Coconut Macaroons.

I love a good macaroon, especially one with chocolate involved. I didn’t always love making them, though. I’ve never been a fan of whipping egg whites, so when my awesome sister-in-law told me you didn’t have to whip egg whites to make macaroons I was pretty stoked. I found a recipe online that I liked and I’ve been tinkering with it for a while. Here is the recipe I’ve settled on:

Coconut MacaroonsIMG_0682

8 egg whites
4-5 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the egg whites, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the coconut and mix. Add in coconut 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture begins to stick together. For macaroons that are less rich add in coconut until the mixture is more dry than wet. Fold in chocolate chips if using.
  3. Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons) plop the macaroons onto the parchment paper. They shouldn’t spread at all, so spacing is less important, just make sure they’re not touching.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops become golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through.
  5. Cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pear Chai Ice Cream

My husband got me the ice cream attachment for my KithcenAid mixer for my birthday a couple years ago. The only time I buy ice cream at the store is when I don’t have the time to make it myself now. Homemade ice cream is so much tastier than store-bought.

You can use half-and-half instead of heavy cream for a portion of the liquid if you like your ice cream lighter, but I really enjoy the ice cream when it’s 100% heavy cream. The more fat/sugar you have the less likely you’ll get ice crystals in the middle of your ice cream, and the softer it is after being frozen in the freezer.

Save your egg whites. You can make coconut macaroons with them! I’ll post my recipe next week.

Pear Chai Ice Cream
IMG_067620-ish servings (1/2 cup per serving)

5 ripe Bosc pears peeled, cored and chopped
2/3 cup brewed Chai tea
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ginger
dash of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon butter

5 cups heavy cream, divided
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup sucanat
1-4 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt2 bags of Chai tea

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 1/2 cups of the heavy cream with the Chai tea bags until steaming, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Place egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk and mix on speed 2 until well blended. Continuing on speed 2, very slowly add the hot cream and mix until combined.
  3. Return the mixture to your saucepan and cook over medium heat until it starts to steam and tiny bubbles form along the rim of the pan, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
  4. Return the mixture to the mixer bowl and add the remaining whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Remove the tea bags. Cover and chill thoroughly, about 8 hours. I’ve fudged the time and the ice cream turns out fine, but I recommend waiting the full 8 hours, or even overnight.
  5. Place pears, Chai, spices and butter into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until liquid is reduced, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.
  6. Assemble and engage your freeze bowl, dasher and drive assembly and turn the mixer on to speed 1. Using a container with a spout, pour half of the mixture into the freeze bowl. Continue on speed 1 for 15-20 minutes, adding half of the compote during the last 5 minutes of freeze time.
  7. Place the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze.
  8. Repeat step 6 for the remaining ingredients.

GMO’s.

I’m on vacation in Grand Junction Colorado and then Laramie Wyoming, so this post is sort of filler. I don’t have any decent pictures for it, so I apologize.

There’s a lot of debate about GMO’s on the interwebs. Most of it isn’t friendly. There’s a great divide between people for GM food and people against it. From what I can tell, the two sides are starting from entirely different worldviews: GMO advocates believe in science over nature and those against are firmly on the side of nature. Myself? I think it’s arrogant of us to assume we can force genes into plants (particularly genes of different species) and have no ill-effects.

But I’m not here to talk about the theory and science behind GMO’s. I want to explain why it is that I avoid them.

I have had digestive problems since I was an infant. My mom tried really hard to breastfeed me but it just didn’t work out, so I started on formula. I was always a colicky baby and my parents have plenty of crazy diaper stories they love to share. Ever since I can remember I’ve had brain fog and stomach troubles; up until very recently I thought it was totally normal to alternate between constipation and diarrhea (it’s way not normal, by the by, it’s a sign of intestinal distress).

When my TSH was over 10 at a routine physical I cleaned up my diet and brought it back to normal range within 3 months. I was pretty strict about grains and dairy for a long time. I was essentially paleo but I still ate potatoes and beans.

When I cut the wheat (which is not GMO, just to clarify), the conventional corn, soy, and white sugar (beet sugar is GMO) my health improved drastically. I still had a long way to go, but I no longer suffered from the constant brain fog and my stomach was a lot better off.

These days I’m less strict about what I eat. That being said, I know if I’ve been eating things that are detrimental to my health. Soy is a big one. I do alright with organic soy, but conventional soy gives me a hangover, even in small amounts. I avoid soy on principle because of my thyroid, but sometimes it sneaks in in things like jarred pizza sauce, or something my husband has picked up from the store (which isn’t saying anything about his shopping abilities, he’s just not as concerned as I am and that’s OK).

