Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The First Day of .... Something

Oh Fall, I'm not sure I'm ready for you yet.

I guess I'm ok with Falls unofficial arrival, the end of summer (or lack thereof for me this year) and the start of something new. I love the crisp cold morning air and the thought of all the sweaters I bought at thrift shops.

This summer brought its share of adventure with the launch of TheJarGirl.com (yay!!) some pacific northwest gardening successes and failures, a 3 week road trip (aka jar buying trip) that took us from our front door to a few miles from the Ontario border, more hours of thrift shopping than I care to admit, a case of pneumonia :( and a family wedding at Green Lake where I am currently sitting.

We are leaving tomorrow, I am trying to rest to make sure I fully recuperate from this cough (easier said than done) but this morning I was inspired to start a little mini project I have had in the back of my head for a while now, and I thought it could use an introduction.

Jesse and I have decided to homeschool when we get to that point in our lives (working on the kids part - impatiently.)  One of the subjects we are both excited about is food education.   It's like math and health put together!   Our diet changes over the past several months have spurred some research on where to best spend our food (health) dollars and I have come to wonder, if others just had more information, would they make different choices?

Well, I will give it a shot. A daily picture guide to better food education. Maybe I should give it a catchy name... I don't see "A.D.P.G.T.B.F.E." catching on very quickly.

Here's the link to day one (A for Apple) I can't get the picture uploaded from my phone.


Hopefully friends and family will post and share - and hopefully it will have a positive impact on our collective health.

xoxo Marie

P.S.   Don't worry, I have a slew of new amazing recipes for you too!

Friday, 24 May 2013

{Sweet Victory} Part 2 - The Great Brownie Trial

I have said before that I don't crave chocolate BUT my husband and mother do, so when Jesse came across a recipe for flourless brownies posted by the wife of Mark Gungor Show co-host Ross Allen Skorzewski, I decided to put my new starch and sugar-free baking skills to the test.

I find it amazing how much I've learned about an entirely new chemistry process with just a few recipes. The differences between almond flour and coconut flour have become very obvious and the modifications that can be made to each for texture have become a growing curiosity "what if I added this to that?!"

The three that you see above are all variations of this recipe from homemademommy.net.   The first recipe was the closest to the original with butter instead of coconut oil and 1/2 cup xylitol instead of coconut sugar.  Click here to read an article about rethinking the use of coconut sugar (aka coconut palm sugar, palm sugar or coconut syrup).

Recipe two had a bit of coconut flour and applesauce thrown in, but the WINNER with rich chocolate flavour, silky texture and just the right amount of fudgyness was recipe number three:

This recipe made a tiny loaf 2.5" x 5" or so but can easily be doubled or tripled.  I would also try to keep them less than an inch thick in whatever pan you choose for a true brownie feel (they don't rise very much at all).


2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's because that is what mom had on hand)
1/2 cup Xylitol
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond flour***
1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350ºF
In a food processor or blender mix all the ingredients until velvety 
(I used my mom's new NINJA blender - a great buy for less than $100)
Line your baking pan with parchment paper (this is a must)
Pour into your baking dish and smooth the top of the batter.  How you leave the top will be the final result it does not smooth out while cooking.
Bake for 20-30 min and let cool COMPLETELY before cutting into them.

*** I cook with almond flour that I make, not almond MEAL which is what people are usually referring to in recipes.  I have not found almond FLOUR available to purchase anywhere yet.  Here are the directions to make almond milk and flour if you want to - don't worry its EASY!


Now, there was a fourth batch I made.... I thought it would be good to give a completely different recipe a try to see the differences.  Initially we were NOT impressed, the brownie was dry and the texture was mealy. 

Then in an effort not to cut into the other three contestants yet and not see this brownie go to waste we put some sugar-free vanilla ice cream on top.  The sky parted and the angles sang!  This recipe is incredibly good with ice cream - somehow the texture morphs into the perfect flaky crunch.  So, it is worth making if you are specifically making it for an ice cream cake or the like.  Not worth making just to eat plain, in my humble opinion anyway.

Here is my version - again we made some basic substitutions.  (maybe it's brilliant without my substitutions - who knows!)

2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/6 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1/3 cup xylitol
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line baking dish with parchment paper.
Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.
Mix eggs and other wet ingredients in a blender until very smooth.
Whisk wet ingredients into dry until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Pour batter into your dish and smooth out the top.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs. 
Cool for 10 minutes.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

{Sweet Victory} : Part One : Impressive Blueberry Muffins

Ahhhhh..the joys of guiltless baking!

