Thursday, December 19, 2019

Vanilla Walnut Cookie Dough Truffles (Gluten and Dairy Free)



Vanilla Walnut Cookie Dough Truffles


   One of my favorite desserts is an Oreo ball. Have you ever had one? I remember my best friend Lana introduced me to them in my mid-twenties and I couldn't believe how something so easy to make could taste so good! This year I can't have my beloved Oreo balls, and although I have made a gluten free version of them in the past, this year I can't have chocolate so they are out completely. I used my imagination and made something that I think is just as delicious! These little cookie dough truffles are easy to make and have the creamy texture of an Oreo ball that I was craving! These are definitely a treat and very sweet so you can even make them into smaller servings if you would like. 



 
Vanilla Walnut Cookie Dough Truffles
Makes 16

Ingredients

*1 8 oz box of gluten free vanilla sandwich cookies ( I used the Kinnikinnick brand as they are also gluten free)

* 4 oz of Daiya brand dairy free cream cheese

*1/4 cup walnuts crushed finely

Directions

1) In a large food processor pulse the vanilla sandwich cookies until they are finely ground and resemble course sand.

2) Add the 4 ounces of cream cheese and pulse until the mixture clumps together and starts to form a ball.

3) Remove the mixture from the food processor and place into a bowl, set aside.

4) In the food processor pulse the 1/4 cup of walnuts 5-10 times until they are finely ground, pour the walnuts into a small bowl.

5) Using a small cookie scoop, shape the cookie dough mixture into small balls. Roll each ball immediately into the walnut mixture and set on a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

6) Refrigerate the dough uncovered on the parchment lined plate for 3-4 hours before serving or until the truffles are firm.

*Keep the truffles in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for a month.

*If you don't have a food processor you can make these by putting the cookies and walnuts in separate bags and hitting them with a large can or spoon to break them into pieces. I have done that in the past when I made Oreo balls. A food processor makes it a lot easier but you can make them without one!


These are the brands that I used in these Truffles. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Hosting a Gluten and Dairy Free Brunch

Hosting a Gluten and Dairy Free Brunch
(that no one will notice is gluten and dairy free!)

     I recently hosted a baby shower brunch for my sister-in-law Janine. I knew that a lot of the family members attending could not eat either gluten, dairy, or both. My brother was one of the first people I knew who ate a paleo diet. He felt a lot better eating that way so he and his wife eat mostly paleo at home. Although on special occasions I know they make exceptions. I thought it would be fun to make sure all the food at the shower was gluten and dairy free so everyone could enjoy it!

     I started by writing out a menu that I thought would be easy to make gluten and dairy free, but  that also could be made ahead of time. I love hosting parities, but have learned over the years that I need to get most of the cooking done early so I can enjoy the day of the party!

    Menu:

     Build your own dairy free yogurt parfaits
    (simply set these items out right before the shower)
      - cute little cups to serve the parfaits in
      -So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt, it's my favorite and has a great texture!
      -berries and pomegranate pearls
      - grain free granola, I bought the Coconut Grain Free Granola from the Good and Gather brand at        target, but  you can also use any store bought gluten free granola.



     Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake
      My favorite coffee cake is from Real Food with Jessica. The crumble on top is so yummy and the
      texture is great! I asked one of my sisters to make this and bring it since she loves baking!
      Link to the recipe: https://www.realfoodwithjessica.com/2015/10/16/paleo-pumpkin-coffee-cake/





     Sausage and sun-dried tomato breakfast casserole
      I used my own recipe from my blog for this and just left out the cheese. I love the addition of 
     sun- dried tomatoes in an egg casserole. Just make sure you mix them in the with hash browns or
     cover your dish with foil during cooking or the sun-dried tomatoes will burn! I cooked the sausage
     the night before and put it in the refrigerator, so that in the morning I just had to put the casserole 
     together and bake it.



   Drinks and Extras
     *For drinks I served coffee and an iced dairy free almond milk latte from Califia Farms. The almond milk latte was a hit!

     *I also added some extra fruit and Trader Joe's Vanilla Meringues for those wanting something sweet. 

     I didn't get a picture once all the food was set out but this was my set up! It was so easy and so delicious!   There wasn't a lot of food leftover and I saw a lot of women go back for seconds of the yogurt parfaits! 











Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My Husband's Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes






     This picture was taken about a month after my husband was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes, I was pregnant with our son Judah and even though we are smiling in this picture we were in the midst of one of the most difficult adjustments of our lives.

     In March of 2015 I was four months pregnant with our child that we had struggled for years to get pregnant with. Brian and I were both trying to enjoy each moment of this pregnancy that we had prayed and waited so long for! I always carried a water bottle around with me to keep hydrated and I noticed Brian started grabbing my water in the car and finishing it off. This seemed a little odd to me but I thought he must have just been thirsty. He also kept coming home from work with snacks like Doritos, and things he didn't normally eat. He kept telling me he was just so hungry all the time. Then the hunger turned into not being hungry at all, I noticed he didn't want to finish meals and also seemed really tired and not able to think clearly. One day when he was in the bathroom getting ready I noticed he looked really skinny and when I asked him if he had lost weight he stepped on the scale and realized he had lost 20 pounds very quickly. Most likely in a matter of weeks. I knew something had to be wrong but I didn't know what. I asked Brian if I could make him a doctors appointment with my doctor and he agreed that he didn't feel great and should probably go in.

