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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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Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffins {Grain free!}

Grain-Free Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffin with Cream Cheese Frosting

Grain-Free Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffin with Cream Cheese Frosting

 

These are moist, tender and full of flavor…
and best of all, no grain or gluten in sight!!!

Fall has officially begun, and the yearning for pumpkin flavored warm yummy goodness isn’t going to be derailed by our grain-free lifestyle! These pumpkin muffins are a cinch to make, and are a treat with a nice hot cup of coffee after spending the afternoon in the autumn sun, or on cool fall evenings. The maple extract is completely optional, but it added a nice depth of flavor to complement the pumpkin. The topping is also optional, but the slight crunch from the pecans was delicious.

Grain free pumpkin muffins fresh from the oven. A nice rise and crunchy topping make these hard to resist.

Grain free pumpkin muffins fresh from the oven. A nice rise and crunchy topping make these hard to resist.

 

After searching the net for grain-free pumpkin muffin recipes, I decided to take a bit from several and just give my own version a try. As luck would have it, these turned our great the first time around (AND the second!) My son can’t believe how delicious these taste, and at 4-5g net carbs per muffin, they are low-carb and Wheat Belly compliant!

Simply mix all ingredients together at once.

Simply mix all ingredients together at once.

Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffins

  • 2C almond flour
  • 2Tb coconut flour
  • 2/3C canned pumpkin (unsweetened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4C cashew butter (or almond butter)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or 1Tb pumpkin pie spice;
    omit cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg)
  • 3/4tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2tsp maple extract (optional)
  • 4Tb Swerve (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 20 drops liquid Stevia
  • 3Tb coconut oil (melted) or butter
  • 1Tb vanilla extract
  • 4-6Tb heavy cream
Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffins, au naturel!

Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffins, au naturel! So tender and moist.

Pecan Topping (optional):

  • 1/3C chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1-2 Tb butter, melted
  • 1Tb Swerve sweetener
  • pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Frosting (optional):

  • 4oz softened cream cheese
  • 1Tb Swerve
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3C heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 6 drops liquid Stevia

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and fill muffin liners.
  3. If desired, top with nut topping (mix all ingredients together.)
  4. Bake 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake another 10 minutes for a total of 25 minutes.
  5. Remove and allow to cool. If desired, top with butter, cream cheese frosting (fold together all ingredients) or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Grain-free Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffin

Grain-free Pumpkin Maple Spice Muffin; Simply delicious!

 

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Cinnamon Almond Snack Cookies {Grain Free, Vegan, Low Carb}

You know those roasted cinnamon almonds you find at festivals? The ones that make your mouth water just smelling them… but you know they are loaded with sugar and carbs, so you just pretend that smelling them is enough?

Well, you don’t have to fake it anymore! When these cookies were baking, my kitchen smelled just like cinnamon almonds, mmmm. They are made with almond butter and almond flour, as well as sugar substitutes to keep the carbs low. In fact, the carbs are SO low, that I added 70% dark chocolate, and they are still only 2.6g net carbs per cookie. No guilt or grain here!

I found that the dough was a bit sticky feeling, and slightly oily as I shaped the balls, but it turned out nicely. I tested a few different types in the batch I just made… one plain, cross-hatched like peanut butter cookies, one with chocolate pressed into the center, and one with chocolate and toasted almonds. No surprise that I liked that last version the most! I also sprinkled just a little large-flake kosher salt on them at the very end to set the chocolate off. If you like a mildly sweet cookie, I would start with the lower amounts of sweeteners, if you like it sweeter, adjust to your taste. I like mine a little less-sweet, as my tastes have changed over the past months. This is a slightly chewy, medium-dense cookie, pretty filling.

I’d also like to note that this is the first recipe that I have made with the blanched almond flour that I just bought at our local bulk store (Countryview for those in my area!) and so far I like it! The grind seems similar to the flour from Nuts.com, and the price is $4.79 per pound.

Cinnamon Almond Snack Cookies

  • 1/2 C almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tb coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2-3 Tb Truvia (I used 2)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C almond flour
  • 2-3 Tb powdered erythritol (I used 2)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 Dark chocolate squares (optional) or vegan chocolate
  • toasted almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and mix well.
  2. Sift together almond flour, erythritol, baking soda and salt, and add to almond butter mixture.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with baking parchment.
  4. Flatten balls into discs with your fingers. Wet fingers slightly if the dough is too sticky.
  5. If using chocolate squares, chop each square into 4 quarters, and press one piece into each cookie.
  6. Bake for 3 minutes, and then remove from oven if using toasted almonds.
  7. Place nuts on top of the chocolate, rotate pan, and return to oven for 5-8 minutes for a total cooking time of 8-11 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
    Makes about 20 cookies. 1.6g net carbs per cookie plain, 2.6 per cookie with chocolate pieces.

