Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies

These cookies should come with a warning: Utterly addictive. Be forewarned. They are everything that I love about Mexican Wedding cookies – nutty, buttery, lightly sweet, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. They also happen to be grain and gluten-free.

(These cookies are also commonly called Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes.)

If I was just going to make one cookie recipe a year, this one would be it. Mexican wedding cookies and I go way back. They are a deeply impended favorite, so I am thrilled that I finally have an allergy-friendly version to enjoy for a special treat!

We made these for our daughter’s “Frozen” themed birthday party – we went with a snowy theme, and “snowball cookies” fit into that well, and looked lovely on the table with the décor. But truthfully, I would eat these if they looked like reindeer poo’ because they simply have such a wonderful flavor!

I used just two flours in this recipe – almond and tapioca flour. I’ve been noticing many, many paleo-ish recipes using this combination, and so have started experimenting with it myself. It really works well in this recipe! I’m excited to continue to experiment with other recipes with this flour combination.

(Amazon links below are affiliate)

I adapted this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I continue to be amazed that often I get better results adapting from old gluten-filled recipes, then when starting with a gluten-free recipe.

I use a very finely ground almond flour (like this one). I am not sure how they would turn out using a more coarsely ground flour. I also choose to go ahead and use organic powdered sugar for this recipe. Because I was making these for a crowd of friends, I wanted the flavor to be very similar to traditional Mexican Wedding Cookies. However, I think that they could be very delicious with coconut sugar! Coconut sugar tends to add a caramel undertone to baked goods that I actually like; it’s just not quite as delicate. You can also powder coconut sugar for a more delicate texture (and even add a little arrowroot powder to it to mimic store-bought powdered sugar). Regardless, one of the aspects I love about these cookies is that they aren’t very high in sugar.

I choose to use chopped almonds in place of the more traditional chopped pecans simply because I was making a double batch, and it was so much cheaper. However, they tasted just perfect! So use whatever nut you prefer.

I did use a food processor in this recipe, and made the cookies small (they will hold together the best this way – and they seemed very much like regular cookies!).

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies 2

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds (or pecans or walnuts)
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) room temperature butter (I recommend organic and/or pastured butter)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup organic powdered sugar (see notes above)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour
  • Extra powdered sugar for dusting, as desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. On a large sheet pan, place the chopped nuts, and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes, or just until you start to smell their aroma released. Set aside to cool, and turn off oven. Once cool, grind further in the food processor (you want fairly fine bits, not chunks). Don't over-process and make it oily or powdery.
  2. Dump out into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Now place the butter, salt, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla extract into the food processor and process (scrapping down the sides as needed) until smooth and fluffy. Add the nuts back in and process until combined. Now add the two flours. and process once more. If you have a small food processor that can't handle all of the ingredients, simply scrap out the butter/sugar mixture into a bowl, and hand mix the flours into it.
  4. Now place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least, or until the dough has firmed up enough to be able to roll into balls (You may find it necessary to leave for up to 2 hours, depending on how cold your refrigerator is).
  5. Once ready, preheat the oven again to 350F, and use a teaspoon to scoop out batter and roll lightly into balls, and place on a parchment covered sheet about 1-inch apart (there will be some spreading). Baking one sheet at a time (placing dough back into the fridge between batches), bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet for about ten minutes to firm before removing to cool rack. Repeat rolling/baking/cooling process until all of the cookies are cooked.
  7. Using a sieve, lightly dust the cookies with powdered sugar, if desired, for that snowy sweet look.

 

Nourishing Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Nourishing Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer- www.thenourishinggourmet.com

Written by Katie Mae Stanley of Nourishing Simplicity

There is something lovely about wrapping your hands around a cup of hot coffee – it is soothing for the soul. Hot drinks always make me feel a sense of calm, whether it is in the quite hours of the early morning, with a friend or on a hectic day when kids can’t seem to get along. Just that brief moment of lifting the mug to my lips and taking a sip makes everything right, even if only for the moment.

I am by no means a black coffee kind of gal but I also can’t bring myself to use overly processed creamers as appealing as they might be. I tend to stick to a bit of raw cream, vanilla and maple syrup. In fact, I mixed them together to make my own vanilla creamer. With autumn here I couldn’t resist adding a bit of “fall” to my cup.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are all the rage at the moment. When I have the time I like to make my own pumpkin pie latte but sometimes I want that bit of fall flavor without taking the time to whipped up a latte. I put my thinking cap on and decided to make my own pumpkin spice creamer.

Homemade creamers only take minutes to make. Once they are made you just store them in your fridge until you are ready to add them to your coffee. How easy is that?

