Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares—Paleo, Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free—Delicious!

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares 7-10-13

These fudgy squares of slightly frozen chocolate banana gooey-ness are not only no-bake, they are also grain free (Paleo), refined sugar free and dairy free.  I can’t wait to make them again, but after making them a few weeks ago, I still have a few of them left.  They are a perfect treat when I need something and the rest of the family is enjoying ice cream or something else I’m not eating right now.

I’ve been having fun searching the world wide web for healthy treats and finding there are so many options for gluten free, grain free, sugar free goodies.  So far I have liked all the things I’ve tried and am excited to try more recipes.  This one today is from  Christal at Nutritionist in the Kitch.  The fudgy bottom layer is simply some dates, almonds, walnuts and cocoa powder (I added a touch of raw honey).  This made a perfect no-bake, healthy fudge that would also be good by itself or even just rolled in to balls.  After that is spread into a pan, a frozen pudding-like topping is made with bananas, almond butter, cocoa powder and honey.   Once that layer is added the dessert is put in the freezer for a short time. 

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares 7-10-13

Once the squares are frozen enough, you must hurry to take their picture or they will start melting! ;)

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares 7-11-13

‘Course, never fear—they are delicious frozen, too!  (Just give them a few minutes at room temperature and they are perfect.)

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted slightly from Nutrition in the Kitch (Give it up for Christal and check out her blog!)

Bottom Layer--

1 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup almonds, toasted

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon raw honey (optional)

Top Layer--

2 ripe bananas

1/4 cup cocoa powder

4 tablespoons almond butter

4 tablespoons raw honey

Soak dates in a bowl with warm water for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Line a 9x5 bread pan or an 8x8 square baking pan with non-stick foil.  Put the dates, almonds and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until it is starting to chop everything up nicely.  Add the cocoa powder and honey and process until everything starts sticking together, almost forming a ball.  Spread it in the pan and press down making an even layer. 

In the food processor (no need to wash it out), combine the bananas, cocoa powder, almond butter and honey and mix until well blended.  Pour this mixture over the dates layer and spread evenly.  Place pan in the freezer for an hour.  Remove from pan lifting the sides of the foil and cut into squares.  Store in the freezer.

Healthy Eatmore Fudge Squares 7-11-13

Try not to eat them all in one sitting.  Ha.   I feel like they are actually quite filling and one square will do ya—then they’ll last longer, especially if you don’t share them.  My boys were not even interested when I told them they had dates in them.   I’ll try something else and fool them one of these days.  Head over to Christal's blog, Nutrition in the Kitch to find more ideas and great recipes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Perfect Kale Chips

Perfect Kale Chips 2

I’ve always liked kale chips since trying them a few years back.  I even posted a recipe for some two years ago.  But today I tried baking them a new way and love them much more.  I feel bad because I saw this recently on a Facebook post from somewhere and can’t for the life of me remember where.  So there is a source out there that I’d give credit to if I could remember who it was.  I’ll be sharing the recipe as I made them here, but it’s the method I read about that I like.

You’ll never feel left out again when people around you are eating potato chips and you don’t have anything to munch on.  These are the answer.  Make them.  They are crunchy and a little bit salty, but they aren’t fried food with high carbs—it’s kale—a superfood.  They are so good and so good for you!

So easy to make—just tear the kale in to pieces—1-2 inches in size.  Wash them and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with a little non-aerosol olive oil spray, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and some parmesan (my favorite topping, but you can use endless spices and herbs).  Have the oven already preheated to 425 degrees F.  When you put them in the oven, turn it off and let them sit for 12-15 minutes.  I thought they were perfect at 14 minutes.  They were more light and perfect than the way I’ve made them before (in my other post), with no burned pieces.  A perfect, healthy treat, or side to your lunch, or as I made them—they were my lunch along with some fruit.

