Lemon Bars (grain / gluten / dairy / sugar free, paleo)

Soooooo… my awesome girl Noelle (yes, the same one who introduced me to the most amazing dessert ever), challenged me to create the best lemon bars of life.  I think the text went something like “if I know you at all, you won’t stop until you find it – I challenge you to create for me the best paleo lemon bars ever”.  And she does know me – it is crazy what you can learn about someone by the way they CrossFit. Because I texted back “challenge accepted” (duh), and immediately starting thinking, researching, preparing.  And now, behold. The best (paleo) lemon bars of life.
lemon bars (grain gluten dairy free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS: (crust)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cups unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
  • 1 egg white (save yolk for lemon filling)
  • Pinch sea salt
INGREDIENTS: (filling)
  • 3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks (you are going to have one extra egg white – just save it, and throw it in your next batch of scrambled eggs)
  • 6 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
METHOD:
1.  Turn oven on to 350F.
2.  Melt coconut oil over low heat on the stove.  Add maple, coconut, almond flour, and sea salt.  Stir until combined.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add 1 egg white, and stir vigorously for 1 minute.  Crust dough will be very sticky.
4.  Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper, and pour crust dough into dish.  Using hands, press dough down in dish until compact, and evenly spread throughout.
5.  Poke a few holes in the crust using a toothpick.  Maybe 10.  To prevent it from bubbling up when cooking.  This step is important.  Don’t skip it.
6.  Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven.
7.  While crust is cooking, whisk the eggs plus the egg yolks in electric mixer until light and frothy.
8.  Add the rest of the filling ingredients, and whisk for 2 minutes.  Set your timer.  2 minutes, people.
9.  Pour the mixture over the crust, which you already baked for 10 minutes.
10.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown and center is set.
11.  Let it cool.  No really, don’t eat it yet.  Let it cool.  It is important for it to set.  Give it 30 minutes.
12.  Dust with coconut flour – looks just as beautiful as powdered sugar, and nobody will be able to tell the difference.  Promise.
13.  Cut, and consume.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.

Coconut Cream Frosting (dairy-free, gluten-free, processed sugar-free, paleo, vegan)

Oh man.  Been on the hunt for a white frosting that doesn’t use powdered sugar.  Finally found the best one.  Tried so many.  Failed at so many.  This one wins.  It is creamy, the texture is perfect, and the taste is incredible.  This will for sure be my go-to frosting recipe. Most recently I made it to put on carrot cake muffins, but it would be good on pretty much anything you wanted to frost.  I may have even consumed a few spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.  Don’t judge.  You would have too if there was a tub of this in your fridge.  Let us know what you think of this when you make it!  This frosting would also be real good on pumpkin muffins, chocolate cupcakes, blackberry bars, or spread on grahams!

Coconut Cream Frosting (dairy-free, processed sugar-free, paleo, vegan)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 5 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 
METHOD:
1.  Combine coconut milk, syrup, and sea salt in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove and simmer for 10 minutes.
2.  While the mixture is simmering, combine arrowroot and water in a small bowl to make a paste.
3.  After 10 minutes, pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan and whisk enthusiastically to combine.
4.  Quickly bring to a boil, until bubbly and shiny.  Then remove from heat.
5.  Very gradually add coconut oil to mixture, blending either with hand blender, or in stand mixer with whisk attachment in place.
6.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (I left mine in overnight).
7.  Remove from refrigerator, and blend again until light and fluffy.  Serve immediately.
NOTE:  Due to the coconut oil in this recipe, this frosting does not hold up well in high temperatures.  If you are making this ahead of time, I would spread it on cupcakes or cake immediately after whipping, store in refrigerator, and remove cupcakes or cake about and hour before serving.  This will allow frosting to soften up a bit, but not become overly warm and melt.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Elana’s Pantry.

Bulletproof Coffee

I really am not sure why this particular drink is called “bulletproof coffee” but it sounds kinda cool at least… Been hearing about this drink and seeing it popping up on my Pinterest, and thought I would give it a try.  There is a good chance I will never drink my coffee any other way.  For starters, it is seriously delicious.  It is creamy and rich tasting, and gets this amazing foam layer on the top, which never happens when I just pour milk into my coffee.  Second, because of the coconut oil, it is full of healthy fat.  I know, I know.  Some of you still don’t think fat is good.  The right kind of fat is.  I promise.  Read more about it here…. Coconut oil improves heart health, supports your immune system, promotes weight loss, boosts thyroid production, protects the liver from toxins, and is incredibly filling.  I know it also seems weird to put butter in your coffee, but again…. the right kind of butter is good!  We use organic butter, from grass-fed cows.  It is an anti-cancer agent, muscle-builder, high in antioxidants, and an immunity-booster.  Because I truly believe in the amazing things coconut oil can do for your health, I try to incorporate a few tablespoons of it each day into the diet of my family.  Whether I fry veggies or meat in it, use it in baked goods, mix it into kids eggs, put it in a smoothie, or put it in my coffee I am always grabbing it and using it in something.  I love starting my day knowing I am getting a good amount of this amazing, beneficial fat in my system.  Without further ado, go make some bulletproof!  Oh, and PS.  Most Paleo circles will approve the use of a high-quality butter, even though technically it is dairy.

