LOTS of work right here!
I crocheted this bedspread for my sweet little boy. I has over 300 little granny squares which were fun to make but then I had to crochet them all together!
Yesterday was a perfect day! It was in the 80’s, the kids got the pool cleaned out, and we sold our last three goats.
Just look those cute little overexposed faces!
If you’ve ever been around baby goats you know they’re seriously cuter than puppies. I’ll miss their cute little mugs and playfulness but soon they’ll be big and smelly so I’m so thankful they’re gone. Huge blessing!
I had a hankerin’ for a snack and since I can no longer indulge in nuts (grrr!) I decided to experiment with mug cake.
I used to make it quite a bit with “real” ingredients and have tried several paleo, low carb, etcetera type recipes and they have always been dry and nasty. I experimented with ingredients and made several cakes and came up with a winner that tastes amazing. Really.
As the kids were in and out of the house yesterday I’d stop them to try some cake and the one I’m sharing with you was everyone’s favorite.
The key is to not overcook it which is so easy to do in the microwave. (I know, microwaves are so bad!) Cook it just long enough so that only the outer cake is set and the center is still jiggly and glossy as you can see in the photo below.
Everyone kept referring to them as “mud” cake which might be more suiting anyway since I baked them in bowls instead of mugs. I think making it in a mug might change the cooking time but I haven’t tried it to see.
This recipe was so rich and gooey and super satisfying. If you have a couple of spare minutes you can indulge in this sweet cake and not even feel bad about it!
Mug Bowl Cake:
3 T unsweetened applesauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T cocoa powder
1 T xylitol
1/4 tsp stevia concentrate powder, or sweeten to taste
2 T coconut flour
Combine all ingredients in order in a small microwave safe bowl and mix well. Microwave on high for 35 to 40 seconds** or until the outer portion around the cake is set and the center is still jiggly and glossy.
Serves 1 or 2 people and is extra amazing with a tablespoon of heavy cream poured over the top.
*Microwaves vary a lot so keep an eye on it to keep from overcooking and thus drying it out…yuck!
So it’s been exactly one week since we made the dietary changes of cutting out nuts because of phytic acid and adding in more dairy, bone broth, and fermented cod liver/butter oil and my daughters teeth have improved dramatically. This time last week they were extremely transparent with lots of brown etching marks and decay and this week all of her teeth, with exception of the three teeth she’s had troubles with anyway look better than they ever have. It has worked that fast. Her three molars that have the original cavities in them still have a ways to go but they’re looking a lot better too.
Phytic acid is a killer! I have a hard time believing it doesn’t have some important role but historically, most people haven’t relied heavily on raw nuts for a large part of their dietary needs. It’s probably guilty of wreaking havoc on a lot of folks these days thanks in part to low carb type diets and the ease of accessibility of nuts. I know we went from eating them only occasionally to eating them all the freaking time!
Okay, on to the food! Coconuts are low in the antinutrient phytic acid and are allowed on lots of diets so it’s really gained a lot of popularity lately. I’ve used coconut flour off and on for several years and really only enjoy it when my palate is fully cleansed and I don’t crave real bread and sweets. However, even then it usually leaves a lot to be desired.
Coconut flour is very dense and absorbs a lot of moisture so the end product is always either very heavy and soggy from the loads of liquids needed otherwise it’s heavy and dry to the point that it’s difficult to swallow. I’m okay with sweets made with coconut flour to be soggier and just tell myself it’s like bread pudding but anytime I try to concoct a breadlike recipe it’s only tolerable at best.
Well not any more! This bread recipe uses a mixture of coconut and tapioca flour and is hands down the best I’ve had. It’s hard not to eat it slice after slice with just butter slathered all over it…all by myself.
I won’t try to convince you that it tastes just like wheat bread ’cause that would be a lie, but you really can use it like wheat bread without it falling apart the second you touch it and it really does taste good. It even gets a little crispy when I put slices under the broiler.
The tapioca flour is what makes this recipe and is worth the effort to hunt down although I can’t find a straight answer on the phytic acid content of tapioca, so I’m not making it all the time just in case it’s high.
