Low Carb, Gluten Free Infinity Muffins

Long time no see, foodie bloggers and foodie browsers!
It’s been a very extended break (unintentional) from this blog. I don’t really mind– it’s mostly been spent working, studying in school, and reading¬†other food blogs.

We have to get inspiration from somewhere, right?

Black bean as a brownie, cake batter as a milkshake (don’t forget it’s vegan!), and low carb cookies made out of coconuts?! The world, seriously, is evolving into a bakery and I’m kind of liking what I see.
So long as the ingredients are thoughtfully sourced, ethically made, and organically treated though.

Which brings us to today:
I’ll be honest; eating out and eating pre-made foods has pretty much been a staple in my diet since said break from blog. Kind of depressing. My stevia didn’t even see the light in the kitchen, only to be used when I felt like making a muffin in the microwave. Or a single-person batch of fiber cookies.

Baking became my necessary — in order to get fiber in for the day. Not because I wanted to.
WHAT?! But I was still concocting fun and exciting flavors in my head. Raspberry pistachio mousse, basil orange scones, chocolate ancho chile cookies! For crying out loud!

But let’s cut to the chase here. As appetizing as these recipes sound, I don’t quite have the time yet (or the money) to make them.
Also, a rather big note, pretty much all recipes from here on out will be LOW-CARB and maybe even sometimes KETOGENIC.
This means low in carbohydrate (but not fiber), and high in fat (but not artery-clogging).

Since the start of 2013, I’ve been toying with the idea of going vegetarian (and -gasp- even VEGAN) because most of the time, being low-carb means your only option at restaurants is a bun-less turkey burger (I don’t eat much beef), or some other meat-laden dish. No problem, but the source of the meat is what spooks me. Who knows what factory farm their piggies and chicks came from?!

All considerations aside, we can now properly introduce today’s sparkling, illuminated, brand-new all original RECIPE!

It’s a BASIC recipe but can be modified hundreds of ways.
Especially if you aren’t low-carb, adding fruit (dried or fresh) would seriously up the wow factor on these slam-dunk snacks.

I stuck with a basic vanilla-cinnamon theme. These tasty morsels work great for mid-day munches, teamed up with some ice cream or yogurt for a healthy dessert, and even as a savory dinner item (minus the vanilla of course).

This recipe makes 4 muffins. I usually only need 4 at a time. Double it for friends or family. They’ll be asking for it.

InfiniteMuffin1

Infinity Muffins (Low carb, sugar free, dairy-free options)

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 scoops Trader Joe’s Organic Stevia (or about 1/3 cup erythritol, xylitol, Splenda)
  • 3 T Just Like Sugar (Most Whole Foods carry it)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 T egg whites (alternately, another egg)
  • 2 T greek yogurt (or pumpkin for¬†dairy-free)
  • 1/2 tsp Penzey’s Double Vanilla (or 1 tsp any vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Here is where it gets fun: Add in another extract, such as lemon, maple, or almond for a kick.

Combine the wet into the dry ingredients, whisking as you hear the sweet, sweet sound of baking soda and apple cider vinegar combining. This is what will give your muffins RISE!
Pour into muffin tin and bake for 15-17 minutes. Mine took about 18 minutes for a nice crunchy, slightly toasted top (how I like it).

For a savory muffin, leave out the stevia and vanilla. Opt for spices like rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or basil. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes or crushed walnuts. Enjoy spicy muffins by adding cayenne and your favorite shredded cheese to the batter.
Let me know if you try another variation and how you liked it!

InfiniteMuffins

A good muffin is always a fantastic recipe to keep on hand for parties, celebrations (add a few extra ingredients and you’ve got a cake/cupcakes), and breakfast champions.

Here’s to a new year full of life, fun, and MORE RECIPES!

I missed you.

Low Carb, Gluten Free Infinity Muffins

Paleo Sugar Free Little Christmas Scones

Today’s post is beginning with an homage to low-carb.

Never before have I seen weekend transformations such as these:

 

And today’s recorded weight?
120.6, baby!

Didn’t even know that was possible! No exercising or training during this past week, and I’ve pulled some great numbers! My pants are sagging and clothing isn’t fitting. Our inflammatory response to carbohydrates is ridiculous.

Moving on.

