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I first made these cookies in the 45 minutes I had before our dinner guests arrived, when I realized I didn’t have anything for dessert.  I took this biscuit recipe (originally from PaleoinPDX) and madly made some adjustments, without measuring the cacao.

My guests, and my family, loved them immediately, unanimously, and without reservation.

I made them again (approximately, since I still hadn’t measured the cacao) for another occasion, and was begged for the recipe.  By request, I made again them for two friends’ birthdays, and then my pastor tried them and fell in love blessed them.  This was getting ridiculous.  It was obviously time to make this an official Farmers Taft recipe!

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Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Makes 24 cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 c. blanched almond flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour
  • 1/2 c. raw cacao powderIMG_20130907_231716
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • Sugar for tops (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, butter, coconut oil, and honey.
  4. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet.  Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Let cool completely, and enjoy!

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After the kids went to bed tonight, I tossed together some almond flour berry muffins.  The recipe is from Elana Amsterdam’s (of Elana’s Pantry) wonderful paleo book, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.  I doubled and modified her delicious Chocolate Chip Banana Cake recipe to omit the honey, and used frozen mixed berries instead of chocolate chips.

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Banana-Berry Muffins

INGREDIENTSMuffin Close up

  • 3 c. blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 c. (about 1-2) ripe bananas, mashed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange silicone muffin liners on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, sea salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the liquid coconut oil, eggs, bananas, and vanilla extract.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. Fold in the mixed berries and fill each muffin liner about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

After I was done making the kids’ lunches, I made mine.  I had some leftover celery sticks that didn’t fit in their lunches, so I put them in a container to take to work.  I decided I wanted some ranch dressing to dip it in.  While humming Rubber Ducky, I pondered my day and set about gathering ingredients.

Mid-hum, I realized that I’d assembled these ingredients, mindlessly and effortlessly, within seconds:

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Without a recipe, without looking anything up in a book, just … experience, in my fingertips.  Holy cow.  I think I might be getting the hang of this real food thing.  Within another couple of minutes, I had this:

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A few whips later and I had my celery dip:

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So Monday started out being a full-on pain in the ass, but after leaving work and as the evening wore on, I had a pretty awesome Monday.

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Our friends Dennis and Ann’s roguish flock of seven Toms, who had been rounded up and coralled for processing.

As I contemplated the Coleman cooler sitting in my kitchen, I felt … intimidated.  It wasn’t the two turkeys I’d recently helped butcher, or the bloody gallon-sized Ziploc stuffed full of necks and giblets.  It was the 14 gray, disembodied, eerily reptilian turkey feet sitting on top.

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I was also giddy with excitement.  As most of you know, I’m deeply into the subject of nutrition and am always seeking to know what’s in my food down to the micronutrient level.  I love knowing where my food is from, who grew it, how it lived, and how it died.  While not “fun” (well, ok, it was so tremendously interesting that it tread awfully close to “fun”), participating in the slaughtering and butchering process of seven turkeys was immensely satisfying.  I knew these animals from when they were tiny fuzzballs, and had held and petted them.  They had been treated VERY well while they lived.  They were killed humanely, with as little fear as is possible to impose on an animal.  As they died, I sent up a prayer of gratitude for the lives that were taken in order to nourish my own.  I think these moments of gratitude are crucial to being an eater of animal flesh; they are what keep us human, connected both to the mortal life cycle and each other.  This connection is what’s missing for the overwhelming majority of the U.S., who have been systematically distanced from their food animals by companies interested only in selling us shiny packaging and sanitized, faceless, bloodless “meat”.  I, on the other hand, played a quiet little game in the gut pile of “guess what THIS body part is” with myself.  (For the record, esophaguses look and feel like long, rubbery, banded smoothie straws, and the wobbly purse-shaped thing at the end of it is NOT the “gobbler”, as I discovered later when I Googled it.  It’s a sphincter, and it serves to keep food and drink down once it’s swallowed.  So we have sphincters at both ends to keep the food in.  How about that for a Thursday Fun Fact?)

I have lots more to say on this subject, but I digress.  Back to those crazy feet.

If you’ve made it this far, you must either know why a person would be playing with turkey feet, or wondering why the hell anybody would be playing with turkey feet.  Nutrition, of course!

A summary of the benefits of bone broth:

Promotes healing: Bone broths have been used successfully in treating gastro-intestinal disorders, including hyper-acidity, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and infant diarrhea.

