Pucker Up Lemon Bars

Over the last few months I have become completely obsessed with lemon. Lemon everything, lime too if I can get my hands on it. I love hot lemon water in the morning. I love adding lemon on the inside of my roast chicken. I love adding lemon to all my dishes savory and sweet. I don’t know if it is spring in the air or if it just the bright flavor of lemon that has me loving this citrus so much.

My youngest just turned six on Sunday, that means another birthday party, and treats. At this point I am so very used to having to make something “special”, or rather “non grain or sugar” for myself and my oldest child. This year in addition to the usual grain free cake or cupcake it was lemon bars I had on the mind. There were a few things I wanted to accomplish with these lemon bars. I wanted it to be grain free, free of refined sugar, vegan and easy to make. Making a raw lemon bar popped right into my head and I went to work.

Whether you like lemon bars or not, these will have everybody asking for more.

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I made the lemon bars in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients for crust

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup unsweetened organic shredded coconut

2 tbsp coconut oil(melted or soft)

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 tsp of coconut sugar(or palm sugar)

1/4 tsp of kosher or sea salt

Ingredients for Lemon Filling

1/2 cup Coconut Butter

2 tbsp of Coconut Oil (softened or melted)

2 tbsp of Maple Syrup(good quality or organic)

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

Lemon Rind from 2-3 Lemons(organic if possible)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut(reserve until the end)

Directions:

Line a small square cake pan with parchment paper and set aside

In the bowl of a food processor add your almond flour, cashews, coconut, coconut oil, palm sugar, and salt. Pulse until it starts to pull together and resemble a dough. Take out your crust and firmly push down in the pan you have prepared. Set the crust aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the lemon filling.

In your food processor or blender add in your lemon juice, lemon rind, coconut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil and turmeric. Pulse or blend until well incorporated. You may want to adjust the sweetness here, you may like a little more sweet and less tart. Take out your crust from the refrigerator and pour your lemon mixture over the top. Cover with foil or plastic and place back in the refrigerator. Chill overnight or at least 3-4 hours. The firmer the better. When you are ready to serve dust the top with the remaining shredded coconut. Slice and enjoy. These are truly such a lovely and yummy treat. The flavor is bright and refreshing. I love a treat that doesn’t make you feel guilty about eating.

 

This is a treat that anybody can enjoy. You most definitely don’t need to be a vegan or a raw foodie. I am neither or those things. I like to incorporate all types of eating styles in my cooking. I like to think outside of the box. I like play around with textures and tastes. This little project came out delicious. What I do love about a raw food recipe is that it is all alive. It is all filled with life. What could be better for you than to fill your body with living food that is full of life giving energy?

 

I hope you all enjoy these as much as we did in our home.

Cook Once, Eat Twice Chicken

I am a huge fan of cook once eat twice, or three times. I want to cook dinner on Monday, have lunch on Tuesday from leftovers, and find another clever use for what might still be left over. This is how my mother cooked, this is how I am teaching my children to cook and eat. Not only is it cost-effective, time-saving, and sanity saving, but often food that is slow roasted tastes even better the next day.

I always remember my mother cooking enough food to feed an army. The same can be said about many of the adults I watched cook growing up. I always thought it was  Jewish and Italian mother thing. It makes so much sense to me now. I love to cook, I love being in the kitchen, I do sometimes want a break. I have found that by using my cook once, eat twice method I can still enjoy a delicious home-cooked, and healthy meal without slaving everyday in the kitchen.

I am primarily focusing on slow cooking and roasting food. Now that we are heading into the colder months of winter, this type of cooking is what makes sense. It is what our ancestors would have done, it is warm and comforting. I roast many chickens during the week for the end result of my home-made bone broth. Bone broth is a staple in our house. My children and husband all love it, we eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention for cooking.

If you are friends with me on Facebook you know that I had an amazing Christmas. I was blessed with a variety of Le Cresuet cookware. This is a dream for a gal like me, some women like diamonds, I like Le Creseut. These are the first pieces I have owned and am looking forward to many, many years of use.  One of the very first things I wanted to do was to roast a chicken in my Dutch Oven. I knew I had hit the jackpot as the aromas filled my house, it was chicken perfection. I had outdone all other chickens in my life. The beauty of it was a second dish that came as a by-product of my chicken. I layered vegetables under the chicken with my bone broth. When the chicken was done I put the veggies in my blender and made the most delicious soup ever.

You can make this dish without a cast iron dutch oven, although I think this is what lends to the delicious and tender meat, and the perfect roasted veggies.

This is the most simple and healthy recipe. Anybody can make this, yes even you out there who say you can’t cook.

Here you go.

