Flourless Chocolate Cake

The only two claims this cake has to a health food are that it is gluten free, and it will make you happy. I’m convinced happiness is part of good health.

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I made this cake for a class I hosted at my home: Intro to Essential Oils. The cake got almost as many rave reviews as the class. 🙂

Ten days later, I was hosting another class, this time teaching. Of course I made the same fabulous dessert.

Here’s the recipe:

Preheat oven to 300 and oil a 10 inch spring form pan.

Heat in saucepan on stove until melted, then set aside:
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup organic unbleached sugar

Melt over double boiler:
2 packages (5.5 oz each) dark chocolate, Belgian (from Trader Joe’s)
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s

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Transfer melted chocolate into a mixer bowl. Use beaters on low speed to blend in:

1 cup unsalted organic butter, cut up and added in piece at a time. Blend in sugar/water mixture. Add one at a time:

6 eggs (I used 5 duck eggs)

Pour into pan. Bake at 300 for 45 minutes. The center will look wet. Allow to cool some before transferring to the refrigerator overnight.

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To serve, I just removed the sides of the pan and placed the bottom of the pan on a cake plate. I sprinkle with a lovely flaky finishing salt, and a side of whipped cream with 3 drops of pure peppermint essential oil. Enjoy!

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Almond Caramel/Brittle

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My kids raced their Awana Derby Cars tonight at the annual Grand Prix. Lots of fun! When my husband turned to me afterward and suggested celebratory ice cream, I was glad I had almond caramel bars waiting at home instead.

I haven’t been doing so well at staying perfectly on SCD. It always seems to be some “special occasion” where I indulge…but special occasions seem to come so often. I never eat gluten, but those grains, like corn chips, are so tempting to me, and I notice that I can feel it in my gut for a few days afterward. I must not be totally healed, and I know I need to focus on being grain free, as well as a concerted effort on sugar and lactose free, for the time being.

Anyway, we came home and enjoyed these:

Almond Caramel
1 stick butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup sliced almonds
Put it in a saucepan, melt over medium heat, simmer for 7 minutes while stirring, pour into a greased 5×8 glass pan, cool in fridge. Cut and serve when firm.

How easy is that? About as easy as making jello, right? That’s why this is my new favorite treat.

Today I used unsalted butter, so I added about 1/4 salt.

Brittle
I made this once, forgot to set the timer, so I kept stirring and watching it, and then I saw it change color to brown. I took it off the heat ASAP, but it had changed from caramel to brittle. Still super yummy, but if you plan it as brittle, I would recommend pouring it onto a piece of parchment paper, as it’s a little hard to chip out of the pan.

Why The Butter?

Q:

I have found your posts on the detox to be quite interesting, and have been reading through them all. But when I came to today’s post about sticking a slab of butter in B’s mouth and telling him to suck on it, I just had to ask…what is with all of the butter? I get using it in moderation, but you seem to be using quite a lot of it…and I have never heard of someone giving it to a child to suck on!! I would love to be enlightened :) ~Joy

A:

Great question, Joy! Butterfat is really good for the brain, especially the brains of developing children, and because it is satiating, slowly absorbed, and has the highest calorie concentration of all foods, is great in a sugar-low situation. I knew If I stuffed scrambled eggs in Brother’s mouth he’d spit them out or gag…but butter just melts in. You can read more about butter, and why quality is important, in my post here: http://cleangreenstart.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/organic-diet-step-1-oils-and-fats/

Besides working as a catalyst for vitamins A, D, E and K, butter has several healing and immune boosting properties. For adults who are watching their weight, butter may be something to use only in moderation. For persons who are healing and for children, I use it liberally!

Here is a picture of my 18 month old helping himself to the butter in our home, about two weeks ago. Although he’s not really allowed to help himself (messy!), my kids know that a slab of butter is a viable snack around our place, and I often pop slabs in everyone’s mouth when they have the hungry-for-dinner-but-dinner’s-not-ready munchies/grumpies. My children are not at all overweight, and are about the healthiest kids I know, including tooth/bone formation. They are also the smartest kids I know (OK, I’ve obviously crossed the line into mother-dillusion/bragging). I’m grateful to know they are joining the ranks of healthy butter eaters everywhere!

