Easy Paleo Pecan Bars (gluten and grain free)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup softened butter, salted

For the topping:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp date syrup, maple syrup, or molasses
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a small bowl combine flours and softened butter. Mash together until well incorporated.
  3. Using 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll the “dough” out flat. Transfer the bottom piece of parchment paper into a square baking tray.
  4. In a larger bowl mix eggs, honey, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk together.
  5. Add pecans to the bowl and mix until pecans are well coated.
  6. Pour pecan mixture over the crust.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until set.

Thanksgiving Carrot Apple Pecan “Pie” (gluten and grain free)

This is a wonderful blend of nostalgic fall flavors mixed into one nutty, sweet slice. Everything easy, leftover, and extra, not already used in a recipe or set aside for something to be cooked later, thrown into one pan of magic. We made this for Thanksgiving breakfast. It can be dessert. It pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee, although the kids preferred milk.

There is no crust. There is no fuss. Simply mix it all together, pour it in a pan, and bake!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar/swerve
  • 2-3 carrots shredded
  • 1-2 large apple, shredded
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 3 tbsp oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp molasses, 1 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1/8 cup coconut or almond flour (to thicken)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Shred apple and carrot with a food processor or cheese grater.
  3. In a large bowl mix carrot, apple, pecans, sweeteners, flour, flaxseed, spices, and coffee. Taste (make sure you like it!) Adjust to taste.
  4. Add oil and eggs. Mix well.
  5. Spread into greased pan or baking tin. Bake 40-45 minutes or until visibly set.
  6. Allow to cool and serve.

Easy Pumpkin Custard for Thanksgiving

I loooooooove pumpkin pie. Seriously. It evokes fond memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases from years past, always at my grandma’s house.

Honestly, though, sometimes I don’t feel like baking a pie. It’s easier to put it all in a crockpot, add some toppings, and be done with it. Plus, with the addition of an easy strudel and whipped cream or yogurt, I don’t even miss out on the pie! I won’t lie and say that it’s as good as pie, because let’s be honest, nothing is as good as pie, but it’s very close.  

It’s also nice to have the oven free to prepare other dishes. I don’t know about you, but my family always has a ton of dishes waiting in line to go in the oven.

I use a small crockpot for this. If you want to serve this for a large gathering, simply double the recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 6 eggs
  • 8 tbsp avocado oil, or melted coconut oil, butter, ghee, other cooking fat of choice
  • 1 cup granulated sweetener (stevia, erythritol, monkfruit) 
  • 4 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp molasses 
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla or maple extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or 1 tbsp cinnamon + 1/8 tsp allspice + 1/8 tsp nutmeg 

Directions:

  1. Grease crockpot.
  2. Whisk or blend eggs until thick and foamy.
  3. Beat in sweetener.
  4. Add vanilla/maple extract and pumpkin puree and beat. 
  5. Add coconut flour, spices, salt, and oil. Beat until well mixed.
  6. Optional: At this stage my kids are starting to get mad and impatient that they can’t eat it for hours. Scoop a small amount into a microwave safe container (such as these silicon ramekins) and microwave for 1 minute and serve to the impatient ones. 
  7. Pour mixture into crockpot and wiggle a little to distribute evenly. Insert a paper towel underneath the lid to collect condensation. Set crockpot on low.
  8. Cook 2:30-3:00 hours. Mine usually takes 3xaround 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  9. Serve with this strudel, this whipped cream, a dollop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt, or kefir. 

I know my spice blend isn’t technically pumpkin spice, but I prefer it in some ways. I like the cinnamon to be prominent and here’s some heresy for you: I don’t really like the overpowering notes of ginger or clove in some traditional pumpkin spice mixes.

Series: Natural Sugars (Part 2)

This week we’re going to take a look at a ton of natural sugar alternatives. These substances are caloric and contain sugar in natural forms.

Natural sugar options can be complicated. On one hand, they’re sugar, and sugar is sugar no matter where it’s coming from, but on the other hand, some of them have benefits. Let’s take a look.

Honey, raw honey, hackberries, pomegranate, and Texas persimmons.

Honey

Most of us know of honey’s antimicrobial properties. It’s therapeutic uses are enough for me to keep a large jar of raw honey in my pantry. Raw honey has antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that processed honey doesn’t. Raw honey also has a much lower glycemic index than processed–30ish vs 75ish–and tastes much better (that’s just my opinion).

When someone has a sore throat in our house, they either get hot tea with honey in it or a special slushie with honey. It can be used for other purposes, too. I’ll be honest (and gross), I’ve even used manuka honey for a drawing salve for staph with good results.