For years I have avoided baking anytime but Christmas because ... I have willpower problems. I know myself and know that if I have baking in the house I will find a way to eat it.  However, in our quest to eat healthier, cutting out STARCH and SUGAR has led me to some fantastic food blogs and a great baking adventure.

A couple of weeks ago, during a visit to my parents house, I decided to kill two birds with one stone: introduce this no-starch baking concept to my family AND try some new recipes.

First on the list was a blueberry muffin recipe from the great deliciouslyorganic.net. (click here for the original recipe.)

I did modify the recipe slightly the first time, and then a bit more the second time I made them, here are my changes.

-First off, I used cream, not coconut milk - that was what I had on hand.
-Second, I subbed in 1/4 cup xylitol for the honey since we are currently trying to avoid all sugar.
-Third, the recipe just seemed too dry, so I added in another 1/3 cup of cream, and this worked though   the batter is still very firm, and not at all runny.

With these two changes the muffins were VERY tasty, looked PERFECT but were a little too fluffy (if that is possible) they fell apart quite easily. This was still fantastic in my mind because typically coconut flour is quite dense.

It is the applesauce that makes all the difference in density so, for the second batch I just added 2 more tablespoons of coconut flour to bring the density up just a hair. The texture of this batch was perfect, however, the blueberries I used at home (Trader Joes Organic Frozen Blueberries) were not anywhere as sweet as the frozen berries I had picked up from the local grocer in Colorado, and I would add a bit more xylitol to compensate for that if I use that brand again.

I find that if you are cooking with xylitol it will lengthen the baking time, and if you have a convection oven you will want to turn the temperature down 25 degrees to avoid the outside cooking too fast and getting too brown.

Here is the recipe with my changes:
Makes about 18 muffins

For the batter: (I use organic ingredients wherever possible)
6 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup xylitol (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon canilla
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (if you only have salted butter on hand that is ok, just omit the added salt)
1 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce (one single serving "cup" is perfect)
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (no need to thaw them)


Preheat oven to 375ºF or 350ºF if for convection ovens and adjust the rack to the middle position.
Line muffin pan with muffin liners.
Whisk eggs, cream, xylitol, vanilla and butter in your stand mixer bowl if using.
Sift coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a separate mixing bowl.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain.
Fold in applesauce and then fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin cups (I use a large cookie scoop)
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until perfectly brown on top and a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze for later.

Stay tuned for Part Two : The Great Brownie Trial!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Recipe Catch Up!

Hey everyone, Happy monday again!

I have promised several recipes that I haven't posted yet, so I am going to play catch up today!

First, and easiest to post, is the Paleo Bread that I made last week.  I can't take any credit for this one and I am going to send you directly to the source so that this woman gets all the credit she is due!

click here for the recipe.

You have to scroll all the way down to get to the actual recipe.

The first time I made this I somehow used baking powder instead of baking soda, so it was short, dense and a little bland.  (Still amazing for carb free bread though.)

The second time I made this, I added more salt (because it was bland the first time) and made sure to use baking soda.  They rose much better....but were WAAAAAAAY to salty.  I hadn't connected the dots that baking soda is salty too.

Third try worked like a charm.  Made one plain loaf and one loaf with dark chocolate bits, a splash of vanilla and 1/2 cup of xylitol.  The chocolate loaf took significantly longer to bake, but its amazing with coffee in the morning or afternoon.


Second promised recipe is the Cauliflower "loaded baked potato" soup from a few weeks ago.   The weather is getting nicer, but this is still amazing on a cold and rainy spring day.  This recipe is so good that my grandmother-in-law who can't remember anything for more than 10 minutes, remembered this soup a WEEK later :P

I can't find where I first saw this recipe but if do find the source I will post a link for credit.   Of course, being me I changed it up a little bit anyway and this is my version.   I also made 14 batches at once...it freezes very well.

Here is the recipe:

Makes 3-4 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets.
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (more or less to your taste)
2 c. water or broth
1 t. sea salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. nutritional yeast seasoning (available at most health food stores, this is what adds most of the flavour and cheesy taste)
Diced chives or onions, bacon bits and shredded cheese to garnish.


In a large pot, place cauliflower, garlic, water and salt.  Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Drain cauliflower and reserve the cooking liquid!

Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender.   With motor running, add back in 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, olive oil, pepper, and nutritional yeast.  Adjust seasoning to taste, add more liquid if necessary.

