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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sundried Tomato Basil Crackers with Almond Flour

Sundried Tomato Basil Almond Flour Crackers.

We haven’t had almond flour crackers in a while, so today I was thinking that I wanted to experiment with a different flavor combination. What came to mind was sundried tomato and basil, which is a classic pairing that we used to enjoy when we made home made bread (I know, I know… banish the thought!) The result was delicious! I also included homemade gomasio (sesame salt), since I just made a batch earlier today. This is a slightly chewier cracker than the ones I have done before that include shredded cheese, but very tasty and satisfying. They are super simple to make, I hope you enjoy!

Combine all ingredients in food processor.

 

Place dough between sheets of parchment, and roll out to 1/8″ thick

Cut into shapes, sprinkle with gomasio and bake per recipe instructions.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Don’t they look yummy?!

Sundried Tomato Basil Almond Flour Crackers

  • 1 C almond flour
  • 1 Tb olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 2 Tb water
  • 1/4 C sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp gomasio (or 1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste)
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until the mixture comes together.
  3. Form dough into a ball and flatten between 2 sheets of baking parchment.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll dough evenly until about 1/8″ thick.
  5. Leaving the dough on the parchment, smooth out the jagged edges, and cut the crackers into squares or rectangles, whichever you prefer. (If desired, sprinkle with more gomasio before baking.)
  6. Gently separate crackers, keeping them on the bottom parchment, and bake for about 6 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, carefully turn each cracker over, and put back in oven for an additional 4-6 minutes. Watch crackers carefully, as almond flour can burn easily.
  8. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Serve with cheese or toppings of your choice. We used extra sharp white cheddar today.

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Making Gomasio {Sesame Salt}

Gomasio

One of the beautiful things about the world of blogging is that we are in an atmosphere of sharing and learning. While some of my foodie counterparts are grain free, low carb and some are not, there is much to be learned all the way around when paying attention to other writers. Recently, I saw a post by the talented Julie Minten on her blog, Grano Salis, talking about home made gomasio. Hmmmm… I had no idea what gomasio was before that, not to mention that one could make it at home!

So that post of hers sparked an interest and I began investigating more about gomasio and why I might want to attempt to make a batch! It turns out that it is sesame salt, a condiment that is wonderfully flavorful while providing the health benefits of sesame seeds. It is an essential seasoning in macrobiotic diets, and allows one to use less salt while adding flavor.

I have a collection of mortars and pestles, but this is the largest and heaviest, which is perfect for this task.

According to an article by Harold Kulungian, gomasio has medicinal powers that include soothing digestion, adding energy, help in healing inflammatory disorders, and possibly even help with cancer and diabetes. He goes on to talk about how gomasio de-acidifies the blood which leads to more balanced health. His article also provides a recipe if you are interested in checking it out. One of the biggest keys is making sure to grind it by hand, not using a blender. He uses a suribachi (Japanese wooden, grooved mortar and pestle.) Gomasio is also featured in blogs that promote health and beauty, such as at Beauty is Wellness, where Jolene Hart talks about the health and beauty benefits of gomasio made with added seaweed.

After digging around, I was convinced that it would be worth the effort to make my own, and I also decided that I wanted to include some seaweed flakes in half of the batch. I have a nice amount of both white and black sesame seeds on hand as I picked some up recently at our bulk food store. I have sea salt as well as some earth salt that I wanted to include. While it did take awhile to crush by hand in the mortar and pestle, it is delicious and I know I will be keeping a supply on hand from now on! This is my own version, and it varies in salt content from some other recipes I found, but the salt I used seemed milder than usual, so I adjusted. (Scroll down past the images to see the entire recipe.)

Roasting the salts, getting all the moisture out in preparation for grinding with the mortar and pestle.

Toasting the sesame seeds to crisp them slightly and activate the oils. Do not over cook or burn, just get them to the point of crunching when squeezed.

Beginning to grind the sesame seeds and salt in my heavy mortar and pestle.

Grinding the seeds takes time. Be patient.

Grinding the seeds takes time. Be patient.

Finely chopping the seaweed sheets to add to a portion of the gomasio.

