Apple Pastila (A Honey-Sweetened Confection)

Apple Pastila - The Nourishing Gourmet

By Natalia Gill, from An Appetite For Joy

Imagine the bold, pure taste of apple presented in a wafer-like crisp. Apple pastila, the latest gift idea in this year’s 12 Days of Christmas Series, is a lightly sweet, Russian confection that is easy to make (though it takes a while to dehydrate in the oven). Its unique taste is surprisingly fresh and pleasant (and a little addicting!). It just happens to be grain free and dairy free too.

To make it, you’ll need two cups of your favorite applesauce, homemade or even store bought. Green apples, slightly underripe are best. This easy applesauce recipe yields two cups. This plum applesauce would be delicious as well.

The 200°F oven temp doesn’t officially cook the egg whites. Katie wrote a little about raw egg safety when she shared her delicious chai eggnog. Using good quality pastured eggs and giving them a wash in warm soapy water makes the risk very small, but there is always a risk. If you are uncomfortable with this risk see the notes in the recipe section below for how to make this candy at a higher temperature.

A little history

Apple pastila became popular in Kolomna, Russia (outside of Moscow), during the 18th century as a simple fruit leather to stretch the apple season. It was such a simple recipe that I’m sure it was present in other apple-growing regions as well. Later, egg white was added for a lighter texture. Now, different fruits, spices, and nuts are incorporated to make a variety of flavors. (In more recent years, pastila has been almost entirely eclipsed by a new variety of this style of dessert – the sweeter, marshmallow-like zephyr.)

Traditionally apple pastila is made in layered blocks or bars of varying denseness, but I like this easy 2-bite variation.

How to make apple pastila

Get your apple purée very smooth with a hand mixer or food processor. If it is unsweetened, add honey or sweetener of choice.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites til stiff peaks form.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Fold the egg whites into the applesauce.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Drop your apple mixture onto a silicone baking sheet (best option) or parchment paper. Use standard parchment, not a cutesie variety like this one, or it may stick! Learned the hard way.

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

 

Dehydrate in the oven, and you have some light and airy apple goodness, ready to be sprinkled with sugar and wrapped up for loved ones!

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free) - The Nouirshing Gourmet

Looking for more holiday ideas? How about Chai Eggnog, DIY Mint Chocolate Lip Balm, Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts, or Garam Masala Pickled Onions?

APPLE PASTILA (GRAIN & DAIRY FREE)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples – see recipe idea here)
  • 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Directions:

1) Make sure your apple purée is very smooth. I beat it with a handheld mixer for about 2-3 minutes.

2) Add honey and almond extract (or alternative flavorings in the notes). If your apple purée is cold, you may need to gently heat it to get the honey to incorporate.

3) Fold in the stiff egg whites. Drop by spoonfuls onto a pan lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.

4) Dehydrate for 7-8 hours at 200°F. After turning it off, leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Enjoy as they are, or sprinkle on some powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. (I use unrefined powdered sugar at home and organic white powdered sugar when presenting as gifts.)

Notes:

Higher temp option: If you choose this method, please use a silicone baking sheet and not parchment paper or the pastila will stick. If you want to get your egg whites to a higher temperature, preheat the oven to 350°F. After making your apple mixture (through step 3 above), bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200°F and continue to let them dry out for 3 hours. Leave in the oven (turned off) several hours (or overnight) to cool.

Flavoring options: In lieu of almond extract, you can use a little vanilla extract, cinnamon, or your own mix of spices and extracts that go well with apple.

 

Apple Pastila (Grain & Dairy Free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Confection
Cuisine: Russian
Serves: 40 pieces
 
2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples - see recipe idea here ) 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste) 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives) 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple puree (preferably from green apples - see recipe idea here)
  • 5 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, see notes for alternatives)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Instructions
  1. Make sure your apple puree is very smooth. I beat it with a handheld mixer for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add honey and almond extract (or alternative flavorings in the notes). If your apple puree is cold, you may need to gently heat it to get the honey to incorporate.
  3. Fold in the stiff egg whites. Drop by spoonfuls onto a pan lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
  4. Dehydrate for 7-8 hours at 200°F. After turning it off, leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Enjoy as they are or sprinkle on some powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. (I use unrefined powdered sugarat home and organic white powdered sugar when presenting as gifts.)
Notes
Higher temp option: If you choose this option, please use a silicone baking sheet and not parchment paper or the pastila will stick. If you want to get your egg whites to a higher temperature, preheat the oven to 350°F. After making your apple mixture (through step 3 above), bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200°F and continue to let them dry out for 3 hours. Leave in the oven (turned off) several hours (or overnight) to cool.

