Monday, February 27, 2012

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Life has been so busy the past few weeks.  I feel like I've just been shuffling my children from one thing to the next, putting them to bed, and then starting all over the next day.  Last Friday we had a snow day and even my husband was home from work.  We had an entire day to relax and have fun together.  I noticed that my children's behavior problems and bickering lessened dramatically.  It is so hard for me to just slow down.  So in an effort to extend our fun, relaxed weekend, today I promised my children we would make cookies and watch a movie together after our schoolwork was finished. We did a little cookie experimenting and these turned out just great! 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

5 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup of coconut oil warmed to liquid
2 eggs
3/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Stir almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Beat coconut oil, eggs, honey, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Combine wet and dry ingredients.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Place on parchment paper in heaping tablespoons.  If dough is sticking, refrigerate for 15 minutes until it becomes firmer.  Bake for 7-10 minutes. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gluten free homemade macaroni and cheese

Almost every child loves macaroni and cheese.  It was the first thing I learned to make.  I remember coming home from high school almost every day and making box after box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Those little bright orange, salty noodles would just slide down my throat...

We try to eat few grains in our house, but sometimes it is nice to have a meal that will only bring smiles from our children.  We replace pasta made from wheat flour with rice pasta.  I have tried quite a few different kinds of rice noodles and was pretty disappointed because they were very mushy.  Then I found Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta.  Most people can't even tell it is different.  I buy it from our co-op in 10 pound packages.

Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound rice noodles
1/8 cup butter
8 oz cheddar cheese (grated or cut into small pieces)
1 cup of milk
1 Tablespoon of arrowroot powder (optional but it makes a thicker sauce)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 package of frozen spinach (optional)
Cook noodles according to package directions.  Steam spinach.  Place butter, cheese, milk, arrowroot powder, and pepper in a sauce pan and stir constantly over medium heat until cheese had melted and sauce has thickened.  Combine noodles, spinach, and sauce.

I have to say, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese doesn't even compare!

Homemade "Jello"

I answer so many questions on Facebook about recipes, traditional foods, etc.  I need to blog more, so I have a place to send people!  Today we were discussing homemade "Jello".  Most children love Jello.  I think of the bright green, red, even blue Jello we ate as children.  But have you taken a second to look at the ingredients on the commonly used boxes of Jello?  You'll see artificial food coloring, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, preservatives, and/or corn syrup.  Gelatin, which is the main ingredient in Jello and can be purchased in an unflavored/unsweetened form at your favorite grocery store, is also an animal by-product.  It is made from the bones and hides of animals-unhealthy animals that are raised in factory farms.

Gelatin itself can have many health benefits. It can help heal the gut.  It strengthens hair and nails and it is known to help stiff or sore joints.  It can also provide a protein boost when eaten with other foods.

The way to receive the health benefits of gelatin without exposing yourself to the unhealthy Jello ingredients above, is of course to make your own!

I purchase Great Lakes Unflavored Kosher Gelatin from Amazon.  Great Lakes Gelatin is from grass fed animals that are assured to be free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, or herbicides.  I calculated the price to be only 34 cents more than the unflavored gelatin at my local grocery store and the two containers sold on Amazon will make 64-108 batches of Jello.

Here is our recipe.

1 3/4 cup cold juice (freshly squeezed fruit is best- apple, grape and orange are our favorites)
1/4 cup hot (not quite boiling juice)
Honey as desired
Fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, oranges slices)
Shredded coconut (optional)
1-2 Tablespoons of gelatin (if you want a thicker Jello, use more)

Mix gelatin in the cold juice and let soften while heating the remaining juice in a pan.  Mix hot and cold liquids until all gelatin is dissolved.  Add fruit and coconut.  Pour into a mold or casserole dish and refrigerate until firm.