Monday, April 23, 2012

Baby Led Weaning Swiss Chard Dairy-Free Custards

I used Rainbow Swiss Chard, hence the color...
I have been trying to dream up some recipes that I could put greens in and my 11-month old could feed himself with.  So I made these. YUM. You could sub any greens, I used Rainbow Swiss Chard because it's yummy and in season.  These were slightly sweet, perhaps because I used sweet onions.  If you are worried about feeding your child eggs, it is the cooked egg white which can cause allergies, so the yolk should be ok.  I use pastured fresh eggs, and the yolk is so delicious! It's also a cheaper way to eat humanely raised eggs, if you can buy straight from the farmer or a local person who just raises chickens!

Swiss Chard Dairy Free Custards

1 head organic greens
2 Tablespoons diced onions
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk, I like Native Forest brand because of their BPA-free can
coconut oil or pastured lard for sauteing
sea salt to taste
4 - 6 ramekins

Clean your greens well, making sure you get all the sediment out, especially if they are organic.  Remove all ribs and veins if they are also thick, like they were in my chard.  Tear into small pieces.
Heat your oil/lard in a saucepan and add onions, sauteing for a minute or two before adding the greens.  Saute them together until greens are well cooked.  Remove and cool.  Dice cooled greens (chop into small pieces).
Preheat oven to 300˚F.  Grease your ramekins with coconut oil/lard. Heat coconut milk in a saucepan until hot, or barely simmering.  Remove from heat and slowly whisk in egg yolks, one at a time.  Keep whisking until well blended.  Stir in greens (eyeball the amount, if it looks like you have too much greens for liquid, then don't add it all). Pour into cups evenly.  Place cups in a roasting pan or casserole dish and fill with water up to about a quarter of the way up the cups.  Bake 25 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool and scoop out spoonfuls to put on your little one's plate.

My little one loved them! They got gobbled up before I could get a pic! Next time I make some, I will post one!  ** update, pic posted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Asparagus Custards

This is a yummy and interesting side dish.  It is a savory egg custard with asparagus!  I loved making these, and we loved eating them even more!  Asparagus is one vegetable you may buy un-organic, it has a very low pesticide load.  I used larger creme brulee glass ramekins, so mine made only 5. Optional: reserve 6 asparagus heads to garnish the top like in my picture.

Asparagus Custards
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter, soft
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 eggs
vegetable steamer
roasting pan or casserole dish
6 ramekins

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease ramekins with butter. Wash & trim asparagus- my method is to rinse, then grab bottom of stalk with my thumb and forefinger and snap it off. That way, it automatically snaps off the hard part of each one, which varies. Steam in vegetable steamer for 6 - 8 minutes until color turns bright and stalks are soft enough to give to an inserted fork, but still firm.  Don't overcook, you don't want them to be mush, you want them to hold their shape.  Cool, cut the heads off, and cut the stems into 1/2 inch pieces.  In a food processor, mix asparagus stems, cream, butter, thyme, oregano, s&p, and parmesan and process until the stems are all mixed in- as smooth as possible. Scrape out mixture into a bowl and whisk the eggs in.
Divide up your asparagus heads among all the ramekins, then pour the mixture on top of them all evenly.  Place ramekins inside a roasting pan and pour water (using a cup or measuring cup) in around the ramekins until about 1/4 of the way up the side of ramekin.  Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until custard is set. Serves 6.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baby Led Feeding / Baby Led Weaning

Since there is some interest, I am going to start posting some of my baby-led feeding recipes.  The proper name is Baby Led Weaning, but since "weaning" in the U.S. implies stopping breastfeeding, I prefer the term Baby Led Feeding.  If you are new to the term, BLW/BLF just refers to teaching your child to eat solids without using purees.  The child feeds him/herself and since there is more control over eating, often becomes a much less picky eater.  Also, it teaches the child to manage bits of food.  Please do not try this method without learning all about it and the difference between choking and gagging. BLF should teach your child to manage his food and will very rarely actually choke on something.  For more info, go here to & also purchase or read a book on the subject.
I stay away from too many fruits because of the high sugar content, although I like to give him organic berries.  Recently though, I noticed too many strawberries cause him to have trouble going to sleep.  He also seemed hyper so, strawberries are out. I should know better, I know strawberries are not a low-sugar berry like blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries! I give him pears occasionally, but I gave up on apples because he choked on them a few times.  Anytime I feed him fruit or a higher sugar vegetable, I always feed it with a protein such as chicken, or a fat such as an avocado.
Also keep in mind that pesticide loads on foods take a higher toll on smaller livers.  The only un-organic foods my little boy gets are the lowest on the pesticide scale: onions, avocados, and asparagus. Pineapples, mangoes,  and bananas are also very low, but are pretty sweet so he would rarely get a little of these.
Here's an added bonus for feeding your child this way, besides that you can all eat together: If you don't have time to eat yourself and steal some of his food, you won't be eating bad-for-you mac & cheese and all those other "kid's foods" that end up putting weight on the parent!