     The day before his doctors appointment I was googling his symptoms and realized that they matched the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. I had two students a few years earlier in my third grade class with type 1 diabetes and in my mind you could only be diagnosed with it as a child. I met a few of my friends for coffee that afternoon and told them about Brian's strange symptoms. One of my friends Sarah, who is a nurse, told me he needed to me seen right away and it sounded like diabetes to her. I still wasn't sure, but was starting to think she might be right. Brian text me a picture of a drink he got from Sonic, a lime slushie (he wasn't one to just go get a drink like this) and they had accidentally given him a 44 oz drink! We laugh about it now because we didn't know at the time but Brian's body was in ketoacidosis, a life-threatening state where your body breaks down fat at a much too fast rate and produces ketones, which causes your blood to become acidic. His  body was craving sugar because it was all being flushed out of his system really fast since his pancreas wasn't working.

     On Monday we went to the doctor early in the morning and explained all of Brian's symptoms. I asked for his blood sugar to be taken and the doctor said for someone as tall and thin as Brian is it would be rare for him to have diabetes. I know now the doctor was thinking of type 2 diabetes, which by the way you can also get if you are tall and thin, there can be a genetic component, it's not just lifestyle as many people think. The doctor agreed to take some blood tests and said they would call with the results.

     That night Brian couldn't eat dinner at all, and afterwards he just went and laid in bed. I prayed for some answers soon, I knew he was really sick but just had no idea how sick he was. Around seven we got a call from the doctor who said he got some blood work back and Brian's fasting blood sugar was in the 300's, he for sure had some type of diabetes but we could wait to come into the office until the morning. A few minutes later we got another call from the doctor and he said we needed to go to the nearest emergency room. He got some more bloodwork back and Brian had anti-bodies that showed he had type1 diabetes and was most likely in diabetic ketoacidosis. Type1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition where your body attacks your pancreas and so your body cannot produce the insulin it needs to process carbohydrates or to survive. Even if Brian chose to never eat another carb in his life he would still need daily insulin injections in order to live.

     We called our parents and then Brian drove us to the emergency room. I had no idea at the time he shouldn't have been driving, he insisted on driving us and said he was okay. Thankfully we made it there safely. As soon as he got checked in they started him on an IV, he was severely dehydrated. They took some bloodwork and a nurse came and told me his blood sugar was in the 700's! Pretty quickly an ER doctor came and said they were going do some scans to make sure that Brian's organs weren't shutting down. I panicked. I sat in the waiting room with my mother-in-law and prayed and prayed that there would be no permanent damage.

     Brian was transferred to the ICU for a really long night of getting his blood sugar lowered by being on an insulin drip. Because of this process your electrolytes can go out of whack really easily and cause issues with your heart. I laid next to Brian in a chair all night long and listened to alarms go off over and over and nurses run in to check on him to make sure things were okay still. Brian's scans came back and a doctor came to tell us that his organs looked good, we came in just in time. He said if we would have waited another day it could have been a completely different story.

     I'm still in awe of God and his timing in all this. I'm so thankful that the family doctor we went to was at his office late and called us once the bloodwork came in. He saved Brain's life. Sometimes people don't survive their diagnosis of type 1 diabetes or it's misdiagnosed until it's too late and they end up in a coma or with permanent damage.

     The next few days were full of nurses, doctors, and diabetes educators trying to prepare us to go home. We quickly learned that this was a 24/7 job for Brian from now on. He had to understand how to give himself the right amount of insulin for food he ate before we left. If he got too little insulin he could end up back in the hospital with ketoacidosis, if he got too much his blood sugar could go low and he could pass out and end up in a coma. No pressure. We understand now that once you get the hang of it diabetes is something that becomes a part of your family and you can still live your normal life, but just have more to think about. At the time it all seemed so overwhelming and both of us didn't know how we were going to do this all the time.

     I have many stories about those first few months after Brian's diagnosis. I tried to feed him huge salads only to realize he actually needed some carbs right then so we could figure out his carb to insulin ratio for his doctor, so I would throw some gram crackers on the plate next to the salad since he had those in the hospital and we knew the carbs for them. Not the best combination. I also made him set an alarm every few hours at night for the first month or so because I was so afraid his blood sugar would go low in the middle of the night without us knowing it. I would sleep really close to him so I could make sure he was still breathing. It’s really funny to us now that we were worried about his blood sugar going low right when we got home because even after all the insulin in the drip Brian went home with his blood sugar still around 250.

     There were some scary moments later on of dropping sugars down into the 40’s, and Brian having to gulp a juice box through shaking hands. Doing physical activity like mowing the lawn and timing insulin was so difficult for him at first, his blood sugar would get so low while he mowed the lawn we thought he would never be able to exercise again! Thankfully that’s not the case now and he can run as long as he times things right. I also washed dishes like crazy to make sure there weren’t any sugar or carbs left on them that might raise Brian’s blood sugar. In my pregnant mind that made sense. Totally not really a thing.  All of this seems a little ridiculous now and these aren't things I needed to be doing, but I had no idea how things really worked and I was trying to do anything to help him.

