Friday, October 24, 2014

Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola

I have a complicated relationship with granola. I love making it and eating it. Way too much. So really I should NEVER make it, because it's one of those foods for which I have trouble setting limits. But then I love it so much I always want to try out new variations to share.

So I made this and it was so good that I promptly told the cave man to hide it. I did some serious damage just picking it off the baking sheet! Since I'm a granola addict and love all things pumpkin, clearly this was a potentially dangerous concoction to create.

Naturally I had to share the results ;)

You can use any combination of grain-free options for the bulk of the granola. I was out of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or would have definitely included them. Instead I went with pecan pieces, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes and almond meal. I stirred in some juice-sweetened cranberries after baking.

I also used a combination of palm sugar and honey for sweetness; I love the combination of the two, but either would work alone as would maple syrup.

Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Granola 

4 cups total of any combination of the following:
chopped nuts, seeds, shredded or flaked coconut, almond meal, ground flax, hulled hemp hearts
1 tbs. pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbs. coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin
1/2 cup total natural sweetener (I used palm sugar & raw honey)
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 250. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Either microwave or heat on the stovetop (over low heat) the oil, pumpkin, sweetener and vanilla. This will allow the oil to melt and make the pumpkin easier to mix in.

Mix liquid ingredients into dry ones in bowl. Stir in egg white. Spread mixture out onto a greased or Silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes. Flip granola over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Allow to sit and cool on sheet to crisp up. If you'd like to include dried fruit or dairy-free chocolate chips, I suggest adding them after the mixture has cooled.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Paleo Sausage & Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash

So I kind of have this obsession with squash. I love it this time of year, from soup to roasted in salad. Sadly, my enthusiasm isn't shared by ANYONE else in this household. Other than pumpkin I can't say I have much success in presenting autumnal gourds of any kind to my brood.

My compromise? Stuffed squash. I eat the whole thing, and the cave man and my kids can eat the stuffing and leave the sad, lonely squash carcass behind.

This recipe is very similar to the stuffed delicata squash I made last fall, but this time around I added some apple for crunch and sweetness and omitted the bacon on top. I also used a little palm sugar on the squash to caramelize it a bit when it roasted before being stuffed.

Paleo Sausage & Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
2 tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. palm sugar
salt & cinnamon
1 lb. apple and chicken sausage
1 medium chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
3 stalks chopped celery
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 medium apple, diced
1/4 cup raw chopped pecans
2 tbs. juice-sweetened dried cranberries
fresh herbs, chopped (I used about 1/4 cup chopped sage and thyme)
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup almond meal
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 400. Melt coconut oil and mix with palm sugar and some salt and pepper. Spread this mixture over cut portion of squash. Place on a foil-lined and rimmed baking sheet (cut side up). Bake for 45 minutes and remove from oven.

While squash is roasting, remove sausage from casing and cook in a large skillet until brown. Remove from skillet and add onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Add apple to mixture and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Return sausage to skillet and add pecans and cranberries. Season with fresh chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in beaten eggs and almond meal.

Divide sausage and vegetable mixture between the squash. Cover with foil. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Egg-Free Paleo Almond Butter Bites

My goal when crafted these healthy goodies for my family nutrition business was to come up with a snack totally sweetened with dates. I create recipes for many with allergies, so wanted to keep them not only grain and dairy-free, but eggless as well.

I didn't quite know what to call the results, as they're a little denser than a muffin (yet I baked them up in mini muffin cups). I think they'd also work well baked in a single pan and cut into bars, so I decided to term them "bites."

If you don't have issues with egg, simply omit the ground flax and water and replace with a beaten egg. For a nut-free version you could try sunflower seed butter, but then I would skip the baking soda so you don't wind up with green bites!

My kids really liked these, even without the sprinkling of Enjoy Life chips I scatted on a couple. They have the perfect amount of sweetness and have a nice texture.

Egg-Free Paleo Almond Butter Bites

3/4 cup Medjool dates (pitted)
1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1 tbs. ground flax mixed with 3 tbs. water
1 tbs. melted coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350.

Run dates through food processor until they are pretty well chopped. Add in almond butter and applesauce and process again, scraping down the sides. It will likely take a couple of minutes to really break down the dates and get a smooth result.

Add all remaining ingredients to food processor and mix until smooth.

Divide mixture between greased mini muffin cups, or pour into an 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (if making mini muffins) or 25-30 (for pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.