Treat Yourself Winner Announced!

Lots of great desserts that are grain-free and sugar-free!

Mrsalexzan email me at thelifeoflulubelle (at) gmail.com so I can forward on your email address to receive Treat Yourself!

Didn’t win and still want to purchase a copy for you or a friend? Visit Modern Alternative Mama and use code LULUTREAT for 25% off! (coupon expires Dec 27th).

Modern Alternative Mama also has several other awesome e-books:

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3 Days Until Christmas: Christmas Breakfast

Just a few more days until Christmas and I’m super excited! My holiday celebrations kick off tomorrow evening so I will have a festive filled Christmas weekend. To elevate my mood even further, I was able to enjoy a real food breakfast this morning and a real food dinner last night (which has been few and far between since becoming pregnant)!

I’m spending today decorating our traditional sugar cookies and prepping grain-free meatballs so I can throw them in the crockpot tomorrow morning.

I’m also getting the final ingredients to make our traditional Christmas breakfast. On Christmas morning my brother and mother (and maybe some cousins) are joining me and my husband for breakfast and a gift exchange and while my husband cooks eggs and bacon, my brother will be making biscuits and chocolate gravy. Yes, you heard right; chocolate gravy.

My father has a lot of family from Tennessee and the South and I am sure chocolate gravy is much more popular over that way than here in CA. When we visited some maternal family in Oklahoma our great aunt Sue made us chocolate gravy and biscuits as well.

My brother won’t let me post our family’s recipe, but this I found a recipe online that is pretty similar. We don’t usually let it get as thick as pudding, we like it a bit more runny, so we substitute some of the milk for water.

Mom’s Chocolate Gravy from Redneck Epicurean

Ingredients:
Serves: 6

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we prefer Hershey’s)

Directions:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a heavy saucepan with a whisk. Using a whisk blends everything better than a spoon. Stir in the milk.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove the pot when the mixture is thick like pudding.

Add the butter. Stir in until completely melted. Serve over biscuits with a teaspoon of butter dolloped on top.

Even though our preferable lifestyle/eating habits are whole foods (and generally grain-free) I think it’s ok to have a special treat once in a while.

I think a great healthier alternative would be soaked cinnamon rolls from Modern Alternative Mama’s new book, Treat Yourself, which you can win!

What are you making Christmas morning?

Treat Yourself Giveaway: Closed

Lots of great desserts that are grain-free and sugar-free!

I had the pleasure to review Modern Alternative Mama’s newest book, Treat Yourself. This books is full of great dessert recipes with real food ingredients. You won’t find any processed flour or sugar in this book!

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16 Days Until Christmas: Pretty Cookies

I found this cookie idea from Country Living via Pinterest.

Use a clean stamp on rolled out cookie dough and refrigerate cookies overnight to harden, before baking.

Country Living also suggests you brush them with luster dust – moisten the dust with a bit of lemon extract then paint on with a small brush.

I haven’t tried this yet (but definitely will for Christmas!), so I am not sure how well the stamped image remains on the cookie once it has baked.

Has anyone given this a try?

Panic baking: Oatmeal Packet Cookies

Maybe my body/mind is going in to panic mode about the upcoming Whole30 Diet challenge, but I really wanted some junk food. I really wanted cookies to be exact. I didn’t have chocolate chips so I figured oatmeal cookies would be second best, but I didn’t have enough oats; I did, however, find a box of blueberry oatmeal and figured that would probably work. You can make cookies with any oatmeal packet. To alter the original oatmeal cookie recipe I just subbed oatmeal packet for the white sugar and oats called for in the recipe.

Recipe after the jump!

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Cookies and Ice Cream – Copycat Pizookie

I was going to title this post “an easy way to get fat and eat bad food” but I thought that was a bit mean and dramatic. And I only say that because I feel much better about dessert when it’s made with natural ingredients, not the manufactured ones we consumed tonight. I’m all for whole foods and clean eating; I think everyone should do it, but every once in a while I want something that is bad for me. I want to splurge a bit and enjoy all the different things life has to offer – even if it is hydrogenated oils and processed sugars. So maybe I will just blame it on my husband. Yeah, that’s it; a special request from my husband.