Maple syrup

Most of us can agree that maple syrup is delicious. I haven’t had it in a while, but it’s one of my favorite sugars flavor-wise. It’s got a moderate glycemic index, mid 50s. Nutritionally it’s got a few minerals. I usually steer clear of it, mostly because I still have lots of weight to lose and health to gain. If I were in great shape and super healthy, though, I would probably keep a bottle around.

Coconut sugar/Palm sugar

These seem to be pretty popular in the Paleo stratosphere. The GI is fairly low, 30s-40s, and the nutritional value is decent. Honestly, though, I tried it a few times and just wasn’t into it. I’m not even really sure why, but I certainly don’t think I’m missing out by avoiding a sugar that I didn’t enjoy using.

Molasses

Molasses is the byproduct of extracting plain white table sugar from sugar cane. The good thing about this is that molasses contains all the nutritional value that table sugar doesn’t, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and zinc. The flavor of molasses is pleasant, both complex and earthy. We keep a bottle of it around for homemade BBQ sauce, pulled pork,  and other various recipes. We don’t use it often, but when you need it there’s not really anything great to substitute for it.

Agave nectar 

Okay, here it is: agave nectar is AWFUL! I remember the “health” world going crazy for it a while back, which is just nuts. It’s got nothing going for it nutritionally, the natural glycemic index of it is midline 50s, and processing techniques increase that. It’s 85% fructose–that’s higher than corn syrup, for goodness sake! Agave nectar is a prime example of the fact that not everything touted as “natural” is better or healthier. Like, honestly, there’s no reason to ever eat this stuff, it’s going straight to your liver.

Fruits

Oh, man, fruits are so tough. On one hand, they’re delicious, but on the other, they’re sugar. I know that when I’m eating fruit I want more fruit (sugar addiction and craving cycles!) and my kids are the same way. Honestly, I let my kids have fruit about once a week. Usually we stick to whatever we can get high nutritional value from, such as berries. Dates have a great nutritional profile, too. We have been foraging for wild Texas persimmons and hackberries lately, which is great fun and the kids really enjoy getting to eat what they collect. I’m all about that nature stuff, y’know.

Yacon syrup

Yacon is a little known, fairly new thing. It doesn’t raise blood glucose, but contains fructose. Supposedly it tastes similar to caramel. The nutritional profile is supposedly pretty good. There’s not a whole lot out there about it yet. When I lose a bit of weight I’ll have to give it a taste–the fructose is obviously not ideal, but it’s low enough that I would consider trying it once.

Low Carb Gummies (keto, grain free, gluten free, paleo)

One thing that’s easy to miss when you go low carb or sugar free is candy. There’s something uniquely satisfying about biting into a chewy, soft gummy bear that doesn’t compare to much else.

The good news is that these treats are easy to make at home and can pack quite a nutritional punch! These are great treats to keep in your fridge for summer when you or the kids might want a quick sweet treat that is healthy.

Low Carb Gummies

Author Kristy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gelatin I like Great Lakes orange label
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 20 drops liquid stevia
  • Flavoring I used Tazo passion tea and some lemon juice
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Steep herbal tea in hot water. In a separate cup, pour gelatin, salt, and cream of tartar. Add cold water to gelatin mix and whisk with fork until evenly dissolved. The mixture should start to bloom, becoming a gooey mass. 

  2. Once your tea is steeped, remove the tea bags. Pour into the cup with gelatin mixture and whisk with fork. It will take a minute or two for it to dissolve. Add liquid stevia. Taste to make sure you like the flavor (otherwise you won’t want to eat them!)

  3. Place your silicone molds on a flat tray. Carefully fill your molds with a spoon or dropper. I filled six whole molds with mine, but the kids ate the gummy bears before I got a chance to take pictures. Once your molds are full, place them in the refrigerator. If you don’t have silicone molds, you can simply pour into a Tupperware or Pyrex dish and let set.

  4. Remove from the fridge and take out of the molds or, if you used a dish, cut into small squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. 

I originally posted this on Instructables:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Low-Carb-Gummies/

Chocolate Almond Bites (grain free, gluten free, keto)

Hey, folks! I’ve been keeping healthy gummies and chocolates in stock for when the kids need a quick snack, but yesterday we ran out of our homemade peanut butter cups (recipe coming soon). I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with making a solid milk chocolate, so this was a lot of fun!

