By Andrea Wyckoff
My name is Andrea Wyckoff, and I have ankylosing spondylitis. I never imagined that I would become so impacted by a disease that I would be including its name in my introductions. However, this disease is now part of my story, and I have lived with it in my body for half of my life.
I started making changes to my diet eight years ago, as even before my AS diagnosis, I suspected that the foods I was eating were linked to the inflammation and pain I felt in my gut and spine. I have found that eating a low starch diet reduces my symptoms, and empowers me to get out there and enjoy my life that much more. I have also been inspired to be more creative in the kitchen, and developed a cookbook to help others who’d like to give the low starch diet a try. If that’s you, my cookbook, “Pure and Simple Paleo: a Low Starch Cookbook”, has 130 grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, night-shade free, soy-free recipes to try that are packed full of flavor. I am sharing the holiday recipes below to show how we can still enjoy so many of our favorite comfort foods at this special time of year when we approach them in a slightly different way. Cheers to beautiful foods that nourish our hearts, bodies, and souls!
I always have some sort of homemade chocolate treat in my freezer for “emergencies,” and this rich creamy fudge is a great treat to have on hand. I have found candy bars made with refined cane sugar and corn syrup to be way too inflammatory for my body, but I do really well with raw honey or real maple syrup sweetened chocolates instead. And believe me there is no sacrifice on flavor or satisfaction when it comes to this fudge recipe. If you don’t like the taste of virgin coconut oil, try purchasing an expeller pressed coconut oil which will have a very neutral taste.
This fudge can be made nut free by omitting the almond butter and walnuts. Or you can use a different nut or seed butter in place of the almond butter. The nut butter helps to make a firmer fudge.
This persimmon pie is a wonderful starch-free, dairy-free stand in for the traditional holiday pumpkin pie. And if you would rather make it with pumpkin, you can, just see my notes below. Persimmons don’t have any starch, whereas pumpkin is somewhat starchy. (Though some who eat a low starch diet do fine with pumpkin.) The natural pectin in the persimmon thickens up the pie quite nicely without the need for eggs, but if you choose to use pumpkin puree as your filling you will want to include the 2 eggs as noted below.
Where I live in Oregon I generally find two types of persimmons in the markets and at local farms, and those varieties are Fuyu and Hachiya. If you don’t see them at your local grocery store try calling around to stores that specialize in Asian and Ethnic foods. This recipe calls for Fuyu persimmons (pictured), which are in season during the fall, just like pumpkins, and have a mild pumpkin like taste.
I think the Fuyus look like an orange tomato. A trick to speed up ripening of your Fuyu persimmons is to put the persimmons in the freezer overnight, defrost them the next day, squeeze out the pulp, and discard the skin and any seeds. Five or six Fuyu persimmons should give you the 1 ½ cups of pulp needed for this recipe.
Notes for Egg-Free Pie Crust: omit the egg, and use a total of 1/2 cup palm shortening (or coconut oil), and increase almond flour an additional 1/2 cup, for a total of 2 ½ cups almond flour.
*Honey: Since persimmons are sweeter than pumpkins, I found 1/4 cup of honey to be the perfect amount of sweetness. But if you are using pumpkin puree increase the honey to 1/2 cup.
Here is a fun low starch, grain-free recipe to enjoy with the whole family on a fall weekend or special holiday. This recipe makes approx. 8 Belgian waffles. I like to serve these waffles with a side of candied pasture raised bacon or my herb breakfast sausage patties. You can also serve them with my favorite starch-free “breakfast hash” or the “hash-browns” recipes from my book. I imagine these waffles would also be wonderful with a side of spiced apples or scrambled eggs. I’ve included instructions below for a gingerbread icing so you can decorate these waffles in the same way you might decorate a gingerbread house.
*I have had great success making this recipe with almond butter, walnut butter, and sesame butter, and I would assume most creamy nut or seed butters would also work just fine. You can also use a blanched almond butter or tahini for a completely starch-free version.
**If gingerbread is not your thing, feel free to omit the molasses and pie spice to just make a regular batch of waffles. To make these waffles “starch-free” omit pumpkin pie spice, and use spice extracts instead. I personally do fine with the regular pie spices.
Andrea Wyckoff is the author of "Pure and Simple Paleo: A Low Starch Cookbook."
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