Organic Diet Step 2: Dairy

Not everyone can tolerate dairy products, but for those who can, it is a rich source of minerals, protein, and healthy saturated fats IF sourced from healthy animals. Some people groups in Africa thrive on a diet made up nearly entirely of raw milk from their herds.

Clean Starts

  • Change from conventional milk to organic milk. Skim, 1% and 2% milks have thickeners added to them; opt out by choosing whole milk. Homogenization has been linked to arterial plaque; opt out by choosing unhomogenized. Your choice to skim the cream for your coffee, or shake the whole jug before pouring. Raw milk (unpasteurized) from pastured (grassfed) animals is the BEST milk, as it is richest in minerals, enzymes and probiotics. Dungeness Valley Creamery supplies this delicious cow milk to WA state; if you prefer goat milk, search for a local source.
  • Change from conventional yogurt, cottage cheese, and kefir, to organic products, or make your own from raw/organic/pastured milk.
  • Change from conventional butter, sour cream, and cream to organic butter, sour cream, and cream. Conventional butter was listed on a recent “top ten most toxic foods” list, which is not surprising since so many of todays petrochemical toxins settle in the fats of animals. Yet organic butters and cream have been highly revered by healthy indigenous people groups for their health giving properties.
  • Change from conventional cheese to raw, organic cheese, if you can find it (see notes about raw milk below).
  • Change from “soy dairy” products (soy milk, soy protein) to almond, hemp, hazelnut, or rice milks (hemp having the best nutrition, and it’s delicious) if cow/goat dairy is not tolerated. Organic coconut oil can be used in place of butter for those with a dairy allergy. See note below on why I avoid soy.
  • If lactose intolerance is the reason you avoid dairy products, try culturing your own yogurt from organic milk. When you use a 24 hours process to culture the yogurt (or kefir if desired), nearly no lactose is present at the end of the process. Making yogurt and kefir is not difficult; find directions here. The long culturing process yields a very sour “European” flavor, which can be sweetened if you desire with jams, maple syrup, or honey. I have found that fresh goat milk loses its “goaty” aftertaste when cultured this long. The same process for 24 hour yogurt can be done with whipping cream for amazingly delicious Creme Fraiche.

Some people find that they can tolerate goat and sheep milk products if cow products bother them. Others find that raw milk (unpasturized) is tolerated as it has all the enzymes and probiotics intact to aid in digestion. In addition, high heat pasteurization appears to damage the protein molecule in milk. (The stable saturated fats in cream/butter seem to hold up better to heat than the protein in the milk, making pasteurized butter/cream still a great choice.)

Worried about contamination? Studies which purposefully introduced pathogenic bacteria into raw milk (still “living” with enzymes, probiotics, and immune factors) show that the milk protects itself by destroying pathogenic bacteria. Conversely, pasturized (“dead”) milk no longer carries this protection; hundreds are made sick on pasturized milk annually in the US. Once milk is cultured (into cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) this risk is lowered by the competing bacteria of the culture. Certified Raw dairies undergo far stricter testing of products than conventional dairies.

Buying Tips

Trader Joes has the best prices around (by far) for a full range of organic dairy products. I buy butter, cream, sour cream, and cottage cheese there. They also have a stunning selection of cheeses, most at fabulous prices. I sometimes buy the Grassfed Cheddar (New Zealand), and sometimes the Raw Cheddar. We also love the Cotswold cheese from England (which is neither organic, or raw, but you can taste the richness of the milk which makes me confident the cows are grazing grass). The Shredded Parmesan cheese (in a bag) is a raw cheese (and high in absorbable calcium); and excellent choice.

I make my own kefir from Dungeness Valley raw milk, which we drink on occasion as well, when I’m not making it into pudding, ice cream, etc.

