Carrot Cake Muffins (dairy-free, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo, processed sugar-free)

So two nights ago husband asked me to make 24 muffins for him to bring to work the next day. Which normally is no problem. But this time, he asked at 9pm, just after I got the kitchen all cleaned up and was headed toward bed. I wasn’t about to go to the store, so I had to think quick and whip up something with ingredients on hand. As I was scrolling through my muffin recipes, I remembered these gems. And miraculously had all the ingredients.  I’ve probably made these 15 times in the past, and am not sure why I haven’t posted them yet. They are one of my very favorite, if not my absolute favorite grain-free baked item. Actually, that’s a lie.  This chocolate lava cake surpasses all, but these carrot guys are a distant close second.  They are slightly time-consuming. Not difficult, but just lots of steps. I think it will be worth your efforts however – they are delicious. Allegedly, husband’s coworkers scarfed those muffins down and had no idea they didn’t contain flour, sugar, or vegetable oil.  Gross.   PS, if you are wondering why we use the ingredients we do, read here. And lastly, I think I’ve finally found the best white frosting recipe on the earth without using powdered sugar or dairy. So while you are at it, make this (dairy-free, processed sugar-free, vegan) frosting too and spread it on your muffins!  Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins (dairy-free, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo, processed sugar-free)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup pureed dates (if your dates are too dry to puree on their own, let them soak in hot water for 10 minutes, drain off water, and then puree in food processor)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
METHOD:
1.  Preheat oven to 325F.
2.  Get all your ingredients ready – shred carrots (in food processor or with a cheese grater), puree dates, and chop pecans.
3.  Combine dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking soda and spices) in a large bowl and set aside.
4.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs and melted coconut oil.
5.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir to combine.
6.  Mix in pureed dates and carrots.
7.  Fold in pecans.
8.  Divide evenly among 12 muffin liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle of muffin comes out clean.
9.  Allow to cool completely, then top with this frosting!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from The Cupcake Project.
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Peanut Butter Bars (similiar to Lara Bars, sweetened with dates)

A new flavor to add to Erin’s Fruit and Nut Bar post! These were so delicious and reminded me of peanut butter fudge. Yum, yum, yum. I made these for Jonah’s kindergarten class this week and am hoping they were enjoyed by everyone! Super easy to make and only 4 ingredients.

peanut butter bars, similiar to lara bars. sweetened with dates



INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 16 pitted dates
 METHOD:
1. Put all ingredients in the food processor.
2. Process until combined and all ingredients are sticking together. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water slowly while the processor is running to get your ingredients to stick a bit better.
3. Dump mixture on to a piece of parchment paper and flatten it with your hands to make a large square or rectangle. I flattened mine out by pressing my wooden cutting board on top of it and then stuck the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Cut your bars after they have chilled in the fridge.
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or individually wrap each bar and keep in the fridge.
Makes about 24 small bars.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

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.

Fruit and Nut Bars (similiar to Lara Bars)

Gonna keep this one short and sweet…. These bars are easy to make, delicious, customizable, and cheaper than the most similar type of store-bought bars – Lara Bars.  I just made 44 bars, and I am estimating they cost me between 45 and 50 cents each.  At Costco, where I usually buy Lara Bars, I pay $15 for 18 bars.  18 of these homemade bars would only cost me $9!  One thing that drives me crazy about buying Lara Bars is that at Costco I don’t get to pick my flavors, but at the grocery store where I can choose which ones I want, they run almost $2 per bar.  This is definitely going to be my new go-to recipe for bars.  I love that they are sweetened only with dates, and have lots of nutritious things in them.  Both my kids will eat these babies.  And as Evan and I try new flavor combinations, we will update you all!

INGREDIENTS:
(Apricot Bars)
  • 3/4 raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened apricots
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted
INGREDIENTS:
(Coconut Cherry Bars)
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
METHOD:
1.  For both recipes, you are going to follow the same procedure.  Put nuts and sea salt into your food processor, and process until nuts are finely chopped (but with some variation in size still).  Pour into bowl and set aside.
2.  Process dried fruits (either dates / apricots or dates / cherries) until a paste forms in your food processor.  Mine ended up turning into a big, messy ball when it was finished.
3.  Add your fruit mix to your nut mix, and knead with your hands until well combined.  If you are making the coconut-cherry bars, go ahead and add the coconut to the mixing bowl, and knead until combined.  (The extra dates in the coconut bars where enough for me to get the mixture to stick together with the addition of coconut, but if you are struggling, add a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil).
4.  Roll the mixture out to desired thickness on coconut oil greased surface.  Cut to desired size.  Mine are about 1/4″ thick, and on the smaller size – but I did that intentionally because my nuggets don’t usually finish a whole Lara Bar anyways.
5.  Each recipe yields about 20 bars, depending on the size of your bars.  I store mine between layers of parchment, in the refrigerator.  They seem to hold together a bit better when chilled.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Everyday Paleo.