(You can make your own pumpkin puree using this easy crockpot method here.)

Nourishing Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk (I use pastured raw milk)*
  • 1 cup pastured cream (I use raw cream)*
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Liquid stevia drops to taste (optional)
  • *If you do not want to use raw milk, you can use organic milk or two cups of a dairy free milk of your choice. If you are using canned coconut milk, use one cup of the milk and one cup of water.
Instructions
  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender. Blend on high for about 1 minutes. Or, you can pour the ingredients into a 1-quart jar and blend with an immersion blender.
  2. Store in a glass jar or bottle.
  3. Shake before use.
  4. Lasts for at least one week in the fridge.

 

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Peanut butter, unrefined sugar, coconut oil and vanilla are combined, hardened in the freezer then sliced into bite-sized morsels of bliss. These silky, sweet & salty little chips taste divine on their own, but this is a dangerous path to tread! I try to reserve them for a special treat atop ice cream or in cookies and other baked goods.

You may also want to check out the many other mouth-watering peanut butter recipes on this blog!

It was my 3-year old daughter who first opened the door to peanut butter chips. We were shopping at Trader Joe’s when she made the decision to place a bag into her kid-sized cart. My knee-jerk reaction was to quickly and nicely veto it, then redirect her to the dried mango. But I paused and skimmed the ingredients. Could have been worse. I decided to stroke her confidence and bring them home.

Last time she did this I ended up with 5 cans of sardines! I got a little creative them them.

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

How these chips act in baking (it’s a little different)

When you take out the additives, and use unprocessed ingredients, peanut butter chips melt at a lower temperature. So you have to store these in the freezer then take them out immediately before you use them.

  • In cookies and scones they work perfectly, leaving little pockets of gooey goodness.
  • In muffins they leave somewhat concentrated pockets of peanut butter but they get absorbed by the muffin so there is no change in texture. Could be a good thing, but I’m just letting you know what to expect. (I’ve only tried them in coconut flour muffins, so they might act differently with less spongy flours.)
  • In waffles & pancakes – I haven’t tried this yet but I’m assuming they will work similar to the cookies since they are cooked quickly.
  • Over ice cream they are absolutely delicious!

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Using unrefined powdered sugar

You’ll need to use powdered sugar in these. Thankfully making your own unrefined powdered sugar is easy!

I have also tried a different method, leaving the sugar un-powdered and melting all the ingredients over the stove. For whatever reason, I had a surprisingly difficult time getting the coconut sugar to melt so powdering your sugar first is definitely the way to go.

I hope you enjoy them!

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Topping, Add-In
Serves: about 4 cup
 
These simple and delicious peanut butter chips come in handy for many purposes.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup powdered coconut palm sugar or powdered sucanat (it's easy to make your own)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sea salt, to taste (if your peanut butter is not salted)
Instructions
  1. Stir together the ingredients until smooth.
  2. Pour into a parchment paper lined baking pan (mine was 9x13)
  3. Freeze for 1 hour
  4. Slice up into chips (for best results, place the pan on cooling packs when doing this)
  5. Store in the freezer until immediately before use
Notes
You can certainly reduce the sugar! I put in a fair amount because we usually make our baked goods not-too-sweet so we like a sweet chip inside them.

Almond and sunflower seed butters would also work well.

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and “The 5 Tastes” (or is it 6?)

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?)

Crisp-tender vegetables are sauteed in a lively and savory miso-ginger stir-fry sauce that is so out-of-this world you are going to want to eat it with a spoon. If you are stocked with basic Asian ingredients you might even be able to make this tonight!

The 5 Tastes

One thing I love about this dish is that it includes all of the 5 tastes. The 5 tastes refers to the collection of flavors we are able to distinguish. For each of these tastes we have a designated gustatory receptor – or unique section of the tongue that picks up the flavor.

  1. Sweet (bell peppers and, to an extent, sauteed onions and garlic)
  2. Sour (rice wine vinegar)
  3. Salty (tamari)
  4. Bitter (greens)
  5. Umami (miso, tamari)

I find that the more tastes that are represented in my meal, the more satisfied I am and the better I digest the food.

The more elusive tastes – Bitter & Umami

Bitter

Years ago, when I was reading up on Swedish bitters, I learned that the absence of one or more of the five tastes are thought to lead to a digestive imbalance. While sweet, sour and salty abound, the bitter taste is sorely lacking in the typical American diet. This is one reason that many people experience immediate relief from heartburn or bloating with Swedish bitters. This herbal concoction has medicinal qualities as well, but there is often a shift that happens as soon as it hits the tongue or is swallowed.

