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I make these crackers often but didn’t get to writing a post about them until I was reminded by a recipe from Elana’s Pantry, which she drew from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Cookbook.  I have both the Primal Blueprint and the Cookbook and they have really helped to change my diet for the better.  Elana’s blog also has a ton of tasty and easy recipes that are geared toward those seeking low-carb, gluten-free and whole foods and it’s a site I visit often. 

So back to the crackers…  These little crunchies can be adapted a million ways.  Season them however you like with whatever you have on hand and chances are they will taste great.  I really enjoy using “21 Seasoning Salute” that can be found in the spice section at Trader Joe’s and sprinkle it on all kinds of stuff.  It doesn’t contain salt so I use it pretty liberally.  Fresh herbs can also be used, just add a larger quantity.  This recipe work well using either blanched almond flour (fine grain without the almond skin) or almond meal (coarser grain with skin).   My version contains flax meal but you can easily use all almond if you choose. 

Savory Herb Crackers

1 cup almond flour/meal

1 cup flax meal

1 – 1.5 teaspoon sea salt (I prefer mine saltier)

2 – 3 tablespoons 21 Seasoning Salute (or substitute any other dry herb)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or melted coconut oil or butter)

2 tablespoons water

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
  3. Roll dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness between 2 silicone baking sheet or pieces of parchment.
  4. Score dough into 2 inch squares.
  5. Place baking sheet on cookie tray and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. 
  6. Let cool completely before breaking crackers apart.

These crackers are a staple in my house.  My daughter knows exactly where they’re stored and is always reaching for them with her chubby little hands.  I feel good giving them to her instead of those unnaturally orange fishies that other toddlers at the playground get.

What crunchy snacks do you crave?

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One of the best kitchen gadgets ever invented is the slow cooker.  It has helped me to prepare countless meals with minimal effort it’s almost ridiculous.  It is the perfect tool for primal cooking because it really showcases the quality and flavor of the ingredients.  In this case, the star ingredient is the pork.  When you use a good piece of meat, very little else is required for the flavors to shine through.  If you choose to season it, almost any type will do – dry rubs, herbs, or the stand by salt and pepper.  I used a pork shoulder roast that had a good layer of fat intact and, boy, was that yummy. 

With slow cooking, time is your friend.  And for a busy mom, passive cooking time is the best kind.  Just turn it on and walk away.  Walk towards that pile of laundry, or dirty diaper pail, or the screaming kid on the floor, or the the hungry cat and dog that have been staring you down since the night before.   

Easy Pulled Pork

1 organic, pastured pork shoulder roast, 3 to 4 pounds

3 – 4 tablespoons dry rub mix (I used paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, coconut sugar, salt & pepper)

  1. Start with the roast that has been pat dry.  Rub seasoning mix to coat.
  2. Place roast in slow cooker with the fat on top.
  3. Cook roast on low for at least 8 to 10 hours. 

The resulting dish is tender, juicy, and unctuous with all that sticky, flavorful fat.  The pork creates all the liquid it will cook in and there is enough meat for plenty of meals.  We have had it with grilled veggies for dinner and the leftovers were eaten with some barbeque sauce in pulled pork sandwhiches.  I also add it to eggs and top with salsa for a tasty, filling breakfast.

I love chocolate.  And I love cake.  And thanks to a clever recipe I found, I can have a grain-free version.  I have made these a few times now and each time I’ve tried these on gluten-lovin’ taste testers, they have no idea that the cupcakes are grain-free.  What’s more is that they are really surprised to learn what the secret ingredient is. 

Beans.  Yep.

This recipe is adapted from one on The Spunky Coconut.  Thanks Kelly!

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (I used garbanzo)

6 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 ounces dark chocolate (about half of a chocolate bar, 85% cocoa)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Puree beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey together.
  3. Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate.  Add to other wet ingredients and blend.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend again. 
  5. Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes.

These were enjoyed all on their own, without adornment, but I am definitely looking for a good chocolate frosting recipe to pair with the cupcakes for the next special occasion.  Since they contain beans, these little cakes are not primal.  But if you’re a fan of Mark’s Daily Apple, you are well aware of the 80/20 principle.  So here’s to the 20!

Before we had the baby, I kept a great vegetable garden.  There was a variety of produce that could satisfy any salad bowl or soup pot: lettuces, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, chili peppers, peas, eggplant, zucchini, herbs, cauliflower and, of course, tomatoes.  I was very proud.  Now with a child, I still have a garden but it’s very neglected.  I don’t get out to visit my veggies much and I’ve delegated all the watering and most of the picking to my husband.  Looking out of the kitchen to the yard, I spy a pitiful group of gangly looking tomato plants.  The basil and chives have gone to seed and are a gnarly sight.  The cukes are long gone from when my husband pulled the plug on them.

Even so, my heirloom tomato plants are bearing us more fruit than I can rightfully expect.  I’m not canning tomato sauce or anything but there’s enough of a supply to keep our plates full.  I planted a few varieties this year – Black Krum, Paul Robeson, Anna Russian, Snow White, and Yellow Pear.  I prefer heirloom tomatoes because they are colorful, juicy and flavorful.  They taste real.

