Zucchini “Apple” Cobbler

zucchiniZucchini  “Apple” Cobbler

This is a delicious and easy dessert and a fantastic way to use up the abundance of zucchini that rolls in during the summer months!

Filling

6 cups or so of peeled, cubed zucchini (I used 1 large and 1 medium)

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup sugar or other replacement, such as honey

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8-1/4 cup raisins (I just threw in a good sized handful)

Topping

1 cup almond flour/meal (other flour would probably work fine)

@1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened butter or coconut oil

handful of chopped pecans or walnuts(optional)

1. Put cubed zucchini in saucepan with lemon juice and sugar. Stir. Slowly bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, add raisins & spices, cover pan and simmer for about 5 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a square baking dish.

3.Prepare the topping by mixing the flour, salt and cinnamon, then cut in the butter or coconut oil with then side of a spoon. When the filling is done simmering, pour in to greased dish and sprinkle pecans or walnuts on top, if using. Then sprinkle the topping over the nuts.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top and the zucchini is tender.

Taste just like apple crisp/cobbler! Top with ice cream or whipped cream or just enjoy it straight out of the oven!

 

Grain Free Chicken and Dumplings

cauliflowerGrain Free Chicken and Dumplings

Comfort foods are amazing. They can remind you of a special time in your childhood and just generally soothe and heal your body, mind and spirit. My husband and I are contending with a bit of a cold today and some chicken and dumplings, like my Mom used to make sounded just right. Only grain free.

Once a month I buy 2 chickens, as well as my eggs, from a local farm that I completely trust. They are family owned and they let the chickens live a free and happy chicken life, not a caged one. They provide amazingly kind shelters for their “ladies”, as they call them and treat them like fellow family members.  I get about 4 meals and 8 cups of chicken stock from each of the chickens. Nothing goes to waste and all of the bird is honored deeply.

This recipe uses shredded chicken picked from a previously roasted whole chicken, frozen and thawed for this meal as well as stock made by boiling the bones and skin from the chicken after all the meat was removed. You could also buy chicken thighs or breast, cook it and shred it and buy chicken stock, but it’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken, roast it (or crock pot it for several hours) and then pick it clean and freeze what you don’t eat in 1 or 2 cup portions for later meals.

Grain Free Chicken and Dumplings

1 head cauliflower, cut in half

@ 2 cups shredded chicken (leftover from cooked whole bird)

4 cups chicken stock, split in half (made from bones and skin left from picked clean bird)

2 cups water

@ 2 cups chopped carrots

@ 1 cup chopped celery

@ 1 cup parsley or carrot tops (optional)

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

additional 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 egg

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot

 

1) Chop half of the cauliflower and add it to 2 cups of the stock and 2 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.

2) While that is cooking, chop the other half head of cauliflower and run through a food processor until it is very fine and grainy looking. Add a half inch or so of water to a pan and bring to a boil, then add the cauliflower grains to the water and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain through wire mesh strainer and rinse with cool water. When cool enough, place on a doubled over piece of cheesecloth or a thin dish cloth and squeeze while twisting to get all the liquid out. Set aside in a medium bowl.

3) Pour the cauliflower and stock into a blender and liquefy to make a smooth and thick cream like base. Pour back into the pot and add carrots, celery, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme the rest of the stock and the chicken and bring back to a simmer for about another 10-15 minutes while making the dumplings.

4) Add an egg, both flours (or arrowroot) and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the cauliflower grains you set aside in the medium bowl and stir well with a spoon. Then knead with your hands for a couple minutes until it feels nicely pliable and holds together well. Only takes about 2 minutes.

5) Check on the soup. If the carrots are tender and seasonings are as you like, then form the dough ball into about 9, 1/2 inch dumplings and drop then into the soup. Let them rise to the top on their own. Put the lid on the pot and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Serve.

Adapted from: http://paleoparents.com/2013/guest-post-popular-paleo-cauliflower-dumplings-with-creamy-chicken-soup/

Grain Free Zucchini Muffins

Grain free zucchini muffinsI’ve recently had to make some changes in the way I cook and eat. My body has been sending me signals for awhile that it was having major issues with grains–all grains, even gluten free ones. I already knew sugars were an issue for me, but I had been ignoring that and steadily increasing my intake of various sugars for some time. My body was letting me know it couldn’t handle much more. I had to get off of the sugars again and I had to find a way to stop eating grains. This was a bummer thing to realize just as my zucchini were coming into season and berries everywhere were ripening! I wanted to bake! However, I am not one to be deterred. I have been in this place before when I had to go gluten free, and I found entirely new ways of looking at food and cooking. I have been able to do that again and I am rocking the kitchen once more! I have been making grain free, sugar free or extremely low sugar (no processed sugar) pies, cobblers, breads and muffins.
I have also learned a few things about how grains are processed in our bodies and what can make that difficult for us. In learning that, I have found that with many grains, if I soak them I have no trouble eating them. This has led to me learning how to make oat porridge (delicious!) and sourdough (makes great pancakes!), which I will be making bread from in the next day or two. Soaking grains allows them to release the nutrients, which aren’t available without soaking, and also neutralizes toxins that are naturally present in the grains. Our ancestors always did this. Only in recent modern times did we stop. Notice how in recent times our autoimmune disease have increased as well as digestive disease and gluten/grain sensitivity and celiac? There may be a correlation as the immune system is largely in the digestive tract, extending to the brain and the bloodstream.
Now that I’ve given you somewhat sciencey lesson in grains and immune health, I would like to share a new recipe I have created for grain free zucchini muffins! I made these for breakfast this morning and they are awesome! Nice and fluffy; sort of an egg like fluffiness. If you want a bit more of a grain-like feel, you could add a scant 1/4 cup of almond meal/flour to the recipe and that should achieve that for you nicely without sacrificing the airiness of the muffins. I may try that next time, just to see what it’s like.

