes and to the amount of kale that is in the bunch that you bought. 
omg! doesn't that look so good?!?

Crispy, Spicy, Cheesy, Raw Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1 cup grated parmesan and remano cheese blend (or just parmesan)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup lemon juice (about)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (about)

Make sure your sink is clean and fill it with cold water. Rip the leaves of the kale off of the stems. Put the stems in the trash and the leaves in the skin full of water. Swish the leaves around in the water a little and then let them sit for about 30 minutes. This will wash the dirt off the leaves and the dirt will sink down to the bottom  of the sink while the leaves float.

While the leaves are soaking, mix the spices and grated cheese together and set aside.

After the leaves have sat for about 30 minutes scoop them out and lay on a towel to dry. Pat lightly with a towel to dry. This step is not entirely necessary, you could skip it if you don't have time. It does remove the excess water and allows the flavors to stick to the leaves.

Transfer some of the leaves to a big work bowl, doing this in batches is easier than trying to do them all at once. Drizzel some olive oil and lemon juice over the leaves. Sprinkle some of the cheese mixture over the leaves, don't skimp. Mix the leaves with the oil, juice and cheese mix, rubbing and massaging the leaves and mixing well. This is where the flavors get infused into the kale.

Transfer the kale to the dehydrator shelves, and spread out into one layer. Do this with the rest of the kale leaves.

Put the lid on your dehydrator and turn to 135F. Leave in the dehydrator 8-12 hours or overnight. The chips should be dry and crispy. Let cool and transfer to a air-tight container.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gluten-Free Vanilla Bean Blueberry Muffins

Every time I post a new gluten-free bread recipe, I mention how hard it is to find a recipe that doesn't end up tasting like a souffle. Most of the time they are just too eggy. And everyone knows how I feel about that.

These muffins are not eggy at all. They have a little bit of a spongy texture. Hubs was turned off by this (he is funny about that kind of thing), but everyone else loved them! They are so good warm from the oven with a cup of hot coffee (with coconut milk of course) on a chilly morning.

I am going to say that this recipe was inspired by the one on the back of the Mama's Almond Blend Flour bag, I ended up changing quite a but of the original recipe. I didn't have butter, so I used cream cheese. I wanted more vanilla flavor, so I added some ground vanilla beans from Williams Sonoma. Instead of a whole cup of granulated sugar, I used half coconut sugar and half granulated sugar. I think next time I might use just coconut sugar, no need to use white sugar if its not needed. I also didn't have any xanthan gum (that stuff is expensive!) so I used ground chia seeds. There are a few more changes I made to the recipe but I don't feel like listing them (lazy).

I used Mama's Almond Blend Flour, but I think the recipe should work with other gluten-free flour blends. I got Mama's on sale and this is the first time I have used it. It is mostly rice flour and for that reason I don't think I will purchase this flour again. I just have such a bad reaction to rice, my hands swell up and get all itchy, its just not worth it to me. But it is a great blend if you don't care about rice.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Bean Blueberry Muffins
(inspired by the recipe on the Mama's Almond Blend Flour bag)

2 cups Mama's Almond Blend Flour (or other gluten-free flour blend)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (or one vanilla bean split and scraped)
1/4 salt
1/2 cup cream cheese or butter or ghee, softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup yogurt (Greek or regular; vanilla or plain)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream, coconut milk, or whole milk
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line muffin tins with muffin cups or grease non-stick muffin tins.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, chia seeds, ground vanilla beans, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or with a wooden spoon) cream cream cheese and sugar. Stir in yogurt, egg and vanilla. Beat 1 minute on medium speed until well combined. Stop mixer and add half the flour mixture and cream. Mix on lowest speed for 10 seconds. Repeat with remaining flour. Remove mixing bowl. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin liners to the top with batter. Lightly sprinkle the sugar and vanilla bean mixture over the top of the muffin batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (20-22 minutes for mini muffins) or until the tops are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.