bulletproof coffee, with coconut oil and butter

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1-3 tablespoons organic, unrefined coconut oil (I use 3, feel free to start with less and work your way up…)
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted Kerrygold butter
  • Optional:  Some pure vanilla extract or honey would be super yummy if you are looking for something a little sweeter.  I don’t add anything as it is rich and creamy as is, but you can experiment!  
METHOD:
1.  Combine all ingredients in food processor with metal blade attachment (blender would probably work, too).
2.  Turn it on and let it go for about 20 seconds, or until butter and coconut oil thicken and coffee becomes light brown in color.
3.  Pour it back into mug.  Drink.  So good.  And so energizing.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Chicken + Vegetable Curry (grain-free, dairy-free – served over cauliflower “rice”)

So.  Husband and I are two weeks into our nutrition challenge and still going strong… what we are eating is very limited for this time, so I get to try to come up with new and exciting ways to mix up our food.  Some of my most creative, and most delicious cooking has happened in the last couple of weeks.  Been researching tons, exploring tons of blogs and cookbooks, talking to friends who don’t eat grains, and just trying new things in the kitchen.  Yesterday was no exception.  I read and re-read 3 different curry recipes, then put the cookbooks away (well, shut the computer off), and went to work on our chicken curry lunch without looking at any recipe.  Holy crap.  The result was one of the best things that has come out of my kitchen.  I tasted a lot as I went, added more of this and more of that, and waited til it was just right.  Then, we feasted.  Before my mess was cleaned up, I pretty much immediately re-made it to bring to a friend who needed a hug and a home cooked meal, and that’s when I wrote it all down and refined the recipe.  Friends, go make this.  Seriously.  And don’t worry if you don’t have every exact ingredient.  Trust your gut and taste as you go.  You really can’t go wrong.  Oh, and if you must, serve over rice…. but I highly recommend the cauliflower version.  You won’t be able to tell a difference.  I promise.

chicken and vegetable curry, made with cauliflower %22rice%22... grain free, dairy free, paleo

INGREDIENTS:
(for chicken and vegetables)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3-4 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs organic chicken, diced (you can use breasts or thighs depending on your preference)
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk (Natural Value Organic Coconut Milk), not shaken
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced 
  • 1-2 cups cabbage, shredded (I used purple, green would be great too)
INGREDIENTS:
(for spice blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
INGREDIENTS:
(for cauliflower “rice”)
METHOD:
1.  Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.  Add cubed chicken, and cook until outside is browned and there is no pink on the inside. Drain off any liquid in the pan.
2.  While chicken is cooking, combine ingredients for the spice blend, stir, and set aside.
3.  In your food processor, add garlic, onion, and ginger and pulse until a chunky paste is formed.  About 10 pulses.
4.  Scrape paste from food processor on to chicken, and add peppers, zucchini, and cabbage.
5.  Drop in the other tablespoon of coconut oil, and turn heat onto medium.
6.  Add spice blend, and stir to coat chicken and veggies.
7.  Open both cans of coconut milk, and scoop off the coconut cream which will be at the top of the can, and add to mixture.  It will be solid until heated, at which point it will liquify.  Between both cans, you should have 1-1 1/2 cups of cream.  Discard the water left in the cans, or save for later use.
8.  Simmer for 20 or so minutes, or until veggies are cooked to your liking.
9.  While curry is simmering, take raw cauliflower florets and run through food processor with the grate attachment in place.  You can also throw the florets into the processor and pulse with the blade, but you will get smaller “rice” pieces this way.  Either way is fine.  If you don’t have food processor, you can grate by hand on a cheese grater.  I’ve done it this way in the past.  Doable, but tedious.
10.  Melt butter in another fry pan, over medium heat.  Dump grated cauliflower into pan with butter, add salt and pepper, and fry until tender.  Takes about 5-7 minutes.  Do not over cook.
11.  Serve up a heaping spoonful of “rice”, topped with chicken and veggies, and make sure to spoon some of the sauce on top.  Grain-free, dairy-free, and full of great vegetables and protein!  Come on!  Give it a try!  It is super easy, and you won’t be disappointed.
PS.  I made a vegan version of this for my friend simply by omitting chicken, and cooking “rice” in coconut oil instead of butter.  So there’s that too.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
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Blackberry Bars (grain / gluten / dairy free, paleo)