Kale ready to bake into chips

Perfect Kale Chips, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 bunch of kale, washed and dried, stems removed, torn into 1-2 inch pieces

salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated

*olive oil non-aerosol spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Wash and dry kale (salad spinner works best).  Remove stems and tear into 1-2 inch pieces.  Spread kale evenly on a baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil (*or lightly drizzle and mix with hands to make sure all pieces get oil).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then parmesan cheese.

Put baking sheet in oven and turn oven off.  Let kale bake for 12-15 minutes (Mine was perfect in 14 minutes).  Let sit on baking sheet to cool slightly for a few minutes. Carefully scrape kale into a dish and serve.  Try not to eat it all in one sitting, but if you do—there is no guilt!

Baked Perfect Kale Chips

When they come out of the oven, they will look shriveled up, never fear, they are crispy and perfect. 

Kale Chips (425 then oven off for 14 min.)

You’ll even fight over them with your kids.  Two of my four boys really like them.  The other two won’t even try them.  If you’ve never tried kale chips, you need to as soon as possible! ;)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free (Vegan)

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Don’t freak out with that title thinking these must not taste very good with all those things missing—these cookies were great!  They are chewy, have a great nutty taste and are studded with healthy dark chocolate.  Winner!

I’ve been enjoying searching for new recipes that I can make and still have a little treat now and then, but stick to my new trial of eating gluten free and refined sugar free.  I’m pretty sure these are also vegan as well since there is no dairy and instead of egg, I used flaxseed meal mixed with water.  For the chocolate, I used Green & Blacks organic 70% cacao chocolate bar that I chopped up. 

The recipe I found online that I adapted these from is at Recipe Renovator.  I ended up changing from the suggested vegan margarine to coconut oil and I only used 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup.  I also used coconut sugar instead of the maple sugar suggested in the recipe.  The recipe uses some sorghum flour and almond meal as well as some gluten free oats.  I’ve been expanding my gluten free flour supply and had just bought some sorghum flour and gluten free oats.  I already have almond flour, coconut flour, brown rice flour and a couple others that I’m excited to try out in different recipes.  I’ve also made a few things recently that are grain free that are pretty darn good.  I’ll share those soon.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup sifted sweet sorghum flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 cup almond flour (almond meal)

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup agave syrup

1  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal plus 2 tablespoons water

1 cup gluten free rolled oats

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Blacks organic 70%)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the sorghum flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and almond meal.  Whisk together to sift.  Put the flaxmeal and water in a small bowl and let sit for a few minutes.  Cream together with a mixer the coconut oil, coconut sugar, agave and vanilla until well combined.  Add the flax mixture and combine.  Beat in the dry ingredients just until combined.  Stir in the oats and chocolate with a wooden spoon..  Scoop dough on to baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten each slightly.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cookies sit on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

You can’t go wrong with a good, healthy chocolate chip cookie!  I’m happy.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday, July 12, 2013

Homemade Nut Butters—Honey Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and Sunflower Seed Butter

Honey Peanut Butter 7-10-13

Homemade Honey Peanut Butter, July 2013

I’ve been making homemade nut butters and promised a few people I’d post about them.  There is something about making nut butters homemade that is fun and in my opinion taste better.  I love knowing exactly what is in them and controlling how much salt goes in as well.  It is also more economical than buying them.  I’m sure I’ll still buy my favorite ones from time to time, but I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve done so far.

Besides for health reasons, I started  making these after ordering five pounds each of raw sunflower seeds, raw almonds and raw pecans.  I love eating raw nuts and seeds.  I actually prefer sunflower seeds raw rather than roasted and salted.  For the nut butter, I did roast and salt them.

