Cassava Flour Cacao Nib Cookies (Paleo)

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Cassava Flour Cacao Nib Cookies (Paleo)

Sometimes you execute a recipe and your taste testers give the most unexpected compliments. This recipe evoked the following from my Foodie-in-Crime: “Are these shortbread cookies?” and “These remind me of the chewy Chips Ahoy.”

The first comment was nice to hear because I’m a fan of a good shortbread cookie, but the second was the hidden compliment because Chips Ahoy cookies have mass appeal and are a “standard” go-to cookie. Those of us who must avoid gluten and / or who eat a paleo diet for health reasons, eating a “standard” cookie is out of the question and many gluten-free options are not always tasty with a nice texture. And, so with this recipe I have been able to make a corn and gluten-free cookie without nuts that even those who can have gluten can enjoy. 

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Cassava Flour Cacao Nib Cookies (Paleo)

1 cup Cassava Flour
1/2 cup chocolate nibs
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2-1 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp safe vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil (soft, not melted) or palm shortening
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp honey

Splash of water, if needed.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir until dough is uniform & dry ingredients are fully incorporated.*
Make cookie balls in desired size & flatten.**

Bake 10-12 minutes, until set. Allow to cool on pan.

*If the dough needs a little help coming together, add a splash or two of water.
**Cookies do not spread. This recipe yields about 15 – 2 inch cookies.

Super Simple Flax Crackers (Paleo, Vegan)

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Super Simple Flax Crackers (Paleo, Vegan)

Today I’ve got a simple snack recipe that is versatile; it can be crackers or as cereal (a.k.a. paleo granola).

A few months back, I had to take a trip into a small city that neighbors the town where I was an adolescent. Because I had not anticipated the length if my errand, I had packed a REALLY light snack bag for myself and my corn allergic Mini-Foodie. And anyone who knows this Corn-Free Hippie and my first Mini-Foodie, know that we are not so fun when hunger strikes. So what does a mama do? Go to the nearest health food store.

I don’t like to spread negative energy and so I will keep my comments about this small city’s health food store brief: it is not Paleo and corn-free friendly and the supplement section is WAY bigger than the “food” section. Despite this situation, I DID discover an overpriced new favorite snack: flackers.

What are these? They are a cracker made of flax seeds. They are simple, nutritious and delicious. Because I am not a fan of spending $6+ dollars on a small box of crackers, I decided that I would find a way to recreate them.

I am sharing a basic version, so feel free to accessorize with different dried fruit(s) and spices.

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Super Simple Flax Crackers (Paleo, Vegan)

1 cup golden flax seeds
1/4 dried currants
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Enough water to cover seeds & fruit

Place all ingredients in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Allow to rest as the oven heats & you prep the cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 225ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

When oven is heated & seeds have gelled, pour them onto cookie sheet. Spread making the crackers as thin as possible without leaving gaps. Bake until crispy & no longer wet. Times will vary depending upon oven, but between 1.5 – 2 hours is to be expected. Flip the cracker(s) after 1 hour.

When ready, break into smaller pieces. Enjoy as a snack or as paleo granola.

Corn-Free Hippie, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader

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Corn-Free Hippie, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader

This weekend was A.MAZ.ING! I was fortunate to have the opportunity to become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader!

HO HO,  HA HA HA!

The certification class was a beautiful blessing which brought with it several unanticipated gifts. Knowing where to begin sharing my story is a bit difficult and so I will begin with a proverb that my Mãe  (mother in Portuguese) used to share especially during hard times, namely around her chemo sessions: É melhor rir do que chorar. (It is better to laugh than to cry.)

Stop and think about that for a bit.

What does it mean? How many interpretations can come from this reflection? No doubt children will come to different conclusions than will adults. My own conclusion is that it is a wonderful life philosophy and one that I want to live everyday.

Several years ago while living in the Bay Area and teaching at a local liberal arts college, I had read about Laughter Yoga and thought: “Wow, how neat! Wouldn’t this be a cool way to help students and professors to relax before final exams?” I casually mentioned it in a class or two and there were those who thought it sounded odd and others who were intrigued. I had looked up what it takes to become a Laughter Yoga Leader and the time was never right. I had also looked up clubs in the area, but with schedule conflicts never made it to one. And so I used a tool I already had to help students relax before exams: meditation.

Fast forward to July 2013. This was one of those months where, had I had Laughter Yoga in my life, I would have needed to recall my mother’s saying: It is better to laugh than to cry. You see, on the very day I receieved news of my father’s stage IV lung cancer, my dermatologist called to notify me of my own cancer: a basal AND squamous cell carcinoma. The tumor had shown up on my wrist during my pregnancy in 2009. I had seen a dermatologist in February of 2013 who dismissed my concerns. So on that July, I was devastated; not only had I just found out that my Papai was sick, but I was also forced to face the reality that in my early 30s I too had a form of the disease that took my mother’s life and would soon take my father’s.

