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I used to have a big kieffer pear tree in the front yard of the house I rented in Michigan. It produced hundreds of pounds of crisp, sweet, juicy pears every fall. I fermented most of them into cider, but would always grab some here and there for a snack. Now whenever I see pears in the market I think of that tree and how much I miss it, and here’s something I always meant to try with the harvest. I finally made this easy dessert over the weekend with some bosc pears. They worked well, but I bet the crisp keiffers would be even better!

Enjoy the warm, sweet pears over cold ice cream.

Enjoy the warm, sweet pears over cold ice cream.

  • 1 large pear, cored, quartered, and sliced into thin pieces
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Ice cream, pancakes, etc.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and cinnamon, stir until combined. Toss in the pears and lower the heat. Cook and stir until the pears soften. Serve over cold vanilla ice cream, banana pancakes, or whatever else sounds good to you. Serves two.

Want to know what it feels like to have Christmas punch you in the mouth? Take a bite and find out.

Want to know what it feels like to have Christmas punch you in the mouth? Take a bite and find out.

DISCLAIMER: This recipe doesn’t really adhere to our principles just based on the amount of sugar in it. It’s sweet. You can cut down on the brown sugar, for sure, but the molasses is pretty integral to the gingerbread flavor. Once in a great while we go out of bounds and indulge, and for the holidays (since we’re now living 2500 miles from our families and their gluttonous feasts) we decided to make a deviation. This isn’t a recipe for everyday, but it’s a gluten-free, dairy-free recipe that is delicious and deserves to be shared. Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    NOTE: 
    You can use two cans of full-fat coconut milk (and omit the cream and whole milk) for a non-dairy ice cream; it’s a little over 3 cups, so just add a dash more of each spice to compensate.
  • One 3-4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped; or 1 Tbs. chopped or minced ginger from the jar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • up to 1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • up to 1/4 Cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and milk (or coconut milk), and fresh ginger. If using minced or chopped ginger from a jar, put it in a metal mesh tea steeping bag; I have one for mulling spices that I dropped into the milk, this way you can pull the ginger out even if it’s not in chunks. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes to an hour, then either strain the mixture or remove the mulling container, discarding the ginger. Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat just until it comes to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a heatproof bowl. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170-175 F on an instant read thermometer).  Strain the custard into a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is good). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. Combine with gingerbread cookies for an awesome ice cream sandwich.

Adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures

I stumbled upon this gingerbread cookie recipe and it has found a permanent home in my virtual holiday recipe box. I don’t think I’ve ever had a gingerbread cookie, grain-free or not, that is as well-rounded as this one. It’s intensely flavored, dense, and just the right amount of chewy. Just don’t overcook them — they can go from done to charred in a quick minute.

Gingerbread cookies and a fancy (spiked?) coffee... Santa might never leave.

Gingerbread cookies and a fancy (spiked?) coffee… Santa might never leave.

  • 3 1/2 Cups almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 Cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • up to 1/2 cup molasses
  • up to 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 Tbs. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine almond meal, arrowroot powder, spices, salt, and soda in a large bowl. Mix it well to evenly distribute all the spices.

In small saucepan, heat molasses until just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in honey and coconut oil. Pour over almond mixture and mix well. Divide dough between cookie sheets and press into a rectangle with a greased spatula or spoon until about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before cutting into shapes. Combine with gingerbread ice cream and freeze for ice cream sandwiches.

Recipe adapted from fastpaleo.com.

Apples from Julian: Eaten fresh? Check. Baked in a savory squash dish? Check. Put into a classic pie? Hmmm… let’s give it a try!

This turned out to be delicious — it’s not runny and gooey like the pie you might be imagining (all the added sugar and flour makes that thick, syrup-like filling happen), but the flavor is spot on, and the crunchy topping is just right. After all, what I really want to taste is the apples.

An old favorite tastes just as amazing without all the extra sugar.

  • 1 9-inch rice flour pie crust
  • 8-9 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. honey or brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s has cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
  • 3/4 Cup nutnola

Bake the pie crust according to the linked recipe.

As you cut the apples, add them to a large bowl with the lemon juice to keep them from browning. Then add the honey or brown sugar (optional), and pie spice. Toss until well combined and pour into the pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the apples are soft. 10 minutes before the pie is done, sprinkle the nutnola on top.

Bob’s Red Mill rice flour has a pie crust recipe on it that isn’t half bad. It only makes one small crust which, in my experience, doesn’t quite fill a 9-inch pie pan. So I usually make two recipes and use the little bit of leftover for some pie crust cookies like my mom used to make. Here’s the already-doubled recipe.

  • 1 1/2 Cups white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbs. honey (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup melted butter or coconut oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat the egg, honey, and butter together.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the egg mixture.

