Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Chips

We've begun harvesting zucchini from the garden and I planted lots this yr as summer squashes are one of my favorite veggies to preserve for use throughout the yr. I dehydrate them shredded and also in sliced rounds to throw into soups, stews, casseroles or baked goods. I also "noodle" a bunch with my spiral slicer and dehydrate them to use as noodles too. Personally I think zucchini noodles that have been dehydrated are much more "real noodle" like than fresh raw zucchini noodles. I rehydrate them in water but drain them while they are still just a bit chewy for use in recipes. Dehydrated shredded zucchini also makes a great ground beef stretcher in many recipes. However, one of my very favorite things to do with it though is make chips.

I'm sure most people have either had or at least heard of Zucchini chips but I wanted to share them with you here since we've been enjoying them so much lately using the South African Smoke Seasoning Blend from Trader Joes to flavor them. It makes the best zucchini chips (wonderful on Kale chips too). The flavor reminds me a little bit of BBQ flavored potato chips :)

-Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, Organic Olive Oil
-Himalayan salt (or other quality sea salt) 
-Seasonings of choice, in this case South African Smoke Seasoning blend 
 from Trader Joes is my current favorite but you can use whatever you like. 
 I've  made a ranch style blend to use on them, I've used curry, taco  
 seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder with salt and parsley, nutritional yeast 
 with garlic and onion, other store bought seasoning blends (read ingredients 
 of course).... The possibilities are endless really.
Zucchini chips are made by thinly slicing zucchini (other summer squashes work well too as long as they do not have large hard seeds as some yellow varieties do). I use a mandolin so they are evenly sliced. 

Place the slices in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and add seasonings of your choice to taste and toss well so all the slices are evenly coated.

Once the Slices are nicely coated and you've tasted them raw to make sure you are happy with the amount of seasoning you've put on them, place them on dehydrator trays or on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Dehydrate until dry and crispy or use your oven on the lowest setting if you don't have a dehydrator. 

I'm pretty sure I've eaten the equivalent of at least three large zucchinis while typing this post, they are just so good :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Super moist and Yummy Chocolate Cake With Rich Chololate Frosting (Grain free with diary free options, GAPS legal)

My sweet Levi's third Birthday was last week and I made for him what I think is the most perfect chocolate cake ever and its even GAPS legal. I was (am) so impressed with this one I had to share it with you. I wish so much I could post a picture for you!! I will post one as soon as I am able!

1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil if you can't have butter) 
4 cups white beans (soaked and well cooked)
2 big splashes of vanilla
about 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
10 eggs
4 tsp baking soda
about 1 cup honey (or a combination of honey and stevia extract to taste which is what I did)
1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
about a tsp salt (I used Himalayan)

I put everything in the vita-mix and mixed until it was well blended scraping the sides as needed. You could use a mixing bowl and mixer if you ran the beans through a food processor first and you might want to melt the butter if you do it this way too or at least make sure its very soft. An immersion blender would work as well you just need to make sure the beans are completely pureed.

Pour batter into 2 well greased (coconut oil or butter) and floured (coconut flour) round cake pans (or square or 1 sheet cake pan or alternately you could make cupcakes too...) and bake at 350 until done (I know that's not very helpful, sorry) I just bake it until I can smell it them I check it to determine how much longer it needs after that.  Let cool and frost. 

My very favorite chocolate frosting is not GAPS legal and I have to admit that I do cheat on birthdays and use it anyway but I'll share a legal one too for those who are more disciplined than I or who need a dairy free frosting.

Best Ever Chocolate Frosting (with Dairy)
1 c Heavy Whipping cream (raw is of course best if you have access to it)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
Good splash vanilla

Beat all together until thick and fluffy. Make sure cake is completely cooled before frosting!!

Chocolate Frosting (Dairy Free)
1 c cream taken from top of canned coconut milk (Native Forest Brand). Its 
   helpful to put the can in the fridge until chilled before opening and 
   removing the cream
1/2 c cocoa powder
Honey and stevia extract (vanilla flavored is best) to taste (I prefer more 
   stevia than honey or all stevia in this version of the frosting) 
Good splash of vanilla
Optional is a couple pinches of pumpkin pie spice 

* This serves as a lovely mousse also ;)

Beat until well mixed, thick and fluffy. Again its very important that the cake is completely cooled before frosting!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chocolate No Bake Cookies (grain free, dairy free, honey sweetened)

In a large sauce pan, mix and bring to a boil:

1.5 cups coconut milk,  homemade or Native Forest canned full fat coconut milk (Native Forest is BPA free)

1 cup butter, ghee, coconut oil or a combination of any of the three
3/4 c cocoa powder

honey and/or stevia to taste (I use both approximately 1 dropperful of stevia extract and 1/4 cup honey)

a couple good glugs of vanilla

Then add:

1.5 cups nut butter (we use cashew or almond)

6 cups shredded coconut (or a combination of chopped nuts, coconut and if you like some dried fruit is nice too.)