Gomasio {Sesame Salt}

  • 1 Tb sea salt (fine)
  • 1 Tb earth salt
  • 6 Tb white sesame seeds
  • 6 Tb black sesame seeds
  • 4 sheets (2″x3″) toasted seaweed (optional)
  1. Begin by roasting the salt over medium heat in a heavy skillet to remove moisture.
  2. Transfer to mortar and grind to a fine texture.
  3. Next, lower heat to medium/low and roast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently until they are lightly toasted and crunchy, but not dark.
  4. Carefully transfer to mortar with the salt and begin to grind in a gentle crushing motion to release the oils. Have patience, as grinding the seeds by hand will take some time. You may even want to consider this a sort of peaceful quiet or meditation time, just enjoying the process. It took me perhaps 20 minutes to get the consistency I desired, though you may prefer it finer.
  5. If you are not adding seaweed, you are done now, and can store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. I found conflicting opinions on whether the seasoning should be refrigerated or not; some said it spoiled in the fridge, others said the opposite. As I can tell already, I will be using this quickly enough that I am just storing it in the pantry with my other seasonings.
  6. If using seaweed sheets, you may want to toast them further in your same skillet, just be sure that they are dry and easy to chop.
  7. When toasted, transfer to a cutting board, and using a large, heavy knife, finely dice the sheets into small flakes and add to the gomasio. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Here, I have used gomasio on freshly sliced garden cucmbers. Delicious!

 

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Celebrate National Cheesecake Day and Blueberry Season with a Low Carb, Grain Free Treat!

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Cheesecake Bars with Blueberry Sauce

Blueberry Harvest

Happy National Cheesecake Day! Woohoooo!

OK, I honestly had no idea that there was such a day until I saw a few posts about it this morning on Facebook πŸ˜‰ but as luck would have it, I had already baked low carb cheesecake bars this morning to have when my parents come over for dinner this evening. My cheesecake was inspired not by a national day for decadent desserts, but rather by wanting to celebrate our bountiful blueberry harvest. My husband and son and I went picking this past Saturday, and since the weather was so perfect (75, sunny and breezy) we ended up with 20 pounds of berries before we realized it!

This is an easy-peasy recipe. I promise.

I start with the same almond flour crust that I used in the raspberry streusel bars and the frozen raspberry cheesecake bars. Then I added a layer of cheesecake batter that I zipped up in the food processor. Super simple. Add to that a blueberry topping that consists of a few cups of blueberries simmered down on the stove until they thicken up, and sweetened with a couple tablespoons of erythritol. Delish!

Low-Carb Cheesecake Bars with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Crust Layer:

  • Cheesecake out of the oven2C blanched almond flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2T butter (or coconut oil )
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1T water
  • 1 tsp Truvia or other sweetener

Make the crust: blend all crust ingredients together in a food processor. Line a 9β€³ by 9β€³ baking dish with parchment and press crust mixture firmly into pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 (I turn my pan halfway through baking.) Remove from oven and set aside.

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 12oz cream cheese, softened (1 1/2 packages)
  • 1/2C sour cream
  • 1T vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4Tb erythritol
  • Zest of one lemon

Make cheesecake filling: In a stand mixer or food processor, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and beat to combine. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla, zest and erythritol and beat (on medium) until well-combined, but not whipped. Pour over crust and smooth out. Bake for 20 minutes, I turned pan halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. Remove and let cool completely. 12 servings, Less than 4 carbs per piece before adding topping.

Cut into serving size pieces and top with your choice of low carb toppings or just have plain.

Topped with fresh blueberry sauce

Blueberry Sauce

The blueberry sauce was made by simmering 2 C of fresh blueberries for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and syrupy. I then stirred in about 2 Tb of erythritol to add a little sweetness. Cool and spoon over cheesecake bars to serve.

 

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“Candy Onion” French Onion Soup and {Grain Free} Flaxseed Meal Croutons

One of the things that we’ve always done, but that we enjoy even more now that we are low carb, is our Saturday morning trip to the Farmer’s Market in our small rural Michigan town. There are always such wonderful choices and sometimes there will be unexpected things to try among the fresh red tomatoes, green cukes, purple cabbages and farm fresh eggs. This week I bought a giant “Candy” onion. These things are just HUGE!! Seriously, it was *bigger* than a softball (unfortunately I forgot to take a pic first, but I did find one online at Jungseed.com just to show you the size. You can order seeds if you would like to grow your own!) It was so beautiful that paying $1.50 for one didn’t seem outrageous. From the second I hefted it into a bag, I knew that it was destined to become French onion soup, mmmm!

