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Fifth Blogiversary Protein Bombs


You may notice it has been almost six months since I posted here. SIX MONTHS!!!!! For those of you first visiting, that is a long time. Way long. When I first started this blog I had a lot of momentum, posting every other day. As life trundled along, the frequency varied more, sometimes every third day, sometime once a week. Once during a move across the country, when we lived in a kitchenless hotel, it was a month.

I want to explain why I have not posted in a while, and share a new recipe while I am at it!

About six months ago (hmmm….maybe a pattern here?) Big D, Little B and I started welcoming foster children into our home. We are licensed to welcome up to five at a time. For the most part, our capacity has been full for six months. That is a lot of mouths to feed. Not only feed, but make available food they will actually eat. Each child has had their own eating idiosyncrasies – some healthy, some not so much. Everything from a vegetarian to a voracious carnivore to some who don’t like speckles (a.k.a. herbs) in their food.

To develop and support consistent eating habits for the kids, I have had to focus on many foods with which they are familiar, in addition to introducing foods new to them. This means I needed to deviate from my grain free cooking some of the time. A lot of the food the kids are used to eating include many types of ‘junk’ food, canned and boxed foods. We don’t do ramen or canned ravioli here,. Yuck flavor wise and nutrition wise. Although I have cooked some grains for them, mostly including rice and corn, I still do plenty of grain free dishes.

As a result of almost tripling the size of hour household, my creative juices committed to cooking have dropped significantly. It has been sucked up focusing on feeding the masses, and trying to keep up with the demands of my business, Grain Free Haven. I continue to make many of the dishes I posted in the past, while making new stuff with some grain ingredients. I have made some really good tasting dishes, but hesitated to post them, since they are inconsistent with how I wish they would eat. I sneak in grain free versions of ingredients when I can, but the kids are sharp cookies, and cannot always be ‘tricked’. Other people try to sneak vegetables into food for kids. I try to sneak out grains and sugar!

I mean, I own a business that promotes grain free eating. How absurd is it to continue a food blog that promotes eating grains? I refuse to frustrate the foster children by not providing them foods they like just because they include grains, but I also refuse to have a kitchen that makes Big D sick, since he is extremely sensitive to wheat and other grains that include gluten. I firmly believe that avoiding grains and sugar have helped me, Big D and Little B avoid illness, internal inflammation, gastrointestinal irritation and diabetes. I am not at all interested in abandoning those tenets. It takes a little more effort to provide meals with grain free foods alongside those with grains, but it is very much worth it.

As the sixth year of this blog begins, I have decided to resolve my cooking and blog posting conundrum. I intend to continue fulfilling my love of cooking and creating new dishes, using this blog as my conduit. I look forward to posting  what I cook, whether it is grain free or not. I also intend to share substitutions I would use if making the grainy dish grain free. I will also include what I serve to sate the appetites of those eating grain free.

To begin this new approach, I share with you some protein bombs. I like making these for the kids to appease their sweet tooth without added sugar, and fill them up between the school day ending and dinner beginning. The kids are growing like weeds and I need to get as much protein in them as I can. It is based on a no-bake cookie my mom has made for decades. For a grain free alternative you can make my Chocolate Coconut No Bake Goodies.

Fifth Blogiversary Protein Bombs

1 cup peanut butter (use natural to make the result sugar free)
1/2 cup butter (use your oil of choice to make dairy free)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder (equivalent to 1/2 cup pure cane sugar)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups gluten free oatmeal, uncooked

In a medium pot over medium heat add the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and stevia. Stir until butter is melted and ingredients well combined.

Add the cocoa powder and stir, then fold in the oatmeal. Stir until all the oatmeal is coated.