Today’s post is a result from the carb-starved cravings kicking in. I wanted snickerdoodles, peanut butter Kisses cookies, chai cookies, peppermint hot chocolate, shortbread, and (oddly enough) Christmas treats.
Christmas is my¬†hands-down favorite time of year. Don’t get me started. You’ll regret it.
You’ll be introduced to Christmas Kayleigh in October.

There is, apparently, a huge issue with said cravings. I really don’t wish to indulge in them.
That’s not true; my health doesn’t. So, I scrambled into the kitchen and laid out ingredients that seemed promising, yet I honestly had no clue if it would work.
(I really shouldn’t reveal how many times I stood at the front door, justifying a grocery store trip to pick up peanut butter chips, just in case.)

So, I was set out to make something that resembled cinnamon-y, moist, and sinfully decadent. BUT was also grain-free, sugar free, and low calorie.
A girl’s gotta stay fit, you know.

 

What emerged from the oven was so much more than I had expected. Let me tell you. Introducing…. Little Christmas. In July.

little christmas scones
makes 10 drop scones

  • 3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2T white stevia powder
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of cayenne (optional, didn’t taste it in the finished product.)
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup water *note for paleo substitution below
  • 1/2 cup + 2T egg whites (alternately, 6 large eggs)
  • 1 capful vanilla extract
  • 3-4 T water *note
Preheat the oven to 340 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl, whisk until mixed. In another bowl, combine greek yogurt and milk into a liquid, then add vanilla. Add egg whites or eggs slowly, mixing it into the yogurt water mixture until well incorporated.
Pour your liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and begin to whisk. The coconut flour will soak up the liquid really quickly. Keep whisking until it sticks to your whisk and add 2T of water at a time until the batter is looking moist but not wet or liquid-y. (I ended up adding 4 whole tablespoons!)

Prepare a Silpat mat for your drop scones. About 2 inch balls should be rolled and dropped onto your baking mat/sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. For an added crunch, I broiled mine for 2 minutes before removing from the oven (totally not necessary, though).
*For paleo, not primal, substitute the yogurt and water mixture for 1/2 cup coconut oil.

Well “hello,” Christmas scone! I do believe I love you. The rich spice flavor definitely hits your tastebuds, while the coconut flour retains a moisture within the scone and it’s not super dense. The whole experience is a lot like eating a warm, toasty biscuit that’s been soaked in eggnog (no joke)!
Success!

Are you craving Christmastime yet? Is Summer your favorite season?
Paleo Sugar Free Little Christmas Scones

Talk About a Scandal: Coffee


Special thanks to Flickr users Market Lane Coffee, ubrayj02, & turoczy for images.

Deep, dark, dreamy, perk-you-up java. Just the mere sight and smell of the magical coffee bean calls you to royally bow in its presence. Your taste buds are  dancing on the tip of your tongue, awaiting the sweet reward of that very first sip of your muddy cup.

Don’t be surprised– 3 out of 4 Americans drink coffee. Roughly 60% enjoy their routine and drink it daily. Here in Seattle, people watching and coffee cup counting should be a sport. We just aren’t as complete without our earthy, rich and zesty brew.

If we had sunnier weather, on the other hand…
 

All gripes aside, coffee seems to be under the radar as of late. This is for many different reasons. Today’s post will hone in specifically on coffee bean composition, and the concerning changes that coffee companies worldwide are making.
Why? Because coffee enthusiasts are griping– for good reason.

“The Bitter Truth”

Daily Finance wrote a short article covering the recent Arabica and Robusta scandal. If you are well-versed in coffee bean location and how this affects flavor and quality, you already may know about why this is concerning.
Being a coffee enthusiast, but not a coffee bean archaeologist, I found out that Arabica beans and Robusta beans are entirely different strains of java once they are brewed.

Arabica Versus Robusta

Arabica coffee beans originate from high and cool mountain environments and come in 25 different bean varieties. Many people consider Arabica as the “gold standard” in coffee bean. Why? Their “inferiority” in flavor: Arabica is the boldest, richest, and most full-bodied cup of joe.

Sounds like a dream?
Don’t worry. You’re likely already drinking it. 70% of all coffee production is based on Arabica beans. If you visit cafes or coffee houses, many of them refuse to sell anything but the best.

