Low Carb Grain Free Bread

IMG_1630I went to a conference last weekend, and asked my husband, who is hands down the better baker in our family, to find a grain free bread recipe.  He found one and modified it a bit and made this for me when I returned home on Sunday (what a guy!) and it was very good.  It is hard to find “bread-like” consistency without using grain or yeast, and this bread is denser, more like pound cake consistency, but it worked for my craving to occasionally have almond butter on bread!  I have used it as a quick snack this week, and it has survived for 7 days now in our frig in a ziploc.  Sharing with you, and I’d appreciate feedback!

Pros:  amazingly low carb (3 net carbs!), high protein (7g) and easy to make, especially for non-bakers!

Cons:  not “tall” like sandwich bread, and denser, and less flavor that flour based bread

Low Carb Grain Free Sandwich Bread

2 cups + 2 T blanched almond flour (we use Honeyville)
½ cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
¼ cup ghee (pasture butter that’s been clarified, can usually be tolerated even if you don’t eat dairy)*
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

*you can use any oil, coconut will impart a coconut flavor, and my opinion is olive oil would be too strong. Other healthy options would be avocado.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously grease a 8½ inch loaf pan with coconut oil or ghee.  Don’t use sprays, use real oil.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl:  flours, baking soda, salt.  Set aside.
Put the eggs in your blender and pulse on high for 10-15 sec. until frothy. Then add ghee, water and vinegar and process a few seconds until combined.
Dump the dry ingredients into the blender all at once.  Now here’s the tricky part:  process for only 10-15 seconds, until the dry ingredients mix with the wet ingredients.  Do not wait, or the dry flours absorb the wet ingredients and become too thick for your blender to process it.  If this starts to happen, or your blender isn’t high powered, dump it all into a bowl and hand mix to finish it.  Remember, you want it mixed quickly.

Pour the mixture into your greased loaf pan and smooth the top so it is even.

Bake for 50-70 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_1634Store uneaten bread in an airtight container in refrigerator, as this bread has no preservatives and is chemical free.

We’ve put chicken salad on it, almond butter, and it does crumble a bit, but it does make a sandwich.  I’m going to keep searching for an even lighter bread recipe, but for now, this makes a good alternative if you are craving bread.

I would say that open faced works better, because this isn’t pliable like regular bread, the pressure of two pieces might make it crumble.  I haven’t tried toasting this, but I did put it in a pan and brown it slightly and that worked fine.

Nutrition Information:  based on each loaf serving 12 pieces, which are pretty generous slices:

bread.nutrition

10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs, Day 9

Today is simple.  The next time you want to reach for potato chips, try one of these low carb snack alternatives!  In general, I’ve avoided cheese because I don’t eat dairy.  You can add cheese in small amounts if you can tolerate dairy.

The key for a snack is this:  you MUST have some protein, some fat and some flavor!  Then, you won’t feel deprived!

Protein  +  Good Fat = Good Snack!

  1. Olives – high in healthy fats, they’ll keep you feeling full.
  2. Celery with Nut Butter
  3. Cucumber chips with guacamole
  4. Hard Boiled Egg!  A little salt and pepper and you’re set
  5. A handful of almonds, cashews, pecans or walnuts. High fiber, low carbs, good fats
  6. ½ cup berries, and if you can do dairy, ½ cup greek plain yogurt
  7. One or two of my strawberry cookies!
  8. Half an avocado with tuna or chicken salad (home made if possible)
  9. Half an avocado with ½ tomato with salt and pepper
  10. Organic lunch meat without fillers (read your label) with asparagus or dill pickles
  11. Egg salad in lettuce wraps

Although opinions vary about dairy, you can use it in moderation to snack wisely!

And now that I’ve worked on this post before my dinner, I’m starving, so see you all after I eat!  I’d love to know your favorite snacks!

Raw Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites

I’m always looking for snacks that are low sugar and have some protein, but taste good!  I made these today, and they are good!  So, throw this all in your food processor with the metal blade, and violà!  You have a snack that will give you some holding power.

Why does it have holding power?  It has three crucial ingredients:  fiber from dates, fat and protein from nuts.  Some things are this simple!

