Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies

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I love peanut butter. On an apple, in a cookie, by the spoonful.. it’s just SO delectable. It’s one of those things I will not give up, paleo or not. Well the other day my mom brought home peanut butter cookies from Sunterra. They were laiden with gluten and refined sugar, but smelt like heaven. As a result, I was inspired to try and create a grain free, refined sugar free peanut butter cookie that mimicked the “real thing.” Now let me tell you, this is not the first time I’ve taken on this task, oh no! I’ve had several peanut butter cookie fails. I’ve tried peanut butter and honey combos, sweetening with dates, flourless.. all to no avail, as they hailed sub par cookies that just didn’t cut it! But this time… I think I nailed it! The ratio of almond flour to butter to peanut butter creates a perfectly soft, crumb texture, and just the right amount of peanutty flavour. But I think the real trick was the sweetener.. I have been experimenting with Truvia Baking Blend lately, a combo of stevia and erythritol (both non-glycemic sweeteners), and although using it solely creates a slight aftertaste, mixing it with another sugar has proven to be a success! When the molasses-like flavour of coconut palm sugar is combined with the vanilla scented, ultra-sweet truvia, magic happens! The kind of magic you typically find in a cookie containing refined white and brown sugars. So when you join this sweet epiphany with gooey, creamy, peanut butter, and let it get all fluffy in the oven? Deliciousness. Even my mom (my go-to taste tester), who prefers “Dad’s” cookies to my healthier variety, admitted these babies taste legit!

And so, my gift to you: awesome, guilt free, peanut butter love. ❤

Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, with modifications for dairy free

Ingredients:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter (for dairy free try refined coconut oil)
1/2 cup peanut butter  
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Truvia baking blend
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Cream butter and peanut butter together with sugars.
2. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
4. Add dark chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
5. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as they may need a minute or two in either direction.  
6. Store cookies in a sealed container.

*Note: If you don’t have Truvia, you can use an additional 1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar, however the flavour will be slightly different. Still delicious though!

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Paleo Waffles

ImageI freaking LOVE Belgian waffles. Thick and fluffy, with a crisp exterior, smothered in pure maple syrup, and a big blob of fresh whipped cream. Just thinking about them is making me drool!! But after going gluten free, waffles have never been the same. The gluten free pancake mixes on the market just don’t do it for me. In my experience, they tend to bear weird flavours and textures that turn me right off. Hopeless I was. But then!! I started following a girl by the name of Brittany Angell on instagram. This girl.. she’s a GENIUS when it comes to paleo/ gluten free / grain free food. Which is right up my alley! Just to my luck, she posted a paleo waffle recipe on her blog that had rave reviews, so I decided to give it try.. and EEK! They were amazing!! Pillowy soft, slightly sweet, and all around scrumptious waffles, that are grain free and sugar free too! This waffle recipe use almond and tapioca flour, which creates a fluffy texture reminiscent of their glutenous counterpart, while also lending a natural sweetness to their flavour.  The recipe below is slightly adapted from Brittany’s, and creates the perfect base for whatever-you’re-feeling waffles. Chocolate chip? Do it. Blueberries? Mmhmm. Straight up with maple syrup? You bet.

Breakfast anyone?!

Paleo Waffles – Adapted from Brittany Angell’s Recipe
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Ingredients:
Yields 4 – 8 waffles
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (not canned)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions
Preheat waffle iron, and grease it well.
1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
2. Make waffles!!
3. Serve with maple syrup and whipped cream! Or fruit! Or anything delicious!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares

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Before our gluten and sugar free days, one of my sister and I’s favourite treats were Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares. Filled with brown sugar, caramel ice cream topping, and white chocolate confectionery, they were definitely an ultra-sweet treat, but the furthest thing from healthy. Well the other day, I decided I wanted them. However, there was NO way I was going to put all of that processed sugar into my little body! So I practically emptied my pantry onto my kitchen counter, and got to work!  =)

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The result? A soft and crumbly, cookie-like crust, sweet smooth caramel, and velvety white chocolate. All combined to create this decadently gooey dessert that will make you want to eat another.. and another!! And let me tell you.. I will always make homemade white chocolate from now on!! I have never been a huge fan of how sicky sweet store-bought white chocolate is. In my opinion, it just doesn’t belong in the chocolate family! However, this homemade version is dairy free, refined sugar free, and is made with organic cocoa butter, which lends a creamy and real chocolatey taste! That’s right, white chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate! Just thinking about it makes me want to whip up another batch, so on that note..

Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares
Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg Free

Ingredients:
White Chocolate:
1/3 cup creamed honey
1/3 cup melted cocoa butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut flour

Caramel:
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp butter

Oatmeal Crust:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/8 cup Steviva Blend (or an additional 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar)
3/4 cup butter

Directions
White Chocolate:
1. Melt the cocoa butter in a pot on medium low heat, then pour it into a bowl.
2. Add the honey (I used creamed, but liquid might work) and vanilla, and whisk it! Lots!! It doesn’t want to combine but it will!
3. Whisk in 2 tbsp coconut flour.. don’t worry, it doesn’t make it have too much of a coconut-y flavour, and it’s necessary for binding!!
4. Place in freezer until set.

Caramel:
1. Place water and coconut palm sugar in a pot, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
2. Add coconut milk and vanilla, and let it boil on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly as well. The mixture will slowly begin to thicken into a dark caramel!
3. Once thickened, remove from heat, and stir in butter.
4. Allow it to sit and cool.

Oatmeal Squares:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Cream butter and sugars.
2. Add almond flour, coconut flour, and oats, and mix well.
3. Pat half the batter into an 8 inch parchment lined or ungreased pan, and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
5. Cut the white chocolate into little chunks, and spread over the crust, then pour and spread the caramel over the chocolate. Crumble the remaining oatmeal batter on top.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges and crumble on top are starting to become golden.
7. Enjoy this unbelievable yummy treat!!

*Note: If you choose to use homemade white chocolate, it will melt inside the squares, and will kind of meld together with the caramel. But don’t worry. The taste is still very much there, and it’s freaking awesome!

Paleo Double Chocolate Cupcakes

ImageLet’s talk about cake. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate cake. I know, who am I?! It just doesn’t do it for me. Chocolate? Yes please. Brownies? Heck yes. Chocolate cake? Meh. But these cupcakes have converted me! The best part? They’re grain free, naturally sweetened, and full of good, healthy fats! Plus chocolate! Winning combo in my opinion!

Paleo Double Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from Living Healthy With Chocolate’s Coconut Cupcakes)
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour (I ground my own.. if you use store bought, you will need closer to 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 tbsp. cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate chips (optional)

Ganache:
Dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. full fat coconut milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
2. Combine wet ingredients, then add the dry mixture, and mix until incorporated.
3. Add chocolate chips if desired! (I know you do!)
4. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins, to about 2/3 full.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
6. For ganache, melt dark chocolate and slowly add coconut milk, being careful not to seize the chocolate.
7. Spread ganache over cooled cupcakes, and enjoy!

Mango Macadamia Nut Larabars

ImageI’m the type of person who has to bake on an empty stomach. This is because I usually don’t use a recipe, and if I do, I’m modifying it a whole bunch to suit my dietary needs. So it’s a lot of trial and error.. and by trial and error, I mean it’s a whole lot of tasting on my part! Which really isn’t alllll that bad… =) … but it makes it difficult to duplicate the recipe later, especially when I just go at it and don’t write anything down! Homemade Larabars have always been one of these ‘taste as you go’ projects; it’s all about the texture, and ratio of sweetness to nuttiness. However, after having lots of recipe requests for these delectable little snacks, I’ve decided to start paying attention to how I make them!! Yay! This variation is a flavour combination I just knew would taste amazing! Mango, macadamia nuts, coconut.. it’s tropical bliss is a convenient little square! The great thing about Larabars is they really don’t need a precise recipe, so you can follow mine exactly, or add and remove as you please. Play around! Everyone says baking is a science, and to an extent it is, but when it comes to raw treats, you have so much more freedom to experiment and tweak the recipe to your liking. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but hey, that’s why I do most of the experimenting for you! =)

Mango Macadamia Nut Larabars
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan, Raw

Ingredients:
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup unsweetened dried mango
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup hot water
1 cup macadamia nuts, ground into a flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Directions
1. Puree dates and mango in a food processor, adding hot water until it creates a thick, but smooth paste. (I needed the entire half cup, as my mangoes were very thin and dry, but you may not need as much!)
2. Add the macadamia nut flour, and food process until incorporated.
3. Add coconut, and pulse until incorporated to your liking. (I like mine to have bigger shreds of coconut, so I blend it less!)
4. Press mixture into a parchment lined container, and freeze until set.
5. Eat them up!! Store what’s left (if there is any!) in the fridge or freezer.

Paleo Crackers

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The other night, I was craving that crunchy, saltiness that you can really only get from a good, crispy cracker. So I did a little late night recipe experimentation, and BAM! Paleo crackers were born! These little squares of goodness pack just the right amount of savoury, crunchy flavour, and are delicious on their own, smeared with butter, or sandwiched with cheese! Craving satisfied!