Everything that Arabica is, Robusta is not. Not to harp on Robusta, the response of Arabica versus Robusta is extremely apparent. A higher acidity and bitter flavor dominate Robusta’s best qualities.

Guess what? Because the demand in Robusta beans has risen, due to crop yields, coffee companies everywhere are infusing their delicious all-Arabica coffee with rudimentary Robusta.

Even though Robusta tastes worse than Arabica, the fact that there’s more Robusta available is reason enough to degrade coffee quality.

Kristine put it simply in response to Daily Finance’s post:

And, like in most cases, the change in flavor isn’t the only problem.

You pay more to get less.

We’re still being charged just as much money for our beans, without the high-quality Arabica beans our hearts have swooned over for decades. It has become a blended coffee.

Other Americans, like Lila, prefer to voice their concerns and empathize with many other coffee courting folks, disappointed in the loss of flavor and complexity in their java. “WHAT is the HARM?!” she writes. “Are you serious? It does NOT taste the SAME and we are being CHARGED the same.”¬†

This issue is also bringing up common complaints in the slightly sketchy, tasteless tactics of our food industry’s reputation. “At least the new ingredient is actually coffee beans. I wouldn’t have been, and would not be, surprised if it turned out to be … a filler,” commenter smjonz writes.

But, we’re living in a “recession.”

It’s easy to see that during our ever-changing global economic state, all aspects of everyday living are affected in their own way. This switch to Arabica-Robusta blends is being met with great resistance, and I hope to see major changes in the way that coffee producers and growers approach their product development.
Brand reputation and customer satisfaction used to be the marker of success– but when money seems to be a rare commodity, basic human values like trust and genuine intent are carelessly tossed out the window.

I wrote a quick and brief post on the lovely Jolkona blog last year in celebration of World Coffee Day, focusing on the environmental effects of coffee production. Offset your “coffee footprint,” and find out why this is so important.

What issues surrounding coffee have been “grinding your gears” lately? Do you drink coffee? How important is taste and quality in your coffee bean?

Talk About a Scandal: Coffee

Simple and Quick 10-Minute Paleo Chocolate Sauce

I get a thrill when I cook.

For some people, they may call this thrill an “adrenaline rush;” a moment in time where all of your superhuman powers of culinary conception collide into an incredible attack that results into an explosion of awesome for your taste buds.

Lemon pepper and rosemary ham? Genius. Beefsteak tomato jalapeno grilled cheese? A-may-zing.

Truly, these people are born with a gift. If this sounds like you, embrace it!

Why?

I am not one of those people.

My chicken is either raw or stringy and dry. I always put too much corn starch into everything so every soup becomes a gravy.
For the dry chicken.

Needless to say, today’s post is exciting and a Kayleigh form of culinary genius.

Hand crafted, home made and a paleo-friendly chocolate sauce!

Even if you’re not paleo, I highly recommend you prepare this sauce.
This baby can be used with anything: ice creams, as a mix in for brownies and cookies, and for a mole recipe are my favorite ideas so far.

Well, let’s get on it! Here’s your recipe:

everyday chocolate sauce (refined sugar free, paleo, vegan)

1 cup filtered water
1/3 cup cacao (stabilizes blood sugar), cocoa, or carob (caffeine-free) powder
pinch of sea salt
cinnamon to taste (optional, i like it for blood sugar stabilizing properties)
dash/capful of vanilla bean extract (or use vanilla beans if you have them!)
1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup (i used 1/2 but my sweet tooth is not pronounced)
why i sweeten with maple syrup.

Begin by pouring water and cocoa powder into a pot, transfer to the stove on medium-high heat. Stir in until cocoa powder is well incorporated into the water, and you have chocolate water.
Warning: It will smell amazing, but tastes gross. I tried. You’re welcome.


Allow the water to begin boiling. Once the chocolate water begins to thicken up (you will know because it’s shiny and looks like gravy– oh wait, I know that one well) turn the stove on medium heat. Add in ¬†salt, optional cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir briskly. Add in maple syrup slowly, and mix.
I found a small candy whisk worked great for this recipe. You can use a big whisk too, especially if you’re doubling this recipe.
Wait for the chocolate sauce to begin boiling again. After about 4 minutes, still on medium heat, your chocolate sauce should thicken again. If it’s not like gravy, don’t worry!
Take the sauce off the stove and let rest for 5-10 minutes. I taste tested my results to make sure I had enough sweetener. This would be a good time for you to do the same.
Pour the sauce into an old jam jar, glass container, or syrup bottle. Store in the refrigerator covered. Use when needed.