The kids love it and even Hubs eats it plain and he’s a really picky eater. (Not saying he’s in love with it, but he does eat it voluntarily which is a big deal.)
So, without further ado, here’s a link to the original recipe. I double the recipe and bake it in a 9 x 5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. My baking soda and/or cream of tartar must not be super fresh because my bread never rises as high as you see in the link but it still tastes great and holds together well…Oh, and it’s not dry or soggy! 😉
Several days ago, my oldest came to me and said, “My teeth are turning gray!” Hubs and I looked in her mouth and sure enough, her teeth looked terrible. They weren’t actually gray but extremely transparent and covered with what looked like brown etching marks and all of her lower molars were a mottled color and decaying. She’s had trouble with a few molars since she was about five. With diet changes years ago we managed to heal one completely and the other two, while they developed holes and dark spots, eventually healed over.
Recently, she lost her last baby tooth and when the adult tooth began to break through we could see that it was already completely dark yellow. I thought maybe she’d injured it and it was dead but then it began to show more signs of decay so we went on the antifungal diet. (The one we’re on now.) Her tooth was showing great improvements and even turning white with no more outward signs of decay…until this.
We all keep a very close eye on her teeth. Her mouth is like the canary in the coal mine around here. It let’s us know when we’re screwing up and her newest tooth troubles happened within just a few of days!
Hubs and I were devastated. She was devastated. We were totally baffled too. We’ve followed this diet more perfectly than ever and for longer than ever (just over 3 months) and had tremendous improvements in her teeth as well as her and Hubs low blood sugar problems. My energy was great and my high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, and headaches were all gone but then it seems recently the bottom began to fall out and now we’re all screwed up.
On this diet, our son’s eczema looks like it’s turned into leprosy it’s becomes so bad. His arms and legs are completely covered with huge scales and lesions. Hubs developed GERD (without the acid feeling or taste) and thought a few times he was having a heart attack. I recently have five teeth with small cavities all.of.a.sudden. and I don’t ever get cavities! My arthritis started creeping back in as are my headaches and my blood pressure has jumped up into the prehypertension numbers and the week before and of my last period I was so weak I could barely stand at the sink and do dishes. I told Hubs I was pregnant tired but worse because I feel it 24 hours a day. I’m pretty sure it’s anemia.
What the heck is going on!?!
Oh, and in three months, I’ve only lost 10 pounds. That’s better than nothing but it ain’t nothin’ to write home about either.
So Hubs and I wracked our brains and scoured the internet trying to figure out what we did wrong and how to fix it. This diet consists of low fungal/mycotoxin foods like grass fed meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, zero grains, a few fruits (grapefruit, berries and granny smith apples) and a few dairy products in small amounts like kefir, yogurt, butter, sour cream, cream cheese and cream. Oh, and plenty of antifungals like coconut oil, garlic, raw apple cider vinegar, and oil of oregano.
After all our researching I’m pretty sure it’s the nuts and seeds are causing the cavities, anemia and high blood pressure. They’re higher in the mineral robbing, tooth rotting phytic acid than grains are and we had just begun to increase our nut consumption through baking with almond meal and using almond milk as well as nuts already being our go to snack. I also had slowed way, way down on the juicing in the last two weeks because I thought the high sugar content of the carrot juice might be why I wasn’t losing more weight which lowered the amount of minerals we were getting. Well, I lost 1.5 pounds and sacrificed everyone’s health to do it. Phytic acid robs our bodies of bone and tooth building minerals and if it can’t find enough minerals to steal in the foods you’re eating, it will steal them right from your bones and teeth! Even on the best diets some say we can only handle small amounts of nuts without being robbed…like 2 or 3 whole nuts a day.
There are ways of lowering the phytic acid through soaking and cooking and such, but I’m no expert on that stuff yet. I just know it’s trouble if you eat a lot of nuts in any form.
