A Quick & Easy Snack (Paleo, Vegan)

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One question Corn Allergics often have is: “What is a quick snack I can have?”  This is a great question which poses difficulty because of course we cannot usually just pick up a packaged snack at a local grocery store like most people can. We also almost always need to make our snacks from scratch.

Okay, we’ve identified the difficulty, now for an easy and relatively quick solution that even the kiddos will enjoy.  My trick is to leave the plate out at the little ones’ level and they serve themselves as they become hungry and we avoid the scramble of finding a snack. This is also a good on the go snack, simply allow to cool and place in a container.

While this snack does include nuts, seeds can be used too.  In the photo above, I used pecans, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds. Pepitas and sesame seeds would also work as would other nuts. I have to confess that the smell of the cashews as they roast trigger a memory of stovetop popped popcorn…I know, I know popcorn is a no-go, but with this trick I am safely able to enjoy a childhood comfort food vicariously AND not only is it more nutritious, I don’t get the dreaded “corned rash”.

I have tried adding spices to the recipe, but I advise against it as they turn brown/black and aren’t so tasty. I would avoid added sweeteners as the cashew’s sweetness is enriched and stands when roasted.

This recipe does not include amounts as it comes down to preference of ingredients as well as desired quantity, so play around with what works for you, enjoy, and let me know your favorite combination(s) in a comment below.

Ingredients
nuts & / or seeds (safe for you)
Avocado oil (or coconut oil)
Sea salt

Method
Select nuts & / or seeds you will use. Warm oil in a saucepan (about 10 inch). Place nuts (seeds) in saucepan. Season with sea salt if using. Stir somewhat frequently so as to not burn. When you begin to smell the nuts, be more vigilant & know they are almost ready. Remove from heat when desired “roast” is reached. Allow to cool & enjoy.

Easy Peasy Energy Balls

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A plastic part of my Cuisinart food processor broke two days ago leaving this Corn-Free Hippie sad because, along with my Blendtec, it gets used at least once daily. So what happens when a food processor-less CF Hippie has a craving for an energy ball? She finds her small Ninja food processor tucked away in a kitchen corner and tosses some yummy sounding ingredients together while crossing her fingers that the balls come out somewhat smooth.

And the results? An energy ball with some chunky seeds that is delicious and gains the approval of the Mini-Foodies as well as Baby-Foodie who requests them with a signature point and grunt.

This recipe is one that doesn’t have to be exact for it to come out tasting great. The key is to keep the date (and raisin, if using) to almond/sunflower seeds ratio equal so that the fruit is sticky brining the nuts and seeds together. What is great about these energy balls is that they work without soaking the dates.

Ingredients
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted or a date & raisin combo
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/8-1/4 cup chia seeds
1/8-1/4 cup hemp seeds
1-2 Tbsp coconut oil

Method
Place all ingredients in a food processor adding 1 Tbsp coconut oil at a time. Pulse until smooth. Adjust amount of  coconut oil as needed. If the dough is not coming together, add a bit of water. To form the balls, take desired amount of dough from the food processor & roll it between your hands. Repeat with remaining dough and enjoy.

Bread Machine Jam with stovetop option (Paleo, Vegan)

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Condiments are one of the first foods Corn Alergics have to either give up or learn to make from safe ingredients. Let’s examine why commercial jams and jellies are a no-go for our community using the ingredients for Smuckers Strawberry Jelly as an example:

“STRAWBERRY JUICE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID.” (Source: https://www.smuckers.com/products/fruit-spreads/jelly/strawberry-jelly-11)

1. HFCS: corn, enough said

2. Corn syrup: ditto

3. Fruit Pectin: while commercial pectin may actually come from a fruit, it is often combined with destrose & citric acid for binding, both of which are often corn-derived. (Source: http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/pickyourown_1?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pickyourown.org%2Fpectin.htm&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com#3065)

4. Citric Acid: while it sounds like it comes from citrus fruit, it is commercial more affordable to use a corn-derived source.

So there you have it 4 out of 5 ingredients are or may be derived from corn. Of course not all jams and jellies have the same recipe, but it is very difficult to find a jam/jelly in the supermarket that is free of pectin. I have found, through my CSA, an artisan producer of jam and marmelade, but the products are pricey. And so with this recipe, I offer you a whole food jam option that takes about 10 minutes of prep time and 1 hr 5 mins passive cooking time and is affordable.

Ingredients
12-16 oz fruit (berries are great)
1 Tbsp lemon juice*
2 Tbsp chia seed
1-2 Tbsp arrowroot starch (optional)*

Method
Place all ingredients in bread machine pan. Select “Basic” setting & allow to mix for 5-6 minutes. Press “Stop”. Select “Bake”. When the cycle is complete, place jam in a jar allowing it to cool.

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A berry jam is a great topping for ice cream or fudge as pictured above.

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This jam is a perfect topping for pancakes.

*Notes: for a more tart jam, use 1.5-2 Tbsp lemon juice. For a sweeter jam, add honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar (about 1/4-1/2 cup).