Let's start with some vegetables & fruits that I feed him:
Organic broccoli - boiled in bone broth (I throw bones and filtered water in a crockpot overnight, that's it)
Organic peas - boiled in bone broth, served with protein.  Peas have a lot of starch but they are so good for his motor skills so I make this exception, but always fee with meat.
Organic colored bell peppers - I cut them open, cut out the whites and seeds, and cut them into three larger pieces.  Then, I slather them with coconut oil (high quality!) and roast, open side down on 400˚F until soft.  They will turn brown, that is ok.  If the middle is brown and soft but the edges are not, just flip them over for a few minutes (5-10) to even it out.  IMPORTANT: then I peel off the skin, it comes off easily. Cut in small chunks, or however you like to BLF.  These are so good, it's hard not to eat them all myself!
Organic cauliflower
Sauteed onions
Organic blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries  - watch for seeds on the last two, wait until he's an accomplished eater first.
Organic Pink Grapefruit - we have a huge tree!
Raw or cooked organic tomatoes

Some citrus fruits can cause a little face rash from the acid.  If this happens, discontinue fruit for a while, and try again later.

I stay away from green beans, because he is sensitive to soy (even in breastmilk) and I hear they can create the same reaction.  In Robby's case, that would mean a severe stomach ache.

Here he is, eating avocados!

Monday, April 16, 2012

FAT BOMBS! And, a confession

OK, I have a confession!  I have been completely off my low-carb diet since I was six months pregnant.  And, I really have no excuse since my little boy is now almost a year old. I have stayed true to no gluten, but have been eating a lot of brown rice tortillas (they are my nemesis), gluten-free bread, and high sugar milk chocolate.  So, as you can imagine, the weight gain has been noticeable.  Well, not anymore.  For the past week, I have been back on the low-carb train.
What’s the secret to staying true to your low-carb diet plan?  I’d like to know what your little tricks are, please post! I’ll tell you mine.  One is to be prepared!!!  Especially if you are busy-busy, like I am.  I’m juggling a few careers- singing opera, teaching singing, church cantor, cookbook writer, blogger, Mommy!  So, there’s often not a lot of time for me to make something to eat.  One thing I do is cook extra dinner.  Then I throw my leftover meats and veggies in a pie tin and into the oven to heat up (I hate microwaves) for lunch.  Also, I make sure there are plenty of high protein and fat snacks to satisfy me when I don’t have time for a meal and am hungry! This is essential.  That is where the cheat can begin… and often snowball after you eat potato chips or chocolate and then your insulin begins to dance up and down, causing you to gain belly fat and feel disgusting.  So, I pack my fridge with nut butters, pre-made snacks like celery & peanut butter, cheeses, olives, full fat yogurt, and in the cabinet there are more nuts.  And, I try to bake myself a low carb treat as often as possible.  I make nut butter bread. 
And, now, I make fat bombs.  Ohhhh yes.  It’s as good as it sounds.  Little chocolate truffles full of good for you fats to keep the munchies away!  It's important to eat lots of fat and protein on a low-carb diet.  Don't be afraid of good fats, your brain needs them! Your brain is 65% FAT!  Now, I didn’t make up the concept… the original concept came from Wifezilla's Way.  But I was inspired, and made a stab at some dairy free ones for you dear dairy free followers, and they were delicious!  They taste like truffles.  They are a perfect snack!  And, you can make up your own, and do any number of substitutions.  Please post your versions! I am interested!
I’ll keep you posted on my weight loss… so far it’s been a half a week and my sugar-bloat is down quite a bit.  Thank you, fat bombs!
My other secret to staying on my low-carb diet, which I did with much success for over 3 years before pregnancy, is self-forgiveness.  Love yourself the way you are, right this minute.  So you aren’t rail thin.. who cares? There’s more of you to love.  Learn to accept yourself the way you are and then when you make a mistake, you say… oops, I made a mistake, oh well. I’ll start over right this minute.  Don’t let self judgement snowball into feeling bad about yourself and consuming too many foods that are not good for you!!!  If anyone ever gives you flack for your weight, tell them how that makes you feel and if they cannot stop, cut them out of your life or if that is not possible, learn to say to yourself, that is their problem, not yours!!!  You will be amazed how this technique works to help you have a better, healthier life!!!
***NOTE: If you use liquid stevia, it can make the chocolate mixture curdle if added after mixed.  So if you are not using the same kind I used- NuNaturals brand vanilla stevia (probably regular stevia would work), then I would suggest that you use either half as much and then add powdered if you have to adjust the taste later, or just used powdered.
***Also, it's possible your mixture won't stay a beautiful smooth consistency.  If that happens, so what. They still taste good when they are done! They just may separate, making a white band around the edges from the coconut oil.
CAVEAT: Don't eat these before bed, they give you a lot of energy!
UPDATE: I lost that pudge that was bothering me.  :) yay, fat bombs!

