On average there are maybe 2 hours in a whole week where my kitchen is totally spotless. And by spotless I mean there are dirty dishes hiding away in the dishwasher and approximately 60% of the counter space is visible. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?
Being that I’m in that 2-hr sweet spot as we speak, the thought of going full bore on the Christmas baking makes my jaw clench. Can I please just get one more day before the endless cook-eat-wash-repeat cycle starts again?
At the same time the holiday events are starting to populate our social calendar and the opportunities to send white clouds of dust spewing from the Kitchen Aid are becoming few and far between.
So here’s my solution for easing into the Christmas baking – a no-bake cookie that utilizes a single appliance! It’s literally a drop and roll with a few pulses of the food processor in between.
So whether you’re looking for an easy “gateway cookie” to get you primed for the season, or you need a healthy reward for getting your New Years gym resolution started early, or you’re a breastfeeding mom with low energy and little time – I’ve got you covered!
Paleo Booster Bites
- 1 c. old fashioned oats, gluten free
- 2/3 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 c. sunflower seed butter
- 1/2 c. soy-free chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life or Equal Exchange
- 1 T. maple syrup
- 1 T. chia seeds
- 1 T. coconut oil
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
- Use a melon baller, or two measuring spoons similar in size, to roll mixture into bite-sized balls.
- Store booster bites in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
This is also the perfect treat to throw in the car before you make that next road trip. When it’s cold and rainy, and you have sleeping kids and 2 dogs in the backseat, this will give you the boost you need to cruise through at 65mph.
And it’s nut-free so you can reserve a few for the kids’ lunches on Monday. Just trust me, you’ll want to leave those on lockdown in the freezer at home or they might not make it through the road trip!
Because you don’t need high fructose corn syrup to make a quintessential Thanksgiving statement!
Last week I was checking out at Paper Source when an adorable Thanksgiving card caught my eye. It had a water color of canned cranberry sauce, plated wholly with its glorious ridges.
I don’t know about you, but canned cranberry sauce sends a pulse of nostalgia through my veins. I actually like the fact that it’s shaped like a tin can. A bowl of goo just doesn’t honor my childhood memories the same way. But how do you feed the sentiment without feeding yourself high fructose corn syrup?
Don’t worry, I got you! And I promise it’s almost as easy as popping open a can of Ocean Spray. (Who, by the way, is gliding by on their first-ever parade float as I write this during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!)
Fun fact: Did you know Americans consume roughly 800 million pounds of cranberries per year? Holy moly! Not sure how many pounds get squeezed down into a 32 oz jar of juice, but here you go:
DIY Canned Paleo Cranberry Sauce
- (1) 32-oz jar 100% cranberry juice blend, such as Lakewood Organic brand
- 8 T. unflavored beef gelatin, such as Great Lakes brand
- Empty BPA-free cans – (2) 15-oz or (5) 5-oz
- Heat juice in saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk in gelatin. Bring to a low boil to fully dissolve the gelatin.
- Turn off heat and allow gelatin to cool for roughly 5 minutes. This will add a little shine to your cranberry sauce.
- Use a mesh colander as needed to filter out any gelatin clumps as you pour the hot juice mixture into your empty cans.
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Run hot water over the outside of the can to loosen the gelatin onto a plate or cutting board.
- Slice cranberry sauce and serve.
Now, I have to admit, much like the Grandfather in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation who points out, “The little lights are not twinkling,” my cranberry sauce has no ridges. That was a surprise at 8pm last night when I was unloading my little 5 oz cans (which happened to be from coconut cream). But I assure you that you can use large ridged cans to make this quintessential dish – paleo style!
Gratitude and blessings to all of you this holiday season!
Kale gets all the love when it comes to the cute t-shirts and catchphrases. But if you ask me, squash is the MVP. Talk about versatility!
Last week From the Farmer asked me to contribute a recipe for their weekly newsletter, which is so fun. It’s reminiscent of an Iron Chef competition in that 2 or 3 of the ingredients must be on their delivery list for the week.
As I waited for the distribution list I may have crossed my fingers, closed my eyes and whispered, “Please be squash, please be squash, please be squash…”
Acorn – score!
Here’s what happened next.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 1 bunch chard, stems and leaves separated
- 1 T. avocado or coconut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 lb (approximately 8) breakfast sausages, casings removed*
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 1/4 c. slivered almonds
- salt and pepper
*Substitute with cooked lentils for vegetarian/vegan option.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line roasting pan with parchment. Place squash cut side down and roast for 35-40 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Finely chop chard stems and add to garlic. Continue to stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes, until softened.
- Add sausage to pan mixture and continue cooking over medium heat. As it begins to brown, use spoon to break sausage into bitesized pieces.
- Once sausage is browned, add chopped apple. Stir to combine, cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally until apples soften, about 4 minutes.
- While apples are cooking, finely chop half of chard leaves (reserve remaining half for other use). Add to pan mixture along with slivered almonds. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
- When squash is done roasting, relocate the squash to a casserole dish, cut side up. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Spoon sausage mixture into center of acorn squash and bake for another 10 minutes to allow apples to soften and flavors to combine.
There are certainly a variety of ways you can customize this recipe. If you put your own spin on it be sure to let us know in the comments so we can share in the inspiration. Variety is the spice of life!
I’m also taking submissions for the squash cousin of the Eat More Kale t-shirt. Something clearly original. We don’t want a Cease and Desist letter from any fast food giants.