Grain Free Zucchini Muffins
1/2 coconut flour
scant 1/4 almond flour/meal (optional, for a more grain-like texture)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional, but good)
(*Note: You could 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in place of the previous 3 spices)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, preferably pastured
3 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup (grade B works best for cooking)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 small or medium zucchini, shredded (you need about 1 cup)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin pans with liners or by greasing well.

1) Shred the zucchini and squeeze the excess liquid out then set aside. 2) Mix the eggs, honey or syrup and applesauce in a medium bowl until well blended. 3) Add in the flour(s), the zucchini, salt, baking soda and spices, mix well. 4) If using nuts, stir those in now. 5) Fill prepared muffin cups about 2/3 full. 6) Bake 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

5 Things I Have Learned (So Far) In My Garden

1024px-Raised_bed5 Things I Have Learned (So Far) In My Garden
This has been my first year with a vegetable garden, so I am still quite a novice. But Like most things I do, especially when they have to do with plants, herbs, nutrition and being outside, I approached it with great curiosity, spend lots of hands on time with it, and done a lot of reading and asking questions. I also follow my own gut instincts and intuition an awful lot. So far it is going very well and I have learned a lot. One of the things I have learned about gardening is you are never finished learning about gardening. I have talked to people who have grown up on farms who admit they don’t know and are still learning. That’s good, because when you think you know everything, you are officially stuck for life!
Here are some of the things I have learned so far:
1) Plant garlic in a few places around the perimeter of your garden. Onions are good as part of your border, too. The reason is, garlic naturally repel rabbits, raccoons and other animals that may want to check out what goodies you have in your garden. The bonus is you get garlic (and onions, if you plant those). Just take a clove of garlic and plant it about an inch down.
2) Plant some flowers and herbs. Even if you think you don’t have enough room, or you don’t care about flowers or herbs. It’s not for you. It’s for the beneficial insects and the multitude of ways they can help make your gardening so much easier. Also, plant a variety of veggies. Planting your garden like this draws a diversity of beneficial bugs so that if the harmful bugs show up, they are there to defend your plants by eating them. Did you know that plants send out a pheromone signal that is specific to the bug that can rescue them from the bug that is eating them? But that signal only carries so far. Having a diversity of plants and flowers helps insure that they are more likely to reach the right bugs to help. Not to mention you draw multiple pollinators! And truly, having fresh flowers in the house and fresh herbs to cook with is pretty amazing, too!
3) Don’t be afraid of fertilizer! Fertilizer is your garden’s friend. And yours, too. It nourishes your plants and it builds the fruits and vegetables into healthy, large and tasty pickings. Not only will they not be very big or taste very good without fertilizer, if your plants produce much at all, but your fruits and veggies won’t have nearly as many nutrient. The plants transfer the nutrients the get from the soil into the produce they make, so depleted, malnourished soil mans you are undernourishing yourself as well. Choose a good fertilizer that is not made from chemicals as these leach into the plant and what they produce. There are various types of compost that can be bought very inexpensively or even obtained for free. You can also find compost mixed with manure for a very low price. Some folks are fearful of using manure as fertilizer, but I think the worries of E. coli are out of context with home gardening. Wash your hands after gardening. Soak your veggies in a tub or sink of warm water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, then rinse to disinfect and to remove bugs. These steps, along with the regular small exposures to your own soil will reduce any likelihood of getting sick from fertilizer. If you feel more comfortable, choose a compost with no manure or a vermiculture compost, but do fertilize!
4) Cucumbers and tomatoes need a trellis or cage! Seriously, don’t wait. Especially with cucumbers. They kind of go crazy, fast! And they wrap around everything in an effort to find something to support them. As soon as they come up, provide them with a sturdy trellis. It needn’t be anything fancy. I made mine out of strong sticks I found in the yard after a storm blew some branches down, and a little twine. I threw a trellis net over that and they are happy campers now. The same with the tomato plant. Strong sticks and twine and I built a very tall tomato cage. I have had to add a new line of twine once, but the cage has held, even with strong storms.
5) There is more than one planting season. You can plant several times and keep your garden producing throughout the season, if you choose to. I planted my first crop in the spring of broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes , carrots, and herbs. Now my onions are harvested and I just planted okra where they were. I am in the process of slowly harvesting my potatoes and I will plant something else there. As I harvest lettuce, I plant more so I continue to have more all year. There are other crops that are fine to plant even at the end of the summer to harvest in the fall.
Share with me, if you have tips! As I learn more, I will gladly share what I learn along the way. Happy growing!