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A recipe post, FINALLY!  As I promised earlier, here’s one of many recipes that I want to share.  My all time favorite cookie is oatmeal raisin and I think that this version is a pretty decent alternative.  It’s not grain free since it has quinoa in it but I think the quinoa lends more flavor than a boring oat.  I have been using a basic cookie recipe and changing the add-ins based on the flavor I want and this came out of that.  I will share the basic cookie dough recipe, and a chocolate chip version, in a future post.

 

 

Quinoa Raisin Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened (or coconut oil)

1 cup coconut sugar (or 1/2 cup coconut sugar, 1/2 up Zsweet)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups almond meal or blanched almond flour

1 cup quinoa flakes

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat well.
  6. Fold in raisins.
  7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before moving to cookie rack.

Compared to some of my other recipes, this uses more sweetener.  I have played around with both the amount of sweetener and the form.  I’ve tried more coconut sugar but it was way too sweet.  I’ve tried less and paired it with stevia and didn’t like that combo much either.  The flavor and sweetness were fine but the texture was not the same.  Of course, the raisins are plenty sweet themselves so the cookies will still turn out if you cut the sugar by one-third or half.  Another note is that this recipe works well with either blanched almond flour or natural almond meal.  I ran out of almond flour and have been using Trader Joe’s almond meal and they bake equally well.  If you play around with the recipe, let me know how it works out for you.

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Yogurt goes fast in our house.  It’s eaten for breakfast and snack, mixed into dips and dressings, and topped on chili and soups.  My favorite way of eating it is unsweetened Greek yogurt with berries and bananas or raisins and slice almonds.  The thing is Greek yogurt is more expensive than its runnier counter parts.  And most chain supermarkets don’t carry the full fat variety.  So it’s non-fat or low-fat yogurt mixed with some other gunky fat-replacer or stabilizer.  They also have lots of sugar.  After seeing AndreAnna’s yummy post on homemade yogurt at Life as A Plate, I figured I can make it myself, hopefully save some money and get a pretty decent product.

When searching for yogurt making methods, I had no luck finding one that didn’t require cooking the milk first.  All the recipes start with pasteurized milk which is followed by further cooking the milk.  Why?  I imagine it’s because you are killing off any unfriendly bacteria that may compete with or impede the friendly, yogurt-making kind, but no where does it say so in any of the recipes or blogs I found.  Even more curious is that all the buttermilk or sour cream instructions I dug up just have you mix the milk or cream with the starter and leave it at room temperature to culture.  I totally get why you’d need to heat the milk if you were using raw milk since it has yeasts and other organisms not found in pasteurized milk.  I tried using raw milk, without cooking it, and I don’t recommend it.  It turned out more like kefir and a bit cheesy.

There are two reasons I don’t want to cook the milk, the most important of which is I don’t want to go through the extra step.  I’m on a path to simplify.  The other reason is I don’t see the need for it.  I’m already buying pasteurized milk and there is no fooling around with it between the time I open the carton to the time it meets the other ingredients, so I am not worried about contamination.  I was determined to skip straight to the culturing part and see what happens.  The worst is the milk doesn’t magically turn into yogurt or it smells funky and I won’t do it again.  But that didn’t happen.  I made perfectly good yogurt with the first batch and every one after that (well, except for the kefiry batch).

There are several methods for preparing your own yogurt and they all require time and a warm place.  That can be done with a heating pad, an insulated cooler, a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, a warm oven or a dehydrator.  I have a dehydrator so I opted for that which is a very good thing because it has a setting for yogurt.  If I had to guess at the right temperature, my first batch either would have still been milk or probably baked.

