Nut-Free Seedy Bites

seedy-bites-portrait

Making tasty little bites out of dates, coconut oil, nuts and/or seeds isn’t foreign to me, but this specific combo is a new one. I can’t totally take credit for this combo, but I can take credit for putting this together, the ingredient ratios, and the addition of sea salt. Still, props to my friend and personal transformation coach, Joe Shoemaker for this creation and turning me onto seed cycling. Speaking of Joe, I’ve been working with him for about 1-1/2 years now and the work has been deep, eye-opening, profound, amazing and valuable in all aspects of my life. I can’t say enough wonderful things about him and the many gifts he has to share. He is based here in Portland, but can work with anyone worldwide via Skype as well.

Anyway, a few months back, I went to Joe for a foot reflexology treatment and at some point during our session, he asked me about my cycle. Actually, based on the reflexology point on my foot (the spot specific to the reproductive organs), he was able to determine what my cycles were like and asked me if what he said was accurate. It was spot on. If you want to know (if you don’t, give yourself permission to stop reading), my cycles are pretty decent, overall and I really don’t have many complaints. I don’t really get PMS, cycles are moderate-light, but I do get some mild-to-moderate cramping on day one and occasionally a little on day two. That’s it…and that’s exactly what he repeated to me.

On that note, he suggested seed cycling, which I was not familiar with. He said it can help with cramping and any other PMS symptoms, and is something that has helped his wife immensely. His recommendation was to mix all the seeds together using dates and coconut oil as the “glue” and get a dose of the seeds that way versus the traditional approach. It’s easier, less fuss and a tasty little treat. Yes, men and children can eat them too!

seedy-bites-landscape

I will say, since adding these seed bites into my daily routine (I usually eat 1-2 per day), I have definitely noticed a change on the first couple days of my cycle. The cramping that I would generally experience is incredibly subdued and the seed bites are the only thing I’m doing differently. It still blows me away. It was noticeable on my first cycle after introducing these into my diet too! So, whether you believe the theory behind it or not, it doesn’t hurt to give ’em a go. If these don’t serve you in that way, you’re still getting a delightful treat. In my opinion, that’s a win-win.

I know my ratios don’t match up exactly with the recommendations of the traditional approach, but I’ve found that it’s enough to make a difference for me. Feel free to play with the ratios though or try the traditional process if that’s of interest to you. Also, know that to get the full benefits of flaxseed, you need to grind it up. You can do this on your own in a grinder (coffee/spice grinder works great) or you can purchase ground flaxseed meal, which is what I did. If you don’t grind the flaxseed, it basically passes right through your system and it doesn’t break down in the food processor either. Those suckers are tough! You can grind the sesame seeds if you want as well, but I find they break down pretty well in the food processor.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 medjool dates, pitted (I recommend buying these with the pits in, as they’re more plump and flavorful)
  • Heaping 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • Heaping 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (I like this brand or grind your own)
  • Heaping 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • Heaping 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

*Note: I recommend using high-quality, organic seeds and sprouted, if possible.

Directions:

  1. Add dates to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times or until dates are chopped up, but still chunky.
  2. Next, add the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and ground flaxseed meal, along with the sea salt and coconut oil. Pulse until well combined, scraping sides with a spatula as needed.
  3. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls or so and store in the refrigerator.

Yields: 12-15 balls

Advertisements

Raw Pecan Fudge Brownies

After over one year on the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), I decided to officially try something on the illegal foods list. It’s something that I’ve been dying to try and have yet to understand why it’s an SCD-illegal food … unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s not starchy, a grain, sugar or soy, etc. So why? Why unsweetened cocoa powder? I know of others who adhere to the SCD, but have tried cocoa powder and felt fine, and since it’s been over one year for me, I thought I’d try too. If you’re lost on what I’m talking about because you haven’t read my ‘About Me’ or health story (links to my health story are listed in ‘About Me’), I suggest you go check it out, so that you’re up to par. If not, then just roll with the punches.

I got the idea for these brownies from my boss at Recreate Fitness. Last week, she brought in a batch of raw brownies that she made and shared them with others at the gym. She apologized that I couldn’t try one (not even a little bite!) because she said she added oats to them to cut back on the amount of nuts. She told me the oats were the only ingredient that I wouldn’t be able to have, and that they can be made without. I took it upon myself to check out her recipe and make it my own (note: she’s also a food blogger and creates some beautiful dishes; beautiful photography too). The result? Fudgy, bittersweet, nutty and moist.

