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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Easy! Creamy Veggie Soup with Bacon {Grain-free, Low-carb}

Creamy Veggie Soup with Bacon

Creamy Veggie Soup with Bacon

My previous post was about how to make Cauliflower Cream for a soup base. Even if you aren’t a low-carber, getting more veggies into your lifestyle is likely a positive move, so I hope you give this a try!

Thick, creamy and healthy! Soup made with Cauliflower Cream

Thick, creamy and healthy! Soup made with Cauliflower Cream

The recipe below is just ONE of probably hundreds of possible combinations of ingredients for using the Cauliflower Cream soup base. I used the shredded veggies because they were on sale and free of preservatives, and saving time whenever possible has its own value! Feel free to modify, swap out, invent or otherwise make this recipe work for you! Clam or seafood chowder will be coming soon in my kitchen 🙂

 

 

Creamy Veggie Soup with Bacon and Ham

  • 1 recipe of Cauliflower Cream soup base (4-6C depending on size of cauliflower)
  • 1C diced bacon
  • one onion, diced
  • 1- 12oz bag mixed shredded veggies (broccoli hearts, cabbage and carrot)
  • 32oz container of chicken broth, or make your own stock to use
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 oz shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • crispy ham to garnish (optional)
  1. Prepare one recipe of Cauliflower Cream soup base and set aside.
  2. In a stock pot or dutch oven, Saute bacon until nearly crisp and fat is rendered.
  3. Add onions to bacon, cook and stir 3-5 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Add shredded vegetable mix and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
  5. Add broth to pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked.
  6. Carefully add Cauliflower Cream to pot and gently mix together, bringing the soup back up to temp.
  7. If using cheese, add it a little at a time, stirring after each addition to melt the cheese.
  8. Serve in bowls, topped with crispy ham if desired.
Adding onion to the cooked bacon and fat.

Adding onion to the cooked bacon and fat. 

Adding shredded veggies to pot.

Adding shredded veggies to pot. 

Adding Cauliflower Cream to pot after simmering.

Adding Cauliflower Cream to pot after simmering the veggies and broth.

After the Cauliflower Cream is mixed in, it becomes a rich cream soup!

After the Cauliflower Cream is mixed in, it becomes a rich cream soup!

 

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Cream Soup Base… (you won’t believe it’s made from cauliflower!)

Cauliflower Cream for soup or sauce

Cauliflower Cream for soup or sauce in the pitcher of my Ninja. Hopefully you can see the very SMOOTH texture in this pic!

I never thought I would see a day that I counted CAULIFLOWER among my favorite vegetables.. and yet here I am! It’s actually one of my staple grocery items now, and I don’t want to be without it any more than I want to be without nut butter (egads… )

The problem turns out not to be that cauliflower was “icky”, but rather I’d never had the occasion to really get to KNOW Cauli. Before going on Wheat Belly, giving up grains and also going low-carb, I had only my trusty (high-carb) root vegetables and starches to rely on to thicken or act as a base for other toppings. The healthy head of off-white, cruciferous abundance was something I usually avoided at the store! I knew it was good for me, but if I was going that route, I’d grab broccoli or cabbage way before I’d reach for Cauli. If I had only known…

So here is one of the methods that will show you why I hold it with such high regard in my kitchen, and hopefully it’s something that you will try as well.

In my house we LOVE soup! Broths, chowders, stews… especially as cold weather becomes the norm, warming up with a bowl of homemade goodness is a cherished tradition! Well, most cream-based soups rely on a rue of flour or an addition of cornstarch to make them thick and creamy. Not this one!

To make this cream soup base, you will need:

  • A high-powered blender or food processor 
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cleaned, center stalk removed
  • 1/2C heavy cream
  • 1/2C cream cheese, softened 
  • Add-ins are optional and include shredded cheese,
    roasted garlic or other seasonings
  1. The first step is to steam the cauliflower on the stove top in a few inches of water. I use a covered stockpot because it’s easiest for me. I usually let it steam for 20 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is VERY soft. When it’s done cooking, strain it and let as much water drain out as possible. (Getting the cauliflower soft enough is essential to this method working.)
  2. Transfer cooked cauliflower to a high speed blender (I use my Ninja) or food processor. If your cauliflower is large or your bowl is small, you may have to do this in more than one batch. (This works with freshly steamed cauli, as well as with some that has been refrigerated for a few days.)
  3. Blend cauliflower until SMOOTH, adding 1/2C heavy cream as you go. (When I say smooth, I mean almost as smooth as pudding… like you can’t believe it’s actually cauliflower, “smooth”)
  4. When you’ve blended it to the right consistency, add the softened cream cheese and continue processing until all the small pieces are blended in as well.  Makes about 6C

That’s IT! Really.
Now that you have this incredible, thick, smooth Cauliflower Cream, you can use it in conjunction with a wide variety of soup recipes such as the (Easy) Creamy Veggie Soup with Bacon that I will be posting next. If you have a very small head of cauli, you may need to halve the other ingredients. I’ve had a giant farm-market head the last few times I’ve made this, and the quantities above were ideal.