Regarding¬†sweetener– Don’t shy away from using honey, agave, turbinado sugar, or another sweetener of your choice.
I’m sure liquid and even powdered stevia will work just fine in this recipe.¬†

Regarding flavor– I wanted so badly to try adding extracts to this recipe as a non-paleo treat like mint, hazelnut, or banana.

Let me know what modifications you try! 

I promptly made a cayenne mocha with this new-found cooking success and now I’m a happy camper. I hate Sundays, so this is a very good thing.
But that’s another blog post, for another day. A very unenthusiastic day.

Which day of the week do you dislike the most? What are your favorite uses of chocolate sauce?

Simple and Quick 10-Minute Paleo Chocolate Sauce

Talk About a Scandal: Wine

Wine. It comes from grapes, or other fruits. It’s alcohol, and we love to tote its nutritional and health benefits. So why are there issues? My theory is that people love a controversy. I’ve taken the liberty of finding out wine’s dirty little secrets to share with all of you.

The soil that wine grapes grow in are more important than the grapes themselves. The difference between wine and rich, flavorful, potent wine is truly the soil it is grown in. This is before cellars, barrels, and even human influence on wine making. ‘Tis true that generating product is sometimes more important than quality control. Here is where the soil comes in: all wines are starting to taste the same. Why?

We’re all using the degraded soil on Earth to grow the grapes in. Not to mention global warming, which is directly related to the top two wine grape must-haves: Climate, and Soil.¬†If the proper temperature is not present, the wine grape will suffer and potentially affect an entire season of crops.

There is relief: GIS, or geographical information systems, are used to pinpoint exactly where the best crops of wine grapes can be planted. The detailed scientific information GIS retrieves about the soil can make or break a winery. Naturally, the demand for viable land is turning into a requirement. Chateau St. Michelle, here in Washington, assures their wine livelihood through the use of this technology.
Growing wine grapes in the right soil is like floating in equilibrium. The grapes taste better, ripen more evenly, and become a hardier, healthier crop. Who doesn’t want grapes of steel in their bottle of wine?

We are all aware of the impact that chemical fertilizers and pesticides have on our bodies and the environment. Wineries do not shy away from the use of these toxic terrors. Why? To ensure that they have a product to make profit from.¬†Devrinol, Karmex, Surflan, and RoundUp¬†are just a few chemical pesticides that are commonly used on grape vineyards to preserve crop viability. Unfortunately, these chemicals have been found to appear in the foods we eat, causing question among wine drinkers everywhere. “Will I be affected by this?” The verdict is “no, not really.” The use of chemical pesticides in wine has¬†decreased steadily and looks to be near or at zero by 2016.

It looks like the controversy with wine has been recognized and answered rapidly. Wine growers everywhere embrace the idea of organic farming because it directly affects wine quality and demand. The higher quality a wine is, the more likely brand loyalty will be established by the consumer.

If this kind of drive to better business practices isn’t convincing, what is?

If you’re secretly saddened by the lack of controversy in this post, I suggest you check out a detailed list of minor issues within the wine sector, such as “corks or screws?”

Talk About a Scandal: Wine

Cacao is the next big thing for genome sequencing.

The news is in, people. Chocolate, our friend and our frenemy, has become under close watch for something near and dear to its biologically-nonexistent heart. We have harvested, over-processed, and diluted the cacao plant. Now, we move on to greater and more technologically advanced things. We genome it.

For the record, I felt slightly disturbed after watching the multiple press videos about the team of Mars (hot-shot candy company), WSU (huh?), and IMB (really?). I even thought Why would these three come together?

For now, the only information we¬†do have is that in response to our crop losses in cacao harvesting, this team “Cacao Genome Project” aims to create a cacao plant that will withstand harsh weather, “annoying little pests” (that I personally think are not annoying; or pests), and our growing global climate change.¬†Hallelujah. It looks like we’ve finally figured it out. Cacao will be sustainable and great and lively.

