Recipe: Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce (Paleo/GAPS)

One of the hard things about being on a grain-free diet is watching the family eat pancakes every Saturday morning. I love pancakes and every now and then I sneak one because they are so hard to resist. I used to make myself some grain-free paleo pancakes with egg and almond meal … but they really are not my favourite. I find them quite dry and I have to wash them down with a cup of tea. This morning however, I made myself some banana pancakes and I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about them for so long!

I used to make them for the kids for afternoon tea. It just didn’t occur to me that I could eat them for breakfast … and actually I am not really that fond of bananas, especially cooked bananas, but I cooked mine in coconut oil and drowned them in a home made blueberry sauce … and they were delicious.

Bananas are so cheap at the moment … at 99c per kilo I am buying up a couple of kilos at a time and freezing them for cooking with later. The ones I used today went soft before I had a chance to peel and freeze them but they were perfect for breakfast in these pancakes and enjoyed by 2 out of 3 children – the other one, like me, has never really developed a bond with bananas and was turned off when I mentioned what was in them. If I hadn’t said anything I’ll bet he would never have noticed. As for me, I am pleased to have rediscovered the joys of pancakes for breakfast!

This blog is fast becoming a place where we celebrate toddlers with food on their faces… sorry about that but I never get tired of seeing little ones enjoy their food!!

Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

PANCAKE INGREDIENTS

1 banana

1 large egg

1 tsp coconut oil

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1 cup blueberries

1 tsp cinnamon

dribble of honey

1 Tbs butter

METHOD

Mash the banana and mix in the egg. If your egg is small you may get firmer pancakes if you add another egg.

Heat your pan (I like to use a cast iron skillet) and melt the coconut oil. Cook mixture as you would normal pancakes, turning when you see the edges firm and a few bubbles in the middle.

To make the sauce, mix blueberries, honey, butter and cinnamon together in a saucepan and bring to the boil, slightly mashing the blueberries, and cooking until it reaches a consistence you like.

Serve pancakes with sauce and fresh fruit.

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Recipe:Raw Banana Cookies


I presented this recipe to playgroup this week but with dried pineapple instead of the chocolate chips that are pictured (don’t worry! You get to have the chocolate chips later on!) This recipe made 12 delicious cookies but of course I had doubled it for playgroup (and made the cookies a little smaller). They were so yum that I didn’t get a picture of them before they disappeared, but these are the ones that will appear next week ūüôā

For the chocolate chip recipe I didn’t mix the chips in with the batter – just placed on top – enough for a bit of yum, in a pretty flower. The cookies themselves are pretty sweet so the chips are just for a bit of bling. These are vegan chocolate chips, which I am sure contain cane sugar so technically speaking these cookies are not sugar-free.

To make this recipe raw the cookies are ‘cooked’ in the dehydrator. They were done after one day and one night, at 70 degrees C, turning them halfway. They can also be baked in the oven for more immediate consumption! The benefits to dehydrating them means they preserve more nutrients and are more evenly dried out, whereas when you bake them they are still a little squishy in the middle, but equally yummy.¬†Without the chocolate chips they’d be a good addition for a lunch-box treat (that is, if your child’s school doesn’t have a no-nut policy). They are a great after school snack.

RAW BANANA COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 small mashed banana

1/4 cup maple syrup (or a little less)

2 1/2 tbs water

1 tbs vanilla essence

chopped dried fruit of your choice / chocolate chips

METHOD

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Divide mixture into twelve parts and form into flattened cookies.

To dehydrate cookies: place cookies on a baking paper on the trays and dehydrate for 24 hours, turning the cookies and removing the sheet after 12 hours.

To bake the cookies: place cookies on a baking sheet into a preheated oven set at 160C for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Kale Chips

In my quest for snacks that are grain- and sugar-free I have been mainly finding things to satisfy my sweet tooth – also fun things to share with playgroup that we can all eat. I haven’t given much attention to savoury snacks, except for my standby seed crackers (which can double as a pizza base). These get me through my snacky moments in the day, with a bit of avocado, cheese and tomato on top. Yum.

