Probiotic Grain Free Granola (vegan, paleo and keto options)

Okay, before I begin my post I want to give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Steve, who moved to America (He is Australian) and has worked his bum off every way he can to support this post missionary life family. He started his degree when we were pregnant with our oldest and had to put it on hold several times for long periods over the years in order to support us. Yesterday he Graduated with a B.A. in Leadership with Honors from Faith International University. I am so proud of him. University is difficult enough and when you throw a job, a wife and three children into that mix it becomes even more difficult. So Steve, here’s to you! The most amazing man I know and the love of my life, well done.

The last couple years I have been struggling with severe inflammation so have slowly been getting to the bottom of it. Probiotics have helped immensely, namely kefir. I still prepare breads for my my family using einkorn on occasion but I am altogether grain free and sugar free these days and have found that a dairy free keto diet keeps my inflammation under wraps fairly well.

I have taken to soaking and drying nuts, fermenting seeds and generally working on making everything in my pantry a little less inflammatory as I mentioned in my previous post for probiotic granola.

The Nourishing Traditions cookbook suggests fermenting small seeds before eating them rather than soaking and drying or sprouting. Hempseed, Flax and Chia great with this method because they’re too small to soak and dry.

My personal preference for culturing this is coconut kefir but for the hubs I have used ginger beer as well. If I know I will be eating it I keep the sugars to 1-2 Tbsp of pure maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or raw honey for the fermentation process. I do not love things overly sweet and neither does my body so this works for me. You can try any non-salty culturing liquid you like! I have used ginger beer, milk kefir and coconut kefir with varying but equally nice results.) Water kefir, kombucha and whey will work as well but I personally do not use whey or ginger beer any longer because I find them highly inflammatory. Whey because it is naturally inflammatory and ginger because I have recently discovered I am allergic to it!! Sad 😕

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

For Pre-Ferment:
  • 1 cup hulled hempseeds/hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup golden flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp- 1/4 cup maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or raw honey
  • 1/2-1 cup culturing liquid
  • 2-4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pink or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds or other nuts (optional, I have a mild allergy to nuts so I don’t add them to mine)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit like unsulphered goji berries, raisins, blueberries or for keto, fresh or dried cranberries
  • Diced fruit: apple, pear etc (optional)
For Post Ferment:
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
  • 5-10 drops Stevia or monk fruit drops to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl
  2. Add fermenting liquid, maple syrup or blackstrap, salt and cinnamon or other spices.
  3. Stir several times in the first 1-2 hours to keep it from clumping.
  4. Leave covered for 12 hours or overnight. If you are using chia seeds you may need to add more fermenting liquid or water.
  5. After the ferment is finished, add the coconut oil and any back sweetener you like. I use monk and stevia. Much of the sugars will have been consumed by the culture but it will still be sweet. Raw honey is also a good choice here because of its antifungal properties.
  6. Lay out on a large parchment in a perforated baking sheet (you can use a normal baking sheet but it will take mug longer to dry). I use the fryer basket for my Breville Air Oven.
  7. If you want it for bars you will need to pre-cut it while it is still soft or it will get too crispy and crumble. A few hours into drying is a key time.
  8. Dehydrate at 150° – 160°F for 8-12 hours. If it doesn’t breathe as in a standard baking sheet it can take up to 24 hours and you’ll need to break it up and flip or “toss” it like a salad.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I like to use a dehydrator to keep the probiotics alive. But if you don’t care about that you can just bake it in the oven at low temperature.

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Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies (Paleo, Keto, Vegan Option)

Recipe by Brenna May @culturedbite

Tahini Cookies made with collagen and eggs.
Tahini cookies with flax eggs and a blend of pea protein and maca

It would be modest to say I have a tahini addiction. It is probably on par with my love of chocolate and coffee. Or coffee and chocolate. No matter. I have been looking to make my very own tahini cookie for ages now… and this is an evolution of my tahini freezer bites. An evolution because they are much more of a cookie. Chewy, subtly sweet and chocolatey.

I love how they have hints of the middle east in their flavor, which can be enhanced by adding cardamom, or by taking out the and chocolate chips and adding dried cranberries or chopped dates in their place.