^ SARCASM. ^

I feel extremely misled and (quite frankly) a little peeved that this is being toted as a solution to our problem. Whatever happened to replenishing the trees that nourish the plants so that they grow on their own time? Whatever happened to treating the world as a stable environment, and not a constantly growing one? I truly feel that scientifically modifying our world to continually feed our expanding appetites is never going to be sustainable or intelligent.

How do you feel about GMO crops, or genome sequencing?

Cacao is the next big thing for genome sequencing.

My First Time: Chocolate Tasting

Today, my friends, is a day for chocolate.
Here, in Seattle, Chocolate Box is a cafe that specializes in selling the world’s most delectable, delicious chocolates and anything that compliments it. You name it, Chocolate Box will likely have it (or order it). There is a small area for wine tasting and chocolate pairing, as well as a selection of pastries, cakes, and brownies (even gluten free). Their mochas and espresso are heavenly. To top it all off, Seattle’s own Molly Moon’s ice cream is sold there!

The month of February is Chocolate Box’s hot chocolate celebration period, where each day a different flavor of hot chocolate is offered. Here’s the full calendar with each flavor— I’m excited for Elvis Day. Friday was “Lemon Pucker Up,” so my boyfriend and I decided to give it a go. We were pleasantly surprised at how the acid in lemon cuts through chocolate to raise the flavor up and make it more playful on the tongue. Chocolate Box topped the hot chocolate with a tangy, zingy lemon marshmallow that I can’t find. (Help!)
Follow Chocolate Box on Twitter to get updates on which hot chocolate flavor is featured each day!

I also was able to try three beautiful truffles, pictured above, from their shop. The truffle on the left is from a company called Moonstruck Chocolates. The one on the right is a currently unnamed mango chile truffle, and the bottom piece is a pure dark chocolate truffle (also unnamed).

Today, I will take my hand at describing these chocolates to you all, and why you need to try them!

the moon truffle

I ate this truffle way too quickly and it is my favorite of the bunch, so forgetting to take a photograph of it was inevitable.
There is a thick and dark chocolate outside shell that takes a gentle bite to break through. The ganache center, with a bright and citrus flavor alongside a peppery aroma, broke up the deepness of the outer shell. Once I started tasting the  ganache center, a kick of heat (maybe cayenne?) spread out and made the peppery aroma stronger. Overall, the balance of bright and spicy with richness and darkness left a creamy and nutty after taste.
5/5 – A great balanced piece of chocolate that utilizes one of my favorite chocolate combinations: chocolate and heat.

the mango-chile truffle

It left an impression on me right away. The dusted cacao powder is drying and thick, which made for an unexpected bite. I was greeted with a very slick and dense filling. The texture is hard to describe, but it reminds me of a very soft gumdrop. There was also grainy textures inside with a mid-level heat that is more of a background note than a flavor. The flavor of the center hits you before the outer shell does, which is dark but creamy. It also melts easily so the attention is entirely on this truffle’s unique center. Overall, a very sweet truffle; I would like to have felt the spice exaggerated a bit more, but it’s balanced.

2.5/5 – This truffle was large, which is a bonus. However, the unique textures in this truffle do not positively impact the experience. I feel as though this kind of light chile heat with a cheery fruit flavor is best done in a chutney. When paired with chocolate, one flavor needs to be exaggerated in order to prevent a lack of flavor.

the wrinkly truffle

It boasts a small, wrinkled appearance dusted in cacao powder. I bit into a very thin outer shell of smooth dark chocolate. Afterwards, it broke away to a slightly tart, sweet and fudgey ganache-like center. The tartness reminded me of a smooth greek yogurt, which gave this truffle a milky aftertaste. The tiny little nugget was the epitome of melt away flavors. Even swallowing the chocolate happened as I chewed on it, much like butter. This chocolate looks like dark chocolate but tastes as milky as a 45% cacao bar.

3/5 – The chocolate itself ended up being too milky for my taste, removing the flavor of rich chocolate. However, the experience of tasting a balanced and slightly tart dark chocolate was unique.

So, how was it for you? ūüėČ
I know I had a good time.

My First Time: Chocolate Tasting