With a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon drop portions onto parchment paper. The bombs can be made whatever size suits your needs. Let cool to room temperature and serve. Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Makes 18-20 bombs.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

protein pb choco cookies

These cookies look ready for a picnic, don’t they?! First impressions may give the appearance of being just a regular cookie, tempting you to abandon your diet or require an additional 20 minutes on the treadmill. Not so! Look closely and you will see they are full of protein, and only have sugar if you choose for them to. We love our sugar free chocolate bars all chopped up and performing the role of topping. Our cookie treats have evolved from the wheaty, to the sugary but not wheaty, to this finale of non-wheaty and non-sugary. We are pretty impressed with ourselves, especially Big D who has become quite the consummate baker! I even changed the name per his request to put the protein after the peanut butter and chocolate chip – I am so proud! Enjoy these cookies on a Sunday picnic, or a Tuesday night – what a treat!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

1 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp butter
3 eggs
1 cup almond flour
2 Tbsp whey or hemp protein powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp Stevita
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup chocolate chips (or sugar free chocolate bar, chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine peanut butter, butter, eggs and vinegar in medium bowl. In a separate bowl combine remaining dry ingredients except chips. Add dry mix to wet ingredients and stir until well blended. The dough will be stiff. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper – paper is optional if sheets are nonstick. For each cookie take 1 – 2 tablespoons in hand and shape a cookie, about  ¼ inch thick and place on cookie sheet. Leave approximately ½ inch between cookies. Gently press three to four chocolate chips into the top of each cookie. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until cookies begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing cookies from parchment paper.

Chocolate Coconut No Bake Goodies

coconut treats 

When I was growing up my mom made what she called tangos – heat up sugar, chocolate, oatmeal and peanut butter in a pan, drop the hot stuff on wax paper, let it cool and you have instant treats. I have made them a lot myself – the chocolate and peanut butter with the chewiness of the oatmeal made for a great snack and had a richness that appeased the nibbling and snacking craving I get of an afternoon. I have been craving them lately and sought out a version that does not have sugar or oatmeal. I found what looked like a really close version with coconut. I relied on the traditional peanut butter instead of almond, and a few other tweaks, but the recipe made a great healthy snack for my family. Tall P really liked them to appease his sweet tooth cravings, too, but the guy that dips his strawberries in sugar said they were too sweet. Silly boy. Little B liked them so much she took them to her Valentine’s Day party to share with friends. Score!

Chocolate Coconut No Bake Goodies

3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp Stevita spoonable stevia
4 cups finely shredded coconut

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine the dark chocolate, butter and peanut butter. Cook until melted and thoroughly combine. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, salt, and sweetener and stir to combine. The heated mixture will thicken quickly, then needs to be taken off the heat. If it begins to separate it is okay, just keep stirring when off the heat. In a large bowl pour the chocolate mixture over the coconut. Stir to incorporate. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Refrigerate until hardened.

Cookie Cut Ups

cookie cut upsThis is the tale of the cookies that kept cutting up. I found the delicious recipe from Ginny at Ginny’s Low Carb Kitchen. I mostly followed it, but made a tweak or two because of timing – there was nooooo way I was going out in the snow storm to buy xanthan gum, and Little B was gonna die if she could not make cookies soon! I don’t know how different they turned out without it, but we had success! Eventually. Little B and I mixed up the dough, rolled it out and ugh. A bit too soft for manipulating. I suggested to Little B that we form the cookies into shapes with our hands, but she insisted on using the cookie cutters. The cookie cutter use was a disaster. We piled up the dough and stuck it in the refrigerator for an hour. We rolled it out – again – with slightly more success, but still smooshing of the shapes by the spatula, even with a bit of help from arrowroot powder. Ack! Little B still insisted on cookie cutter use, so we again chilled the dough, for about six hours this time, occupying ourselves with movies and art projects and carols. When it was finally time to try again it worked! The cookie cutters did their duty, as long as we made sure to ‘shimmy’ them before pulling them off, separating the shape from the extra dough around it. I then carefully tilted the parchment paper and the shapes, one by one, fell onto my hand. They were delicate, but cooked up nicely and were very buttery and nutty; a wonderful accompaniment to hot chocolate. I will be more adventurous next time figuring out icing, but for now, we were able to experience cut out cookies on a snowy Alaska day, even though they resisted. Kudos to Little B for holding out for use of cookie cutters, and being flexible enough to hand shape those pesky candy canes! Three were set aside especially for Santa. Fingers crossed to have them survive that long!

