Lemon Meringue Bars

I just made these bars this afternoon, and am impatiently waiting until my brother and his wife arrive for dinner before digging in. Shockingly, I found a recipe for lemon bars on a GAPS friendly blog, and modified it to include some yummy meringue – I had a mishap with eggs earlier and the result was an overabundance of egg whites!

And you know what they say – when life gives you egg whites, make lemon meringue!

Lemon Meringue Bars

Crust

  • 1 1/2 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Honey
  • 2 Tbsp. Room Temp. Butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla

Lemon Filling

  • 1/2 Cup Organic Lemon Juice
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Melted Butter

Meringue

  • 5 Egg Whites
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (or Honey)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 pan with butter, making sure to coat the sides, as well. Dust the dish with almond meal. In a large bowl, mix Almond Meal and Sea Salt, then add in Butter, Vanilla, and Honey. Mix by hand until a ball has formed. Take this and press into the bottom of the coated pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.

While the crust is baking, mix all of the lemon filling ingredients into a bowl, using a whisk or blender to make sure everything is incorporated. Take out the almond crust and pour the lemon filling over it. Return the baking dish to the oven, baking for 15 minutes (watch the crust, you don’t want to burn it!)

In the meantime, take your Egg Whites and Maple Syrup and mix until soft peaks form. I used my KitchenAid Mixer and it worked flawlessly in less than a minute!

Take the dish out of the oven, coat the top with Meringue (making any pretty design you desire), and pop back in for 5-8 minutes, watching carefully so as not to burn the top.

Allow to cool for approx. 30 minutes, and then put in the fridge to set!

Be sure to check out my recipe, as well as many other tasty creations, at “Keep It Real” Thursdays with Beyond the Peel!
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Banana Split Cheesecake Bites

Banana Splits may be one of my favorite summertime memories from childhood. In terms of desserts, this was perhaps one of the healthier things I adored – and it was so delicious! They could keep their cherries, though. I wanted to be loaded up with more strawberries and chocolate sauce.

Now that my days of sugar are over, that absolutely doesn’t mean I can’t find ways to indulge in warm weather treats! The internet is truly a beautiful thing in this regard. There are so many amazing bloggers out there; I only wish I were as creative as many of them! Chocolate Covered Katie is one such blogging guru. She has taken what many times are nostalgic, childhood treats, and turned them into something edible for those of us that stray from the American dietary norm. Thanks Katie!

Banana Split Cheesecake Bites

  • 1/4 Cup Canned Coconut Milk
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 Cup Mashed Banana (Measured after Mashing)
  • 1 Packet Stevia
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Raw Cashew Butter or Coconut Butter. (If you can’t find either, you can make raw cashew butter by soaking raw cashews for a few hours until soft, then draining and blending. Be sure to measure the 1/3 cup after blending.)

Using a food processor, blend everything together well. If desired, add some shredded coconut. Pour into cupcake liners, or you can increase the recipe to make a traditional size pie. Freeze until hardened (a couple hours). Store in the freezer. Top with Heavy Whipping Cream and Raspberries if you’d like!

Going Primal – What to Eat

As of this week, I have been 100% Primal. What does this mean, you may be asking? In a previous post, I outlined the differences between The Maker’s Diet, Paleo, and Primal. In essence, it’s eating the way our ancestors ate. I’m not talking about grandparents here – I am referring to our paleolithic past. This means eating a diet of what some may call “caveman foods.”

Through the help of many books and a lot of research, I’ve realized that eating a low-fat diet filled with whole grains like bread, rice and pasta can make you unhealthy – overweight, unhappy, and sick. This might be a shock, since our USDA food pyramid suggests that whole grains be the base of our daily intake. And while I haven’t been eating low-fat foods for awhile now due to the Maker’s Diet, I decided to take the next step in feeling better inside and out. With the grains have also gone the stomach pain and bloating that followed me around like a bad habit (which in a sense, grain has been!).