I’ve personally experienced this when taking Swedish bitters or having a sip of Becherovka (a famous digestif made in Czech Republic) after a heavy meal.

As my diet has become more balanced over the years, I have naturally included more bitter foods.

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?) - The Nourishing Gourmet

Lacinato Kale

Here is a list of common bitter foods:

  • kale (lately I’m loving lacinato kale!)
  • dandelion greens
  • bitter melon
  • radishes
  • eggplant
  • dill
  • arugula
  • coffee
  • dark chocolate

Umami (as I best understand it)

 Umami, officially identified  in the early 1900’s, is described as a delicious savory flavor and it can not be made by simply combining any of the other four tastes. It is unique. Umami foods have a common denominator – the amino acid glutamine.

Glutamine is found naturally in many foods, including meats, dairy (especially aged cheese), tomatoes and seaweed.

When food is prepared in certain ways such as microbial fermentation and grilling, the amino acids can get rearranged and some of the glutamine can separate from the other aminos and become free glutamate. This can make food taste really good! And many of these foods have fantastic health benefits. But they might cause issues for some people if eaten in excess.

When the processing gets more severe (even so-called natural processing using enzymes or extremely high heat) the amount of free glutamate increases. When it binds to sodium in the food it becomes mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).

The most common source of umami in the American diet is probably MSG. But for many people, MSG can be unhealthy or even dangerous. When Kimi wrote about the food and behavior connection in children, she mentioned MSG as a chemical to which many children are sensitive. I definitely agree.

When my kids are eating more foods that contain MSG (it slips in from time to time), their appetite gets whacked and they begin craving processed foods. And since MSG can cross the blood brain barrier it can definitely affect behavior, in some people more than in others. A little while back, I wrote about MSG and the blood brain barrier as well as who is vulnerable and how to avoid it (it’s not as easy as scanning the label).

When trying to make a move away from processed foods, finding natural sources of umami is critical for success. The umami taste is so alluring that unless it is in the diet, we might be tempted to seek it out in unhealthy ways.

Here are some good natural sources of umami:

  • seafood
  • sea vegetables
  • miso
  • shiitaki mushrooms
  • savory broths
  • cultured foods such as sauerkraut
  • anchovy paste
  • hard cheeses
  • ketchup (here’s a good homemade one)

A sixth taste?

Now it looks like the 5 Tastes may be bumped up to 6. Good news – the newbie is fat! Research shows that we may have a taste receptor for fat (and I’m pretty sure that mine is disproportionately large).

Why is spicy not considered a taste?

Spicy is not actually a taste – it’s a sensation. A pain sensation. This makes me question my obsession with jalapenos!

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?) - The Nourishing Gourmet

This sauce isn’t spicy. It includes a good dose of ginger, but it mellows as it cooks. I like to add crushed red peppers to my own serving.

Pictured above are fresh ginger ice cubes. (The bowl was made by my brother’s lovely girlfriend and artist Maria Lucia Londoño – isn’t it pretty?)

I had a bunch of ginger that was showing signs of turning, so I peeled and roughly chopped it and threw it in the blender with just enough water to cover it, then liquified it and poured it into an ice cube tray to freeze. I happen to have baby food trays with a lid, but regular ice cube trays would work just as well if you transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or Pyrex container once they are frozen.

The last time I made this stir-fry I just popped one of these ginger ice cubes into the pan right before adding the sauce. They also come in handy for green smoothies and soups. For a quick ginger tea you can drop a couple into boiling water and if you have time add a little raw honey and/or lemon.

I also use this technique for saving fresh herbs before they go bad.

I hope your family gets to enjoy this dish soon! Here’s a tip for getting kids to eat it: chop the vegetables small, mix them into rice and call it fried rice.

Quick Miso Stir-Fry (And How to Freeze Garlic, Ginger & Herbs)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Stir-Fry
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2-4
 
This quick & simple miso stir-fry is a perfect for a busy night.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons miso (red or white)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
  • 5 cups of greens (lacinato kale is pictured here)
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil for sauteing
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients (everything except for the vegetables and olive oil).
  2. Heat the olive or coconut oil a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Stir-fry the pepper, onion and carrots, stirring occasionally until "crisp tender" (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the greens and saute until tender to the bite.
  5. Add in the sauce and allow it to heat through gently (about 1 minute).
  6. Serve over rice or quinoa. Add chicken, shrimp or steak if you'd like!
Notes
I like to use olive oil when sauteing vegetables, but oftentimes I'll add a little water to the pan first (1/4 cup or so) to temper the heat since olive oil becomes unstable at high temperatures.