 

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

 

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 😉 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 9″ by 9″ 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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Chocolate Chip Cookies with Almond Flour {Grain free and Low Carb!}

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Even those of us enjoying a grain-free and low-carb lifestyle have a hankering for a classic treat from time to time! The trick is to minimize the damaging ingredients (such as grains and sugar) and maximize the flavors. Almond flour is a natural fit for this recipe, as the nuttiness matches well to the dark chocolate. To keep the carbs low, be sure to get chips with as high of a cocoa content as possible, aiming for 85% (you may even want to buy a dark chocolate bar and break into small pieces.)  As many of us also have children and teens in the house (not to mention husbands!) it’s helpful to be able to provide “sweets” that make them feel a little more normal, while knowing that we are supporting good health at the same time!

I adapted this from a recipe from the extremely talented Elana, and you can find it here on her blog. The changes I made were to switch away from grapeseed oil, as it’s not compliant with the Wheat Belly eating plan, and to switch out the agave syrup as well, for the same reason. Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Baked on ParchmentAlmond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C healthy oil (I used half butter and half virgin coconut oil)
  • 1 Tb vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C powdered erythritol
  • 1/2 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together wet ingredients. If you are using butter and/or coconut oil, be sure they are melted into liquid form.
  3. Mix the wet into the dry, combine completely. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts (if using.)
  4. Place in flattened circles on a parchment-lined sheet, using about 1 Tb per cookie.
  5. Bake for about 7 minutes, or until the edges are browned. The original recipe suggests 7-10 min, but they get dark very quickly, so do keep an eye on them.
  6. Remove whole sheet of parchment to a wire rack to cool, or set the entire pan in a safe place to cool. If the cookies are moved before they cool 10-15 minutes, they will crumble and fall apart. They firm up as they cool though. Makes 18 cookies.

Note: Made with 60% cocoa Ghirardelli chocolate chips, there are about 4.4 net carbs per cookie. If you use a higher cocoa chocolate chip, you can get that number even lower.
***Adding an egg is optional, if you would like. It does help the cookie hold together a little easier, but I think it makes it a little softer. Great either way!

Gooey Goodness

 

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Super Moist Orange Cake (GF) Recipe Review

Super Moist Orange Cake (GF) Recipe Review

Life has been so busy now that S.U.M.M.E.R is officially here… along with yard and garden work, my son being off school, and the fun things to do as well! I haven’t taken the time to post as much as usual, and I do need to get to work on fixing that!

This orange cake is wonderfully moist, a definite must-try!

I am always on the look out for good almond flour recipes, as that has certainly become my favorite flour to work with on a gluten free diet. This recipe is basically a review of one posted by Elana on her gluten free baking blog. (Hers was a twist on a recipe that Nigella featured, and who knows where it came from before that!) Apparently Starbuck’s had a version of this cake in their shops as well, though not sure if it is still available. Once you try this, you will know why this recipe has made the rounds!!! It is delicious, orangey, and seriously moist! Like really, really, wonderfully moist. I may add a glaze when baking it for company or an event (dark chocolate? orange vanilla? cashew cream?) BUT, it absolutely doesn’t need a topping at all.

I normally tweak and adjust recipes depending on what mood strikes me and which ingredients I have on hand, however, I actually followed this one exactly! I know, I was shocked too, hehe. BUT, it was perfect as is! I am so glad that I didn’t alter it to begin with, because now I have a few ideas brewing as to how I can use this recipe as a base for other concoctions.

Boiling oranges for this recipe was a new idea to me, and the results were amazing!

I can’t say that I have ever boiled oranges before, so that was definitely something new to add to the cooking repertoire. My oranges were smallish, so I used 2 1/2 instead of the 2 that the recipe called for. Agave is new to me as well, and was terrific in this recipe. I imagine that honey would be a fine substitute, but the glycemic index of agave is much lower, so I chose to stick with Elana’s version. Also, I used a spring form pan, and greased it with coconut oil, then dusted it with rice flour in order to keep the cake from sticking. I did refrigerate the leftovers, and the cake is fabulous a day or two old, and delicious cold as well. I hope you try it and enjoy as much as we did!

And if you missed the link above, the recipe is HERE.

I baked the cake for 40 minutes instead of 45-50, and as you can see the outside is slightly dark, but not burned. It didn’t seem to affect the taste.

 

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