Cookie Cut Ups

1/2  cup  Stevia in the Raw
1/2  cup  butter
1  large  egg
1  teaspoon  baking powder
1  teaspoon  vanilla
1/2  teaspoon  salt
2 cups  almond flour
In a food processor blend together Stevia, butter, egg and vanilla. In a medium bowl combine the baking powder, salt and flour. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and combine into a stiff dough. Refrigerate for 2 – 6 hours. Sprinkle a square piece of parchment paper with arrowroot powder, and have another piece of parchment of the same size nearby. Also prepare a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and work quickly with it. Place dough between parchment paper and roll it out 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Carefully peel off top layer of paper and use cookie cutters to make cookies. Two methods can be used to transfer cookies to the baking sheets. Either tilt the paper, letting the cookie fall into your hand, transferring the cookie to the baking sheet, or sprinkle a thin spatula with arrowroot powder and use it to slide under the cookies and remove them from the parchment paper. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until the edges start to turn a golden brown. Let cookies cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet. Frost as desired and store in airtight container.

Topped Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookies no wheat

We made these for Santa last year, topped with blueberries. We decided our house was the only one in the whole wide world where he would get blueberry oatmeal cookies. In the morning the cookies and milk were all gone! He must have liked them. I forgot to take pictures then, but recently made a batch with Little B and she wanted to top them with sugar free chocolate chips instead of blueberries. Wheat free and sugar free, these went with Little B to her last day with her daycare group in Maryland before we moved. The group gets so excited just being around each without any stimulation, why the heck would I put wheat or sugar in the treats?! They were soft and chewy and seemed to be a hit. We may make them for Santa again this year, and try again to make them memorable. Involving Little B in deciding the topping and standing back so she can stir stir stir makes for a great opportunity to practice measuring, mixing and creativity. Go crazy with the toppings – she was so proud to share her creations. I got the original idea here, but tweaked to my liking. Thanks Alton!

Toasted Oatmeal Cookies (no wheat)

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated stevia in the raw
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup optional toppers (raisins, blueberries, sugar free chocolate chips, etc)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread oats in a single layer on half-sheet pans and bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove the oats from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Grind half the toasted oats in a food processor until they are the consistency of whole wheat flour. Add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa, stevia and salt, then pulse to combine. Combine the butter, egg and vanilla in a mixer and mix on medium speed for about a minute. Slowly add the oat mixture and the remaining oats until just combined. Let batter sit and thicken if it is soupy and will not hold shape if scooped. Using a teaspoon, scoop batter and drop onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If adding a topping gently push into the middle of each cookie. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes until they begin to brown around the edges. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pans for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack until cooled completely – they should remain soft and chewy. Store in airtight container.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I promised long ago, I am now sharing my old reliable. I came upon it in a cookie cookbook my mom got for me at a school book fair. It was my second cookbook. The first was a cute spiral bound thing with recipes of the world. It was more of an illustrated book, but the recipes were simple and fun for a kid. This cookie cookbook was a whole new world. Real pictures and little squares with facts about ingredients. And the recipes! Oh the recipes! So many to choose from and every one with great results. I always needed cookies for bake sales and parties and such. Bunches of opportunities to cook and learn how ingredients work together. I recently had a need for cookies to take to a party, and made my old faithful. Although I don’t have the cookbook with me right now, I am pretty sure I remember all the ingredients, and they came out great!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together peanut butter and butter. Add sugar and combine. Gradually add eggs just until combined. In separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture in four portions to the wet mixture until blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop dough onto non-stick cookie sheets and gently press down into 1 ½ to 2 inch rounds. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until set and slightly brown on the edges. Store in airtight container.

Oatmeal Vanilla No Bake Cookies

I know I know. This recipe is totally not in line with what I have been making lately, but I have a reason. I wanted to make a little something for people at work, and since 95% of them eat whatever comes there way, I decided to make something with a -little- bit of nutrition, but not exactly sugar free. I took some gluten free sugar free treats for the souls with more sensitive diets, but the majority happily scoffed down these cookies. The result was a big hit, and apparently addictive. I like that. I ate a crumb when I was slicing them up, and wow! One guy at work insisted he really liked the coconut, but I think it was oats, since there is not a speck of coconut in them. Maybe it was a texture thing? His insistence is ironic, considering all the coconut products I use these days. The good thing about this recipe is the fact you can make it from dry goods typically found in your pantry, and staples from the fridge. I would eventually like to try a gluten free sugar free version, but my hunt for sugar free pudding mix without aspartame has yet to be successful…oh well, maybe some day. In the meantime, you now have a recipe that is quick to whip up and will disappear in the blink of an eye!

