Tag Archives: eating habits

Grain Free Haven Newsletter and Discount Code – July 5, 2016

pecan-crusted-tendersWe have enjoyed immensely the last few weeks at the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market, sharing our products and meeting enthusiastic new customers! A question that has come up numerous times is what is so bad about grains? I will chat a bit about my perspective here…


I am not saying grains are bad for everyone.  In fact, if there was not a steady consumption of grains worldwide, based on current food production rates, it would be impossible to feed the billions of people that populate our planet. What I am saying is some people have bodies and digestive systems that struggle to process them, causing damage to the system and restricting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.

Most people started consuming grains from the earliest stages of life,  beginning with rice based cereals at  4-6 months old. This is before their little bodies are mature enough to produce the necessary starch splitting enzyme amylase.  When these babies become toddlers they are often bombarded with prepackaged grain based snacks and convenience foods, like puffs, piles of pasta and crackers. It simplifies mealtime when some breaded chicken tenders or fish sticks are gobbled up by little fingers. In elementary school the quickest, cheapest breakfasts are grain cereals and for lunch a bag of chips, cookies and a sandwich.

This may read as a criticism of parenting decisions, which is not my intent. I grew up eating like this, and today, surrounded by my daughter’s friends and other young children, I know it is still a very typical approach. My intent here is to highlight the prominence of grains in America’s food culture. Most American diets, fad or otherwise, either highly value or condemn grains. There is rarely a middle ground.

As these children get older, habits and tastes from early childhood become the habits of adults. Adult metabolism slows and the gut damage begun in childhood steadily increases. For anyone who has experienced the impacts of gastrointestinal disease, auto immune disorders or allergies, they are widely varied, uncomfortable and often painful. The cumulative effects of grain consumption is glaringly evident when grains are removed from the diet. Oftentimes, removing grains from a diet result in significantly reducing the persistent inflammation and irritation from the conditions, providing relief to sufferers.

Besides the biological effects, these grain-based eating habits from an early age instill an emotional desire for classic American comfort foods, which are generally defined as containing high levels carbohydrates and/or sugar. Foods like pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, macaroni and cheese or pie often fall into the category. The are full of highly processed grains/carbohydrates that can irritate the previously mentioned gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders. If grains are being avoided it may be assumed such comfort foods must also be spurned, but it does not have to be true.

By using the right ingredients in the right combination you can have grain free versions of your beloved comfort foods. In my personal experience, my longing for such foods is two-fold. The first is based on the taste of the comfort foods, and thankfully, much of the flavor of such foods come from grain free elements. Thank goodness! The second element I miss can be harder to duplicate, which is texture – grains definitely make it easier to create crispy, crunchy, gooey, flaky….  Since the flavor aspect was significantly overcome I knew the next step was to tackle the texture challenge. I knew I could do it and now spend a large part of my time sharing my successful results.

Those results are nutritionally dense, filling, healthy meals. They include options that are indeed crispy, crunchy, gooey and flaky. They are succulent, sweet, spicy and savory. Meals that can be made in advance, snacks at the ready for the entire family, and staples that can be relied on for any meal. It has taken years for me and my family to figure it all out, but it was worth every minute. Our digestive systems now function like clock work, my husband’s gastrointestinal problems are in check, our daughter is contentedly growing like a healthy, robust weed, and my symptoms from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are much more under control and accomplished without medication.

To ease your path to eating grain free I encourage you to explore my world. Between my food blog, Any Kitchen Will Do, and the products offered by Grain Free Haven it is is possible to enjoy delicious, comforting dishes while avoiding grains.

If you have not yet come by our booth at the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market to sample our products, please take some time one weekend soon and say hi! Also feel free to call or send a note if you have questions. I am constantly experimenting, so if you have any ideas or challenges to present to me I am ready to hear them!


These chicken tenders are a great substitute for the more traditional wheat flour based breaded tenders. They freeze well after being cooked, so you can stock up for quick weekday dinners. The pecans in the crust also add protein and fill up the family more quickly!

Pecan Crusted Chicken

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken pieces (tenders and thighs recommended)
2 pounds raw pecans (or 1 pound pecans and 1 cup almond meal)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor pulse pecans (and almond meal if used), salt and garlic powder until nuts are finely chopped.

In a medium bowl whisk together egg whites and mustard until well combined, but stop short of the whites becoming stiff.

Line one to two shallow baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spread the nuts on a third sheet or large plate.

Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the egg wash, letting the excess run off. Roll chicken in the nuts, gently pressing them into the meat. Place chicken on the foil lined baking sheets with about an inch between pieces.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until juices run clear (whole chicken breasts or bone-in chicken may take longer). Serve immediately, plain or with desired dipping sauces.

Note: the leftover egg yolks are perfect for making a fresh batch of blender mayonnaise and/or hollandaise sauce.

Saturday, July 9, 2016, 9am – 1pm: Pearl Brewery Farmers Market.  We are making sure we have plenty of Coconut Macaroons and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for everyone! Come by and grab a snack! Also, we will have some lovely muffins with some fresh ingredients from the Market’s  produce vendors. Samples will be ready and waiting for you!
Sunday, July 10, 2016, 10am-2pm: Pearl Brewery Farmers Market. Bring along any of your friends that are grain or gluten free. We can chat about what products best fit your dietary needs and make life a little easier. Don’t forget to grab some savory Momma’s Pecans. A small handful will take care of your mid afternoon nibbles!


If you come by my booth and tell us this week’s discount code you will get $1 off any purchase! The code for this week is PEARL!

Please feel free to forward and share this newsletter with anyone you like! We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Grain Free Haven Newsletter and Discount Code – February 11, 2016

limeycheesecakeLove is in the air! People will do amazing and wonderful (and slightly psychotic) things for love. In my case, I ran to the kitchen after a loved one discovered an extreme physical reaction to wheat. This is what happened.

Baking For Love

A lot of people ask me how I got into making and selling grain free products. It was a bit of a journey, but I am happy to share it with you here.

About six years ago my husband got very sick. Not just a stomach bug that lasted a few weeks, but months of an odd combination of symptoms and strangeness. I watched him go from a vibrant, creative husband and father to a weak, frail person barely able to get out of bed for more than ten minutes.

A plethora of tests and examinations resulted in diagnoses ranging from  alcoholism (for someone who had not had a drop for six months, and never had that particular issue) to multiple sclerosis. No amount of medication or treatments seemed to reduce the symptoms. Until we tried an elimination diet.

Long story short, eliminating then reintroducing a wide variety of foods and beverages was very revealing. We did this without medical assistance, for all the medical professionals wanted to ‘fix’ him with prescription drugs and therapy. Granted, such solutions work effectively for many, but in my husband’s case, it seemed rather aggressive and complex without trying simpler steps. It might also have helped if there had been any agreement on a diagnosis.

Toning down his beverages revealed that aspartame-laden diet sodas were having a significant impact on his nervous system. After going through a withdrawal period, just having one diet soda with aspartame brought back some symptoms. Such sodas were thrown out immediately. It sounds strange…but he could finally walk again without a cane. And even run.

Another revelation was two-fold. He had gastrointestinal problems for years. To counter the discomfort he had regularly taken some acid reflux medicine. After a very painful and uncomfortable withdrawal period, allowing his body to again produce a healthy amount of stomach acids, he was able to eat food without symptoms. The second element of this process was discovering that every time he consumed wheat the stomach discomfort returned. Out the window went wheat. His belly has been much, much happier for years now.

The next step was to ease the frustration of avoiding wheat by substituting gluten free solutions. Bottom line – the products found in stores usually tasted like cardboard and were nutritionally lacking (but so was the wheat). As we sat in our kitchen one day, pondering the issue and missing many of the comfort foods we grew up with, we decided to figure out satisfying, nutritional substitutes. Gluten free grains were just not cutting it, so pursuing other avenues was the next step.

Our adventure led us to nut flours and seed meals. If you like Grain Free Haven products you very much have my husband to thank. I would like to think I have a sophisticated palate. He has a particular one, whether sophisticated or not. He knows what he likes and does not like. Batch after batch we tweaked and twerked recipes until we found textures and flavor balances that worked. I will never promise that any of our products will taste or feel like grain filled products, but I will say  you will feel satisfied and full after eating them. If nothing else they are robust and energy filled. (And we think they’re tasty, too.)

Our journey to starting Grain Free Haven was quite challenging. I hope that at this stage in the journey, sharing what we have learned helps ease the burden of others who have similar challenges with wheat or other grains. Check out our past Newsletters to learn more about the ingredients we use and why, and please ask questions when you have them. I certainly want to help!


This recipe was one that brought my husband full circle in the comfort food department. His love of cheesecake and key lime pie were appeased (by sometimes adding extra lime) with the crust and creamy custard. Make it for your love this weekend without guilt!

