Maple Blessing Cake with Pear, Cardamom & Anise (gluten & grain free, with sugar & dairy free options)

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Last Fall, my dear friend had a beautiful ceremony to celebrate her special pregnancy time, savored moments for nurturing and honoring the woman and mother in her as she prepared for the birth of her second child. In Navajo tradition this ceremony is known as a Blessingway. It was a lovely time with dear women friends gathered together to nurture and pamper the new mother-of-two-to be. We each created and
brought an image or artwork or piece of writing to share with her and set them together on her altar. We washed her feet in a bowl of warm flower-scented water with essential oils and fresh flower petals scattered over the surface, and we massaged her legs and arms. We hennaed her beautiful belly with spontaneous and meaningful designs as we spoke words of blessing and love to share with her.

And there were good things to eat… One of my gifts was a Blessing Cake, created just for her and to share with the women who came to honor and celebrate the occasion. It came out quite delicious, perhaps mostly because of the good feelings put into making it! Here it is, to share with all of you. (Only a year later…)

Maple Blessing Cake with Pear, Cardamom & Anise

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks) or coconut oil

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream, creme fraise, cultured coconut cream (see my recipe) or Greek style yogurt

1/2 cup maple syrup (for sugar-free version, use 3/4 cups birch xylitol or stevia to taste, plus 2 tsps natural maple flavoring)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

1 1/2 tsps cardamom

1 tsp ground anise seeds (can substitute fennel)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder (optional)
*(if not using, add in 2 tsps raw apple cider vinegar)

I ripe pear, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Cream the softened butter or coconut oil with maple syrup or other sweetener in a mixing bowl. Next, add in vanilla and eggs one at a time and blend until smooth. Then add the rest of the ingredients except pear and mix thoroughly. Gently fold in the pear pieces so they stay intact (don’t over mix!).

Alternately, put all the ingredients except pear into a food processor and blend until smooth. Gently fold in the pear pieces by hand at the end.

Pour into an oiled bundt pan set on a cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit for about 45-50 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Top with fresh maple whipped cream (add a dash of maple syrup–or natural maple flavoring plus stevia or birch xylitol to taste–to whipping cream, then whip!) or maple glaze, recipe to follow.

Coconut Maple Glaze

Ingredients:

1 can organic coconut milk, chilled in fridge for at least several hours

Pure maple syrup, 1-2 Tbsps
OR
Natural maple flavoring plus stevia or birch xylitol to taste

Instructions:

Use only the solid cream from the can of chilled coconut milk, saving the liquid for another use*.

Blend the cream with a dash of maple syrup to your liking (or maple flavoring plus other sweetener) in a stand mixer, food processor, with a hand-mixer or by hand.

Gently pour or scoop out over cooled blessing cake and decorate with edible flowers if you have them!

*Note: if you desire a thinner glaze, simply add in some of the coconut liquid left over from the can of coconut milk, 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Homemade Tortillas: Four Variations on a Theme…

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My son eats a lot of tortillas. It is an easy way to get him to eat protein–put it in a taco! Add some sliced avocado and ketchup (of course, right??), and he’s got a meal that he will eat and enjoy. Chicken, grilled fish, steak, ground turkey or buffalo–the possibilities are endless. For a vegetarian version, try beans and rice or quinoa, sautéed sprouted tofu with spices, grilled veggies and cheese, you get the picture. I even like these tortillas toasted as snacks, spread with some butter, ghee or coconut oil.

I found a tortilla press from Mexico at a second-hand store for $2, and the kids love to take turns pressing the tortillas flat! My daughter also likes to roll the dough in her hands–she loves the slightly spongy feeling of the dough, with just a bit of spring, and she says it’s ‘bouncy’! We try to keep the dough ball from being played with too much, though; it’s similar to play-dough in consistency and so much fun!

Sometimes I feel like with all the tortillas, we’re eating too much corn, though. Corn is an allergen for some people, as well as highly glycemic (raising your blood sugar levels) and very high in carbohydrates. For those who want or need an alternative to corn tortillas–but still want gluten-free–ground millet and quinoa flours make a wonderful alternative!