Raw Dark Chocolate “Brownie Bites”

Ingredients for ~ 12 balls:

You can use any good quality cocoa, dutch, dark, etc.

You can use any good quality cocoa, dutch, dark, etc.

1 ½ Cups Raw Walnut Halves
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
10 Medjool Dates, pitted

The ingredients are partially processed here. You want the nuts finely ground, so pulse some more if it looks like this.

The ingredients are partially processed here. You want the nuts finely ground, so pulse some more if it looks like this.


Here's how the finished "dough" should look.

Here’s how the finished “dough” should look.

Grind the above ingredients in a food processor. Continue processing until a dough-like texture is formed. Scoop out the mixture and roll into bite sized balls. Store in frig until ready to eat!  Yum.

 

Here are some finished Brownie Bites ready to eat!

IMG_0276

You can dust them with cocoa powder if you want them to look like truffles. I leave them plain.

Artichoke Lemon Hummus

Eileen’s Artichoke Lemon Hummus

artichokbasketI made this recipe up on the fly one summer day when I was having friends over.  Many hummus recipes are too thick and pasty for me, almost so thick you couldn’t dip with them.  I wanted something a bit more refreshing for the summer.  This has been such a hit with my kids I make it almost all the time instead of regular hummus.

Makes 20+ portions.  You can easily cut this in half if you have a smaller family… or don’t want to eat hummus for every meal! 😉
Two 15 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 cup tahini (sesame paste)
½ cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
4 cloves garlic
1 can drained artichoke hearts– NOT the kind in oil, the canned kind
1 pinch red pepper flakes or Aleppo Pepper
sea salt
ground black pepper

Put all in food processor.  This is a recipe that the amounts aren’t crucial; add more garbanzos, less artichokes, whatever.  Add more ground red pepper flakes to make it spicier.

Serve with crackers (no wheat!) or veggies (much healthier!).  Drizzle Olive Oil on top before serving.
Makes lots, but your kids will eat it up.

Happy New Year!

Choosing a snack that won’t sabotage you

This is such an important lesson I’m splitting it into the recipe and a post on WHY you should look at certain numbers differently when you choose snacks. And don’t dismiss this post if you are a normal weight.  This information is important for everyone, heavy, thin, and in-between.

I sometimes eat granola (NOT every day, but a few times a week).  Why?  Granola is healthy and has a lot of FAT.  Why is that good?  SATIETY.  That is the feeling you’re full.  The feeling that you don’t need to go raid the oreo package taunting you in the kitchen.  The feeling that you’ve had ENOUGH.  And when any of us are trying to eat healthier and/or lose weight, satiety is paramount.  You cannot go months and months feeling like you’re starving.  And I’m going to tell you that it is REALLY important to eat good fats.  REALLY IMPORTANT, as in ESSENTIAL.  Let’s take a look at how I make Granola — and I make it so I can control what is in it and to save money.  Granola is incredibly expensive in the store, and incredibly EASY to make.  Here’s how I do the base of the mixture, you can create your own version by adding your favorite nuts and/or dried fruit. (see below on why I don’t add dried fruit).

PART 1:  RECIPE

Pre-Heat oven to a LOW 275 degrees. Hotter and the nuts will scorch.
Makes about 20 servings — this is a SNACK, not a portion the size of a bowl of cereal. 1/3 cup.

Ingredients:

2 cups regular oatmeal (not steel cut, but the ‘ol Quaker kind, it is already cooked — did you know that?)
1-2 cups large flake unsweetened coconut
2 cups RAW, UNSALTED cashews (if you don’t use raw nuts, they get too brown)
2 cups RAW, UNSALTED pecan halves
1 cup RAW UNSALTED almonds, or blanched almond slivers, (personal preference)
½ to ¾ cup maple syrup (DO NOT USE PANCAKE SYRUP!) grade A or B is fine, but it must be PURE maple syrup
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Assembly:

oatmeal.bowl

Use a large mixing bowl, as it gets messy and you have to toss it like a salad with the wet ingredients.

Put the 2 cups of oatmeal in a large mixing bowl.

Add coconut 1-2 cups (depending on how much you like coconut, and be sure it is the LARGE flakes, not the grated kind, it won’t work that way.)

coconut

As you can see, these flakes are BIG.