  • 1 whole chicken (all natural or organic)
  • 3 large yellow squash
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/5 to 2 cups of good quality chicken stock or bone broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary are optional but are in my opinion so needed

Pre-heat your oven to 350

Rough chop your veggies and place in the bottom of your dutch oven or large roasting pan

Place your chicken on top of your veggies

Drizzle your chicken lightly with olive oil

Salt and Pepper the chicken

toss in bay leaves around at the chicken on the veggies

toss in herbs with stems on all around chicken and veggies

Pour in the chicken stock or broth all over the veggies around the chicken

Place your lid on your dutch oven or roasting pan. Place in the oven and cook between 2-3 hours ( I find that a 3-5lb chicken will cook in about 2 hours and 10 min).

Once the chicken is cooked take it out of the pan. Place to the side. Take out all your herbs and discard. Take out all of your veggies and broth and place in a blender. Please be very careful when placing hot liquid into a blender, make sure you lid is on very tight and start it on the lowest speed. Place your chicken back in your pan, leave the lid off. Turn your oven on to broil and place the chicken back in the oven. Leave your chicken in the oven until your skin has browned.

Serve your chicken with your soup on the side. This soup is even better the next day.

Side note: When serving your soup you can add some fresh nutmeg and ground pepper on top. This adds just that extra kick.

Remember don’t throw away your chicken bones. Save them all to make your own homemade chicken broth the next day.

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Not Your Mama’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

In my early twenties I dreamed of being a chef. I fell in love with baking. I thought it was an odd choice because I never baked anything growing up. My mother is an amazing cook. She never measured or followed recipes, she would just throw in a pot and then taste and, BAM! It was always something so good. I was always in the presence of great cooks. My aunts would cook the most amazing gravy on Sundays (for those of you who don’t know; Gravy is what some people call pasta sauce), the best roast pork in the world, and the most divine black bottom cupcakes. I was lucky. I just watched from a distance and my love of food began probably with my first bite as a baby.

When my father died unexpectedly in 1983 my mom went on a major health kick. I can remember being 6 years old and eating tofu, black beans and rice, and pizza made with a gluten free crust and soy cheese. I loved it all. I always loved what my mom made even if it seemed weird, including her famous “MUSH” as we called it. I was just a lover of food.

I loved my first experience with sushi, I loved eating real Mexican food on the beach in Mexico, I loved a truly authentic east coast pizza, and I really love a good marble cheesecake.

I began dreaming of a career in food. I saved my  money and planned on enrolling at the Art Institute of LA in the culinary department. Meanwhile I got busy baking up some seriously good tidbits and selling them to a whole bunch of local spots in Venice Beach, CA. Life came at me and the next thing I knew I was packed up and moving up to Berkeley, Ca. My food dreams got put on hold as I pursued a history degree in college.

I stopped baking and let that part of me go quiet. When my children were first born I cooked and baked all the time. I would bake a cake and decorate it with fondant and sugar art just for fun. That all changed when my sweet Blaise was diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome. My son is always hungry, really hungry, he literally could eat himself to death. Food is really the enemy in my house. My son also has to watch his carbohydrate intake. This means that all the food you see out in the world for kids, doesn’t apply to my sweet boy. As soon as he was diagnosed I hated the kitchen. I hated that food was the enemy in my house. I hated for what it did to my son. It took me a long time to get over that and fall in love with food again.

Finding the right diet to help my son, and eventually me, has led me to where I am today. I love creating new recipes full of flavor that are made with love. I love that there is a world out there where I can bake a classic cake but make it “clean, grain free and if I choose dairy free). I still can cook all the traditional stuff, but I really enjoy getting creative and cooking food that is perfect for even my Prader Willi Child. I stumbled upon a new grain free recipe for ginger snap cookies, and so it began. I found my love of baking again and its back with a vengeance. I am on a mission to create some truly awesome treats that I plan to share with all of you. I have been whipping up new classics. I love thinking outside of the box.  I really enjoy creating something from scratch and having it turn out to be delicious.

These cookies came from that. I really wanted a chocolate chip cookie. I wanted it to be simple to make and delicious. This is what I came up with. They took me about 5 minutes to make and 13 minutes in the oven. They are so amazing. Grain free and absolutely a new not so guilty, guilty pleasure.

 

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Cookie Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 tbs of molasses

2 tbs of maple syrup

1/2 cup of almond butter

2 tsp of vanilla

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 1/2 cups of almond flour

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1 cup of mini chocolate chips (I use the enjoy life brand)

 

Preheat Oven to 350degree

use parchment paper or silicone mat on a large baking sheet

 

In a mixer:

cream the eggs, maple syrup, molasses, almond butter and vanilla. Then add your dry ingredients, including walnuts and chocolate chips. Mix those all together for about 30 seconds on high to incorporate. Place your mixing bowl in the fridge and let the dough sit for 30 minutes.

 

Take the dough out and roll small balls on the baking sheet. Flatten out your balls with your hand to make the desired shape. It should yield you about 24 cookies.