If you desire a thicker jam, add optional arrowroot starch in the last 15 minutes of baking.

Stovetop directions:
If you do not have a bread machine, but want safe-for-you jam, this recipe also works on the stovetop. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil & simmer until desired consistency is reached.

Mãe’s Azorean-style Pancakes Paleofied (Vegan version also)

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Azorean-style Pancakes (Paleo & a Vegan version)

Yesterday I made a berry jam in my bread machine and thought it would be lovely to enjoy it on a Saturday morning with the Mini-Foodies as I had often enjoyed homemade jam with my Mãe’s  (Mom’s) Azorean-style pancakes. And so this morning in honor of my Mãe and Valentine’s Day, I made her pancakes to share with her grandbabies. They were a hit!

Because one of my dearest friends is vegan and happens to be my Mãe’s goddaughter, I like to try out vegan versions of my recipes and recipes I modify from my Mãe’s kitchen. I did so with this one. The flavor is excellent and Mini-Foodie approved, BUT they are a bit more difficult to flip than the paleo version which contains an egg.

These are Azorean-style which means they are not fluffy like the traditional American flap jack. I’ve never been a fan of the American version because they are too thick and I always felt like they are too dry “requiring” too much syrup to make them palatable. This is my personal bias and I prefer a more xrepe-like pancake.

What I like about these is that they are thin, flexible and can be enjoyed with jam, nut or coconut butter, fruit or good ole maple syrup or even honey. If you wish to eat them in a savory manner, then use about 2 tablespoons of sweetener rather than 4-5.

If you like a fluffier pancake, then add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and less salt so they rise a bit as they cook.

Ingredients
1 cup milk (nut, coconut, hemp…water works too)
1 egg or flax egg
4-5 Tbsp coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp avocado oil
1 cup paleo all-purpose flour (or other safe-for-you flour)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Method
If making the vegan version, make flax egg.
Heat griddle. Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients wet. Whisk or mix with a fork until lumps are gone. Make pancakes on griddle. Keep an eye on them as they brown quickly. Enjoy warm or cool with your favorite topping.

Cashew cheez crumbles/spread

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Cashew cheez crumbles/spread (Paleo, Vegan)

This recipe is versatile like many of mine. The cheez can be used as crumbles on salads or burrito bowl style dishes. I have also used it as a cheez spread on homemade bread or crackers. The seasoning is also adaptable to your palate. Feel like having an herby cheez? Add Italian seasoning with or without garlic and onion. Looking for a little kick of spice? Add some ground chipotle pepper and / or cayenne.

Basic Ingredients
1 cup raw cashews
2  Tbsp palm shortening
1/4 tsp Sea salt

Seasonings:
3/4-1 tsp mustard powder
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4-1 tsp paprika

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Cashew cheez crumbles on ground beef & veggies

Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse/Process until smooth. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Below are addins that can be used with the above basic recipe alone or in combinations:

Italian seasoning
garlic & onion powder
red pepper flakes
Ground chipotle pepper
Ground cayenne

Cacao Sunbutter Fudge

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Cacao Sunbutter Fudge (Paleo, Vegan)

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and for many it is a time for candy hearts, chocolates, roses, exchanging cards and romantic dinners. The holiday began to be associated with heart shaped boxes containing chocolate confections with a Cadbury heart box as a marketing item. It was a hit and since then the holiday and the hearts containing confections have been linked.

For this year’s Valentine’s Day, I’ve come up with a cacao version of my sunbutter fudge that is intense in cacao flavor. When making the sunbutter for this recipe, I recommend adding an extra date or two so that the cacao is balanced with sweetness without extra honey or maple syrup. The fudge will be thick as it comes together. Be careful with the heat so as to not burn the candy. If you choose to use a mold as I did in the photo here, know that the fudge’s thickness/density makes it so that it can be placed and shaped in the mold by hand versus by being poured.  Be careful not to burn your hands when handling the fudge.

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Cacao Sunbutter Fudge

Ingredients
1 cup cacao paste / chocolate liquor
1 cup date sweetened sunbutter
3-4 tbsp sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
1 tsp vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Place all ingredients in medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir until smooth & fully incorporated. Place in bread loaf pan or molds*. Refrigerate until hard. Cut & enjoy. Store in refrigerator.

Holiday Baked Salmon & Vegetables

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Holiday Baked Salmon & Vegetables

I am often asked what I eat for Thanksgiving by my students who know that I am an immigrant who is allergic to corn and has a gluten intolerance. Being an island girl who grew up eating “fruits of the sea”, it’s a no brainer: seafood!

I shared my first Thanksgiving meal with my husband when it fell on his birthday over a decade ago. Neither he nor I wanted to fuss over a turkey for several reasons: (1) it’s not our favorite meat, (2) I don’t think mine could ever be as good as my late mother’s and (3) celebrating his birthday was more important than celebrating with a traditional U.S.-style meal…one I have never truly had which is fine by me.