Fat Bombs

¼ cup cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons canned coconut milk – Native Forest brand has no BPA in the lining, FYI
2 Tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
3 - 6 Tablespoons nut butter:  I like to use 3 Tbls coconut butter, and the rest almond or peanut butter
1 Tablespoon finely chopped nuts, I used pecans here in Louisiana
Stevia to taste, I used 20 drops of NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia or 1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals powdered** see note above
½ cup coconut flakes, toasted under a broiler while watching carefully, about 30 seconds
a wire whisk or hand beater
cupcake papers

Combine cocoa powder, coconut milk, and stevia in a small saucepan and stir.  The cocoa will not mix in. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until smooth. Remove from heat and add the nut butter.  Whisk or beat on low speed together until combined. Whisk in coconut oil.  Stir in nuts, and most of the coconut flakes.  Reserve some for topping. Spoon into 5 cupcake papers evenly and top with remaining coconut. Arrange on a plate and place in freezer until hardened.  Then, transfer to refrigerator.  Eat straight from refrigerator, they will melt at room temperature.  Makes 5; 3g effective carbs each, and 18.8g good-for-you fat if you use peanut butter and pecans, slightly less if you sub walnuts for pecans. If you use cashew butter & pecans/walnuts, 4.25 ECC/4.15 ECC respectively. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Snickerdoodle Cookies with Walnuts

These are pretty much Snickerdoodle cookies with walnuts.  Easy to make, and yummy. 

Dragon Herbs was kind enough to send me a sample of their birch xylitol.  I am trying different kinds of birch xylitol, because I am trying to stay away from corn.  Birch xylitol is more expensive, but I believe it's worth it.  It causes less stomach aggravation, and I appreciate that it is grain-free.  I like to stay away from corn as much as possible.  I still use erythritol, but I may be using more xylitol in it's place now that I've found birch xylitol.

Cinnamon Walnut Cookies
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia (or 1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals brand)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, gfree
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 Tablespoon xylitol, I used Dragon Herbs Birch Xylitol
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend in a large bowl the soft butter, stevia, and erythritol.  Add eggs one at a time and mix.  Add flour, baking soda, sea salt, and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add walnuts and mix gently. 

Stir together cinnamon and xylitol on a small bowl.  Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls.  Dip or roll into cinnamon mixture, then place on lined cookie sheet.  Then smush with your fingers to flatten slightly into a cookie shape.  Place about 1 inch apart from other cookies.  Bake 8 - 12 min until top is golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheets.  These keep about 3-4 days. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Bars with Stevia

G-free Low Carb Blueberry Lemon Bars

More blueberry recipes!  I made these with Stevia only, so they contain no sugar alcohols (for those with corn allergies). And if you want to make them dairy free, just replace the butter in the crust with extra virgin coconut oil, or expeller-pressed coco oil for a non-coconut taste.  My fave is Tropical Traditions and no, they don't pay me to say that! Of course, if they'd like to, I'm all for it! I'd say it anyway! I think it's the best brand and I also think they are a great company.  I honestly don't trust any other expeller pressed coconut oil.
These are best served cold.

***TIP: Make zest from your lemon before you half it and juice it.  If you don't have a lemon zester, then use a cheese grater.

Blueberry Lemon Bars
Printable Page
8 generous servings at 6.1 effective carb count  (8.9 carbs - 2.8g fiber)
shortbread crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour, I used Honeyville
1/8 teaspoon Stevia powder (NuNaturals preferred, or Sweetleaf)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 Tablespoons organic butter, melted [or expeller-pressed coconut oil]
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Edges of crust slightly browned
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork.  Press into a 9" pan and bake 10 - 15 minutes until the edges are slightly brown. (Like this pic--->). Cool while you make the filling.

lemon filling:

4 eggs, organic, pastured preferred
1 teaspoon organic lemon zest, finely chopped if necessary
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon NuNaturals Stevia powder, or 1/2 teaspoon Sweetleaf (then more to taste)
1/2 cup almond flour, I used Honeyville
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup organic blueberries, washed and stems removed (raspberries would be a good sub in this recipe)

how blueberries should look on crust
Beat eggs until fluffy.  Add all the rest of the ingredients except the blueberries. Mix well. Set aside. Arrange blueberries over the crust as evenly as possible. (see pic--->)