Some foods simply have seasonal appeal. Take the pumpkin spiced latte for instance. Come September #psl is as ubiquitous as yellow school buses and leather boots. If you deconstruct these cravings you may find a range of reasons that are as simple as it’s in season and as complex as every year on Christmas Eve we would go to my grandma’s…. (insert long story).
Whether the reason is ancestral, physiological or pure sentiment you can try denying this little craving monster. But who’s to say that won’t backfire, giving him the ammunition to turn up louder and more aggressive the next time? Why not reinvent your kitchen’s greatest hits album instead? Sure it takes a little time and ingenuity, but luckily the blogosphere has streamlined much of the trial and error process.
As it relates to seasonal changes and cravings I do want to talk about Ayurvedic practices at some point. It’s truly fascinating, but arguably in a different echelon from what I want to discuss today. Today I want to keep it light… and fluffy… and SPONGEY!
Any guesses on what seasonal treat I’m talking about? The popularity of this food(-like substance) can probably be blamed on the Girl Scouts (as if the cookies weren’t enough…). It’s a versatile treat, and was originally derived from a root with properties known to combat sore throats.
Marshmallows are one of those foods that I’ve always felt ambivalent about. On one hand I love a toasty campfire s’more. On the other hand as a standalone treat I find the modern marshmallow gagworthy (completely unrelated to participation in a Chubby Bunny challenge). But then again, what’s hot cocoa without marshmallows? I was torn. Let’s be honest, industrialized grocery store marshmallows are kinda gross. And who can justify buying the $7 organic bag? Yet I always seem to find myself giving in…
My family has had slew of European house guests the last couple years and it’s somehow become tradition to introduce them to ooey gooey s’mores – high fructose corn syrup and all. We even had s’mores at my sister’s wedding reception in Slovenia! Occasionally I would halfheartedly buy the organic bag, feeling like the end product would be slightly less “authentic.” Not sure it gets much more dualistic than that. After all, I’d already substituted out for gluten free grahams and no soy chocolate, so why not swap out the marshmallow too? Eventually I drew a hard line and said no HFCS in the house. Period. End of story.
Then December rolled around.
Last year I traded in the traditional advent calendars for a homemade activity calendar. One night we read the Christmas Story, another day we make a gingerbread house, the next evening we drive around and look at lights… Well, when I unwrapped this DIY masterpiece last week I got pretty pumped. With one caveat.
Aaaack! There was that darn marshmallow sauntering in once again!
But this time I got crafty. After all, I was just coming off the Thanksgiving high of having a breakfast-approved alternative to traditional pumpkin pie, so why not give the marshmallow a shot. I did. And I’ve been bragging about it every day since!
Please note I am NOT a food blogger (I’m a health coach), but this recipe was too good to keep to myself. And aside from running around looking for marshmallow root and a tea infuser, I swear the hardest part will be waiting the 4 hours for the marshmallows to set! Of course you can always reserve a little marshmallow fluff in the meantime. There’s still honey in them, so I don’t know that I’d call them 100% guilt-free, but they are paleo and GAPS-approved (read: gut-friendly). Of course if you compensate by sprinkling a couple probiotic capsules into the batch that might be one step closer to putting marshmallows back in the “medicinal” category.
I scoured the Web for a few suitable suggestions and ultimately combined a few recipes into one super-duper recipe. Thanks to Urban Poser, Super Glue Mom and Wellness Mama for the guidelines!
deLIGHTful homemade marshmallows with marshmallow root
- 1 T. marshmallow root
- 1/2 c. warm filtered tap water
- 2 T. Great Lakes beef gelatin
- 1/2 c. local honey
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- Arrowroot or Tapioca flour
- coconut oil
- large stand up mixer (recommended) or hand mixer, with metal bowl
- small saucepan
- cooking or candy thermometer
- tea infuser
- square or rectangular pan (8×8 for chunky or 9×13 for bite size)
- parchment paper
- kitchen shears or pizza cutter
- Diffuse the marshmallow root in warm tap water.
- Meanwhile, coat your pan with coconut oil and then line with parchment, keeping some extra length for lifting out the marshmallows later. The oil keeps the paper from slipping while you spread the tacky mixture. Dust the paper with (gluten-free) flour to reduce the overall sticky factor.
- After 5 minutes (or longer) of steeping pour 1/4 cup of the “marshmallow tea” into the metal bowl. Add gelatin and whisk until well-combined (i.e. not lumpy) and let sit.
- Pour remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallow tea into saucepan and add honey and vanilla. Slowly bring to a boil.
- Check your stovetop mixture’s temperature with a thermometer and allow it to get to 240 degrees (or slightly beyond 220 if you’re like me and had to use a meat thermometer). This should take approximately 8 minutes.
- Turn your gelatin mixer back on at low speed and slowly add the hot honey mixture to the gelatin mixture. It will be golden in color, but have faith. It will get white and fluffy.
- After everything is combined crank up your mixer to high speed and let it go for 10-12 minutes. You want the marshmallow to be stiff enough to withstand the upside-down test. If you are using a hand mixture, feel free to do some calf raises and pelvic tilts while you wait for the marshmallows to firm up!
- Pour the marshmallow into the pan, and pat down with a spatula or hands coated in coconut oil.
- Wait FOUR very long hours. Longer if you can stand it, until you press down and the marshmallow bounces back.
- Lift onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter. You may find that you need to oil the pizza cutter. A sharp knife or kitchen scissors will do the job too.
- Store in an airtight container.
So how do you envision reinventing your old favorites? Leave a comment below and let’s inspire one another!
Now to overhaul Aunt Rene’s signature jello salad (with marshmallows, of course)…