*CHEESECAKE* [sugar-free & grain-free]

I feel loads better when I’m not eating any refined sugars or flours, so usually a few times a year I will completely avoid them for several months at a time.  I’m always trying to achieve balance in my life, but when it comes to sugar I’m definitely an all-or-nothing kind of girl.  I have yet to conquer the concept of sugar in moderation.  I can either pretend it doesn’t exist and avoid it entirely for ages, or I want sweets every single day.  I was constantly nauseous for the first several months of pregnancy and greens of all kinds made me gag and vomit.  I tried to still eat as clean and veggie-full as possible, but my no-sugar-no-flour standards really slipped during those months.  (One day I might have eaten vanilla ice cream and peanut butter for dinner.)  And then when I finally started feeling better… it was the holidays… and we all know what happens around the holidays…

So here I am with 3 months of pregnancy to go, feeling much better and ready to be rid of sugar again.  I haven’t had any since we returned home from the holidays the first week of January.  I have come to discover over the years, that eradicating refined sugars does not necessary mean no dessert.  There are, in fact, some pretty incredible desserts that can be made with sweet ingredients like dates, raw honey, maple syrup, or fruit.

After a few weeks of no dessert, I decided this weekend that I really wanted cheesecake.  I got the idea because I had some leftover cream cheese from a dish I made for a friend’s birthday and was speculating how to use it up.  I have only made cheesecake a few times in my life… I recently made one for Myle’s birthday and another one at Thanksgiving, so I kind of had the general idea down.  Since I didn’t want to use refined sugars or flours and since I never have sour cream on hand because Myles hates it, I couldn’t find a cheesecake recipe that used the ingredients I wanted.  So I decided to just experiment!  Experimentation rarely ends in success the first time around… but I do believe this time I landed a winner on the first try.  Myles says its the best cheesecake he’s ever had in his life.  I think I just might agree.  If I was a real food blogger I would post a pretty picture… but um, let’s be real… there’s only one piece left and I just made it yesterday.

{Disclaimer: these measurements are all approximate…}

For the crust:

1/2 cup of almonds or almond meal

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 stick or 4 TBSP organic butter

2-3 TBSP raw honey

dash of himalayan salt

Throw all these ingredients in the food processor, grinding to desired consistency… we like a little crunch in our crust, so I didn’t let the walnuts get completely pulverized.  Press the crust into the bottom of a round cake pan (or a springform pan if you have one.) Bake at 350 until the crust just starts to brown, approximately 15 minutes.  

For the cheesecake filling:

2 (8oz.) packages of organic cream cheese  (or 2 cups of organic homemade raw milk cream cheese!)

1 cup of whole milk plain yogurt (I make mine in a thermos, super easy… ask me how)

1/2 cup of raw honey

1 1/2 TBSP pure vanilla extract (I make my own!)

3 farm fresh eggs

Blend the cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract together in the food processor until smooth and completely mixed.  Pour in yogurt and continue to blend. Add eggs one by one with food processor still blending.  Pour the whole mixture into the pre-baked crust.  Place the pan inside a larger pan (I use a dutch oven) and pour boiling water into the bottom of the larger pan so that the cheesecake pan is surrounded by about an inch of hot water.  (This prevents the crust from burning.)  Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350.  The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly in the middle… it will firm up in the fridge.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving and try not to consume it all in one sitting. 

** I might have had a dream last night that Myles was letting all our friends try the cheesecake because it was so good and there was none left for me… and I might have been very upset in my dream…

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perfected green smoothies.

We’ve been making green smoothies on a weekly, often daily, basis for a few years now.  After many failed experiments and burned-up blenders, we’ve finally nailed down our go-to recipe for delicious green goodness.  Co-workers and friends often inquire what is the strange green goo we are sipping in the mornings, so here is is the scoop on perfected green smoothies:

Tips:

–> The key to a perfect green smoothie is citrus.  Citrus cuts the bitterness of the greens and gives the smoothie a refreshing zing.  Keep a supply of lemons, limes, and oranges on hand. 

