Hold The Sugar http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com Discovering the benefits of an anti-inflammation, "real food" life! Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:16:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Maple Poached Pears http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/maple-poached-pears/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:48:26 +0000 http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/?p=3350 I discovered this recipe thanks to a post on Kitchen Stewardship. (It’s from a cookbook called The Nourished Kitchen Cookbook.) And it has transformed my life.

Do you know how wonderful a mouthful of soft, creamy pears, hot and drizzled with a spiced, mapley, buttery syrup is? I mean, really?!? It’s so simple, but absolutely amazing. My children especially like it with a scoop of ice cream, and for Christmas dessert I made some cinnamon ice cream using maple syrup as a sweetener that went with it perfectly! But it’s also good all by itself, or perhaps even drizzled with some cream!

This recipe is pretty much just like the one on Kitchen Stewardship, but I’ve upped the butter and maple syrup because I didn’t think there was enough sauce in the original recipe. I also did mine in a cast iron skillet, and they were perfect!

Peel about 4 ripe pears and cut them in half. Then, take a spoon and scoop out the seeded center and the fibrous stem part.

Maple Poached Pears Maple Poached Pears

Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet or other oven-safe pan, melt 4 Tbsp of butter .

Maple Poached Pears

Add in about 1/4 cup of maple syrup, preferably grade B, and the spices.

Maple Poached Pears

Let it cook until bubbly.

Maple Poached Pears

Then place the pears in, face-down.

Maple Poached Pears

Let it cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to caramelize the bottoms of the pears, and then place the entire pan in the oven for 45 minutes or until a fork pokes through them easily.

Maple Poached Pears

Serve drizzled with the sauce. If desired, top with ice cream, whipped cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream.

Maple Poached Pears

Pure deliciousness!

NOTE: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can still make these but the bottoms won’t caramelize as nicely. You can start the pears on the stove top, and then transfer the pears and sauce to an oven-safe baking dish to do the baking part. 

Maple Poached Pears
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
If you don't have a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet, you can start them on the stove top and then transfer them to a baking dish instead. They won't caramelize as nicely but will still turn out yummy! Don't forget to scrape all the sauce into the baking dish with the pears.
  • 4 ripe pears
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Peel the pears, slice them in half, and scoop out the seeded center and tough stemmy parts with a spoon.
  3. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet melt the butter and add in the syrup. Let cook until bubbly, and then stir in the spices and vanilla.
  4. Place the pears, sliced side down, in the skillet and let cook on medium for 3-5 minutes to caramelize the bottoms
  5. Place the whole pan in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a fork pierces the pears easily.
  6. Serve hot, drizzled with the sauce. If desired, top with ice cream, whipped cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream.


Grinding My Own Grain! http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/grinding-my-own-grain/ Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:48:08 +0000 http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/?p=3294 My husband bought me a grain grinder for my birthday.

I’m really not sure what this says about me. But between the grain grinder and the backyard chickens, I sense that I’m crossing some sort of line. Some line manned by alternative hippy dippies and paranoid survivalists. (Is this a bad time to mention that I haven’t used conventional deodorant in over a year? I swear, I don’t stink though.)

Anyway, I now grind my own grain. I fantasized aloud back in September about how nice it would be to have freshly ground grain – since it tastes so much better that way. And then my supply at Whole Foods dried up. For over 5 months they had no whole grain spelt.

So my husband bought me a grain grinder for my birthday!

It’s a Wonder Mill Jr. It’s hand powered, not electric, because I thought it would be more durable. Theoretically, this thing should last my lifetime and beyond! You can buy an attachment to use your drill to do the grinding, but we haven’t tried that out. So far it’s just been manual labor all the way. But I have two slaves children to do said manual labor, so it’s not so bad!

One slave child is particularly enthusiastic about the grinding.

IMG_4991 grinding spelt

Grind baby grind!


We have this policy of whoever walks into the back room (where the grinder is set up) has to do a few cranks on the grinder. This started out working great, but lately production has dramatically dropped. (I’m going to have to break out the whips soon.)

I bought a ridiculous amount of spelt berries from a farm in Idaho. $50 for 50 lb, which is really good. Unfortunately, the shipping cost as much as the spelt – which is NOT so good! After this runs out, my next goal is to find a source that’s more local so that I don’t have to spend an arm and a leg just to get it to me.

spelt spelt

I poured it into two buckets with air-tight lids. The whole berries should keep this way indefinitely.

spelt spelt

And the verdict? Is there really a difference between freshly ground and store bought flour?

Yes! I’ve so far made biscuits, banana bread, dumplings (chicken and dumplings), cookies, and rolls with the flour, and they all taste noticeably better! They’re light and tender and delicious! I have noticed that some of the ratios are different, though. For example, my biscuits take much less liquid with the freshly ground flour than the pre-ground stuff.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to buy a grinder and start grinding their own grain. The VitaSpelt from Whole Foods worked just fine for me before they stopped selling it. (The Bob’s Red Mill brand spelt, however, tastes AWFUL. Truly, truly awful. Don’t bother with it.) But if anyone out there is curious and does want to, I can testify that it is worth it and is delicious. And we’ve been very happy with the Wonder Mill. I suspect it will outlast me on this planet.

