Chocolate Cake

I celebrated my last birthday with Kat (friend and adopted sister), Mom, and my two aunts in California. There was talk about what kind of cake Kat and I might want for our birthday, and Paleo didn’t really cross my  mind. I will have an occasion non-Paleo treat, but, for the most part, I try to to keep to plan. There are times, though, when it’s just not practical, and impromptu trips to California for birthday pedicures is one of those times…usually. Before we left on the trip, I found this cake recipe, and Mom tweaked it a tad. The recipe is from a site called My Heart Beets, and you can find the original recipe here. This cake is a very decadent, heavy cake in the European style, and rich, but so very good.

Cake
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sifted coconut powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Chocolate Frosting
5 ounces (1/2 packages of dark chocolate chunks)
4 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon maple syrup, to taste

Cake directions
1.. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients (almond foul, cocoa, coconut flour, baking soda and salt)

2. Add the maple syrup, melted butter and mix well.

3. Add eggs and mix well

4. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Spoon into a 10″ pan greased with coconut oil

5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate frosting
1. Melt chocolate in the microwave.

2. Mix in butter and maple syrup. Mix until smooth

3. Allow frosting to cool slightly, then pour over cake.

4. Enjoy.

Honey Sticks

The first time I saw these, I was visiting a bug house with my kids. There were several different flavors, and the honey came from the bees kept by the organization that ran the bug house (Ok, Butterfly Pavilion, but they definitely had more than just butterflies). As my kids got older, and we didn’t go on as many outings, I kind of forgot these existed unless I happened upon them somewhere else, or one of the kids would bring me one because they remembered I liked them.

If you’re counting calories, be aware that these are not low-cal. They are, however, a naturally low-glycemic pick-me-up or a quick taste of wholesome sweetness during in a moment of need. Mom has a cup full of them sitting on a hutch in her kitchen, and I just snag one on occasion when I need a little something but I’m not really hungry.

The sticks we have are lime, peppermint and cinnamon, because that’s apparently the only kind that WinCo carries, but, over the years, I have also had huckleberry, orange, strawberry, mango, cherry and grape. I do occasionally pick one up that’s unflavored, and different types of flower can influence the taste and texture of the honey as well. They’re easy to pack along, and the plastic tubing keeps it from leaking all over your purse or backpack.

Paleo Banana Bread

Mom and I find a lot of good recipes, but  the ones we really love are those you could  serve to a non-Paleo person without warning them, and they wouldn’t know the difference between the Paleo and the non-Paleo.  It was really  incredible to find a banana bread that we could swap for grain-filled bread without being sad about it. To be frank, I didn’t think it was possible. I’ve had gluten-free banana bread before, vegan and therefore Paleo, and I’ve not liked it. The same goes for cookies and cakes. So, I’m always a little nervous when we try something from those categories.

Just like the chocolate cake and the chocolate chip cookies you’ll find among these recipes, this banana bread is fantastic. You’d never know anything was “alternative” in it. ​Mom found the recipe on a site called Paleo Running Mama, and you can find the original, un-tweaked recipe here.

4 small to medium overripe bananas, mashed well
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to almost room temperature
1 ¾ cups almond flour
½ cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a medium loaf pan with parchment

3. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and mashed bananas. Add the vanilla and coconut oil and combine well.

4. Slowly stir in dry ingredients. Do not use an electric mixer. Mixing too well can cause the bread not to rise. Moisten until no flour is visible

5. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips

6. Transfer batter to parchment-lined loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in them middle of the loaf comes out clean. Place pan on cooling rack and leave bread in pan until it is almost completely cooled. While bread is still warm to the touch, tip it out upside down onto the rack and remove the parchment. Slice when cooled.

7. Enjoy.

This bread will be very moist, particularly toward the middle. These slices are wonderful pan-fried and served hot with toppings. The bread can be stored at room temperatures for twenty-four hours, but should be refrigerated if it lasts any longer than that.

Blueberry Cobbler

I thought one of the best recipes we ever found was the Raspberry Peach Crumble, but Mom is less of a fan of crumbles than she is of cobblers, and we were hoping to find a recipe we would like. I stumbled upon one by the same gal who make the crumble, and the original recipe can be found here.