I just made the Honey Peanut Butter yesterday.  I might be my favorite one so far!  I had some raw peanuts and roasted them on a baking sheet.  When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled just a little salt on them.  After they had completely cooled, I put them in the food processor and pulse them until they were chopped finely.  Then I turned the food processor on and let them go until they became a paste.  I would stop and scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time.  It only took about five minutes until they became a great peanut butter.  I sprinkled in a little bit more salt.  Then for kicks, I decided to add some raw honey.  I added a tablespoon.  The peanut butter thickened up quite a bit after I added the honey.  I wasn’t sure if it would smooth back out if I just kept the food processor running, so I decided to add some organic coconut oil to it.  That smoothed it right out and the peanut butter tastes fantastic!  I love just the ever-so-slight hint of coconut flavor and the perfect amount of honey.  This might be my favorite nut butter I’ve made so far, but every time I make one, I think that.  They each taste so different, it’s really hard to say.

Homemade Honey Peanut Butter, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups raw peanuts

1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoons raw honey

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread peanuts on baking sheet in an even layer.  Roast for about 10 minutes.  After removing them from the oven, sprinkle a little salt over them.  Let cool completely.  Put the peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are chopped finely.  Turn the food processor on and let them go until they begin to form a paste.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and process until it becomes a smooth peanut butter ( about 5 minutes total).  Sprinkle with a little more salt.  Add some raw honey (you don’t have to use raw honey).  After it combines, add coconut oil until it is all smooth.  Let the peanut butter cool, then store in a jar.  If it lasts more than a week, store it in the refrigerator.

  Grain Free Bread/Homemade Honey Peanut Butter 7-12-13

Today I had some of the peanut butter spread on some Grain Free Sandwich Bread I made.  I found the recipe at Unrefined Kitchen.  It is my first try of a grain free bread.  It’s okay.  It’s my first bite of anything bread-like in about a month.  In the recipe, it gives the option of butter or coconut oil.  I used coconut oil.  It also suggested two tablespoons of honey, but more if you want a really sweet bread.  So I only used one tablespoon of raw honey.  I’ll eat the loaf slowly, I’m sure.  It will be fun to try different recipes until I find one that I really like.  It was certainly good with the honey peanut butter on it!

I enjoyed it with some apple slices yesterday not long after I made it.  It’s good enough that I could just dig my finger in the jar as well.  The peanut butter is a light color.  I think it is because the raw peanuts I used did not have skins.  I am assuming a lot of peanut butters are made with the skins on and/or they are roasted to a darker color.  This is perfect to me. ;)

Homemade Honey Peanut Butter

I made sunflower seed butter about three weeks ago.  Loved it.  I need to make some more.  There isn’t really a recipe for that.  I roasted raw sunflower seeds (about 3 cups) on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes.  I lightly salted them when they came out of the oven.  I let them cool completely.  I put them in the food processor and let it go, scraping the sides every couple of minutes until it formed a nice smooth butter.  This took probably closer to a total of 10 minutes until it was the consistency I wanted.  You can decide how smooth or crunchy you’d like any of these butters.

Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter 6-15-13 Here’s a couple pictures of the sunflower butter in process.

Roasted Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds after one minute

After a few pulses in the food processor.

Sunflower seeds after 2 minutes

After 2 minutes in the food processor.

Sunflower seeds after 6 minutes 

After 4 minutes in the food processor.

Sunflower seeds after 6 minutesAfter 6 minutes in the food processor.

Sunflower seeds after 8 minutes 

After 8 minutes in the food processor.

Sunflower seeds after 10 minutes

My favorite thing to do with the sunflower butter, besides dipping carrot sticks in it, is make one of my breakfast smoothies.  I always put a tablespoon of peanut butter in it, but tried it with sunflower seed butter and it was really good.  I’ve always tried my smoothies with almond butter.  They are all good, but this particular one is really good with the sunflower seed butter.  This smoothie has a secret ingredient that one wouldn’t think of for smoothies, but I love it!

Banana Sweet Potato Sunflower Seed Butter Smoothie

I kept forgetting exactly what I was putting in the smoothie, so I finally remember to take a picture of the ingredients once recently.  Funny thing is, I forgot to add the Greek yogurt in the photo. ;)

Breakfast Banana Smoothie ingredients, including Greek yogurt, no pictured

The secret ingredient is sweet potato!  So really this smoothie just has banana, sweet potato, nonfat Greek yogurt, sunflower seed butter and my vitamin powder and some almond milk.