Digestive aid: Aids in the digestibility of grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and meats and is hydrophilic in nature

Macro minerals: Contains highly absorbable forms of the calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and fluoride as well as trace minerals

Gelatin and Collagen: rich in both; promoting bone and joint healing in addition to supporting digestion, particularly broths made from the feet of chickens (and turkeys)

Protein: adds easily digestible protein to your diet

Amino acids: Glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and lysine are formed, which is important to detoxification and amino acid production in the body

Joint support: Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid are produced and present for additional muscle and joint support

Immune system: Promotes the assimilation of vitamins and minerals and thus supports the immune system

Delicious and nutritious: use as soup, cooking liquid, sauce or as a tea.

From Lance Roll, CEC, HLC1,  The Flavor Chef

And, according to Jenny, at Nourished Kitchen:  ”Chicken feet [and turkey feet] produce a fine golden broth that’s rich in all the obscure nutrients that make a good stock so nourishing: glucosamine chondroitin, collagen and trace minerals.   Moreover, a chicken stock is an excellent source of calcium.   Understandably, a stock made from chicken feet gels beautifully just as a good stock should.”

So there you have it.  Cheap (or in this case, free), bursting with easily absorbed nutrition, and freaky-deaky as HELL.  Who could resist, I ask you?  Not I!

With the feet of any fowl (and this may already have been done for you if you’re buying them packaged from the market), you need to get the leathery outer layer off.  It’s full of stuff that the birds step in all day.  Nobody wants THAT soup when it’s done, and who knows if you’d ever get the boiled bird-crap stench out of your curtains?

What you’ll need:

  • A large pot with salted water for boiling the feet
  • A large bowl filled with ice water
  • Tongs
  • A small sharp knife
  • A large sharp knife
  • Pliers
  • Cutting board
  • Receptacle for discarded skin n’ bits
  • Receptacle for cleaned fowl feet

Here’s how I set up my kitchen before I started.  (Ignore the scissors; one of the girls left them on the counter and I didn’t see them in time to get them out of the picture.)

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Directions:

Make sure your salted water is boiling hard.

Drop a bird foot into the boiling water and let it boil for just one minute, no more, no less.

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Pluck it out of the water with the tongs and immerse it fully into the ice water, and swish it around for about 10 seconds.

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Using the large knife, get any feathers or other undesirables cut off the leg end of the foot.

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Switch to the small knife and use it to slit the skin, which helps to get you started on peeling it.

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Start peeling the skin off.  If you’re doing it wrong, you’ll be peeling up the underlying leg cartilage and it’ll bleed, believe it or not.  If you’re doing it right, peeling the outer skin will leave a perfect pink replica of itself underneath.  Kinda like a macabre jello mold.

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When you get to the spur, use the pliers to firmly grasp the hard nail of the spur and wiggle it.  The outer shell should pop right off, leaving the shiny whitish-pink claw exposed.

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Keep working your way up the toes.  I found that after peeling the skin off the “palm” or “frog” of the foot, I could then put my fingers between the toes and keep pulling the skin sheaths off the toes, like turning gloves inside-out. I read several sources that said to chop off the talons at the first knuckle, but I found that the hard outer shell just came right off with the skin, and there’s no sense in wasting the underlying claws since they have all the same nutrients as the rest of it.

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When you get to a claw, use the pliers again to get a firm grasp on it.  Wiggle it and pull at the same time.  It should pop off, just like the spur did, leaving the shiny pink claw exposed.

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When you’re done with skinning it, start the next one.  I didn’t overlap this process much because I read that if you boiled it too long, the skin fused to the leg and you couldn’t get it off.  The horror.

When you’re done with the feet, you might have a lovely pitcher full, like I did.

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And your child may think it’s funny to grab a couple and menace you with them, like mine did.  Her little sister thought it was hilarious.

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Now, as cool as I think bird feet are, I’m not sure I want to make a giant pot of foot-only broth.  I decided that since they were much larger than chicken feet, I’d wrap them individually in waxed paper and place them in a Ziploc bag.  That way they can be taken out one at a time and added to a pot of regular bone broth when we make it, for added nutrients and gelling.

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This was one of the most awesome kitchen experiments I ever did, and I’ll do it again when we run out of paws.  I didn’t need to be so intimidated after all.  The smell was interesting.  It smelled exactly like boiling wool.  I used to boil wool in order to dye it, for spinning, and I also sold the handdyed rovings on Etsy.  If you’ve ever exhaled into a pure wool scarf on a cold, biting-wind kind of day, and smelled that woolly smell on the inhale, that’s the smell of boiling wool.  And of boiling turkey feet, it turns out.

Shared on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday.

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These are one of my favorite lunch items. I make the tuna salad and pack my romaine leaves in a ziplock the night before, so I can just grab my lunch bag and head out the door in the morning. Enjoy!