–> Use fresh greens!  We’ve tried spinach, collard greens, swiss chard, dino kale, curly kale, and watercress.  (We’ve do NOT recommend using mustard greens.)  My advice is, don’t buy the bag of pre-chopped kale.  I mean, you can if you are in a bind, I’ve done it before… but it is definitely the inferior option.  Buy fresh bunches of greens from a local farmer, Whole Foods, or better yet – grow some in your flower bed or garden! 

–> Be nice to your blender.  We literally went through 5 blenders in one year before we figured out how to keep our little machines running smoothly.  The biggest key is to NOT fill the blender full of ingredients and then hit blend.  This makes the job very hard on such a little motor.  Also, there is a very good chance your concoction will turn out to be a Green Chunky.  And believe me, Green Chunkies are NOT delicious. 

–> Use frozen fruit.  Frozen fruit gives the smoothie a thick, milk-shake like texture that makes you feel like you are drinking a treat!  Plus, organic frozen berries are often cheaper than fresh ones – and they have just as much nutritional value.  Sometimes mangoes and pineapple are cheaper frozen too. We freeze our own bananas as well as whatever fresh fruit we can get on sale at the market. (Myles recently bought a box of 130 apricots for $10.  We cut those little guys up and froze them!) 

How to Make a Green Smoothie:

1. Squeeze a lemon or lime into the blender.  You can also put in a peeled and divided orange, or a tad bit of orange juice. 

2. Wash the greens.  Starting from the bottom of the stem, run your fingers along the stem, to quickly and easily remove the leafy part.  You can toss the stems (unless you are like my husband, who eats chard stems like celery.)

3. Fill the blender up with the torn green leaves. (If you’ve never had a green smoothie, you might want to start out with half a blender full of greens and work your way up to a full blender.)

4. Add 1-2 cups of filtered water and hit the highest speed button on the blender.  Let it run for a good minute or two, until the greens have completely broken down.  The mixture should literally look like green liquid. 

5.  Turn off the blender and add 1 handful or so of the frozen fruit.  Continue blending, then add another handful of the fruit.  Again, let it blend until it is completely smooth. When you look at the pitcher, you should see no bits of anything swirling about.  Don’t be afraid to let it blend for several minutes if needed. 

Delicious Combos:

*1 lemon squeezed // blender full of spinach // 1-2 bananas // 1-2 handfuls of frozen strawberries… Tastes like strawberry lemonade! 

* 1 lime squeezed // 1/2 bunch torn and de-stemmed kale // 2 frozen bananas // 1-2 cups frozen raspberries

* 1 peeled orange // 1/2 bunch collard greens or chard  // 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil // frozen banana, mango, and/or pineapple… Tropical flavor!

hambified peanut butter oatmeal cookies

I found this Taste of Home recipe a while back, and modified it to meet the Hamby House nutritional standards.  We eat them for breakfast, snacks, dessert, and yes, once we even ate them for dinner with a big glass of raw milk.  They can be made and ready to eat within 20 minutes!  You can find the original recipe here.

*Mix together:

1/2 cup of natural peanut butter (crunchy is best!)

1/2 cup of either raw honey or maple syrup

1 farm fresh egg

*Stir until smooth.

*In the blender, grind 3/4 cup of organic oats until it is mostly fine, like flour.

*Mix in:

3/4 cup of ground oats

3/4 cup of whole oats (not ground)

1/2 cup of almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

dash of sea salt

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

(You could also add 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate bits… this is delicious, but Myles doesn’t care for chocolate so I usually leave them out unless I am feeling particularly selfish!)

*Drop by spoonfuls onto a GREASED cookie sheet.  I grease with butter or coconut oil.

*Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 F.  A little less if you like them gooier and chewier, a little more if you like them crispier.

*Makes a dozen medium-sized cookies.  In our house, a batch usually lasts less than 12 hours.