We didn’t have any fresh berries on hand, so we used frozen. I would encourage you to just use fresh berries unless you can figure out how much more arrowroot to add in to help set the extra juices produced by frozen berries. While ours didn’t quite set up the way we wanted it to, it was just delicious.

Biscuit
1 cup sifted almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons butter, cubed and cold
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg

Filling
4 cups blueberries
4 cups huckleberries
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon found cinnamon
4 Tablespoons arrowroot
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Make biscuits:
a. In a bowl stir together dry ingredients. Add in cold cubed butter and, using a pastry cutter or your fingers, break up the butter into the flour mixture until it is in small pieces.
b. Add in applesauce and egg and mix to completely combine. Using your hands, roll dough in to balls and then pat them into a biscuit shape about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the blueberries and the huckleberries, the lemon zest, lemon juice, arrowroot and syrup until well combined and pour into a 9×13 inch pan.

4. Top berries with the biscuits.

5. Cover lightly with foil and bake 20 minutes. remove foil and bake for an addition 20 minutes. Serve warm.

​6. Enjoy.

Lära Bars

One of my carry-along staples, even now, is a Lära Bar. These are date and nut bars that come in a variety of flavors. These are not meal replacements but more of a candy bar replacement. They’re sweeter than RX Bars and Epic Bars that have egg in them. Those tend to be heavier, if that makes sense.

I always have one of these in my purse. If I need a little something, it’s enough to take the edge off of hunger without filling me up if I have a meal shortly. They’re great to have at work for that reason. They’re also my go-to if everyone around me is munching on candy bars.

They’re pretty straightforward — no refined sugar (except for the minuscule amount if there are chocolate chips in a bar), no grains, no dairy. Just dates, nuts and possibly some other kind of fruit depending on the flavor of the bar.

My go-tos tend to be the Almond Butter Chocolate Chip and Coconut Pie. In a good Whole Foods, Alfalfa’s or Sprouts, there selection is a little better and you can find a huge range of flavors, but there are some good basics in Walmart.

Peach Raspberry Crumble

When I was growing up, we always ate dessert with our dinner. After I got married, the practice stopped for me. Now, though, that I’m living with my parents again, dessert is often back on the menu.

One of the oddities of this eating plan is that anything Paleo is “legal.” This isn’t a restrictive diet where desserts have to be limited to a small bite on your cheat day. I’m not suggesting that it’s okay to gorge on desserts, but a dish full of crumble (yes, more than one bite) any time you’d like some dessert is completely reasonable.

Someone posted this recipe on Facebook, and I watched the obnoxious little video long enough to realize it was Paleo. Naturally, mom was totally on the job. The site the recipe came from is called Lexie’s Clean Kitchen, and you can find the original here.

Filling:
4 peaches, sliced
6 oz. raspberries
1 Tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon arrowroot or tapioca starch

Topping
1/3 cup ground pecans
3 Tablespoons almond flour
1 Teaspoon honey or maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

1. Combine filling ingredients and mix well

2. Grease casserole dish with melted coconut oil and pour in filling

3. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly

4. Pour topping over the filling and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

5. Enjoy.

Hormel Natural Choice

I would not suggest at any point that lunch meat is Paleo, and, of course, neither is cheese. However, there comes a point when beggars can’t be choosers, and something that is good and Paleo is not always available. That’s when just okay and Paleoish will do.

These Natural Choice packets are something I occasionally fall back on. I stay away from the packs with cashews (I can’t stand them on their own, but I enjoy them ground and blended with other nuts) and the packs with pretzels. What I get is a lunch meat, a cheese and either dark chocolate covered almonds or dark chocolate covered blueberries.

If I’m eating one of these, I’m generally low on cash, blood sugar and time. They’re only about $1.50 in Walmart, and I can grab them and go on the road. They provide a little burst of “pick me up” between meals if I know it’s going to be a while before I can eat.

You can find these in the lunch meat section where the Lunchables and whatnot are.

Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles

I discovered Jimmy Dean Simple Scrambles on my first (failed) attempt at Paleo. I was living in a hotel room at the time, and my cooking appliances were limited to a microwave (permitted) and an electric kettle (not permitted, shhhhhh…). I used to do the whole “omelet in a mug” thing, but I didn’t have a good way to wash dishes. Fortunately, Jimmy Dean caught on to the omelet in a mug thing, too, and made it easier for me.