You can make these vegan by making a flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water) Be sure to mix it and pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes or you will have a pile of crumbles. Replace the collagen with a quarter the amount of Maca, Pea Protein or a blend of the two. I would not recommend a chia meal egg because it messes with the color and flavor too much, but I have not tried a whole chia egg.

One of my kids had a clear preference for the pea protein version while the other two favor the Maca. I use a blend of Red and Black Maca but yellow will work here as well. Maca lends a lovely malted flavor to the cookie and we often sub out the collagen in favor of it. My children are unabashedly disapproving of tahini except in hummus but they don’t really notice in the maca version.

I tried these out on a hoard of “normal children” who are accustomed to eating store bought cookies and they gobbled them up and verbalized their approval so we will just consider that a win.

I use a medium melon baller out of the Jenaluca set to get them perfect but you can roll them out as well if you chill them first.  

Tahini chocolate chip cookies

Mini Batch: makes 4-6 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides /4Tbsp (sub with 1 Tbsp Maca or pea protein)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch to 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pure monk extract powder (slightly heaping)
  • 12 drops liquid stevia drops or 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder (optional, but leave in for vegan version)
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda

Standard Batch: makes 12-24 cookies

Method:

  1. Mix tahini and egg/flax egg with monkfruit and stevia
  2. Add baking soda, pink salt, vanilla and mix
  3. Add collagen or maca/pea protien and mix
  4. Add coconut flour and mix.
  5. Fold in Lily’s chocolate chips or fresh cranberries
  6. Form into balls and flatten
  7. Bake in preheated oven at 325°F for 10 min

*If using a food processor just add all ingredients except for the coconut flour and chocolate chips and blend until smooth, then blend in the coconut flour and fold in the chips.


Probiotic Granola. Really.

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For this day of remembrance and rest I am using one of my many recipes I haven’t gotten around to posting.  It is appropriate… a bit if mixing in the morning and leave it out all day and dry it overnight.  Tasty.  Nutritious.  It feels odd to say Happy Memorial Day for a day to remember all those who died.  But it is cause for celebration because those who died certainly deserve to be celebrated.  So today is a day to be present with family.  To remember our own who have served and died.  Thank you.

For the recipe: lately I have taken to soaking and drying nuts, fermenting seeds and generally working on making everything in my pantry a little less inflammatory. I was reading Nourishing Traditions and was captured again by the idea of fermenting small seeds before eating them. Hempseed, Flax and Chia especially are a difficult one because they’re too small to soak and dry. My husband loves granola so I decided to veer a little from her 5 grain porridge recipe and try some more palatable grains (to hubs and kidlets), seeds and pseudo grains.

This one is a basic recipe for using Oats and Quinoa as the base. I regularly do a grain free version but I’ll save it for another post.  Much of the sugars are consumed by the live cultures during the fermenting stage.  I always feel a bit skeptical about this but I do notice that I don’t have quite the inflammatory reaction as I do when consuming say, maple syrup straight up.  Science supports that it is eaten up as well so I guess it involves a bit of faith to believe it!

Ingredients:

For Pre-Ferment:
  • 1 cup jumbo whole or steel cut oats (I like To use Bob’s Red Mill Golden Spurtle)
  • 1 cup quinoa, lightly toasted
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it and if you are using it as cereal or cutting it into bars.
  • 1-2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional)
  • 1 cup culturing liquid (I have used ginger beer, milk kefir and coconut kefir with varying but equally nice results.) Water kefir, kombucha and whey will work as well.
  • 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pink or kosher salt
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup any seeds or nuts you like (optional)
  • Dried fruit like unsulphered goji berries, raisins, blueberries or cranberries
  • For Post Ferment:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil
  • 5-10 Stevia or monk fruit drops to taste (optional)
  • Diced fruit: apple, pear etc (optional)

Method:

