Banana Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

In my quest to find a GF banana bread recipe so I could use up all the over-ripe bananas that were quickly morphing into some kind of hideous monstrosity inside the fruit bowl, I found this.  The original recipe was for a Buttermilk Banana Blueberry Bread, but it worked great for making into muffins. (Yield: 18)

I wasn’t overly disappointed that the recipe wasn’t GF because of the magic words “buttermilk.”  Back to the whole grind-your-own-whole-wheat-then-soak-in-vinegar concept to break down the gluten, making your own buttermilk using apple cider vinegar and whole milk fits the bill.  Simply mix all the ingredients together the night before then cover and let “soak” inside the refrigerator overnight. Bam!  You now have a close-to GF recipe without the fuss.  Might I add that having the batter prepared the night before made fixing breakfast the next morning a total breeze. 🙂

Even with using entirely whole wheat flour instead of AP flour, the taste was scrumptious!  Tim loved it and asked that I put this recipe in the “keeper” file.

Banana Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  • 1 3/4 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 C. buttermilk (mix 1/4 T. vinegar and the rest regular milk to make 1/4 C.)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 C. blueberries

INSTRUCTIONS:  Mix butter and sugar inside an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and bananas.  Blend until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixer a little at a time, beating just until incorporated.  Stir blueberries in last.  Cover and place inside refrigerator to “soak” for 12-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins and fill 3/4 full with batter.  Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan onto a wire rack.  (Yield:  18 muffins)

NOTE:  Adapted from Damn Delicious.

Advertisements

GF Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe is truly a treasure and tastes AMAZING!!!!  You would never be able to tell that these muffins have no grains in them compared to regular muffins made with flour or flour alternatives.  I did a little tweaking with the original recipe I found over at  Running With Spoons  and came up with something that worked within the family budget (no special ingredients needed!) and was tasty.

My first try at this recipe was a disaster.  I made the mistake of trying to substitute butter for the almond butter.  It made sense to me at the time; however, I should know better by now not to trust my brain after a long night of hypoglycemia.  Sheesh! :-/  Needless to say, the muffins turned out horrible.  I was so afraid to try again because I didn’t want to waste the ingredients.

Then one day a friend of mine gave me the best piece of information which re-kindled my desire to give this recipe another try.  I learned that you can substitute regular peanut butter for almond butter. Ha!  Genius!  Why hadn’t I thought of that before?!?!  They are both in the nut family and have the same texture and cooking consistency needed.  So butter, coconut oil and ghee can all be interchanged with each other, but nut butters need to stick with the nuts.

Another helpful tip is that this recipe usually only makes 9 regular muffins.  Yeah, I know, stupid GF recipes don’t like to make the nice, even dozen.  Drives me CRAZY!  Instead, use a mini muffin tin to make your batter stretch farther or better yet, double the recipe so you will end up with a nice dozen regular sized muffins and approximately 10-12 mini muffins.  The way these babies taste, you will need those mini muffins to fill the hungry hoards when snack time rolls around.  They won’t last long in your kitchen! 🙂

So…. Here’s what you need to get started.

  •   Blender (I love using my Ninja for this.)
  •   ½ cup peanut butter
  •   1 ripe medium/large banana
  •  1 egg
  •   1/4 C. honey
  •   1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  •   2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  •   1 tsp. vanilla extract
  •   1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •   1/2 tsp. baking powder
  •   ¼ cup chocolate chips
  •   Peanut butter chips for sprinkling on top (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.  Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.  Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (8 minutes for mini muffins), until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before removing. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

E helped me with the peanut butter chips on top.  He was being creative. 🙂

In terms of taste and moistness, I would give these a perfect 10.

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds

So basically I’ve been doing some major experimenting inside my kitchen lately trying to figure out how this whole “gluten-free” baking works.  So many of the recipes I find online have a long list of ingredients I don’t have in my pantry and really can’t add to the grocery list without breaking my food budget.  Instead, I began to focus on the recipes I know the family loves and work toward converting them to GF with as little new ingredients as possible.  I am very thankful to have stumbled across a website that gives the exact conversion for all-purpose flour to coconut flour.