A few months later we welcomed our little miracle Judah Elliott Kohrs. It was a very difficult few months of trying to figure out a new normal for our family with Brian's diagnosis but we were both very thankful it happened when it did so we had some time to adjust before the other big adjustment in our life as parents of a newborn!

     Brian got approved through insurance to have an insulin pump and dexcom so things have gotten much easier over the past 4 1/2 years in regards to him managing his blood sugar on a daily basis. We both have learned a lot and hope to share some of that with others to help them, and also to raise awareness to something that is still so misunderstood by most! I also hope that spreading the word about understanding the warning signs of Type 1 Diabetes can help to save a life. Someone can be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at any age in life. Even our ICU nurses were surprised that Brian was just having symptoms for the first time at his age but we have heard of so many people since his diagnosis that also were diagnosed in adulthood.

Warning Signs of Type 1 Diabetes (from beyond type1)









  • unquenchable thirst.
  • frequent urination.
  • in babies and toddlers, heavy diapers.
  • in children with no previous concerns, sudden bedwetting.
  • weight loss (despite an increased appetite)
  • decreased energy level.
  • blurry vision.
  • a fruity smell to the breath.


  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019

    Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


    Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

         I have always loved carving pumpkins, but only because I could get the seeds out of it and roast them! Have you ever had homemade roasted pumpkin seeds? They are so much better than any you can buy in a package at the store. They taste especially delicious right out of the warm oven! You can add other spices to your pumpkin seeds before roasting but I've always preferred the simple taste of olive oil and salt. It reminds me of my childhood and carving pumpkins as a family!



    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    Ingredients

    * Seeds from inside pumpkin, rinsed in a colander to remove pulp and dried on a sheet pan overnight

    *1-2 TBSP olive oil

    *1 tsp sea salt

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

    2. Place parchment paper on a large sheet pan.

    3. Arrange pumpkin seeds on the sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil ( about 1 TBSP per cup of seeds) and salt.

    4. Roast for 30 minutes and check for color, they should be slightly browned. Cook another 5 minutes at a time until roasted to your liking. I prefer mine a little darker in color.

    5. Enjoy!

    These keep in an air-tight container on the counter for two weeks but mine never last that long before we eat them!


    Wednesday, October 16, 2019

    Lydia's No-mato Sauce

     Lydia's No-mato Sauce

         If you ever find yourself in a position where you can't have tomatoes this sauce will help fill that void in your life! If you can have tomatoes it is a delicious sauce that you can top pasta with, dollop on top of a taco, or dip your fries in! I've been using it for all of the above and even eating it on it's own! Roasting the veggies in this recipe really brings out the flavor of them.
        Even if you don't like one of the ingredients listed try it first before you leave it out. The sauce has beets in it, but doesn't taste like beets. It also contains a lot of roasted carrots. I usually dislike cooked carrots but roasting them changes the flavor and adds a sweetness and depth to the sauce. This sauce is a nutrient powerhouse. Butternut squash and beets have so many vitamins and minerals in them such as vitamin C, and magnesium! There are many recipes for no-mato sauce out there but most had ingredients I couldn’t eat right now so I tweaked this until I found the perfect sauce for me! Honestly if you can have onions or garlic I would add a little, but it’s so flavorful I don’t miss them!



    Ingredients

    -2 cups cubed butternut squash

    -2 cups carrots cut in half and then into 2 inch spears

    -2 cups celery cut into 2 inch spears

    -1/2 cup cubed raw beets ( you can also use pre-cooked beets just add the last 15 minutes of cooking)

    -1 tsp sea salt divided plus more for taste

    -2 TBSP olive oil

    -1 tsp fennel seed

    -1 tsp dried basil

    - 1-2 cups of water

    Instructions 

    1) Pre- heat oven to 400 degrees.

    2) Place all cut up veggies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the veggies with the 2 TBSP olive oil, and 1/2 tsp salt.

    3) Roast the veggies in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add the basil and fennel seed to the pan. Stir the veggies around, roast for another 10-15 minutes until slightly browned and fork tender. Cooking the spices will help this to be more friendly for those with digestive issues.

    4) Remove veggies from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. 

    5) In a large food processor add the roasted vegetables and spices, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 cup of warm water. Process the mixture until smooth. If it is still thick add more water 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. I usually add a full two cups of water to mine. 

    6) If you are serving right away add to a small saucepan and heat until warmed through. This will keep for 5 days in an airtight container and you can heat up on the stove as needed. You might need to thin with a little more water as you reheat it.

