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Tag Archive: nut-free

Mon Grand Voyage (and a Spin on Ratatouille!)

June 28, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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One thing a lot of people don’t know about me (in the blogosphere, at least) is that I LOVE France. When I first went when I was 11, well, je suis tombée en amoureuse. I usually dislike big cities, but there was something about Paris’s narrow streets and petits marchés that made me think otherwise. I’ve been back twice since then, and every time I leave, I find myself wanting to return.

I’ve taken French in school since the second half of third grade, but I’m nowhere near fluent. I can write pretty well, but when confronted with an actual human being, I clam up! I always worry I’m going to say the wrong thing and wind up completely insulting whoever I’m speaking to.

I’m tired of being afraid and want to be able to have a real conversation in French. So…I’m going to France for a month to get brave and learn! This time, I’ll be going to a suburb of Nice called St. Laurent-du-Var, where I’ll be graciously hosted by my homestay mother. I’m really excited and extremely nervous, too!

One thing I’m looking forward to is the food. I’ve had plenty of Parisian fare—duck confit, chocolate mousse, and the like—but I want to taste what else is out there. Since it’ll be July, fresh fruits and vegetables should be plentiful; hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit one or seven marchés en plein air and eat so many tomates cerises I’ll become one. I also foresee mountains of olives in my future, as well as whatever else I may be able to sample.

For the duration of my trip, I WILL NOT be eating squeaky clean by any stretch of the imagination. I may look into doing a Whole30 challenge or something akin to it when I return, but while in France, I’m going to enjoy myself. No, I’m not going to eat a massive croissant at every meal, but I’ll certainly try to have a little taste of a variety of different breads, pastries, and dairy products.

Fortunately, I won’t have to leave the extension of my heart my laptop at home, so I’ll be able to take lots of pictures and update you guys on what I’m up to. Hey, maybe I’ll post a recipe or two, too!

In anticipation for my upcoming voyage, I made ratatouille, probably the tastiest mixed vegetable dish of all time. 

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I’ve been in French classes for over SIX years now, and the only movie I’ve ever watched is Ratatouille. At this point, I’ve probably seen it at least four or five times in French and six or seven times in English. And every time after I watch the movie, I want that idealized plate of vegetable goodness Disney so perfectly displays.

To make this dish a little more satiating, I melted a bit of raw Dorset cheese on the top. Don’t call the paleo police! If you’re lactose intolerant and/or avoiding dairy, feel free to take out the cheese…but if you can eat it, I highly recommend adding it for extra tang and creaminess.

This recipe is a breeze to make. All you need are some veggies, olive oil, a couple of dried herbs, and a big baking dish. If you’re sick of eating meat for dinner, this is a great way to work something vegetarian into the mix!

My recipe is adapted from this one.

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At least a half an hour before you want to bake your ratatouille, slice two small eggplants into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch rounds. Use whatever you can find, whether it be graffiti, Japanese, or globe.

Liberally salt the eggplant rounds and let them sit on a baking sheet or cutting board until assembly time, at least 30 minutes. This is to help some of the water get out and make your eggplant tender, not mushy and gushy.

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut two medium-sized zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and two large bell peppers into 1/4-inch rings. Maybe it’s just me, but I always eat the ends of the peppers after I slice them.

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Set the sliced veggies aside. On the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, mix together 14 ounces of tomato paste or plain tomato sauce (about 1 medium can), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 chopped small onion, 2 thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. With the back of a spoon or a small spatula, spread it out so the bottom is completely coated.

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To assemble, put one piece of eggplant with two or three slices of zucchini and a slice of pepper. Keep going until you run out of space or vegetables…whichever comes first.

Sprinkle the top with 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme, basil, and oregano, a good crack of black pepper, and an additional tablespoon of olive oil.

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Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit snugly atop the dish. Stick the ratatouille in the oven until the veggies are tender and beginning to curl around the edges, about 45 to 50 minutes.

If you don’t want cheese, you can stop here. If you’re opting for the dairy, top the ratatouille with your desired amount of cheese (for me, about 10 tiny squares cut from two slices worth) and broil until completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with a large fork and a hungry belly.