In my food box this week I found a small bunch of kale, and suddenly remembered the holy grail of savoury snacks: kale chips!! These are so easy, so crunchy and so more-ish that they never last long …. so really as a snack they are a bit useless. These are reserved for guilt-free pig-out moments. Everyone in the house loves them too. They went to kindy in my four-year-old’s lunch box today.

I first had these about two years ago, and snacked on nothing but kale for about two months, I loved them so much. Kale is full of a bunch of good stuff, although I couldn’t tell you what it is … doesn’t matter. This is a snack that incorporates a fresh vegetable and only two other ingredients so really you can’t go wrong! I actually think they are better than popcorn.

KALE CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

Large bunch of fresh kale

One tablespoon olive oil

One teaspoon of celtic sea salt

METHOD:

Wash your kale well and dry it thoroughly. It needs to be really dry or the oil doesn’t coat it well and the kale goes soggy rather than crunchy.

When kale is dry, cut out the centre stalk and rip into chunky pieces – not too small!

Place kale in a bowl and add oil and salt. Rub in well with your hands, ensuring that all parts of the kale are completely coated.

Spread evenly on baking paper on a tray and place into a pre-warmed oven set to 160C.

Bake about 20 minutes and allow to cool on the tray.

When cool they can be stored in an airtight container but most likely they will all be eaten straight off the tray and storage won’t be necessary.

     

Recipe: (Vegan) Cashew Crunchies and Egg-Free Baking

I’m enjoying the challenge of feeding healthy treats to everyone at our playgroup. I’ve discovered, and created, quite a few recipes now that I use in my family cooking. Last week I was looking for vegan cookie recipes, but I’m still learning about how to replace eggs in recipes, and¬†I didn’t want to buy a commercial egg replacer product (which, although I haven’t researched it, I suspect is¬†probably¬†just a bit of cornflour, salt and bicarb).

I enjoy eating eggs and love spending time with my chookies who gift us with their eggs each day. I do have many friends who have their own reasons for not eating eggs though, and I like to cook for everyone. ¬†I didn’t realise that eggs have different functions when they are included in food. Well, I think I did know, but had never given it much thought until I wanted to try to cook without them.

Eggs provide moisture, bind other ingredients together, and also help to make the combined ingredients light and fluffy (leavening). So replacing eggs in your recipes would depend on what they are used for, and what part of the egg is used (white or yolk or both).

So far I have learned that eggs can be left out all together if the thing you are making is fairly flat – like pancakes or bread or slices. If moisture is required, a little extra liquid can be used, something thicker like coconut milk or cream (unless you are vegan of course).

If you need eggs for binding you can hold your mixes together with other ingredients such as mashed bananas, cooked apple (for sweet baking), mashed pumpkin, potato  or sweet potato (for savory baking), silken tofu or a mixture of ground chia or flax seeds and water (about 1tbs water to 1 tsp ground seeds for one egg). You could also try a little bit of cornstarch and water mixed together.

If you are making leavened¬†recipes¬†and want rise to occur in cooking you can achieve this with a mixture of vinegar (1 tbs) and bicarb of soda. I tried this on the weekend in an egg-free fruitcake recipe and apart from the fact that I burned the outside of the cake, I’d say that little trick worked quite well. I think some carbonated water would also work, and I’ve read that a bit of oil, water and bicarb will do the trick also.

It’s fun to play around with food …. I’m just as happy to eat the disasters as well as the happy successes … but because I make sure I use good quality, simple ingredients it isn’t hard to make something delicious – besides I have found there isn’t much that can’t be saved by spreading some cashew cream or peanut butter on it – and what I am not fond of, the chickens seem quite happy with ūüôā

This week I made up a cookie recipe that just left the eggs out all together. They¬†didn’t need rise, they were held together with a bit of sticky maple syrup glue, and had enough oil in them that moisture wasn’t a problem. In fact you could probably leave the extra coconut oil out, but I like the way they kind of fried themselves in the oven, which is what I think made them so yummy. ¬†If you leave out the extra oil you wouldn’t even need to cook them, you could just roll them up and put them in the fridge for a bit of raw goodness. In any case, these cookies were baked and there were none left at the end of playgroup, that’s for sure!