Around here we have a restaurant called BJ’s Brewhouse. They serve pizza and beer and lots of other American dishes. They aren’t particularly noteworthy or fantastic, except for their Pizookie. Their Pizookie, cleverly named by combining the words “pizza” and “cookie” is a warm, half-baked cookie fresh out of the oven served in a small cake pan like container with a generous scoop of ice cream on top. I’m sure there is no secret ingredient or special recipe, but something simple and delicious – a soft and gooey cookie. No need to make it fancy, it’s perfect the way it is.

I fully support eating healthy, whole, natural foods. But I have a wicked sweet tooth. And I wanted to eat a Pizookie. I did not, however, want to get dressed, drive 30 minutes, and wait for a table to get one. The solution? Make one at home!

My husband did this and other obscene gestures with this large tube of cookie dough all throughout the store.

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Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

If I can’t make breakfast quick, I am less likely to eat in the morning. Here are a few simple meals that leave me satisfied AND I enjoy:

PB Banana Smoothie:

1 banana – prefrozen in chunks
2-3 TBSP natural peanut butter or other nut butter (I like to keep mine frozen in ice cube trays)
½ cup of milk (whole milk works best)
A handful of ice

Blend all ingredients together and serve! I also use this as a sweet fix after dinner as well. You can lessen the amount of pb for a simple but tasty dessert.

Cheater Chilaquiles
1 corn tortilla cut into strips (works great with leftovers, I use sprouted corn tortillas)
1 egg, scrambled (the best eggs are from chickens who pastured!)
Salsa
Sour Cream (we use organic sour cream – and not the light stuff)
Salt, to taste
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of garlic powder
Olive oil, butter, or coconut oil

Sauté tortilla strips in oil until they begin to get crispy. Salt to taste. Add egg , 1 spoonful of salsa, and seasonings. Scramble mixture until cooked to desired doneness. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Green Smoothie:
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
Handful of spinach
Juice from 1 orange
½ frozen banana
½ cup frozen pineapple
¼ cup yogurt
Handful of ice

Blend and serve. Because of the apple, the texture might be a little grainy, but I still think it tastes good.

Make Ahead:
I also know someone who cooks little quiches in muffin tins as well as a whole pack of bacon – that way she has breakfast already cooked for the week, she just has to warm it up.

If I am running out of time to prepare anything I grab any combination of the following:
a glass of whole milk
a cup of yogurt
a cup of kefir
a handful of nuts
a piece of fruit
PB toast

What’s your favorite breakfast fix?

Summer Garden Recipes

Just a small portion of this week's CSA veggies

Yesterday I attended a class at a local nursery and garden shop about how to cook with your summer bounty. While I don’t really have a garden (just a couple containers), our CSA box is full of lots of summer garden goodies.

The nursery staff showed us how they make a few of their favorite dishes using items they grow themselves. We even got a little mini-cookbook and were able to sample the goods. I didn’t try the banana and apricot or blueberry muffins, but I imagine they were pretty tasty. I had spearmint ice tea which wasn’t overpowering but still refreshing and I enjoyed the basil and Parmesan rounds as well as the bruschetta topping. They also served a cowboy caviar with blueberries instead of beans, which made it light and perfect for hot days.

Here are few recipes from the class:

Chavelle’s Bruschetta

Heirloom tomatoes
1/2 Walla sweet onion
Fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
Grey or sea salt
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (the more aged the better)
Olive Oil
Baguette

Chop tomatoes and onions. In a small bowl, add the vinegar then whisk in olive oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes and onions. Stir gently. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bruschetta is best served after a few hours, at room temperature. If not serving immediately, omit the basil until right before you serve. Spoon on grilled or toasted baguette slices.

Rounds of Pesto (from the cookbook California Sizzles)
Makes 36

3/4 cup slivered basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself or buy a good quality cheese already grated)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
French baguette

Stir together basil, cheese, garlic and mayonnaise until blended. Spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of mixture. Broil bread approx. 3-4 minutes on a cooking sheet, until bubbly and lightly browned.

These were pretty tasty but I try and avoid too much bread. This mixture might be tasty on squash rounds or other veggies.

Teresa’s Mixed Berries with Marscarpone-Limoncello Creme
Serves 8

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
4 oz container marscarpone cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp limoncello
8 cups assorted fresh berries
3/4 c raspberry preserves
1 tbsp grated lemon peel

Combine cream, marscarpone, 3 tbsp sugar, and limoncello in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, combine 1/2 sugar, berries, preserves, and lemon peel. Toss gently. Divide berry mixture into 8 dishes and top with cream mixture.

Gluten-Free White Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

More Summer Berry Goodness!

