When I was little, my mother would often make baked custards. They were perfect little creamy desserts, topped with nutmeg. They were especially wonderful when we weren’t feeling well – nutritious, comforting, and easily digestible. So as an adult I learned to make them for myself, and anytime I had a little cold coming on and didn’t like eating too much, I’d whip up a batch of them and be transported back to the comfort of childhood and being taken care of by my mother and these custards!
Then, I changed my diet. I dropped sugar. And for a couple years I didn’t eat custards anymore, because I didn’t think I could make them the same without sugar.
Well, I’m very pleased to say that I was completely wrong about that! I can make custards without sugar! All it takes is adding in a bunch of fruit to make up for the missing sugar. I’ve been playing around with proportions of ingredients for a while until I found the perfect combination. The result is something that’s different (being packed with fruit) but also very familiar. The custard is light and sweet and smooth and comforting, just like I remember. So now custard is back on the menu!
This recipe has 1/4 cup of maple syrup in it, but you could reduce that or even eliminate if you needed to. (The custard won’t be as sweet, but the fruit should compensate for it). I use mashed bananas to add sweetness to the custard, but for some reason these DON’T taste very banana-y. I swear! So don’t let that scare you off!
This dish makes a nice dessert, but also a great breakfast. Or, if you’re feeling unwell and can’t stomach heavier meals, an anytime-food! The fat from the milk, protein from the eggs, and nutrients from the fruit make this a great nourishing dish!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here before…but we got chickens last spring. Their names are Rosemary, BBQ, and Scramble. My daughter named them.
We’ve had them for a year now. And they’re marvelous! Yes, apparently I have fully embraced the pseudo hippy in me and I now own backyard chickens in the middle of a town, for the sole purpose of getting eggs that I know are from pastured chickens but not paying a fortune for them. It’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. (Though once in a while they do escape and we have to go chasing them down the alleyway….)
And the eggs are delicious. With dark orange yolks and firm whites, the way eggs are supposed to be! And this quiche is one spectacular way to use them up. Bacon, cheese, onions, in a tender flaky crust? Yes, please!!
The quiche itself is perfectly simple. But the crust is a little trickier. It’s a lot more fragile than crusts made with white flour, so it takes some special handling. For that reason, this will be a long post because I’m going to walk you through the crust carefully so that you know exactly what to expect. Don’t be scared away by the length of the post, though! Once you get the hang of the crust it’s really not hard!
From very early on in this food journey, browned butter banana bread became a staple in my diet. I’d look forward to having it for breakfast almost every day, usually topped with chocolate nut butter. But now the place that banana bread used to have in my heart (or stomach?) has been supplanted. I’ve switched my loyalties to pancakes.
It happened over vacation, when I made an enormous batch of banana pancakes to take along, figuring they’d hold up better than banana bread would. They worked great! So great that I haven’t looked back. Now I make these enormous batches and freeze them so that I have ready pancakes for weeks.
(What it really comes down to is that I hate to have to think about food all the time, and it’s really so much easier to just have things on hand that I know I’m going to eat!)
But consuming these pancakes every day started getting me worried about all the grain, since there’s a lot more flour in these than in banana bread. I believe that grains are safer to consume when they’re prepared in traditional ways – by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them. I’ve read the articles and they make perfect sense. (Here’s a good one that explains things well.) I just usually can’t be bothered. But now that I’m eating so many pancakes, I decided it was maybe time to think about it.
So, I fiddled with my standard recipe and easily converted it into a soaked version! The verdict? They’re spectacular. Everyone who’s had them likes these pancakes even better than the unsoaked version (and they really liked those!) They’re fluffier and lighter, and have spectacular flavor. So, not only are they better for you (because they’re soaked) but they happen to also be delicious! If you’re at all able to plan ahead for your pancakes and can remember to set the flour out to soak, I highly recommend giving these a try!
A few weeks ago, I went on a church women’s retreat at the Jersey shore. If you think this sounds like a nice quiet time with sweet calm ladies…you’ve never been on a church women’s retreat before. Women get CRAZY when they’re on these things!
And they eat tons of junk food.
So, in self defense against the piles of cookies and brownies and candy that I knew would be there, just taunting me with their easy accessibility, I made these muffins to bring along. I knew they were a) delicious, b) something I could eat besides the piles of junk food I knew would be there, and c) something others would enjoy too. They’re naturally sweet with shredded apples and dates, and satiating with the fats from almond flour and coconut oil. They’re also really nutritious because of all of those things plus shredded carrots! So I made a triple batch and packed them up, putting a note on the container explaining that they were grain/gluten/dairy/sugar free (with just a tiny bit of honey) for those who would care about that. I knew there would be others there who couldn’t eat gluten, and that they would be glad to know these were safe.
If you ever wanted to know what happens when you put a note like that on a container of perfectly good muffins, I’ll tell you: It sends people running for the hills. Seriously. I witnessed people reading that note and scrunching up their noses as though they were confronted with a tub of grubs or something. Some people even physically recoiled! I overheard one woman say, “Are those supposed to be healthy or something? Anything that’s healthy can NOT be good!” The other women laughed appreciably and emerged with fist fulls of brownies instead.
Isn’t that so sad? It’s horrible that we’ve been conditioned to believe that healthy food tastes bad, and that we can’t both be satisfied with tasty goodies AND be nice to our bodies at the same time!
I blame the low-fat craze. (Really. It’s all their fault.)