Serve hot, top with chopped onions, bacon bits and shredded cheese :)


The third and final recipe is probably the most impressive ;)  It is completely AMAZING for something that is almost completely carb/starch free (the only added starch is corn starch) and sugar free as well.  I can't take much credit for it...but it sure is YUMMY!  I made two of these for Easter.  I will say that this pie does not hold its amazing consistency if you try to freeze it.  Its edible, but it is much better not to freeze it.

Sugar Free - Grain Free - Lemon Chiffon Pie

Coconut Flour "Graham Cracker" Crust

1/4 cup almond flour*
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup salted butter, softened (I would use a bit more butter next time)
1/4 cup xyletol
1 organic egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (325 if you have a convection oven)

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until combined and crumbly.

Using your fingers, press the dough as evenly as possible ;) into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie or tart pan.

Bake for 15 minutes for a pie pan (7 minutes for a tart) cool completely, then add filling.

* In all of the recipes that I use almond flour in, I use my own.  This has proven to be somewhat difficult because the term "almond flour" generally means almond MEAL.  Almond meal can be made by pulsing almonds in a blender or food processor until coarse.  But if you want to know how to make FLOUR that doesn't need to be refrigerated and is exactly what I use for my recipes then click here to read my tutorial on almond milk/flour making.

Lemon Chiffon Pie (filling)

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated Magazine and they have a fantastic article on how to get the perfect consistency by using corn starch and gelatin.  The only thing I did was use Xylitol instead of sugar, and I used 3/4 cups total, not 1 1/4 cups.  

For ease, I am just going to copy and paste the recipe and add my changes.  The link is at the bottom if you want to read the article.

Serves 8

*Before cooking the curd mixture, be sure to whisk thoroughly so that no clumps of cornstarch or streaks of egg white remain. Pasteurized egg whites can be substituted for the 3 raw egg whites. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

1 t. unflavored gelatin
4 T. water
5 large eggs (2 whole, 3 separated)
3/4 c. xylitol 
1 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
1 T. grated lemon zest plus 3/4 cup juice (4 lemons)
1/4 c. heavy cream
4 ounces (half a block) cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened


Sprinkle ½ teaspoon gelatin over 2 tablespoons water in small bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Repeat with second small bowl, remaining ½ teaspoon gelatin, and remaining 2 tablespoons water.

Whisk 2 eggs and 3 yolks together in medium saucepan until thoroughly combined. Whisk in xylitol, cornstarch, and salt until well combined. Whisk in lemon zest and juice and heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and slightly translucent, 4 to 5 minutes (mixture should register 170 degrees). Stir in 1 water-gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 2 minutes.

Remove 1¼ cups curd from pan and pour through fine-mesh strainer set in bowl. Transfer strained curd to prepared pie shell (do not wash out strainer or bowl). Place filled pie shell in freezer. Add remaining water-gelatin mixture and cream cheese to remaining curd in pan and whisk to combine. (If cream cheese does not melt, briefly return pan to low heat.) Pour through strainer into now-empty bowl.

Using stand mixer, whip 3 egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and slowly add remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue whipping until whites are stiff and glossy, about 4 minutes. Add curd–cream cheese mixture and whip on medium speed until few streaks remain, about 30 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and, using spatula, scrape sides of bowl and stir mixture until no streaks remain. Remove pie shell from freezer and carefully pour chiffon over curd, allowing chiffon to mound slightly in center. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.

Serve with whipping cream sweetened with stevia or xylitol (you would want to zing the xylitol in a coffee grinder until it is a fine powder, otherwise it will not dissolve in your whipped cream.  You'll just get crunchy whipped cream!

Find the original recipe or read the full article here.

Hope you enjoy these!  Let me know if you make any of them!!!



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rocky Theme Song (aka. not a morning person today)

So I am B E A T this morning...not hard to understand I suppose.  We just got back from Mexico Sunday night and then last night we hosted Passover for our connect group - all 30 people!  And it was AMAZING!!!!!   You guys were awesome.  I love how everyone poured themselves into their dishes - and all of the kids played their parts flawlessly!!!   Thank you for blessing us and especially Jesse with your enthusiasm. <3

So now, its morning and we spent a couple of hours cleaning up last night, but there are several more loads of dishes to do, tables and chairs to return to the rental place and normal getting home unpacking/bill paying stuff....and I needed a "rocky" song...and this one is my current favorite so I thought I would share it with you :)

The lyrics might be questionable based on the title now that I look at it, but I honestly thought it said a lot of "don't give up"s which is a pretty good message right?? :)

It's a great 'get up and go' song - and if you like it, support this LOCAL band and BUY the song or album!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Italian Turkey Soup Two Ways

Apologies to those of you who have been waiting for this recipe (Marcy!).  I promised to post it, came home last wednesday to the hubs asking me if I wanted to take a last minute trip to California...very last minute...we left that night around 11!  Between that trip, shopping for new clothes that fit and packing them for our trip to Mexico next week, blogging went on the back burner - but it's here now - here's the post!

