gluten-free

Almond Flour Banana Bread Muffins

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Muffins! Banana bread muffins that are gluten-free, made with almond flour, so perfectly moist and melt in your mouth! They are like little love muffins. I added a little candied pecan on top for some extra yum. I was originally working on a banana bread recipe (which you could totally do with this), but I love muffins and so here you have it.

Muffins are just so easy. You take one, break it in half, spread all the butter or peanut butter in the middle and you are set. Maybe grab one for breakfast on your way out the door or pack one in your lunch for a little sweet treat. Or, you eat them in one bite if you are like my husband.

I have been baking and cooking with almond flour for over a year now and I love all of the different things I can do with it. I have been looking for almond flour recipes and using it to create my own recipes because a lot of my clients can have almond flour. It is only 1 ingredient compared to a gluten-free 1:1 flour, which contains at least 5 ingredients. I have used it for cookies, muffins, breads, pizza crust and pot pie.

Almond flour is made of finely ground blanched almonds. It is lower in carbohydrates than wheat flour, coconut flour or other gluten-free flours and is a good option if you are grain-free. It is a good source of vitamin E, manganese, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.

These almond flour banana bread muffins are lightly sweet with, of course, the bananas as well as a little applesauce and maple syrup. I love the cinnamon flavor in them and I think you will too.

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Recipe

Almond Flour Banana Bread Muffins

Gluten-free, grain-free and lightly sweetened.

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/8 cup natural applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (1T for candied pecans and 1T for muffins)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon (1t for candied pecans and 1 1/2t for muffins)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tin with muffin liners.
  3. For candied pecans(optional): toast pecans in pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon and stir to mix. Remove from heat. When cool, chop into smaller pieces.
  4. Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Add mashed bananas, applesauce, the other Tbsp maple syrup and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fill muffin cups until almost full. Top with chopped candied pecans.
  7. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool before removing from muffin liners.
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There are a few possible substitutions that would work in this recipe. If you don’t have coconut flour, you can leave it out. I’ve made it without but it will be a little more “mushy”. You could use honey in place of maple syrup. You could leave the applesauce out if apples bother you. Don’t like cinnamon? Leave it out. Maybe add walnuts or chocolate chips before baking? I always like to give you some options.

However you decide to make them, I hope you enjoy these muffins! As always, let me know what you think when you make them. What is your favorite gluten-free flour to use when baking?


Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Bowl

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Finally, I have another meal for you guys and this is a good one! It is easy to put together and is full of nutrients and big on flavor. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the spaghetti squash. It’s like its own little arm workout in your kitchen. Then, you can get everything else ready while the spaghetti squash is cooking and you’ll be ready to roll when it’s done. Easy peasy, lime squeazy.

Please tell me you love Thai peanut flavor as much as I do. I’ve been using it with salads, on pizza and now with this Thai peanut spaghetti squash bowl. I love a good Thai peanut sauce and finally wrote it all down into a recipe for you. It may not be totally authentic, but it’s really good and doesn’t involve ingredients you will never use again. Like fish sauce. Have you ever smelled that stuff? Don’t do it. You’re welcome.

I tried spaghetti squash for the first time just a few years ago. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a squash eater…of any kind. It wasn’t something I had as a kid and definitely wasn’t something I was familiar with cooking. It’s a little intimidating, right? A big heavy, hard core squash with no cooking instructions. Nope, I’ll pass. But I’ve embraced the intimidation and now, gimme all the spaghetti squash recipes!

Spaghetti squash has become much more popular due to the increase in fad diets out there as well as people needing more gluten-free and grain-free meal options. It is versatile and contains a good amount of nutrients. It is a low-calorie veggie with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C as well as folate, niacin and pyridoxine (vit. B6). It is also lower in carbohydrates than pasta at 10 grams per cup compared to 42 grams.

We really enjoy using spaghetti squash as a gluten-free substitute for pasta. It’s so good with meatballs and marinara sauce or a cashew cream sauce. I especially love spaghetti squash with veggies, chicken and Thai peanut sauce! This dish is so flavorful and makes great leftovers. It is also easy to change up for diet or food preferences by switching up the veggies, using almond butter in place of peanut butter or changing out the chicken for a different protein. Options, so many options!

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Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Bowl

Easy and flavorful gluten-free, grain-free meal.

Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 small-medium spaghetti squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 lb chicken breasts or thighs chopped into small chunks
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1-2 cups carrots, shredded or sliced into matchsticks
  • handful chopped green onions
  • handful roughly chopped cilantro
  • chopped peanuts or cashews to garnish
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • squeeze of lime juice or from ½ lime
  • 3 tbsp canned coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha, or more to taste
  • Instructions:
    1. Carefully slice spaghetti squash lengthwise. Place squash, cut side down, on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on size of squash.
    2. Prepare sauce by whisking ingredients together in small bowl. If sauce is too thick, gradually add more coconut milk or water to thin. Set aside.
    3. Heat sesame oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add diced chicken and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside in bowl.
    4. Add carrots and peppers to pan and cook to desired tenderness. Add chicken to pan with veggies to keep warm
    5. Spaghetti squash is done when fork tender. Allow to cool. Use fork to pull into spaghetti like strands.
    6. Assemble your bowl with spaghetti squash, chicken and veggies and desired toppings like cilantro, green onion and chopped peanuts. Drizzle with peanut sauce.
    7. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this healthy, flavorful Thai peanut spaghetti squash bowl and can use it as a guide to get creative with different vegetables, proteins and toppings. Or, make it like it is and you can’t go wrong.

Lin

Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls

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I love when two things that are great on their own come together to make something even greater. Like peanut butter and chocolate, chips and salsa, champagne and orange juice. Am I right? And now, pumpkin spice and energy balls! Oh yes, a match made in heaven and just in time for the fall pumpkin season. These healthy pumpkin spice energy balls are quick, easy and make a great snack or sweet treat.

Pumpkin is the hot flavor right now, thanks to the #PSL trend and I’m getting right on that train. I can’t go anywhere without seeing a pumpkin flavored food or drink. And for good reason, really. All of the warm, delicious spices that come with pumpkin flavor like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove. I think those spices elicit a warm cozy feeling reminiscent of cold nights by the fire and family feasts at holidays.

So, let’s talk more about pumpkin and the nutritional benefits because there are a few.

·      Beta carotene – an anti-oxidant that is a precursor to Vitamin A, which protects against inflammation and helps keep eyes and skin healthy

·      Vitamin C – fights free radicals and increases immune health

·      Fiber- regulates blood sugar, decreases LDL, helps with digestion and keeps you feeling full longer

·      Magnesium (very common nutritional deficiency)– essential for bone and heart health

·      Low in calories and carbohydrates – about 50 calories and 10g carbohydrates per ½ cup

I actually made these pumpkin spice energy balls by accident, which is probably how many great recipes are born. I was making the cinnamon energy balls, yet again, for another baseball tournament (for the boys between games when they have a double header) and saw some leftover pumpkin puree I used for a test recipe. It was going to be cold that night at the games and pumpkin sounded good so I made another batch, changed it up a bit and added the pumpkin. I didn’t have high hopes for them but they ended up being a big hit with the boys and the parents.

These pumpkin spice energy balls can be totally customizable. You can use a different nut, add nut butter, add oats or oat flour in place of almond flour, add collagen powder or use all cinnamon instead of pumpkin pie spice. I love when I’m able to customize a recipe to fit my dietary needs or taste preferences.


Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls - Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free

Healthy, quick and easy pumpkin spice energy balls make a great snack or sweet treat.

Makes: 12-15 balls

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Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 Tbsp pure pumpkin
  • 1/8 cup almond flour
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions:
  1. Add almonds, pepitas and dates to food processor. Pulse until you get small crumbles.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until well mixed.
  3. With wet hands, roll into balls. Place balls on parchment lined plate or baking sheet and refrigerate.
  4. Store in airtight container for 1 week.
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Happy fall ya’ll! I hope you have a great fall season. I’m planning to enjoy the great weather we are having and get in all the essential activities like the pumpkin patch and apple orchard. And of course enjoy some pumpkin treats like these.

Cheers!

Lin

My Gluten-Free Journey

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"Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination." - Drake

 

Hey everyone! I’m back to writing after taking the summer off to be with my kiddo and travel and figure some things out. Honestly, I’ve also been struggling with what to write and how to write it. I’ve been pulled in lots of directions personally and professionally with health and nutrition and it is probably time for me to start to niche down more, even with my writing. My experiences have fueled my passion to help others. Others that are like me when I was dealing with health issues I didn’t know as much about, lost and not sure where to turn.

Previously, I was writing more about intuitive eating, which I’ve really loved on a personal level. I may still write more about it here and there but my heart is pulling me in a different direction with the types of clients I want to see and the work I want to do. If you want more on IE, let me know and I can point you in the direction of some great IE dietitians!

I am getting more into the integrative and functional side of nutrition as well as the food sensitivity piece. Basically, getting to the root cause of illness and using a more natural approach to health and healing. I am finding that a lot of people with autoimmune diseases, GI disorders, acne, chronic inflammation among other problems are really struggling to feel better with conventional medicine alone. Lifestyle and nutrition, among so many other things, can play a huge role in symptom improvement in these areas but it’s hard to know where to start. I am learning so much and have so much more to learn that it has been a bit overwhelming but exciting at the same time.

