I took a break from cleaning out my house (I’m determined to go through every nook and cranny this summer!) to make a celebratory dessert. It’s almost the 4th of July after all, and the holiday isn’t complete without homemade ice cream. Funny story – when Rob and I got married, some sweet soul gave us an ice cream maker as a gift. I remember being so excited unwrapping it, as I thought it was such a unique gift. Growing up, my family was known to make homemade ice cream only a few times, on very special occasions. It was one of my favorite memories as a kid, and I distinctly remember how much better homemade cream tastes than any store bought version I’ve ever tried. Since we had just gotten married and essentially were starting our own family, I was very excited to begin this same tradition.
However, when I first got married, I made nothing homemade!! My best versions of homemade anything involved many cans of cream of chicken soup (or mushroom or celery…) mixed with frozen veggies, layered with other packaged or frozen foods, and topped with the magic ingredient – lots of CHEESE – to form some type of casserole. So, needless to say, despite my enthusiasm over our ice cream maker, it was NEVER used.
Rob laughed every time we moved (before having kids) from apartment to apartment because I would insist on bringing this huge ice cream maker, still in the box. Rob and I are the opposite of hoarders – we’re purgers – almost to a fault. So finally, when we moved right before Ben was born (Kayley was almost 2), he talked me into pitching the ice cream maker and my dreams of our family making homemade ice cream together.
I think it was the VERY next Christmas that my sweet mom (who had forgotten or maybe never knew? that we pitched our ice cream maker) bought me another one for Christmas!! Rob could barely contain himself as I opened the gift.
But this time around, I use my ice cream maker all the time. And I’m surprised how easy these ice cream makers are to use!! And how few ingredients are required! Only 4 for this recipe. No ice cream from a store is that pure, and that is why I love to make my own foods, whether it’s bread, juice, milk, kefir, or granola, I can always make my own without so many added ingredients. And fresher and healthier too.
I believe that good health starts in your gut. Without a healthy gut, you are unable to break down and absorb needed nutrients from your food, and the lining of your gut can become compromised. Many things can contribute to a compromised gut lining, one being an imbalance in healthy gut flora and yeast or candida. A compromised lining of your gut – also called leaky gut – leads to larger particles of not quite broken down food absorbing from your gut into your bloodstream, where they travel throughout your system. Your body doesn’t much like those unrecognizable particles of food and can alert the immune system that something isn’t right. This leads to inflammation throughout your body. One of the best things your can do for your gut is to build your intestinal flora up strong and healthy. One of my favorite foods to do this with is kefir.
I started making my own kefir a while back, and like so many things, I’m surprised at how easy it is. Because I avoid dairy, I rotate my kefir grains between whole milk (their favorite) and coconut milk (what I like to drink). I used coconut milk kefir for this recipe. Just in case you aren’t into making your own kefir, substitute So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk.
In an effort to be festive, I started by washing some different red and blue berries. Next, I mixed together the coconut kefir, maple syrup (honey works well too), vanilla extract, and raw cacao powder in a large mixing bowl. After quickly assembling my ice cream maker (mine is a Cuisinart), I poured the chocolate coconut kefir mixture into it and turned it on. About 30 minutes later, ice cream formed, and I layered my berries with scoops of chocolate coconut kefir ice cream. Healthy, festive, EASY, and delicious!
- seasonal berries
- 4 cups coconut milk kefir or So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk
- ½ - ⅔ cup maple syrup, to taste (or honey)
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Make sure your ice cream maker bowl is frozen, waiting in the freezer.
- Wash berries and gently pat dry.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut milk kefir, maple syrup, cacao powder, and vanilla extract.
- Assemble ice cream maker, pour the chocolate coconut kefir mixture into the ice cream maker bowl, and turn it on.
- After ice cream forms, serve with seasonal berries.
These cookies are light and refreshing, just like I want to feel. I’ve been looking for new ways to use my bags of grapefruits, as you all know I love them! When I was pregnant with Kayley, I craved grapefruit. I ate 2 – 3 every night after dinner. No pickles and ice cream for me, but instead I just could not get enough grapefruit. My son now reminds me of how I felt while pregnant – a grapefruit fanatic.
