Sunday, December 10, 2017

Grain-free apple cinnamon muffins with pecans {paleo, gluten free, dairy free}

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Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post and I didn't get anything for free. I paid for the product mentioned below with my own hard-earned money and am mentioning it because I really like it and love supporting my fellow food entrepreneurs.

I love to bake. Because I now follow a low-carb diet to control my type 2 diabetes, I mostly bake for other people. But my family has gotten so used to keto, sugar-free, low carb meals that they actually prefer baked goods made without grains and with much less sugar. These Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins are full of shredded apples and nuts and contain a little bit of coconut sugar, so they're perfect for those of us who prefer less sugar in our lives.

Recently I discovered Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix, which I adore. The primary ingredients are cassava starch, coconut flour and almond flour. It's not completely low carb, but it's much lower than similar baking mixes made with wheat. This mix makes an excellent base for muffins. I've also used it for savory pancakes and savory waffles.

Because of my diabetes, these Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins are a "once in a while" treat in my own diet. But I'm happy to feed them to my family anytime!

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Paleo Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Healthy grain-free muffins that aren't too sweet. Paleo, gluten free, dairy free, low in sugar.
  • 1 large or 2 medium apples, peeled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 whole pecans, for decoration
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick baking spray.Using a hand-held cheese grater, shred the apple into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the eggs, oil, coconut sugar, almond milk and cinnamon. Whisk together until well combined.Add the Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle mix and chopped pecans. With a large spoon, mix gently until all ingredients are combined. Let the batter stand about 5 minutes.Scoop the batter into the muffin tin, dividing evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Lay one whole pecan on top of each muffin.Bake 20 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the muffins are cooked through. Let cool in the muffin tin 3 minutes, then use an offset spatula or knife to remove the muffins to a rack for cooling. Eat and enjoy.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 muffins

Monday, December 4, 2017

Almond cheddar tea biscuits {keto, low carb}

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Disclosure: I received this particular block of cheese from Cabot as a gift, although I also buy quite a lot of it on my own dime.

I've been cutting back on grains lately, but that hasn't stopped me from craving cookies and crackers.

And then I made a miraculous discovery.

Replace the all-purpose flour in my Parmesan Smoked Paprika Crackers with almond flour or almond meal and you end up with low carb cheese crackers (or cheese "cookies," as I prefer to call them) that are even more delicious than the originals.

These Almond Cheddar Tea Biscuits are also keto, low carb, gluten-free, grain-free, and the perfect snack for people following a LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) way of eating.

Here's the basic recipe. I used Seriously Sharp Cheddar from Cabot Creamery, one of my favorites, but you can use any shredded hard cheese - Parmesan, Gouda, Jarlsberg, or any strong cheddar cheese. Feel free to add herbs or spices to suit your taste.

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Almond Cheddar Tea Biscuits {Keto, Low Carb}
Crisp, crumbly and extra cheesy, these easy cheese crackers contain three ingredients and bake for just 15 minutes. A perfect snack for those eating grain-free, gluten-free, low carb or keto.
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (substitute any shredded hard cheese)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, or use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix (aggressively if you're doing it  by hand) until a smooth dough forms.Roll 1-inch balls of dough between your palms and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each dough ball. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingers. Bake 15 minutes, or until the edges of the crackers start to brown. Cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove the crackers to a rack to finish cooling.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 24 crackers

Friday, November 24, 2017

Meyer lemon chicken with fresh cranberries

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There's nothing I love more than a simple roast chicken recipe that fits into my low carb ketogenic diet and is also drop-dead gorgeous.

Meyer Lemon Chicken with Fresh Cranberries cooked in my cast iron skillet is just beautiful, isn't it? Golden chicken skin. Orange-yellow Meyer lemons from my backyard tree. Ruby-red cranberries. I love looking at it. Eating it is pretty heavenly, too.

I made this yesterday for our very small Thanksgiving lunch. We had a change of plans this year because my 15-year-old son got sick. We were supposed to travel to northern California to visit my in-laws, whom I adore. But we didn't want to bring them his germs, and he wasn't feeling up to making the trip. So my husband went to share the holiday with his parents, and the teen and I stayed home and spent the day in our pajamas. I made him hot honey lemonade and soup, and we both had roast chicken for lunch.

I bought a bag of fresh cranberries because they were so beautiful...but then, in my current mode of avoiding sugar, juice, and most natural and artificial sweeteners, I wasn't sure what to do with them. News flash: cranberries without sugar are like tiny red lemons. I love the tartness paired with savory chicken thighs and didn't miss the sugar at all.

Notes: Frozen cranberries would work fine, as would regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons. Don't skimp on the salt and pepper.