So, as I’m doing more writing and working on creating new recipes, you will probably see me reference gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, AIP, etc because it is where I am and will hopefully help others out that might be needing the same. I have been gluten-free for almost a year now and I thought I would share with you why and how it is going for me.

Last summer I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. I got the call from my doctor’s office and was told that my medication was called in and I would go back in 6 weeks for more bloodwork. I was given no other information, not even when or how to take the medication, which I don’t think is abnormal. BTW, the medication is pointless if you aren’t taking it correctly so it’s a pretty important piece to tell someone that is just starting on it, right? So, I made it my mission to learn more (not an area I have done much work with), do what I could to help myself, and seek out another opinion.  

I started reading books and listening to podcasts about thyroid health and learned so much. I, thankfully, did not have thyroid antibodies so I did not have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but I treated it as such until I had a better handle on my levels and what it all meant. This was when I decided to remove gluten from my diet.

As some of you who may have done similar things know, it was a hard adjustment. I also went mostly dairy-free and later, pulled a few other things out. The hardest adjustment for me was traveling and eating out. We don’t eat out frequently but it is the perfect date night for my husband and I or just a night that I don’t have to worry about feeding all 4 of us who eat very differently. I just make sure I check out menus before we go and do the best that I can. We traveled to Belize not long after I went gluten-free and that was much harder than I expected but we made it work…but not without a few breakdowns.  

I wasn’t sure if going gluten-free was going to help my hypothyroidism and I’m still not 100% sure that it did because I can’t necessarily correlate the two things. What I did notice was that it improved my Raynaud’s disease over the winter. I didn’t have near as many episodes, even though I was out walking my dog in the cold almost daily. I also avoided the painful bumps I get on my fingers called chilblains, until later in the season. Unfortunately, once they start it is hard to get them to go away. The biggest improvement I saw was with my mood and anxiety. Again, not 100% better but enough to say that I was prepared to continue with my gluten-free lifestyle and it’s been about a year since I started.

That is briefly my gluten-free journey. One of my biggest hurdles is calming all the negative talk and worry in my head. I worry about what others think because I don’t have celiac or another diagnosis that absolutely warrants a gluten-free diet. I worry about other dietitians judging me. I worry about what to say when someone at a restaurant asks if I need gluten-free for an allergy…because I don’t but I don’t want to discredit those who do. I worry about if the little bit of gluten I ingest by accident is causing me problems that I can’t see.

I also worry about the content I'm writing and the recipes I’m creating and what you all might think because they are now gluten-free. #Truth. It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should be gluten-free or that it is a cure-all. But, this is where I am and where I’m going right now. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below or shoot them over in an email. 

Thanks for following along! 

Lin

Fresh Strawberry Oat Crumble

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Berry picking season is finally here! Yay! Berry picking is an activity we discovered we could do in Kansas City just a few years ago and I look forward to it every spring and summer now. The strawberries come first and usually have a pretty short picking season. Then, we pick the blueberries. Sometimes multiple times. Blackberries are also an option but we have yet to pick those. I'm putting it on my list this summer because they are one of our favorite berries. 

I took my son last week to Benny's Berries, which is a little strawberry patch not far from where we live. When we got there we received a large box for picking and were given specific instructions on how to pick the strawberries to make them last longer and to get the best ones. The redder the better! Whenever I pick berries I always tell myself just a few more and we'll be done...and maybe just a few more on the way out. Anyone else? We ended up with  7 1/2 pounds of strawberries in a pretty short amount of time. 

Eating the berries fresh is our favorite but this crumble I made twice last week might be our new favorite. The first time I made it I ate about half the pan because I couldn't stop. It's so good and I think I have a thing for crumble topping! Good news if you do too because it is on the bottom and the top! It's a very easy dessert with just a small amount of added sugar and can be totally gluten-free. We added a little ice cream on it this last time and it was perfection. 

Fresh Strawberry Oat Crumble

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups oats (gluten-free certified if needed)

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions:

1. Mix all dry ingredients in medium bowl.

2. Add coconut oil and mix until incorporated with dry ingredients.

3. Spray 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with coconut oil spray or grease with small amount of coconut oil.

4. Add half of the crumble mixture to pan and press down with spoon or fingers. 

5. Spread sliced strawberries out on top of crust. 

6. Top strawberries with remaining crumble mixture. 

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

8. Enjoy!

If you picked strawberries this season and you are looking for a great recipe, give this one a try. It is light, slightly sweet and the perfect end to a great summer day.

Lin