Limey Cheesecake

2 cups finely ground almond flour
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia powder (equivalent to 2 teaspoons pure cane sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground ginger
1 egg white, whisked (save yolk for filling)

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure stevia powder (equivalent to 3/4 cup pure cane sugar)
2 large limes, zested and juice separated from meat (use less or more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh berries (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In 9″ pie dish cut a round of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the dish.

Crust: in medium bowl stir together all dry crust ingredients. Add the butter and stir until the ingredients clump. Add the egg white mix until well combined. Crust will still be crumbly. Press crust into dish until bottom and sides are covered.

Filling: in large bowl combine cream cheese and sour cream. Whisk together until completely smooth. Add butter and stir again until smooth. Add eggs and yolk, stir to incorporate and until smooth. Add stevia, lime zest, lime juice and vanilla. Beat until well combined and smooth. Pour filling into crust and gently smooth surface.

Place in oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until filling sets. Turn off heat without opening oven door. Leave cake in oven until oven and cake are cooled, about one hour. Remove from oven  and chill for at least an hour. Serve plain or with fresh berries.

Saturday, February 13, 2016, 8am-5pm: Dallas Farmers Market.  The professional football season is over, Advent has begun and the days are getting longer. What can you do but think about how to spend all that extra daylight time? Don’t worry about baking grain free staples! Come by and get some Power Bread and muffins for your week and don’t worry about sweating over a hot oven! Let us do it for you!
Sunday, February 14, 2016, 10am-5pm: Dallas Farmers Market. Ah, love! For many today is a day of expressing it in simple or extravagant ways. Come by and get some sweet treats, like Chocolate “Cinn” Cashews, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or sugar free, dairy free Coconut Macaroons! Regardless of how you spend the day, come out for some fresh air, a quiet stroll and check out all the hand made goods at the market!


If you come by my booth and tell me this week’s discount code you will get $1 off any purchase of $15 or more! The code for this week is LOVE!

Please feel free to forward and share this newsletter with anyone you like! I look forward to seeing you this weekend! Come on out and enjoy the predicted beautiful weather!

11/4/15 Grain Free Haven Newsletter and Discount Code

fluffypancakesWhat a crazy Halloween market day last weekend! With our blue pumpkin and allergen free treats available the kids loved the toys and bubbles and glow in the dark finger extensions!

The products sold by Grain Free Haven are definitely not for people with nut allergies. With the exception of our drink mixes everything has nuts in them. I often get a lot of questions about how my products fit with nut allergies. In response I always focus on thoroughly listing ingredients, for I do not presume determine whether someone is allergic or not. I have also taken time to learn about nut allergies to help as much as possible. Between tree nut allergies and non-tree nut allergies, such allergies are unique to each person. Some people are allergic to only tree nuts, other just peanuts.

But where the heck do coconuts fall in the nut world? Technically, coconuts are fruit, but Public Law 108-282, Title II, Food and Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, as Amended, classifies them as a tree nut (see item 25 here).

Now that you know  our products are nutty, what do you need to do to have a grain free kitchen? How do you cook and eat every day without grains? Here is a peek at how my family does it.


A lot of times when I talk to people about not eating grains they get confused and shocked looks on their faces, followed by comments like “well gosh, what do you eat?!” and “that must be hard!”

I won’t mislead you. Eating grain free means that a lot of convenience foods are literally off the table. You may end up spending more time in the kitchen preparing foods. This does not mean you will be in the kitchen alone, slaving away over a hot stove. It can mean that the whole family migrates into the kitchen with you, helping to make food, doing homework at the kitchen counter to keep you company, or watching the ball game while you putter. I already live in a food-centric house, with the main living area connected openly to the kitchen. I don’t feel isolated when I am preparing food for my family, or for Grain Free Haven. It may be a shift for you, but for me, I feel more in control when I know what is in the food my family eats and how easy it can be made to fit their tastes.

It was challenging at first, but meeting the challenge was well worth it, since we were doing it for good reasons, like health, longevity and such. If you are interested in restocking your pantry and fridge for grain free eating, here are a few things to consider.