Chocolate Almond Bites (grain free, keto)

Course Dessert, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Kristy

Ingredients

  • 2-4 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 Cup Salted butter 1 stick
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup Erythritol
  • 1/4 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon For extra flavor
  • 1 Tsp Moringa greens powder or collagen powder Optional, I just like packing it in for the kids
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds Whole or crushed
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. With a mortar and pestle or rolling pin, crush the almonds into a coarse consistency.

  2. In a microwave safe bowl combine butter and coconut oil. Microwave for 15-30 seconds. If butter and oil are soft already you can skip this. We don't want melted, only softened, so watch it closely.

  3. Mash the two together with a fork. 

  4. Add cream and vanilla and mix.

  5. Add cocoa powder, greens powder, and erythritol. Stir the dry ingredientd in well. You should have a pretty, milk chocolate with a mousse-like consistency.

  6. For setting the chocolate, either line a container with parchment paper or use plastic or silicone, something that you can pop the chocolate out of easily. Mix the almonds into your chocolate or spread them on top afterwards.

  7. Using a spatula or spoon, spread the mixture evenly in your container or mold. Place in the fridge to set for 4-6 hours.

  8. Remove from refrigerator. Pull parchment paper out and, with a sharp knife, slice into squares.

  9. Store in refeigerator for up to a week.

Succulent Spring

It’s my first spring in Texas in years, and I am brimming with excitement just witnessing the bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes bursting with color.

I’m a firm believer in natural living–food, medicine, housekeeping, cosmetics, and whatnot. I also tend to follow an evolutionary-style diet consisting of meat, nuts and seeds, plants, eggs, and some dairy. I shouldn’t eat dairy, really: we know that it hinders weight loss, interferes with hormones, exacerbating hypothyroidism, and most adults can’t digest it properly. These are just the reasons why I personally sshouldn’t be eating it, but my tastebuds oftentimes win that battle.

I digress. One thing I really feel is important is being involved in growing or procuring your own food. When we can hunt and keep chickens we plan to (right now it’s just not possible). We have a few hanging baskets and boxes right now for our temporary setup.

But here’s some food for thought: what is more natural than the food already growing outside your door? The weeds that many people seek to eradicate can often be a wonderful and free food or medicine. Truth be told, this is the real reason that spring makes me feel so invigorated. What else can make you feel so primal as foraging the woods for food (perhaps hunting and fishing)? I’m going to share a few easy, basic foods that can be found right now. Quick disclaimer: never eat something that you cannot 100% identify, people make themselves incredibly sick or die doing this.

Dandelion

Dandelion in our front yard

Dandelion means “lion’s tooth” from the deeply toothed leaf structure it bears. They thrive in disturbed soil and cracks and crevices. The hairless, smooth leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, but are best before flowering occurs. Flower petals can be sprinkled in salads for color and flavor or be fried, steamed, or boiled. Some even use flowers to make a wild wine. The root can be used as any cooked root vegetable, and is sometimes roasted and ground up for use as a coffee subsitiute. There are no toxic look alikes.

Yucca Flower

Yucca without flowers

I love yucca flowers, they’re definitely one of my favorite wild foods. My favorite edible part is the flower petals, which are best picked when they first open. I love to throw them in anything that I’m stir-frying. The flavor can vary depending on the variety of yucca–I’ve eaten spicy, horseradish-like petals and mild, cauliflower-like petals. The unopened flower bud and the fruit of some varieties are supposed to be edible as well, but I have never tried this.

Wood Sorrel

Growing between rocks

Oh, wonderful, lemony oxalis. My 2 and a half year old calls this plant “lemon taste,” and it’s a fight to keep her away from it. The entire plant is edible and tastes like lemon. It is commonly mistakenly called clover. Wood sorrel has beautiful flowers that add great color to salads. One day I plan on using these as a topping for something like lemon cake, I think that would be delightful. Contain oxalic acid, so do not eat more than a few leaves at a time. The tubers can be used like carrots. Note the heart shaped leaves, which help identify this plant.

Dewberry

Dewberry leaves and flowers

It isn’t quite the season for these yet, but the vines and flowers are sprawling. Now is the right time to make a mental note of everywhere you see the beautiful white flowers so that you can go back for berries later! I grew up picking these off of vines in our field, taking them home to wash, and devouring all that I could.

They are like scrubby, lanky blackberries. They are ripe when they turn black, but can usually be found easily among red, unripe berries. Be careful for the thorns! They also sometimes tend to grow where poison oak or poison ivy like to grow as well. I do believe that you can probably make tea out of the leaves, but I have never tried.