Wow! That day I needed a laugh, but all I wanted to do was cry and then research. After my surgery and during my recovery, I underwent a dietary cleanse under my chiropractor’s supervision in order to get to the bottom of the rashes which had plagued me for over 2 years and were the reason I sought a dermatologist in the first place.

The cleanse brought blessings and answers. The first blessing: clear skin and no itching!!! What relief. When I was able to re-introduce foods that were not on the initial cleanse protocol, I had a comfort food: popcorn. While it brought comfort, it also brought the rash back. The second blessing: I discovered I was allergic to corn and the mystery was solved. My road to recovery continued. Shortly thereafter came the best post-cancer blessing: we learned we would be introducing into the world Baby-Foodie.

There was joy amid tragedy.
Baby-Foodie’s pregnancy was mostly healthy as well as a journey of learning how to navigate the medical world with a corn allergy. I revisited my hypnobirth preparation and became a zen mama. I reconnected with my amazing doula who has a beautiful and calming laugh as well as presence. Nine months later, with my Foodie-in-Crime and doula by my side I laughed and sang during labor. How beautiful it was to laugh at a time where many are taught to cry, yell or be medicated in order to get through the discomfort.

I laughed. I sang. I breathed. I loved.

The babymoon returned to life’s various realities and laughter was lost a bit. My father passed away which also led to the theft of my mourning process by the one person who should have shared in the loss of our father. One deception after another led to more crying, but this is no way to live and I remembered my mother’s saying and my father’s typical urging that one pick oneself up after a cry. With my angels watching over me and my Foodie-in-Crime at my side, I reconnected with my desire to live laughter.

Laughter Yoga Leader certification’s blessings in disguise.
While I knew I would be laughing a lot during the class, I had no idea how sore my stomach muscles and cheeks would be. I had no idea I would be smiling so much and for no reason other than I was alive. I had no idea what kinds of connections I’d make or how uninhibited I would feel by the end of the weekend.

They say laughter is cathartic.
It is true. Laughter is a release, a spiritual cleansing, a joy. We forget these truths as we age and as life becomes more complex. We forget that we can play, laugh and breath deeply. But what a blessing it is to laugh for no reason.

By the second day of training, my Laughter Yoga Teacher had brought the world of 10 people together where we laughed, played and breathed together for no reason other than to bring the joy of laughter to others.

At some point during the second afternoon, some of my fellow students (Lokesh, Gian Micheal, & Jaime) requested a coffee break and so our teacher, Teresa, invited us to take laughter to the streets of San Francisco. Wow! A Laughter Yoga Flash Mob! This was one of the highlights of my training. We encounter a spectrum of participation from the completely unwilling who simply walked passed as we laughed to those who kinda-sorta laughed to those who laughed with us and thanked us. What a gift to laugh for no reason with strangers and to connect on a human level.

Another highlight was the spectrum of laughter in the room which held 10 humans. From somewhat quiet laughs that resemble those of a cat to the full on infectious cackle of Lindsey and Gian Michael.

Not only did I laugh and learn this weekend, but I also experienced the most understanding and concern for my corn allergy that I have experienced since my first Mini-Foodie’s diagnosis over 8 years ago. Wow! I feel such gratitude toward these 9 spirits which came together this weekend with the common goal of being certified as Laughter Yoga Leaders. These were perfect strangers united in laughter and concern for one another.

Life is beautiful with laughter. Let us laugh and be well. Let us laugh and let go. Let us laugh and be human.

Ho ho, ha ha ha.
Namaste

Thai-inspired Coconut Milk Soup, Paleo (Chicken option)

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Thai-inspired Coconut Milk Soup, Paleo (Chicken option)

One of my favorite cuisines is Thai, but unfortunately because Baby-Foodie reacts to  rice, I have been missing out on it…until now!

It was spring break, we were out of meat protein sources, everyone was hungry and I had been in the backyard where I smelled what seemed to be a coconut soup. It may have been a craving inspired scent. Nonetheless I took a look at my fridge which was pretty bare and came up with this quick soup. It would also be very tasty with chicken or shrimp if you have a safe for you source.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
2-inch piece of  fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic (optional)
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
2 stalks celery, shredded
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
4 cups water
4 Tbsp paleo, vegan stock powder
1 can full-fat coconut milk or cream
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce;
Sea salt & ground black pepper to taste

Method
In a stockpot, heat oil over a medium heat. Cook ginger (& garlic) while stirring, until softened. Add carrot, celery, bell pepper, & mushroom. Cook until softened. Add water, stock powder, coconut milk or cream & fish sauce. Bring soup to a boil. Serve when just a bit cooler. Add sea salt & black pepper if desired

Chicken option
1 lb chicken small pieces

Add chicken with water, etc. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until chicken is cooked, about 15-20 mins. Add salt & pepper if desired.