 

Bake in your oven for between 11-13 minutes. Oven temps may vary. Do not over bake these cookies. Take them out and let them cool.

 

Grab yourself a nice glass of almond milk or beverage of choice and enjoy this twist on your childhood classic.

 

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Maple and Ginger Glazed Chicken with Braised Kale

Its that time again where I have to restock the pantry. A well stocked pantry is so important, with that you can make anything in a pinch. I always stock up on big bags of nuts, seeds, good quality canned items, maple syrup, organic honey and dry beans. I could go on forever about what should be in a well stocked pantry, that will be another post. Even at a store like Sam’s Club I can find some great products, this is where I finally found a larger bottle of good quality maple syrup. When I got home the maple syrup was calling my name. I knew it had to go into my dinner tonight. We don’t use refined sugar in this house, when I bake or cook the sweeteners I use are honey, maple syrup or stevia. I love all the fall flavors and spices and maple syrup reminds me of fall.

I am not one of those people that goes to the store with a list. I have an idea in my head of what I need in the house, I look for what is fresh and available. Then when I get home I work my recipes off of that, rather than shopping for a recipe. I am not good at that and always forget ingredients. I like to keep lots of spices in my house, fresh herbs, and fresh ginger and garlic. With these items I can make any dish that much better.

Tonight I decided I would make a maple glazed chicken with carrots. I braised some kale and mushrooms to go with it. I only buy chicken that is organic, or if that is not available, I buy chicken that has no hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals added. Even better if it is free range. I will write a post soon on why it is so important that we don’t ingest meat that has hormones in them.

The dish came out wonderful. In keeping with my true self I accidentally omitted one of my ingredients. After I had lovingly minced all my garlic I forgot to put it in my marinade. It still came out delicious. What I discovered is that is great with or without the garlic, so if you don’t have any garlic on hand don’t worry, just leave it out.

I used a whole chicken that was cut up into 2 large breasts and 4 drumsticks. You could use a whole chicken, or just wings, thighs, or breasts.

For the Marinade

1/3 cup of Maple Syrup

2 tbs of Bragg Liquid Aminos

3 tbs of lemon juice

2 tbs of minced fresh ginger

2 tbs of minced fresh garlic

(bag of organic baby carrots to cook with the chicken)

For the Kale

Head of organic Kale

organic mushrooms, any variety will do

Bragg Liquid Aminos

Chicken stock

salt

 

In a ziploc bag place all your marinade ingredients. Add your chicken and seal the bag. Mix it all up in the bag, be sure to coat all the chicken. Place the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours, you can do longer if you like. I took out a  large baking dish and placed about half a bag of baby carrots on the bottom. I then placed the chicken on top. Cook at 375 degrees for roughly 1.5 hours or until done. The rule of thumb is usually 20 minutes per pound of meat. I opened the oven periodically and basted the chicken with the sauce at the bottom of the pan.

 

In a pot or large saucepan heat a small amount of oil. Coconut or olive oil will be fine. Then I add the mushrooms and let them brown a bit, I add a bit of salt to help draw out their moisture. Then I add the kale, I just rip it up in my hands and add it in big chunks to the pan. I then add about 2 tbs of Bragg Liquid Aminos, 1/2 cup of chicken stock and a bit of salt. I let that cook just for a minute. I like the kale to remain green, its cooked just enough to soften.

 

All thats left to do is put this delicious food on a plate and eat. Both of my kids loved all the food, and both of my kids ate 2 servings of the greens. Yes, that is definitely a win.kale with maple chix maple chicken 2 maple glazed chicken 1

Thai Inspired Pork Meatballs with Veggies and Coconut Milk Sauce

Thai inspired pork and veggie meatballs with cauliflower rice. So delicious and a big hit here last night.

For the meatballs
1lb organic or all natural ground pork
1 medium zuchinni grated
1 mediu carrot grated
1/4 medium onion grated
1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
1 egg
2 tbs of fresh ginger minced
1 tbs of fresh garlic minced
salt
pepper
1 tbs of onion powder
1 tbs of curry powder
1 tbs of ground mustard powder
1 tbs of turmeric
2 tbs of Siricha hot sauce

For the sauce
1 can of coconut milk
1 tbs of honey
1 tbs of Siracha hot sauce
1 tbs of curry powder

Mix all the meatball ingredients together. Heat a pan with coconut oil or oil of choice and brown the meatballs on all sides. Then place all the meatballs in a large baking dish.

In a saucepan mix all the sauce ingredients together and let simmer for 5 minutes. Then place the sauce over the meatballs in your baking dish.

Place in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until meatballs are done.

While the meatballs are cooking rice your cauliflower in a food processor or blender (vitamin or ninja work best). Place the cauliflower rice in a pan with a drop of oil. Cook until some of the moisture has released and the rice is warmed all the way through.

Place your rice on a plate and top with the meatballs. Pour sauce over top and garnish with fresh basil.

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