When I think of coconuts, I think of the beach. Palm trees, pina coladas, sun tan oil… But coconut is also an incredibly healthy food. Because coconut is naturally sweet with a low glycemic index, it’s a healthier way to curb your sweet tooth while providing lots of important nutrients. Coconut is rich in fiber and a healthy type of saturated fat called lauric acid (a type of medium chain fatty acid), which helps to slow the sugar absorption of coconut. Plus, this type of fat has actually shown to benefit your heart and cholesterol levels. Coconut is also an energy boosting food that is known to help improve endurance and athletic performance. One reason is its ability to support the thyroid and increase absorption of fat soluble nutrients. Another amazing quality of coconut is its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal (yeast, candida), and anti-viral properties. In fact, coconut makes a wonderful preservative when added to your foods! With so many ways to use our friend the coconut, you won’t have any trouble adding more into your diet:
- Coconut oil is a semi-solid fat that can be substituted equally in place of butter or shortening.
- Coconut oil is wonderful for your skin and can be made into homemade moisturizers.
- Coconut flour can be used in baked goods and gives a light and fluffy texture.
- Coconut sugar can be equally substituted for white table sugar in recipes but has a lower glycemic index.
- Shredded coconut can be used as a condiment, added to trail mixes, added to granola and muesli, and used as a dessert topping.
- Coconut water is a super hydrating drink that replenishes electrolytes and provides many nutrients.
- Coconut milk is a delicious substitute for dairy milk and creates fluff when used in place of milk for baked goods, scrambled eggs, and any other recipe calling for dairy milk.
- Coconut water and milk can be fermented into yogurt or kefir to make a gut healing and tasty food.
And these are just a few of the ways for you to use the amazing coconut as a nutrient boosting food, a dairy and grain alternative, and sweet flavor enhancer. Comment and let me know how you love to use coconut in the kitchen!
Fluffy egg whites also contribute to the light and refreshing texture and taste of these cookies. I used my KitchenAid mixer to easily form soft peaks out of my egg whites before gently folding in the coconut sugar, vanilla, grapefruit juice, pinch of salt, shredded coconut, and grapefruit zest. All that is left to do is form balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden and crispy on the outside.
- 6 egg whites
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 3 cups shredded coconut
- zest of a grapefruit
- 1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Fold in sea salt, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, shredded coconut, zest of a grapefruit, and grapefruit juice.
- Gently form balls, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Makes about 36.
Egg whitesRead More
Anyone else pick up a big ole bag of local Texas grapefruits recently? I love this time of year when those ruby reds are in season. Grapefruit is Ben’s favorite dessert or snack – he can eat several broiled grapefruits in one sitting! I figure he’s powering up his immune system with vitamin C to fight off all of those circulating viruses. Each grapefruit contains 150% of the recommended vitamin C.
And I love these grapefruits because they’re grown locally in Texas. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season where you live is not only the least expensive way to buy your produce but is also the freshest and therefore healthiest produce. Given the choice, I always choose local fruits and vegetables even if they aren’t organic. For example, I’d rather buy a huge bag of local grapefruits than organic kiwis flown in from New Zealand because the fresher the fruit or vegetable is, the more nutritious it is. Nutrients are extremely sensitive to time. When picking my produce, local and organic is obviously cream of the crop, but a close second is local and my third pick is organic. When buying local produce that isn’t organic, I take extra care to wash any possible chemicals from my fruits and vegetables with a quick homemade solution made with a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and purified water. I either fill my spray bottle with the solution, spray it on my produce, rub, and rinse, or I soak my produce briefly in the solution and thoroughly rinse.
This recipe is similar to an old favorite – the lemon bar. You know the one with the powdered sugar topping? Except I made these bars with one of my Texas grapefruits, so they are not as tart and definitely sweeter. If you prefer a more tart bar, use 1/8 cup grapefruit juice and 1/8 cup lemon juice instead of 1/4 cup grapefruit juice to accomplish a sour taste.