Agarita

Agarita leaves

Another addition that isn’t quite ready for harvesting yet but I just had to include is the thorny-foliaged agarita bush. This unique plant protects it’s bounty with spiked leaves in bunches of three–anyone who has encountered one knows exactly what I’m talking about. The yellow blossoms exude an intoxicating sweet scent in the spring before turning into little green berries that ripen red. The ripe berries are edible, though I remember them being a bit tart (I haven’t had one in nearly 20 years, but I’m going all out this year). They supposedly make great wild jam. The wood and root of agarita contain a compound called berberine which is medicinal.

Knowing your environment and understanding everything that surrounds you is such a lost art. I want my children to understand where their food comes from–it doesn’t magically appear in a grocery store. Someone grows it, someone raises the chickens that lay those eggs, someone else slaughters the animal that we eat. Having a hand in growing and procuring your own sustenance is something that every human should be involved in. Anyway, I’m not going to preach any more, I just think that free, wild, nutritious food is something to be considered. If it does happen to interest you there are some great resources out there (I’ve included some below).


Mark Vorderbruggen, aka Merriweather, is one of the nicest guys I’ve talked to and really knows his stuff. Texas area: http://www.foragingtexas.com/?m=1

Green Deane is based in Florida but is knowledgable all around, and very famous because of it. Extremely thorough with his plant profiles: http://www.eattheweeds.com

Samuel Thayer, genius in the field: https://www.foragersharvest.com

Steve Brill was arrested for eating a dandelion in Central Park! I really love how well his website is laid out: https://www.wildmanstevebrill.com

Christopher Nyerges was featured on the first season of Doomsday Preppers (don’t hold it against him), which is how I heard of him. We took an acorn processing class with him when Karissa was young and he is great. Southern California area: http://www.christophernyerges.com/index.htm

Sweet Butter Coffee (bulletproof style ketogenic coffee)

Clearly I’m fond of beverage recipes. Lately I’ve been drinking a cup of this coffee in the mornings  (and making the kids a decaf coffee or decaf chai version), and it’s plenty of fat to hold me over until lunch. As a tandem nursing mom, that isn’t easy to do! I lost nearly ten pounds this week–granted, we’ve been hiking everyday and I’ve got a lot to lose, but it’s very exciting.

Sweet Butter Coffee (bulletproof style ketogenic coffee)

A delicious modified version of bulletproof coffee.

Servings 1
Author Kristy

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Coffee My family uses Elite instant coffee
  • 1 Tbsp Butter We use Kerrygold
  • 1 Tbsp MCT or coconut oil
  • 3 Drops Liquid stevia
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp Collagen hydrosolate powder Optional--I don't use this in the mornings, but put it in the kid's drinks. We use Great Lakes brand.
  • Dash Himalayan salt

Instructions

  1. Brew coffee.

  2. In a blender (or a milk frother or whatever, I use a magic bullet) combine everything. Let butter and oil melt.

  3. Blend until frothy, about 5 seconds. If you are using a bullet like me, be careful! Pressure can build up quickly.

  4. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

Exfoliating Herbal Face and Body Scrub

This is really more of a how to, DIY home recipe for a luxurious herbal face and body scrub, but I don’t want it confused with food.

Well, January is feeling great, we’re a week in and I hope most of us are still going strong on those new goals. One surefire way to continue to feel good is to treat yourself right.

As most of you have probably figured out, I don’t generally approve of sugar as a food additive, but there is one thing that it is GREAT for–skincare. Sugar is an incredible exfoliant! Well, and it’s food for attracting ants, so that’s two things. I digress.

If you want to use salt instead, that’s fine, but salts are a bit abrasive, especially on the face, so you might want to powder it in a mortar and pestle first (if you happen to have one lying around). I used salt because we don’t usually keep sugar in the house. My absolute favorite version of this was made with brown sugar as a base. It was wonderful! I would put it on about 5 minutes before getting in the shower and then let it crystallize on my face. I also don’t usually take the time to powder my herbs all the way, because I don’t mind it a little rough and chunky.

Supplies: Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Steps: 

  1. If you’re using salt as a base substance, grind in a mortar and pestle until a fine powder. Add salt or sugar to mason jar.
  2. Select your herbs. I have chosen mine based on skincare and anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. One at a time, grind each herb in your mortar and pestle (or you can blend them in a blending apparatus for a few seconds).
  4. Add ground herbs to mason jar.
  5. Shake until combined.

That’s it! I love making this stuff, and I enjoy giving it as gifts too.

The Ultimate Skin and Hair Care

Alright, it’s about to get all crazy up in here. Today I’m going to talk about my awesome, super fancy skin and hair maintenance routines and the logic behind them.