Combine oatmeal with the coconut and mix.

oatmeal.coconutbowl

ingredients.bagged

I used cashews, pecans and almonds in this batch. I try and buy organic in bulk to save money.

Add in the nuts you want.

I used cashews, pecans and almonds, you can also put in walnuts, filberts, macademia, etc.:

Mix them all together.  Then, combine the melted coconut oil, the vanilla extract and the maple syrup and the oatmeal/coconut/nut mixture well, it will be wet and sticky.

mixedup

The mixture of granola ready to go onto the jelly roll pan.

Lay it on a heavy jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides).  The heavy ones don’t warp and heat evenly.  A baking pan will do, you want to spread it out thin, so that it is a single layer. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the top.

Fall 020

Into the oven!

Cook at 275 degrees F for 40 – 70 minutes.  Using a spatula, move the granola from the corners to the center after about 20 minutes so new areas brown up (corners will brown up faster, so shift the mixture around.)

You want the coconut and nuts to turn light brown.  Keep a watch, it can turn fast!

Take it out and use a spatula to scrape it off the pan.  When cooled completely, put in a airtight container so it doesn’t lose it’s crunch.

The finished granola:

Finished Granola

Finished Granola

Ways to customize:

  • Dried fruit:  add it the last 15 min. of backing, otherwise you’ll end up with “hard bits”.  I have used dried diced apricots, dark sweet or tart cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.  NOTE: I don’t put in dried fruit (glycemic load is too high), but I vary the nuts based on what I have.  If you’re trying to lose weight or have insulin resistance, I would STRONGLY encourage you to stay away from dried fruit. (see below)
  • Dark chocolate can be added when it is cooled slightly, but be sure it is above 70% cocoa, otherwise it will have too  much sugar.
  • Change the vanilla to almond extract for an almond inspired batch of granola.
  • You can use stevia, but due to it’s chemical makeup, you will not get the stickiness and binding property you get with maple syrup.  I personally have never tried it.

PART II:  WHY THIS IS BETTER THAN MOST OTHER SNACKS!

So, you might look below and be astounded by the calories and fat in this.  Our old conventional wisdom is that a lot of fat is BAD.  Read more here why you should be eating fat, and what kind to eat.

What you SHOULD be paying MUCH more attention to, is the GLYCEMIC LOAD of the food.  EVEN IF YOU ARE THIN. This is basically what the food does to your fat storage and insulin levels once you digest it.  High Glycemic Load = High Insulin Response = FAT STORAGE = Weight gain. (For thin people, they develop fat around their organs and a fatty liver, all which predispose us to more chronic illness and shorter lifespan). (Read what a “skinny fat person” is here).  And your insulin level going sky high will only make you HUNGRY much sooner than you want.  Ever eat a carton of yogurt thinking you were having a “healthy” snack, and realize that you need to eat again in 1-3 hours?  Well, look below at the nutrition make-up of the granola as compared to a carton of yogurt, and check out the:  carbs, sugars and glycemic load for the foods I have listed: (Granola, OJ, Yogurt and a bagel).  Read more about glycemic load/index.

As you can see from above, the carbs and sugars in both the yogurt and oreos with milk are much higher.  The glycemic load is less than 10 in the granola, which makes it a good glycemic food to eat compared to what we think of as "healthy" snacks like juice, a bagel or yogurt.

As you can see from above, the carbs and sugars in both the yogurt and oreos with milk are much higher. The glycemic load is less than 10 in the granola, which makes it a good glycemic food to eat compared to what we think of as “healthy” snacks like juice, a bagel or yogurt.

Finally, I don’t want to imply that there is anything magical about Granola.  Having an apple with peanut butter, or hummus and veggies are also GREAT snacks.  And they will have lower calorie/fat counts. (Remember, every time you eat, whether a meal or a snack, INCLUDE a PROTEIN source.)  But, you CAN enjoy treats if you do it carefully and you know what’s in the food.

Research:

Why Coconut Oil is NOT bad for you:  http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil

Why you SHOULD eat nuts: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/0406/why-you-should-go-nuts-for-nuts.aspx#/slide-1