I chose Primal over Paleo primarily for dairy. Primal allows for raw, unpasteurized milk and cheese, which I can obtain through a local farmer on a weekly basis. I don’t eat dairy every day, but it’s nice to be able to incorporate it into recipes, or drink a glass of cream-quality raw milk a few days a week!

As for Diet, here is the low-down at a glance, straight from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint:

Beverages – Water, Unsweetened Teas (can use a small amount of Stevia).

Coconut Products – Butter, Flakes, Flour, Milk, and Oil offer healthful medium-chain fats; great sub for dairy, trans fats, and wheat flour.

Coffee – Enjoy in moderation (cream and minimal sweetener ok)

Dairy – Raw, fermented, high-fat and organic products are preferred (Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Kefir, Whole Milk, Yogurt) in moderation.

Eggs – Local, pasture-raised or certified organic for high omega-3 content.

Fats and Oils – Coconut, Dark-Roasted Sesame, First press or Extra-Virgin Olive, Palm, and High Omega-3 oils. Animal fats (Chicken fat, Lard, Tallow), Butter and Coconut Oil are best for cooking.

Fish – Wild-caught. Small, oily, cold water fish best (Anchovies, Herring, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines).

Fruit – Locally-grown or wild, organic, in-season preferred. Berries are premier choice. For soft-skinned fruits, go strictly organic. Moderate intake with higher glycemic/lower antioxidant values, and dried fruit.

Herbs and Spices – Organic preferred. No preservatives.

Indulgences – Dark Chocolate (75%+ cocoa content), and Red Wine are best choices. Be sensible and moderate.

Macadamia Nuts – Great Omega6/Omega3 ratio

Meat and Fowl – Local, pasture-raised, or USDA-certified Organic critical. If you must eat conventional meat, choose the leanest cuts and trim excess fat to minimize toxin exposure.

Other nuts, Seeds and their derivative Butters – Cold-processed, organic if available.

Snacks – Berries, Canned Tuna or Sardines, Celery with Cream Cheese or Nut Butter, Cottage Cheese with Nut or Fruit topping, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Jerky, Nuts, Olives, Seeds, Trail Mix and other high-fat and/or high-protein, low-carb primal foods.

Supplemental Carbs – Those without excess body fat, not wishing to lose additional weight, can enjoy Sweet Potatoes and Yams in moderation. Occasionally Quinoa and Wild Rice.

Vegetables – Locally grown, organic, in-season preferred. Go strictly organic for large surface area (leafy greens) and soft, edible skins. Wash all thoroughly.

Shopping trips to the grocery store have certainly been different, but contrary to popular argument, eating this way (Organic meats, veggies, and fruit) has not been more expensive! Simply by steering clear of the middle aisles that contain boxed and bagged foods, I have significantly cut down on other expenses, allowing me to purchase better quality ingredients for the food I am now eating. I haven’t felt the pangs of any food deprivation, have been full for long stretches, and have loved having butter on my vegetables, yolks with my eggs, and many new recipes to look forward to!

Chocolate Coffee Caramel Bars

I may have said it before, but I’m not sure there are many things that can compare to the combination of Chocolate and Caramel. Unless, that is, you throw Coffee into the mix. I found these tasty treats on PaleOMG, and I must say – WOW. Dense and not too sweet, this dessert just may make it into my home cookbook, for those times when attempting to please everyone!

Chocolate Coffee Caramel Bars

Crust

  • 12 Dates, Pitted
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. Raw Honey
  • 3 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt

Caramel

  • 14 Dates, Pitted and Soaked in Water for 1 Hour
  • 6 Tbsp. Canned Coconut Milk
  • 3 Tbsp. Water
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Pinch of Salt

Topping

  • 1 Cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Coconut Milk
  • 2 tsp. Ground Coffee
  • Course Sea Salt, to top

Add all Crust ingredients to a food processor and mix until well combined. Add this mixture to a bread pan or similar, and push down until the mixture is flat.