If you want to use this as a cheese sauce over veggies or meat, you can add grated cheddar (or whichever cheese you prefer) to the smooth mixture while it’s still hot, and process until creamy again.

Mixing the Cauliflower Cream into a broth with veggies and bacon

Mixing the Cauliflower Cream into a broth made with veggies and bacon.

The method for making this into a creamy soup is to saute any other ingredients you may be using for your soup (such as bacon or other meat and veggies); add about 32oz of broth; simmer until all ingredients are cooked; stir in the cauli-cream and grated cheese if you will be using any. Voila! Creamy, thick, low-carb soup that can hide an entire head of cauliflower 😀  I plan to use this base to make clam chowder in the very near future (alas not today as my son is not a fan of foods that come from water.) I’ve used a variety of add-ins and may post updates using this base in the future. Flexibility in the grain-free kitchen is key!
Oh, did I say “hide”?….. Well, yes, cauliflower is one of MY favorites, but it is NOT a fave of my son… so this is an excellent means of kitchen camouflage! I think just about anyone would be hard-pressed to identify this as being made from veggies, even those who turn up their noses at the mere thought! If this describes you, and you give this a try… I’d love to hear what you think! Who am I kidding, I always love to hear your feedback 🙂

 

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Guilt-free Chocolate! Brownie Nut Energy Bars {Grain-free, Low-carb}

Grain-free Brownie Nut Bars

Grain-free Brownie Nut Bars layered between parchment

These bars are a happy combination of deep chocolate flavor, a touch of saltiness and a blend of nuts and seeds. Perfect for a small, filling snack or to sate your craving for chocolate on a low-carb diet! They are mildly sweet, so if you prefer a stronger dose of sweetness, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. The nuts, eggs and flax help by providing natural dietary fat and protein, while the chocolate, coconut and seeds make it a satisfying treat. If you are missing one of the seeds or nuts, feel free to substitute or omit as desired.

Grain-free Brownie Nut Bars

Grain-free Brownie Nut Bars

 

Brownie Nut Bars {Grain-free, Low-carb}

  • 1C raw cashews blended with 1Tb coconut oil to make smooth cashew butter
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4Tb Truvia (or preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4tsp kosher salt
  • 4Tb Coconut oil (I used Nutiva virgin)
  • 1Tb vanilla

    Chopped chocolate chips

    Chopped chocolate chips

  • 2C almond flour
  • 1/2C golden flax meal
  • 1C flaked coconut, processed slightly
  • 1/2C walnuts, chopped
  • 2Tb chia seeds
  • 2Tb sesame seeds (I used white and black seeds)
  • 2Tb cocao nibs
  • 4Tb dark cocoa powder
  • 2/3C chocolate chips, coarsely ground
  • 1/3C Swerve (or preferred sweetener)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking dish (9″ by 13″) with parchment and butter lightly. Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix completely. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly until a sticky dough/batter is formed. Press into lined baking dish and distribute evenly. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips over top and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for a total of 20 minutes, turning once halfway through baking. Makes 32 brownie nut bars. Store in sealed container in refrigerator or wrap tightly and freeze.

Egg mixture and almond flour mixture

Egg mixture and almond flour mixture. The dry ingredients look a lot like DIRT! 🙂 

 

Combining wet and dry ingredients

Combining wet and dry ingredients

 

Pressing batter into parchment-lined pan

Pressing batter into parchment-lined pan. You can see the great texture from the seeds, nuts and coconut.

 

Brownie Nut Bars pulled from the pan whole, to cool.

Brownie Nut Bars pulled from the pan whole, to cool. Cashew Sandies in the upper left! 

Brownie Nut Bars, cut and ready to be stored.

Brownie Nut Bars, cut and ready to be stored.

 

 

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Cashew Sandies {Grain-free, Sugar-free, Egg and Dairy-free}

Grain-free Cashew Sandies

Grain-free Cashew Sandies

 

These Cashew Sandies are my take on a traditional Pecan Sandie that I often baked at the holidays. The cashews do a wonderful job of standing in for the sweetness of pecans in this recipe, and it’s a good thing I made them small, as they are quite rich! It’s a lightly sweet cookie, much like a shortbread.

