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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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Recipe: Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake Bars {Gluten Free}

How would you like a decadent frozen treat that adds up low in carbs, but high in taste and satisfaction? Just in time for the holidays? I used my 9″x9″ square stone baking dish for this, and cut it into 20 bars. By my calculations, following this recipe, that is under 4g of carbs per piece! Guilt-free and perfect timing for your 4th of July celebrations.

It seems that lately, I’ve been focusing a lot more on information about the wheat free, low carb lifestyle, than I have about the food! Trust me folks, I am still cooking and baking… and taking pictures and writing notes, but with summer so busy, I haven’t had as much time to pass the recipes along to you! Well, sometimes it just takes something REALLY special to break a pattern, and this recipe is it! MMMMM.

I had been thinking for a while that the crust recipe in Raspberry Streusel Bars would be a fabulous cheesecake crust, and that became the first layer in these yummy bars. Made with almond flour, butter and Truvia, it makes for a delicious cookie-style crust that stands up well to the other ingredients. Layer 2 is all about cheesecake! Rich and thick, it gives the real substance to this treat. The 3rd layer is where the raspberry comes in, though you could certainly change this up with your favorite flavors or experiment. Top it all off with a layer of sweetened whipping cream, and you have an amazing summer treat. While serving it chilled would be great, frozen was fabulous!

And don’t fret….. it may seem like a long list of ingredients at first glance, but you will notice that several of the ingredients (whipping cream, sour cream, vanilla, sweeteners) are used in more than one layer. It was just easier to list them separately for assembly purposes.

Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Crust Layer:

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

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 8oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2C sour cream
  • 1T vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4Tb erythritol

Raspberry Layer:

  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1T erythritol
  • 1C Smucker’s low sugar raspberry preserves

Whipped Topping:

  • 1/2C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp Truvia
  • 1T vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. 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 15 minutes (I turn my pan halfway through baking.) Remove from oven and set aside

3. Make cheesecake filling: In a stand mixer, 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 and erythritol and beat (on medium) until well-combined, but not whipped. Pour over crust and smooth out. Bake for 20 minutes, turned pan halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. Remove and let cool completely.

4. Make raspberry layer: Whip the cream until it begins to get stiff. Add sour cream, and erythritol and beat to combine. Fold in the raspberry preserves. Spread over the cooled cheesecake layer. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up.

5. Make the topping: Whip the cream on medium high until soft peaks begin to form. Add vanilla and Truvia and continue whipping until firm. Spread over raspberry layer. Chill or freeze completely before serving. Cut into 20 bars. (Tip, To cut while frozen, I scored the top and then used my food blade to press through.)

Makes 20 servings; 4g carbs each.

 

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FLOUR CHART: How Gluten Free Flours Compare for Carbs and Protein Content

Flour Comparison Chart for Carbs and Protein Content

The figures above are based on a serving size of 1/4 cup (4 Tb).   **You are welcome to borrow this chart and information for your site, please just link back here, thanks!

Are you running out of room for your gluten free flours?
Confused about which are healthiest?

This is an article that I have been intending to write for quite some time to help gluten free cooks and bakers make smart choices when it comes to navigating the wide world of flours! There is no question that there are more flours available now, commercially, than at any other time. People are not only interested in expanding home cooking and culinary adventures, but are savvier when it comes to nutrition and the benefits of food-based wellness. Many of us are learning how to cater to food intolerances in our home kitchens and taking responsibility for eating well. There are an almost overwhelming variety of flours, starches and meals which can be combined or used alone to bake, thicken and coat. You may think that flour is flour and that some are merely gluten free or grain free, but the truth runs deeper than that.

There is some confusion about flours versus starches. In some cases (such as with tapioca flour/starch) they are one and the same, perhaps because tapioca is virtually all starch to begin with. In general though, the difference between starches and flours seems to be that flours are made from dried and ground grains (or tubers or nuts) and have the protein and fiber intact, whereas the starches have the fiber and protein removed, leaving nearly pure carbohydrates. Starches are excellent for smoothly thickening sauces and gravies, and are often ingredients in gluten free baking mixtures. However, people who are aiming for a low-carb diet, either for weight loss or because they are diabetic (or want to avoid BECOMING diabetic) will find that starches and certain flours quickly topple the daily allowances and spike blood sugars.