Hubs bailed on the diet about a month ago when his GERD became an around the clock nuisance despite all the extra enzymes he was taking (before the nut binge.) It rarely shows itself anymore and when it does it’s very, very mild. But the rest of us have just gone off nuts and seeds (except quinoa last night, which I soaked in vinegar water for 24 hours first then rinsed and cooked it for 20 minutes.) I made some 48 hour bone broth from grass fed soup bones and went back to juicing daily. We’re having more dairy smoothies (sans the raw spinach) and upped our butter consumption. I also ordered the books Nourishing Traditions and Cure Tooth Decay as well as fermented cod liver/butter oil. Oh, and daughter’s oil pulling every morning and I’m taking an iron supplement.
Already, the transparency that was throughout the lower 1/3rd of each tooth has all but completely gone back to normal and her teeth are turning white again and all but three of her molars look almost normal again. My own teeth are no longer sensitive where the cavities are which is hopefully a good sign and my back and hip did not have pain and stiffness this morning. Praise God!!
So now I’m back to baking with just coconut and tapioca flour…Oh, and I just got five pounds of raw cashews and 50 pounds of quinoa in the mail which I ordered pre major tooth decay! I guess I’ll just use them on rare occasions after soaking, roasting and cooking the fire out of them. I hope there’s nothing wrong with tapioca flour because I found a great recipe for grain/nut free bread that uses it and coconut flour here.
In all my researching I’m coming across more and more information about sugar and it’s important role in our health such as maintaining mineral balance. Of course, this is in regards to natural sugars found in whole foods and not refined sugar sources. It’s all very interesting like this article and this one. Evidently I have a lot more studying to do…and just when I thought I had it all figured out!
Well, the mailman just knocked on my front door and handed me my books so it’s time to get reading.
I’ve been on a grapefruit kick for the past few months, partly because it’s one of the few fruits that are allowed on the antifungal diet and also because I love winter grapefruit. It’s so much sweeter and juicier than at other times of the year.
I love to segment it then chop it up into bite size pieces and mix it along with frozen blueberries and stevia into plain yogurt. You might never assume grapefruit and yogurt go well together but, boy do they!
Last week was such a busy week for me I didn’t use up all of the grapefruits I had and I didn’t want them molding so I juiced them. I froze the juice in ice cube trays so I could add them to smoothies or to make grapefruit julius. I also made almond milk and froze that too. (I used some leftover ground almonds from the milk for the crust in this cheesecake and froze the rest.)
Growing up, my older sister used to make orange julius for the two of us using the recipe she learned in her junior high (middle school…incase you’re that young) home ec class. Oh, how I loved her orange julius! So orangey, sweet, and creamy and with a hint of vanilla. Of course, plain milk and oranges are banned from the diet so I had to come up with my own version of the icy treat.
Now that warmer weather is (finally!) here we had a little celebration and broke out the bendy straws. What’s a celebration without bendy straws?
The grapefruit julius was a hit and even my two littlest who won’t touch grapefruit with a ten foot pole finished theirs fast enough to get brain freeze.
It doesn’t have an overly strong grapefruit flavor but you can most definitely taste it. So, for all you health conscious grapefruit lovers out there, give this one a try.
2 c frozen grapefruit juice
2 c frozen almond milk
1 c coconut milk
1 c yogurt, plain
1 t vanilla
1/4 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
Blend all ingredients together in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Last weekend, Hubs and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. I can’t believe I’m old enough to be married so long! It’s seriously been the best fifteen years of my life.
Part of our celebration included a creamy, chocolatey cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of the very best desserts in the world for accommodating a sugar free, grain free diet. Tartness is key in disguising the taste of stevia and cream cheese and sour cream both have just enough to do the trick.
I have used stevia every single day for the past seven or eight years in all of my sweetened drinks and I love it. When it comes to baking however, it’s noticeably not a perfect sugar substitute. It doesn’t work in every application, but cheesecake is an exception. There’s more flavor and texture going on with a cheesecake than just the sugary sweetness of say, a cookie and that goes a long way to making a stevia sweetened dessert truly enjoyable.