Read labels: go through what you currently have in your pantry and fridge. You will need to get rid of anything that has grains. Don’t just put it to the side. Get rid of it, or you will be tempted. Here is a list of some ingredients that you should look out for, focusing on crop grains:
Wheat   Rice*    Oats*    Millet*    Sorghum*    Barley    Einkorn    Rye    Spelt    Teff*    Triticale    Bran    Graham    Quinoa*    Semolina    Soy    Malt    Maltodextrin (made from corn)   Modified Food Starch (usually made with corn and soy)    Corn* (some consider non-meal corn excluded from a grain list and treated as a vegetable)
*gluten free grains

Some products that you may need to pay particular attention to include:
soy sauce    seasoning mixes    baking mixes    roux    teriyaki sauce    potato chips    tortillas     tortilla chips    bread    breakfast cereals    granola and breakfast bars    canned soups    frozen meals    store bought jar sauces and sauce mixes    ice cream    popsicles    yogurt    sausage    foods canned in sauces (like chipotles in adobo sauce)

Congratulations! You are officially overwhelmed with what needs to be removed from your kitchen. By this time you are starting to miss some of your favorite convenience foods and want to figure out how to replace them.

Other than buying some stuff from Grain Free Haven (unabashed promotion entered here), there are some baking staples to add to your pantry for making such things as breads, muffins and cakes. I am basing this list on my personal grain free and sugar free baking habits, documented in my almost four year old food blog.

To be ready to make baked goods, stock your pantry with the following:
coconut flour     almond meal     golden flaxseed meal (neutral flavor)     regular flaxseed meal (nutty flavor)     chia seeds (thickener)     cocoa powder     cinnamon     baking soda
baking powder (aluminum free)     wheat free soy sauce     sugar or preferred sweetener    coconut milk/heavy whipping cream    extra virgin olive oil


Before you freak out about what is no longer in your kitchen, here is a list of items we prepare weekly. They are based on my family’s preferences, which excludes most of the starches out there, in addition to grains and sugar. Recipes for the salads, coleslaw and prepared meats can be found on my food blog.

boiled eggs
chicken or tuna salad
prepared meats–slow roasted pork, chicken or beef (shredded) or cooked ground beef
trimmed cauliflower and broccoli florets
celery, carrot, zucchini and cucumber sticks
washed tomatoes, apples, grapes and berries
deli sliced ham, turkey or chicken
cheese slices and sticks

Sometimes we prepare it all at once in a cooking marathon, sometimes we do one at a time as things run out. It may see overwhelming, but after you realize you have a fridge full of ready to eat food that is good for you, the preparation time is definitely a good investment. Additionally, here are some ideas for quick grain free breakfasts.


Here is a grain free recipe for you to try using your newly stocked pantry! My daughter loves them and are great for what she calls “peanut butter and pancake sandwiches” when we are on the go.

Fluffy Pancakes

1 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp Stevita (equals approximately 1/4 cup pure cane sugar)
1/2 tsp sea salt
11 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, Stevita and salt. In a separate mixer bowl place the eggs, coconut oil and cream. Mix the wet ingredients on medium until combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture and mix on high until well combined and any solid pieces of coconut oil are broken up and incorporated.

Heat a large skillet to medium high. Add a drop of fat (about a teaspoon of butter, coconut oil or lard) to the pan and let it heat up. Add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the batter and gently spread it out into a pancake with approximate diameter of 3″ – 4″. Cook for about two minutes until the bottom of the pancake sets, then flip it over with a large spatula. Cook for about two more minutes until both sides are consistently browned.

An alternative is using a waffle iron – our iron has a flat reverse side, so we can use the flat side, drop two dollops of batter, close the top and cook two pancakes until browned (relying on instructions for your particular waffle iron, if it does such wondrous things). Repeat with remaining batter until it is gone.

Serve immediately or store in fridge/freezer in air tight container.


We have some convenient holiday gift sets ready this week for you to enjoy! They have Grain Free Haven products, including a special seasonal sugar free hot chocolate mix. Here is where you can find us this week!

Grand Prairie Farmers Market on Saturday, November 7th, 8am – 1pm: this week’s market is focused on collecting non-perishable foods for the North Texas Food Bank–bring five items to receive free gifts and be entered into a grand prize drawing! Find more information about the Market and the food drive here.

We are delayed in starting at the Dallas Farmers Market downtown until after the construction and holidays are over. We are looking forward to completion of their expansion so there is room for us and other new vendors!


If you come by my booth and tell me this week’s discount code you will get $1 off any purchase of $15 or more! The code for this week is CAJUN PEANUTS.

Please feel free to forward and share this newsletter with anyone you like! I look forward to seeing you this weekend!