Ever since I had to take nightshades out of my diet, I've been having a hard time coming up with new recipes for the blog. Desserts are fun and usually nightshade-free but I like entree recipes the best because they're a huge time-saver for me. Not only do I create my blog recipes over the weekends but I also cook every meal I plan on eating that week so an entree blog recipe takes care of two things at once.
I still haven't written about why I can't eat nightshades for the remainder of my pregnancy - probably because I'm in denial that I'll be without spicy foods that long. However, a visit with my birth center's nutritionist confirmed I'm out of luck.
I first removed them back in March after I had developed oral allergies to dairy and bananas. I was also bloating after every meal for probably two months straight which was very unusual for me. It was suggested that I try eliminating nightshades to see if I had any improvement (and hopefully prevent more food allergies from developing). The bloating never came back so I continued eating that way and planned on reintroducing them after my digestive system had adequate time to heal.
When I get excited about something, I tend to become completely obsessed with it. I got so wrapped up with focusing on fertility that I completely forgot about adding nightshades back in! (I know, how does somebody forget that their food hasn't had any flavor for the past month!?) Once I saw an unusual temperature rise on my Kindara chart, I strongly suspected we had conceived and knew I shouldn't change my diet while pregnant. I told myself that if I got a negative pregnancy test, I'd add the nightshades back in immediately. Three days later, I got my first positive test!
I had managed to keep small amounts of nightshade spices and potato starch in my diet which didn't bother me at all. I got desperate and tried very small amounts of foods like salsa and pepperoni but had reactions. The nutritionist basically told me to use my brain. In a very polite way, of course. She said if it makes me feel bad, don't eat it. If it's not bothering me (small amounts of nightshade spices and potato starch), don't worry about it. She also suggested I focus on gut healing by drinking one to two cups of bone broth every day and not skipping my probiotic.
The good news is after eliminating nightshades I can now eat corn and beans without any problems. Crazy! Although what I could really use is a jar of my favorite salsa and a straw. Or maybe some salt and vinegar chips. Oh well. The other good news is that after not being able to think of a nightshade-free entree, I've defaulted to a yummy dessert recipe :)
Like most of my dessert recipes, I made these lemon bars a few times before getting it right. The bottom layer is the same maple shortbread layer I've used in my pecan pie shortbread bars and tiramisu. The lemon layer is tart and sweetened with honey. It's thickened with a little gelatin and egg yolks which is why the process to make it is so similar to crème brûlée.
I made these this past Mother's Day (not only have I had a hard time coming up with new recipes, I've also struggled to find time to post them). Everybody loved them! I kind of liked them better leftover after the crust had time to soften in the fridge a little but good either way.
Sweet and extra tart lemon bars without the gluten or dairy.
- 1 C coconut flour
- ¼ C tapioca starch
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¼ C coconut oil, melted
- ⅓ C maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 ½ C lemon juice
- ¾ C honey
- 1 Tbsp gelatin
- optional toppings/garnishes: lemon slices, lemon zest, or powdered sugar.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together the coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and salt.
- Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to combine the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The mixture will become somewhat dry and clump up. This is expected.
- Grease an 8X8 glass baking dish with a little coconut oil then firmly and evenly press the shortbread mixture into the dish. Use a fork or toothpick to prick some holes in it before baking. Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.
- While the shortbread layer bakes/cools, start on the lemon layer. Whisk the egg yolks in a small, heat-safe bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice and honey. Heat the mixture over medium heat while occasionally whisking until hot but not boiling. (You should see steam rise from the sides of the pot.)
- Remove from heat and pour a small amount of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks whisk vigorously whisking in order to slowly warm the eggs. Pour this egg mixture back into the sauce pan, continuing to whisk.
- Resume heating the mixture over medium heat for another 4-5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Dissolve the gelatin into the mixture then transfer to the refrigerator.
- Check on the lemon mixture every 20 minutes or so. Once cooled (but not set/firm), it can be poured over the shortbread layer. Place back in the refrigerator until the lemon layer sets up.
- Top with powdered sugar or other toppings/garnishes, if desired. Slice into 9 squares and serve.