Sam’s Club had this huge bag of coconut flour on sale for less than $8.50.  I had purchased this about a month ago and it seems to last forever since you don’t use nearly as much coconut flour as you do AP flour.  Don’t judge me too harshly for the giant container of peanut butter.  It’s cheaper than almond butter and my kids love eating it with just about anything for a tasty snack.

Here is the link to the original recipe – Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds.  To make this recipe GF, simply take out the 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour and substitute in 1/3 C. coconut flour and use some GF oatmeal.  That’s it!!

The change in flours didn’t change the overall taste or texture of the cookie, but it did change the density.  I’ve noticed that GF baked goods don’t “fluff” like other baked foods.  My simple answer to that would be that GF items don’t fluff because they don’t have the “fluff-making” gluten.  This recipe works so well as a GF conversion because of the extra moisture from the peanut butter, butter and eggs.  Usually you have to add extra moisture when using coconut flour.  None needed here!  Please keep in mind when making this recipe that you won’t get the originally stated 48 cookies.  It will be more like 24-36 depending on how big you make them.

They are STILL a family favorite treat! 🙂

 

Apple, Cream Cheese & Cinnamon Snack

Last week my sister introduced me to the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G snack using ingredients I already had inside the house.  It’s hard to describe just how the flavors of the cinnamon and cream cheese blend with the sweet flavor of the apple.  Simply put, it melts in your mouth without all the extra sugar and carbs you would find in a caramel dipping sauce.

There really isn’t even a recipe for this just a creative idea.  You can do it the easy way and simply slice up your apple, spread some cream cheese on top and sprinkle with cinnamon (to taste).  However, when you have little ones who see those ingredients come out of the refrigerator and cabinet, you have to be prepared to produce this snack FAST.  Haha!

I softened a chunk of the cream cheese in a bowl then mixed in the cinnamon before spreading on the sliced apples.  It was easier to work with the softened cream cheese.  Even with the cinnamon mixed in, it was nice to add a dash more on top of each slice to really pump up the cinnamon-y flavor.  Hint, you can even add some Chia seeds in the mix too to get a boost of fiber without any little ones being the wiser.  Tehe! 😉

There are two big benefits to this snack.  The first is that the high fat content in the cream cheese is good for filling up your belly and holding you over longer between meals and has no sugar or carbs.  (Great for those doing the Ketogenic Diet a.k.a. LCHF.) The second is that the cinnamon has no sugar or carbs and is actually beneficial for regulating blood glucose.  Not that my kids care one bit about any of that as long as it tastes good! 🙂  I, however, love that I get to enjoy the snack too without worrying about throwing my body off ketosis and having uncontrollable blood sugar.

Easy Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

I honestly can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve posted on here, but so much has been filling our lives of late that sitting down at a computer is the last thing I contemplate in a given day.  It’s easy to just snap a picture and post on Facebook with a quick caption letting people gain a glimpse of what we are up to, but actually sitting down to write is right up there with “taking a vacation” in my book.  Haha!

Eli's Eggs FlyerSome of the biggest changes taking place is the fact that E started his very first business selling free-range eggs.  Tim and I have been helping him get things off the ground, but he is learning how to do a lot of the work himself.  People have been telling us that our prices are too low, but we feel that they are perfect.  The point of selling the eggs is to teach E about small business ownership, responsibility, math skills, stewardship and to provide good food at an affordable price.  The whole reason we started raising chickens was because we wanted to be able to enjoy the healthy eggs ourselves.  It’s actually cheaper to keep live chickens than it is for us to purchase the free-range eggs from a local farmer’s market or Whole Foods!  We go through eggs like water now a days, which brings me to the second big change in our lives….

Since the beginning of November I got completely fed up with my weight and failing health.  I never had energy and found that I was becoming more and more cantankerous as the days passed simply because of the constant fatigue and just feeling sick all the time.  I’ve been wanting to get rid of the extra weight for a LONG time now, but nothing I tried was working.  I was so hopeful that once my hypothyroidism was under control with the medication, it would help get my metabolism and hormones back in line allowing the weight to come off more easily.