Tuna Salad Boats

Makes 4 leafy green boats of happiness2013-01-20 14.07.54

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 romaine leaves, washed and dried, thicker stem ends cut off
  • 1 can of tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 T. dried currants
  • 8-10 crispy almonds, chopped (here’s a recipe for how and why to use soaked and dehydrated nuts)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil mayonnaise, plus or minus, depending on your tastes (here’s a great recipe, with video!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the romaine leaves and mix well.
  2. Fill the romaine leaves with the tuna filling, holding like a soft taco.  Proceed to “mmmmm” and “ahhhhhh” over the devastating, tiny hits of sweet from the currants, the crunch from the celery and almonds, and the silky, savory, and healthy olive oil mayonnaise tying it all together.

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2013-01-19 12.57.17

You know, going grain-free/gluten-free has not been hard.  I suppose we were about 90% of the way there since we’d already cut out pastas, crackers, most breads, and all other processed products containing white flour and refined sugar.  The thing that I was leaning on pretty heavily for my kids’ lunches (and my own, as work started intruding on my evenings at home and cutting into making-lunches time the last few months) was sprouted 7-grain bread.  I felt ok about buying it not only because it contained sprouted grains, but also because it is a local company.  But something always niggled at me.  We had cut out so many other easy grab-and-go processed foods, but we still grabbed the sprouted bread on *every* grocery trip.  At the beginning of 2013, almost exactly a year into our whole foods/SOLE foods (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) diet changes, I finally confronted the ingredients label without my rose-colored glasses.  Can you see the problem?

Ingredients:  Whole sprouted grains of red wheat berries, oat groats, rye berries, barley, corn, rice, millet, wheat flour, water, wildflower light amber honey, vital wheat gluten, yeast, molasses, salt.

If you’re a glammed-up over-processed nuritionally-deficient waist-expanding health-deteriorating junk food, please take one step forward.  Why, hello, “wheat flour”.  Yeah.  “Wheat flour” or “enriched wheat flour” is plain old white flour, wearing spanky clean pre-frayed jeans and a reproduction vintage T and trying to blend in with the newly-hip crunchy crowd.

After confronting the poser, I sighed and decided to go gluten-free, and while I was at it, grain free.  We’ve been leaning more and more towards paleo anyways so it wasn’t a big leap.  Since cutting out lunch sandwiches, my cheese consumption has gone way down, too, which was about the only dairy product (besides butter) that I was eating with any regularity.  Not that I have anything against dairy.  I have no problem with the occasional glass of milk or dish of yogurt, or a few slices of cheese.  It’s just not part of my daily or even weekly diet right now.  This isn’t rigid adherence to paleo/GAPS/any other prescribed food guidelines.  I am just actively listening to my body’s responses to what I feed it, and gently, respectfully isolating food experiences in order to hear its response more clearly.  The more I do that, the more it tells me exactly how to feed it best.  Right now it’s telling me that dairy is not desired or needed, simple as that.  Maybe it’s a winter thing, or a hormonal thing, or – who knows?  As always, I guess I’ll know more tomorrow.

All that said, here’s the delicious recipe for Almond Flour Biscuits that I used (thank you PaleoinPDX!) and a few pics of our delicious sandwiches.

Almond Flour Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits

Ingredients2013-01-19 12.56.27

  • 2-1/2 c. blanched almond flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. melted ghee, butter or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 3 T. honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, melted ghee and honey. Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Drop large tablespoons of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a greased baking sheet.
  5. Run a wet hand or spoon over each biscuit to smooth out and flatten a bit.  They get larger in diameter as they bake, but not much higher.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they’re nicely browned.  I like to bake them for about 12 minutes in a normal oven, then put them on convection for 2 more minutes, to brown them up nicely.  These are better overdone than underdone, so go with your instincts.

When the biscuits are done, make a delicious bacon, tomato, and avocado sandwich using two of the biscuits.  Enjoy!

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This conversation amused me NO END today at work. It was between myself and my good friend B. She has recently started making some wonderful lifestyle changes with her diet that are quite similar to my own, and even more low-sugar than I’ve been able to get so far. She’s cutting out processed foods and researching why fat is so good for us, and sugar so bad.  Go B!

Now, B is a healthy gal. She works out several times a week, and is always joining cardio classes at the Y. If she were to publish an online dating profile, it would say “height/weight proportionate” in the body shape category. I think that’s part of what made this conversation so delicious.

*********************

B: I’m disappointed.

Me: Why’s that?

B:  I’ve only lost 3 lbs.

Me:  How long has it been now?  Two or three weeks?

B:  Two, plus a bit more sort of “prep” time.

Me:  So you must be hungry alot?

B:  No!  I’m actually less hungry than usual!