Pecan + Cocoa Truffles (sweetened with dates)

This is the first product of my shiny new food processor! I have been waiting not-so- patiently for one for a really long time. Husband finally said, “Why don’t you just get one?” So I did. And it’s fabulous. It chopped these pecans and dates up so quickly and effortlessly I couldn’t even believe it.

This recipe feels like a very special treat. Dates are kind of magical, I think. They trick your head and your tastes buds into thinking you’re eating sugar, but it is a natural sweetener. I think my kids thought the same thing, they gobbled them up. You could totally play with this recipe and use different kinds of nuts in place of pecans, you could roll the finished product in toasted unsweetened coconut or raw coconut (I went with raw), or a dusting of cacao, or crushed nuts, or granola   Possibilities are endless. Whatever you do, promise you’ll come back and let me know how they were and what you tried!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup dried pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened powdered 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons water, as needed
  • Optional: Unsweetened coconut (either plain or toasted) for coating the outside of the balls
METHOD:
1. Heat butter in a skillet over medium low heat and add pecans and honey to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned, being super careful not to burn the pecans, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Add pecans, dates, cacao, and vanilla to a food processor and pulse until the dates and pecans stick together, add water to help them blend and stick together.  A little trick we have found helps when blending dates:  soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes, then add them to your food processor.  You can use your soaking water to add to the truffle mixture as well.
3. Now you are ready to form into balls with your hands. I poured some unsweetened coconut flakes into a bowl and rolled some of mine around in the coconut and left some of them plain. You could also roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or granola.
4. Enjoy this delicious sweet treat! Store in the refrigerator. We didn’t have any to store – they went so fast! Made about 18 balls.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.

Paleo Banana Muffins

My super awesome Crossfit coach, Megan, sent me the original recipe for this banana bread.  And, I have made (and eaten) sooooo many of these in the last few months… Speaking of Crossfit, remember when I was only posting (and drinking) whiskey recipes (like this and this) because my dislocated rib hurt so bad?  Well, it is all better.  Finally. Only took 6 weeks. Did the same lift this week that I injured myself on, and had no pain. So I added 10 lbs and did it again.  Ha.  Take that rib.

Ok sorry, back to what you really care about.  Don’t let the title of these muffins scare you away from trying them, even if you aren’t a paleo enthusiast.  It basically just means that they are dairy-free and grain-free.  BUT, these muffins could hold their own up against any “traditional” banana bread recipe – both in taste and texture.  To make them even better, there is no added sugar.  Just the natural sugar from the bananas and the handful of dates blended up in these make them plenty sweet.  Think of it as a little adventure in baking. Learn to use these alternative flours.  You might be surprised at just how delicious these are, even though they aren’t your typical banana muffins.  Oh, also – I double this recipe every time I make them because these freeze beauitfully.  And I loooooove having a good paleo muffin to go with my eggs in the morning when I don’t feel like cooking up a protein.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes, for topping
METHOD:
1.  In your food processor, process dates and warm water until fully blended.  Can I just tell you how happy I am to have a food processor and not do this step in my magic bullet? After writing that sentence, I literally stopped to go throw the bullet out. Good riddence.
2.  Add the bananas and vanilla, and process until well combined.
3.  Add eggs and process until just combined.  Pour in coconut oil, process one last time to incorporate.
4.  In a seperate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.
5.  Pour wet into dry, and stir until full combined.  Batter should not be super runny.  I sometimes find that the longer I stir recipes with almond flour, the more it thickens.  So grab that wooden spoon and give it a good, hearty stir.
6.  Spoon batter into a paper or silicone lined muffin tin.  (You could totally make a loaf of bread too, you would just have to cook longer – 45-50 minutes). Sprinkle coconut flakes on top.  And bake in a 350 F oven for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7.  Break one in half, slap some pastured butter on top, and consume.  Just kidding, you don’t have to do that.  You could wait for them to cool.  Or save them for later. But if I were you, I’d eat at least one right out of the oven.  Duh.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Frisky Lemon.

Chicken with Shallots, Dates, + Rosemary

I’ve literally made this chicken 15 times, and each time I make it I swear it tastes better and better.  Something about this flavor combination is amazing.  Also, I haven’t changed a single thing from the original recipe, so I can take no credit for its deliciousness.  Thanks to this lady, and her awesome food I’ve found a lot of amazing recipes.  And she is hilarious.  And she CrossFits.  Check out her website.  It will be well worth your time.  And go make this chicken!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 7 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
METHOD:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 and line a large oven safe dish with parchment paper.
2.  Place organic chicken breasts on parchment paper and evenly top with rosemary, shallots, and dates.
3.  Combine olive oil, balsamic, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken.
4.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Recipe taken from Paleomg.