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Simple Corn Tortillas

1 cup masa harina flour

Scant 1 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt

Optional: 1-2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil

In a bowl, mix masa flour and sea salt. Slowly add in the hot water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. The dough ball should be springy and firm, not too dry or too wet as to be sticky. Add more flour or water if needed to get the right balance and consistency. Then cover with a towel and let sit for about an hour (optional).

Heat an iron skillet, ceramic saute pan, or other type of non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Make small balls from the dough and either roll out between two pieces of wax paper or, using a tortilla press with wax paper on both surfaces, press out the dough ball into a tortilla shape.

Gently place flattened dough in heated skillet with a pat of melted coconut or olive oil if necessary or desired. Cook for about a minute on each side.

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Millet-Quinoa “Corn” Tortillas
(corn and gluten free)

1/2 cup millet flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

Scant 1 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt

Optional: 1-2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil

Follow directions same as above with “Simple Corn Tortillas.”

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Homemade Gluten-Free Sourdough Tortillas

1 cup gluten-free flour (millet, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, teff, amaranth or a combination)

1/2 cup gluten-free sourdough starter (recipe to come)

A scant 1/2 cup hot water

1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt (such as Celtic or Brittany)

Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl (ceramic, glass, or pottery) until a ball of dough is formed, neither too dry not too sticky. It should be slightly springy and firm. Cover with a towel and set aside for 6 to 24 hours.

After this time you may add in a tablespoon or two of oil (I like olive oil or melted coconut oil or ghee) and mix again to form a ball.

Divide into four parts and roll into small balls. Press or roll flat to desired thickness, either between two pieces of wax paper or in a tortilla press.

Heat a skillet with or without oil, and gently place the flattened dough in to the pan. Cook for about a minute on each side.

Enjoy with your favorite fillings! Or eat by themselves, warm with some melted butter and cinnamon for a treat!

* To make these sweeter, and to counter the sour taste, you may add in some sweetener of choice (honey, stevia, xylitol, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, etc.), maybe a teaspoon at a time (except in the case of liquid stevia, use a few drops at a time) until the desired taste is reached.

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“Cheesy” Tortilla Flatbreads
(dairy and gluten free)

Take the sourdough tortilla recipe (above) and after the appropriate time spent ‘souring,’ mix the following ingredients into the dough:

• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

• 2 tbsp dulse or nori flakes (these are seaweed, and optional)

• 2 tbsp dried or fresh chopped parsley

• 1 tbsp onion powder

• 1 tbsp garlic powder

• 2-4 tbsp melted ghee or coconut oil, or olive oil

• 1 tbsp gluten-free tamari (optional)

Combine all ingredients and mix together (a stand mixer works great for this) to make a new dough. Follow same directions as other tortilla recipes, cooking tortillas in a medium-hot skillet with melted ghee or coconut oil until lightly crisped.

These can be cooled and kept in your fridge, then popped into a toaster oven for a tasty snack!

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Autumnal Pumpkin Pie (dairy free, sugar free, gluten free)

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My husband loves pumpkin pie. And so do I. In fact, it is one of my favorite breakfasts when we have it–easy and ready to go! Sweet and a bit savory at the same time, with protein from the eggs, it fill me up in more ways than one; it is truly a comfort food. I even like to add a scoop of plain, whole milk yogurt over the top or on the side for a truly filling and decadent meal.

It is Halloween today, and I feel like making a pumpkin pie! It is chilly out, the leaves are falling from the trees in crunchy hues of brown, gold and orange, and pumpkins from our garden (self-seeded and delightfully surprising!) are lined up in a row on our front porch railing. It is most definitely Fall! And I love Fall time, full of pumpkins and harvests, rich, earthy colors painting the landscapes, warm sweaters that button up to my chin, breezes and rains, costumes, and of course, pumpkin pie…

My husband is in luck today. With my little Hummingbird and Spider off at school, I will make a pie and enjoy the warm coziness and delicious smells it inspires!

Autumnal Pumpkin Pie

1 can organic pumpkin purée (or about 1 1/2 cups of fresh pumpkin purée) *

(*Note: amended from original version) 3/4 cup organic coconut milk (or, for dairy version, use 3/4 cup whole milk)

3 eggs

1/4 cup xylitol, honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar or sweetener of choice (can omit & use only stevia for a completely sugar-free version, or use xylitol with stevia)

1 tsp liquid stevia

2 tsps cinnamon (*amended)

1/2 tsp ground ginger (*amended)

1/4 tsp cardamom (*amended)

Optional: 1/2 tsp allspice

Optional: 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Optional: 1/4 tsp ground cloves

*Don’t have pumpkin? Use sweet potato or winter squash instead!