Flavoring options: In lieu of almond extract, you can use a little vanilla extract, cinnamon or your own mix of spices and extracts that go well with apple.

Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread

Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread - The Nourishing Gourmet

Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread is a delicious pizza alternative, and makes a perfect main dish for a simple weeknight dinner or appetizer for your next party (football, anyone?).

The first time I saw a pull apart bread recipe, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Tell me I’m not the only one it happens to? Week after week, I’d sketch out my weekly meal plan and think, “I really need to make that bread.” When I finally did, we were hooked.

This stuff is crazy good, you guys – how could it not be? A “blooming” sourdough boule stuffed with Italian sausage from our local farmer, garlic, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms, with a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses to top it all off!

Oh, and did I mention you first brush the entire loaf with garlic butter? Yesss.

One big comforting bread bowl of cheesy Italian goodness.

To serve, I just placed it on a cutting board with a bowl of marinara sauce for dipping, then added a large salad with our favorite Greek dressing, and dinner was done!

Cheesy pull apart bread made with sourdough, Italian sausage, veggies, and two cheeses -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Pull apart recipes can be made with nearly any type of bread, but I found that the crispy outside and airy inside of the sourdough was pure perfection – the porous interior soaked up the garlic butter beautifully, while the firm crust held up to the hearty Italian sausage, mushrooms, and mozzarella stuffing.

Speaking of the stuffing, I think next time, I’ll cook up a double batch of the sausage-veggie mixture and freeze it for another night. This recipe is definitely easy, but omitting the stove-top step would shave 15-20 minutes off the time. And I’m always up for saving time in the kitchen!

And a tip for serving – Once it finished baking, I used a sharp knife to retrace the horizontal and vertical slits in the bread, then used tongs to loosen each piece of bread a little. This made it much easier to pull each piece out for dipping.

Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread with marinara sauce for dipping -- The Nourishing Gourmet

Have you made pull apart bread before? What flavors did you use?

I’m already planning which variation I’ll try next – Cheddar and chive? Bacon and Swiss? Ham and Gruyere?

Really, I don’t see how any of those could be less than awesome.

Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread

Use homemade sourdough, or buy it from a favorite local bakery! 

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp pastured ghee
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 links (about a pound) pastured Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese + 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large sourdough boule
  • 6 Tbsp pastured butter, melted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Marinara sauce for dipping
Cheesy Italian Pull Apart Bread
 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp pastured ghee
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 links (about a pound) pastured Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese + 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large sourdough boule
  • 6 Tbsp pastured butter, melted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Marinara sauce for dipping
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat ghee and add garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until veggies soften.
  2. Add dried oregano and Italian sausage to the pan, using a wooden spoon to break into small crumbles as it browns.
  3. When sausage has browned, add mushrooms and continue cooking until softened. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fold in about ⅓ of the cheese mixture remove from heat to cool.
  5. Place the sourdough boule on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut horizontal slits about an inch apart, all the way across the boule. These should go almost all the way down to the bottom crust.
  6. Repeat going the other direction - make vertical slits about an inch apart, all the way across the boule. You'll need to use the stabliizing hand to firmly hold the already-cut sections together.
  7. Stir the garlic powder and melted butter together, then use a pastry brush to brush it down into each horizontal and vertical slit in the bread. This will take a few minutes but it's worth it!
  8. Once the bread has been cut and buttered, use clean hands (my preference) or a spoon to distribute the cooled meat-veggie-cheese blend evenly between all the slits. This will cause the sliced bread pieces to spread or "bloom" a bit more, but be sure not to allow the pieces to break apart.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese blend over the top of the bread, pressing some gently into the slits if needed to use it all.
  10. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. (I've been trying to cut back on my use of aluminum foil in the oven but, for less browning, wrap the loaf in foil before placing in the oven).
  11. To serve, I like to use a sharp knife to retrace the rows and columns of slits, then use tongs to transfer the cheesy bread pieces to plates.
  12. Serve with marinara for dipping.

