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Dark Chocolate Low-carb Dairy-free Ice Cream (made with coconut milk!)

No muss, no fuss… just straight up chocolate decadence without the dairy and sugar.

Dark Chocolate Low-carb Dairy-free Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate Low-carb Dairy-free Ice Cream… kind of tastes like fudgecicles!

 

Too good to be true? Nope!

There are a couple things I will admit.
I am a fiend for dark chocolate and I am a sucker for ice cream

I don’t think I could ever stick to a way of eating that made these two things totally off limits for me. Thankfully, Wheat Belly is all about healthy ingredients, not about being militant, so there is wiggle room for my indulgences. Yay!

However, I have realized that as much as I love heavy cream (wonderfully low carb!) and dairy, that some non-cheese dairy products tend to trigger an upset stomach for me, and weight gain. This is also the case with many of my friends following this way of eating, so I experimented a little with making coconut cream ice cream. I have no doubt that I will be tweaking this recipe in the future (I’d like to up the creaminess without adding dairy), it’s still really a good base recipe that I will definitely do again.

I’m surprised that I really can’t taste the coconut flavor in this recipe, although I thought it would be a good match for the chocolate. I think that the dark chocolate cocoa is just a much stronger player, and drowns out the coconut. I will be keeping my eyes open for a deal on a higher quality dark chocolate cocoa powder, but this is what I usually have on hand and it worked just fine. I’m imagining this now with a nut butter sauce, or maybe toasted sweetened nuts on top… or a blop of this ice cream in my coffee 😀

Dark Chocolate Low-carb Dairy-free Ice Cream

  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2C dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Tb vanilla
  • Sweetener of choice equaling about 1/2C or to taste (I used about 1/4 C Torani sugar-free caramel syrup and 1/4C Swerve)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in the blender. Finish up by using an ice cream maker or just pour into a freezer container and freeze until firm. Makes about 8 servings.

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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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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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Homemade Ketchup… Flavorful, Easy and Low Carb!

2 cups of Spicy Homemade Low-carb Ketchup!

2 cups of Spicy Homemade Low-carb Ketchup… We’re looking forward to sampling this on bacon, avocado cheeseburgers served on Oopsie rolls tonight!

Ketchup is one of those condiments that many people who have never counted carbs or worried about sugar content, may never have given a second thought. However, if you are among the growing number of people who are avoiding blood sugar spikes and keeping your daily carbs low, you know just how hazardous that red bottle in your fridge can be!

The Heinz Tomato Ketchup that I had in my fridge prior to following the Wheat Belly plan contains the following ingredients:

Tomato Concentrate, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Spice, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring.

The carb content is 5g per tablespoon. That may not seem huge, but when you are keeping your carbs between 20 and 50g a day, 2Tb would take up a whopping percentage of your daily allowance!

So, after looking (unsuccessfully) for a healthier option at the local grocery stores, I decided to make a ketchup that would be flavorful without all the sugar. The following is what I came up with… feel free to adjust your seasonings to suit your personal tastes, but everyone in my family was quite happy with the results of this recipe!

Spicy Homemade Low-Carb Ketchup

  • 12 oz can tomato paste (I used Hunt’s for 50g net carb)
  • 1/2C cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s with the Mother)
  • 1/2C water
  • 1Tb prepared poupon mustard
  • 1Tb Swerve (or sweetener of choice to taste)
  • 20 drops Stevia liquid (or additional Tb Swerve or alt. sweetener)
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground allspice and clove
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
Blending homemade low-carb ketchup in my Ninja

Blending homemade low-carb ketchup in my Ninja!

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until the garlic and onion are liquified into the tomato mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Optional: heat in saucepan on stove and cook for several minutes to help “marry” flavors together.  Makes about 2 cups. (1Tb contains about 1.8g net carbs compared to 5g in Heinz)

 

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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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Basilicious! Fresh Pesto and Sundried-Tomato, Olive Tapenade… Now and Later!

Basil from my garden in early September

Basil from my garden in early September!

Pesto cubes.

Pesto cubes.

One of my favorite herbs to grow each year is BASIL! I just love it… the scent and flavor is so distinctive and comforting. When I have a good crop ready in early September, I look forward to making a nice big batch of pesto! The wonderful thing about pesto, is that it stores fresh in the fridge for a decent amount of time (perhaps a week or two with a film of olive oil over the top), but that it’s also very convenient to make extra and freeze it for the off-season. I use spare ice cube trays, as I think that it’s very easy to store this way, and grabbing a cube or two is a perfect serving size to add to marinara or even to cream cheese to make a spread. I use it to make a simple dressing or marinade for pork or chicken by adding balsamic vinegar.

If you search, you will find many recipes for pesto, with the ingredients remaining more or less constant, and the proportions of each changing slightly for different tastes and preferences. This is how I make mine, but by all means, feel free to adjust to your liking! I changed it up just a little this year… I usually use only pine nuts, but this time I also added some walnuts to make up for not having as many pine nuts as I would have liked. Different olive oils will result in stronger or milder flavors, and it will depend, as well, on the strength of your garlic! While I used Parmesan cheese, you could also use some asiago, romano or a hard Swiss for variety.

Tapenade with cream cheese on Rosemary Focaccia bread.

Tapenade with cream cheese on Rosemary Focaccia bread.

 

This year I also made a tapenade with one batch of the pesto. I had some lovely sun-dried tomatoes to add, and then my creativity kicked in and I added a few more ingredients that resulted in a delicious concoction! If you don’t make your pesto from scratch, you can still buy pesto at the store and then “enhance” it with the remaining ingredients to have something really special. We enjoyed it with some cream cheese and Rosemary Focaccia bread by Dr. Davis, author of Wheat Belly. It was an amazing treat!

Just starting my next batch of pesto! You can see the previous batch as well as a bowl of grated Parmesan.

Just starting my next batch of pesto! You can see the previous batch (upper left) as well as a bowl of grated Parmesan.

Basil Pesto

  • 4C fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (or to taste)
  • !/4C pine nuts
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1C good olive oil
  • 2/3C finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Either finely dice the garlic by hand, or pulse in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Add basil a bit at a time, and process until finely chopped.
  3. Add nuts and process.
  4. Add oil a little at a time, allowing the basil mixture to incorporate the oil before adding more.
  5. Add grates cheese and process to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pesto in an ice cube tray for freezing.

Pesto in an ice cube tray for freezing.

 

When storing pesto in the refrigerator, I prefer a glass jar, and will pour a thin film of olive oil over the surface of the pesto to prevent air from getting in and oxidizing it, causing it darken in color. It can also be frozen in ice cube trays and then stored in ziploc bags to use in the off-season.

 

Sun-dried Tomato, Olive Tapenade with Capers

  • Tapenade

    Tapenade

    1 batch of Basil Pesto (above recipe)

  • 1 can black olives, drained and chopped medium-fine
  • 1/4C diced green olives
  • 1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 4 Tb capers
  • olive oil as needed to make a spread
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients.
  2. Add olive oil by the tablespoon to get the tapenade to a spreading consistency.
  3. Season as desired.

Serve as is, or combine with cream cheese to make a savory cheese spread. Tapenade can also be stored the same way as pesto, both in the refrigerator and the freezer. 

 

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