Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Pecan Kefir Ice Cream

Fall is here!  Leaves are turning, the temperature is cooler and pumpkins are decorating the front porches all along my neighborhood.  This is the time of year that I begin to crave the flavors of autumn and pumpkin is one of my favorites.  This creamy frozen dessert is a real treat!  The best part is that it's low carb, dairy-free, full of beneficial live probiotic cultures, provides healthy fats and is unbelievably DELICIOUS!  Start by making a batch of coconut milk kefir (see my earlier post), then flavor the plain kefir before putting it into your ice cream maker.  The result is a healthy dessert worthy of any occasion that the whole family will enjoy.

Pumpkin Pecan Kefir Ice Cream
Makes 8 servings (1/2 cup each)

3 cups plain, unsweetened, coconut milk kefir (click here for directions)
1 tablespoon butter, ghee or non-dairy butter substitute
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tiny pinches of salt, divided
1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée 
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used flax milk, but substitute with your favorite)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
10 drops liquid English Toffee Stevia (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
5 drops liquid Vanilla Creme Stevia
1/4 teaspoon 100% Stevia powder (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  A day or two ahead, make a batch of homemade, plain, coconut milk kefir using full-fat coconut milk (not coconut milk beverage).  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.  (If desired, you may use purchased plain, unsweetened kefir, but the nutritional information will be different and the resulting ice cream will not be non-dairy.)

2.  In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter, ghee or non-dairy butter substitute.  Add 1/3 cup chopped pecans and cook over low heat until pecans are fragrant and lightly toasted.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of LaKanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener, a tiny pinch of salt and stir to coat.  Remove from heat, transfer pecans and any liquid into a bowl and set aside at room temperature to cool.

3.  Place 3 cups of plain, unsweetened kefir into a blender. Add 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, 1 teaspoon Lakanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener, 1 teaspoon molasses, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, liquid Stevia drops, 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder, a tiny pinch of salt and vanilla extract. Blend to combine and taste. Add more Stevia drops or powder, if desired, until desired sweetness is achieved.  Refrigerate mixture for about an hour before proceeding.

4.  Follow the directions from your ice cream maker.  Pour the pumpkin-kefir mixture into the ice cream maker and churn until thickened and beginning to set.  Add the pecans and reserved liquid from the bowl into the ice cream and continue churning until desired consistency is reached.  Serve immediately soft-set or pour into a container and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.*

* Important Note: This kefir ice cream needs to be eaten while in a soft-set stage.  If allowed to freeze completely, the ice cream will be too firm to scoop.  Any extra ice cream can be frozen in individual ice pop molds and served later as a creamy ice pop.

Nutritional Information per 1/2 cup serving: 179 calories, 4.9 g carbohydrate (0.9 g dietary fiber, 2.7 g sugars, 1.2 g sugar alcohols), 17.4 g total fat (10.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 34 mg sodium, 35.4 mg calcium, 70 mg potassium, 1.3 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 4 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2015.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Baked Cinnamon Spice Grain-Free, Low-Carb Granola

It's it must be healthy, right?  No, not necessarily.  Granola is one of those foods that is touted as healthy but can often be so full of sugar and carbohydrate that it's no better than eating right out of the sugar bowl!  If you check out the nutritional label on a store-bought granola cereal, you'd be shocked to see that there are about 45 carbs per serving, which translates into 8-1/2 teaspoons of sugar.  You can just imagine the spike in your blood glucose that is anything but healthy for your body.  In this grain-free recipe, there are only 4 net carbs per serving and I think the taste is better than a processed, boxed variety.  I used a combination of honey and no-carb sweeteners to achieve the right touch of sweetness without overpowering the warm spices and crunchy nuts.  It makes a delicious and nutritious breakfast topped with your favorite cold, non-dairy milk or sprinkle it on yogurt, applesauce or eat it plain as a snack.  Recently I stirred some into homemade vanilla kefir ice cream and it tasted like Cookies and Cream!  I always have some of this granola around because it's simple to make ahead of time and convenient when I need a quick and easy breakfast.

Baked Cinnamon Spice Grain-Free, Low-Carb Granola
Makes 12 servings (1/2 cup each)

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup hazelnut or almond meal/flour
1/4 cup chia seeds, ground in a nut grinder (or 1/4 cup ground flaxseed)
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup melted butter (or 1/2 butter & 1/2 coconut oil)
2 tablespoons LaKanto Monkfruit Sweetener (or other erythirtol sweetener)
3/4 teaspoon Stevia powder (I use Sweet Leaf brand)
1 tablespoon raw honey, melted
10 drops of Vanilla Creme liquid Stevia, or to taste (I use Sweet Leaf brand)
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 250-degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick coconut oil spray; set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix very well.  Spread the granola on the parchment paper-lined pan.  Compress it into a firm, even sheet of granola by pressing mixture flat with a rubber spatula or your hand that is protected by parchment or a plastic sandwich bag.  The granola should be about 1/4-inch thick.*

3. Bake for about 70-90 minutes, or until golden throughout (the longer you bake it, the crunchier it gets).  Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool.  Break into pieces and enjoy!  Makes about 6 cups of bite-size pieces.  Store in an air-tight container.

*If you want to make this mixture into bars, shape into 12 equal-size bars or rounds, flatten and bake as directed.  Cool bars completely before removing from pan.  Wrap each bar individually with plastic wrap, then store bars in a zip-lock bag.

Nutritional Information per 1/2 cup pieces: 260 calories, 8.7 g carbohydrate (4.6 g dietary fiber, 2.5 g sugars), 23.8 g total fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 124 mg sodium, 61.2 mg calcium, 184 mg potassium, 7.1 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 4.1 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2015