So far, so good on the cocoa test too, but I’m not pushing it. I don’t eat more than two tiny pieces a day and understand that symptoms can take up to four days to set in, so I’m definitely paying attention to how I feel (though I generally do anyway). Again though, I’m not too worried about cocoa powder. It seems pretty harmless, which is why I decided to try it. I don’t plan on trying any other SCD-illegal foods anytime soon and to be honest, I’m scared of trying things like yams/sweet potatoes, turnips, plantains, etc. All that starch kinda terrifies me and the potential hazards it could cause in my GI tract. I’m happy to continue staying away from such foods for a while still.

Ingredients:

  • 8 plump medjool dates, pitted
  • 1-1/4 cups pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
The batter, it will be very thick and sticky.

Directions:

  1. Place 1 cup pecans in the food processor and blend until mixture is finely ground.
  2. Next, add the dates and pulse until dates are broken up and somewhat combined with the pecan flour.
  3. Add the avocado, vanilla, sea salt and cocoa powder. Blend well until all ingredients are mixed together. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
  4. Scrape mixture into a large bowl and mix in the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.
  5. Pat mixture into a small pan (I used a 5×7 Pyrex dish, an 8×8 pan works too). Sprinkle and pat down additional pecan pieces on top, if desired.
  6. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to set. This will make it easier to slice the brownies.
  7. Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder, if desired.
Once patted down in the pan, place in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.
Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.
Mmm.

Raw Apple Pear Crisp

img_2065

Sometimes you want a treat, but don’t feel like taking the time to make something or don’t want a mess in the kitchen with a bunch of dishes to clean. Am I right? Luckily, this tasty, no-bake and fuss-free fall treat comes together in minutes and is quite satisfying. Additionally, all these ingredients are things I had on hand in my kitchen — no running to the store to pick up anything. Feel free to use any type of apple or pear that you like. I personally like the granny smith in this dish because it doesn’t add any additional sweetness, yet the tartness mellows out a bit. The Asian pear is nice because it has more of a crispness than other pears and is also a little less sweet. As for the crumb topping, it’s so good that I could probably eat spoonfuls of it all by itself. If you like, you can also add nutmeg, cloves or allspice to the mix. Cardamom would also be tasty, especially with the pear.

Ingredients:

  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 Asian pear, cored and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp citrus juice (orange, lemon or lime)
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey, optional
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Toss the chopped apple and pear together in a large bowl with the citrus juice. Add in raw honey, if using. Scoop apples into a medium-sized bowl or dish and set aside.
  2. To your food processor, add the walnuts, coconut flakes, dates, spices and sea salt. Process until the mixture is crumbly and there are no large chunks. If desired, add more cinnamon and ginger.
  3. Scoop crumb mixture over top of apples and serve.

Coconut Spice Almond Granola

Spiced coconut almond granola. I swear this isn’t burnt! It got a little extra toasty, but I like it that way. Plus, the dates make it look darker.

After making this recipe, it occurred to me why I never make granola … it’s way too addicting. It’s hard for me to stop picking and nibbling at it, but gosh it’s good. It’s especially good with the thick, rich, half-and-half 24-hour yogurt (made with pasture raised half-and-half) that I have in my fridge right now. Each of these things is a treat on its own, but combined is even better. It’d be delicious with full-fat coconut milk as well, or homemade nut milk.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced raw almonds
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (use this, not the fine shreds)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted & chopped (probably about 8-12 dates)
Granola mixture ready for the oven.
Dates go in after the granola is done baking, otherwise they’ll shrivel up to nothing.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix almonds and coconut flakes together on a large baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and sea salt. Pour over almonds and coconut and mix well. Also, feel free to add more cinnamon or ginger if you want it spicier.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, mix the granola and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until mixture is golden brown. (Note: I let mine get a little extra toasty this time around, so it’s a little darker than golden!).
  5. Let granola cool a bit and then mix in the chopped dates.

Salted Almond Caramel Dip

Apples and caramel, a fall classic, but one that hasn’t been in my life for many years. I always enjoyed dipping apples slices in caramel growing up, even if it wasn’t remotely close to being real caramel. It’s pretty gross, but I think the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. I remember it being overly sweet, but as a kid, that was okay with me. It was always the fat-free kind too. Fat-free, HFCS and chemical-laden caramel dip … yum?

As for the caramel apples on sticks, I was never much of a fan. I always wanted to like it, but didn’t care for tart green apples as a kid, and caramel apples were always made with green apples. What’s up with that? I also remember them being difficult to eat. I might like a caramel apple now if it was made with this caramel (I like green apples now too) and maybe even rolled in some chopped nuts or coconut flakes.