Shrimp option
1 lb wild caught shrimp

Add shrimp with water, etc. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until shrimp is cooked, about 10-15mins. Add salt & pepper if desired.

Paleo Cassava Flour Pasta, “Cheese” & Spinach Flavors

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Paleo Cassava Flour Pasta, "Cheese" & Spinach Flavors

As a household that avoids most grains due to allergies and / or intolerances, it’s VERY hard to find a premade pasta that everyone can enjoy. Gluten-free pastas are often made with corn and / or rice, both of which cause someone in the CF Hippie to react. So what does a CF Hippie Mama do? Since I have seen friends mention cassava flour and have seen recipes using cassava, I decided it was time to experiment with the flour that my Mãe used to use in Angola to make pirão.

I came upon a nut-free cassava flour pasta recipe by Predominantly Paleo tried it out with modifications that made sense to my family’s needs and palate. The result? A family approved pasta that does NOT require a pasta maker and uses a key tool in my kitchen. I have recruited Mini-Foodie 1 and 2 to help and the process is quick with a double batch AND they have fun.

Because I like to infuse flavor AND added nutrition whenever I can, my recipe includes the basic ingredients and the flavor add ins below for the “cheesey” pasta, which IS my basic version. My Foodie-in-Crime and Mini-Foodies all agree that the spinach pasta is the better flavor. I like both and when I feel daring, I add even more nutrional yeast for extra an cheesey flavor without the spinach. The best reviews I’ve gotten are from my Mini-Foodies who stated that “this pasta is better than the one from boxes” and “it’s healthier too!” This is coming from two kids whose favorite food before when had to eliminate rice was pasta.

I hope you give this pasta a try and enjoy it as much as my family

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"Cheesey" & Spinach Cassava Flour Pasta with Marinara & Avocado (Paleo, Nut-free)

Basic Ingredients
1 cup cassava flour
2 eggs
3 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Flavor add ins
1-2 Tbsp unfortified nutrional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard seed
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp spinach powder (optional)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning  (optional)

Method
Heat water in a pot to boil pasta when ready.

Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until a ball forms & all ingredients are incorporated. You may need to scrap the side of the bowl. Remove ball. Divide into smaller balls, usually 6-8. Using a tortilla press, flatten to desired thickness. Using a pizza cutter, make strips of desired width. Place pasta in boiling water. Pasta is ready when it floats. Remove with a slotted spoon. Enjoy with desires toppings or sauce.

Topping Ideas
● Avocado oil, Italian seasoning + unfortified nutrional yeast
   • plus roasted veggies

● homemade marinara sauce

● homemade (vegan) Alfredo sauce

Raw Cashew Ginger Pie Crust (Paleo, Vegan)

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Raw Cashew Ginger Pie Crust (Paleo, Vegan)

This recipe is versatile as are many I offer here. It can be used as a raw pie crust as well as energy balls or truffles, please read the notes below.

Lately I have been on a finger kick in cooking, baking and even in my beverages. I have also been experimenting with panna cotta variations. This crust wad created for my mango panna cotta and they are a delightful combination.

If your pie filling is subtle or gentle in flavor, I advise using 4 or 5 dates so they do not overpower the filling. If your pie filling is robust and / or needs a bit more sweetness, use 6 dates. The amount of ginger should reflect how much you enjoy as well as compliment your pie filling. Mini-Foodie 2 generally votes for more ginger, for example.

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Raw Cashew Ginger Pie Crust (Paleo, Vegan)

Ingredients
1 cup cashews (preferably soaked & dehydrated)
5-6 Medjool dates, pitted & soaked to soften
6-10 pieces crystallized ginger (depending on desired flavor strength)
2 Tbsp unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

Method
Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until a dough ball forms. Place in pie plate. Smooth out with fingers. Add filling.

Notes on variations: -This recipe is also a tasty snack ad an energy ball. You may wish to add chia seeds & then remove dough & roll portions of 3/4 -1 inch balls.

-If you are looking for a whole food truffle, then make 1/2 inch balls & dip them in safe for you melted chocolate, homemade white chocolate, shredded coconut, or cacao powder.

Paleo Mini Meatloaf Patties

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Paleo Mini Meatloaf Patties

My Foodie-in-Crime and I make patties such as these often with different variations which include more green vegetables. When I made this version, I received high praises from him as well as the Mini-Foodies. This is a very fresh tasting patty that can be made as small as meatballs or as large as a standard hamburger patty (but you may want to add an egg so it stays together). These are wonderful served in romaine lettuce leaves or spinach as buns.