Paleo Crackers
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free

Ingredients:
Yields 9-12 crackers
1/4 cup almond flour
1/8 cup arrowroot flour
1/8 cup ground flaxseed
1 tbsp. whole flaxseeds
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/8 cup egg whites
Salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
2. Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1/8 inch thick.
3. Bake for 13 minutes, then cut into squares and bake for about 5 more minutes, until edges are slightly crisp.
4. Add more salt to top of crackers if desired.
5. Eat warm with butter, or allow them to cool for ultimate crispiness!

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Gluten Free Crisp… of the fruit variety!

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My grandma’s apple crisp has always been my favourite dessert. For every holiday and family dinner, I would ask her to make it, and she happily obliged. When I found out she didn’t use a recipe, I went over to her house one day to make it with her, carefully taking note of each ingredient and measurement so that, with luck, I could duplicate it myself – and that I did! This dessert became my go-to, and was always RAVED about…. but then I went gluten and sugar free. Now how the heck was I supposed to replicate the BEST DESSERT EVER without pillowy flour and sweet brown sugar?! Well I can’t say my new version is as amazing as my Grandma’s, but I can say that it comes pretty darn close!! Using gluten free oats and nut flours, I’ve been able to mimic that crumbly, almost cookie like texture of the crisp, while a mix of coconut palm sugar and honey gives it that light sweetness, reminiscent of brown sugar. Baked over top of warm, soft fruit, and spiced with cinnamon… this makes for the perfect fall dish!! Plus for me, this new recipe means no stomach ache afterwards! Serve warm with coconut milk ice cream, on it’s own.. or eat it cold for breakfast the next day. Either way, this treat is the ultimate in (almost) guilt free comfort food! =)

Gluten Free Apple Crisp
Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:
3 apples (Or any variety of fruit! The picture above is a mix of blueberries and apples!)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup pecan flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup slightly softened butter
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon + more for apples

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Peel, and chop apples into small pieces. Sprinkle and toss the apples (and/or other fruit) with cinnamon.
2. Place fruit into a 7×5, or any small, casserole dish. You may need more or less fruit, just fill the dish!
3. Combine all other ingredients, mixing with a fork into a soft crumble.
4. Pat crumble mixture overtop of the apples.
5. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until golden brown, however this could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour!
6. Share with friends, family, and enjoy!

Paleo Banana Coconut Cream Pie

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This pie. It’s banana-y, it’s coconut-y, it’s creamy, it’s heaven. It will fool any paleo-hater out there!! Sometimes I nix the crust and eat the filling on it’s own for a yummy custard treat! Either way, it’s freaking delicious!

Paleo Banana Coconut Cream Pie
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free

Ingredients:


Crust:
2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
3 tbsp melted butter

Custard Filling:
2 ripe bananas
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup honey
3 egg yolks
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
1 tbsp coconut butter (or butter if you’re okay with dairy)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup toasted coconut + more for topping if desired

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Mix melted butter into coconut and almond flours, and pat into a pie pan.
2. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Toast 1/2 cup coconut in the oven for around 5 minutes, until nice and golden brown. This may takes longer, or may be quicker, so make sure to watch it! You may need to stir it around once or twice as well.
4. Now for the custard! In a pot on medium high heat, bring coconut milk and honey to a simmer.
5. Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl, and slowly add about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to temper. Then add it back into the pot.
6. Dissolve the arrowroot powder with some hot milk to make a thin paste, then add it back to the pot as well.
7. Bring mixture to a boil, then allow it to simmer for 4-6 minutes, until thick.
8. Remove from heat, and add coconut butter, vanilla and 1/2 cup toasted coconut.
9. Line the crust with thinly sliced banana, then pour the custard over top. Top with coconut, and fresh bananas, refrigerate, and serve!

*Note: You can use any nuts you would like for the crust! I sometimes use walnut flour as well (I grind all my own nut flours in my Magic Bullet), and experiment with different proportions. You may need a little bit more or less butter for the crust, you want the nuts to stick together just enough to be able to pat them into the pan! Play around with it!

Hello World!

ImageHi! I’m Cassandra, and I’m a baking / cooking / dancing / eating / fitness addict. About a year ago, I converted to a mostly grain free and sugar free lifestyle, and it turned my world upside down.. in the best of ways, of course! Since then, I’ve made a challenge of turning past “cheats” into healthy, guilt free treats, to satisfy my (mega) sweet tooth! I created my instagram account, @cassandrabakes, to share my creations, and after an overwhelming demand to post my recipes, I’ve succumbed to the blogging world. So here goes nothing! I hope to get your mouths watering with a whole lot of recipes inspired by paleo, grain free, gluten free, sugar free, and vegan lifestyles… with a bit of wiggle room!