Too bad it didn’t work! 😦  There are so many supposed “quick fixes” out there that promise to help you lose weight and feel better, but they all come with a pretty big price tag.  Tim assured me that he would support whatever direction I wanted to choose as long as I could stay within budget.  Well, to even supplement one meal per day with one of the health shakes would cut out half our monthly food budget.  I still had to feed five more people plus the rest of my meals for the month!  Looking at the cost of everything, I decided to go a different direction.  Instead of spending half our grocery budget on a miracle powder, I invested in a Ninja Nutri Blender (my birthday present!) and changed up how I cooked and grocery shopped.  No more processed food and majority of items purchased are raw fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts, etc.

The change in eating helped lower my blood sugars dramatically.  It got to the point where I wanted to quit eating the healthy stuff because I was having such an awful time dealing with hypoglycemia.  A friend in our Down syndrome group recommended a diet called the Ketogenic Diet.  The whole basis of the diet is to decrease the amount of carbs consumed in a day and increase the amounts of fats.  The body will eventually switch from burning carbs/glucose for energy and begin burning off the fat.  Fat burned for fuel produces 70 percent MORE energy than carbs/glucose.  It also requires a lot less insulin to control.

In less than 2 months, I am down 17 pounds with no extra effort other than eating a ton of butter, bacon, coconut oil, eggs, etc. Hahaha!  The biggest change but one that has made the most difference in how I feel healthwise overall is by going gluten-free.  It made sense to just do it because breads have the highest carb value and cause my blood sugars to spike more than eating a chocolate candy bar.  The more I’ve read about the negative affects of gluten, the more convinced I am to stay away from it!

So, finally….CONCLUSION. 🙂  This recipe is one that I discovered digging around online for good Keto cooking ideas.  My favorite part is that it can be made into a thin crust pizza or a deep dish Chicago-style pizza.  I’m posting the instructions for the deep dish.  The original crust recipe can be found over at Cooky’s Creation (thin crust pizza) and Eat Keto (deep dish pizza).  I did some adjustments to the crust ingredients as well as the meat in the deep dish.

Crust

  • 2 C. shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 C. shredded Mozzarella
  • 3-4 Tbl. cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. almond meal/flour
  • 1/2 C. coconut flour

Melt the cheddar and mozzarella cheese inside a glass bowl in the microwave stirring every 30-45 seconds.  When completely melted, dump into a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well until it forms a slightly sticky dough.

Spray a large springform pan and press the dough up the sides and bottom.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and fill with toppings.

2015-01-13 17.24.18

The original recipe said to just put the raw sausage in chunks onto the bottom of the crust.  Umm… I have a thing about mixing raw meat in a pizza.  That seems to just scream bacteria to me.  Instead, cook your sausage and drain off the excess grease.  I did one pound of Italian sausage and set it aside.

2015-01-13 17.21.18

Slice one onion thinly and throw into the hot pan you used to cook the sausage.  Oh yeah, it helps soften the onions just enough and gives them a little extra flavor as it soaks up the sausage bits from the pan. Oo lala!

2015-01-13 17.21.32

Place all the meat inside the crust.

2015-01-13 17.25.50

Layer thinly sliced red or green peppers on top of the meat.

2015-01-13 17.26.35

Add the cooked onions.  (Look at the lovely brown speckles!  That means FLAVOR!!!)

2015-01-13 17.27.25

Add 1 1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if you can get it to fit).

2015-01-13 17.28.47

Either use crushed tomatoes with a little salt or some pizza or spaghetti sauce.  I used my homemade spaghetti sauce for this one.  Sprinkle a good helping of Parmesan cheese.2015-01-13 17.31.17Place back in the oven set at 325 degrees and cook for approximately 30-45 minutes (or until cooked through and the center is hot).

2015-01-13 18.10.19

Remove from oven and gently remove the sides of the pan.  I would recommend gently running a spatula around the inside to help loosen any parts that might want to stick.