There are times when recipes take lots of tweaking and fussing, and other times where they are the result of happy experimentation… this is the latter  😉  I was using lovely raw cashews to make cashew butter for a brownie recipe (that I will be posting soon), and after processing about a cup of raw cashews to the point of being finely ground, I added 1Tb of Nutiva coconut oil and continued to process until the mixture came together as a “nut butter”. One thing that I noticed right away, was that the texture of the cashew butter was smooth and very similar to the finished dough for pecan sandies… so I added a few more ingredients to add bulk, lift and flavor, and the following recipe is the result. I’ll be adding them to my holiday baking this year, and I hope you do too!

Note: I would normally sift powdered sugar over the top of a pecan sandie, but I didn’t have any powdered Swerve or erythritol on hand, so I just sprinkled a little granulated Swerve on top. Next time I make them, they will definitely look more festive!

Cashew Sandies

  • 1C raw cashews finely ground into nut butter
    with 1Tb coconut oil added for smoothness
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3Tb Swerve sweetener (or your choice to taste) plus more for sprinkling
  • 4Tb almond flour
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1Tb Nutiva virgin coconut oil (can use refined or butter in its place)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a food processor, combine all ingredients until a soft dough forms. (I made the cashew butter in the food processor and then added the remaining ingredients.) Form into 1” balls, and flatten slightly on baking parchment. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to brown delicately at the edges (I turn pan once during baking.) Remove to a rack to cool. Sprinkle sweetener over the top or sift with powdered sweetener. Do not try to lift cookies from parchment until they have cooled and become more sturdy. Makes about 24 cookies.

Cashew butter made from raw cashews and coconut oil

Cashew butter made from raw cashews and coconut oil.

Slightly flattened 1" balls on baking parchment

Slightly flattened 1″ balls on baking parchment

Cooled and delicious Cashew Sandies

Cooled and delicious Cashew Sandies

Cashew Sandies: Perfect after-school treat for my hungry teen!

Cashew Sandies: Perfect after-school treat for my hungry teen!

 

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Painfree and Painting Again!

Dear Readers and Supporters:

I just wanted to write an apology post to all of my wonderful followers (and to those whose blogs I follow and enjoy), to say that I’m sorry for being so quiet recently! I appreciate all of those who read and comment, and sincerely hope that you do continue to find value here in these pages, as I look forward to seeing what you have been up to in your kitchens and lives as well.

There are times when work and family just get too hectic for my mind to find the space to write here, even though it’s always in my thoughts (and in piles of ingredient notes in my kitchen from experiments!) I was working against an October deadline for some graphic work that pretty much consumed my energy on the computer, along with preparing for some remodeling projects around the home that now look like they will have to wait until Spring has Sprung… oh well! Can’t do it all at once  😉

Hand-painted distressed armoire

Hand-painted distressed armoire

That’s all wrapped up for now, and I have some other art projects on the horizon that promise to be interesting as well, as I venture back into painting murals and furniture again! I am sure that many of you are unaware that I was a decorative painter for more than 15 years, as I took a break the past few years mainly due to severe joint pain that seemed to get worse by the day. I actually went back to school and received a degree in Graphics/Digital Media Design because it interested me, and I felt that I needed to choose a new career that wasn’t so physical because climbing ladders and scaffold to paint walls and ceilings was completely overwhelming given the level of chronic pain I was experiencing!

Now, you may be guessing where I am going next… eliminating the wheat and grains over the past 6 months or so has changed my outlook and my ABILITY to work in a physical way! It was just a week into the Wheat Belly way of living that my joint pain was decreased by probably 80+%! No longer taking handfuls of Motrin every day or clenching my teeth and pushing through the painful haze, I feel like I did more than 15 years ago when I first started putting my designs on walls and furniture! It’s still amazing to me. Now, the pain isn’t chronic at all, and only shows itself when I actually physically stress my body. If I feel like accepting a commission to paint for a client, I now have that choice!

The inflammation from wheat was totally ruining the quality of my day-to-day life in the form of joint pain in my knees, hips, and sometimes my shoulders and elbows, in addition to having severe headaches 3-4 days a week, every week! Now that I am back up to par (without meds, thank you) it seems like there is so much catching up to do, and avenues to explore! But don’t fret, this blog remains one of the important things in my life that I am passionate about 🙂 Spreading the word about the grain-free lifestyle and helping others be able to pull it off in their own kitchens is very rewarding to me.

Hopefully you will indulge me if I post a picture here or there and let you know what I’m doing on a creative front in addition to posting recipes! A well-rounded life is much more achievable when our bodies are running clean and healthy!

 

 

I’d be interested to know what YOU are enjoying in life again (or newly enjoying) because you found renewed health by going wheat-free…. Feel free to post it in comments!

Yours in Health!
~ Gretchen

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Article, Thankfulness

 

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