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Next time, I’ll make more…since we had no leftovers. Oh well, at least it was tasty!

What’s your favorite French dish? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Baby Frosted Banana Cakes (gluten-free, dairy-free option, paleo, nut-free)

June 25, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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One of my favorite flavor combinations of ALL time is peanut butter, banana, and cinnamon. It’s creamy, sweet, and salty: what could be bad?

Since exploring a paleo-style eating template, I’ve discovered sunflower seed butter: a delicious alternative to my favorite spread. Actually, the two taste very similar: the only noticeable difference for me is that sunflower seed butter has a slightly smoky flavor, but other than that, the two are pretty much identical.

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So why sunflower seed butter over peanut butter or nut butters? First of all, peanuts are not a nut: they are legumes. Like grains, legumes have something called lectins that stick to the lining of our small intestines—and over time, they can prevent the absorption of nutrients and reek other digestive havoc. Basically, they don’t want to be eaten; that’s why beans give people a lot of “tummy troubles!”

They’re also not great sources of protein like popular media claims…legumes are mostly dense carbohydrates, and if you’re looking for protein, you’d really be better off eating a piece of meat or fish. Granted, neither nut butter nor sunflower seed butter is rich in protein, either, but they’re lower in carbohydrates than their beany counterpart. You can read more about legumes here.

For a simpler reason, sunflower seed butter is very allergy-friendly. One of my best friends is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and when we were younger, she’d have to be extra cautious about what she was eating. If you’re cooking for children, or anyone for that matter, it makes everyone’s life so much easier when what you’re making is extra allergy-sensitive.

This is just my opinion based on what I’ve read—it’s subject to change, and you’re completely entitled to your own take! I still consider plain old peanut butter a much healthier choice than something like packaged chips or cookies…so if you get a peanut butter craving, indulging in a tablespoon or two certainly won’t be the end of the world.

Enough with this science! Let’s get into some food. 

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a mini muffin pan with paper or parchment cups. You can make these full-sized, too, but I personally think smaller treats are way cuter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip 4 egg whites on high (for me, about setting 8) until soft but NOT stiff peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a food processor, blend together 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup of full-fat, grass-fed cow’s milk, nut milk, OR coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (1 1/2 if using coconut milk), 1/3 cup of raw coconut nectar, honey, OR maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. 

Add in 1 ripe banana and 1/3 cup of melted refined coconut oil and process until completely smooth.

Pour the ingredients in the food processor into the egg whites and gently fold with a spatula to incorporate. Sift in 1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons of coconut flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and continue folding until no clumps remain.

Scoop a little less than 2 tablespoons of batter into each liner, and bake until golden brown on top and firm, about 25 to 30 minutes.

This next step may seem a little weird, but it REALLY works for gluten-free baked goods. Gently remove the cupcakes from the tin, place on a baking sheet, and bake for an additional 10 minutes to help them firm up a bit.

Let cool completely before frosting.

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This frosting is a snap to make and turns out light and fluffy every time. My recipe is inspired by Tammy Credicott’s Paleo Indulgeneces; if you haven’t read the book, you should definitely check it out!

In the bowl of a stand mixer on high (for me, about setting 8), whip together 1/2 cup of palm shortening, 1/3 cup of raw coconut nectar, honey, OR maple syrup, 1/3 cup of sunflower seed butter OR almond butter OR peanut butter (if you say screw paleo), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of coconut flour, 2 heaping tablespoons of arrowroot powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The frosting is done when it’s light, fluffy, and peaks slightly in the center, about 4 to 5 minutes later. In this case, the longer, the better!

With a spatula, scoop the frosting into a large resealable plastic bag. Zip it closed and push the frosting all the way down to one corner. Twist the top a couple times and snip off the corner about 1/2 inch from the edge.

Using a swirling motion, pipe the frosting onto each cupcake, continually twisting the bag’s top and pushing everything down towards the corner. Top each cake with a piece of freeze-dried banana and a dash of cinnamon, if you like.

