Tuesday, March 13, 2018

KNOW foods - The Paleo/Gluten free Verdict is In

I've been cutting back carbs a lot, cutting back on even my einkorn ancient grain pasta, and low sugar fruits, eating more wild protein and lots and lots of veggies and healthy fats (following the plan in the really great book - "31 Day Paleo Diet Kickstart" by Autumn Smith of

( Seriously, their turkey and beef sticks are amazing)

But in reviewing some paleo recipes and gluten free ideas from other websites I found this line of foods that are unique in that their products are. . .(and I quote from their  Know Food's website)

    NO GMOs
    NO Gluten
    NO Grain
    NO Wheat
    NO Soy
    NO Dairy
    NO Peanuts
    NO Yeast
    NO Preservatives
    NO Added Sugar
    NO Trans Fats

They are made with superfoods - chia, flax, coconut, almonds, and egg whites.

So I ordered a few to review. I almost ordered the waffles as they were reviewed as being very good but the serving of 3 small ones as pictured on their website would be almost 600 calories not including butter or syrup. I was looking for items that were both gluten-free and super high in calories per serving.

The four products I ordered arrived in Chicago 8 days after ordering (5 days after shipping) and required refrigeration or freezing, but I liked that the packages are resealable so you can have a serving, thaw it out to enjoy and leave the rest in place.

We'll start with the wrap.  The photo on the website made it look burrito sized, and I hoped to use it for an egg and bacon breakfast wrap.  In actuality, they are soft taco sized.  It made for a sensible portion calorie wise but not for a burrito sized wrap.  The taste is fairly bland but it has a nice texture and hand feel to make it a good Paleo-friendly food transport that won't fall apart when loaded up with sandwich material.  70 calories, ZERO saturated fat, 7 grams carbs and only 2 grams of sugar.  I would buy these again.
Next up the donut.  The photo on the website makes it look more "chocolatey" than it is and also shows a chocolate glaze.  There is no glaze, these are plain and more vanilla than chocolate in taste but for the chocolate chips.  The texture is not really that of a donut, but more like a slightly dense cake, a less sweet version, and like other KNOW products, the only flour used is coconut and flax flour. The texture and taste were good and the little mini chocolate chips added a nice sweetness to it. For the price ($1.66 per donut) I'm not sure I'd buy again, but they were tasty and quite filling with the amount of protein they had (12 grams per donut!)

It's not a low-calorie snack though with 200 calories per donut (the dish is a small salad dish so you can see these aren't really big) but they do have ZERO grams of saturated fat.  There are 12 grams of sugar, but it's from apple puree and allulose.  What is that?

Allulose is a pretty new sweetener from the folks that brought you Splenda.  It comes from Mother Nature, derived from fermented corn. Small amounts of the low-calorie sugar are also naturally found in figs, raisins, and maple syrup.

Allulose’s chemical makeup is nearly identical to fructose and glucose (real sugar), but it possesses slightly different hydrogen and oxygen structures. This slight difference allows the sugar substitute to boast just a tenth of the calories of table sugar while maintaining 70 percent of the sweetness.

That sounds great, but there is a bit of a drawback. Since our gut enzymes cannot break down allulose, if you consume it in large quantities it can lead to severe bloating, pain, and gas. Even so, the FDA says allulose is “generally recognized as safe” - sort of like Craiglist Ads from guys named "Leatherface" or online dating.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Yes, it's much bigger than the donut but there's a price for that.  Check out the calories.  Yes, almost 400 calories for ONE cookie.  With 12 grams of saturated fat it also has 42 carbs but only 4 net carbs (total carbs minus sugar alcohols and fiber) which mean there is a LOT of allulose in this baby (its listed as the second ingredient.)  My stomach is a little sensitive to that much sugar alcohol so I'll pass, but it has a good taste, just enough chips and a good cookie crunch.  There are two other flavors if you aren't a fan of chocolate (said no one ever).
Lastly, my favorite.  The chocolate cupcakes.  There are only 4 of them in the package for $10) so they're not cheap but they're really rich and chocolatey and though they are not frosted, they're not dry. They aren't really big but are rich enough that they are quite satisfying.

They taste as close to a real chocolate cupcake (sans frosting) as any gluten free product I have tried. These I would happily buy if doing paleo or gluten-free.  Plus, only 136 calories for each cupcake, with 1 gram of saturated fat and 7 net carbs!