So a few weeks ago I had a massive shopping day followed by 3 days of cooking for 2 families. Mine and a family of 8 :) The hubby, MIL and I are not eating any starch or sugar. The other family, The 8's (we'll call them) need carbs to fill up the hollow legs of more than a couple growing boys. So, here are the recipes that we made for both families, keep in mind that we made many many batches at once - freezer recipes are great! The recipes are very similar but I typed them out twice so you can copy and print the recipe easier. :)

All of the ingredients used in these recipes were organic, but most of it was purchased across the border. The approximate cost per recipe for the Bregg version is $13 and the Hungry Bellies version about $8 when I used dried beans.

Italian Turkey Soup 2 Ways
makes 6-8 servings

Bregg (low carb) Version:

1 lb ground turkey
1 diced onion
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1T Dry Italian Seasoning (we made our own, I will post it and link it up here soon)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
2 14oz cans chicken broth  
1 t dry oregano 
1/4 t dry basil or about 
1/4 cup fresh 
1 pkg frozen spinach - I like trader joes organic 

Spoon a little coconut oil into a stock pot and turn onto med-high heat. 

When oil is hot, add onion, garlic and turkey. Stir to combine and the Italian Seasoning and salt and pepper.  Cook until the turkey is completly cooked through and brown before adding any liquid. 

Once turkey is brown, add tomatoes including juice and the chicken broth. Add the rest of the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

If you are going to freeze the soup then I would reccomend adding the spinach when you reheat the soup. I added it the first time I cooked it and when I reheated it it was a little mushier than I would like. If you are just making a batch to eat now then add the spinach last and serve. Top with a little grated (real) parmesan and enjoy!

Nutritional Info is based on 6 servings per recipe

Calories: 225.8
Total Fat 5.1g
Total Carbs 9.3g
   Dietary Firer 3.6g
   Sugars 4.3g
Protein 33.7g

Hungry Bellies Version: 

1/2 lb ground turkey 
1 diced onion 
4-5 garlic cloves, minced 
1T Dry Italian Seasoning (we made our own, I will post it and link it up here soon) 
salt and pepper to taste 
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz) 
3 cans white beans or 1.5 cups dried beans soaked overnight (you do NOT need to cook these before putting in the soup, they will cook while the soup cooks) 
2 14oz cans chicken broth 
1 t dry oregano 
1/4 t dry basil or about 
1/4 cup fresh 1 pkg frozen spinach - I like trader joes organic.

Spoon a little coconut oil into a stock pot and turn onto med-high heat. 

When oil is hot, add onion, garlic and turkey. Stir to combine and the Italian Seasoning and salt and pepper.  Cook until the turkey is completly cooked through and brown before adding any liquid. 

Once turkey is brown, add beans, tomatoes including juice and the chicken broth. Add the rest of the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

If you are going to freeze the soup then I would reccomend adding the spinach when you reheat the soup. I added it the first time I cooked it and when I reheated it it was a little mushier than I would like. If you are just making a batch to eat now then add the spinach last and serve. Top with a little grated (real) parmesan and enjoy!

Nutritional Info is based on 6 servings per recipe

Calories: 266.2

Total Fat 4.3g
Total Carbs 31.6g
   Dietary Firer 10.8g
   Sugars 5.1g
Protein 20.2g

This nutritional info is meant to be a guide, not exact.  It is based on ingredients through myfitnesspal.com.  

Monday, 18 February 2013

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bites

Happy Monday!

Here is a recipe I created for a little treat that will give you lots of energy without spiking your blood sugar.  The hubby and I have just started the maintenance phase of our second round of the HCG diet and after 40 days of no treats we were looking to make a sweet little treat that had no starch and no sugar...not an easy task.  He chose to make some artisan dark chocolates and I chose to make something a little less chocolatey because I'm not a fan of dark chocolate (gasp! I know, right).

Doing the HGC diet, overseen by our amazing Doctor of Natural Medicine, has certainly been interesting.  I have lost over thirty pounds since October and it really makes me think about what I am putting into my body and how my body feels about it!