And, don’t worry. I don’t really think owning a grain mill actually makes you a paranoid survivalist. (Unless you also have a cellar full of canned goods and a stockpile of weapons. Then you might be.) But it DOES make you one seriously good cook!




World’s Best Hot Chocolate http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/worlds-best-hot-chocolate/ Tue, 03 Feb 2015 18:34:38 +0000 http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/?p=3379 There’ve been some pretty cold days here in Pennsylvania lately. And with cold days comes craving for hot drinks. We all enjoy Cranberry Cider Swizzle, and at bedtime I love a mug of honey-sweetened Cardamom Milk, and there’s always tea. But on certain days – especially snowy days when you come in from sledding and playing outside – nothing will do but hot chocolate!

Here’s our go-to hot chocolate. It is the best hot chocolate you will ever drink in your whole life. I don’t mean, it’s “pretty good for being healthier for you.” I mean, it will blow that packet of Swiss Miss out of the water and make you wonder why you ever put that stuff in your mouth. It is rich, chocolatey, and deeply satisfying. Every single person who has ever had it has said, “Wow! How do you make this!” and can hardly believe how good it is. So, if you’ve been used to making instant hot chocolate packets, try this instead. It’s cheaper, healthier, and waaayyyy tastier!

And – bonus of bonuses – not only is it absolutely delicious, it’s also made with a minimum of sweeteners and only natural, whole-food ingredients! So you can drink this (as long as you’re not highly inflammatory at the moment) and give this to your family and feel good about it!!

This is all there is to it. First, in a pot combine the cocoa, sweetener of choice, and a dash of salt. I like to use palm sugar, but you can use honey or maple syrup instead if you prefer. I also cut the sweetener in half and supplement with Stevia, but that’s optional.

hot chocolate

Pour in 1/2 cup of milk, turn on the heat and whisk it all together until it forms a smooth paste.

hot chocolate

Then pour in the rest of the milk and the cream. If you have molasses, add about a Tablespoon. It’s not essential, but it really adds to the flavor!

hot chocolate

Stir and let it heat until bubbles just start to form on the outside edge of the pot, then turn off the heat. You want the milk to scald for the best flavor, but not boil.

hot chocolate

After the heat is off, add the Stevia if you’re using it. (all extracts should be added after the heat is off). I prefer Trader Joe’s brand – it tastes better than any others I’ve tried.


And that’s it! At this point you get to add fun flavors, if you want. I almost always add some vanilla and a dash of red pepper. Cinnamon is good. So are extracts like orange or mint. Ginger and cardamom can be interesting. Really, you can just use your imagination here!

I guarantee everyone you serve this to will love this! Your kids will rejoice. Neighbors will praise you. You’ll get a reputation as an expert hot-chocolate maker.

IMG_5401 hot chocolate

And, there’s nothing to it! It’s really no harder than instant. Just some dry ingredients whisked together on the stove with some milk. That’s it.

So, this winter, as you’re shivering away in the cold, open up your pantry and whip together a pot of this. Your taste buds will thank you! And you’ll never, ever want to go back to a packet of instant again.

hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate
Recipe type: drink
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
This is a creamy, chocolatey, deeply satisfying hot chocolate! To make it more anti-inflammation-friendly, cut the sweetener in half and add liquid Stevia drops to tastes
  • ½ cup cocoa (I like Hershey's special dark)
  • ½ cup palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup (if you want to lessen the sweetener, use ¼ cup and add about 15 drops liquid stevia extract, or to taste)
  • dash of salt
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream (can omit and use all milk if preferred, but this makes it creamier)
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • Flavoring as desired: vanilla, orange or mint extract, dash of red pepper, cinnamon, ginger, etc.
  1. In a saucepan, combine the cocoa, palm sugar, salt, and ½ cup of the milk.
  2. Turn on the heat and whisk until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Pour in the rest of the milk and cream and the molasses, and stir until bubbles start to form at the edge of the pot.
  4. Turn off the heat and whisk in the Stevia (if using) and other flavorings.
  5. Taste. If you want it sweeter, add more palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup until it's as you like it.
  6. Serve!



Hunter’s Chicken http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/hunters-chicken/ Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:57:48 +0000 http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/?p=3300 This is one of those childhood dishes that I remember eating my whole life, and is one of my favorites. I don’t know why it took me so long to get it on the blog! It’s one I pull out for company because it seems impressive while being really simple, so I’m not stressed out for my guests.

It starts out with 1 pound of chicken. I prefer to use thighs because they fall apart really nicely in the sauce, but you could use whatever chicken parts you want. I believe this dish originally called for a whole, cut-up chicken. You can make it that way too, but then the chicken parts stay whole instead of breaking up into the sauce. Still perfectly good, just a different variation!