    Enjoy!

    adapted from https://www.meleatswell.com







    Monday, September 30, 2019

    Peanut Butter Walnut Blondies

    Peanut Butter Walnut Blondies

         I am a blondie person, my sister is a brownie person. I appreciate brownies but I have always preferred my soft and gooey treats sans chocolate. My sister likes to experiment with many different brownie recipes. Right now she is on the hunt for the best paleo brownie. I decide to join in on her experiment, but make mine blondies. I love adding walnuts to baked goods. One of my favorite desserts of all time is the Walnut Maple Blondie from Applebee's. Super fancy, I know. I haven't been able to have that treat in seven years, but I still think about it! They bring out the blondie sizzling on a small cast iron skillet and top it with vanilla ice cream and a warm maple sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
          I may try to recreate that dessert one day, but for now these dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free blondies are a great replacement for me. They have that soft texture I was looking for and taste great with a scoop of dairy free ice cream on top! If you have some whipped maple butter from Trader Joe's on hand I bet that would be wonderful drizzled on top!



    Ingredients

    - 1 egg
    - 1 cup organic peanut butter oil free ( I used Simple Truth brand from Kroger the only ingredients are peanuts and salt )
    - 1/3 cup maple syrup
    - 1/4 tsp sea salt
    - 1/2 tsp baking soda
    - 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


    Directions

    1) Pre-heat oven to 350.

    2) Use parchment paper to line an 8x8 pan.

    3) In a large bowl crack the egg and whisk well. Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, sea salt, baking soda and stir until ingredients are well combined.

    4) Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.

    5) Pour the batter into the lined baking dish. The batter will be thick so you will need to spread it with a spatula until it is even.

    6) Bake for 18-20 minus until the top is golden brown. Allow the blondies to cool completely before cutting or removing from pan or they will start to crumble.

    Place blondies in an air tight container or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. I think they taste best right out of the fridge with a  little scoop of dairy free ice cream on top!




    Wednesday, September 25, 2019

    Game Day Taco Soup

    Game Day Taco Soup



          When my husband and I were first married we became the unofficial hosts in our family for all the Nebraska Cornhusker football games. I thought it was so fun to have both sets of our parents and occasionally other family members over for football games. I love cooking and hosting, so I had fun planning menus and making food everyone would enjoy! This recipe, which is from my mother-in-law, has to make an appearance every year for a game day. As soon as the weather is barely cool enough for chili my husband requests it.
         A lot has changed since I first started hosting game day at my house. We have a lot more dietary restrictions in our family, but most people can still eat this soup without the toppings. My sister, her husband and three boys usually come over for the game also so it's very loud! I also have become a little more relaxed with what I serve. I like to make things that can be finished cooking when we are ready to eat so that I don't have to spend the whole game in the kitchen. Even though this recipe is fairly simple it really is a delicous taco soup or chili.
       

    Game Day Taco Soup
    serves 6-8 

    Ingredients

    - 1 pound ground beef

    - 1 envelope taco seasoning or homemade taco seasoning 
    (I use homemade so that it's gluten free, recipe is at the end of the post)

    -15 oz tomato sauce

    - 1 jar medium pace picante (I know there are better salsas out there but trust me on this one, the peppers and onions in the sauce add so much to this and medium is the perfect spiciness without being too spicy once all the other ingredients are added!)

    -2-3 cans reduced sodium black beans drained and rinsed ( I add more depending on how many people are coming over)

    -1 30 oz can chili beans ( or use two 15 oz if you can't find a 30 oz)

    -1 cup water 

    Homemade taco seasoning if not using a package seasoning

    1 TBSP chili powder 
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    1/2 tsp parsley 
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1/2 tsp salt ( for tacos I use a whole tsp but I don't want to soup to be too salty)


    Directions

    1) Brown the ground beef in a large pan 

    2) Add the taco seasoning and 1 cup of water to the pan and simmer for a minute to incorporate 

    3) Pour the ground beef, tomato sauce, pace picante sauce, black beans,  and chili beans into a large crock pot

    3) Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours until ready to serve

    4) Top the taco soup with sour cream and cheese, we like to serve it with Fritos! 

    I took a picture of the products I use to make the soup, I found all of these at Target. 






    Saturday, September 21, 2019

    Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins

    Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins
     

       

         These muffins have no sugar, sweetener, or artificial sweetener added! They are subtly sweet and good for those who have cut sugar out of their diet but really miss a baked good. Judah loved these when he was a baby. I will admit he still likes them but since he has experienced a real muffin he prefers his with a little jelly or nut butter on it. I love how easy these muffins are to make and have on hand for snacks or a quick breakfast in the morning. I like to cut them in half and add peanut butter. I have been known to take them along in a bag for a snack when I'm running errands. This recipe is based on the Banana Bread Muffin Recipe from Wellness Mama. I found that the addition of a little nut butter helps them to have a better texture and crumb!





     Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins

    Ingredients

    - 2 very ripe bananas
    - 1/4 cup melted or very soft coconut oil
    - 5 eggs
    - 1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
    - 1 tsp baking soda
    - 1/2 cup coconut flour
    -1 tsp vanilla extract ( optional just adds little flavor)

    Directions

    1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 12 count muffin tin with cooking spray or fill with muffin liners

    2) In a large bowl ( if you are using an immersion blender) or a blender add all ingredients and blend until batter is very smooth and well mixed, about 30 seconds.