This recipe IS high in fat, particularly saturated fat because there is quite a bit of butter, however, our thinking about fat is changing too, thanks to the documentary "Fat Head" and the website deliciouslyorganic.net.   Read what Carrie has to say about fat in our diets here and here.  She also lists several other resources on this particular issue.

If you choose to watch "Fat Head" and I recommend it, commit to watching the whole (2 hour) movie...stick through the first half...I know it sounds like the guy is making a case for fast food...but that's not what it's about, even though it seems to take a while to get to the point.  Here is a sneak peak...


The Recipe:

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bites
Created By: Marie Bregg @makingmarie

Scroll to the bottom for the recipe and nutrition info.

First off, you might need to go shopping.   I know I did, here's what I bought:

Coconut Flour, UNsweetened Coconut Flakes, 100% cacao chocolate, and SweetLeaf Brand Stevia or your sweetener of choice.

SweetLeaf is the brand of Stevia I use, you can buy it in a 100g or so jar.   Not all Stevias are created equal, some are much more pure and therefore incredibly potent, and some have been chemically processed beyond recognition.  I like this brand, but if you can't find it then I would just start with a small amount and taste the recipe as you go.  I might be trying coconut sugar when we are off HCG maintenance because it has a GI rating of (only) 35.

Gather your coconut flour, almonds, coconut flakes/shreds and stevia and throw them into a food processor or blender and give them a few quick pulses, not too much.

Stevia can get clumpy, so I find that mixing the stevia at this point is easiest.  
However, if you have to add it later, or you want to add more, be careful and sprinkle it evenly over your recipe before you stir it in :)

Now you need to melt your butter and your chocolate.   

If you have a double boiler, then this is the job it was made for.  If you don't have a double boiler you can easily make one.  You need a smallish pan of water put on the stove on low, and a glass or metal bowl that will set on top of the  pan without touching the water below.  

Add your chocolate, butter and vanilla to the bowl and patiently wait for it to melt.  Stir every few minutes until it is all melted and blended together.

I added my butter and chocolate separately as you can see in the pictures because the hubby and I were sharing a pot of melted chocolate for two different recipes.  It doesn't matter which way you do it, but measuring out the chocolate while it is solid and melting them together is the easiest (and creates fewer dishes). :)

Now mix your dry ingredients and your melted ingredients together.  Again, if I were doing this again, I would add my dry ingredients to the bowl that held the melty stuff and have one less dish to wash.

This photo was taken with the butter and vanilla added but not the chocolate....

Now that all of the ingredients are mixed together, I like to pause to taste the dough and add a pinch of sea salt for flavor.  Also, if you LOOOVE dark chocolate, this is the time you might want to consider melting and adding a bit more.  Both these steps are completely up to you and your tastebuds.

I have a 1 tbsp. cookie scoop that works perfectly for this treat, if you don't you will have to work a little bit harder to get dough balls.   With my cookie scoop, I grab some dough then pack the dough in a little bit with my thumb...the dough is crumbly so this packing process helps it stick together.  If you don't have a scoop then squeeze about a tablespoon of dough inside your palm and then gently roll it into shape.

Once all your dough is used, place the treats into the fridge for 30 minutes or more to set.  You can use this time to clean up your little mess...

Don't forget to scrape the bowl!  nom nom!

Happy snacking!

Makes about 18 "bites" maybe 19 depending on how much of the dough you eat while you are cooking ;)

Calorie content is for one 'bite'


1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds
1/3 cup raw whole almonds
30 grams (or more to taste) 100% cacao baking chocolate
7.5 T.  salted butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 t. Sweet Leaf Stevia powder
1 t. pure vanilla extract


1.  Mix all dry ingredients in a food processor, pulsing until chunky, not super fine.
2.  Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, careful not to overheat and burn.
3.  When chocolate mixture is melted add vanilla, stir.
4.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined (will be somewhat crumbly)
5.  Add a dash of salt to taste if desired.
6.  Scoop or roll 1 T. at a time onto plate or dish.
7.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
8.  Eat and enjoy!

Nutritional Facts*  

Calories:  85.4

Total Fat: 7.6 g
Saturated 4.3 g
Polyunsaturated 0.2 g
Monounsaturated 0.6 g
Trans 0 g

Cholesterol 12.5 mg

Sodium 38.0 mg

Potassium 20.4 mg

Total Carbs 3.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Sugars 0.3 g

Protein 1.2 g

*this info is meant to be a guide, not exact.  It is based on my calculations of the recipe through myfitnesspal.com and does not include and added salt or extra chocolate.