Their instructions call for you to roll out the very soft dough on a rice-floured surface, then slice it into pie wedges. Carefully lift each wedge into the pie plate, then press the seams together with your fingers. I have just plopped it into the dish, pressed it out with my fingers, and cut off any excess.

Bake for 10-20 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Fill with your preferred fillings, and continue baking.

For the leftover dough, roll or press it out on a piece of foil. Sprinkle with cinnamon (my mom used a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, but we’re primal here) and bake until golden brown. Serve with honey and it’s like a sopapilla!

Recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill

I’ve made this recipe three times now (twice with whole milk and once with coconut milk), and it’s just divine. You can get 6-8 small servings from this recipe.

  • 4 cups whole milk or coconut milk (use the canned milk, and not light — go full fat)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 Tbs. instant espresso granules (I had some from the Spice House and it worked great. When that ran out, I brewed two shots of espresso and added that to the milk. Just be sure to decrease the amount of milk so that you don’t have too much liquid.)
  • 6 egg yolks

In a large pot, bring the milk, honey, and espresso powder to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low. Slowly add about a cup of the hot milk to the egg yolks and beat it together. You want the yolks to warm up gradually so they don’t cook into lumps of yolk.

Slowly add the yolk mixture to the pot, stirring to incorporate. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (or until it reaches 170 degrees). Pour through a fine mesh sieve and chill at least a couple hours.

Pour the cold mix into an ice cream machine. Serve in small dishes and garnish with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate.

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

We love avocados and use them in a lot of dishes, but this is the first time we’ve taken them into dessert. While you don’t actually taste avocado, the texture this pudding gets from them is so silky and smooth! This recipe makes enough for two just-right servings.

Taste-tested in northern lower Michigan alongside some white wine and a game of Cranium.

  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-4 Tbs. raw, local honey
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 C (more or less) coconut milk
  • Pinch of sea salt

Combine the avocado, cocoa, honey, and vanilla in a food processor. Gradually add in the coconut milk, with the food processor on, until the pudding is your desired consistency. Chill for at least an hour. Sprinkle the top with just a pinch of sea salt before serving.

If you don’t have a food processor, use a wire whisk to beat up the avocados, then continue whisking in the remainder of the ingredients. Chill for an hour.

Recipe from friend Rebecca

You will absolutely LOVE these cookies.

Delicate but hearty chocolate chip cookies that are soft and sweet. They go great with a big glass of unsweetened almond milk.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 cups almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, honey, vanilla and whisked eggs (make sure the butter isn’t so hot that it cooks the eggs). In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix the dry into the wet, then add the chocolate chips.

Drop large spoonfuls (about 2 Tbs.) of the batter onto the parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they begin to brown.

A walnut goes on a date and orders cake for dessert… and this is what comes to the table!  A light and fluffy cake with a rich chocolate topping. Dive in and enjoy.

Don't feel guilty taking seconds, the walnuts are full of healthy omega 3 fats.

  • 1 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
  • 3 cups walnut halves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raw, local honey
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 4 oz. dark (at least 72% cocoa) chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with the butter or coconut oil, then line it with parchment paper.
.
Put the walnuts and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until fine but not powdery. In a small bowl beat together the four egg yolks and vanilla.
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In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and honey until soft peaks form. Fold in the yolks and dates, then fold in the ground walnuts. Pour into the paper-lined pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
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Let cool for five minutes in the pan on a rack, then invert and remove the pan and paper. Let cool completely.
.
Melt the chocolate; let cool slightly. With the cake on a platter, drizzle the chocolate over the top. Let chocolate cool completely and serve.
Adapted from Food Network

I love grapefruit. The flavor and aroma just make my taste buds water. So I was pleased to see that it’s one of many fruits that comes with benefits beyond being just delicious; it might just give your fat-burning metabolism the same boost as fasting does (IF you eat one each day for a number of weeks and yadda yadda yadda…). Grapefruit also contains a chemical called nookatone that is completely safe while being a fantastic mosquito repellant.

A juicy treat with great health benefits.

Back to eating grapefruit: I have always eaten them plain. With my spring allergies giving me a bit of a runny, sneezy nose these days, I’ve started savoring a spoonful of raw, local, unfiltered honey as a way to boost my immunity to some of these allergens. So today I combined the two, drizzling a bit of the honey over my grapefruit before digging in. While either is delightful on its own, together there is a layering of the sweet and bitter flavors that is nothing short of awesome.

So visit a local grocer or farmers’ market and pick up some honey made in your area, put a touch on a grapefruit and enjoy a delicious breakfast, post-workout snack or dessert.

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