Cinnamon might work as an egg substitute!

There are a great variety of egg substitutes, and I can’t use most of them. So when I noticed that my Thankful For Sweet Potatoes Casserole unexpectedly made a wonderful goopy sauce, wheels started turning in my head. By experimentation, I figured out that cinnamon absorbs a whole lot of water, and the result is similar to flax or chia eggs. Of course, there’s a limit to how much cinnamon you can use in a recipe, but you can’t replace very many eggs with flax or chia either. Fortunately, I’ve noticed that when cinnamon is mixed with water and heated, the flavor mellows, so I use it pretty liberally.

I got busy dealing with other limitations, and never got to the point of successfully using cinnamon eggs in a recipe. But I expect you could replace as many eggs as you can with flax, or combine with some other egg substitute.

There are two ways to do this. The first way is quicker, but the second produces more volume with less cinnamon.

Quick method: Mix 2 tsp cinnamon with 3 tbsp hot water. (a 2:9 ratio) Stir with a fork and let sit until water is absorbed and mixture is viscous.

Two-step method: Mix 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon with 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp hot water. Stir with a fork until water is absorbed, then add another 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp hot water for a total of 3 tbsp water. (a 1:6 ratio)

If this doesn’t work in baking, I would try with a higher ratio of cinnamon to water. In place of the water, you can use whatever liquid is in the recipe. You can also use lukewarm water, then heat the mixture. When it’s done, it will usually come out of the cup with no residue.

If you try using cinnamon in place of eggs, please share what worked or didn’t work for you. I appreciate any tips you can give me!

Pigs in blankets, paleo style

(Actually, since the “blankets” are made out of pigs, maybe I should call these “pigs in pigskins”? But then it would sound like a football reference. Whatever, they’re yummy.)

1 package bacon
1 package baby carrots, probably won’t use them all

On shish-kebabs:
Lightly steam the carrots ahead of time so the skewers will go through. Cut the strips of bacon in about 3 in sections. Wrap each piece of bacon around a carrot and skewer them. Grill until the bacon is done to your liking.

These go great with pineapple chunks in between. I think beef kidney would also be wonderful, but haven’t had the opportunity to try it.

On a griddle:
I don’t use skewers or toothpicks this way, so I can turn them on all sides. Start with a cold griddle so you don’t burn your fingers while arranging the piggies. Cut the strips of bacon in about 3 in sections and wrap each piece of bacon around a carrot. Lay them on the griddle with the overlap facing down, so the two layers will stick together while cooking. When all the little piggies are on the griddle, turn it on medium-low. (or higher if you don’t mind splatters) Begin turning the carrots after the two layers stick together. If they stick to the griddle a bit, roll them toward the loose end so they don’t unroll. Fry on all sides until the bacon is done to your liking. Afterward, fry some liver in the bacon grease.

Frugal Folks Lara Bars

(There are many variations on the internet, but I bet these are the cheapest, because I use raisins.)

2 cups raisins (about 12 oz)
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut or finely chopped nuts
(about 5 oz coconut flakes)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla

In food processor, shred coconut flakes or chop nuts. Pour into another container.

Process raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla until raisins are chopped tiny and want to stick together in a big clump. Break up the clump and add coconut or nuts. Process until thoroughly mixed, stopping as needed to break up the clump and scrape the sides.

Line a 9×5 bread pan with wax paper, allowing extra to cover the top. Press the clump into the pan, using the edges of wax paper.

Use the wax paper to lift the whole bar out of the pan. Turn it upside down onto plastic wrap and carefully pull off the paper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours. Unwrap and cut in bars.

Note: I haven’t found a way to make these without both wax paper and plastic wrap. If you press it directly into the pan, good luck getting the bars out. If you refrigerate it in the wax paper, it sticks and you have wax all over the bars.

(I figured this out from several recipes on the internet, but this version is from my own experimentation.)