  1. Toast quinoa in a baking sheet at 250°F for 10 minutes
  2. Combine oats, quinoa, seeds and fruit in a large bowl
  3. Add fermenting liquid, maple syrup, blackstrap, salt and cinnamon or other spices.
  4. Stir several times in the first 1-2 hours to keep it from clumping.
  5. Leave covered for 12 hours or overnight. If you are using chia seeds you may need to add more fermenting liquid or water.
  6. In the morning, add three coconut oil and any back sweetener you like. I use monk and stevia. Much of the sugars will have been consumed by the culture but it will still be sweet. Raw honey is also a good choice here.
  7. Lay out on a large parchment in a perforated baking sheet (you can use a normal baking sheet but it will take mug longer to dry). I use the fryer basket for my Breville Air Oven.
  8. If you want it for bars you will need to pre-cut it now. Or a few hours into drying or it will get too crispy and crumble.
  9. Dehydrate at 150°F for 8-12 hours. If it doesn’t breathe as in a standard baking sheet it can take up to 24 hours and you’ll need to break it up and flip or “toss” it.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I like to use a dehydrator to keep the probiotics alive. But if you don’t care about that you can just bake it in the oven at low temperature of 170°F for about 8 hours.


Chocolate Espresso Super Muffins, No Foolin’ (Paleo, No Sugar)

No Sugar, Paleo, Chocolate, Espresso, Nut-free, Keto-Cycling Protein Muffins

This is a recipe I have been working on for months, trying to come up with a guilt-free antioxidant and protein rich breakfast muffin.  It came out of the time of year when the greens do not last long and so my go-to make ahead summer smoothie gagged me with the unmistakable aftertaste of rotting veg.  Yep.  Sorry for the disturbing imagery.  Talk about April foolery. It was more disturbing to take a gulp and have to pull over to spew out the car door with the background sounds of bewildered and concerned little voices crying “mommy are you okay!?”  At this point I should probably tell you that I am one of those queens of TMI and it is all or nothing with me.

I love beetroot, coffee and dark chocolate so this is a win for me. If you’re not a fan of beets you can sub with butternut squash or zucchini… but it won’t have that red velvety pop.

A note on sweetness if you haven’t figured it out already. I DO NOT HAVE A SWEET TOOTH. I prefer things less sweet and tend to gag if anything is overly sweet. So if you are a sweetie, I recommend adding a 1/4 cup of sukrin fiber gold syrup or more allulose. And if you wonder why I use so many different natural sweeteners; it is because each one comes with it’s own aftertaste when used in excess. I have taken to creating blends to have on hand for simplicity as each one brings up the sweetness in it’s own way, so together they culminate into an “all purpose” sugar of sorts.

Beetroot (beets) are chockers with phytonutrients and trimethylglycine (TMG) which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as fight cancer and detoxify the body. They are also high in lutein, which promotes eye health. This in concert with raw cacao and espresso makes for a great morning (or mid morning) pick me up. In essence, these muffins are jacked up.

So here is a healthy and completely justifiable chocolate muffin. You’re welcome.

Yields 12 Standard or 6 Jumbo Muffins

Ingredients:

*You can sub 3/4 cup maple syrup if you don’t care about the sugar content… I will sometimes partially sub when I’m making them for other people.

**I use Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate chips mostly because they are sugar free but at times I have used Enjoy Life dark chocolate chipssemi-sweet chips or Pascha 85% dark chocolate chips if I am making them for non-keto people.

Method:

Roast beetroot in a cast iron or sheet pan at 400ºF/200°C for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Let cool a bit and then peel and discard the skins. Set aside the peeled beetroot for the blender. If you don’t have a blender, you can try grating it but the texture will be different.

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175°C

In a high powered blender add the beetroot and wet ingredients and blend until smooth.

Follow with dry ingredients and mix.  Scrape down the sides and mix again.

I do this in a Vitamix but you can do it in a mixer or bowl if you reverse the order of ingredients: Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix.  Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix.  Pour the wet into the dry and fold until combined.

I like to spray the muffin cups with a bit of coconut oil before I pour the batter in.  Leave about a 1/4” or half a centimeter at the top to allow them to puff up.

Bake for 20 +/- minutes, depending on your oven. They are done when you can just tap one with a finger without making a depression.

Take out immediately and let cool.


Guinness Cake for St. Patrick’s Day (grain free flours, no sugar)

No Sugar, Chocolate, Nut-free, Keto-Cycling

Yields 1x 8″ round cake, 2x 5″ round cakes or 16 cupcakes.