This cheesecake has two layers, one being chocolate cream cheese and the other being vanilla sour cream. It’s also a little time consuming since there are three parts including making the grain free crust, but it really is a simple recipe and worth every minute it takes to make it.
I had a constant stream of interruptions while trying to make this particular cheese cake and wound up rushing through softening and blending the cream cheese and cocoa which led to a unique looking chocolate layer. I’m no perfectionist so I just rolled with it and when we were eating the cheesecake Hubs and the kids all commented on how cool it looked. I told them it was confetti, like it was supposed to look like that. Heh, heh.
It still tasted heavenly and was completely devoured with everyone wishing for seconds.
I’d say cheesecake and all it’s variations, is in my top three favorite sugar/grain free desserts. If you haven’t tried it yet you should. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Chocolate Double Cream Cheesecake
1 C almonds, ground
1/4 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
1 t cinnamon
3 T butter, room temperature
Mix ground almonds, stevia and cinnamon together then add butter and mix with a fork or pastry blender to get butter well incorporated Press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
2 large eggs, room temperature
2, 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
1/3 C granulated xylitol
3 T cocoa powder
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
Either in a mixing bowl using a handheld mixer or in a stand mixer, start by beating the eggs then add the remaining ingredients and continue mixing just until all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour mixture into the pie shell and bake in a preheated 375° oven and bake for 20 minutes until the cheesecake has puffed up but still not completely set in the center. Turn off the oven and crack the door open leaving the cheesecake in the still hot but cooling oven for another 20 minutes to set the center. Remove cheesecake from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before adding the top layer.
1 and 1/2 C sour cream
1/2 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
1 t vanilla extract
Either in a mixing bowl using a handheld mixer or in a stand mixer, beat together the sour cream, stevia, and vanilla. Spread over cooled bottom layer of the cheesecake and bake in a preheated 425° oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the chocolate sauce in swirls.
2 T coconut oil, melted
1 t cocoa powder
1/8 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
a tensy, tiny dash of salt
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl or coffee mug and drizzle over pie. (If the sauce thickens before you can drizzle it, reheat it.)
Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 4 hours or longer before serving and store any leftover, covered in the refrigerator.
Note: You’ll notice that I also use a little xylitol in a lot of my desserts which goes a long way to making a dessert taste and feel closer to the real deal. You can leave it out and up the amount of stevia and the cheesecake will still taste way better than most stevia only sweets. However, because xylitol is a sugar alcohol, I never use more than about 1/3 cup of xylitol in a recipe. Sugar alcohols are notorious for causing digestive upset and although xylitol is typically a lesser offender, it can cause trouble for some people.
Over the weekend I did some experimenting in the kitchen and came up with a tasty little cookie that even my pickiest eaters scarfed down and asked for more.
It’s a dessert, of course, and who doesn’t love sweets? I always had a major sweet tooth and baking has always been the only cooking I’ve really enjoyed.
These cookies are sweet as well as sugar and gluten free! As I was sampling my first one I thought I couldn’t really tell they were sugar free but assumed it was because I’ve been off sugar for a few months. Then, as my oldest was eating some, she also mentioned she couldn’t tell they weren’t made with sugar. I think having naturally sweet and tart blackberries helps.
My oldest, whose 14, picks wild blackberries every summer and we freeze bags full of them. They’re smaller and the seeds seem larger than store bought blackberries but they also seem sweeter with a stronger flavor. They are sooo yummy!
Thumbprint Cookies with Blackberry Chia Jam
2 C almond meal
1/4 C coconut flour
1/4 C xylitol
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C butter, softened
1/4 t raw apple cider vinegar (you can’t taste it at all and it helps them rise)
In a bowl mix all of the dry ingredients together then add wet ingredients and mix until very well incorporated Divide and shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Press your thumb half way into the center of each cookie making a well to place the jam in after baking. Bake them in a 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown.
Once cookies are baked and cooled fill the center of each cookie with 1 1/2 tsp of jam. Store uneaten cookies in the refrigerator. This recipe make 24 cookies.