Check out these other easy and comforting dinner recipes!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins

Grain Free/Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins-www.thenourishinggourmet.com

By Katie Mae, from Nourishing Simplicity

Warm pumpkin muffins full of tantalising spices and gooey chocolate chips, fresh from the oven.

Fall is in the air! Sometimes I feel like Anne Shirley as I welcome the joys of Autumn. Crisp leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground to be crunched under our feet.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

As the cooler weather settles in I find myself longing for moments to curl up in a cozy sweater with a good book and tasty pumpkin treats like soaked pumpkin scones and pumpkin pie lattes. Even as the world is “dying” I find myself coming alive after a long, hot summer.

What better way to celebrate the changing of seasons than with treats full of warming spices like cinnamon and ginger that we find to be synonymous with this time of year?

When you have food allergies or sensitivities it can be disheartening when so many pumpkin delights are off limits. That’s where these pumpkin chocolate chip coconut flour muffins come in. They are grain and dairy-free (if you chose) yet are not lacking in flavor. They have been a favorite in my house for a few years now and I am happy that they are finally being shared with you!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk (coconut, almond, cow or goat)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, gently melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Mix the coconut flour, sucanat, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

2. Mix the pumpkin puree, eggs, milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

3. Add the chocolate chip, stir to mix.

4. Place the cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Fill the liners 2/3 of the way full.

5. This recipe should make about 12 regular sized muffins or about 30 mini muffins.

6. Bake at 325, for mini muffins 15-20 minutes. For regular muffins, 20-25 minutes.

7. Stick a toothpick or fork in a muffin to determine if the muffins are done. If it comes out clean you will know they are done.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins
 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup sucanat
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, gently melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Mix the coconut flour, sucanat, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Mix the pumpkin puree, eggs, milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the chocolate chip, stir to mix.
  4. Place the cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Fill the liners ⅔ of the way full.
  5. This recipe should make about 12 regular sized muffins or about 30 mini muffins.
  6. Bake at 325, for mini muffins 15-20 minutes. For regular muffins, 20-25 minutes.
  7. Stick a toothpick or fork in a muffin to determine if the muffins are done. If it comes out clean you will know they are done.

 

Paleo Meat and Veggie Muffins

Good for both breakfast and snaking. These delicious grain free savory  muffins are protein-rich, nut-free, and amazing in flavor!  -- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Megan, from Eat Beautiful

These protein-rich, savory muffins are studded with delicious vegetables and make an excellent breakfast or snack. They don’t contain almonds or almond products, and can be made nut-free with the use of sunflower seeds. So many Paleo or GAPS-friendly baked goods contain almonds or almond flour, so I’d like to share a recipe with you that doesn’t.

There is a glut of almond flour recipes in the Paleo baking community and while they are delicious they are also high in omega-6s, which already inundate the standard American diet. Additionally, most commercial almond products (meal, blanched meal, flour and butter) are not sprouted. In my opinion, all nuts and seeds should be sprouted before consumption for digestibility, and mineral absorption.

What about a muffin that has no flour at all? Truly Paleolithic in spirit, and even healing in its gentleness and nutrient profile, a muffin of meat, soaked seeds, eggs, veggies and fat is in order!

Soaked pine nuts are the secret ingredient in these lunch-inspired savory treats! The pine nuts do not, however, need to be dehydrated. They soak overnight in salt water (this takes less than 5 minutes, including their morning rinsing) and then get pureed right into the muffin batter. Easy.

For a more economical version, raw sunflower seeds are used.

The Sausage and Egg Muffin is also full of grated veggies. So you’re getting a walloping dose of goodness, a meal, in the form of a delicious handheld snack. I make a batch of these and freeze them. Then I alternate putting them, or leftovers from dinner, in my daughter’s daily lunches. She loves them and they look “normal” to her friends who do not eat Paleo diets. (That’s helpful when you’re 14.)

These are also great for road trips, or whenever you’re overly hungry but have no time to make a quality meal. They defrost beautifully in a toaster oven, straight from the freezer.

We love them plain. We also love to break them in half and top the halves with slices of butter or cheese.

You may notice; the recipe indicates the muffins are baking soda-free. For those on healing diets, such as GAPS, this plays in. Baking soda makes the stomach less acidic. Having an acidic belly is important in terms of triggering the digestive mechanisms to secrete digestive juices. (I even take a supplement called Betaine HCl with Pepsin that adds more acid to my stomach.) The muffins rise beautifully and stay their risen selves without the leavening agent.