Goat milk is best fresh (for flavor), so I don’t really recommend buying it from Trader Joes, although if that is your only option (say for a toddler who can’t tolerate cow milk) I would certainly recommend it over any “milk substitute”. Best to find a local dairy for raw milk (as I have), or if you are inclined, buy a goat as a pet which actually contributes to the family table!

If you have to use dairy substitutes, hemp milk is cheaper when you buy a case through a co-op; this option may be available at your health food store. You can make your own rice milk really cheap (and pretty easy) using this Rice Milk Recipe.

The Why

Conventional dairy products in the US come from “factory farmed” cows, which may or may not ever see a pasture, but most certainly dine on soy and corn based feed laced with pesticides, antibiotics, and by-products from slaughter houses. In some states, farms are allowed to inject the cows with growth hormones with cause them to produce more milk, which wears out the cow and results in fewer productive years (but at heavier production) before going to the slaughterhouse herself. (This is not allowed in OR or WA.) Since the food she receives (grain based) is such a poor diet for her, she is likely to be sick often, and treated with antibiotics. You can bet that all the toxins going into her make their way into her milk, and the butter, cheese, yogurt, and other products made from it.

Conventional soy is one of the most pesticide laden crops in the US, and even organic soy can hardly boast a health claim as soy is an endocrine disruptor (mimics estrogen in the body). There are tons of “studies” done to show the “health benefits” of soy. Guess who pays for these studies, and their publicity? The Soy Industry. Lesser known studies link soy formulas to early puberty in girls, delayed or decreased fertility in boys, and doubling of diabetes risk for all children. I avoid it like the plague (except fermented soy products used in traditionally small amounts, such as Tamari).

Is Organic Certification Necessary?

Although USDA Organic certification brings with it peace of mind for the consumer, there is a cost to the farmer (passed on to the consumer) for this rubber stamp. You may be able to find a local dairy which can demonstrate to you the health and humane treatment of their animals, and quality of their product so that you don’t need the label to feel good about using their products. Especially important is to inquire about the feed of their animals; even a cow fed 100% organic grain but kept in the feedlot will not be as healthy as the cow allowed to graze on green grasses.

Butter Review

“Mmm . . . butter is the most yummy thing to eat!” said my seven year old daughter as we enjoyed pats of butter and peanut butter on crackers.

It’s not only yummy, it’s good for you (assuming you aren’t eating it with enough sugars/starches to begin gaining weight). Butter is an excellent saturated fat for absorbing and utilizing the important vitamins A, D, and E, which are too often lacking in the western diet, as well as metabolizing the calcium and other minerals in our diets.

However, there’s a big difference in the quality of butters.

Here are two different colors of yellow butter. The one on the left is Kerrygold, which comes from cows in Ireland which graze on green grass. It is always yellow, and is cultured with probiotics during the butter making process. The one of the right is Trader Joes Sweet Cream butter; it is nearly white compared to the Kerrygold.

Here is a photo (mobile download from a friend; thanks Stephanie of beeyoutiful.com) of homemade butter (left) from fresh raw milk from cows eating the quickly growing green grass of spring, and a stick of Costco butter (right). This photo is not doctored; I’ve seen and tasted butter this yellow. It’s an indicator of the high levels of vitamins in the butter.

About a hundred years ago, Weston A. Price traveled the world to find the healthiest peoples. He discovered some astounding truths of optimal health, one of which was that cows and other dairy animals give nourishing milks when they are fed their natural diets of green grass. Cows kept in stalls in the city, and fed hay and grains, gave milk products which did not produce the excellent health, stature, and dentition in the people who drank it in comparison with the people drinking the milk from grass fed cows. (Whew! Did you catch that? It even confused me, and I wrote it. Bottom line: grass-fed milk=healthy people, grain-fed milk=not-as-healthy people.)