Then give the lemon mix a good stir and pour over blueberries.  Bake (still at 350˚F) for 25- 30 minutes until set. What does set mean? It won't be jiggly when you shake it. Or you can give it a toothpick test by putting your toothpick in the center and making sure the toothpick comes out clean, with nothing sticking to it.  The edges will be slightly brown.  Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for about an hour.

done: bars are set. Cooling.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strawberry Walnut Scones

I improved this recipe, and I hope you enjoy it.  You could certainly substitute any fresh (as in not frozen) berry or even dried berries for the strawberries.. but they are in season. And, of course, any nut for the walnuts.  These are good immediately or if they are for later, they need to be toasted.  Be careful not to use too many strawberries, as it can make them soggy.

Strawberry Walnut Scones

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville's recommended)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia (or 1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals brand)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, gfree
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup diced strawberries (~ 3 large)
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend in a large bowl the soft butter, stevia, and erythritol.  Add eggs one at a time and mix.  Add flour, baking soda, sea salt, and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add walnuts and strawberries and mix gently.

Place heaping tablespoons of mixture on parchment paper  and bake 12- 17 min until top is golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheets.

Serve alone or with butter or cream cheese- or both! Re-toast leftovers when ready. These keep about 3-4 days.  About 8 Scones; sorry- will have to repost the nutritional info later, having problems with the program.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dinner in A Bucket Chicken & Greens: Saving Money & Time

Chicken & Greens- I added the tomatoes for color for the photo

If you've been following my blog, you know what a fan I am of what I call "dinner in a bucket".  This is one of those.  Very fast to throw together, easy, nutritious, and can be cheap!  Mine feeds 3 for $8.50 and is humanely raised meat and organic veggies.  (After adding organic cherry tomatoes, it goes up to $10.50 for 3 people).  I got the chicken from Whole Foods on sale, 10 legs for $2.37, and is level 2 on their scale.  I subscribe to their Facebook page and keep up with the specials.  I bought a bag of organic mixed "braising" greens from the farmer's market locally for $3.  Alternatively, you could buy a bag of mixed greens at the supermarket, or even just collect greens from the garden.  Mine contain beet greens, swiss chard, dandelion greens, and some yummy asian greens I forgot the name of.  I also bought this very strange garlic that looks like leeks, which was also $3 but you could get by with about .75 worth of organic garlic.  And, my pastured lard was practically free, since I collected it from our pastured bacon.  It is healthier to use a stable oil for cooking,  which is why I list 3 healthy saturated fats.  Poly-unsaturated fats are unstable and break down, causing free radicles almost immediately after made.  Mono-unsaturated oils are more suited for pouring on top of already cooked foods or using in a salad.  They are best un-heated.

This is my weird garlic.  Cool, huh? I used the white and saved the green for stock.

Anyway, this dinner took me 10 minutes to throw together. I turned on oven, sliced the garlic, threw it in the bottom of the pan with some pastured lard, washed the greens in my salad spinner, then threw them on top.  Then I washed the chicken legs, patted them dry, placed them on top, and salt and peppered everything.  I turned the legs over and s&p'ed them again.  Then I added a little more lard. Then, maybe I added a little more, heh heh.  You could use high quality coconut oil or butter alternatively.  Then I threw it in the oven and went about my business of cleaning up after my 10 month old - he had a very busy day!

The greens cook down A LOT.  My picture of just chicken & greens, though delicious, needed color so I added whole cherry tomatoes.  But, that is totally optional.

Quick Chicken & Greens
Feeds 3, adjust for your family size

2.5 lbs chicken on the bone, I used legs.
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large bag of store bought greens, or collected garden greens, washed and dried
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, whole (optional)
4-6+ Tablespoons of a healthy saturated fat such as pastured lard, high quality coconut oil, 
or organic butter
Fresh herbs such as oregano (optional)
salt & pepper
large baking dish
oven mitts
meat thermometer, optional but recommended

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Wash chicken and pat dry.

In a large baking dish, place garlic and 2-3 Tablespoons oil.  Add the greens on top. Place chicken on top.  Add a few lumps of oil or drizzle on top, if possible.  Sprinkle fresh herbs, if using. Salt & pepper everything, then turn the legs over and s&p the other side.  Place in pre-heated oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove chicken and either shake the dish or stir it to make sure everything in the dish is coated in oil.  Place back in oven and check every 15 minutes for doneness, you want to see juices running clear (no pink/red) and the meat is cooked without any pink inside - check the biggest one.  OR you can use a meat thermometer - you want the inside cooked to 165˚F, which you need to check in the biggest piece, at the fattest part, near the bone.  I cooked mine for 45 minutes.

before cooking