    3) Pour batter evenly into all 12 muffin cups

    4) Bake for 13-16 minutes until tops begin to brown and the muffins are set ( in my oven 15 minutes is the perfect amount)

    5) Allow to cool completely before serving for better texture, serve with nut butter, jelly, or honey! I think they taste best cold right out of the fridge!

    A few notes:
    These are coconut flour based so will have a different texture than most regular flour muffins.

    Since there are no added sweeteners the sweetness of the muffins depends on how ripe your bananas are! Make sure they are VERY ripe with a lot of black spots! If you are used to eating sugar these will most likely not satisfy your craving for a muffin, but for those with diet restrictions they are a wonderful option and really satisfying!

    Store in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    recipe adapted from  https://wellnessmama.com/2637/banana-bread-muffins/

    Monday, September 16, 2019

    Game Day Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers

    Game Day Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers

         Every summer when we would visit my grandparents in Kansas City my mom would take us to a little Italian bakery and restaurant called Mario's where they served meatball and sausage sandwiches called grinders. She grew up eating them and taught us to love them too! This reminds me of those sandwiches. The flavor of the sauce is so complex even though it only has a few ingredients, most of the flavor comes from the dish cooking all day in the slow cooker with the sausages. I like to serve this on Rotella's Hoagie Buns ( I use gluten free hot dog buns for those who need gluten free) and with cheese for those who can have it that way. The leftovers are also good over gluten free pasta. This dish has become a game day staple the past few years in our home when we have family over to watch the Husker football games. I like that you can get all the prep work and mess out of the way before guests come and they are greeted with the delicious smell of onion, garlic, and peppers cooking all day when they walk in the door!


    Ingredients
    Serves 6-8 depending on size of hunger

    * 12 mild Italian Sausage Links ( I have used Kroger brand, Fresh Thyme, and Johnsonville)
    * 1 TBSP olive oil ( may need more)
    * 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    * 15 oz can tomato sauce
    * 1 yellow onion cut into thin slices
    * 3 red peppers sliced into strips
    * 3 garlic cloves minced
    * 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    * salt and pepper
    * 1 tsp dried basil
    * 1 tsp dried parsley

    Directions

    1. In a large crock pot empty the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce

    2. In a large skillet over medium heat add 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and six of the sausages. Brown the sausages on all sides, about a minute or two per side. They do not need to be cooked through as they will cook in the slow cooker. The browning adds flavor and a better texture! Once browned place in the crock pot. Repeat the browning process with the remaining sausages and then place them in the crock pot.

    3. Add the onions to the already heated skillet, add more olive oil if needed. Cook the onions for 4 minutes or until they start to brown. Season with a salt and pepper and then place in the crock pot.

    4. Add the red bell peppers to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes until soft, add the garlic the last minute and then add the cooked peppers and garlic to the crock pot.

    5.  Add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, and parsley to the crock pot and stir gently until the ingredients are well incorporated.

    6. Cook on low for 6 hours. The sausages will be very tender and might even start to fall apart!

    7. Serve on toasted buns with Mozzarella cheese or over pasta!

    Enjoy!

    Recipe adapted from https://iowagirleats.com/2015/10/19/crock-pot-sausage-and-peppers/







    Thursday, September 12, 2019

    Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets

    Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets
         
         I have a confession. I really, really disliked fennel until about two weeks ago. I would search grocery stores for Italian sausage that didn't contain it. If a restaurant had fennel listed on the menu I avoided that dish. There aren't many foods or spices I dislike but for some reason the licorice type smell of it was not appealing to me. Right now I'm very limited in what spices I can use due to some health issues. My beloved onion, garlic, chili powder, and black pepper have had to retire. 
         I decided to give fennel another chance, maybe I would like it now that all my spicy foods that I lived off of were no longer an option, and anything had to taste better than chicken just seasoned with salt. I bought a high quality dried whole fennel seed and decided to make chicken nuggets using it. They were DELICIOUS! I LOVE fennel now! I like to make a batch of these to have on hand for lunches for the week, or even as a high protein snack. They reheat well in the air fryer or microwave and go well with gluten free pasta or potatoes! I like to dip them in dairy free pesto or tahini. 
         



    Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets

    Ingredients
    1 pound ground chicken
    1 tsp salt
    1 egg well beaten
    1 TBSP coconut flour
    1/2 tsp dried basil
    1 1/2 tsp dried whole fennel seed divided (half will go on top)
    olive oil or olive oil cooking spray

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

    1. In a large bowl crack the egg and whisk with a fork until the yolk and white are well mixed

    2. Add the ground chicken, salt, coconut flour, dried basil, and 1tsp dried fennel, mix until ingredient are well incorporated

    3. Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon portion the meat mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

    4. Using the back of a fork gently press each mound of chicken down to flatten

    5. Spray each chicken nugget lightly with 100% olive oil cooking spray or use a pastry brush to brush olive oil on each nugget

    6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of fennel seed on top of the nuggets

    7. Bake for 7 minutes, take out of the oven and flip the nuggets over and bake for another 7-10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165

    Enjoy!