Hair Care

Problems that I sought to fix: dry, itchy scalp; psoriasis; oil imbalance

A few years ago I wanted to end my struggle with dry scalp and psoriasis. I had read about this thing going around called the “no poo” method and decided to give it a try. I did the baking soda scalp scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse, and it was okay. Once I cut the baking soda scrub out it was a little better. But I always had this problem: my natural oils would build up at the base of my scalp. Not bad or anything, but it was annoying. Combing my hair could be difficult some days.

In the meantime I had Karissa and it became more convenient to go back to using a natural shampoo and conditioner instead of mixing my vinegar and herb mix, and my scalp went back to being itchier. I sucked it up–after all, I’ve dealt with it for my entire life, no biggie.

But then two things happened. First, I had Madilyn; second, Karissa had the same terrible, crusty, scaly scalp that her mommy has. It’s funny how your children can get you to do for them what you aren’t willing to do for yourself, isn’t it?

I began thinking about it and reading about it. You know, it turns out that we did not evolve scrubbing our hair vigorously underneath cascading waterfalls every day. Not even a few times a week. Heck, I would reckon that early humans didn’t even bathe in water much at all. Shampooing strips hair of the natural oils that your scalp is producing. The more you wash your hair, the more your scalp is convinced that something isn’t right and tries to correct the problem. Our bodies are very intelligent, they try to fix problems for us even when we don’t realize it.

We went back to a mostly auto-immune paleo diet to try and eliminate anything that might be causing inflammation, and then I did something crazy. I went cold turkey on my hair–nothing touched it except for water. No vinegar, no baking soda, no magical hippie formula. I knew that the transition phase would be rough, and my hair would feel gross for a week or two and hard to comb, but it’s just part of restoring balance. Lo and behold, much to my surprise, after just two weeks I woke up one morning and my hair felt soft, easy to comb, manageable, and not at all oily. Not even a little. Holy cow.

It’s crazy what your body can do if you let it. I don’t put any kinds of crap in my hair, except for the occasional coconut oil if I feel inclined to get really fancy.


Skin Care

Problems that I sought to fix: keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), dry skin

Following my experiences with my hair, I unwittingly embarked upon a unique skin-based adventure.

One afternoon I was lazily watching a nature show on Netflix. Some hippos were covering themselves in mud and then walking around, something like that. And suddenly, looking at that, I had some small kind of epiphany.

My silly brain went, “WTF I don’t need to use soap! We probably didn’t bathe regularly in the wild! My hair doesn’t need shampoo, why on earth would my skin need soap?!” And I thought about the myriad of animals that roll in dust or cover themselves in mud as cleaning or cooling methods. Guess what? We are animals too.

I got super excited thinking about this and decided to look on the wonder ol’ worldwide web for people talking about rejecting soap use and their experiences, and it turned out that a lot of people had already thought of this too, and had great experiences rejecting the idea that you need soap to live. People reported lifelong skin conditions clearing up, reduced body odor, and healthier looking, more vibrant skin. Makes sense–have you ever seen some of the garbage that they put in soap? It’s absolutely cringe worthy. Your skin is your largest body organ, and like your gut, has a natural optimal bacterial balance. When you eat bad quality foods your gut flora become imbalanced and overall health suffers. When you wash your natural bacteria off of skin it allows harmful bacteria to flourish in place of beneficial bacteria.

So I took to it the only way I know how, hard and fast. Hop in shower, stand in water for 5-15 minutes, hop back out. Rinse (ha) and repeat day after day. After about a week I noticed a spot where a pimple had been trying to form had gone away, my skin was smoother and less itchy, and my keratosis pilaris was improving a little. Awesome!

I’ve also added dry brushing my skin to the routine this week to see if it will help resolve the remainder of the bumps that I have on my arms and help me feel better at all. It’s been 3 days and so far my arms are already noticeably softer and I’m feeling good, but I do think that having the ritual is helping me a lot too.

So if I need to remove makeup I return to my ever-trusted coconut oil and cotton pads. Moisturize? Coconut oil. Deodorant? Coconut oil. No, just kidding–I’ve been using a coconut oil based all natural brand, though (that is, if I even remember to put it on. Forgetting it isn’t a big deal since I don’t stink.)


Conclusion

Yes, I am seriously advocating ditching soap and shampoo. You only need soap when you’re dirty. If you’re handing raw meat, in the hospital, covered in grime or sick then yes, absolutely wash your hands with soap, but otherwise? It’s totally unnecessary.