The few gluten intolerant people there loved them though. LOVED them. Because they are, in fact, delicious. And so they talked about them to other people (who looked at them like they were crazy) and said, “No, really! You need to try them, they’re great!”
And so, one by one, people started to try them out. And one by one people were astounded that – yes! – these healthy things actually tasted good! Wonder of wonders!
By the end of the second day the entire triple batch was gone. Every single one.
(But the woman I overheard saying that healthy food can never be good? She never did try one and stuck to the cookies and brownies. I guess you can’t win them all!)
I have no idea why these are named Morning Glory Muffins. I didn’t make it up. This is a recipe that anyone in the Paleo crowd will be very familiar with, as they seem to be something of a darling in the Paleo world. There are probably a hundred different variations on the recipe. I took a couple and combined elements I liked from each of them to make the ones that got so eagerly gobbled (after the initial reluctance) on the retreat.
There’s a lot of shredding that happens in this recipe. Because of that, it really helps if you have a food processor so that you don’t have to do all of it by hand. But you could do it by hand if you wanted. You needed the workout anyway, right?
My kids are crazy about pancakes. I can whisper the word “pancakes” quietly in my bedroom and my kids would hear it in the basement and come running like they have banshees at their heels. Well, maybe not quite, but you get the idea. So, last week when I made Breakfast for Dinner – with pancakes, of course – you’d have thought I was a rock star. “Mom! You are awesome! Thank you thank you thank you!” It’s nice to feel like a rock star. (A pancake star?)
The pancakes I make now – with half spelt and half almond flour – are, surprisingly, actually preferred by my family over the ones I used to make with white flour. They love the flavor, and the texture, and I have to say I do too! The buttermilk makes them really light and fluffy, not heavy at all. We’ve all noticed that with these pancakes, you just feel…good when you eat them. The white flour pancakes could get to be a bit too much sometimes…make us feel heavy and a little blah by the end of the meal. That was probably from the shock our bodies went into from all the white flour combined with the syrup wrecking havoc on our blood sugar! We can eat two or three or even four (if we’re particularly hungry) of these and just feel like we’ve had a good meal, not like we’re about to descend into a sugar coma. Which is always a good thing.
If you’ve tried pancakes with whole wheat and didn’t like them, give these a try. I promise you – really and truly PROMISE – that whole spelt tastes so much better than whole wheat. Much lighter and tastier. The use of the almond meal also gives it great flavor and softness.
And if you’re one of those people who think there’s no way to make pancakes without Bisquick, I urge – nay, I BESEECH you! – to give these a try. It is seriously no harder to add wet ingredients to flour and baking soda than it is to add them to Bisquick.
We have a tradition every Christmas day of having fresh Belgian waffles and strawberries for breakfast. This year I didn’t want to give up that tradition, but I couldn’t use my old recipe either because of this diet.
So, as with all my other favorite old recipes, I decided to change it up. I substituted the white flour with part whole grain spelt and part almond meal and soaked it overnight in buttermilk. (Soaking in an acidic liquid makes grains easier to digest, and also makes them lighter in flavor and texture.) The result was a great waffle that everyone in the family loved!
Now, these don’t taste the same as waffles made with all white flour. They definitely have a nuttier flavor from the whole grains, so you have to expect that. But as a whole-grain alternative, these are very very good – light and crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside!
I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the beginning process here. I didn’t think about making this a blog post until I was halfway done! I’m sure you can follow along though.
The night before you plan to make the waffles, combine the whole grain spelt flour, whole wheat flour, buttermilk, and whole milk in a large bowl. Mix them together and cover with a cloth. Let it sit ON THE COUNTER overnight. I know, it feels weird to keep milk out overnight, but trust me. If it’s cold, the soaking won’t do the job of breaking down the flours and making them yummy and tender.
In the morning, whisk together the melted butter together with baking powder and salt. Whisk in 4 egg yolks and then immediately pour it all in with the batter. If you let it sit, the baking powder will make the eggs all foamy, so don’t wait! Stir together until just combined.
Whip up the egg whites until they’re foamy and stiff. Now fold them in with the batter. To do this, first put a third of the whites in and just mix them together. Then put a second third in and fold it together with a rubber spatula by scooping the batter from the bottom up and over the egg whites at the top, moving the spatula in a circular motion. Repeat several times until the whites are mostly incorporated, then do the same with the last third of the whites. The purpose for folding them in like this rather than just mixing them together is that it makes the batter fluffier and lighter!
When you’re done, the batter will look something like this.
Heat up your waffle iron. I use a Belgian waffle maker, but any waffle iron is fine. When it’s hot, brush on some refined coconut oil to grease it – I use a basting brush to do this. My waffle maker is non-stick, but even so, these waffles end up sticking if I don’t grease it. I guess something about the whole grains makes it stickier. So grease it before each waffle even if it’s non-stick!
Scoop in some batter and cook according to your waffle iron’s directions.
Be careful when you lift it up, because they do stick easily!
These are light, fluffy, crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside when first cooked, but if stacked and kept warm in the oven they deflate somewhat and lose their crispness. They’re delicious either way, but you’ll probably like the texture better when eaten right away!
Top with some butter (pasture butter is especially yummy!) and mashed strawberries (fresh or frozen.) If the strawberries are sweet enough, that’s all you’ll need, but if you want you can also add a small drizzle of maple syrup!
This recipe makes a lot because I like to have leftovers to store in the refrigerator or freezer to heat in the toaster oven later. Homemade healthy (tastier) Eggos! You can easily cut the recipe in half for fewer waffles, though.