2015-01-13 18.10.36

2015-01-13 18.14.43

2015-01-13 18.14.55

So after eating two slices  of this delicious pizza along with a nice helping of Waldorf salad made with just apples, craisins and mayo, I didn’t take any insulin with the meal.  My blood sugars stayed between 78-96 the rest of the evening.  Again, this is very low-carb and EXCELLENT for maintaining good blood glucose levels without needing tons of insulin.  Another tid-bit is that my eldest son requests this pizza crust over any other.  And to think it’s GLUTEN FREE!!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Muffins

School work is done for the day, baby girl is still snoozing, the two little tornadoes are still engaged with toys, and bread is cooling on the oven in preparation for lunch… YES!  I have a few minutes to sneak away and get this blog post finished.  Whahaha! 🙂

I found this recipe over at www.handletheheat.com and gave it a try last month.  It has since become one of the most requested breakfast muffins from everyone in the family including Tim.  The great thing about the muffin is that it tastes great still warm from the oven and even better later in the day for a snack.  This recipe alone is making me want to invest in one of those mini-muffin pans so I can make these for snack times instead of cookies or something like that.  The texture just melts in your mouth it is so light and crumbly.

2014-08-19 08.21.02

This morning I decided to try making the recipe with a few healthier options instead of the Chocolate Chip Muffin version I originally found.  I first altered the flour so it was half all-purpose and half fresh ground whole-wheat then substituted the butter for coconut oil.  Since I like the subtle flavor from the coconut oil, I threw in a hand full of sweetened coconut flakes and backed off on the original amount of chocolate chips.  Sooooooo GOOD!!!  I love how you can see the chunks of coconut as well as the chocolate chips.

2014-08-19 08.46.16

Baby girl was happy with her breakfast this morning.  After getting her cleaned up, I set her down on the floor to play with her brothers inside the living room.  It got really quiet all of a sudden, and when I went to investigate I found H under the table eating all the crumbs off the floor.  Arg!  I keep forgetting that I have to sweep the breakfast carnage before releasing her from her chair.  Haha!   Guess it just goes to prove that the muffins are THAT good. 🙂

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Chocolate Chip Coconut Muffins – adapted from HandletheHeat.com
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. coconut oil (melted & cooled)
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/4 C. sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin tin cups. In two separate bowls mix together all dry ingredients and all wet ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the milk mixture into the well and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes

 

 

Canning Homemade Tomato Soup

Got a call yesterday afternoon from my sister asking if I needed any more tomatoes for my canning.  Turns out the Fishnet Ministries located in Jacksonville had received a shipment of 80,000 pounds of Roma tomatoes and had no way of refrigerating them.  A call went out to churches and the general public asking for help boxing up the tomatoes and getting them to those who could use them.  Wow!  FREE tomatoes (as many as you want)!  After ending the call with my sister I immediately started calling around members of my church who I thought would be interested in doing some canning.

E likes to go around quoting, “You don’t work; you don’t eat!” a lot of times, and today just proved the statement to be a solid truth.  In order to benefit from the free tomatoes, we had to go help box them from 5-7 a.m.  Up at 3:45 a.m. I headed out the door shortly after 4 to be at the Fishnet Ministries’ warehouse.  My sister and two older nephews met me there and we all dove right in to help empty as many crates as possible.  It felt like I had gone back in time and  was up to work the 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift at McDonald’s like I did during my high school years and summer/winter breaks of college. Oh the memories…. Haha!

The pallets were stacked three high and filled almost every available aisle inside the warehouse.  On the outside, they were stacked four high and lined the outside walls.

We’re talking a LOT of tomatoes!!!  In the short amount of time we were able to help, our small group was able to unload 4 1/2 crates which were the size of small swimming pools.

2014-07-17 05.23.20

Here is just a portion of the boxes of tomatoes we loaded up in our vehicles to take home to either can ourselves or give to friends from church.  Can’t beat free food!!!

The timing of this blessing couldn’t have been better since my mom is here visiting for a few days and was able to walk me through my first batch of tomato soup.  Yippee! 🙂  Not that I couldn’t do it on my own with her written instructions, but it sure is nice for this auditory and visual learner to be able to do it along side her so I don’t make any mistakes.