Vanilla No Bake Cookies

2 cups white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup butter
2/3 cup milk
1 (3.4 ounce) box vanilla pudding mix
3 ½ cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large pan mix together sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Turn off the heat, add in the pudding mix, oats and vanilla. Let stand five minutes. Drop by tablespoon onto wax or parchment paper and let cool. You can also pour the mixture into a small cookie sheet or baking dish (9×11). Spread evenly and let cool completely before slicing up into desired serving size. Store in airtight container.

Inspired by:


Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies

You will want to eat more than one, but you may not be able to! These cookies are rich rich rich. Have some milk handy to help wash them down. I came across the recipe for these flourless cookies here. The batter was almost that of a cake batter instead of doughy and sticky like it says in the recipe. The results I got are also less cake-y than those I saw on the blog, and they came out with almost a brownie-type shininess to them. I don’t know if it was just some random altitude thing, the fact that one of the egg whites was cold, or slightly less cocoa ended up in the batter than was prescribed in the recipe, but I don’t actually care. The results were wonderful.

While we were adding ingredients Little B carefully cracked the third room temperature egg, missed the bowl and proceeded to drop it on the floor between the counter and her learning tower, which meant I added a third egg white cold, straight from the fridge. It may also have been the fact that Little B was helping me start and stop the Kitchen Aid mixer, and at one point turned it on high when we had just added the cocoa – a cloud of chocolate dust rose from the blender and gently settled on the mixer, me, Little B and everything else within 18 inches of the bowl. Next time she started the mixer Little B covered her nose and mouth, waiting for another explosion, which did not happen. Adventures when practicing fine motor skills! I will definitely try the recipe again, and will eagerly await the results. I bet next time they will again be deliciously rich, delicate and powerful treats.

Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies

3 egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cups cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a kitchen stand mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). Beat in ½ cup of powdered sugar until mixture is well blended. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the remaining sugar, and beat until well blended. Dough will be stiff and sticky. Using a greased spoon or hands, drop balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes; cool on a cooling rack.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

About thirty years ago (when I was an infant…well, really a bit older than that) my mom brought home a cookie cookbook for me. She got it at one of those traveling book fairs visiting the school where she taught kindergarten. We always baked sweets together and I was so proud of having my own cookbook! The book is now all beat up and stored away, nestled safely in the loft of our cabin in Alaska. Almost every page has a spot of vanilla or a place where batter dripped on it and I attempted to wipe it off. One recipe from the book I made a lot and know by heart – it is for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. They were actually named “The Greatest Cookie in the World”. I don’t necessarily disagree. Although I got pretty tired of eating them after a few years I still enjoy seeing people bite into them, surprised at how good they are, roll their eyes and look down at the cookie, wondering where it had been all their lives. I have taken batches of them to bake sales, given them as gifts, relied on them for potlucks, given them as ‘I’m sorry’ presents, added pounds to the waists of many a boyfriend and to this day make batches for my godfather. He freezes them and carefully rations his supply, taking one out every evening before dinner. By the time he is done eating the cookie is thawed and provides him with a daily treat. I am not as good as I used to be in keeping him stocked, but I try to make a batch for him when I visit.

After all this build up I am actually not going to share the recipe with you. One, because I want to make sure I give credit to the original source, which I have not yet found, and two, I have a recipe just about as great, but gluten free!

I have made these cookies a few times over the past year and they come out wonderfully every time. The salty, peanutty chocolaty explosion in your mouth may try convince you they are full of processed all purpose flour, but they are not. Using white cane sugar makes a big difference in the result, which is what you see above. I have also made them with Stevia in the Raw instead of white cane sugar. The Stevia version ends up a little dryer and powdery, but I make them small, about two bites, so it is not overwhelming – the peanut buttery chocolate magic still shines through. I was introduced to the recipe here by the guys at The Bitten Word, and as they say, they got it from Southern Living. Enjoy!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together peanut butter and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in chocolate morsels. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool 15 minutes.


UPDATE 01/26/2013

Little B and I made a lower carbohydrate version of these cookies tonight and they came out scrumptious! They taste a little less sweet, but using a less bitter chocolate may take care of that issue, although I like the less sweet version. Here are the revised ingredients and instructions.

1 cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered splenda
1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 ounce block unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl combine splenda, protein powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to peanut butter mixture and mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool 15 minutes. They will get crispier as they cool.

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