    A few notes
    * The coconut flour and egg are optional but I have found that adding them to chicken makes the nuggets stay together and the coconut flour absorbs extra juices from the chicken as they bake making for a better texture. I have made them without coconut flour and I end up with a pan of chicken juices. ha ha
    * You can use this base recipe and add whatever spices you like! If you don't like fennel you can use something else!
    * Adding the fennel to the top makes these have an extra roasted fennel taste!







    Wednesday, September 11, 2019

    Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies (egg free!)

    Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies 

         When I was testing this recipe I forgot that when you mix sunbutter and baking soda together in a cookie the cookies will turn green from the chlorophyll in the sunflower seeds in the sunbutter. My first batch of cookies I made were green! They tasted really good, smelled like fall, but the color didn't scream pumpkin spice. I decided to leave the baking soda out the second time around and they made a much more appealing cookie! These pumpkin spice cookies are slightly sweet, have the fall spices we all love, but the sunbutter gives them a melt in your mouth texture and holds the cookies together without the use of eggs! 

    Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies
    Makes 10-12 depending on size

    Ingredients 

    -1 cup oats
    -1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    -1/4 cup sunbutter (you can also use almond butter or cashew but peanut butter overpowers the spices)
    -1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
    -1/4 tsp sea salt
    -3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice ( If you want a stronger pumpkin spice flavor add a whole tsp)

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 350
    2. In a large bowl combine oats, pumpkin, sunbutter, maple syrup, sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice
    3. Stir ingredients until well incorporated
    4. Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon scoop the cookie batter onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper
    5. Push each cookie slightly down with your hand or the back of a spatula (cookies will not spread so this step is important unless you want round cookies!)
    6. Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes until they are brown on the bottom
    Allow cookies to cool completely before removing them from the pan or they may break.
    Enjoy!

    Wednesday, August 21, 2019

    Gluten Free Breakfast Casserole ( with a dairy free option)

    Gluten Free Breakfast Casserole

         My family loves breakfast casseroles! Although we mostly eat them for dinner, not breakfast! My four year old and husband can eat about half the pan just the two of them because they love it so much. I often make this casserole when I need to take a breakfast dish someplace, such as my MOPS group at church! It's also a go-to during football season when we have those early 11am Husker parties. Through the years I've tweaked this recipe to get it down to a few ingredients I always have on hand. You can customize it to meet your needs or dietary preferences. One of my favorite additions is sun dried tomatoes! They add a little bit of sweetness to the dish. I sometimes make it half with cheese and half without for those who can't have dairy. This casserole reheats very well in the microwave so you can make it at the beginning of the week and have it on hand for an easy breakfast.







    Ingredients
    -16 oz. of gluten free hash browns (NOTE: this is half of most bags, I've tried it with a whole bag and it's too many potatoes!)
    -12 large eggs
    -16 oz of sausage cooked until browned and drained of excess fat ( I use Jimmy Deans All Natural)
    -4-8 oz of sharp cheddar cheese (this can be left off to it make dairy free)
    -1/2 tsp salt
    -1/4 tsp pepper
    other options for mix ins-
    -sundried tomatoes ( mix them in with the hash browns/eggs or they will burn on top!
    -mushrooms
    -crumbled goat cheese
    -feta cheese

    Instructions
    1) Pre-heat oven to 350
    2) Generously spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray (don't skip this or it will stick)
    3) Pour the 16 oz of frozen hash browns into the skillet and spread until they are even
    4) Brown the sausage in a large skillet and drain
    5) Spread the sausage over the hash browns in the baking dish
    6) In a large bowl crack all 12 eggs, add the salt and pepper and whisk the eggs until they are well incorporated
    7) Pour the egg mixture over the hash browns and sausage and use a fork to make sure the egg reaches the sides of the dish. Since this recipe does not have added milk in the mixture it might look like there aren't enough eggs to cover but if you tilt the baking dish around the eggs will sink down and coat the whole dish.
    8) Sprinkle the top with 6-8 oz or as much cheese or other toppings that you want!
    9) Bake for 45 minutes and check with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. If the egg bake is not baked through add five more minutes at a time and keep checking until done.

    Note: My sister and I always joke about how egg bakes always take different amounts of time to cook and usually take longer than you think they will!  I have made this so many times and tried to time it out and it usually takes between 45-60 minutes but sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it takes less! If you are taking this to an event make sure you give yourself plenty of time for it to cook!



    Monday, August 12, 2019

    Gluten Free Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Two Ways
       
          Usually my four year old doesn't like chicken nuggets, or chicken tenders, or any type of fried breaded chicken. I think he might be one of the only toddlers I've met that this rings true for. He does however like grilled chicken, sautéed chicken, and now he likes my air fryer chicken tenders!
          I have had a lot of fun experimenting with my new air fryer I bought on amazon prime day. I was hoping to use it to make easy meals for lunch when we didn't have leftovers on hand. I can't make things easy and just make one type of chicken tender at a time so I made two! The first one is more traditional using Trader Joe's new gluten free rice crumbs. The texture of the exterior is so crispy from the ground rice! These were a hit with my husband and son, who if they chose to could eat a normal gluten filled chicken tender.
         The second version features one of my favorite treats, Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips! These chips are made with Cassava flour and taste very similar to corn based tortilla chips, but without the grain for those who can't have corn. I never know what to do with the end of the bag of these chips when there are little pieces and now I have a fun new chicken tortilla chicken tender I can make!
         Both of these recipes were made in the air fryer and haven't been tested in the oven. From prior experience with making chicken tenders in the oven, I think you could make these in the oven but they will not be as crispy, and probably a little soggy on one side. The picture below is using the Siete  Grain Free Chips!