Blackberry Chia Jam
2 C frozen blackberries
2 T lemon juice
2 T chia seeds
1/2 t stevia concentrate powder, or to taste
In a small saucepan heat the frozen berries and lemon juice to a simmer and cook until berries are soft. Remove pan from heat, stir in chia seeds, and smash up the berries with the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Stir in stevia and allow the jam to cool in the refrigerator or stick it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes.
Spring weather is back for just a few days so yesterday I made the kids some tapioca fudge pops. Yum!
I forgot to include the coconut milk in this picture…oops!
They’re supper easy to make.
Tapioca Fudge Pops:
5 1/2 c. coconut milk
6 T instant tapioca
4 T cocoa powder
1/3 c. granulated xylitol
1 tsp stevia concentrate powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Mix everything but the vanilla in a sauce pan and let it sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, heat to rapid boiling over med-hi heat while stirring. Once you reach rapid boiling, remove it from the burner and let it cool for a few minutes before adding the vanilla. (If you add it while it’s boiling hot, it will dissipate.)
This recipe makes a lot but I have five kids so I need a lot!
You can serve it as pudding warm or cold or freeze it in popsicle molds. The kids love the popsicles and I love it as a bowl of cold pudding.
I’ve noticed that when I use stevia in sweets that the desserts taste better after they’ve cooled completely than when they’re still warm, and this recipe tastes just like Jello brand chocolate pudding after it’s been completely chilled in the refrigerator
Salt is also necessary when cooking or baking with stevia as it brings out the sweetness without having to use quite as much stevia which also improves the flavor and helps cut any bitter aftertaste.
On another note, my photography skills are horrific! I have a Nikon D3000 that Hubs surprised me with a few years ago…after I whined and begged for one forever. I know it’s not an amazing camera but it’s capable of producing much nicer photos than the ones I always take in auto mode.
Every time I decide to figure out how to really use it I become instantly overwhelmed but yesterday afternoon I was perusing a favorite food blog with beautiful photos and finally decided to read her photography 101 posts. Wow! She really knows how to cut the crap and make it simple and understandable. It was so good I even made a few notes on 3 x 5 cards.
Her blog is edible perspective and she’s a foodie and self taught photographer. Her recipes and pictures always look so delicious!
It will take time and lots of practicing I’m sure but I think I’m getting the hang of it already. I dreamed about it all night long too. Ha, ha!
On even another note, I never meant for this blog to become another food blog…I don’t really even like cooking per se. I don’t know what I meant it for but I enjoy blogging so much that I started this blog with no purpose or reason other than I felt like I managed to blog myself into a corner with only one topic on my other blog. Am I already doing it again??
Basic instructions: Use a ratio of 1-2 tablespoons of milk kefir grains to 1 cup of milk (cow, goat etc…not nut or seed milk.) Place it all in a glass container with cheesecloth or a paper towel over the top to keep stuff from falling in (and to keep out gnats in the warm weather, they LOVE this stuff!) and to allow the gasses formed by the kefir to escape without busting your jar. Also leave a few inches of head space in the jar because it will expand. (You may have noticed the lid…outside of gnat season I just set the lid on top without screwing it down.)
Leave the jar on the counter for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours…basically till the curd separates from the whey like in the jar above. Times will vary and you can make it weaker or stronger using the 12 to 48 hour guideline.
After the whey has separated, stir it with a plastic or wooden spoon. Metal is supposedly death to kefir, but I’ve found that it tolerates some metal contact just fine as you’ll see.
Next, strain out all of the kefir grains leaving you with fermented milk. I use a fine metal strainer for this part and less than three months ago I only had about a cup of grains. Now I have 5 or 6 cups so it’s still alive and growing. I have to assume it’s only harmful to the grains if it’s in prolonged contact with metal. I haven’t tested that though.
Lastly, store the strained kefir in the fridge and put the grains in a jar of fresh milk to start the process over.
So there’s the finished product. Now you can sweeten it however you like or drink it plain or blend frozen fruit into it for smoothies etc.