2 small or 1 large carrot(s)
1/2 large red bell pepper
1 medium zucchini
1 long stalk celery
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
2-3 tsp vegan stock powder
3 tsp unfortified nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard seed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
2-4 splashes coconut aminos
1-2 splashes coconut vinegar

Shred vegetables in food processor. In a bowl, mix vegetables with beef & all spices. Form small patties with hands. Cook in a sauté pan in avocoado or coconut oil until patties reach desired doneness.

Serve on lettuce buns with sautéed mushrooms & Corn-Free Hippie Ketchup. Enjoy!

Sweentened Condensed Cashew Milk (Paleo, Vegan)

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Sweentened Condensed Cashew Milk (Paleo, Vegan)

For the first time this week I made herbal coffee from scratch and wanted a non-dairy, non-dairy creamer solution. I didn’t think my sweetened condensed hemp milk would do the trick because the herbal coffee needed an extra creamy option. Because I use cashews in my most creamy non-recipes, u thought they would do the trick and my sweetened condensed cashew milk came to be.

My Foodie-in-Crime came upon it in the fridge and asked what it was. His eyes lit up and he used it to pour over blueberries and his berries and cream was delicious. He also added a bit of oatmeal and an instant, delicious breakfast / snack was born. I used some in my Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe because I was out of my other homemade milks and it was a nice add.

As you can see, my slightly sweet alternative to half-and-half is as versatile as your imagination, so give it a try and see what you come up with and please leave comments on Hou use it or plan to use it.
m

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Sweentened Condensed Cashew Milk

2 cups filtered water
1 cup cashews, soaked & drained
4-6 Medjool dates, pitted

Soak cashews either overnight with a pinch of sea salt or place then in a saucepan pot with enough water to cover them & boil for about 8 minutes.

Drain cashews. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend until smooth & creamy. I use a Blendtec & the “Whole Juice” setting. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to leave a comment about how you use this versatile recipe.

Corn-Free Paleo Granola

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Corn-Free Paleo Granola with Dried Cranberries

My Foodie-in-Crime paid me a high compliment with this granola when he referred to it as my “Cracker Jacks”. Of course we corn allergics don’t eat them, but caramel corn used to be one of my favorite snacks prior to identifying my allergy. His comment makes it clear that this is a crunchy, nutty and caramel flavored granola, so if that is what you like in your granola, this is the one for you.

This granola is grain free and it allows for flexibility with the types of nuts and seeds used, so if the ones I have listed are not safe for you, switch them out for those which are. For example, if you prefer walnuts to pecans, use them. Sunflower seeds are a nice choice if you prefer to avoid coconut or another nut or seed.  Play around with flavors and enjoy a good for you cereal option.

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Corn-Free Paleo Granola

Ingredient
1/2 cup cashews or pecans
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds  (pepitas)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil or shortening
1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
-dried fruit such as cranberries, dates, raisins, berries or cherries (optional)
-spice such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie blend as desired (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 275°F . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pulse cashews, almonds & pumpkin seeds in food processor until a rather  course meal is reached.  Place in a bowl. Add remaining seeds & coconut. Mix well.

Place sweetener, oil or shortening, sea salt &, if using, vanilla &/or spices to a small saucepan. Heat until bubbles form.  Remove from heat. Pour over seeds & nuts. Mix well to coat.

Place on cookie sheet as thinly as possible. Bake about 15 minutes. Stir granola. Return to oven to bake at 225°F an additional 15 minutes or until golden. The granola may still be soft, but it will become crispy as it cools.

Enjoy in milk as a cereal, in a smoothie bowl, on a frozen treat or as a snack.

Lemony Sardine Fish Cakes

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Lemony Sardine Fish Cakes (Paleo-ish)

One day I stocked up on canned sardines which are a quick and portable food. Then it was time to make dinner and, thinking I had grass-fed beef in my refrigerator, I went to make mini meatloaf patties only to find that we were out of protein. Yikes! We were in need of a protein source and so I turned to the sardines and made these fish cakes that are inspired by croquettes de peixe my Mãe used to make. These go excellently with a green salad or sautéed greens.

Ingredients
4-6 meduim potatoes, boiled

2 cans sardines, drained & chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 bunch chopped dill
2 Tbsp flour (of choice, gluten & corn-free)
1 lemon’s peel grated
Juice of half a lemon
Coconut aminos to taste
Salt & pepper
(Additional safe for you spices such as garlic, onion, powdered mustard seed, paprika)

1 beaten egg

1 cup breading  (ground flax, almond meal & / or ground gluten-free oats)

Method
Boil, drain & mash potatoes.

Add remaining ingredients except egg & breading to mashed potatoes.

Mix in egg.

Shape into cakes of desired size.

Coat with “bread crumbs”.

Sauté in oil or shortening until brown & crispy.

Enjoy with a green salad or sautéed greens.