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Go ahead and bake these for someone you love. Even if this person has allergies, he or she will still be able to enjoy a delicious, healthy treat.

What is your favorite flavor combination? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Crab Cakes and Citrus-Infused Mayo (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, paleo)

June 23, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Friday was officially my last day of school, and I couldn’t be gladder. No more geometry. No more boring-as-heck marketing class. No more finals or projects or tests. I’m relieved…for now. I still have two books to read and annotate, two French workbooks to complete, and three chapters of an AP Euro textbook to complete before school starts again.

Oh well. For now, I’m just enjoying the fact that I don’t have to return to my “favorite” institution for two months. 

I spent my first few hours of freedom at a pool party with all of my friends. We’re teenage girls, so of course there were a few rounds of truth or dare and some Disney sing-alongs. I also had quite a good time eating fruit and flaunting my new swimsuit that I’m a teensy bit obsessed with.

Enough about me. Onto the food!

In the summertime, both my family and I prefer to have lighter, less meat-dense meals. Don’t get me wrong—we love our pork, lamb, and beef—but when the weather gets warmer, you don’t necessarily want to be digging into a rich, saucy stew every night.

If you’re looking to mix up your weekly dinner rotation, these crab cakes are a great addition. They took me maybe forty or so minutes to prepare and tasted DELICIOUS. There were also plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day, an added bonus.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

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You’re going to need some mayonnaise for this recipe to help hold the crab cakes together. I really dislike the way the store-bought stuff tastes, so I always make my own. This mayonnaise is EXTREMELY easy to prepare and takes less than ten minutes to whip up…and the difference in taste is unbelievable. 

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, process 2 large egg yolks, the juice of two limes, 1 1/2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, a good pinch of salt, and a large crack of black pepper until smooth, about 1 minute. 

With the machine running, SLOWLY drizzle in 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil OR liquefied coconut oil. It should take 3-4 minutes to get all of the oil from the measuring cup to the machine, so make sure you keep your pouring at just a trickle. This will really help to emulsify all of the ingredients and make it super creamy.

I like my mayonnaise on the lighter, creamier side, so I only add 3/4 cup of oil. If you like a denser, thicker mayo, add more oil as necessary.

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To make the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. You’ll be cooking the cakes in batches, so you’ll need to keep the first batch warm while the second batch is going. 

In a medium-sized bowl, break up 1 lb of lump crab meat into small chunks and remove any shells if you find ‘em. 

Pour the crab into a large bowl and add 1 chopped yellow bell pepper, 1 chopped scallion, 1 whisked egg, 6 tablespoons of the citrus-infused mayonnaise OR 6 tablespoons of store-bought mayo and the juice of a lime, 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning (for the recipe I used, click here), a generous pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons of coconut flour. With your hands, squish and squeeze all of the ingredients together, really making sure to get everything well-incorporated.

Form the crab mixture into 6-8 cakes, depending on how large you want them.

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In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1/3 cup of organic palm shortening. If you don’t have or don’t like palm shortening, you can use regular coconut oil, ghee, or even avocado oil in its place. Whatever you do, DO NOT use olive oil. Its low smoke point will lead to oxidization and lots of splatters.

When the fat is completely melted and shimmering, add half of the crab cakes to the pan. Cook undisturbed until dark brown on that side, about 6 to 8 minutes, then flip to cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer. 

Once crisp and darkened on both sides, transfer the finished crab cakes to the prepared baking sheet and pop in the oven. Add more fat to the pan if necessary, and repeat the same steps with the remaining crab cakes.

Serve with some of the citrus-infused mayo or a generous slice of ripe avocado. 

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What are you most looking forward to this summer? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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GUEST POST: Cardamom Carrot Pudding (gluten-free, dairy-free option, nut-free, paleo, vegan option)

June 21, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

I have to warn you in advance: this pudding is ADDICTIVE. When I first took it out of the fridge to give it a taste, I immediately had to put it back…or I would’ve eaten the entire thing

The great thing, though, is that you can eat it for breakfast. That’s right, BREAKFAST. It’s extremely low in sweetener (with only 1/4 teaspoon of added stevia) but full on flavor with the warm spiciness of cardamom and cinnamon and the cool creaminess of the coconut milk.