Here are two excellent brands of cultured butter (probiotics used in the butter making process). Little difference can be seen in the butter color, although there is a slight difference in flavor. Both are from pastured cows, which gives the yellow color, although not as bright as the spring butter. Both are from pasturized milk; the Organic Valley brand is unsalted. I found it interesting that these cultured butters were easy to cut with a butter knife, even straight out of the fridge, not rock hard like conventional butter. Both taste fabulous.

I purchase the “conventional” butter from Trader Joes (top picture, right side) to use when baking things for potluck or other groups where nobody cares a whit about the butter quality so I can stretched my grocery dollars further. This way, I can purchase Kerrygold for spreading on bread and vegetables at home.

I also regularly purchase Trader Joes Organic Butter, which is a little cheaper than the Kerrygold, and I purchase it for baking and frying at home. It is not cultured with probiotics, but does have a similar color to the Kerrygold most of the year. However, as I understand that Trader Joes uses a number of local vendors around the nation for their fresh products, their organic butter in your are may not be this yellow (indicating that it is not delivering vitamin A in good amounts).

Kerrygold runs around $2.69 for a half pound at Trader Joes (more elsewhere)
Organic Valley runs about $5.50 a pound at my local Fred Meyer
Trader Joes Organic runs about $4.79 a pound at Trader Joes
Trader Joes (Conventional) Sweet Cream Butter runs about $2.99 a pound at Trader Joes

Butter is an excellent choice in baking and frying (along with virgin coconut and palm oils, and beef or duck fat) since the saturated fats are so stable and will not be damaged into a trans fat form.

Cookie Exchange: The Perfect [GF] Chocolate Chip Cookie

Are you ready for this one? A perfect (as in the real deal) Chocolate Chip Cookie, in GF form.

It’s taken me awhile to attempt this classic. I made it today for a Christmas Party/Desert, and I knew I’d succeeded when I heard those words from a surprised guest:

They’re gluten-free? But they are so good . . . I would never have known.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whisk together:
2/3 C. brown rice flour
2/3 C. sorghum flour
1 and 1/3 C. tapioca flour
3/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, cream:
1 cup organic butter, softened* (see note below)
3/4 C. packed organic brown sugar
3/4 C. organic granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg

Add half of flour mixture to wet mixture, work in with beaters, then work in the rest of the flour. Add:

1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet (I use my baking stones). Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or when you begin to see the edges browning. Remove from oven and let stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to racks to cool.

Yields 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you like ’em. (I make mine like prizes: 3 dozen is all I got out of one batch.)

* The key to perfect cookies is to have butter at the right temperature. Leaving butter on the counter for about an hour will cause the butter to be soft enough to cream yet firm enough to hold the cookie in shape while it bakes. Melted butter is a disaster: flat cookies. Cold butter won’t cream.

Fantastic (Gluten Free) Pie Crust

Just made this pie crust for Thanksgiving; used it for a single crust pumpkin pie, and a two crust peach pie. It was so fantastic my mother preferred it to her white flour pie crust.

Fantastic (Gluten Free) Pie Crust
(adapted from a recipe by Jo Ella Sellers)

In a medium size bowl, whisk together:

 

Cut in until the size of beans:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup beef tallow, duck fat, or lard

 

Beat the egg using a fork, then add with the vinegar and ice water:

Stir into the flour mixture, forming a ball. You may kneed this a bit, since this dough can stand handling. Wrap the dough in seran and refrigerate for 1 hour or more to chill. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, which will each be a pie crust. Roll with a little sweet rice flour between two pieces of seran. It is easier if you have a small rolling pin. Remove the top layer of seran, invert into the pie plate, then remove the remaining seran. Crimp edges, and bake as the pie recipe directs. (I did not prebake before pouring in the pumpkin pie filling and baking.)

For a baked crust, prick the pastry with a fork on the sides and bottom. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 10 minutes, or until slightly browned. Cool before filling.

Makes enough pastry for two 9 inch pie shells, or one two crust pie.

Baking Sucess: Date Nut Bread

Mmm . . . my family’s traditional holiday bread, in a gluten free, cane sugar free version. It’s just as yummy as the original.

