Monday, June 10, 2013

Paleo Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

I was messing around with my microwave chocolate cake recipe, and came up with this version. You could use the microwave mug recipe and add a 1/3rd of a ripe banana if you didn't want to make a full batch, but this version is an oven-baked goody to share with the family.

Paleo Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

4 TBSP butter, softened
6 TBSP honey  (I eye-balled this)
1 ripe banana
5 TBSP coconut milk
3 eggs
3 TBSP coconut flour
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP almond flour (this equals 6 TBSP, if you just want to use your TBSP measurement)
1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa  (this equals 9 TBSP)

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine butter and honey with a mixer until smooth.  Smash in your banana, mix again.  Add coconut milk and eggs, mixing until the eggs are fully incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients, and mix well until there are no lumps.

Let me state that I don't really do exact measurements. I don't level my measuring spoons, nor do I measure out liquids.  But this is pretty darn close to what I did.  It should make a fairly thick batter, not a runny batter. If the batter is too runny, you may want to add a tablespoon of coconut flour. If you think it is far too thick, add a bit more liquid.  ALWAYS taste the batter when you are done to see if you need to add more sweetener.

Poor into silicone cups and bake at 350F for approximately 15 minutes.  (I use silicone cupcake liners which I set on a flat pan.  Silicone cupcake liners are THE BOMB, y'all.)

Isn't that a beautiful texture? It's like a cross between cake and pudding.
Yum, y'all. Yum.

Note: Yes, you can mess around with your coconut to almond flour ratio, but remember, coconut flour requires more moisture, so keep that in mind!  You could also do half coconut flour and half arrowroot, but I haven't tried that on this particular creation so... I can't guarantee anything.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Paleo Microwave Chocolate Cake with almond and coconut flours

It's a good thing I don't follow the Paleo mindset of "eat only what the caveman eat" because, 1, I don't believe in the whole Paleolithic era stuff (You know, I'm one of those weird people that believes in a Divine Creator, and I don't believe the earth is millions of years old), and um, I do believe that some advances in the kitchen are a good thing (like the invention of the blender).

And while I'm not a huge fan of microwaves, I do have one that we use now and then, mostly for those spontaneous moments when I have just got to have a personal-sized chocolate cake.

Before we became grain-free-freaks, I made many microwave cakes and had it all down to perfection.  After our Whole30 challenge, I decided I should try a Paleo version. Let me just say that I do not care for the texture of coconut flour in baked goods when it is not mixed with other Paleo flours, but I do love the texture of coconut flour in combination with another "flours" like arrowroot or almond meal.

The first Paleo microwave cake I made (with just coconut flour) proved that point once again. Ick. What a way to ruin chocolate.  So the next time I made it, I decided to mix it with almond flour, and I loooved it.

Here's what you'll need:

1 and 1/2 TBSP Coconut flour (I just eye-balled the half using the TBSP measuring spoon)
1 and 1/2 TBSP Almond flour
3 TBSP Cocoa (unsweetened)
1-2 TBSP honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 TBSP butter (melted)
1-2 TBSP coconut milk (or whatever you want to use, sometimes I use coffee)
1 egg

There are various ways you can mix this altogether. I usually start with the melted butter and honey, mixing it up well with a fork before I add the coconut milk and egg.  Then I mix in the flours and cocoa little by little so that it gets totally mixed in. (I do it this way so that 1- the melted butter doesn't start to harden back when you add cold milk and a cold egg to it if you mix it with the honey first, and 2- I don't have to use a mixer if I add the dry ingredients slowly rather than dumping them in.)

Taste the batter to see if you should add a bit more honey.  If it seems very, very thick, add a little more coconut milk.  Different coconut flour brands react differently, and some soak up more liquid than others.

Now, you could put this all in a mug and microwave it for about 45-60 seconds OR you could scoop it out into silicone cupcake liners.  I actually tripled this recipe and it made about 8 cupcakes. (I microwaved the cupcakes one by one, FYI.)  If you are making cupcakes, it only takes about 25 seconds in the microwave, at most 30 seconds. (I like mine a little moist, so 30 seconds is too long for me.)

I drizzled some organic chocolate sauce over mine.  Not paleo (sugar!) but... tasty.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Brandon's successes, Mandy's pregnancy

Several things of note: My husband lost five more pounds. High five, fist bump y'all.  I am amazed by the changes that have occurred since we began the Whole30.

One of the difficult things about overhauling your diet and seeing amazing, ah-may-zing, changes is that when you see others suffering from the same things you once did, you want to swoop in with a packet of Paleo information, cook them meals for a week, and rid their pantries and fridges of all that nastiness they've been consuming.