Cashew Crunchies

INGREDIENTS

100g raw cashews

100g almond meal

1/4 cup liquid sweetener of your choice (honey/maple syrup)

100g shredded coconut

1 tsp vanilla essence

30g, (or a bit less than 1/4 cup) coconut oil

METHOD

Blend the cashews and almond meal together on high-speed until they are all crumbly together.

Add sweetener, coconut, essence and oil, then mix it all together really well.

Roll or drop little balls of the mixture onto a lined tray.

Bake at a moderate oven about 10 minutes or until they turn golden brown – watch out! This happens quickly!!

Recipe: Mandarin and Almond Upside Down Cake

The colder weather brings the citrus fruit! Hooray for late autumn mandarins!! They are so sweet and juicy and such a perfect snack for children. And so bursting with the right kind of vitamins to help combat the winter sniffles. They are the best thing, I find, for a pick-me-up in the morning and for satisfying the sugar cravings in the late afternoon.

I looked and looked for hours, trawling over the internet for a cake recipe using mandarins ¬†that would fit everyone’s needs at playgroup. I do my best to make a morning tea that is free of grains (and therefore free of gluten), sugar (natural sweeteners only) and also vegan so that each person in our group can enjoy the morning tea. I’m so glad we have no one with nut allergies because then we’d just be eating fruit ūüôā

I didn’t find what I was looking for so I made a recipe up. It was a bit of a hotch-potch of ingredients, but a delicious one! I’ve recently learned that chia seeds mixed with water can be used instead of egg as a binder, so I ground up some white chia seeds into a fine powder and mixed 2 tbsp of that with a cup of water. I think it was enough to replace maybe 4 or 5 eggs? In any case our cake turned out quite moist. I’m not sure the addition of chia seeds is legal on the GAPS diet, but I ate a little of this today with no noticeable reaction, so perhaps from time to time it may be ok.

The mandarins were boiled in their skins for a few hours, and as the skins are used in this recipe along with the flesh I think it is pretty important that organic mandarins are used.¬†I cheated a bit for the mandarins on the topping. I had a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard and I’ve been wanting to use them for ages, so they became the topping to the upside-down cake. I don’t see why you couldn’t use pipped fresh mandarins, or even boil up 2 extras and whizz them all up together, saving some of the mandarin pulp to use as the topping.

It disappeared pretty quickly so I’d say it was all right ūüôā

MANDARIN AND ALMOND UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

INGREDIENTS

3 organic mandarins, plus 2 more for decorating (or 1 tin of mandarin segments).

1/2 cup natural sweetener of your choice (honey/maple/agave)

1/3 cup dates

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp ground chia seeds

1 cup water

350g almond meal

75g hazelnut meal

METHOD

Boil three whole (washed and unpeeled) mandarins, completely covered by water for 2 hours. I tipped out the water halfway through and topped up the pot with fresh water because I thought the skins might get a little bitter from this treatment. Not sure if it made a difference but they certainly were not bitter in the end.

Drain and cool the mandarins, then blend them. Take the pips out if you want to – I just blended the whole lot up, skins, pips and all, into a pulp in the food processor.

Add sweetener, ground chia seeds, water and coconut oil to the mandarin and blend again.

Add the dates, almond meal and hazelnut meal and blend until smooth.

Grease a ring tine with coconut oil. Drizzle  a little maple syrup into the base. Lay out the spare mandarin segments, then pour the cake mixture over the top.

Bake at 180C until firm. This took about 40 minutes for my cake. It did go quite brown on the top but was still moist in the middle.

Eat and enjoy!

Two Recipes and a GAPS lapse: Carrots, Ginger and Beetroot Soup (and Vegetarian Curry)

I have mentioned before that I am currently following the GAPS diet. It is the first time in my life I have ever followed an eating regime of any kind, and it is not a diet for weight loss. Instead it is a diet that has been designed to support digestive healing: to return our gut back into an environment that can process the substances we eat without producing toxins that cause other problems in the body. For me, there were a variety of reasons for beginning this diet and at the time I started (about 9 months ago) it was eczema, asthma, allergies and joint pains. Now my asthma has gone completely, my eczema returns only when I’m stressed and hardly raises an itch, my allergies are almost forgotten and the joint pains stay away so long as I don’t slip up on the diet. I don’t mind them being there as a little alarm for me, actually – a reminder that although all seems to be going well for me, that I still have to take care of myself. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme:

When she is good she is very very good,

But when she is bad she is horrid!