Since you all know that we are grain free, you may be wondering how I’ll pull off a REAL and indulgent French onion soup without including toasted French bread or croutons to hold up all that gooey cheese. Well, I wondered too! So, I decided to make a bread from ground flax seeds. It’s sort of foccacia style, more flat than a regular loaf of bread. After baking it up, I cubed some of it, spread it out onto a baking sheet with a little olive oil and garlic salt and toasted it up some into faux-croutons. I knew that it would make a bowl of soup even more filling than usual, but the flax meal (and coconut oil) in the bread are such healthy alternatives that I was excited to give it a try.

I am including the recipe for the soup I made as well as the flax bread. There are so many varieties of onion soup out there, and I have tried a lot of them… that I now just go with what I have on hand to determine the types of onion and whether I use red wine (I used Chuck’s Hard Cider instead today.) I usually include at least one variety of sweet onion, such as a Vidalia, and also sometimes use red onions or even jarred cocktail onions to mix things up a bit. This time I used just the Candy onion along with a hefty dose of garlic for flavor and all the wonderful health benefits. I hope that you are able to find a Candy Onion so you can try this version, but I think that most of the French Onion Soup recipes out there are naturally grain-free except for a few that might include some flour, which can easily be omitted. The choice of cheese is up to you, but we have used provolone as well as Swiss…. however, this time it was yogurt cheese that we purchase at the local bulk food store, which was very mild.

“Candy Onion” French Onion Soup

  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1 giant candy onion sliced into 1/4″ rings (or 4 medium onions)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 Tb Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tb Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C Chuck’s Hard Cider (or red wine)
  • 1 Tb dried parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, tied
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Croutons and cheese if desired

In a stock pan over medium/low heat, melt the butter and slowly cook the onions, garlic and salt until tender and almost gooey. This is best done slowly, stirring frequently, for 30-40 minutes.

Add the broth, worchestershire, cider and herbs and simmer another 20 minutes or so. Add the vinegar and remove thyme and bay leaves. Serve in bowls with croutons and top with sliced cheese, melted under the broiler.

Candy Onion Soup

Flax Seed Bread (For Croutons)

  • 2 C ground flax seed
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb erythritol (or sweetener of choice)
  • 5 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/3 C coconut oil
  • 1 Tb dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine well using a whisk. Add eggs, water and oil, combining completely. Stir in seasonings. Let sit for a couple minutes to thicken slightly. Grease a baking pan with butter (I used a 9″ by 9″ stone baking dish.) Spread batter evenly and bake for about 20 minutes.

To make croutons: Cut bread into 1/2″ cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and add seasoning if desired (I used garlic salt.) Bake at 275 for another 20 minutes, stirring the pan occasionally to dry them more evenly. Because the egg content is so high, these will not be the dried out and hard croutons that you might be used to, but they will work well for holding up the cheese on the French Onion soup.

 

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A New Gadget and Grain Free, Low Carb Zucchini Au Gratin

I am sure you know what time it is… ZUCCHINI TIME!

Whether you have a garden, have a friend with a garden, or merely have your eyes open at the Farmer’s Market, there is no avoiding zucchini! And to be fair, who would want to?! It’s plentiful, healthy, tasty and pairs very well with many other foods. Heck, it even mimics other foods at times, as anyone who has had a Mock Apple Pie can attest. This recipe though, is just zucchini being, well, zucchini! I wanted a different way to prepare one of our favorite summertime veggies, and I also wanted to try out my new kitchen gadget.