This one is my favorite, but they come with just bacon or just sausage as well. You empty the egg in to the cup (real beaten eggs here, not liquid eggs) and throw them into the microwave for the amount of time on the instructions. Take them out, stir in the…well…stir-ins, and nuke it some more. Then you have a nice scrambled egg breakfast to go and no dishes to wash up later.

I will admit there is a little more salt in these things than I like to have. One of my most favorite things about them, though, is that the eggs are real. No egg substitute. Good, real eggs. Now that I have a kitchen, I don’t eat these as often, but they are definitely an on-the-road favorite.

Did I mention that the eggs are real?

Fluffy Paleo Pancakes

I usually keep my comments on these short because I absolutely hate going to a website looking for a recipe only to read pages of commentary before we actually get to the recipe itself.

BUT…

For this recipe, I’m giving some commentary, because I think it’s important to know just what pancakes mean to this family. Finding a good recipe was almost an emotional boost.

My Poppa Miller, my maternal grandfather, was a master pancake maker. Master, with a capital M. One of the things I and my sisters looked forward to when we went to visit our grandparents was Poppa Miller pancakes for breakfast. Fortunately, my mother came in a good second place on pancakes, but nothing got us excited like packing the car for the trip south (North Idaho to the Bay Area) because we knew there were going to be Poppa Miller pancakes in the morning.

I can honestly say that I don’t know what made them so good. Poppa’s love sounds so corny, but that just about had to be it, because his recipe was the one on the back of the box of Bisquick, and no one else’s Bisquick pancakes tasted so good. He fried them in about a quarter inch of Crisco. There is no manna from heaven that was every so precious as those pancakes were.

The pancakes were such a part of our lives that when I talked to my children of my childhood, I always mentioned Poppa Miller pancakes. They were important enough to all of us that they warranted mention when I wrote his eulogy and read it aloud at his memorial service because I knew every cousin in that room would understand how important having those pancakes on Saturday mornings was.

No other food has left such an emotional scar on my soul. I’m actually crying as I write this, so I need to get to the recipe. No, they aren’t Poppa Miller pancakes, but they are very, very good, and I know I’ll be happy eating them as pancakes are something I was avoiding due to my Paleo leanings.

Mom found the original recipe on Nicole Hunn’s “Gluten Free on a Shoestring” site and tweaked it to our liking. You can find the original recipe here.

The recipe:

1 ½ cup almond flour
¼ cup tapioca starch or arrowroot
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup almond milk, room temperature
2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted then cooled
2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2 Tablespoons honey

1. In a large bowl, add the first four ingredients and combine well

2. Make well in dry ingredients and add remaining ingredients. Whisk to combine. Set aside to thicken.

3. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Adjust to your stove as you cook. Grease griddle with coconut oil

4. Use a quarter-cup measure to pour batter onto griddle. Turn over when bubbles start popping. It should be in 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook 30-60 seconds longer.

5. Top with your favorite toppings.

6. Enjoy

We had a way of eating pancakes that was guaranteed to get us odd looks, particularly in restaurants. It was my dad’s recipe, if you will. Instead of butter, spread each layer with peanut butter throw and over easy-egg on top (or fried for those who don’t like runny egg yolk), then pour on the syrup. We were very pleased to find that these pancakes hold up to having peanut butter spread on them, and Dad doesn’t use the stuff from jars anymore. His peanut butter is the hearty, fresh ground stuff. Now that I’m Paleo, I’ve switched the peanut butter out for fresh ground almond butter, but, yeah, I still throw that over-easy egg on top.

Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix

We have a great love for pancakes in this family, and, if you look on the recipes tag you’ll find a great recipe for Paleo pancakes. But I am also all about convenience when I need it.

I saw Birch Benders mix in the store and checked it out. The biggest selling point for me is that it’s made by just mixing it with water. No eggs. No oil. No multiple powders or seasonings. Just water.

Why is that a big thing? Because it can be taken camping. It can go into my emergency kit in the back of my car with my meal kit. And it can keep us from standing in the kitchen making pancakes forever and ever when we have company.

The mix is made with cassava, almond and coconut flour. Mom made the recipe that said 10-12 pancakes. We got nine. Close enough. They were good, fairly hearty pancakes that stood up to peanut butter and syrup. They are sweetened with monk fruit, which had an almost artificial sweetener flavor, but, other than that, they tasted great. They were definitely worth a place on my favorite things list.