    Ingredients
    12 chicken tenders
    1  cup of Trader Joe's Rice Crumbs or Siete Tortilla chips crumbled into small pieces
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    2 eggs beaten

    Instructions

    1) Pre- heat air fryer for 3 minutes to 400 degrees

    2) In a small dish crack the two eggs and beat them with a fork until mixed

    3) In another small dish pour your choice of breading, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder

    4) Dip each chicken finger in the egg mixture and then the crumb mixture, set each chicken tender on a plate while the air fryer pre-heats

    5) Depending on the size of your air fryer (mine is a Ninja and fits six chicken tenders at a time) place the chicken tenders in batches in the air fryer basket. Spray the tenders with olive oil spray and cook at 400 for 5 minutes, flip and spray the other side with olive oil spray, and cook for another 5 minutes at 400 or until chicken reaches a temp of 165.
    I usually put my oven on 200 and place the chicken tenders on a sheet pan to keep them warm and crispy while I cook the rest of the chicken.

    Serve with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or I even like them with guacamole!



    (These are the new rice crumbs from Trader Joe's)

    Wednesday, August 7, 2019

    Maple Sea Salt Cashew Bites

    Maple Sea Salt Cashew Bites

         I love anything maple flavored. As a child that meant sugary "maple" syrup and maple flavored cookies in the shape of a maple leaf ( have you ever had one? They are SO good!). When I discovered there was a more natural maple extract available I had to experiment and make something that would satisfy my maple craving! I love the combination of a little sea salt mixed with something sweet. I used dates to sweeten these so you are getting the bonus of fiber and all the good things that are packed into dates! These bites are easy to make and grab when you want a quick snack or something sweet!



    Maple Sea Salt Cashew Bites
    Makes 10 

    Ingredients 

    -1/2 cup unsalted cashews
    -1/2 cup pitted dates ( I use medjool dates)
    -1/2 tsp maple flavor ( I use Frontier Co-Op brand)
    -1 tsp water
    -2 TBSP flax meal ( you can leave this out but need to add more cashews or they will be sticky)
    -1/4 tsp sea salt ( plus a little more for sprinkling on top)

    Instructions

    Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and starts to stick together. The mixture should be sticky but not so sticky you can't roll them into balls. If it is too sticky add a tablespoon more of cashews at a time until it is the right consistency. 

    Roll the mixture into 10 equal balls and place in the refrigerator to set.

    Sprinkle the top with a few flakes of sea salt if desired.

    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.


    Tuesday, July 30, 2019

    Paleo 5 Ingredient Chicken Marinade

    Paleo 5 Ingredient Chicken Marindade



          We love grilling in our house, and especially love grilling chicken! I always know that grilled chicken tastes better when you take the time to marinate it but I found myself not having the ingredients on hand that most marinades called for. I came up with this marinade based off of flavors I enjoyed from other marinades I had used in the past, but put a paleo twist on it.
         Does anyone know how to take a picture of chicken and make it look pretty?! Ha ha Chicken is just one of those things that doesn't photograph well but trust me, this tastes SO good! I love to grill a few pounds of chicken tenders to have leftovers for lunches during the week. This recipe can be easily adapted to be non-paleo ( and a little less expensive to make) just use the substitutes listed. 

    Chicken Marinade

    1/2 C coconut aminos ( my favorite brand is from trader joes) ( you can sub soy sauce if you can have  soy)
    1/2 C avocado or olive oil 
    2 TBSP sesame oil 
    2 TBSP coconut sugar ( you can sub brown sugar)
    1/2 tsp salt

    Pour ingredients over 2-3 lbs of chicken in a large ziplock bag and marinate for at least 4 hours before grilling.
    Make sure you rotate the chicken or shake the bag you have the chicken in every few hours to make sure all the pieces are coated.


    Monday, July 29, 2019

    Paleo Cardamom Zucchini Muffins


    Paleo Cardamom Zucchini Muffins



         Have you ever had cardamom? My first time trying this spice was a few years ago when I came across a recipe for cardamom tea cakes during Christmas. I decided to try to make them gluten free. The warming spice of the cardamom in the tea cakes soon became a favorite of mine! Suddenly cardamom was showing up everywhere I looked. In ice cream at Coneflower, pound cake at Goldenrod pastries, and then I realized it was in quite a few middle eastern savory dishes I had recipes for. The gluten free, dairy free cardamom pound cake at Goldenrod Pasteries in Lincoln, NE is one of my favorite treats! If you ever find yourself there you need to try it!  If you don't have cardamom (it can be hard to find) you can sub cinnamon.
       