Mix well and spoon onto waxed paper and place in fridge or freezer until firm.

Menu for Week of July 9th - 13th

Here is my latest menu for those interested. We will be away from home a lot this coming week and eating packed lunches everyday so all meals are planned with that in mind. I have been preparing this week to have many of my foods ready ahead of time. I will try to post the recipe for the Chinese Chicken salad dressing this weekend if time allows.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

GAPS Legal Refried Beans

I was surprised to discover that one of the foods I missed the most when we started GAPS was re-fried beans. I solved that with the following recipe, they even look like re-fried beans plus they are loaded with broth so that makes them even better :) 

8 cups soaked white beans (as I've mentioned in other posts, when I soak beans I soak a 
             bunch and store them in pre-measured bags in the freezer soaked and ready to cook.)

1 large onion finely diced 

4 large cloves crushed garlic

Bone Broth (beef or chicken is fine) 4-8 cups

Tallow for sauteing the onion and garlic and for "frying" the beans (refined     
    coconut oil will work too but tallow gives a nicer flavor. You don't want to use raw coconut oil 
    bc your beans will have a hint of coconut flavor to them)

Salt (Himalayan or Celtic) to taste

Cheese to melt on top for serving if desired

In a large pot bring the beans to a boil, reduce and simmer until they are completely tender and mushy. Do NOT add any salt to the water while they are simmering!! This is very important bc if you do they will never get totally soft, they will always have a  bit of a crunch to them.

While the beans are simmering away (which takes a while) saute the onions and garlic in tallow or coconut oil in a large frying pan. Also in a small sauce pan reduce (by simmering) two cups of broth until until you have about a half a cup of a slightly thick, dark golden brown paste/liquid left in the pan. 

Once your beans are soft and mushy, drain any remaining liquid from them and add them to the frying pan with the garlic and onion adding more tallow or oil as needed to "fry" them. Now mash them with either a potato masher or an immersion blender adding broth as needed until you reach the desired consistency (taste them and you'll know). White beans are dryer than pintos so you might find you need more broth than you would expect to make them nice and creamy tasting. Add the reduced broth, salt and taco seasoning and serve with melted cheese (optional of course). Use them on taco salads, or make burritos with them using cheese salsa and coconut flour crepes / tortillas (these crepes are a staple in our home that I try to always have on hand both in the fridge and in the freezer as they are so handy to use for all sorts of things),  make quesadillas using the crepes and cheese and serve them with these beans, make a bean dip from them by adding cheese and salsa... 

I love that these are an easy, versatile, nutritious, filling AND affordable food to incorporate into my meals :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So Good, Honey and Apricot Spiced Chicken

This is soooo tasty and wonderful! Even my husband who doesn't usually like fruit and meat together (I think he's crazy!) likes this one. 

The other thing I like about this is that it's easy to throw together even if I forget to get the chicken out of the freezer ahead of time ;)

3-4 lbs chicken thighs (or whatever part of the chicken you prefer)
2 cups dried apricots
1/4-1/2 cup capers (adjust according to your liking)
1/3-1/2 cup honey (this is very approximate, I'll explain below, also if you're not on GAPS 
   grade B maple syrup is WONDERFUL in place of the honey)
1 tsp good salt 
1/2 inch or so slice of fresh ginger (or a few drops ginger essential oil)
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon (or a couple drops Cassia essential oil)
1/2 tsp fennel powder (or a couple drops fennel essential oil)
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp ground cloves 
1 tsp (or more if your family likes spice) chilli paste

(PLEASE remember, these measurements are just a guess, if it sounds like too much or too little of something to you, use less or more and taste it after mixing to see how you like the flavor, remembering of course that it will taste quite different once cooked but the flavors should be pretty balanced with the apricot and ginger being the strongest)

Put all but the chicken, capers and honey into your food processor, now drizzle enough honey over these ingredients to glaze everything and add some moisture to help it move around the food processor easily, process until well mixed . Place the chicken in a glass baking dish and spoon the capers over the chicken.  Now spoon the apricot mixture over the chicken and capers, drizzle with a bit more honey and bake until done (about an hour or so if the meat is thawed,  much more if frozen ;) )

This is wonderful served with cauliflower rice (real rice or quinoa if not on GAPS) and some mixed sauteed veggies.

Honey Custard (dairy free)

This is a very simple, delicious rich yummy dessert or we even like it for breakfast with fresh fruit. 

This also makes a great baby food if you omit the honey and use extra egg yolks instead of whole eggs.

2 cups full fat or homemade coconut milk, the richer the milk the better.  (use  
   whole raw milk if not on GAPS or allergic to dairy)
4 large organic and pastured eggs
1/3 cup honey
1T gelatin
1 good splash vanilla

In a large sauce pan dissolve the gelatin in part of the coconut milk, add the rest of the ingredients and stir constantly as it cooks until it thickens. Pour into cups or small dishes and dust with nutmeg, chill until set. 

If not on GAPS this is amazing with a bit of maple syrup drizzled over the top ;)