Breakfast Banana Sunflower Smoothie, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/2 a banana, frozen

1/4 of a sweet potato, cooked and cooled, skin removed before adding to smoothie

1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter)

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2-3/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk)

1/2-3/4 cup crushed ice

vitamin powder (mine has a light orange flavor), optional

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Pulse and puree until smooth, about 1 minute.

Although I often have green smoothies or put other fruit in them as well, this banana one is my favorite.  You can’t really taste the sweet potato, but it sure makes the smoothie creamy and adds a lot of nutrition!

Finally, I have made almond butter at least three times.  Super easy and great for so many things.  I just made another batch two days ago.

Lunch 6-20-13  Here’s one of my lunches recently with almond butter.

Homemade Almond Butter, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

4 cups raw almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Put the almonds in the bowl of a food processor.  Process (it’s pretty loud at first as they start to chop up!) the almonds until they become a smooth butter.  This takes a good 10 minutes.  Let cool (the food processor warms up a bit) before store in a glass jar.  This amount of almonds made 16 ounces of almond butter.

Almond Butter

Almond Butter

Can’t wait to try all kinds of different things with all these nut/seed butters I’ve been making homemade!  I know that there are a lot of grain-free/gluten free recipes that use almond butter and have been enjoying looking at all the possibilities. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies—Secret Recipe Club

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

This photo of this cookie up close is seriously heavenly to me.  Sigh!  What a fun blog to get for my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month.  What blog is that, you might ask?  If you know anything about Levain Bakery’s cookies in NYC, you’ll know just whose blog I’m talking about.  It’s none other than the queen of Levain Bakery Copycat cookies, Lisa, from Parsley, Sage & Sweet.  I’ve been following (not literally following around like stalking, hehe) Lisa (okay, her blog) for years, probably since not long after I started mine in February of 2008.  I just think she has the most amazing photos, delicious looking food, and tells the best stories!  (Write a book, Girl!)

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

Six ounces of chocolate chip cookie goodness! (I made one in the Levain Bakery traditional six ounce size.)

You MUST check out her blog if you never have.  You’ll droll, be amazed at what she does with recipes, and you’ll laugh.  What better way is there to spend your time on the internet?

I spent all this last month since getting my assignment looking back through Lisa's blog and wanting to make something really special.  On top of that, I was sick, we went out of town, and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to do any of her recipes all that much justice.  Have I mentioned that you must go look at what I'm talking about?

Lisa has been cooking and baking along with the Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers groups for years.  She makes some amazing looking French macarons.  She bakes bread and makes savory dishes and delightful sweets.  What I love is that she never just makes a recipe as written, she makes them all her own and she owns it.  You need to check out her Recipe Index, then stop by each recipe post and go crazy and drool and be jealous that you didn’t get to taste her food.  ;)  After that, pick something and go make it.

I have been dreaming of this Butterscotch Peach Cobbler since she posted it a few months back.  I was delighted to see/remember that she and I have made some of the same recipes before—including Best Ever Brownies from Baking With Julia, which I made for TWD and she made the same Chocolate Zucchini Cake I’d also made around about the same time in 2009.  Oh, there’s more—her blog offers much, much more. 

Some already know, and those who do not, need to know that I recently announced some health issues new in my life.  I have MS (multiple sclerosis).  This is a nasty, dreaded disease that my family knows all-too-well.  My older sister died in 1999 at the age 33 from MS.  It was horrible to her life and body.  After some issues over the last few years, I have been diagnosed with MS as well.  (My maternal grandmother also died from the then much-less-known-about MS in 1947 at the age of 24 when my mother was only 2 years old.)  And they say MS isn’t hereditary.  Anyway, my case of it is totally different from what my sister went through and I’m now 43.  AND I plan to fight it with everything I’ve got.  Why must I tell you this?  It’s because I have decided to make some dietary changes in my life.  I am going gluten free, refined sugar free and processed foods free.  We’ll see how long I keep with the gluten free, though even if I do ever change that, I plan to stick with whole grain.  My doctor advised me to not go all crazy with any particular diet, to just eat a good, healthy balanced diet. 

