grain free

Maple Banana Spice Bread from Primal Cravings Cookbook

My niece and her husband surprised us with a very thoughtful gift for Christmas – the Primal Cravings cookbook!

primal cravings cookbook

They certainly know their audience. ūüôā (Thank you Harmony and Nate!)

I don’t usually spring for cookbooks because Don tends to be a wet noodle about them, preferring to come up with his own recipe, and because the internet is so readily available to search when we do want to get ideas. I do love cookbooks though and I really love the way Brandon and Megan Keatley put together Primal Cravings.¬†I’ve actually visited their website before, Health-Bent, and skimmed through their recipes online. (I can’t remember if we’ve ever made any before.)

Before I get to the recipe, I have to tell you about the book. As someone who still hasn’t been able to transition to e-reading because I simply love paper and love holding the real deal, I LOVE the binding choice and formatting of the book itself. The cover is thick and rugged yet muted in color which gives it a nostalgic, used feel.¬†It reminds me of an old book I had as a child that was a hardback collection of stories.

As for the content, the recipes are straight-forward and easy to follow. They are all low-sugar, grain-free, gluten-free, and industrial oil-free. The Keatley’s included a lot of great information for beginners (and even seasoned gluten-free/paleo/primal eaters who need a reminder on a few things) on topics ranging from how paleo-style foods are good for you, how to stock your kitchen with the right foods AND utensils, metric conversions of measurements, and even nutritional information. The book is not text-laden and cumbersome. It’s like Goldilocks says, “just right.”

For my first recipe I chose to make Maple Banana Spice Bread.

banana spice cake recipe

maple banana spice cake
Couldn’t have been better. Simple yet elegant and full of flavor. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I wish I could come up with something more unique to call this dish but I seriously lack the creative juices. It may surprise some of my closer friends and family that despite my penchant for writing, I really struggle with creativity. I think that’s why I like to edit other people’s work more than anything. My writing here is about staying in touch with far-flung friends and family, and making connections with like-minded strangers who enjoy sharing information across this vast space we call the internet. Ask me to get creative and I just sit here writing and re-writing, banging my head for thoughts that just won’t come. So today I just push on and write and hope that my plain title doesn’t undersell this amazing meal.

This is something we (Don) concocted but it was inspired by a friend (thanks Diane!) who used spaghetti squash last month in a way we hadn’t imagined. This post isn’t going to play out like much of a recipe in the full sense of the word. This is more about the fundamental structure of the dish and the process. It is highly adaptable to your own blend of flavors, tastes, time available to cook, etc.

First, let’s talk about cooking spaghetti squash. When we first discovered spaghetti squash two years ago, we cooked it in the microwave. This is an option, and it’s the quicker option if you are pressed for time. One of the drawbacks we encountered with microwaving was that the squash was always very wet. We would strain it to try to remove as much water as we could before serving, but often our dishes were still runny. So one day, we tried roasting it instead. A vast improvement. But we still always strained the squash after scraping out the strands with a fork or tongs. Now, we’ve adapted our roasting process so that it comes out just right. We slice our squash in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, and roast it flesh side down for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. After about 20 minutes, I check the squash by pressing on the outer skin with a finger. When it gives a little, feels slightly soft to the touch, we flip the squash over and continue roasting it for another 15-25 minutes. This helps dry out the excess moisture and gives the flesh a toasted look and flavor. The timing all depends on the size of your squash. The larger they are, the longer they tend to take. The one in the photos below took about 50 minutes total.

roastspaghettisquash

Most people use a fork to remove the strands but I find that tongs work just as well.

roastspaghettisquash1

roastspaghettisquash2

As you can see, we are still a little gun-shy about making sure our squash isn’t runny. We always still place it in a colander first, but in this case, that bowl underneath wasn’t wet in the slightest.

While the squash was cooking, Don put together a blend of fresh vegetables and spices. I decided late in the game that I should be taking pictures and getting it all down, so I don’t know what all is in that bowl. I can guess at a few things: onion, cherry tomato, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, jalapenos…maybe a few other things. This is where you can modify based on your taste. Use vegetables you like or have on hand.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-veggies

We also browned two kinds of sausage…

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-meat

…and prepared our casserole dish by rubbing it with coconut oil. We also pulled out a jar of our own blend of tomato sauce with meat, previously canned.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole1
I began to see Don’s plan taking shape now.

Once the squash was done roasting, we combined it all in a large bowl and mixed it together well.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-mix1

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-mix2

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-mix3

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-pan

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-pan2

As if this wasn’t already delicious looking enough, we then added fresh mozzarella.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-cheese

We baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to bring it all together.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole-pan3

Beautiful.

baked-spaghetti-squash-casserole

So, to sum up. You can make a delectable lasagna like dish with spaghetti squash, a few veggies, some meat (for meat lovers), and your sauce of choice, whether fresh from home or store-bought. Just brown your meat, roast your squash, dice your veggies, mix it all together, and bake! Easy. Peasy. Maybe a little time-consuming, 60-90 minutes, but totally worth it.