This cake was first introduced to me in Scotland and served up by a lanky Swedish man. I’m fairly certain the originator of the recipe was Nigella Lawson though, at least she is who I consulted for years in making it. It evolved over the years as I became more and more intolerant to wheat and then grains and sugars and I have to say this version is just as good as that first. If you can abide sugars go ahead and use 1 1/2 to 2 cups coconut sugar, but you may need to adjust the coconut flour a little. I call this cake flourless because as it’s made with Guinness it isn’t really grain free. Nor is it Paleo or Keto, but as Guinness has about 8-10 carbs per 12oz bottle that does add to the total carb intake. Let’s be real though, with only a cup in the recipe you are really only looking at an additional 0.5 carbohydrates per serving. No biggie, as long as you can handle grain. I normally cannot but I have found that my tolerance is much better when grains are fermented as in a beer or in sourdough bread or sprouted grains. So tread safely and know yourself but if you think you can handle it then this baby is WELL worth your effort. It makes a dense cake that I love best frozen, frosting and all. If you want it more dense and fudgy; I find the best trick is to turn up the heat a bit after you’ve whipped in the eggs thoroughly and let the batter “cook” a wee bit before pouring in the pan. Or you could just pour in that whole bottle of Guinness. Hey, for a beer it is pretty amazingly healthy. It is full of prebiotic fiber and it is high in iron and relatively low in calories. Don’t believe me? Read this. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

For the icing:

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180°C, and butter and line an 8 inch cheesecake pan with parchment paper. I love these pans because I can pop out the bottom, place it on the parchment paper and slice around it with a sharp knife for the perfectly lined pan. I cut the parchment for the sides a bit taller so I can “overfill” the pan and get the cake a bit taller.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide pan and then add the butter. Heat until melted then whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

Whisk in the milk kefir and then crack the eggs in one at a time, whisking them in vigorously.

Add the vanilla and whisk in the baking soda.

Last of all sift in the pea protein or arrowroot followed by coconut flour.

Pour the cake batter into the buttered and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or 40 minutes for two smaller pans like the one shown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. I will sometimes pull it out of the pan and pop it in the freezer for a stint to make frosting easier.

While it is cooling, we deal with the icing. Whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, stevia and allulose and whip to combine.

Now if you are using kefir cream you will want to carefully add it in a bit at a time to keep the consistency smooth. You can get away with a cup as opposed to the heavy or whipping cream. If you whip it too hard it will curdle because it is already cultured to thickness and is just a step from becoming a lovely cheese and whey.

If using heavy cream, add it in slowly and whip until you have a light but spreadable consistency. I will sometimes need to fold it in with a spatula. Whipping cream can behave a bit differently and it is best to whip it to soft peaks first and then combine it slowly.

You can choose to make this dairy free by coconut cream and coconut butter together but as it is not very Irish to do so I have not tried it. I would recommend beating 1 cup coconut cream with 1/4-1/2 cup coconut butter and adding the vanilla and sweetener and whipping until combined.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake only so it resembles the head of a freshly poured pint of Guinness.


Dark Chocolate Chili & Bits Fat Bombs (Freezer Recipe)

(Paleo, Keto maintenance, Vegan)

Freezer fat bombs… so easy!

Hullo! Here we are with the chocolate again! I know what you’re thinking… this lady likes her chocolate. Well, yes I do. I am not ashamed. I like it dark and bittersweet and most store bought chocolates under 72% used to have me trying to secretly spit into a napkin without people noticing. American chocolate, not to offend anyone, usually tastes like chalky wax to me. Bleh. There are exceptions though. I can’t do sugar these days though so I make my own… usually a version of these every couple weeks.

I have been doing a therapeutic keto recently to help get my hormones and inflammation under control and I have to say it is working. I was a bit put off by the idea of keto for a while because I couldn’t stomach the idea of bacon and cheese… and that’s all I had really heard about it. But I heard a different story from a dear friend’s cousin a few weeks ago and thought I would do my own research. I read Dr. Jason Fung’s “The Obesity Code” which was mind blowing and mostly focused on insulin and intermittent fasting. I read Dr. Josh Axe’s “Keto Diet” which was equally fascinating, especially when it came to keto and treating brain disorders. For me, inflammation is my killer so promises of helping with that made me willing. Milk Kefir helps a ton already and is considered a no no on Paleo so I was doubly interested when I heard it was encouraged on keto. So the long and short of it is that I downloaded a keto app, plugged in my “macros” (macronutrients) and realized that I am naturally eating keto nearly every summer and also in the winter if I’m not snacking on homemade sweets and sweet potato fries all day.

