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My BIG FAT Grain Free Life: February 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple Pork Chops (gluten free, grain free)

I didn't really want to use this blog as a means of "therapy" or sharing anything too personal, but I think it's time to be real.

I spent many years - most of my life in fact, with a fear, phobia if you will.  A phobia of pork.  Yes, friends, admission is the first step to recovery.  The second step?  Facing your fears - i.e. chowing down on some really yummy pork chops.

After years of therapy, heart-to-hearts with my friend, "Master Chef" (see Chicken with Mushroom Wine "Cream" Sauce), and serious munching on applewood smoked bacon, I've gotten over my porkyphobia.  :@)  

In addition, a friend of mine is very good friends with a family who owns a pig farm.  She discussed regulations for raising the pigs as well as other kinda gross details I don't want to mention here, but suffice it to say, the risks of taking on new "friends" (parasites) is next to zero due to the strict regulations on pork preparation.

After tasting Roasted Leek and Mushroom Pork Chops, from The Tasty Alternative, I became a pork chop fanatic.

Here's a recipe for pork chops with my big fat twist.  I served this with a quick homemade applesauce that I made by just cooking a bunch of peeled, coarsely chopped apples with some water.  Cook covered until soft, then mash with potato masher.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Hope you enjoy!

I'm sharing this on Allergy Free Wednesday's Blog Hop.

Ingredients:
4 pork chops, (THICK, center cut, bone in - very important)

For Brine:
1/2 onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
8 cups water 

Instructions:
Prepare Brine:  Pour salt and honey into a large bowl. Add water and stir until salt is dissolved.  Divide sliced onion, smashed garlic and bay leaves between two gallon sized zip top bags.  Place pork chops into bags and then pour brine over the top, dividing brine between the two bags.  Seal bags and place in the fridge for several hours.  (I do this step in the morning.)

When ready for dinner, preheat oven to 325F.  Remove chops from the bags and rinse well under cold running water.  Use your hands to rub the brine off of the meat.  (trust me on this)  Then pat dry.  Sprinkle with pepper.

Heat cast iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) to medium or medium high.  When hot, add some olive oil.  Sear chops on both sides just to brown.  

Move skillet to oven.  Remove chops when internal temp reaches 145F.  (They will continue to cook.)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coffee Chip Ice Cream (Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free)


I've not been one to indulge in ice cream too often - maybe because most dairy free "ice cream" offerings, in my opinion, aren't really worth the calories.  If I DO indulge in the real thang, it's going to be one flavor and one flavor only - COFFEE.  In fact, here's a confession for you:  when hubby and I were dating, we were known to frequent a certain ice cream chain.  My constant choice - I mean every time we went - was coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.

Well, here's my coffee ice cream offering that is dairy free, refined sugar free, creamy and delicious.  My kids, like me, love the coffee flavor.

I've posted this  on Allergy Free Wednesdays Blog Hop.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup filtered water
1 can full fat coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup freshly ground coffee (I used decaf)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional - I use Enjoy Life)

Instructions:
Place first five ingredients into Vitamix or blender and process until very smooth.  Cashews will start at a grainy stage and then become smooth, so blend well.  

Place ground coffee in separate bowl.  Pour cashew coconut mixture over coffee and stir well.  Allow to steep 1-2 hours, depending on desired strength of coffee flavor.  (I lean toward two hours.)

Once steeping time is up, strain through fine mesh strainer.  Dump out grounds and strain a second time.  

Process mixture in ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's directions.  

Either eat immediately (will be soft serve) or freeze in a container for about two hours.

NOTE:  Keep in mind that the quality of ground coffee will affect the quality of the ice cream.  I prefer a smoother coffee blend.  The Fresh Market Blend is my preferred choice.  Also, if your kiddos are going to indulge, you may want to be sure to use decaf.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Peanut Butter Date Balls with Chocolate Chips (Dairy Free, Gluten and Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free)

My kids are always hungry and looking for something to snack on.  They also happen to be peanut butter fiends.  So, I threw these together the other day in the hopes they would get eaten.  Now, I'm having to make another (double) batch.