Head on over to Kate’s Healthy Cupboard to check out the recipe. Kate was one of the first people who reached out to me, and she’s truly one of the nicest bloggers I’ve met so far. Be sure to visit her website for Cinnamon Ice Cream, Grain-Free Cheez-Its, and Plantain Tortilla Chips!

You can find my guest post ————-> HERE!!! <—————-


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Open-Face Strawberry Tartelette (gluten-free, casein-free, nut-free, paleo)

June 10, 2013 Print this page

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I used to not like pie. Well, I liked the crust, but not the filling inside. It was always too soupy, too sweet, or too mushy, and why wouldn’t I eat the flaky, crunchy base instead?

Nowadays, I like pie fillings particularly more, but the crust is still my favorite part. I had a strange yet powerful craving for strawberries a few days ago, and ultimately wound up making this tartelette to satisfy it.

Inspired by the open-face apple pie in Primal Cravings, this tasty dessert  uses a combination of tapioca and coconut flours in the dough, so you don’t have to worry about spending $40+ on fancy blanched almond flour. If you have inflammatory issues and/or are allergic to nuts, this crust is a perfect solution.

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To ZipList this recipe, click here.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust it lightly with tapioca flour and set aside.

To make the tartelette dough, whisk together 1 cup of tapioca flour, 1/4 cup of coconut flour, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until well-combined. Yes, tapioca flour has more carbohydrates than widely-used nut flours, but it’s much less calorie-dense and not as prone to oxidization. Unfortunately, folks, there’s no “perfect” flour. Treats are treats. 

With your fingers, break up 6 tablespoons of cold ghee (I stuck mine in the fridge for about 2 hours) into 1/2 teaspoon-sized drops. Squeeze and pinch the ghee into the dry ingredients until the texture of a chunky sand—it should hold together but crumble slightly when you pick it up.

Using a spatula, stir in 1 egg, beaten, and 2 tablespoons of raw coconut nectar OR raw honey OR maple syrup. (I used coconut nectar, my current favorite sweetener.)

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Roll the dough up into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool to the touch but not solid as a brick, about 15 to 30 minutes.

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While the dough chills, slice up a pint of fresh strawberries and set aside in a medium-sized bowl.

In a small saucepan, whisk together 2 tablespoons of ghee, 3 tablespoons of raw coconut nectar OR raw honey OR maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of all-fruit strawberry jam over medium-low heat until it begins to boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until syrupy, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour this mixture over the strawberries and stir to combine.

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Remove the dough from the fridge and take off the plastic wrap. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and roll it into a 9” by 12” rectangular oval. If you get a little rip, press it back together; it you get a huge rip, squish it back together and start over.

Scoop 2/3 of the strawberry mixture into the center of the dough, leaving about an inch all around. Gently fold the edges on top of the strawberries and brush the crust with some of the remaining strawberry mixture’s syrup.

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Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for at least 15 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board for serving.

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While the tartelette cools, make a jam with the remaining filling. It’s very simple: pour the remaining strawberries and syrup into a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook down until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

You could eat this tartelette plain with a little of the jam…or, you could make a strawberry-coconut cream to go on top! 

The day before you want to make the tartelette, stick a can of coconut milk in the fridge so the cream will separate from the watery stuff at the bottom. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

30 minutes prior to serving dessert, put a bowl and either electric beaters or the whisk attachment on a mixer in the freezer to chill out. 

Open the can of coconut milk from the bottom and pour off the clear liquid. Take the bowl and beaters/whisk attachment out of the freezer and scoop out the coconut cream. Beat on high (for me, about setting 8) until light and fluffy, about 6 to 7 minutes. If you’d like, you can stir in some or all of the strawberry jam when it’s done.

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What is your favorite thing to do with strawberries? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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