Try these nourishing, protein-packed muffins that offer nothing but good stuff to give you energy toward wellness!

By the way, this recipe comes from my cookbook; and it’s one we make in our Paleo café. If you enjoy this recipe and approach to grain-free baking, check out my cookbook where you’ll find lots more treats that are customer-approved and genuinely healthy! My cookbook is Eat Beautiful: Grain-free, Sugar-free and Loving It and can be purchased as an eCookbook or in softcover from Amazon.

Cheers, friends! Enjoy.

Good for both breakfast and snaking. These delicious grain free savory  muffins are protein-rich, nut-free, and amazing in flavor!  -- The Nourishing GourmetSavory Meat and Veggie Muffins, aka Sausage and Egg Muffins

(nut-free, dairy-free, baking soda-free)

Intentionally GAPS-friendly, these muffins are an easy meal in your hand. Accompanied by a mug or Thermos of bone broth, they make the diet easier when you need to be away from home. Make a bundle of them and keep them in the freezer, easy to grab on the go. They also are free of baking soda, an added GAPS bonus, for a healing and satisfying food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soaked raw pine nuts, wet* (see how-to below), or sunflower seeds (for a more economical option)
  • 1 cup zucchini or carrots, grated, or a combination of both
  • 1 cup cooked ground beef or other ground meat (ideally cooked up with a little sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon per 1 pound meat)
  • 6 eggs, preferably pastured
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or rendered animal fat, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour or chia seeds
  • 1 dried teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia (or 10 to 15 drops liquid stevia — NuNaturals brand preferred) or 2 tsp. honey

Yields 6 large or 12 small-size muffins.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Directions:

  1. Prepare 6 extra-large muffin cups or 12 medium-size muffin cups by lining them with cut squares of parchment paper. (Or use good-quality muffin cup liners that won’t stick.)
  2. Place the pine nuts, eggs, oil, coconut flour, oregano, sea salt and stevia into the blender.
  3. Puree the ingredients until they are smooth, about 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Fold in zucchini or carrots and meat.
  5. Pour the muffin batter into the prepared tin and bake until they are puffed, golden and a knife inserted into the center of one comes out clean — about 25 minutes.

Variations:

  • Substitute grated apple and bulk pork for the zucchini and beef. Substitute 1/4 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon sage for the oregano.
  • For added protein, use the full 1 pound of cooked ground meat, folding it into the batter as described. This version turns out great.

*How to soak raw seeds- For every 4 cups raw seeds, cover by two inches with room-temperature filtered water and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Leave uncovered at room temperature overnight, then drain and rinse well in the morning. They are now ready to be used in their wet form.

Paleo Meat and Veggie Muffins
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soaked raw pine nuts, wet* (see how-to below), or sunflower seeds (for a more economical option)
  • 1 cup zucchini or carrots, grated, or a combination of both
  • 1 cup cooked ground beef or other ground meat (ideally cooked up with a little sea salt, ½ teaspoon per 1 pound meat)
  • 6 eggs, preferably pastured
  • ½ cup olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or rendered animal fat, melted and cooled
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour or chia seeds
  • 1 dried teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon powdered stevia (or 10 to 15 drops liquid stevia — NuNaturals brand preferred) or 2 tsp. honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 6 extra-large muffin cups or 12 medium-size muffin cups by lining them with cut squares of parchment paper. (Or use good-quality muffin cup liners that won’t stick.)
  2. Place the pine nuts, eggs, oil, coconut flour, oregano, sea salt and stevia into the blender.
  3. Puree the ingredients until they are smooth, about 30 to 45 seconds.
  4. Fold in zucchini or carrots and meat.
  5. Pour the muffin batter into the prepared tin and bake until they are puffed, golden and a knife inserted into the center of one comes out clean — about 25 minutes.
Notes
Substitute grated apple and bulk pork for the zucchini and beef. Substitute ¼ teaspoon allspice and ½ teaspoon sage for the oregano.
For added protein, use the full 1 pound of cooked ground meat, folding it into the batter as described. This version turns out great.

*How to soak raw seeds- For every 4 cups raw seeds, cover by two inches with room-temperature filtered water and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Leave uncovered at room temperature overnight, then drain and rinse well in the morning. They are now ready to be used in their wet form.