Flours and meals are not created equally (since all foods are not created equally) and flours are merely ground up versions of the food as a whole. You will notice that the flours made from nuts and legumes are in the top of my chart, having the lowest net carbs and highest protein counts. Starches and rice flours which are often used in gluten free baking are at the bottom of my chart because they have such high carb counts and very little protein.

You can also see by the placement of traditional flours that even if you are not on a gluten free diet, wheat flours are far from the healthiest of choices! For instance, even whole wheat flour (which seems to be the darling of the grain industry), has more than SIX times the net carbs of almond flour. Pastry flour which is found in many commercial baked goods has NINE times as much. All those carbs convert to sugar, which spikes insulin… repeated insulin spikes lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to diabetes, visceral fat, inflammation and obesity.

While it is true that the healthiest alternative flours require different methods of preparation and even to some degree their very own recipes, it is well worth the effort to learn to bake with them. My personal favorite flours are almond flour, coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, flax meal and occasionally buckwheat flour. I am open to learning more, always, and that list very well may expand in the near future!

ABOUT THIS CHART:  I have created the chart above to summarize some of the common (and uncommon) flours that are frequently used in gluten free baking, as well as to compare them to the old standards (in red, not gluten free.) This chart uses Bob’s Red Mill products nutritional information as a source because it was readily available online; however, this is not a specific endorsement of their products. I do use Bob’s Red Mill occasionally, but I also use Nuts.com as well other specialty brands and bulk products.  Other manufacturers may vary somewhat, but because the flours are derived from the same sources, the numbers should be similar, and the spot checking I did to compare to other brands showed the exact same results.  The ratings are my own opinion only, based on net carbs and protein.

Serving size in the chart above is ¼ cup (4TB).  Number values represent grams (other than calories.) Note that Net Carbs is equal to Total Carbs minus Fiber, which is why flax meal can have a net carb count of zero.  Low Net Carbs and high Proteins are the best choices when looking to keep blood sugar levels balanced; even though that may mean the flour is higher in calories, it also means that it is much more filling, and it doesn’t drive cravings. While this chart may be a good starting point, obviously these numbers don’t tell the whole story, and different flours have different nutritional benefits unique to their source, and I hope to highlight some of my favorites in upcoming articles. When choosing flours, personal taste is also a major factor, as the flavors can be quite different from the wheat flours we have been conditioned to eat.

I hope that this answers some questions that you may have had about why I, or other gluten free bloggers, choose the flours that we do, and helps you to make good choices in your own kitchen! Stay tuned for a super delicious PIZZA recipe featuring garbanzo bean flour very soon 🙂  This is a socca style done in a pan or on a griddle, and met with rave reviews from the guys…

 

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FAST FISH! Tahini Lemon Salmon

Salmon is my go-to fish of choice! I love that it is insanely easy to cook (400 degrees, 15-20 minutes), and that you can flavor it in so many ways… PLUS it is healthy! We all know by now that it is a great course of healthy fats and omega 3’s, and to top it off, it’s strongly anti-inflammatory.

This is another one of my recipes that I will call more of a method, because it is so unstructured when I do it…

  • Take a fresh salmon filet, rinsed and patted dry… 
  • rub both sides with coconut oil and place skin side down in baking dish…
  • salt and pepper to your taste…
  • smear about a tablespoon of tahini over the flesh side…
  • top with the zest of one lemon and a couple tablespoons of fresh parsley…
  • bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • SIMPLE delicious!

As a side, we sauteed chopped baby broccoli (put in the pan first for 2+ minutes because it takes longer to cook), along with napa cabbage and spinach in coconut oil, finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon and sesame seeds.

 

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Gracious living and Peonies for me, please! (…and thank you)

I am so happy that my peonies are opening. Finally! They seem to be the last on the block to be breaking out of their tight buds, and I think it’s just because I have been waiting (un)patiently for it to happen! The peony is one of my very favorite flowers, I find them so beautiful and old fashioned. A giant bouquet is such a romantic sight, and some are as fragrant as roses.The big gathered bouquets are so blowsy and casual, but so, so pretty.

I can’t help but cut flowers when summer begins, and fill my house with vases… large, tiny, tall and slender or short and squatty, I love them ALL and put them in nearly every room. I have a tendency to pick up old or pretty vases at garage sales and flea markets even though I don’t actually need them, just because knowing they will be filled with flowers, makes me HAPPY!