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into your favorite prepared pie crust (I love this one) and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until the center is firm though still jiggly. Let cool before serving. Enjoy this taste of Autumn.

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P.S. Somehow my crust recipe did not make enough to fit this pie! That is why you do not see a crust edge–but it’s in there, just hiding!

Snickerdoodle Molasses Cookies (grain free, egg free, sugar free, dairy free)

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I was inspired to try my hand at some snickerdoodle-type cookies after reading the recipe on Elana’s Pantry. Her recipes are so wonderful because they are all gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and very simple! I love simple recipes. I have a tendency to turn away from overly complicated ones, especially when there are more than something like ten ingredients on the list (I know, it’s my short-attention span-driven mind!). Plus, I’m always altering recipes, so I really just like a blueprint: give me the basic formula structure-wise, and I will free-form the rest! So that’s what I did with Elana’s Pantry’s recipe here–I took her basic recipe and added some spices, some molasses, exchanged oils, etc. I’m sure I will come up with new variations as I go along! And I was surprised that these did not need eggs–they held together just fine and tasted delicious. In fact, both of my children loved them–so I’m making them again tonight!

Snickerdoodle Molasses Cookies

• 2 cups almond flour

• 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil

• 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

• 1/4 tsp liquid stevia or 1 tbsp honey or 2 tbsp zylitol (optional)

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 tsp cinnamon

• 1/4 tsp ginger

• 1/4 tsp sea salt

• 1/4 tsp baking soda

For dipping, in a bowl mix together:

• 1 tbsp cinnamon

• 1 tbsp zylitol or coconut palm sugar

Cream butter or coconut oil with molasses in a stand mixer or food processor.

Add in everything but the almond flour and mix well.

Add the almond flour until well-combined. The dough should come together in a ball. (If not, that’s ok, too!).

Take by the tablespoon and roll into balls.

Roll balls around in a bowl of dipping mixture (cinnamon + sugar/zylitol) until thoroughly coated.

Place balls on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper, and press flat with your open palm or the bottom of a flat glass to desired thickness.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, or until golden and done.

Let cool and enjoy!

Oatmeal Spice Cookies

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I’ve fallen off the bandwagon again folks and left off posting for awhile… I didn’t know if anyone was paying attention anyway, but that’s not really the point now is it? When I started this blog I told myself I needed a way to compile and organize the recipes I create and use all of the time–because I have a tendency to make everything from scratch and have no idea how to replicate the good ones! I still do this as my default and on instinct; following a recipe exactly is not in my nature. It’s a creative act for me: cooking is creating anew.

But….sometimes I do wish I had that one recipe written down! In fact, I wish there was a recipe. So I am venturing into somewhat unknown territory as I attempt to pin myself down to exact measurements and particular ingredients. And my hope is that by doing this, you will have some useful recipes to try out as well!

So this is one that I came up with about a month ago and meant to share sooner. I don’t usually cook with oatmeal as I find it to be a blood-sugar challenge (it is high on the glycemic index and makes me tired), but I had a craving for oatmeal cookies and happened to have some gluten-free oats in my cupboard, so this is what I came up with. *Note: I highly recommend soaking all grains, seeds and nuts for usually at least six hours to reduce the enzyme-inhibiting properties of these plant “seeds.” In this recipe, however I used the oats dry and without first soaking as a “special” treat that was closer to oatmeal cookies made with wheat.

Oatmeal Spice Cookies
(sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
2 cups gluten-free oats
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil (room temp or melted)
1 tbs honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon clear liquid stevia
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground ginger

In a mixing bowl add coconut oil, vanilla extract, applesauce, stevia and honey and blend well. Next add the eggs and blend. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until well blended and smooth.

Drop by the tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake
at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

These also make great larger scone-type cookies. Add in about a cup of sliced peaches, a big handful of blueberries or blackberries, two sliced pears, or some raisins or juice-sweetened dried cranberries for delicious scones!

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