Grain-Free Spaghetti

I’ve heard people say spaghetti squash is a good substitute for spaghetti, and I think they must be smoking something. It’s delicious with olive oil & garlic, but it’s not fooling anybody.

I’ve discovered a much better approximation of pasta’s texture: Finely julienne rutabagas, and steam them for 20-30 min depending on how soft you like them. Serve the “spaghetti” with meatballs & tomato sauce, other vegetables, under grilled chicken, etc. I like to simmer in broth and maybe spices, then drizzle with olive oil. You could thicken the broth with tapioca/arrowroot to make a sauce. It won’t wrap around your fork, but other than that it’s a pretty good imitation.

Alternative: This works with turnips or probably most root vegetables. Also try frying the “spaghetti” in lard or coconut oil for a different flavor. I think you could also make lasagna noodles, but I have no idea whether you’d cook them first, or how you’d adapt the lasagna recipe.

“Don’t Tell Them It’s A Vegetable” Snack Bars

6 oz raisins (1 cup)
3 oz coconut (little less than 1 cup shredded)
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup baked mashed sweet potatoes
(or any sweet squash, or pumpkin plus a little honey)

Shred coconut flakes in food processor and pour in another container. Process raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until raisins are chopped tiny and want to stick together in a big clump. Add sweet potatoes and coconut and process until thoroughly mixed.

Form balls, or press into an 8×8 pan. Refrigerate 3 hours until firm. Cut into bars and freeze half or they’ll be gone in no time.

Simple Soy-Free Marinade

I used to use Worcestershire all the time, but it contains soy. So do most marinades. The first time I cooked rabbit I went looking for recipes, and found a marinade that turned out to be a great replacement for Worcestershire. This tastes great with chicken, beef, or venison. I think I used it for squirrel too.

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses (optional)
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped (optional)
1-2 tsp garlic powder or 2-4 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp rosemary, crushed (optional)
2 tsp salt
2-3 cups water, enough to submerge meat

Mix all ingredients and pour over meat. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Cook meat according to your preference. I like to bake it in the marinade, with rice or chopped vegetables, covered.

Variations: in place of garlic, use cinnamon, mustard, or other favorite spice. Or use multiple spices. 1/2 hour before meat is done cooking, add some cranberries, prepared as for sweet potato casserole, or some raisins.

For low-FODMAPs, leave out the onion and use different spices in place of garlic. For GAPS or SCD, use honey in place of molasses.

Loosely adapted from first recipe here:

Everything-free pumpkin pie

It’s TORTUROUS to have Thanksgiving dinner and be unable to eat the pumpkin pie. Here’s my solution for 2013. (And then I became sensitive to coconut. Sigh.)

1 pie crust free of your problem ingredients
(optional, the crust isn’t the important part anyway)
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (optional, see below)
1 Tb vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
3 envelopes powdered gelatin

Heat water in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and heat, whisking until smooth. Pour into 10in pie crust, dessert dishes, or fancy molds and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Alternatives: if you can’t have any sweetener, use 3/4 – 1 cup raisins, finely chopped in a food processor. Or replace part/all of the pumpkin with sweet potato. Or if you’re accustomed to not eating anything sweet, this will taste great with just the spices.

If you can’t eat coconut, replace the coconut milk with another 1/2 cup pumpkin & 1/4 cup solid fat such as butter or palm shortening. Increase the cinnamon & vanilla to 4 tsp each. I’d be generous with the nutmeg too.

This recipe is a combination of two others. Each has a different crust that would work for some people — The first is a traditional crust with gluten-free flour, and the second is made of dates!

Whipped Topping — modified from this recipe

1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, or to taste (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Pour off coconut water for another use — it could replace part of the water in the pie. Beat coconut cream with a hand mixer, add remaining ingredients, and continue whipping until fluffy.

There are a great variety of crust options depending on which ingredients you need to avoid. Ideally I’d make this pie with the coconut crust. Barring that, I think next time I’ll try a hash-brown crust made of rutabaga instead of potatoes, and cinnamon or ginger.