Never fear or fret and certainly don’t stop reading my blog—I still plan to blog delicious things I make for my family and friends.  I also plan to share some of the new recipes I discover with those healthier alternatives as well.  The best of both worlds.  So, as much as I was aching to make Lisa’s Butterscotch Peach Cobbler and many other things she’s posted, I went with something simple and truthfully probably my favorite thing she’s ever posted--the Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies.  You might be thinking—“another chocolate chip cookie, big whoopteedo”.  What you must know is this New York City bakery cookie is probably my favorite cookie and if you’ve never had one, you just don’t really understand.  It is delicious.  It stands on its own, in its own league of chocolate chip cookies.  Oh, there are many other recipes for the chocolate chip cookie that I love, my go-to favorite chocolate chip cookie, adapted from Jacques Torres/NY Times that everyone I make them for raves about to name one.

Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies 7-5-13But this big, fat gooey Levain Bakery cookie is different.  I’ve loved Lisa ever since she cloned this cookie the best I’ve ever tried—and back when my infatuation with this cookie began (2008), I tried many copycat recipes and have stuck with hers since then.  I actually haven’t made the cookie for a while.  Why?  I don’t know, but now I really wish I would have because this became the biggest test of my will power when I made them just last week for this post—and I didn’t taste even the slightest bit of dough or cookie because of the new changes I’m making in my diet.  I knew if I even tasted part of one, I’d want to eat the whole thing.

What is nice to know is that if I do ever decide to splurge and have a cookie, it won’t kill me.  I know I’ll be just fine.  Just for now, I am sticking with and going strong on the gluten free/sugar free road.  So yes, I say a big SIGH over this cookie.  The real Levain cookies are six ounces!  These that I’ve made, just as Lisa's recipe suggests are only a mere four ounces. ;)  I’m not going to post the recipe—go get it on the links I’ve left here from Lisa's blog (oh, look, there’s another link!).  She suggested using the best quality chocolate chips and that she’d heard Levain uses Guittard chocolate—so that is what I used—Guittard semi sweet chocolate chips.  She also added a note that someone heard Levain freezes their ready-t0-bake cookie dough mounds for a short time.  So I did that, too.  I baked them for 18 minutes as Lisa does.  Once I took them out of the freezer, I let them sit for a while, maybe 30 minutes before I baked them.  You don’t have to let them freeze completely, just enough to really give them a good chill.  It just worked out for my baking that I had them in the freezer until the next day, you can just freeze the mounds of dough for 30-60 minutes, then put them on a baking sheet and bake them.  And last, but not least, if you’ve made these and they have sat in an airtight container, or are no longer still just a little warm from the oven, you really should reheat them ever-so-slightly to get the true Levain texture and taste.

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

This copycat looks mighty similar to the real thing (photo below)!  The taste and texture is right on, too.

You will not be sorry to give these best-ever Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies a try.  Lisa also has on this same post her copycat version of Levain’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies, too.  If you are a chocolate and peanut butter lover, you’ll love these!

Check this out—here I am, sitting on the bench outside of Levain Bakery in November 2008 with a cookie in my hands.  Funny that after sending a copy of this photo to Levain years ago, they like it so much they have posted it on Pinterest and in articles that rave about their cookies.  My hands are famous. ;)


Actual Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie, Nov. 2008

Someday I’ll get back to New York City again and I’ll definitely splurge on one of the real Levain cookies.  I’m sure that someday I’ll even splurge on these great copycat cookies as well.  For now, I was actually pretty content to just make them again, drool a little over them and share them with more family and friends.   I’ll for sure be back to drooling over Lisa's blog, Parsley, Sage & Sweet again, too.  And you must, as well.  Go now.