A bouquet definitely doesn’t have to be from a flower shop to make me smile (though in the winter it is a welcome treat), I love it just as much (probably more) when my husband stops at the roadside to pick a bunch of colorful blooms just because he knows they will tickle me! I get that same satisfaction from cutting from my flowers and herbs in the yard; there is just something about being thankful and bringing them inside to enjoy up close and personal that makes me think of simple gracious living.

By gracious, I do NOT mean fancy or expensive, but rather living in an aware way that makes a house feel like a home. To me, it’s small things like candles and flowers, a bowl of nuts on the table, pretty plates from a tag sale or discount shop, or tablecloths that make things seem just a little bit more intentional. I think that it is a version of “taking the time to smell the roses” or peonies, or lemon balm, or a campfire, that makes each day feel special, even when things are stressful or hurried. Sitting in the backyard with a glass of iced tea or lemon water, or coffee in the morning at the beginning of the day just gives me a bit of peace to carry with me. 🙂  I feel that being in the moment and being grateful, soaking up the small things in life, are just as important to good health and well-being as feeding our bodies the right nutrients. A daily dose of Vitamin T, thankfulness!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Photos, Thankfulness

 

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Gluten-Free Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping

Sometimes we miss the comfort of baked goods, and want something warm and yummy yet gluten free! I also strive to keep the carbs on the lower side, just to help maintain weight loss goals. This recipe uses a base of coconut flour, and the original recipe was found at the Tropical Traditions website. I altered it a little and added a streusel topping. Why? Well, because who doesn’t love streusel on a muffin?! MMMMM. I like this recipe as it stands, but my hubby thought they could be a little sweeter. If you prefer a sweeter muffin, feel free to increase the honey or Truvia to your tastes. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it actually went together pretty quickly for me. The coconut flour is much more absorbent than other flours, which has to be taken into consideration if you want to alter the recipe for your own needs. Next time I make these, I will likely add a dash of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, (or even cocoa!) but we thought they were really tasty just like this!

Banana Muffins with Streusel Topping

Muffins:

  • 1 C coconut flour
  • 2 Tb buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tb butter, melted
  • 2 Tb coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 3 Tb honey
  • 1 Tb granulated Truvia
  • 1 Tb vanilla
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas

Streusel Topping (same as raspberry streusel bars)

  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1/4 C almond flour
  • 2 Tb erythritol
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 C walnuts
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 egg white, beaten

To make the muffins: Heat oven to 350. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the melted butter, coconut oil, milk, buttermilk, honey, vanilla and Truvia. Combine well. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (I use a whisk to combine and be sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.) Slowly add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined. Add bananas and mix. Spoon batter evenly between 12 lined muffin cups. Top with streusel (below), and bake for 20 minutes or until set.

To make the streusel: Combine almond flour, walnuts, erthyritol and coconut in a food processor until combined but not fine. Add the butter and process until it begins to clump together. Brush the tops of muffins with the egg white (to help the streusel stick to the muffins, as the batter is dryer than a typical muffin.) Top with streusel and pat down lightly.

 

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Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

If you are like me, you eat plenty of salads, right? I know we love our greens and the health benefits that come with them, but I also get in salad “ruts” sometimes where I know I should eat them, but I also know just how they will taste, and get a little bored with the concept.

This morning I didn’t feel like eggs or a smoothie for breakfast, and decided to have a salad instead, so I started looking through the fridge to see what I had on hand. I knew there was leftover orange ginger grilled chicken breast that I wanted to use, and of course greens. I also had fresh crimini mushrooms, which i love, but the problem is that I only like cooked mushrooms, not raw ones. Cooking the mushrooms led to this delicious and light warm salad… for a vegetarian version, simply omit the chicken and cheese and use coconut oil to saute veggies. Having a late breakfast in the backyard listening to the birds singing up a storm was a refreshing start to my day, but I don’t think I will be hungry at lunch time!

Warm Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken

  • 1/2 grilled chicken breast, cut up
  • 1 large leaf of napa cabbage
  • handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • handful of crimini musrooms, diced
  • butter or coconut oil to saute veggies
  • sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Saute carrot, celery and mushrooms in butter for a few minutes, cooking lightly and maintaining crispness. Add grilled chicken and warm through, remove from heat. Lay the napa down as a base for the salad, either whole for a wrap, or chopped. Add spinach over napa. Top with veggies and then cheese. Squeeze lime over the top and serve immediately.

 

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