But really, while we really do enjoy sharing our diet lifestyle and how it has changed us in many, many ways, we also recognize that people have to be willing to make the changes themselves.  When they are ready, they  will ask for help or advice.  For now, we are happy just to share our success stories with others and tell how we've been changed.

We've been on the other side as well. We've looked at people cross-eyed when they suggested we give up bread. (And we even tried it for a while, and boy that sucked.) But we also saw that we were headed in a direction we didn't want to go.

Brandon went to the doctor and was classified as "morbidly obese".  He was having to lean on medications for pain and was trying the natural methods of chiropractics and massage to relieve pain.  It seemed the solutions offered to a lot of his issues were in reality just bandaids.  Over and over people recommended that he get a CPAP machine because, don't we all want to sound like Darth Vader when we sleep?

His doctor had a lot of negative things to say. High cholesterol. Bad this. Change that.  Lose 10 pounds before I see you again.  Brandon walked away with his doctor-loathing-beam still firmly intact.

He felt like his body was falling apart, and had been for years. We had tried so many things, but hey, one last thing can't hurt, right?  We are so grateful that the Whole30/Paleo diet was that "one last thing".

My husband's posture is straighter. I can wrap my arms around his waist and clasp my hands together behind him.  He no longer snores like a freight train every night (or, you know, forgets to breathe when he's not snoring). He wakes up rested because he's getting REM sleep. He smiles more often. He's not consumed with pain all day.  His bicep, which he injured pretty badly at work months ago, is not giving him as much trouble and is feeling better and healing quicker than it did with chiropractics and intense massage. Some of his other allergies have disappeared (so he can now enjoy black pepper liberally sprinkled on every meat and vegetable).

His biggest issue is that he needs smaller pants, but he refuses to buy new jeans until he hits a certain size.  For now he's just cinching up his belt tighter and tighter.

But you know, while there is a lot of amazing things happening in our home and in our bodies, there is also a struggle as well.

Because I'm pregnant (9 weeks today). And I have these cravings that are so strong it's hard to ignore them.  Shipley's Donuts call my name over and over until I just can't ignore it anymore, and I scarf down a glazed donut only to regret it by lunch time as I lay on the couch with a headache feeling like I'm going to barf up the brick in my stomach at any moment.

And I will go on and say it. It really sucks sometimes to be Paleo. Because there are pretty much no convenience options for people who chose to eat as we do. At least none that don't break the bank or cause the budget to run screaming. NIL. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH.  Well, tuna salad and nitrate-free hotdogs, and both of those make this pregnant lady want to gag.  Ew.  (Although, I do buy this stuff, and I feed it to my children who love them and give me Good-Mom-Brownie-Points.)

Gone are the days of freezer nuggets and Dominos Pizza.   This is not to say that we don't have our cheats now and then, but, really, a cornbread mix and redbeans and rice were an easy staple in my previous pregnancies.  And now all of those items are off the menu.

That means I actually have to use my BRAIN, which is really hard to do when one is pregnant. (Well, it's not that it's not being used, it is actually on overload so thinking about having to actually make lunch is can be overwhelming.) I always forget how exhausting pregnancy can be in the first trimester.  Turns out forming a baby in my womb is hard work!

I mean, for the love of grapes, I could really go for a basic PB&J sandwich.  And those things haven't sounded appealing since I was, like, eight.

So this means I have to actually force my brain to work at creating a meal plan that is doable, even when I feel all icky and sleepy and weird. (Thankfully, I am not hugging the porcelain throne, but I come very close if I have an affair with wheat or get too much sugar in my system.)

This is where I openly proclaim my love for my Crock Pot and One-Dish-Wonders, and The-Husband-Who-Cooks-Better-Than-I-Do.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have some really good slow cooker recipes in your arsenal, along with a few of your favorite casseroles and one-pot dinners.  Also, you will find that soups and chilis will work for summer meals too, and storage containers will be your best friend because you should definitely make extras to store away (in the fridge for lunch tomorrow, or in the freezer for next week).

And don't forget our suggestion to fire up the grill one day and toss on every kind of meat you can think of so you have "fast food" for meals throughout the week.

Really, by the time 4pm rolls around, the thought of making supper seems like a lot of work.  Am I right? You're not even pregnant and you're nodding in agreement, aren't you.

So do yourself a favor and use that slow cooker.  Toss in a roast in the morning after you pour your morning coffee, and pat yourself on the back for having dinner on.  Go you.

Mmm, Roast, potatoes, and carrots.