When I am in the zone on GAPS I feel amazing. I feel so much energy, so alive in my body and my thoughts and reflexes are so sharp. Everybody and everything is wonderful and it is easy to respond positively to the daily niggles. I totally forget about eczema and asthma and allergies – they don’t exist. When something snaps (a few nights in a row of bad sleep or a busy week) then my routine of cooking and eating is disturbed and I fall off the wagon. One of the hardest things I find about being on this diet is being prepared with food-to-go. There are often times when I am out and about in the car all day long, and if I don’t have a sufficient food for me to eat then I have no choice but to go and buy something. The are lots of great places to eat on the Gold Coast, but few options for grain- and sugar-free diets. So sometimes I have had a few slips, either by chance or by choice. When I am busy, tired, not prepared, perhaps a little stressed I think, “a¬†sandwich¬†won’t hurt”. The last¬†sandwich¬†I ate has hurt me now for about 2 weeks. Headache, extreme tiredness and joint pain was the immediate result, and I’ve had a lingering pain in my foot all this time. I am sure there is more involved with this pain, on a deeper level I have needed some rest (sleep!) and some nourishing from sources other than food (sunshine, quiet time, family, friends, meditation, creative play). A week of rest and a return to the GAPS introduction diet has put me back on the right track and the pain in my foot has diminished. It is a relief not to limp everywhere. Pain is a great reminder but it is exhausting having to live with it every day and I am extremely glad I don’t have to.

So the result of all this is a renewed commitment to preparation. Back on the menu planning, making sure I have enough basic supplies to keep me going through the days. The key to it all is stocks and soups. Home made meat stock is not optional on the GAPS diet. It is essential and I always have several jars of it in the fridge. It goes into almost every meal I make for myself and my family. It also forms the basis of the soups that I eat for breakfast and lunch. I am supposed to drink it with every meal to help with digestion, but I haven’t developed that habit yet. The gag reflex from my vegetarian days kicks in when I try to drink neat stock. But put some veggies in and call it soup and I am ok with it. My thermomix (also known as Thermoslave) is set to work almost every morning making a new batch of soup and I love it when my fridge is full of rainbow coloured jars of goodness.

Thermoslave is my fourth child

Here is one of my favourites: Carrot and Ginger Soup, this time with beetroot to give a deep wintery flavour and colour. Roasted beetroot would be even more delicious, but I didn’t do that this time. Perfect comfort food and a great breakfast for a cold morning. I thoroughly recommend starting the day with a hot soup and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. My body sings. If you are vegetarian this soup can be made with vegetable stock, but please make it yourself – so much more nourishing than salty stock cubes!

The soup was also used to thicken the curry that I made for dinner the other night. On GAPS my family and I have gotten used to watery sauces, as flour, arrowroot and cornflour can’t be used to thicken. So now I use soups, nuts ground into a paste, or mashed pumpkin to thicken up our meals if they require it.

Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Soup

INGREDIENTS

2cm ginger, chopped finely or grated

3 garlic cloves, chopped finely

2 tbs oil/cooking fat

Pinch of salt

3 carrots, chopped in rounds (large ones)

2 small beetroots, peeled and chopped

Stock to cover veggies

METHOD

1)      Heat oil and cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

2)      Add salt and stir.

3)      Add vegetables and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes or until edges are softened.

4)      Cover with stock and bring to the boil.

5)      Turn heat down and cook for about 25 minutes

6)      Blend to preferred consistency and serve with sour cream.

¬†–

Carrot and Beetroot Tops Curry

 

INGREDIENTS

2 tbs coconut oil

2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp turmeric paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mild curry powder

3 carrots, roughly chopped

¬Ĺ head cauliflower, roughly chopped

200g cabbage, chopped

1 cup Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Tops Soup

1 spring onion

1 bunch beetroot tops

1 cup cashews.