What you will need to can a single batch of homemade tomato soup:

SUPPLIES

  • 3 stock pots (or 2 stock pots and several large soup pots)
  • Canner
  • Quart jars (approx. 14-15)
  • Canning lids
  • Canning rings/bands
  • Funnel
  • Ladel
  • Long spoon for stirring
  • Knife
  • Juicer (used my KitchenAid with juicer attachment)
  • Long whisk

INGREDIENTS

  • 26 pounds tomatoes (1/2 a bushel)
  • Whole  bunch of celery
  • 14 T. onion powder
  • 6 Bay Leaves
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper (more if you like your soup spicy)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 C. flour

Start by weighing your tomatoes to ensure you have the needed 1/2 bushel.  FYI, I looked it up online to find that a full bushel of tomatoes weighs 53 pounds.  Just thought you would want to know that little tidbit of info. 🙂  You’ll notice I’m not using a fancy kitchen scale – primarily because I don’t own one.  Instead a handy bathroom scale will suffice.

After you’ve weighed your tomatoes, place inside a clean sink and fill with water to give them a good wash.  Using a sharp knife, cut each one in half to ensure there are no bad spots then throw them into the stock pots (dividing the tomatoes between the two pots).

Wash your celery then divide into two sections.  Cut off the bottoms and the ends if they are bad.  Cut the celery into pieces no longer than the length from the tip of your index finger to the knuckle.  You don’t want them too big because they will get stuck inside your juicer.   Leaves and all get thrown into the pots.

Add three Bay Leaves to each pot (more if the leaves are small and broken).

Add 7 T. onion powder to each pot then cover and place on medium-high heat to cook.  As the tomatoes begin to cook down, you can begin mashing them to release the juices then turn up the heat.  Don’t increase the heat until you have enough juice otherwise the tomatoes will burn!

Check your pots and stir the contents every 15-20 minutes or so to ensure that nothing starts to burn at the bottom.  This part of the recipe takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!! 🙂  You’ll know it’s been cooked through when the celery is tender.  To help it cook faster, push all the pieces of celery under the liquid.

After the tomatoes have cooked down, scoop out a cup at a time and press down into your juicer.  It helps to use the mixer bowl to catch the soup in because the handle makes it easier to pour into the larger pot.  Don’t forget you are working with hot, hot stuff!

Pour the juice into the third stockpot or smaller pots/containers until all the tomatoes have gone through the juicer.  If you don’t have a third stockpot, wash out one that you finish emptying and pour the soup into it.  All the juice will fill one stockpot when you are done.

As soon as you finish juicing all the mixture, get your water canner on the stove to start heating.  Remember to have something on the bottom of the canner to prevent the jars from coming into direct contact with the metal.  I used the inside piece from my pressure canner, but you can use some butter knives, canning lids or canning rings.  Just anything that will elevate your jars.

Whisk in

  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper

and bring to a boil

The original recipe called for 2 sticks melted margarine mixed with 1 C. flour but this is what it turned into….BLAH!  Scratch that one!

Instead I used 2 sticks melted BUTTER and 1 C. flour and got this instead.  Success!  So if you think you can cheat and use the cheap ole’ margarine, DON’T. You will certainly regret ruining your batch of soup.

Slowly add the flour/butter mixture to the soup whisking the entire time.  (Now I know why my mom was so happy we bought her an immersion blender for Christmas this past year. Wow!  Talk about an arm workout when using a whisk!)

Prepare 7 quart jars (need to be really hot – like straight from the steam setting on your dishwasher), lids (boiled inside a small saucepan), and canning rings/bands.  Fill each jar leaving a 1/2-inch head space, clean tops with a clean, damp cloth ensuring there is no food or cracks along the surface, then place a hot lid on top and tighten down with a band.  For more step-by-step instructions on the canning process, head over here.

Process in a hot water canner for 20 minutes then remove and let rest for 24 hours before removing bands and storing.  If the lid pops up after you press down on it, it means the jar didn’t seal properly so place inside your refrigerator to eat in the next couple of days.

Didn’t have quite enough to fill a whole quart jar, so that one will be Tim’s lunch for tomorrow. Perfect for a stormy day! 🙂

Final Price = $0.31/quart…. Wahoo!!!