Once this is done, add remaining dates to the food processor and mix until they have broken down – about 1 minute. One Tablespoon at a time, add Coconut Milk while the food processor is still running. Add Water, Vanilla, and Salt. Mix until a creamy caramel is formed – this may take 3-5 minutes total. Pour over Crust and spread evenly.

Next, melt Chocolate and Coconut Milk together in the microwave by heating for 30 seconds, mixing well, and reheating as necessary. Once completely melted, add ground coffee and mix well. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel and spread evenly.

Add Sea Salt to top. Put in the freezer to harden – approx. 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Recipe and Photo Courtesy of PaleOMG

Perhaps the Healthiest Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

I happened upon this recipe for Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake at Fast Paleo, and simply had to share it with the world. It is really more Primal/Maker’s Diet, but I won’t tell them over at Fast Paleo. Who knew that a dessert this beautiful could actually be good for you! There is no refined sugar at all, and very little carbs…thank you for adapting this recipe and making it worthy of a dinner party!

Paleo Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. Almond Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 3 Eggs
  • 16 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 3 Tbsp. Honey
  • 3 1/2 Cups Sliced Strawberries
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

For the Crust:

In a food processor, combine all nuts until fine. Mix in the almond butter and maple syrup until all binds together. Spread this mixture on the bottom of a 24 inch Springform cake pan and chill until needed.

For the Filling:

Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, and Eggs should be at room temperature. With an electric mixer on low, combine Cream Cheese, Vanilla, Sour Cream and Honey until smooth. Beat in the Eggs one at a time, being careful not to over beat (too much air will crack the cheesecake). Pour half the mixture into a separate container and set aside.

Puree the sliced strawberries in the food processor until they are the consistency of a thick jam. Stir this into one half of the cheese mix.

Using the crust you set aside, begin pouring the filling into the base in alternate layers – first the plain, followed by the strawberry. This is more about appearance than anything, so feel free to use your own creativity – the more swirly, the better!

Bake for 40 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door and peek – the change in temperature could crack the cheesecake. When the cake’s ready it should be firm at the edges but still wobbly in the middle. It will firm as it sits to cool. To really ensure that it doesn’t crack, don’t remove the cake from the oven when it’s cooked. Just leave the door open so it can gradually cool.

Maker’s Diet Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

On the Maker’s Diet (or Primal), it can be tempting to slip into a habit of eating the same foods over and over. Now, obviously cupcakes shouldn’t be a part of your everyday meal plan, but these carrot cupcakes actually contain many really great ingredients that are beneficial every day!

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 Cup Almond Butter
  • 1/2 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins
  • 3 Carrots, Shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Toasted, Chopped Pecans

For the Frosting

  • 1 lb. Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 4 oz. Butter, Softened
  • 1/4 Cup Powdered Honey Granules OR 1-2 tsp. powdered Stevia
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla
  • Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine everything except for the frosting ingredients and whisk to combine. Scoop into a muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes.

In the meantime, make the frosting by combining all ingredients and using a mixer to make it nice and fluffy. This may take awhile with a hand mixer, so using a KitchenAid would be highly beneficial. Taste and make sure it is the sweetness you like and adjust accordingly.

Allow Cupcakes to cool completely before frosting, then put frosting into a ziplock bag (a spatula works well for this) and cut the corner. Squeeze frosting onto the cupcakes in a swirl. Top with Toasted Pecans.

Enjoy the Beta-Carotene!

Photo Courtesy of Health-Bent

The Maker’s Diet vs. Primal Blueprint vs. Paleo

There has been some confusion over the different types of ancestral, low carb food plans that have become popular lately, so I researched a few of them in order to get a better understanding of their principles.

Keep in mind that these “diets” are actually meant to be lifestyle eating plans, not something to try for 6 weeks on order to lose weight. I would never promote diets, because no one ever follows them and, generally speaking, more weight in gained in the long haul.