 

METHOD

1)      Heat oil and when hot, add ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and curry powder. Stir and cook until fragrant.

2)      Add chopped carrot, cauliflower and cabbage. Stir together with spices until well coated.

3)      Add stock and soup and cook until tender.

4)      In last five minutes of cooking, add chopped spring onion and beetroot tops.

5)      Roast cashews in oven while the curry cooks

6)      Serve with rice and chapatis (for the non-GAPS members of your family)and sprinkled with toasted cashews.

Recipe: Apple Rhubarb Crumble and Fruit Scrap Vinegar

My husband brought back a few sticks of rhubarb from a recent trip up to Mt Tamborine (he doesn’t understand why I love it but knows that I do so road-side stalls with rhubarb now always get a visit). I wanted to stew it last week but we’ve had no gas for our stove for the last seven days and have been boiling water on a camping stove on the counter for our teas. Very frustrating! I would usually stir my chopped apples and rhubarb in a pot over the stove but without gas I’ve used the Thermomix this time, and experimented a bit.

I’ve been wanting to stew some apple for some time because I am running out of vinegar! I use my fruit scraps (from organic fruit) to make my own fruit scrap vinegar. Today all my scraps are now sitting in a sugar solution and are starting to ferment happily on my counter top (in a dark, out-of-the-way place). Making fruit scrap vinegar is easy – keep your scraps (organic is best because you use the peel) then put them into a jar large enough to hold a pint of water. Fill the jar halfway with scraps, then fill it up to the top with a sugar solution (1 pint water to 1/4 cup sugar). Cover the jar with a bit of muslin and leave it for a week to ferment. That’s it! Take the scraps out after a week and then let it ferment for another week or so. You’ve got your own delicious organic vinegar. Anything you use apple cider vinegar for you can use fruit scrap vinegar for.

Back to the recipe though – the apple and rhubarb are sweet enough on their own, but if you are afraid it might be bitter then you could add some berries for sweetness, or perhaps a handful of sultanas to the fruit before you stew it. Ours was just fine though. Naturally sweet on its own ūüôā ¬†I used to make the crumble topping¬†with butter, brown sugar and oats, but as I don’t eat grains and sugar anymore I changed it. With nuts and coconut oil it is more like a streusel topping I guess, although it is suitable for people eating vegan and GAPS diets too.

This is delicious for breakfast or morning tea with creamy home-made yogurt or for dessert with ¬†a dairy-free ice cream like CocoLuscious. I served it at playgroup with some yogurt that I made at home with creamy fresh goats milk (There is a BIG difference in taste between fresh goat’s milk and the goat’s milk that you buy in the supermarket! It is really tasty and not at all ‘goaty’!)

APPLE RHUBARB CRUMBLE

STEWED FRUIT INGREDIENTS

4 sticks of trimmed rhubarb

5 large green apples

1 orange

cinnamon

mixed spice

I cooked up 4 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces (forgot to weight it, sorry!) and 1 peeled and sliced green apple with the juice and finely grated rind of one orange. I also shook a bit of cinnamon and mixed spice in there too. That was all cooked together until it was nice and slushy (on the stove you’d have it over a low-medium heat and stir all the time). It is miraculous how the rhubarb just melts as it cooks!

That didn’t make much and I still had another four big green apples so I peeled and thinly sliced those then layered them in a dish, spooned a bit of the rhubarb mixture on top and kept layering until I had nothing left. A sprinkle of cinnamon on the top and then I spooned over the crumble topping.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup sultanas

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup hazlenuts

1 cup almonds

3 tbs coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut

cinnamon

I whizzed it all up in the thermomix (food processor works just as well) until it looked crumbly. Then spooned it over the apple and rhubarb mixture and put it in the oven. It was baked at 180 until it was brown on top. This should be enough to soften the thinly sliced apple layered between the stewed fruit.