KNOW has a huge assortment of products including bread crumbs, croutons, waffles, breakfast cereal, etc.  If you are interested in trying, I would order direct from the manufacturer at www.knowfoods.com Since these require refrigeration, buying from third party suppliers might be iffy. Their website also has a store locator (2 stores in Chicago carried the products).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Paleo Corn-free Cornbread

I love the taste and mouthfeel of buttery cornbread, but corn is a grain, and if I'm going for a paleo version of gluten-free bread. So I tinkered with some grain-free flours, trying to get something that resembled cornbread in mouthfeel and texture with a buttery taste like good cornbread.  I made a couple big batches of this, took it to work for a few to sample, and there was nothing left but crumbs and I was asked to write the recipe out on about a  dozen slips of paper on my lunch break (some just liked it, some have family members with Celiac). Plain or served with some honey, it's a treat and pairs of so nicely with soups and stews.
click to enlarge picture

No, it doesn't taste exactly like cornbread, but if you are simply out of cornmeal or are avoiding all grains it's a tasty substitute.  It's extremely moist and tender with a wonderful buttery flavor. Don't let making Ghee scare you away, it's not hard.  Ghee is basically clarified butter that is cooked a bit longer until the clarified butter is golden and the milk solids at the bottom are toasted, (watch it doesn't burn).   In addition to having a high smoke point which makes it a great replacement for vegetable oils, without the lactose and casein, its' easy to digest for those who can't do dairy and it adds a nutty depth of flavor that's good on so many things (like roasted sweet potatoes).

There is a a recipe/step-by-step tutorial for ghee over here

Gluten Free "Corn" bread

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Almond Flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill, slightly larger grind which is great for this recipe)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup  Ghee (made with a good quality, grass-fed butter) nuked for about 20 seconds to warm it up for blending.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix dry ingredients in one medium sized bowl, wet ingredients in another, smaller bowl.  Combine and stir until mixed (mixture will be quite thick).  Place in a pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with olive oil based non-stick spray and spread mixture in pan (use a knife to smooth the top).

Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Are you going to eat ALL of that meatloaf Mom?.

I've been lucky, I didn't gain any weight over the winter, but I'm still up 5 pounds from last Spring.

One thing I've had to cut back on was the amount of carbs I eat.    I tried the Paleo Diet for a few days.  No pancakes, no waffles?  And no processed meat or cheeses but simply low sodium healthy stuff like caveman ate.
 I don't think cavemen ate bacon waffles.

I only lasted a few days with nothing but meat, eggs, berries and veggies.   I got a call from my dear friend Lynne out in Maryland who is also trying to lose a few pounds.  This is how that call went.

Me:  I tried to do the no bread/no processed food Paleo thing - it didn't go so well.

Lynne.  - What happened?

Me:  I made it almost a week.

Lynne: And?

Me:  I just ate an entire box of vegetarian corn dogs. . . . .  With a beer chaser.

Lynne (laughing)  I love you.

The problem is I tried and do it cold turkey and that just doesn't work.  

So I tried it again following the plan in the really great book - "31 Day Paleo Diet Kickstart" by Autumn Smith of

But cutting back on cheese, sugar, processed food and supersized portions IS a healthy way to cut back, but it's easier if you start by just replacing a few meals as you gradually adjust to healthier eating habits as you eliminate that bread with every meal habit which for many of us is a hard one to break. Autumn outlines a detailed plan that slowly weans you off the bread and replaces it with healthy vegetable carbs and organic pastured raised proteins.   This was my lunch today with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar salad dressing.

I love the stainless steel Lunchbots Box (from my favorite shopping place - Amazon).   It's a tad bigger than most Bento Boxes and she  like having an assortment of stuff to nibble on especially on those days she doesn't  have time for a formal sit down "lunch".

For dinner - something totally new.

ZOODLES.  That's right, noodles made out of zucchini.  I bought the little julienne tool at Amazon and figured - worst case scenario we could eat the sauce.

Simply wash the zucchini's, cut off the ends and make a thin slice on the top and  bottom. so it stays in place on the cutting board and you have a level surface to julienne,  Then, simply  run the slicer over it to make long strands of zuchinni.
This was about 2 pretty good sized zucchinis, enough for two people.. This is what it looked light before cooking.  I did slightly peel the squash with the julienne tool so the noodles weren't too dark green.

Some onions were cooked up with garlic to add to some leftover pasta sauce.
Cover the zoodles and nuke for two minutes when the sauce is heating.  (If you're doing a big batch you might want to  cook a bit longer). 
Top with sauce (this sauce was loaded with tomatoes and carrots.  (Note:  Drain the zoodles after nuking - they had a bit more liquid than she expected after cooking so I had a bit of liquid on the plate.)  They were surprisingly good as a base for the sauce and had a bite and texture just like spaghetti.