Since I’ve made caramel from dates for different treat recipes, I figured it’d be easy enough to modify a bit and turn into a dip. I went slow and adjusted the the ingredients incrementally, taste-tasting each time (it gave me an extra excuse to keep taking tastes too). The taste and consistency came out perfectly (or at least I like to think so) and Jesse even oooed and ahhhed over it too. It’s salty, sweet, gooey and thick.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted (heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp water (I used 5 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp smooth unsweetened almond butter
  • 3 Tbsp coconut cream concentrate (aka coconut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp room temp grass-fed butter

Directions:

  1. Add dates to the food processor and blend until the dates are ground up (might turn into a ball – that’s okay). If your dates are drier, soak in boiling water for 10-20 minutes before blending in the food processor.
  2. Add two tablespoons of the water and all the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.
  3. Add in two more tablespoons of water and blend again. Add up to two additional tablespoons of water until desired consistency is reached. It should be somewhat thick, but not too thick.
  4. Adjust flavor to your liking and serve with sliced apples or pears. It’d be delicious spread on banana slices too.

Pumpkin Caramel Bars

Pumpkin and winter squash are among my favorite fall foods! They taste great savory and sweet, and can be made a variety of ways. They are actually starches I can eat right now too, as I currently need to steer clear of any sort of yam, sweet potato or regular potato to continue healing.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this tasty fall-inspired dessert. Let me know know what you think, especially about the date caramel!

October 12, 2016 update: watch this replay of me making these bars on KATU Afternoon Live here in Portland!

For the pumpkin layer:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened sunflower seed butter or unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I like this brand)

For the caramel layer:

  • 10-12 medjool dates, pitted and soaked briefly in boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 4-5 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of sea salt
  1. Mix coconut oil, honey, pumpkin and spices together in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.
  2. After several minutes, once the ingredients are mixed together well, remove from heat and mix in the sunflower seed or almond butter and vanilla. Stir until everything is combined.
  3. Pour into an 8×8 pan or an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan. Place in the freezer to set.
  4. Meanwhile, get going on the caramel. Add the softened dates to the food processor, along with the water, 4 Tbsp of the coconut milk, sea salt and vanilla. Pulse to combine. If mixture still seems a bit too thick or chunky, add the remaining 1 Tbsp of coconut milk and blend again. Please know, it’s not going to have the same texture as traditional caramel.
  5. Take your pumpkin layer out of the freezer after 45-60 minutes and top with the date caramel. Place back in the freezer to set further. Store in the refrigerator (or freezer if you like a more solid/frozen bar – it’s good either way!)

Simple Supper Friday: Sirloin Dijon and Ice Cream

Tonight, I  made another recipe from the Everyday Paleo cookbook and ate beef again! Yes, I enjoyed it a second time around too.

I had everything on hand to make the sirloin Dijon recipe and it appeared to be fool-proof, quick and easy. I followed it as is, but didn’t have 1-1/2 lb of sirloin, so cut some of the ingredient ratios down (I had just under 1 lb of meat). This recipe came together quite quickly and I was pleased by the flavors and textures of the dish. The flavors resemble that of beef stroganoff (or what I remember of it), but much better and more satisfying. The Dijon mustard pairs well with the thyme and incorporates nicely into the whole dish. I will definitely make this again.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lb grass-fed sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups kale, chopped

Directions:

  1. Saute the sirloin and garlic in coconut oil until the meat starts to brown. While the sirloin browns, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken stock, thyme and mustard. Pour the mixture over the sirloin and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the kale to the pan and cook, stirring often until the kale is tender (about 2-3 minutes). Serve immediately.

After dinner, I spontaneously decided I wanted ice cream and thankfully, my ice cream freezer container was good-to-go. I put it in the freezer a while ago, just in case a craving struck. Good thinking on my part!

I used canned coconut milk (about 1.5 cans) as the base and then threw in whatever inspired me. I added one mashed banana, two chopped dates, a splash of pure vanilla extract, a few drizzles of honey, sliced almonds, a dash of Himalayan sea salt and about 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter that was left in the bottom of the jar. Everything mixed together in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes. The result was fluffy, decadent, creamy, to-die-for ice cream. I think I could’ve eaten the entire bowl! It is extra tempting too because the ice cream is never the same after it freezes overnight. Alas, I resisted.