Gefu Spirelli Slicer

As my fellow WB’ers have been ranting about the Gefu Spirelli, I figured it was time to cave in and give it a whirl. I am not as easily converted to gadgetry as many home chefs I know, but I will acknowledge that some are useful or simply fun. This one is a bit of both. At $29.99 (with free shipping) it wasn’t overly cheap, but it also didn’t break the bank. The purpose of the Spirelli is to transform your vegetables into ribbony strands suitable for replacing pasta, making salads, or just garnishing platters of yummy foods. My main objective was to turn zucchini into a replacement for spaghetti squash, which in itself was a replacement of a carb-frantic staple (ahem, pasta) that I no longer keep in my kitchen! Overall, I am pleased with my new purchase, though I do wish there was a way to feed that last couple inches of remaining veggie into the gizmo, as I didn’t like having to set it aside or finish it by hand with a knife. I do like it though, and look forward to more concoctions that make use of it.

After I had turned a few of my garden gems into a pile of stringed zucchini, I realized I had better figure out what to make of it πŸ˜‰ I already had baked chicken in the works, so I didn’t have a need for faux pasta. Since I always have an abundance of cheese on hand, I figured that an au gratin would be a good side dish. I will admit, I didn’t tweak this recipe, make it 5 times, or do anything else so lofty, I just threw some ingredients together and it came out delicious. In fact, with a pan that was big enough that we should have had leftovers… we didn’t.

The hard part is recalling exactly what I did… ooops! Well, this is the recipe as closely as I can recall. But please don’t shoot me if you try it and it’s imperfect, though I suspect there is reasonable room for error. The coconut flour I added with the thought that zucchini usually releases quite a bit of liquid… and most of us know that coconut flour is the most liquid-absorbing ingredient in our grain-free pantries! It worked very well.

Zucchini Au Gratin- Grain Free, Low Carb

  • 3-4 C shredded or julienned zucchini
  • 1 C milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/4 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 1/2 C shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 1/4 C shredded cheese (for top)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 Tb coconut flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

My oven was already heated to 400 degrees from roasting chicken, so that is what I used.
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk and cream. Stir in garlic and cheese (saving the 1/4 C for the top.) Stir in the coconut flour, being sure it breaks up completely. Stir in the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and pour into the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and it appears to be done.

 

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Pizza: Cheese-Crusted, Gluten-free, Grain-free!

Now, if you are not a low-carber, you may want to avert your eyes…

No really, do it now. I’ll wait.

If you are still reading, I am going to assume that a pizza crust made with 3 kinds of cheese, eggs, and no flour is RIGHT up your alley! I will admit that while I am 99% grain free (other than an occasional delectable sushi roll, oops) even I was feeling a little guilty with this cheesy indulgence, but it sure was good!

Many of you have either found me through my posts on the Wheat Belly blog or Facebook page, and even if you found me through the wonderful world of food and health blogging, you likely know how enthusiastic I am about the wheat free lifestyle! One of the cool things about being part of a thriving Wheat Belly (WB) community online is that everyone is more than happy to share their experiences, advice and recipe tips! In a recent post, after I suggested the Socca Pizza crust with Garbanzo flour, a fellow WB’er shared her favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe (which is veryyyy low carb), and I gave it a whirl… YUMMO!

So, since one good turn deserves another, I am sharing the link to the original page HERE, at Gluten Free Easily, with pictures of a very classic-looking pepperoni pizza. I will definitely have to make this version when I have pepperoni on hand, but since I didn’t, I improvised with what I did have.

Here you see the crust ingredients spread into a parchment-lined pan.

Cooked up and ready to be decked out!

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

Wilted spinach and garlic.

Our Pizza toppings included: spinach sauteed with minced garlic, sauteed crimini mushrooms, left-over pork chop, thinly diced and crisped in a pan, and some crumbled feta cheese, along with the Organicville spaghetti sauce and some shredded mozzarella cheese mixed with chopped fresh basil.

Our first cheese crust pizza! Mushrooms on one half only πŸ˜‰

 

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Buffalo Chicken Salad {Low Carb, Grain Free}

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Last night we were looking for something to do with our leftover baked (GF) chicken from the previous evening, and we were in the mood for a salad. I also had some blue cheese on hand, so decided to make my easy blue cheese dressing, which led to this Buffalo Chicken Salad…

  • chopped greens (we used romaine and iceberg lettuce)
  • sliced fresh tomato
  • chopped cooked chicken tossed in a sauce made from 2Tb melted butter and 1/4C GF hotsauce
  • homemade blue cheese dressing
  • chopped celery

That’s it, super easy and delicious, as well as low carb!

 

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