So, take your chicken thighs, or whatever you’re using, and dredge them in tapioca flour or arrowroot flour.

hunter's chicken hunter's chicken

Then place the chicken in the bottom of a very hot pot coated with some oil. (coconut oil, palm shortening, lard, ghee, or olive oil.)

hunter's chicken

Sautee for a few minutes until browned and crispy, and then flip them over.

hunter's chicken

Add in some chopped onions and minced garlic.

hunter's chicken

And then add in 3/4 cup of white wine, 1 cup of chicken stock, 1 small can of tomato paste, and the spices: bay leaf, basil, marjoram, and salt and pepper. Stir it all together!

hunter's chicken

Simmer for 45 minutes, then add sliced mushrooms and continue to cook for another half hour. (If your family rebels at the suggestion of mushrooms, as mine does, you can leave them out. But they’re delicious!) At the end, if you’re using boneless chicken thighs you should take your spoon and break them apart.

hunter's chicken

Serve over pasta. We usually use a brown rice and quinoa spiral pasta from Trader Joes which is really good!

hunter's chicken

And that’s it. This is one of those good simple recipes to have in your everyday-recipe-that’s-good-enough-for-company arsenal!!

Hunter's Chicken
Recipe type: dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
I use boneless thighs in this recipe, since they break up nicely in the sauce. However, you could use whatever chicken parts you wish, even whole, bone-in parts. The recipe will be slightly different in texture depending on what you choose, but will taste the same!
  • 1 lb chicken parts (I prefer boneless thighs)
  • tapioca or arrowroot flour (enough to dredge the chicken in)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • small can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • oil for cooking
  1. Dredge the chicken parts in arrowroot or tapioca flour until completely covered.
  2. Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a wide pot or dutch oven, and heat over medium-high until very hot. Place the chicken parts in the pot and sautee for a few minutes, then flip to the other side.
  3. Add in the onions, garlic, wine, chicken stock, tomato paste, and spices and stir.
  4. Turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. After 45 minutes, add in the mushrooms and cook for another ½ hour.
  6. Serve over pasta.


Pumpkin Pie http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/pumpkin-pie/ Mon, 19 Jan 2015 02:07:12 +0000 http://holdthesugar.mcclearyfamily.com/?p=3341 Okay, this recipe has been a long time coming. I’ve been meaning to share it since Thanksgiving! Oh, well. It’s a little late for the holidays, but, really, is it EVER a bad time to eat pumpkin pie? I mean, why do we need to wait for November to have some of this deliciousness? It’s made with a winter squash (pumpkin or butternut squash), so in my book that makes it fair game at least until April. And if I’m really craving it, then it’s fair game any time of year.

This pie is a really easy one to make without refined sweeteners because of all the spicy flavors in it. However, there is a comparatively large amount of sweeteners in the recipe, so this isn’t something to eat if you’re sensitive to them or are recovering from inflammatory symptoms. However, it is a really good real-food version of a classic favorite!

First, prepare a pie crust. I explain how to make a spelt crust in my quiche recipe. Basically do the same thing, but if you want you could add some stevia or some other sweetener to the dough. (If you can’t eat grain/gluten, or just don’t feel like making a crust, you can just leave it out and turn it into a custard! I explain more below.)

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked and pureed pumpkin or butternut squash (fresh is good, but canned is fine too), 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 2/3 cup palm sugar, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 eggs, 1 Tbsp melted butter, and the spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt.

pumpkin pie

Pour the mixture into the uncooked pie crust and cover the edges of the crust with tin foil or a crust guard to prevent it from burning.

pumpkin pie

Bake at 425 for 40-45 minutes. The center should be slightly jiggly, but set, when finished. When you shake it, it should act a little like jello.

pumpkin pie

And that’s it! Is that simple, or what? And delicious!

NOTE: If you don’t feel like making a crust, you can just leave it out! Instead, turn this into pumpkin custard. Instead of pouring the mixture into a pie shell, pour it into a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Place the baking dish inside a 9×13 baking dish. Put it in the oven, and then fill the 9×13 dish with boiling water. (See my fruit custard recipe for pictures if you’re confused about that.) Bake as usual. 

Pumpkin Pie
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Don't feel like making a crust? Leave it out! It's perfectly good that way! Instead, prepare the custard and pour it into a buttered 8x8 dish. Place the 8x8 dish inside a 9x13 dish and fill the 9x13 dish with boiling water. Bake as instructed.
  • Prepared pie crust for 9 inch pie (I have a spelt crust on my quiche recipe on the blog if you need one)
  • 1½ cups cooked and pureed pumpkin or butternut squash (or canned)
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center is jiggly but set, kind of like jello when shaken.
  4. Slice and top with heavy cream that's been whipped and sweetened with maple syrup.