5 days in to our no grain challenge and we are going strong.  Happy to have dabbled in grain-free cooking and baking over the past year, or this would have been really hard. However, it has been fun and easy.  I’ve had ingredients stocked in my pantry (well, sad excuse for a pantry… more like shoved into my cupboard), and have been easily able to serve up 3 meals a day (plus a lunch to send with husband to work) and have literally avoided all grains.  Too early to report any changes, but so far we feel great.  These bars can be easily made Paleo if you sub the milk for coconut milk or almond milk.  On to the berry bars.

I froze a bunch or organic berries from the farmer’s market this summer.  And boy, am I glad I did.  Those blackberries were perfect in these bars.  Although, you could use another berry, fresh or frozen.  Or a combo of berries.  Easy, super yummy, and grain-free. Even if you eat grains, give this one a try.  Coconut flour is really healthy for you, and you might be surprised how you feel after a protein filled breakfast instead of a carb filled one. Give em a try!

grain free black berry bars

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 cup Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 bananas, smashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup blackberries (or other berry of your choice)
METHOD:
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 8×8 baking pan with coconut oil, set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients (coconut flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt).  Stir (or mix on low speed) to combine.
3.  Add in wet ingredients (honey, smashed bananas, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, milk).  Stir (or mix on medium speed) until thoroughly combined.
4.  Fold in berries, and scoop into greased baking pan.  This batter is similar in texture to cookie dough, so it won’t pour.  And once you scoop or spoon it in, press down a bit with your spatula so that it is evenly distributed.
5.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden.  Wait until completely cool to cut.  Serve with pastured butter, honey, or jam.  Enjoy!
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from What Runs Lori.
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Coconut Banana Meltaway Cookies

I was at a friend’s house a few weeks ago and she had these delicious banana coconut balls that she got from Whole Foods, I believe. They reminded me of the Coconut-Lemon Meltaways I have made before.  I checked out the ingredients on the package, and they were pretty much the same plus or minus a few things, so I wondered if I could replicate it using bananas instead of lemon. I liked the lemon ones a lot, but banana anything is always going to be my favorite. They turned out really well, and they made the house smell fantastic as they baked. I love their texture. They are light, fluffy, and perfectly moist.  I altered the original recipe and cut the sweetener in half, as bananas are plenty sweet and really don’t need a lot of added sweetener. I used raw honey, but these would be great with maple syrup, too. This was a tasty treat for the kiddos and they gave it their seal of approval.

coconut banana meltaway cookie

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 big pinches of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil
 METHOD:
1. Pre-heat oven to 250F.
2. Mix dry ingredients together and pour in the bowl of your mixer.
3. Mix honey, vanilla and mashed bananas together in a separate bowl and slowly add to the dry ingredients with the mixer on.
4. Once the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, slowly stream in the melted coconut oil. Your mixture will thicken once the oil is added.
5. Form your balls on parchment lined baking sheets. I yielded about 20, but could’ve made my balls much smaller to yield more. Let them bake until they start turning a golden shade,  about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them too brown though or they will be dry.
6. Enjoy!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Addicted to Veggies.

Coconut + Oat Breakfast Cookie (with dates, chocolate chips, pecans, + sunflower seeds)

My whole house is sick.  And when my kids are sick they don’t eat like they normally do.  Baby boy didn’t really eat dinner last night, or breakfast today, so I set out to make something full of good stuff for him, but that I knew he would eat.  And my boy will eat chocolate.  So I whipped up some “cookies” for him this morning, and he ate them.  Success.  They aren’t sweet, except for the chopped dates and the chocolate.  And they are full of goodness.  Protein.  Good fats.  And more protein.  Also chocolate.  I hope you guys like them as much as we do.  Feel free to make them, and eat them, even if you aren’t sick.

coconut and oat breakfast cookie

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (I use an organic, 85% dark Theo Chocolate Bar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
METHOD:
1.  Combine oats, almond flour, coconut, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in large bowl.
2.  Add dates, pecans, sunflower seeds, and chocolate.  Stir until combine, taking care to make sure dates are spread evenly throughout and not clumped together.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla.
4.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.
5.  On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, press mixture into medium-sized cookie cutter, then press out mixture and remove cutter.  My cutter is about 2″ in diameter, and about 1″ in depth.  Repeat until all mixture is gone.  Mine made 20 cookies.
6.  Bake in 350 F oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.  Eat.  Enjoy.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.