Fruit cobbler and ice cream belong with summer. There’s just something about summer fruit and ice cream that pair perfectly with hot summer days and BBQ’s. For the 4th of July I decided to make cobbler and ice cream from scratch, using no white sugar or flour.

I had an abundance of white peaches (my favorite) and blueberries that seemed destined for this tasty experiment. I also replaced the flour with my trusty combo of 3:1 parts almond meal and coconut flour. For the ice cream, I used a recipe out of Nourishing Traditions and it was a crowd hit!

Warm white peach and blueberry cobbler with homemade ice cream

Nourishing Traditions Vanilla Ice Cream:
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 tbsp Vanilla (I used 2 tsp vanilla and the scrapings from 1 vanilla bean)
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp Arrow Root (which I found in the organic section of Raleys)
3 cups Heavy Cream (the book calls for raw or not ultra pasteurized, but the only cream I found that wasn’t ultra-pasteurized was about $4 a cup and a little too expensive for me. I did, however, scoop the cream off the top of our milk to account for part of the 3 cups cream).

Mix ingredients into beaten eggs and follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.

For whatever reason (maybe because of the arrow root) the ice cream froze quickly to the sides of the ice cream maker so that the paddle could not turn, making the ice cream maker stop. I had to scoop all the ice cream out, freeze it for a couple hours then mix it with my mixer and put it back in the freezer. Next time I will try it with less rock salt.

Peach Berry Cobbler:
Bake in a 9×9 square Pyrex dish or something of similar size and depth.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

For the filling:
5 White Peaches peeled, cored, and cut into pieces
½-1 cup blueberries
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp arrow root (optional)
2 tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients and pour into dish. Cut butter into small pieces and scatter over top of the fruit mixture.

For the topping:
¾ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple syrup
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp granola (Optional – I used gluten-free vanilla granola, oats would probably work as well.)

Mix flours together. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Using a pastry cutter, fork, or other method, combine cold butter, pieces at a time, into the flour mixture until crumbly and evenly distributed. Stir in granola.  Sprinkle over fruit mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until top of cobbler is golden brown.

Serve with homemade ice cream and enjoy!

Notes – you can really use any amount of fruit that fits in a 9×9 pirex. The other day I made a cobbler with all the fruit that was about to turn – pluots, peaches, and nectarines. A cobbler is very versatile and hard to mess up. If I wasn’t trying to stay away from sugar, brown sugar is quite tasty in the topping instead of maple syrup. I made a sinful cobbler for my family and it included a cube of butter, a half a cup of brown sugar, and about a half a cup of flour. Not healthy in the least, but very good!

Summer Berry Goodness Part 2

Blackberry Season!

I went over to a friends house yesterday and helped garden and pick blackberries. Blackberries are very protective of themselves – they like to grow large thorns and try to persuade you not to pick them. But you have to tell yourself the the blood, sweat, and tears is all worth it. And usually it is.

Because I loved the blueberry compote so much, I decided to make some blueberry-blackberry compote and some lemony shortbread tart crust. My husband thought there was too much lemon – but I thought it was perfect.

The crust is made with almond and coconut flour and gluten-free like the muffins I made a couple of days ago, but the crust is crisp and tart and not sweet and soft.

I made half the crust recipe and just broke the crust into pieces and covered them in compote. Here is the recipe to make a full tart:

Blueberry Blackberry Lemon Tart

Makes about 8-10 servings

Blueberry-blackberry compote

2-2 ½ Cups of berries (any mixture of the two will do)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp stevia
1 tsp honey
(or sweeten to taste)

Combine ingredients in saucepan and simmer over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing berries to release juice. While berries are simmering, prepare the tart crust.

Lemon Tart Crust:

1 cup almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 stick of butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3-6 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a tart pan

Combine flours, then add in chunks of butter and blend with a fork, to make crumbs.  Add vanilla and lemon, and continue to stir. Add 1 tbsp of water at a time until your dough reaches a consistency where you can roll it into a ball and it does not crumble. Press into a tart pan. Take a fork and poke holes around the crust before you put it in the oven, to prevent crust from rising. Bake 8-12 minutes or until it starts to brown and is firm to touch.

Let crust cool. Pour berry mixture over tart and serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.

My "deconstructed tart" with yogurt drizzled on the top

*This dessert is quite tart. It would probably be best served with something sweeter – vanilla yogurt or ice cream. I prefer the muffin top cookie things with the compote than the lemon tart and compote combo.