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Meyer Lemon Chicken with Fresh Cranberries
Roast chicken thighs with fragrant Meyer lemons and fresh cranberries for this drop-dead stunning skillet dinner. The cranberries are very tart, but that's what makes the dish work. Resist the urge to add sugar - you don't need it.
  • 4 large chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.Lay the chicken skin side down into the hot skillet. Cook without moving for 5-7 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crisp.Turn the chicken thighs over and turn off the heat. Lay one beautiful slice of Meyer lemon on top of each piece of chicken. Scatter the remaining lemon slices and the fresh cranberries around the skillet. Slide the skillet into the oven. Roast the chicken for 50 minutes, until it is cooked through and the lemon slices on top have begun to caramelize.Remove the skillet from the oven. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Keto mushroom quiche with zucchini blossoms {low carb}

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When I decided to switch to a ketogenic, low carb diet to control my type 2 diabetes, one of the things I thought I would never be able to eat again was quiche. "Crustless" didn't appeal to me as a genre. How to make a keto quiche without that traditional flaky crust? Could it be done?

After a year of experimenting, I'm here to tell you that low carb quiche made with this almond flour crust is really, really good.

The crust is so easy: You mix almond flour, grated parmesan cheese, an egg, salt and pepper, and some olive oil with a fork until it comes together. Then you press it into your pie pan or tart pan, fill it, and bake.

For quiche, I look for leftovers. Any chopped cooked vegetables will do. This quiche includes sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and zucchini flowers. Delicate yellow zucchini blossoms are readily available at the farmers market during the summer; farmers pick the male flowers (the ones that don't turn into zucchini) to keep the plants productive.

Most restaurants serve zucchini blossoms stuffed, battered and deep-fried, but I like to chop them and use them in zucchini flower quesadillas, pasta or scrambled eggs. In the quiche they have a very faint zucchini flavor with a tiny peppery bite. And they're gorgeous!

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Keto low carb mushroom quiche with zucchini blossoms
In this ketogenic quiche, a low carb crust made with almond flour cradles a rich savory custard dotted with mushrooms, caramelized onions and zucchini blossoms. Serve for breakfast, lunch or a light supper.
  • 2 cups almond flour (fine)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 7 eggs, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 10 zucchini blossoms, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Make the crust: Using a fork, mix together the almond flour, grated parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a large bowl. When the mixture comes together, turn it into a large pie plate or square baking dish, making sure the dough covers the bottom of the baking dish evenly and goes up the sides at least an inch. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.Cook the vegetables: Put remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and both the mushrooms and onions are softened and starting to turn brown around the edges. Remove from the heat and let cool 5 minutes.Scatter the grated cheddar cheese over the bottom of the crust. Top with the cooked mushrooms and onions, then the chopped zucchini blossoms.In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 6 eggs, heavy cream, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and mustard until smooth. Pour the cream mixture over the vegetables.Place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet lined with foil (just in case anything bubbles over). Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake about 45 minutes, until the center is just set - you'll be able to tell when you shake the pan and the center no longer wiggles - and the quiche is starting to brown around the edges.Remove the quiche from the oven and let cool. Do not cut into the quiche until it has reached room temperature - you want the custard to set fully.Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chocolate zucchini muffins

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Muffins are always a hit in my house. My younger son prefers my banana chocolate chip muffins, and I have to say those are pretty good. But both boys like zucchini muffins, and I get a perverse thrill out of making sweets with vegetables. I normally make zucchini muffins with wheat germ, but sometimes I change it up and add the chocolate. No surprise - they prefer the chocolate version.

Two notes: I use coconut sugar for this recipe because it brings a dark, rich flavor you can't get from white sugar. And I prefer olive oil in this recipe. I think it works well with the chocolate. However, feel free to use canola, grapeseed or another more neutral vegetable oil if you think the olive overtones would bother you.

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Chocolate zucchini muffins
These chocolate zucchini muffins are easy to make and good for you - I put them in my kids' lunchboxes without guilt.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I prefer coconut sugar)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, olive oil, cocoa powder and vanilla until well blended. Add the zucchini and mix to incorporate.In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add all at once to the egg mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the flour is mostly incorporated. Be careful not to mix too aggressively - this will make your muffins tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.Line a 24-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Using a spring-loaded ice cream disher, fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. Bake about 25 minutes, until the muffins spring back when you touch them and a toothpick comes out clean (except for the melted chocolate chips, which you're bound to hit when testing). As soon as you can touch them, remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.Note: I put one dozen in the freezer immediately so I have something left for the boys' lunchboxes. If I left the whole batch on the counter, they'd be gone in a day.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 muffins