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
~ Michael Pollan

A New Twist on Coleslaw

This is yet another recipe taken from Cat’s bag of tricks at Things My Belly Likes, called Cilantro Balsamic Coleslaw. I liked it. When it was fresh. I made about 4-5 servings and it wasn’t so good leftover. So my tip would be, make what you plan to eat. Don’t make extra. It didn’t keep as well as our version of¬†coleslaw dressing, which I have to admit, Don liked just a tad better. BUT, we enjoyed the experience of making something different and trying some new flavors. As always. ūüôā

Ingredients – again I would suggest cutting down these measurements if you’re only making it for two

  • 2 cups green cabbage (I’ve never bought green cabbage before; thankfully, it is labeled green cabbage at the store)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 tbsps fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Chop up your cabbage, roughly. I bought the smallest head on the shelf and used about half.

IMG_8223_2

Toss it all in a bowl big enough to mix everything well. Peel and shred your carrot into the bowl. Chop or shred your celery.

Whisk the vinegar, sour cream, and oil together. Roughly chop the cilantro and add to the dressing.

IMG_8221_2

Mix it all together and enjoy!

IMG_8227_2

I thought it made for a very pretty dish too!

Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious. 
~ Ruth Reichl

Banana Treats – Take 2

When I told Don last night that I’d received a couple of comments about these yesterday, his response was, “let’s make more! I know we can do better.” LOL ¬†So, here’s take 2 on the tasty banana treats.

Ingredients: 

  • bananas
  • nut butter of your flavor – almond butter, peanut butter, meenut butter¬†(I have not tried this yet but want to soon)
  • bacon
  • cinnamon
  • chocolate – we also added a little raw honey and almond milk to the melted chocolate to add sweetness and to thin it out for drizzling

Don had the forethought to cut the bacon into bite size pieces before cooking it. If you are frying in a pan on the stove I think this would be a hassle but we bake it in the oven and it worked out great. The pieces were more uniform rather than baking it as a long strip and then trying to break it into pieces later. (My previous method.) Our bacon pieces went into the oven on parchment paper at 350 degrees, for about 25 minutes.

While they baked, Don cut up two bananas. He went with a different configuration.

IMG_8283

Into the freezer for a few.

Adding nut butter.

IMG_8285

Added bacon. Somewhere in here he dusted them with cinnamon too.

IMG_8288

Back into the freezer.

Melted chocolate.

Drizzled Blobbed on the bites.

IMG_8299

IMG_8301

So pretty… Back into the freezer with you!

IMG_8303

IMG_8306

Second round verdict? So much¬†easier¬†to eat. Perfect size. Don LOVES them. Me, eh…it’s too much chocolate. Whoa! I know. I’m a freak. They are good. I can appreciate that they are good. I just don’t like chocolate much. So, Don can have his chocolatey treats, and I can have something with vanilla, or strawberries, or just about anything else. ūüôā

The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.
~ Thomas Jefferson

A Frozen Banana Treat

I came across these Chocolate Bacon Almond Butter Bananas at Civilized Caveman Cooking a couple of weeks back and I thought they would be fun to try. Not the easiest thing to make. Bananas get a little slippery.

For my first attempt, I thought one banana each would be enough. What if we didn’t like it? I didn’t want to waste all that banana and bacon. Although, honestly, when there’s bacon, you can hardly go wrong.

First I sliced up the two bananas and cut them into what I thought would be bite-sized pieces. Hmm…more on that later. That turned out to be 4 pieces for one and 5 for the other. I placed all the pieces in the freezer (on¬†parchment¬†paper) while I fried up some bacon. I only needed two strips. I made more of course and we enjoyed the bacon¬†√† la carte¬†while I worked on the rest of the treats.

Once the bacon was cool, I pulled out the banana pieces and attempted to smear a little bit of almond butter on each one and top it with bacon. This is not easy to master however I persevered.

IMG_8209

Then I sandwiched them together and placed them back in the freezer to firm up.

IMG_8210

Next I used two pans to make a double broiler and I melted some organic dark chocolate chips. Maybe about a 1/2 cup; I was totally just eye-balling it all. When the chocolate was melted, I grabbed my bananas and ran them through the chocolate, coating one end.

IMG_8211

Then, back in the freezer. That night we dusted them with cinnamon and tried a couple after dinner.

IMG_8217

The verdict? Good flavors. Not so good execution. The “bites” are too big to eat in one bite and if you try to eat them in small bites, they tend to make a mess. Not so much for me but Don just couldn’t handle the small bites. LOL ¬†He was encouraged by the combination though and wants to try again, making the pieces small enough to pop all in one bite.

Don’t live life like it’s another day, but live life like it’s your last day.¬†
~ Anthony Liccione