It's great to know I can use my zoodle and have a healthy Paleo-friendly dinner.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Paleo Tea Bread

I have a close friend with Celiac so when we get together for coffee or tea I make sure I have some gluten-free paleo-friendly bread on hand bot both of us to enjoy with some butter and jam.  But so many of them taste really grainy or are very dry. So today I tried a couple of new recipes.  This was my favorite of what I tried.  The original recipe called for 1 cup almond flour plus 1/4 cup coconut flour, but I was out of almond.  This combination of substituting slightly less than half cup coconut flour, slightly more than half cup tapioca flour for the cup of almond flour worked REALLY well.

The texture is VERY good, soft and moist, not grainy.  It tastes like real bread with a nice crust. It's a quick bread, so no yeast so it doesn't rise really high but it would make a great breakfast or snack bread.  It also makes great toast! My "I hate gluten-free anything" husband had a piece after he saw it being sliced and gave me a thumbs up.

Paleo Bread

Use a piece of parchment paper to line a bread pan with the sides going over the edges so you can easily lift the bread out after cooking. Next time I will use my slightly smaller bread pan so the bread is "taller".  This pan, which husband got in the UK is pretty big.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

3/4 cup coconut flour minus 1 Tablespoon
1/2 cup tapioca flour + 1 Tablespoon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Xanath gum
1 Tablespoon sugar or equivalent herbal sweetener
1/3 cup butter melted (let it cool slightly as you get things organized)
1 and 1/2 cups egg whites.  I used organic liquid eggs whites from Phils

If you have a bunch of yolks left make homemade

In a food processor pulse the dry ingredients a few times.

Pulse in the melted butter, scraping the sides of the bowl, it should look like wet crumbs

Whip eggs until soft peaks form with a hand or stand mixer (you can add a pinch of cream of tartar if it's taking too long).  Make sure you use a large clean and totally dry bowl.

Pulse half the eggs into the crumb mixture just a few times, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once (do NOT overmix)

Scrape contents of food processor into remaining egg whites and gently fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan.  Bake 30 minutes, lightly drape with foil and cook an addition 10-12 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Almond Chicken Salad as Good as the Restaurant Kind

There's a Panera restaurant right by my bank so when I have a royalty check from my publisher to deposit I have lunch there.  I love the Napa Chicken Salad sandwich but for the price, I can make that at home and I know I'm not getting any ingredients I'm sensitive to.  So I did. The bread is homemade gluten free, but you can use any bread you like.

 As for the chicken salad?

Here's what's in the Panera version

Citrus & pepper chicken, sea salt, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, sugar, dry lemon peel, spices, dehydrated rosemary, dehydrated basil, paprika, vinegar, tomatoes, dressing, rosemary extract, mustard oil], fresh red seedless grapes, lettuce, celery, sliced raw almonds, salt, black pepper.

Not too bad actually. They don't tell you what the "dressing" is so I don't know if it has soy, which I do not tolerate well.

Knock off Panera Chicken Salad Recipe

One skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced or "chicken" veggie protein
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup red grapes, quartered
1/4 cup Just Mayo brand dressing (egg, soy, and gluten free but if you want a really clean mayo - make your own *)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2  and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar or a few drops of honey
1/4 teaspoon EACH onion and garlic powder
2 pinches of Italian seasoning (I used Tuscon Sunset by Penzy)
dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup finely slivered almonds

Mix and chill garnished with lettuce or lettuce and tomato. makes 4 small/medium sized sandwiches.  I served on Sesame Semolina bread which is what Panera uses, but mine came from Medici Bakery on 57th in Chicago, a block northeast of the University of Chicago campus.

*Easy Clean Olive Oil Mayo

Note:  Salmonella is always a risk with raw egg yolks however studies have shown that it's very rare in chickens that have been raised on small farms, pastured to eat as nature intended.  I get my eggs from a friend that has chickens on their small hobby farm.  Fresh is also important.  To determine if an egg is fresh, bring it up to room temperature and check for cracks - there should not be any.  Roll the egg on a flat surface, it should wobble.  The yolk and white should be firm and not break easily.  If it doesn't pass these tests, so not eat it.  If I can't get pastured eggs through a farmer I know or co-op, I use the "Just Mayo" brand.

1 egg yolk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh, not bottled)
1 tsp vinegar (I use white or ACV)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon
a dash of sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

In food processor blend everything but oil, then SLOWLY drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing.  Chill before serving.