These should be stored in the fridge.  You can also roll them in cacao powder if you like.  If you're staying away from peanuts, I'm sure almond butter or sun butter could be substituted.  If you do that, I'd love to know how they turn out!  Please post your variations in the comments section below. 

I've added this post to Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love and Allergy Free Wednesday Blog Hop.  Hop on over there to see other delicious allergy free recipes.  Enjoy-

Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour  (I use Honeyville)
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (soaked first if too dry)
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 cup freshly ground peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup allergy free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)

Instructions:
Coarsely chop dates in food processor.  Add all other ingredients except chocolate chips and process until well ground and mixed.

Dump mixture into a bowl and mix in chocolate chips by hand.  Using a melon scoop, scoop into balls and roll.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Banana Cake (grain free, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free)

She likes it!  Hey Mikey! 
I wanted to re-post this banana cake to inform everyone that miracles do happen.  My daughter has decided that she likes banana bread/cake now.  HOORAY! 

I've been making this into loaves (instead of cakes) because they stack better in my freezer, but the original recipe (below) is formulated for a cake pan.  Here's a tip:  a DOUBLE recipe will make three 8"x4" loaves of banana bread.  I hope that helps.  

Just an aside - I love this banana bread toasted and slathered with butta...mmmmmm 

This is linked up to the Allergy-Free Wednesdays Blog Hop and Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love.

My kiddos LOVE bananas.  In fact, we have to buy them every few days because they eat so many.  

In an effort to get my girly with the food intolerance to eat more, I thought banana bread was a good choice.  After all, she adores bananas.  It would be a healthy, yummy thing for her (and the rest of us) to snack on.  Well, after many attempts, she just.....doesn't....like it, never has (even back in the days of full-on gluten) - never will.  Go figure.

Then, I get this great idea!  "I'll make banana bread into a cake!  Surely if it's called 'banana cake' she'll eat it."  (I'm a genius.)

Wrong!  After tasting it she said - with a look of disdain on her face- "It's tastes like banana bread."

Two words come to mind...TOO and BAD!  The rest of us loved it - including outside taste testers.  I hope you enjoy this Banana Cake as much as we... well...MOST of us did. 

This cake tastes even better the next day.  Store it in the fridge and enjoy!  

Banana Cake (grain free, gluten free, dairy free) 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans, drained and cooled (*See note)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville Grain)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 9" round baking pan.  Line bottom with parchment paper.

In a food processor, process beans, eggs, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, honey and coconut oil.

In separate bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add to food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Scrape down sides, add bananas, and pulse again until well mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes (Cake is very moist.  Do not under cook - I lean toward 40 minutes of baking time.)

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Boats (Grain Free)

This is a nice side dish that I like to prepare when I'm tired of the same ol' veggie thang week after week.  It doesn't take a lot of time to prepare and, in my humble opinion, would make a delicious light dinner paired with a big salad.

I'm posting this recipe on one of my favorite health blogs, The Tasty Alternative, which is one of five blogs hosting the Allergy Free Wednesday Blog Hop

Check out the yummy pley-tho-rha plethora (C'mon, haven't you seen The Three Amigos?) of allergy free recipes! 

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
4 large zucchini or 8 baby zucchini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup white wine (I use Chardonnay)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste 

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Halve zucchini lengthwise and scoop out pulp.  I used a grapefruit spoon to do this, but any spoon should work.  Chop and set aside pulp.

Meanwhile, toast almond flour at 300F.  (Be careful because it will burn easily.)  Set aside to cool.

Heat skillet to medium.  Add olive oil and saute onion until soft.  Next, add zucchini pulp, tomatoes, garlic and wine. Raise heat to medium high.  Stir constantly until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Add almond flour and Romano cheese and stir.  Fill prepared zucchini with mixture.  Sprinkle a little extra Romano on top.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Then, broil zucchini until tops are nice and brown.

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