Corn is another big one. Conventional corn gives my stomach a run for it’s money. Given that GM corn is designed to erode the intestines of the insects it’s meant to ward off, this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always been sensitive to things I ingest (like caffeine and alcohol or over the counter drugs) so I figure I’m also sensitive to herbicide residue and the BT that’s modified into the corn. It’s not much of a stretch to think that, since I’ve been eating BT corn for the majority of my life, my intestines are a little worse for wear. I know this because when I started my Live Blood Analysis I had two different kinds of undigested proteins in my blood and candida. Both of which indicate intestinal permeability. In my opinion, BT corn was a large part of the cause.

White (beet) sugar is less of an issue, but I do get a sugar hangover the next day if I have a moderate amount. Cane sugar doesn’t affect me the same way, so I use Sucanat for all of my sugar needs barring toffee and frosting. If I need refined sugar I always purchase organic.

So, there you have a super unscientific summary of why I avoid the major GMO’s. There are different kinds, like a strain of rice modified to contain vitamin A those potatoes modified to resist bruising (among others). I’m on the fence about those GMO’s that have nothing to do with herbicides or insecticides. I mean, cheese is mostly produced with a GM enzyme to avoid relying on calf stomachs for the rennet, so GM food is really difficult to avoid.

The bottom line is that the science is not settled -anyone who says this has no understanding of how science actually works, or is forgetting loads of history of science failing to identify problems it created- and there are too many unknowns for me to feel like GMO’s are a wholesome choice for my family. Given my personal health history and the resolution of symptoms when I started avoiding GM food, I’m keeping them off of my plate for now.

Almond Butter.

IMG_0677I will never buy almond butter from the store again, or any kind of nut butter for that matter. Nut butters are so easy to make in a food processor and making your own saves you a fairly significant amount of money. Especially if you buy your nuts on sale in bulk.

I picked up almonds while at Natural Grocers and I noticed that they have raw Spanish almonds. They were nearly $14 a pound so I didn’t buy them, but it’s nice to know that I can buy raw almonds that are actually raw.

Almond Butter

4 cups raw almonds
Non-iodized sea salt
Water to soak
.5-1 ounce cocoa butter, melted (roughly 1-2 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
pinch of salt

  1. Place the almonds in a bowl and shake a moderate amount of non-iodized salt on top. Cover the almonds with water, making sure there is at least an inch of extra water on top. Let sit for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the almonds, place on a jellyroll pan (or other dish with sides) and dry in the oven on the lowest temperature setting for 12-24 hours, until they are no longer soggy when you bite them. You’ll be able to tell.
  3. Put the dry almonds in a food processor with an S blade and turn it on. Process for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Depending on the consistency of the resulting almond butter add in the .5-1 ounce of cocoa butter and coconut oil while the food processor is running.
  5. Enjoy.

Gluten Free Blondies

IMG_0671 I mentioned that I over-soaked two pounds of almonds two posts ago. They sat on the kitchen counter, still in the jellyroll pan I roasted them in because I’m such a cheapskate I was having a really hard time throwing them out. My husband was munching on them the whole time and I asked him (somewhat incredulously) if they were actually edible. He answered me by eating another one. Then I asked my awesome sister-in-law the same thing and she said she thought they were fine. So I made some almond butter out of them. I only got about 1/2 cup of almond butter because by the time I had the energy to do it, hubby had eaten more than 3/4 of the entire two pounds!

The almond butter turned out a bit earthy tasting, but it was still good. I’m going to post my recipe for almond butter next week so that everyone can enjoy the awesomeness. I was inspired by Justin’s Nut Butters to try adding cocoa butter into my nut butters. It is so good! So look out for that recipe next week!

I made my own quinoa flour for this in my blender. I have a retro blender, and I’m not kidding. This is my blender:

blender

You should know that less than half of those buttons actually work because this is a blender from (probably) the 70s. So if my blender can do it, your blender can do it too.

I sprouted the quinoa for this and dried it in the oven. A word of caution about sprouting quinoa: quinoa sprouts really fast. You should only sprout a little at a time, or separate a large batch into smaller containers for the actual sprouting process, because when you over-sprout quinoa you get a really earthy batch of quinoa that smells like weed when you dry it. I did end up burying the last batch I over-sprouted as I mentioned two posts ago, but I very slightly over-sprouted this batch too simply because there was so much of it sprouting at once. It was salvageable, but take note from my mistake: sprout quinoa in small batches.

I made half of a batch because I didn’t have enough almond butter, but I am posting the recipe for a full batch.

Almond Quinoa Blondies

1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter)IMG_0673
3/4 cup almond butter
2 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 cup sucanat (or other sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment so that the paper hangs over the edge of the pan.
  2. Beat the oil and almond butter until smooth. Add in eggs, sucanat, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add them to the almond butter mixture and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs on it, 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.
  5. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes.
  6. Pull it out of the pan using the parchment, cut it into pieces and allow to cool completely before storing.

These will last in the fridge for 5 or 6 days if you’d rather make-ahead. Since they don’t use the standard gluten free flours refrigerating them is ok.