The only thing I needed to change was to eat a little less kale (I’m obsessed with kale and it accounted for 30g of carbs per day of my diet) and swap it out for other equally tasty leafy greens. I struggle to get enough protein though so I have taken to loading up my fat bombs with hempseeds as they are about equal parts protein and fat. My winter macros were not far off… I was already eating about 80% fat and just needed to lay off a few carbs as I already do not eat sugar. I allow for natural sugars in recipes as my family prefers them and copes with them quite well… but I do NOT. I am a mess if there is more than a teaspoon of even coconut sugar, maple syrup or even raw honey in anything I eat. If I take communion at church (grape juice, not wine) I am paying for it in the form of inflammation for a week. I’m pretty sure God is okay with my making my own communion elements at home anyway, and I’m pretty sure he is okay with wine considering Jesus made it… and was still perfect. So all that to say… giving keto a shot for some healing was a natural and mostly easy shift. And chocolate fat bombs are welcome in keto as long as I stay within my numbers… so that is a happy story all around.

Long story short, here is a recipe for when you do not have any cacao butter left and you really want those chocolate fat bombs. I loaded them with hempseeds, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes and red chili flakes… because I like me some spicy chocolate! You might be thinking… way to kick off Lent with chocolate! Hey! I’m already giving up sweet potato fries! And you know I love my sweet potato fries…

I actually used one and a half boxes of cacao bar for this but for ease I have written the recipe for one. The important thing is that it is equal parts cacao bar and coconut oil (fat).

Ingredients:

Method:

I used the double boil method: find a saucepan and a pyrex bowl that fit well together. Fill the pan with about an inch of water and set the bowl on top, hovering above the water. Set in the chocolate and coconut oil and bring the water to a simmer until they melt together.

Add the chicory root sweetener stevia and pink salt and stir until dissolved.

Stir in the vanilla and espresso.

Spoon a bit of chocolate into the bottom of each mold, then pile your bits on top, leaving room to pour chocolate over the top. I saved my pumpkin seeds for on top of the chocolate and sprinkled it with a bit of pink salt. I HEAPED the hempseeds in here as you can see from the photo.

That is some feely feel-goodness right there.

Pop in the freezer for 10-20 minutes until solid. Hide from small children.

* Chicory root fiber sweetener is natural, loaded with pre-biotic inulin fiber and is zero calories and zero carbs. You may sub with raw honey or pure maple syrup if you are not concerned about sugars.


Semi-Sweet Paleo Chocolates with Raspberries

(Paleo, Keto maintenance, Vegan)

These are a remake on my last diy chocolate post. They are sweeter, due to being a little more flexible in my sweetener options these days. They won my husband over but they’re still dark enough for my liking and they are full of prebiotic fiber and antioxidants to feed all the probiotics I eat so win win!

Ingredients:

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and turn on low heat.  Stir together until everything is melted and combined. 

I have done this in a heavy cast iron melting pot, which yields fine results, or with the double boil method: find a saucepan and a pyrex bowl that fit well together. Fill the pan with about an inch of water and set the bowl on top, hovering above the water. Set in all ingredients and bring the water to a simmer until the ingredients melt together

There are several ways to get your crunchy bits into your chocolate… one is to add it in to the sauce directly (not to be done with chia seeds) and then pour into your molds, the other is to pour a bottom layer into your silicone molds, add your dried raspberries or any other fillings you fancy: pumpkin seeds, hempseeds, nuts, cacao nibs, red chili flakes, toasted quinoa or whole espresso beans.

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Pop in the freezer for 10-20 minutes until solid.  In cooler weather, these can be stored at room temperature, but the wee fat bombs are better hidden in the freezer anyway and it’s a no-brainer in warm weather.

** Chicory root fiber sweetener and Sukrin Fiber Gold Syrupare both loaded with pre-biotic inulin fiber. You may sub with raw honey or pure maple syrup if you are not concerned about sugars.