P.S. Today is my nephew Lucas' birthday. I still remember seeing him just a week old, while Tayers was 6 weeks. He was a little pipsqueak, but so very precious. His parents were overcome with joy as their anticipation was finally revealed. Seems fitting as he was born just two days before Christmas. Happy Birthday sweet Lucas!
The end of Whole 30 has come & go and I'm able to eat whatever I'd like. If I want chocolate, I can. If I want dairy, I can. If I want to continue eating Whole 30 style, I can. After reading about my limitations during November, you might think I would wholeheartedly forgo what I did in those 30 days. But, I have found a different kind of freedom and my tummy (and more) actually has made it quite clear what should not go in it.
I think the hardest part for me is the anxiety about eating food that might be less than optimal for me. I have gained not only a leaner body, but the best energy level I've ever known. I even got to a place where I wasn't even tempted to eat sugar, drink a mocha, or have a pastry. I have come to recognize where my pitfalls are along the way (sugar is huge). I feel like I've found food salvation. A freedom to eat to nourish, sustain & enjoy without partaking in what might be viewed as "extras." And I truly would love for everyone I love to give it a try, because I think it will not only tell them a bit about their physical body, but mental & spiritual body as well.
Where do I stand at this point in life. I haven't felt any better than I did during Whole 30 and the days following. When I added gluten, dairy, sugar or corn back into my body (even in small amounts) it didn't leave me with a great, healthful, energetic feeling. Dairy hit my stomach with gurgles. Gluten has done some other stuff, along with inflammation throughout. While sugar is a big one. Just the littlest amount made me sick. However, being a couple of weeks off of the challenge, I have had a bit more sugar than I would have liked to put in. I've realized that although I had a sugar upset in the first couple weeks (post Whole 30), it would go away if I continued to feed my body sugar. My body would get use to the upset; however, a host of other problems occurred that had gone away when I wasn't partaking in sugars.
What I've discovered so far is I'm pretty sure I'm going to eliminate gluten from our household, along with most grains (gluten and non); as well as, limit sugar intake. (Sidenote: I've also noted the rise of behavioral episodes in my girls when they have had refined sugars & gluten in their system) I like what these posts have to say about living out a balanced life. I've hit a place in my life where I actually don't feel like I'm missing out by not having a mocha, or gluten-filled goodness. I have also realized that I'm excited about balancing out the sweets I make, and the challenge I get to embrace by transferring all my baking & cooking knowledge to this new food eating thing. So, if I can share one of my first baked goods creations with you, I'm certain you'll be surprised that this does not fit in the 'bleh' gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free category.
Here are my Apricot Rosemary Bars. I spotted them in the book Baked Explorations. I knew that I would need to change it up quite a bit. And let it be known that I'm not willing to compromise taste, or make something that was once texturally appealing is now very 'bleh.' I am also fine with using butter. If I can sub in another form of healthy fat, then I will. But when a recipe would benefit from the buttery goodness found in "butter," then you'll find it here. But...I will still keep my recipes with gluten and non on this blog, because they are apart of my journey. And you will receive no scorn from me if you check out some of my other goodies from last year--Merry Christmas!
Rosemary Squares (printable recipe)
This recipe is inspired from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I have revamped quite a bit from the original; however, the spirit of the original is still fully in this recipe. I used Honeyville Blanched Almond flour. I also used California dried apricots and not the typical, sweeter ones you find, which are a product of Turkey. Opt out of the product of Turkey and find the California ones, which are a bit more tart and a beautiful, bright orange (Trader Joes carries them). Also, I don't have a dilemma in using real butter; yet, I chose to do half coconut oil & butter. Another fat option for the shortbread might be olive oil. If you are wanting to make this without the egg yolk--it would be fine.
For the rosemary shortbread dough:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, chilled
6 Tb coconut oil
1/3 cup + 2 Tb (140g) raw clover honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups (250g) almond flour
1 egg yolk
For the apricot filling:
2 cups (8 ounces, 230g) California dried apricots (not from Turkey)
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
3 tablespoons (60g) honey
pinch of salt
For the crumb topping:
1 cup (85g) almond flour
1 Tb raw clover honey
1/3 cup (40g) pecans chopped
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, chilled
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch (23cm) square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan.
2. Make the rosemary dough by creaming the butter & coconut oil for about 1 minute, or until it's fluffy & creamy. Add the egg yolk and mix just till combined. Add the salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and rosemary, then add the 3 cups almond flour, mixing until the dough is smooth and all the ingredients combined. The dough will be more sticky, but not wet.
3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and pat it flat into the bottom of the pan. Spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. (if you want to refrigerate for 30 minutes you can; however, I did not and it was fine.)
(No need to wash the mixer bowl; you can use it as is for the crumb topping in step #7.)
4. Bake the rosemary shortbread for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Once baked, let the shortbread cool to room temperature.
5. Make the apricot filling by combining the apricots, water, honey, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until all the liquid has just about been absorbed. Let cool for a few minutes, stirring, then puree in a food processor until smooth.
6. Make the crumb topping by mixing together the 1 cup (85g) almond flour, honey, pecans, salt, and butter in the bowl of the stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, until the mixture just barely starts clumping together.
7. Spread the apricot filling over the shortbread in the pan evenly, then top with the crumb topping and bake for 25 minutes, until the topping is browned.
8. Remove from oven and let bars cool completely in pan.
To slice, lift the bars out of the pan by grasping the edges of the parchment paper. Slice into squares.