Me:  So you must be feeling sort of deprived, then?  Not being able to eat sugar and bread and stuff?

B:  Not at all.

Me:  So you’re saying you’re feeling more nourished than you’ve ever felt, and not feeling deprived, and not having to count calories or fat while taking in more calories and fat than you ever have, and you’re still losing weight at a healthy and sustainable 1.5 lbs/week?

B: Well, aren’t you walking on the sunny side of the street today.

Me:  It’s warmer on this side.  What were you expecting?

B:  Well, to lose kind of a lot at the beginning, like on WW!

Me:  Oh, is that the diet you were telling me about where you were starving all the time, and actually asked at a meeting, will I ever NOT be hungry?

B:  Ok, ok, I get it.  Sheesh.

Me:  Heh.

*********************

I’m so proud of you, B.

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Here’s a rundown of the last few weeks of school lunches.  I hope you find some cute ideas here!

A double corn fritter sun with cheese rays, and apple and cucumber slices. Snack is grapes and a string cheese cut up, in the Wexy bag.

Little ham and cheese sandwiches cut into pumpkin shapes on a bed of romaine, pineapple and strawberries, cucumber slices, and cheese cubes with fresh raspberries for snack.

Chicken tortilla soup (kept hot in the blue Thermos), some sprouted Way Better blue corn chips, a few sticks of cheese, strawberries and kiwi, two mini banana muffins, and half a fruit leather cut into a pumpkin shape. For Jessica’s snack, I cut a string cheese in half and put those and two grapes in the piggy, then put the outside of the pumpkin fruit leather cutout on top of that.

A real-food version of pizza “Lunchables”. I cut rounds out of a whole wheat pita, shredded some cheddar, used a pastry cutter to cut Applegate ham slices into fun little wavy squares, chopped some fresh pineapple, and dropped a cube of frozen homemade marinara sauce in. Voila, Lunchables! For snack I put a string cheese and a few strawberries into a Wexy monster bag for Jess, and Abby got olives.

Garden veggie soup, half of a whole wheat pita, pineapple, and cucumber slices. Snack for Jess is a string cheese and a sectioned clementine in a Wexy monster bag. (Abby got black olives.)

Jessica’s is on top, with an Applegate salami and cheese sandwich on sprouted bread, cut into a heart with a little monkey skewer holding it together, atop romaine leaves. Abby’s is the bottom lunch, with the same sandwich parts but cut into bats and put on kabobs. Then both girls have apple slices, a few grapes, clementine wedges, celery, and sunbutter. For snack, Jess has a string cheese, some grapes, and 3 multigrain crackers in a monster Wexy bag. Abby has black olives and grapes in the froggy.

Ham, cheese, grapes, clementine wedges, carrots, and a paleo pumpkin muffin that Jess helped make. Snack is a string cheese and a handful of grapes.

A paleo pumpkin muffin, butter, clementine wedges, celery, and plain yogurt with a bit of honey mixed in and berries. For snack, Abby got bunny-shaped cheese cut-outs and grapes, and Jess got a smoothie freeze pop.

A little ham and cheese sandwich cut into an acorn shape, string cheese, celery with sunbutter and raisins, corn and peas, and homemade apple sauce. Snack is a smoothie freeze pop.

Beans, meat, and cheese in the hot Thermos, tortilla rounds, lettuce, carrots, red pepper slices, and fruit leather strips. Snack is a berry yogurt smoothie freeze pop.

Half a ham and cheese sandwich on sprouted bread with cute little critter sticks stuck in. Half a banana with pineapple smeared on the end to prevent browning. Since both of my chicklets are battling colds right now, I want to make sure I’m sending lots of vitamin C. Clementine slices and kiwi chunks. Plain yogurt with frozen berries. For snack I made two large sections of ants on a log and put them in a Wexy bag.

Sprouted bread toast with cream cheese and a dollop of fruit spread. I put wax paper between the two layers of toast. Celery, cucumber, and pineapple. Jess has clementine wedges and a string cheese in a monster Wexy bag, and Abby has olives in her froggy. She cannot get enough of the olives.

Soup is in the blue Thermos, toasted sprouted bread with butter and two cheese bees, apple slices, and corn and peas. Snack is a smoothie freeze pop.

Whole wheat pasta with julienned carrots and cheese sticks, cucumber and red pepper slices, and a clementine with a jack o’ lantern face drawn on. Snack was a monster Wexy bag with apple slices and a string cheese.

Leftover chicken fajita mixture is kept hot in the blue Thermos. A whole wheat tortilla is rolled up, and there’s also yogurt and fresh raspberries, with a berry smoothie freeze pop for snack.

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