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grain-free black forest cookies

sausage, peppers, and spaghetti squash {grain-free main dish and family meal time}

they laughed when i said, “i want you to get used to the camera gear around here more.”  when don’t they see camera gear around?

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sometimes they duck when they see me coming, memory card loaded and lens aimed with precision.

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but these are the minutes that tick into hours that become distant memories and then puff into “lost.”  and they’re the minutes that matter.  when we gather ’round the table and tell our day’s stories and dare to share our dreams and poke fun in love and make funny faces and tickle bare-chested little brothers who think they’re exempt from the “shirts-at-the-dinner-table” rule.

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and most importantly, we talk about what matters.  about the Great Truths our Papa has spoken, and how much He loves us, and about our fears and our misunderstandings and with that we challenge each other to really live.

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and if there’s good food to thank Him for, all the sweeter.

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this dish is a great hearty weeknight meal.  a couple tips:

use the Johnsonville Ground Sausage instead of the Italian Sausage links to avoid unwanted additives.  definitely use fresh fennel – it is delicious and really makes the dish.  (i meant to save fronds for “dish decor,” but alas, i have been working to romance the hubs by keeping a clean workspace while cooking, and i whisked them off with the unusable scraps before i realized it!)  try baking your spaghetti squash in advance, then scraping into a casserole dish.  warm before serving with butter on top.

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want to print the recipe?  save it to an online recipe box?  click on over to (or click on the photo!).

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Johnsonville Sausage, Peppers, and Spaghetti Squash

1 (19.76 ounce) package Johnsonville® Mild Italian Sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh fennel

1/2 cup diced green onion

1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper

1/2 cup diced green pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

6 tablespoons cooking sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked spaghetti squash


In a large skillet, cook and crumble sausage until no longer pink; drain and set aside. In the same skillet, saute the fennel, green onion, red and green peppers and garlic until tender. Add the tomatoes, sausage and 3 tablespoons sherry; cook and stir until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in remaining sherry. Serve hot over spaghetti squash.

 Too cook my spaghetti squash, I cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Then I place it cut-side-down in a large baking dish with about 1/2″ water.  I bake for thirty minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.  I like to prepare my squash in advance and use a fork to scrape strands into a storage container to use the next day.  You can find alternative instructions at!

did you try this recipe?  love it?  leave a note and review!  here’s to family meal time…

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{paleo} black forest cookies with coconut

these are good.  i’m not bragging.  ok, maybe i am.  a little.

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eating cleaner is becoming a choice all the kids are getting behind, and i can actually now say, “go make a paleo snack,” and the kids know where to look.  i’m getting braver at experimenting with unusual (formerly, at least, to me!) ingredients like cacao nibs and hemp seeds.

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i’m trying to feed teenagers.  athlete-teenagers.  and a ten year old who has biceps already.  and does not stop eating.  i mean it!  so i’m forever looking at ways to add healthy fat and protein and fiber.  i decided to add coconut and hemp to this cookie recipe.

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did i make them look as good as they are?  because these are good.  did i say that already?  don’t you want to make them?  here you go!

Paleo Black Forest Cookies With Coconut


3 cups nut flour (almond, pecan, walnut, chestnut)

1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut (shredded)

1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup maple syrup (warm to room temperature)

2 eggs



Stir together flour, coconut, cranberries, chocolate chips, nibs, sea salt and soda, and seeds.  In a separate bowl, beat liquid ingredients.  Stir together and drop by rounded tablespoons onto a baking-mat-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cookies are done when the top no longer looks wet and they are slightly firm.  Enjoy!!!

and the coolest part?  when you’ve had a couple one, you don’t feel like you’ve just destroyed your chances at ever being svelte.  🙂

oh, and in case you were wondering, here are some facts about hemp  (taken directly from Body Ecology):

What is Hemp, Really?

Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannibus sativa L. Sound kind of familiar? In fact, the hemp plant is often confused with the marijuana plant because they are of the same family (Cannibus) and closely resemble one another. Because of this, hemp has had a checkered past and the debate continues even today.

The hemp “seed” is actually an achene: a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, just like sunflower seeds. It is considered one of the most versatile and economical plants, with many uses from food to biofuel.

Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are nutrient-powerhouses containing:

All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.

  • A high protein percentage of thesimple proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.2Eating hemp seeds in any form could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases. This conclusion is supported by the fact that hemp seed has been used to treat nutritional deficiencies brought on by tuberculosis, a severe nutrition blocking disease that causes the body to waste away.3
  • Nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid, with more essential fatty acid than flax or any other nut or seed oil. 4
  • A perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.
  • A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
  • A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
  • The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids5


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