No-Cook Yogurt

2 cups organic, pasteurized milk

1/2 to 1 cup organic heavy cream

1/4 to 1/2 cup starter yogurt (purchased or from a previous batch)

  1. Mix milk, cream and starter yogurt together in a bowl.
  2. Cover and place in a dehydrator or warm place (105  to 115 degrees F) for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Chill yogurt in refrigerator to set up, a few hours to overnight.
  4. Strain yogurt using a paper towel or cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl.  The whey will drain out.
  5. Transfer yogurt to air tight container once it reaches the desired thickness.  Keep in refrigerator for up to a week.

I have made this so many times now that I don’t even bother to measure anything out.  I make the biggest batch that will fit in the dehydrator and just eyeball the ingredients.  Feel free to adjust the ratio of milk to cream or omit the cream all together if you don’t mind a thinner yogurt.  This unsweetened version is a blank canvas for all kinds of mix-ins: honey, jam, fresh fruit, granola, and more.  My daughter loves tart yogurt and doesn’t need any sweetener to enjoy it.  How will you eat it?

It’s a Sunday afternoon, my daughter is napping, and I’m sipping a cold drink and munching on chips and salsa.  Life is good.

In my nectarine salsa post, I mentioned that I was working on improving a flax chip recipe and I think I did it.  Previous attempts at making a flax-based chip, like this one, although low-carb and grain-free, resulted in a flimsy chip that didn’t stand up well to a heavier dip.  The chip would break apart in mid dip leaving the piece to get soggy and muddy the rest of the salsa or dip.  The taste and texture also left something to be desired.  For the flavor, I messed around with this recipe but it still wasn’t what I was aiming for.  I wanted a chip that wasn’t bland but neutral enough to pair with any type of dip.  The recipe also had to be quick and easy to make since I would be making it often and I’m short on time.  After much tinkering, I made one simple addition and it was the one I needed – almond butter.  The almond butter provides some much needed body and integrity while still letting it be light and crunchy enough to be a chip and not a cracker.

So without further ado, here it is.

Better Than A Corn Chip

Makes two cookie sheets worth

1 cup ground flax seeds

1 cup water

1/2 cup almond butter (I use salted)

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.  Mixture will look and feel gelatinous.
  3. Spread mixture on a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes then flip the whole thing and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Chip will look dry when done.
  5. Cool completely before breaking into smaller pieces.

Since the chip mixture needs to be spread onto the cookie sheet, it doesn’t lend well to scoring before baking so I just break it apart after it’s done.  I like the more rustic and organic feel of it anyhow.  For a raw version, this chip can be dehydrated as well.  Like a corn chip, I like this to be salted only, but you can season it however you fancy.

So there you have it, easy peasy flax chips that are ready for dipping.  Enjoy!

I was so excited when I found Girl Gone Primal’s granola.  It meant that I would be eating cereal again.  More importantly, my husband would be eating cereal again.  When it comes to breakfast, my husband has to eat the second he rises from bed.  Naturally, cold cereal was his go-to food, until I had to go all primal on his diet.  But hooray for grainless granola!  This is super easy to whip up and many a family member has requested this tasty cereal/snack.  No one seems to miss the oats.

Nutty Granola

Makes 9 – 10 cups

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup cashews, chopped

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 cup pepitas

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisins

1 cup banana chips, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Whip egg whites until frothy, then mix in maple syrup and vanilla.
  3. Toss nuts with cinnamon and salt.
  4. Combine egg mixture and nuts and coat thoroughly.
  5. Spread nuts on 2 lined cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely then break apart.  Add the raisins and banana chips.
  7. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

The ingredients I have listed are the ones I use the most, but I have also made the granola with pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, shredded coconut, dried cranberries and blueberries.  The possibilities for add-ins are limitless.  You can also adjust the amount of sweetness if you use a lot more of the dried fruits.  For an eggless version, dates pureed with a bit of water can be used to bind the nuts but it will require a longer cooking time.

This is a quick breakfast alternative to bacon and eggs and will satisfy the craving for something crunchy in milk.  Truthfully, though, I like it best by the handful.  And, sometimes, when no one else is looking, I’ll throw in some dark chocolate pieces and call it desert.

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?

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.