Almost eight years ago, I bought two tablespoons of kefir grains from a guy off of ebay. I started out making one cup of kefir at a time, but through faithfulness and a warmish kitchen, those two tablespoons quickly grew into four cups and I started giving it away left and right to friends and family who asked for some…only for every one of them to throw it away later. Some even became repeat offenders.
One of Hubs friends asked for some grains and Hubs told him, “Sure, I’ll just have my wife go ahead and throw yours in the trash to save you the trouble.” He was confussed by that and asked why. Hubs told him that’s what everyone else has done so that’s what he’ll probably do too. The guy thought it was funny and swore he wouldn’t do that. I gave him about half a cup of grains which he placed in the fridge at work and left it there for a few weeks before he threw it in the trash. He figured it had surely gone bad by then.
Ha, ha! It didn’t even make it home with him! I thought it was funny among other things.
I’m not an overthetop, passionate, zealot about kefir so I’m no expert, but I have learned a few things over the years that I think are worth sharing.
It’s really, really hard to kill. I’ve never managed to and I’ve abused it in so many ways. I’ve done everything from leave it on the counter till it smells like 3 day old road kill in the summertime to leave it starving in the back of the fridge for months at a time. I even manhandled it with kefir murdering metal! Gasp!
The first picture is one of my current gallon batches. I have between 5 and 6 cups of grains right now and make about a gallon of strained kefir every day or so. That’s enough grains to make more than twice that amount if you figure you need about 2 tablespoons per cup of milk. But, I don’t need that much and I like the taste and texture of this ratio better. It comes out thick and frothy after about 24 hours on the counter with the perfect amount of tartness. Another day on the counter and it’s even thicker, but looses it’s frothiness and is at least as sour as sucking on a fresh lemon wedge…which is not my favorite. It’s like the difference between lemonade an lemon juice.
Sometimes I don’t have time to strain it when I need to so I stick the jar, grains and all, in the fridge till I’m ready which has been three to six months on many, many occasions. Once I’m ready to get back into making kefir, I pull my last batch out of the fridge, smell it then strain it. If it smells fine I go ahead and drink it and so far I’ve never had a batch smell off even after several months. My mom says she has had some turn bad that way but her sense of bad and mine might not match up. I haven’t died from doing that yet so my method works for me.
However, if you’re not as gutsy or you’ve left it on the counter till it smells rotten, strain out the grains and rinse them in chlorine/flouride free water and start over. The time I left it on the counter and it stunk to high heaven and grew a light brown fuzz across the top, I scrapped off that fuzzy layer, strained and rinsed the grains really well, poured the fermented milk down the drain, put the grains in a small amount of milk and changed the milk every couple of days (tossing the fermented milk each time) till it smelled normal again. That was within the first year of my kefir making and it’s still alive to tell about it (and so am I!)
Once you’ve left the grains in the fridge for months at a time, it can take a while for the grains to get back up to speed so I help them along by placing the jar in a big stew pot of warm (not hot) water, which I change a couple of times to get them restarted quicker. This also seems to help the grains multiply quicker too but it may only be necessary in winter when the kitchen is cooler.
Hubs and I, mostly Hubs, built our house and when we moved in I had nothing, not even a toilet!! Within 24 hours we had a toilet and a bathtub with running water. For a few weeks I did dishes in a big bowl in the bathtub. Oh the memories! Now we have all the appropriate fixtures and appliances but it’s nowhere near finished. In fact, my kitchen counter tops are made of contact paper. That’s how it goes when you’re paying cash as you go and your not mega rich…slow.
There’s lots of inspiration on Pinterest to keep hope alive that someday I’ll have a real kitchen complete with cabinets and counters and everything. Right now I’m on a gray and white kick which is a change from what I loved when we first moved in three years ago. That kind of makes me nervous to commit to anything!
I love the marble counters, open shelves and tile back splash in this kitchen.
I love the shade of gray in this one and the plank wall. (We have nothing but blank walls throughout our entire house.)
This one is so light and airy. ♥
One of these days…