Friday, February 2, 2018

RX Bars - A Paleo Friendly On the Go Protein

I have been on a mission to find the perfect protein bar.  I developed low blood sugar when I hit menopause so if I go for long periods of time without a little protein, I get nauseous and lightheaded. With a schedule that can be hectic in the best of days, toting around containers of yogurt is not that convenient and I need something I can just drop in my bag or my purse. We all have had times like those. I remember one copilot I flew with and when I lifted his flight bag to help get it on the plane, it weighed about a gazillion pounds. (Back in the day before electronic flight bags, some of the flight bags were about the size of a small car.) I figured he'd had enough of that cranky crew chief and disposed of him, removing the body in the bag or he was smuggling gold bricks. Nope, about 15 cans of tuna so he could keep the tummy full and the blood sugar stable.

My professional piloting days are over  but I still agree there HAS to be a better way to get a nice boost of protein, without a bunch of cats following you around.

But here is why it's harder for me and why I'm so happy I found this product.

My stomach does not tolerate whey protein isolate OR Monk Fruit (a popular "natural" sweetener) OR too much of the sugar alcohols created in a laboratory. So having them for an "on the go" meal replacement can take "on the go" to a place you don't want to think about. Unfortunately about 95% of the protein bars out there have one or more of those ingredients.
Half a bar so you can see the texture

So I kept looking -  trying to find a bar that was made out of real food that I could eat without that expression that Daenerys from Game of Thrones had when when she had to eat the raw Stallion heart (which was actually a very large gummy on the set).

I found a couple which will remain un-named, but they either had a really artificial taste (I'm sorry, you can NOT make a protein bar taste like a donut, just can't be done) or they had the texture of an eraser and were about as easy to swallow.  It seemed like the stores were full of mass-produced protein bars filled with lots of cheap, nutrient deficient artificial ingredients or way too much sugar (If I wanted a Candy Bar I'd snag a Milky Way Dark).

I spotted a PowerBar, which might have been great tasting, but there were so many ingredients, the print was TINY and I was going to have to get out my "cheaters" to read the label, and but then people WILL think I'm my 34-year-old husband's Mom.(OK, she and I ARE the same age but still. . .)  Let's just say there was a LOT of ingredients.

I thought I'd never find a natural protein bar with just a few simple ingredients and no added sugar. Imagine, my perfect bar was under my nose all along, right here in my home in Chicagoland, where they are distributed.

(click on word for link). No whey, no sugar alcohols and it's made out of actual clean foods:

3 egg whites
6 almonds
4 cashews
2 dates
and no BS, only natural spices and flavors.

Not only that they are really delicious, with a chewy moist texture that's not too dry, too sweet, or too hard. I would actually enjoy eating these even if they didn't have 12 grams of protein. Plus, the egg white protein is in, my opinion, a better source of protein when why and soy which are protein isolates. Isolated protein, unlike whole foods is more acid forming in the body which may promote inflammation and reduce immune function.

They are also cheaper than a lot of the bars out there, just a little more than $2 a bar, which as a snack or meal replacement with a small beverage is pretty reasonable.  They also hold up pretty well to heat - my latest box was delivered by UPS late in the day on a HOT day, and having probably been in that truck for hours, though the box was pretty warm, the product was not "melted". The packaging is durable, they won't come open by accident while traveling either.

Plus each has a different colored wrapper so I can avoid that whole o'dark hundred pack the lunch incident where my dog treats and people cookies were in identically colored  and shaped boxes.

So think about it!  Easy to pack, easy to tote!  I can take these  hiking.  I can take them white river rafting!  I can hike the Himalayas with these!  I can ride that mechanical bull in Oklahoma City! Maybe not that- but I CAN take them to my next book signing!

I bought the blueberry flavor for my first box and my second box was the assortment. So far I've just tried the chocolate mint which was wonderful, flavored with real cocoa.

Other flavors are:

Pumpkin Spice
Peanut Butter
Mint Chocolate
Chocolate Coconut
Chocolate Sea Salt
Chocolate Coffee !!!
Apple Cinnamon

So, if you've given up thinking you can find a clean, all natural (and Paleo friendly) protein bar - think again.  They're easy to order online, the customer service is awesome, and if you are near a CrossFit Store, across the country, the bar is carried (but call first as they are so popular you want to make they have your favorite in stock).  Check them out, the answer to your clean eating protein source might be closer than you know.

LB Johnson - Author, Fitness Enthusiast,