For this recipe, I used a coconut flour crust. I find coconut flour difficult to work with. Often it takes several experiments before I can get my recipe to turn out right. A couple of tips I’ve learned about using coconut flour:
- It is very absorbant, so I substitute about 1/4 cup coconut flour for 1 cup flour.
- After mixing it together to bake a crust, cake, cookie, muffin or whatever, I let it stand for a bit to absorb the liquid in the recipe and become more like a batter or dough.
- Sometimes, I have to add additional eggs when using coconut flour to get the fluffy texture I’m desiring.
- Coconut flour is dry and clumpy, so I take extra care to thoroughly beat it together with the other ingredients.
I used my Hurom Slow Juicer to extract the juice from my grapefruit. I love this juicer. It is so easy to use, easy to assemble, easy to clean, and so very quiet. And, I love the color of this grapefruit juice! Isn’t it so pretty?
When using coconut flour, one last tip I’ve learned is to whisk or beat the egg and flour mixture until nice and fluffy for the best results.
- ½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup coconut flour
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup honey
- ¼ cup grapefruit juice (about the juice of one ruby red)
- zest of a grapefruit
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon coconut flour
- optional: grated coconut for a garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, beat together coconut oil, eggs, honey, and salt.
- Add coconut flour and beat until a dough forms. You may need to let it sit for 30 seconds until it thickens enough to form a dough.
- Spread the dough into a greased 8 inch square baking pan.
- Bake for 13 - 15 minutes or until brown on the edges and baked in the middle. Make sure the crust is baked through the middle.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- While the crust is baking, juice the grapefruit using a juicer or by squeezing.
- In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, honey, grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, baking powder, and coconut flour.
- Pour the grapefruit mixture over the warm crust, and return to the oven for 25 -27 minutes or until it has set.
- Optional: Garnish with grated coconut.
The kids are at home so much more during the summer, and that means I visit the grocery store twice as often trying to keep up with their growing appetites. Their food of choice at the moment is all of the stone fruits that are in season; my daughter loves the peaches and nectarines, and my son prefers the plums. We made this sweet treat with nectarines this week, and it was a big hit.
- 5 nectarines, halved and pitts removed
- 1 cup almond flour (www.honeyvillegrains.com)
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- dash of ginger and nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- ½ tablespoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, stir together almond flour, almonds, pecans, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- In a small bowl, stir together oil, agave nectar, and vanilla.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir to combine.
- Place nectarine halves skin side down in a 2 quart baking dish.
- Divide the almond mixture evenly between the 10 nectarine halves, putting a spoonful in the center of each nectarine half.
- Bake for 40 minutes, lightly covered with a tent of foil.
- Remove foil, and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Serve warm.
I was craving something refreshing the other night, and the seedless watermelon I picked up at the store looked delicious and no doubt juicy, a perfect food to eat in this Texas heat. Watermelon is not only great on a hot summer day, but this delectable thirst-quencher may also help quench inflammation in our bodies due to it’s high concentration of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lycopene. In addition to being a kid favorite, watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production and is a good source of magnesium and potassium. It’s 92% water, which makes it an excellent hydrator and very low in calories (always a plus!) – only 48 calories per cup!
- 1 bunch carrots, peeled and tops removed
- ½ small to medium seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
- 3 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- ¼ - ½ teaspoons Himalayan sea salt, to taste
- Steam the carrots for 30 minutes and then let cool.
- In a Vitamix or other blender, combine steamed carrots, watermelon, chicken broth, olive oil, thyme, and sea salt, and blend until smooth.
- Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate to chill before serving.
- 1¾ cups dried quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta
- 1½ cups fresh blackberries (or strawberries or raspberries)
- 3 ounces small fresh mozzarella cheese balls, halved
- large handful of fresh basil leaves (shred if large)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons raspberry or blackberry balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
- black pepper to taste
- optional: diced cooked or grilled organic chicken
- Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water and drain again.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, raspberry balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- In a large bowl toss together pasta, strawberries, cheese, and basil.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss again.
- Can add diced cooked or grilled chicken breast.
- Refrigerate until time to serve.