So our first big holiday meal together consisted of baked salmon and veggies (an idea we had seen in a magazine), stuffed mushrooms (a favorite from our first date) and my caramel apple oat squares topped with ice cream! Yum!

Fast forward a decade+ and add my corn allergy accompanied with my gluten intolerance and the meal has been revamped to be paleo(-ish). Even with the revamp, I still hear my Foodie-in-Crime making his yummy sounds as he enjoys the meal with our Mini-Foodies.

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Baked Salmon & Vegetables wrapped in parchment

Ingredients
1 lb wild Alaska salmon
1 red bell pepper
4-6 zucchini
1/2-1 lb mushrooms
1-2 tomatoes
Homemade parmesean cheese
Italian herb seasoning
Sea salt
Ground black pepper

Notes on ingredients: 1 lb tends to feed 2 adults & 2 children, so adjust according to the size of your dinner party. I don’t usually measure how many vegetables I use, the above as guidelines. Please use safe for you vegetables. I enjoy brown as well as criminal mushrooms in this recipe. Red bell peppers give a strong balance and you may wish to omit the tomatoes for example.

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Holiday Baked Salmon & Vegetables, close up

Method:
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a glass baking dish with enough parchment paper to create a pouch. Center salmon on parchment. Season with salt, pepper & herbs. Layer with desired vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, herbs & parm. Repeat with another layer of vegetables followed by seasonings & parm. Close pouch by wrapping around & under. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Thanksgiving dinner plated up is (from top left going clockwise): Baked Salmon & Veggies,  Stuffed Bell Pepper, & Stuffed Mushrooms.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes (Corn & Gluten Free)

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Corn & Gluten-free Spaghetti Squash

One of the neatest ways to use leftover spaghetti squash is to make pancakes. These are simple and can be seasoned to be savory or sweet depending on your preference.

1 cup gluten free oats flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup spaghetti squash
2 eggs
1 tsp coconut oil or palm shortening
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed (optional)

Warm skillet on stovetop at medium. In food processor, make oat flour. Add remaining ingredients to make batter. Make 1/4 cup sized pancakes.

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Corn & Gluten-free Spaghetti Squash with coconut butter

Serving option: top with coconut butter.

Note: For a nut-free option, omit almond flour & increase oat flour.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin & Apple Pies

Thanksgiving is around the corner and many are thinking about pies. For those of us who are corn allergic and / or have gluten sentitivities, tasty pies can be difficult to come by, so I’ve got some ideas here that do the trick.

2 Pie Crust Options

The first option comes from Mighty Nest’s paleo pie crust at http://schools.mightynest.com/articles/perfect-grain-free-pie-crust

I enjoyed this crust, but I would have used the entire egg so that it would be more moist.

Need a vegan option? Elana’s Paleo Pie Crust is for you: elsnaspantry.com/paleo-pie-crust/

Both these crusts work well for the following pies.

Apple Pie Filling

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6+ apples, peeled & sliced

lemon juice, to taste

pumpkin pie spice, to taste

some water

Place desired amount of ingredients in slow cooker / crock pot. Cook on low until desired tenderness is reached.

When ready to serve, use above pie crust or make mini open pies by placing on a safe tortilla or flat breadimage

For a Vegan Pumpkin Pie Filling, I really like the one from Ceara’s Kitchen: http://www.cearaskitchen.com/vegan-pumpkin-pie/

And here is how the pumpkin pie filling looks in the paleo crust (option 1):
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I got a little adventurous and put a bit of the apple pie filling on the pumpkin pie and YUM! The lemon in the apple filling danced with the citrus in the pumpkin and I experienced a little slice of “citrucy, autumnal heaven”.

White Chocolate Sunbutter Fudge

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White Chocolate Sunbutter Fudge (Vegan, Paleo)

With Valentines Day just around the corner and all the sweets being advertised, the Corn Alergic often feels left out…but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I have developed this white chocolate whole food fudge that is nutritious and full of sweetness. When I make these, the Foodie-in-Crime and I enjoy them and the Mini-Foodies do too, but sometimes they are in bed and miss out. Yep, naughty corn-free mama, but sometimes a mama just needs to be able to indulge in a little safe candy time with her Main Squeeze. I think my Tia Olga, may she rest in peace, would agree.

Okay, back to the recipe. You don’t need any special equipment although chocolate/candy molds do make them look festive and pretty. These can be shaped in a loaf pan lined with parchment, in lined cupcake tins or silicone cupcake forms as well as traditional chocolate / candy molds.

Ingredients
1.5 oz or 45 grams cacao paste butter
1.5 oz or 45 grams date sweetened sunbutter
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

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White Chocolate Sunbutter Fudge 2

Place all ingredients in medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir until smooth & fully incorporated. Place in bread loaf pan or chocolate molds. If using pan, refrigerate until hard. Cut & enjoy. If using molds, freeze & remove when set. Store in refrigerator. Enjoy!