Recipe:Banana Bread with Cashew Cream

At first glance this recipe looks pretty strange – there’s not much to it. There is no flour or eggs, in fact there appears to be nothing but banana holding this together.

But it’s so yummy and it is a great morning tea snack, served with sweet cashew cream – and if you cook it in a loaf tin and then slice it, it makes an awesome breakfast served hot with butter for hungry kids in the morning (this would be what my kids might eat while they are waiting for their 2nd breakfast of something more substantial). It also freezes well. You can slice it, keep it in the freezer and just warm up as many slices as you need.

And of course, I have adapted the recipe from another one, because that’s how I cook. The original recipe can be found in the 2001 edition of¬†The Australian Women’s Weekly Allergy-Free Baking cook book, on page 40. I have taken out the sugar and changed the oil from vegetable oil to coconut oil but that’s about it. It’s unclear what the purpose of the baking powder is in this, as it doesn’t rise much, so I think you could probably leave that out too.

BANANA BREAD

(grain/gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, dairy-free)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe banana

1/2 cup dates

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

2 1/2 cups (200g) desiccated coconut

1 3/4 cups (225g) linseed, sunflower and almond meal (LSA)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease loaf pan/muffin trays.

Blend banana, dates, oil, baking powder and spice until smooth.

Pour mixture into a bowl and add coconut and LSA.

Spread into loaf pan/muffin trays.

BAKE – 10 minutes for mini muffins, 20 minutes for large muffins, 45 -50 minutes for loaf pan

(should go brown on top but not black – watch that coconut it burns quickly!)

 -*-*-

CASHEW CREAM

INGREDIENTS

1 cup soaked raw cashews

1/2 cup water

2 tbs maple syrup/honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

METHOD

Blend on high until smooth. Chill for half an hour before serving.

Recipe: Raspberry Streusel Bars

In honour of our playgroup day falling on Valentines Day I have made these delicious Raspberry Streusel Bars. The original recipe I found HERE, and it was already a fabulous recipe because it is grain-free, egg-free and dairy-free. But of course I wanted to make it suitable for me to eat on the GAPS diet (no sugar), and I don’t like to use sugar substitutes other than a little honey. I thought about adding honey instead of the sugar, but then our vegan friends at playgroup wouldn’t be able to enjoy it, so I tweaked it a bit, added a bit more coconut and some dates and away we went.

I think that we don’t take advantage of the natural sweetness of many of the foods we use in baking. For a start the raspberries are sweet already, and coconut has a sweetness of its own. Dates can send my sugar-receptors through the roof! I didn’t think that sugar needed to be a part of each of the layers. If the middle bit was sweet enough the base and the topping could do without.

So here is my version of grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free Raspberry Streusel. Believe it or not it still tastes delicious!

Raspberry Streusel Bars

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST -2 cups coconut, 2 cups blanched almond flour (almond meal), 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 Tbs vanilla essence

FILLING – 2 cups raspberries, 1 Tsp vanilla or almond extract, 1/2 cup pureed dates, 4 Tbs almond flour, pinch of salt

STREUSEL TOPPING – 1/4 cups finely chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup almond flour, 2 Tbs coconut flakes, 2Tbs melted coconut oil

METHOD:

Combine ingredients for Crust in the food processor until crumbly and press out firmly onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes.

To make filling, mix raspberries, pureed dates and almond flour together in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Stir a few minutes while it thickens and then remove from the heat. Spread on the crust once it is out of the oven.

Combine all the topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the raspberry filling. (I added a little extra coconut on top)

Place back in the oven and bake another 17 – 20 minutes until the topping becomes slightly golden. It turns dark fast, so watch it so that it doesn’t burn!

Remove from the oven and cook completely before cutting. You can put them in the freezer to hasten the setting and so they hold their structure when they are cut.

Slice and store in a sealed container at room temperature or freeze for another day.

