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!
Chocolate Walnut Fudge
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.
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- ¼ cup almond butter*
- ¼ to ½ cup raw honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Optional: ¾ cup chopped walnuts*
- This fudge can be mixed in a bowl with a spatula by hand, or blended together in a food processor.
- Start with softened coconut oil, so that it is easy to mix by hand. You can put the ½ cup of coconut oil into a warm oven for a few minutes to soften it, or if you use a food processor the blending action will also soften it.
- Mix coconut oil and cacao powder together first so that you have a creamy chocolate oil. Next mix in remaining ingredients.
- Line a bread pan or small casserole dish with parchment paper or saran wrap, and then spoon in fudge.
- Place fudge in the freezer for an hour to firm up, or place in the fridge for a couple hours, until firm.
- Fudge needs to be stored chilled in the fridge or freezer.
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.
Starch Free “Pumpkin” Persimmon Pie
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.
Pie Crust Ingredients
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- 4 Tablespoons organic palm shortening (or softened coconut oil, lard)
- 3 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 egg (see egg-free option notes below)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 pinches of sea salt
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.
Pie Filling Ingredients
- 1 ½ cups mashed Fuyu persimmon pulp* (or pumpkin puree)
- ½ cup coconut milk, full fat
- ¼ cup to ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- Optional: 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (omit if super sensitive to starch)
- (Optional: add 2 pastured eggs if using pumpkin)
- Preheat Oven to 325°F
- Mix pie crust ingredients together, putting in palm shortening first, mixing in egg last.
- Mash pie crust into a standard pie plate, forming the pie crust with your hands. Poke some small holes in the base of the pie crust.
- Prebake plain pie crust for 12 minutes, at 325°F.
- Puree pie filling ingredients in a food processor, stand mixer, or in a mixing bowl with an immersion blender.
- Pour ingredients into the pre-baked pie crust.
- Bake pie for45 minutes at 325°F. Allow to fully cool, then set in the fridge for a few hours to firm up.
- You can serve this pie with the dairy-free coconut whip recipe at www.forestandfauna.com or with a scoop of my vegan vanilla ice cream from my cookbook.
*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.
Gingerbread Waffles (or Pancakes)
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.
- 6 Tablespoons of creamy almond butter*
- 2 large pasture raised eggs
- 1 ½ Tablespoons blackstrap molasses**
- 1 ½ Tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice**
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of sea salt
- Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or cream of tartar)
- A little cooking oil
*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.
- Turn on waffle maker or heat a skillet up to medium low heat for pancakes.
- Mix ingredients together in a bowl until you have a nice consistent batter. If needed you can add a splash of coconut milk to thin out the batter if your almond butter was on the thicker side.
- If you have lemon juice or cream of tartar add it as it will react with the baking soda and help the waffles or pancakes rise, but it is okay to omit.
- Grease waffle maker or skillet.
- Spoon batter into waffle maker, makes approx 8 Belgian waffles. Or spoon batter into a skillet to make pancakes. Keep pancakes on the smaller side so they are easier to flip. Cook pancakes at a medium low temp and watch closely to avoid burning them.
- Top with maple syrup or decorate with my icing recipe and chopped nuts and dried fruits.
Gingerbread Icing Recipe
- 4 Tablespoons soft goat cheese
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons raw honey (or maple syrup)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Tiny pinch of sea salt
- Optional: 1 teaspoon ginger juice (or a few drops of food grade ginger extract)
- Optional: little splash of coconut milk, if needed to thin
- Mix ingredients together in a small bowl with a spoon until smooth. Add a splash of coconut milk if needed to thin the icing.
- Spoon ingredients into a piping bag or a small sandwich baggie, and then cut off a tiny corner. You can now drizzle the icing over the waffles.
- It’s fun to let everyone decorate their own waffles. You can drizzle a little goat cheese icing over the waffles, or simply use maple syrup (or even use a little of both if you want!) You can also sprinkle on chopped nuts like walnuts or use pumpkinseeds, chopped dried figs or raisins, and freeze dried berries.