          Because of the texture these muffins are best at room temperature or heated in the microwave for a few seconds. In my opinion they are also amazing slathered with some wild blueberry jam. Coconut flour is one of my favorite paleo baking flours to use because of its low carb count, and low price point. If you've never had a coconut flour muffin the texture is a little more "eggy" than a regular muffin, or even an almond flour muffin, but very tasty!



    Paleo Cardamom Zucchini Muffins

    6 eggs at room temperature
    3/4 cup coconut flour 
    1/2 cup pure maple syrup
    1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    3/4 tsp baking soda
    1 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini 

    Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake liners in 12 muffin tins

    1) Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until yolks are combined with the whites

    2) Add the coconut flour, maple syrup, cardamom, cloves, and baking soda and stir well to combine

    3) Gently stir in the shredded zucchini 

    4) Divide the batter among the 12 muffin tins 

    5) Check the muffins at 20 minutes, if a toothpick comes out clean they are done. If not add another two minutes at a time and keep checking until done.

    Coconut flour muffins are a lot different texture than most gluten free muffins, these will naturally have a softer and "eggy" texture. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to five days.

    Recipe adapted from Detoxinista https://detoxinista.com/paleo-coconut-flour-zucchini-bread/




    Friday, July 26, 2019

    Black Bean and Corn Salsa

     Black Bean and Corn Salsa

          This recipe is one that I have taken to family meals more than any other recipe I make. I originally got this recipe as a newlywed from my mother-in-law who got it from her niece Jennifer. Jennifer got it from her friend who is a missionary in Turkey. She said when she passes the recipe along she asks people to pray for her friends in Turkey, and also the people of Turkey when they make it. I thought that was such a sweet idea, so I'm passing that idea along also.
    My mother-in-law asked me to make this salsa for a family dinner one night, and it has become my job the past 7 years to make it. I passed the recipe along to my side of the family and now anytime this salsa goes with a meal we are having I get requests to bring it along. This feeds a crowd and goes great with Mexican food or a BBQ!
       
    I have tweaked the recipe a little to fit what my husband likes the best about it, lots of black beans and not as much cilantro. The really funny thing about me posting this recipe right now is that I can't currently eat corn, tomatoes, onions, or lime juice. Hopefully soon I will be able to, and when I am this will be the first thing I make myself!






     Ingredients

    Dressing
    1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 clove of minced garlic
    1 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

    2 (15 oz) cans of black beans drained and rinsed
    1 can organic sweet corn drained and rinsed
    1 avocado cut into chunks
    1 pint of cherry tomatoes sliced into quarters
    6 thinly sliced green onions
    1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped

    1) Mix dressing in a cup and stir until well mixed

    2) In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients except for the avocado and cilantro. Pour the dressing over and let sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavors to develop.

    3) Right before serving add the chopped avocado and cilantro.

    Serve with tortilla chips for dipping!




    Wednesday, July 24, 2019

    Grilled Chicken Fajitas

    Grilled Chicken Fajitas

         These chicken fajitas are on rotation in our house all year round! I have been known to ask my husband to fire up the grill in the midst of snow and sub zero temperatures. He usually obliges me but when it's really too cold to go outside and grill these can be made in a skillet and still taste great!

    We really enjoy having family and friends over for dinner, and this is one of our go to recipes! The prep work can be done ahead of time and your guests can chat outside with you while you are grilling the fajitas. I also love that you can put the rub on the chicken right before it cooks and still get a lot of flavor. I usually forget to marinate chicken ahead of time and with this recipe you can get the chicken grill ready in just a few minutes!

    The subtle spiciness of the chicken from the rub with the freshness of the grilled veggies is one of my favorite combinations! It's such a fun meal for guests, and everyone can accommodate their dietary needs by choosing different tortillas and toppings. Recently when we had friends over I had regular tortillas, gluten free corn, and grain tortillas free tortillas to choose from. I also splurged and bought some site foods dairy free queso which is not quite the same as regular queso, but it's tasty. I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as we do!





    Chicken Fajitas
    serves 6-8 people
    Ingredients
    5 medium sized chicken breasts
    red and green bell peppers cut in half and seeds and stems removed
    red onion sliced into 1/4 inch intact rings

    1 TBSP olive oil
    Rub for chicken
    Mix all ingredients in small bowl
    1/2 TBSP chili powder
    1 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp dried parsley
    1) Cut bell peppers in half removing seeds and stem.  Peel onion and cut into 1/4 inch slices keeping rings intact
    2) Coat the chicken breasts with the olive oil
    3) Sprinkle the chicken with the rub evenly on all sides. 
    4) Grill chicken over medium high heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 175, about six minutes each side.
    5) Halfway through cooking add peppers and onions to the grill and cook until peppers are soft and a little charred and onions become flexible 
    6) Cut peppers, onions, and chicken into strips and serve in tortilla shells
    Our favorite way to eat these is with sour cream and a little hot sauce! Other great toppings are cheese, fresh jalapenos, and guacamole.