Date Nut Bread

1 and 1/2 cups dates (pieces rolled in oat flour)
2 and 1/4 cups boiling water
1 TBS soda
Cover dates and soda with boiling water; set 30 minutes.

1 and 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 and 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups sorgum flour
1 TBS xanthan gum
Whisk flours and xanthan together with a wire whisk.

3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup xylitol (if you don’t have xylitol, you can substitute another 1/4 cup maple syrup)
3 TBS butter
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
Cream sweeteners, butter, eggs, vanilla and salt. Add part of date mixture, then alternate between flour and date mixture until it is all incorporated.

Then add:
1 cup chopped walnuts, preferably soaked and dried

Pour into well greased loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees. For smaller pans (mini) bake about 1 hour, and larger (normal loaf size) pans about 1 hour 20 minutes. After removing pans from oven, allow to set about 5 minutes before turning onto a baking rack to cool. When cool, wrap in food wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. It is delicious served with either cream cheese or butter.

This batch was my remake. Want to read about my first batch, and see what happens if you bake the larger pans for only an hour? See Baking Failure: Holiday Bread. It’s not pretty. 🙂

Good Fat Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie to Die For (Gluten Free!)

I just made the most fantastic, tender yet crisp-edged and crumbly, peanut butter cookies. They are gluten free. They also have good fats. (And they do have sugar in them, so they are a “once in a while” treat.)

OK, so fat has a bad reputation, but the healthiest peoples of all time have savored fats and oils. We all need a balance of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. The difference between good fats and bad fats is the processing.

  • boiled and bleached coconut oil: bad
    VS.
    virgin unrefined coconut oil: good
  • butter from stall kept/medicated cows: bad
    VS.
    butter from grass fed healthy cows: good
  • Olive oil from sprayed fruit, heated process: bad
    VS.
    organic cold pressed olive oil: good

And of course, your kitchen is the final process: if you heat your oil above what it can handle, it quickly becomes a toxic fat. To read more about fats, check out this article on the Weston A. Price site: The Skinny on Fats.

So, give me the peanut butter cookie recipe already, right? OK, here it is:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Preheat convection oven to 320 degrees, or set it at 345 degrees if your oven is like mine and automatically heats the oven 25 degrees less when in convection mode. Why 320? Peanut oil should not be heated above this temperature.

In medium bowl, mix together:
1 cup organic sugar
1 TB molasses (or decrease sugar to 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and omit molasses)
1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1 stick organic butter, at room temperature (or 1/2 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and over-measure the salt)
1 large pastured egg

In separate bowl, whisk together, then add to wet ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (see below)
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum, heaping
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. baking powder, non-aluminum
1/4 tsp. unrefined fine salt, such as RealSalt

When fully mixed, spoon out tablespoon sized pieces of dough, and roll in the palms of hands just until round (don’t handle too much or they begin to melt). Then roll tops in:

extra organic sugar for rolling

Two happy cookie-rolling helpers!

Place sugar side up on a baking stone. Use a fork to press a criss-cross pattern in the tops. The whole roll/ sugar/fork process is really fun for kids to help with!

Place full stone in your oven. Again, the oven should be 320 degrees and blowing, for an “equivalent” temperature of 345. This will not actually damage the peanut oil, but will allow the cookies to bake correctly. Leave them in for 10-12 minutes, or until you can see the edges starting to turn golden. Remove from oven, and leave on baking stone/tray for at least 5 minutes, until they have set, then move to cooling racks.

Makes approximately 30 cookies. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold, fresh, raw milk!

Bronwyn’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

1 part organic brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca flour

Xanthan Gum is required in all recipes with this flour, and should be whisked in prior to adding the flour to other ingredients. Here are the amounts needed for different types of baked goods.

Add per cup of All Purpose Flour used:
1/4 tsp. for cookies
1/2 tsp. for cakes
3/4 tsp. for muffins and quick breads
1-1 and 1/2 tsp. for breads
2 tsp. for pizza crust

I am linking to linky parties at theinspiredroom and at FunkyJunkInteriors.