Two Grain-free, Sugar-free Muesli Recipes (well – one recipe and one idea)

I love muesli … it fills me up just the right amount in the morning, and if I eat it with some yogurt and fruit I feel like I am starting the day with a real treat. I grew up eating home-made muesli – I never like boxed cereals much. Those bricks made out of wheat that turn into mush the moment you add milk to them make me want to vomit. Nutri-Grain was a favourite, but not a regular feature in our household because of the sugar content. And besides there are so many reasons to avoid cereal – cereal is really expensive, doesn’t fill you up, leaves your teeth coated in sugar, gives you an energy high that then plummets about 2 hours later, is fortified with minerals that can’t be¬†absorbed¬†properly in that state and one box just doesn’t last very long! There has even been some unpublished studies suggesting the cardboard box has more nutrients than the cereal – but I believe Myth Busters busted that one, except just because something will keep you alive for a while doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

It is super-easy, super-cheap and super-quick to make your own muesli, and you know exactly what the nutritional content is.

Being on the GAPS diet threw me though. There are no grains, starches or sugars allowed while I am on this journey of digestive healing, and my muesli is usually made with oats and sweetened with something like honey, maple syrup or molasses. I’ve made gluten-free muesli with other things like amaranth, puffed rice (which is not as healthy as you’d think), and quinoa – but on GAPS they are all classed as grains and starches and so they are out too. While I was on the GAPS intro diet I got quite used to eating stews and soups for breakfast, but that gets really expensive when the family of five eats meat stews for breakfast every day, so our best bet was to find another way to eat muesli, and chase it up with a cup full of broth or soup made with broth.¬†It was as simple as leaving out the grains ūüôā

So here is my muesli recipe. In fact, here is a muesli recipe, and another idea to increase nutrient¬†absorption. I’m not really one for measuring things, so the quantities might need adjusting (just letting you know first!). I make it the night before if I can, but it is so quick I can make it in an emergency if needed (and eat it hot!)

#1 GRAIN-FREE, SUGAR-FREE MUESLI

1) fill a bowl with about 6 cups of mixed seeds and nuts (I like almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cashews, hazelnuts), one cup of shredded coconut and dried fruit (no preservatives). Aldi make it easy by selling small packets of ¬†mixed seeds and fruit. I buy a few of those, and add a few more nuts to the bowl. I never measure, I go by how nice it all looks together ūüôā

2) Take half the mixture and whizz it all up together in the food processor until it is quite small, then add back to the bowl.

3) sprinkle over some cinnamon.

4) Add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil and mix it all together really well.

5) Put the mixture into a baking tray and bake at 180C until the top starts going brown. About 10-15 minutes. Take it out, give it a stir and leave it in the tray until cool. Or not. It’s good hot with cream ūüėČ

Eat it with homemade yogurt and fresh fruit. It is also great as a topping for desserts, and as a crumble topping for stewed fruit too.

#2 SOAKED, DEHYDRATED MUESLI

I’m still not clear as to whether all seeds need to be soaked to increase their nutrient absorption. It is good for nuts and grains to soak them for at least 8-12 hours so that the phytic acid breaks down and our bodies can more readily digest the beautiful goodness inside, but I am not sure about seeds. I believe that toasting seeds help break down the phytic acid in seeds.

As soon as I buy my nuts I soak them overnight in water with a bit of whey or vinegar or lemon juice added to it, then I dehydrate them for 12 hours. Sounds like a lot of effort, but if it becomes part of your rhythm in cooking then it isn’t at all. ¬†When you notice you are running low on soaked nuts, then that night you start soaking the next lot. This process makes the nuts and grains crispy and crunchy. I find almonds taste so much nicer when they have been soaked and dried – they lose their bitterness. Soaked and dried hazelnuts are something else. Addictive.

So for the soaked grain-free muesli, which is an idea I haven’t made yet, I plan to prepare the mixture above up to step 3 and then mix it all up in some yogurt and leave it overnight (or all day if I remember to make it in the morning!). Then it can be turned into a granola by putting it in the dehydrator or in the oven on the lowest setting until it is all dried. I’ve made granola with oats this way before, and it is delicious. Great as a snack or a trail-mix too. You have to break up the clumps every now and then so it dries evenly. The reason you dehydrate it, or cook on the lowest setting is so that you retain as many active nutrients as you can in the ingredients, especially in the yogurt, which has so much probiotic goodness for your digestion.