The Black Krums, slightly smaller than a golf ball, are the stars of this simple salad.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 2

12 Black Krum tomatoes (or other small variety), cut in half

1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded

5 – 6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (fancy word for rolling the leaves and slicing thinly, now you know)

1 – 2 tablespoons balsalmic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Cut the cucmber into same size as tomatoes.
  2. Toss all ingredients together and plate.

Growing your own vegetables is a great way to get fresh, organic food in your diet.  It’s inexpensive and can provide a great workout.  I love sitting down to a homemade meal knowing that the food came from my own land (or 4 x 4 planter, but whatever).  Try it and see what wonderful things you can grow.

(Thanks to AW for letting me borrow the D60 :).  I finally figured out how to turn the thing on and shoot.)

We haven’t seen too many hot days this summer so it wasn’t until this week, when we’re supposed to have a mini-heat wave, that I really needed something cold and refreshing.  I have always wanted to try an aqua fresca as they look so yummy but didn’t want to be downing all that sugar.  So here’s my version of it.

Cantaloupe & Mint Agua Fresca

Serves 3

3 cups cantaloupe, chopped

3 – 4 fresh mint leaves

1 lime, juiced

1 1/2 cups water

1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

ice

  1. Put all the ingredients except the ice in the blender and turn it on.
  2. Pour over a tall glass of ice. 
  3. Slurp it down!

A traditional auga fresca is strained of any fruit pulp so that the liquid is clear but I skipped that step because I didn’t want to bother.  Plus, I would have missed out on all that fruity fiber.  I really like the mint and melon combination and the lime juice gives it a little bit of tartness.  And there’s no added sugar!  My daughter sucked down her cup and then moved onto mine. 

Oh, well.

To aqdequately describe these cookies, I should probably rename them “chocolaty crack” because I cannot stop eating them.  They are addicting.  So much so that when I tasted the original raw cookie version I bought from Whole Foods, I just had to reproduce them.  That and I can’t justify paying the $5 price tag every time I want a cookie.

Because the original version is raw, it wasn’t too hard to figure this recipe out.  Since I am not opposed to cooking my food, I baked the crackers because that was the quickest way to get a finished product.  I could try putting it in the dehydrator next time but I am an instant-gratification kind of gal so that’s not high on the list right now.  These crackers are coconutty, sesame seedy and cocoa-licious. 

Here is the list of ingredients, and my inspiration, from the store bought, raw cookies: Organic Coconut (Unsulphured), Sprouted Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Date, Raw Organic Agave Nectar, Raw Organic Cacao

Chocolaty Crackers

3/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Puree the dates and maple syrup in food processor until a paste forms.  If needed, add a few drops of water to get it going.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the dough comes together.  Alternatively, fold everything in by hand.
  4. Roll dough in between two pieces of silpat or parchment paper to 1/8 inch and cut into bite-sized squares or use cookie cutters. 
  5. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until crackers feel dry to the touch.  Crackers will continue to crisp up as they cool on the sheet.

This chocolaty crack never lasts more than a day so I’m not sure what their true shelf life would be.  They can get a little soft and chewy the next day so if that happens, either pop them in the oven for a few minutes or enjoy the different texture.

UPDATED 09/21/10:  I made a minor adjustment to the recipe to increase the toastability of the bread.  The previous version seemed a bit too moist to get a crisper toast.  Let me know what you think.

Probably one of the most asked questions people have when they hear that you’ve completely given up grains is, “But what about bread?!”  And, truthfully, that is the one thing that kept me from making the grain-free leap.  I love bread.  It’s the perfect vehicle for another favorite food – butter!  My husband knows this well and always slathers a big chunk of butter on my toast, making sure to smear every inch of the bread, right up to the edge of the corners with it.  Mmm…

Anyways, I’m getting off track.  I ate Ezekiel bread for years before I eliminated all grains.  Luckily, the grain-free, gluten-free community is an ingenius bunch and have come up with some super tasty alternatives to a carb-loaded wheat bread.  I adapted this recipe from one out of Bruce Fife’s Cooking with Coconut Flour: A Delicious Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Alternative to Wheat.  I tweaked the recipe for coconut bread because it seemed a little dry to me, even when slathered with butter.  Also, it can be quite crumbly as coconut flour doesn’t have same the structure that a wheat flour gives.  I’ve made it over a dozen times now and feel like I’m pretty close to a good, all-around bread that holds its shape well and works for either toasting or sandwich making.  The flax lends a different texture and helps to bind the bread without having to use any gums or more eggs.

Coconut Flax Bread

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 cup flax seed, ground

1 /2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

5 eggs 4 eggs

1/4 coconut oil

1/4 cup kefir or yogurt 1/8 cup water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a small loaf pan (I use a glass pan that’s 7¾”L × 4½”W × 3″H, Anchor Hocking TrueSeal Food Storage Sets)
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat well.  Batter will be thick.
  5. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before slicing.

Since I’m using a smaller loaf pan, I cut it a little differently to get a decent sized slice.  Cut the bread in half cross wise then, standing each half on its cut end, slice the bread into desired thickness.  Simple.

Time for some toast!