Until now I’ve mainly followed the Maker’s Diet, but Jordan Rubin’s recipes are so horribly bland – and sometimes downright odd – that I’ve expanded my search and come across a myriad of Paleo/Primal options. These have helped me to form my own eating plan. I also found that some of the foods that the Maker’s Diet allows in Phases two and three were not working for me. With this in mind, I wanted to provide the bare essentials of each.

The Maker’s Diet

There are three phases in the traditional Maker’s DIET, which I have posted previously (You can see Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 here). The diet is based off of the book The Maker’s Diet, by Jordan Rubin, and advocates that we get back to the food our biblical ancestors consumed. I generally follow Phase One/Two, because I eat some carbs such as sweet potatoes, corn, and nuts, but do not eat legumes or grains. This diet – unlike Paleo and some Primal followers – allows Cheese and Cow Milk products, although I tend to stick to Goat products where possible.

The Maker’s Diet advocates plenty of healthy fats like Coconut Oil, Avocado, Butter, and Red Meat. Pork products, such as bacon, aren’t looked highly upon, however. This is because of the Biblical, old testament notion of “unclean” animals.

  • Eat Liberally – All Meats including Organ Meats, Low Carb Vegetables, Fats and Oils
  • Don’t Overdo it On – Nuts, Cheese, Milk, Fruit
  • Carbs Allowed in Moderation – Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Various Beans and Peas, Sprouted Grains, Oats, Brown Rice
  • Avoid – Pork, Shellfish, Processed or “White” Grains, Sugar

Primal

Primal is very similar to the Maker’s Diet, in that it advocates a high protein and fat, limited carb attitude. The diet is based on the book The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson, and emerged from a growing trend to mimic the foods that our Paleolithic ancestors consumed. The shopping list is mainly comprised of meat, vegetables, eggs, healthy fats, nuts/seeds and fruit. Key differences in this and the Maker’s Diet are the use of pork in Primal, and more Dairy in the Maker’s Diet. For a full list, check out Mark’s Daily Apple.

  • Eat Liberally – All Meats and Organ Meats, Low Carb Vegetables, Fats and Oils
  • Don’t Overdo it On – Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Wild Rice, Fruit (Eat Mainly Berries), Cheese, Yogurt, Cream
  • Eat At Your Discretion – All Dairy Products (This Article is a Great Guide)
  • Avoid – Grains, Legumes, Sugar

Paleo

The Paleo diet is probably the least similar of the three, in that it advocates lean meats, and an avoidance of saturated fats such as butter, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts. In fact, even eggs are to be restricted, and Dairy is pretty much off-limits. The diet is based off of The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, and advocates that we get back to eating the foods that our Paleolithic ancestors ate (Although I would argue that our ancestors probably favored fatty foods. In fact, I would be willing to bet that they ate Mammoth – red meat – fat and all). Although there is a high-carb and low-carb version of the diet, all this allows for are small amounts of sweet potatoes, squash, and a few more nuts in the higher carb plan. Diet Sodas and other artificial sweeteners are allowed in moderation, which in my book is a HUGE difference. I’ve summed it up, but a full list is available here.

  • Eat Liberally – Lean Meats, Low Carb Vegetables, Fruit
  • Don’t Overdo it On – Nuts, Dried Fruit, Avocado, Oils such as Olive or Flaxseed
  • Avoid – Fatty Meats, Starchy or Higher-carb Vegetables, Cheese, Dairy, Legumes, Grains, Salty Foods, Butter, Sugar

 

To sum it up, I feel that every person is different, and each of these plans could fit certain people’s needs. To me however, Paleo is a bit too diet-like and restricting. If carbs are being avoided, then it seems that higher fat intake is necessary to maintain a healthy weight, not to mention stave off cravings and allow your mind to think about something other than food. Besides, who can live without butter or cheese?? Not this girl!