Sunday markets and baking with almond meal

When I met my boyfriend, he was just about to sell the house he was living in and start shopping for a place of his own. Just a couple of months into our relationship I was tagging along with him looking at houses throughout his favorite spots in Tampa. Our love was new, and no one really knew what the future would hold. But there’s one thing he made clear: his future was with me. He knew it early on (and so did I), and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

At the time we met, Brian was living in Temple Terrace. There were some perks to living there (a nearby favorite golf course being one), but he also had his eye on the Forest Hills area of Tampa, another decision driven somewhat by the fact that most of the houses are near a golf course (can you tell he loves golf?), and the fact that the price range of houses in that area are fantastic. However when the decision was finally made, he chose a house in the Seminole Heights area; his childhood neighborhood.

If you’re from Tampa, you know the area I’m speaking of. It’s a place where time has stood still. Most of the roads are still paved in brick, many of the houses are wrapped with wide porches, graced with swings and creaky wooden floors. Yards are spacious, and nothing is cookie cutter. Each house has its own charm and uniqueness. Seminole Heights is definitely a hidden gem.

After living here for a bit of time now, I’ve grown to love the area. It’s where I work. It’s where we play. It’s where I shop, dine out and explore. There are so many hidden spots sprinkled throughout Seminole Heights, and one of my all time favorites started back up for the 2013-2014 season: the Seminole Heights Sunday MorningĀ  Market.

SHSMM_New-LogoThe market is held the 2nd Sunday of the month from October to May, on the front lawn of Hillsborough High School on Central Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue from 9am-2pm. There are dozens upon dozens of tents, food trucks and farmer’s market booths selling everything from fresh produce and soap to local art and baked goods. Today as I walked around the market I noticed local vendors offering samples of freshly squeezed juices, homemade beef jerky, lotions, body scrubs, smoothies and more. Some of the local art featured things like metal sculptures, hand made quilts and jewelry. I love the feel of the market. Hillsborough High School is such a beautiful setting for something like this.

I was hoping to be able to score some #NSNG goodies at the market. Luckily I had some cash in my pocket because one of the first booths I stumbled across was one that featured a HUGE variety of dried fruits, vegetables and dry roasted nuts.

IMG_9037As I chatted with the owner about the market, he let me sample a few of the products. We talked a bit about NSNG and he introduced me to some delicious products that would definitely make life easier while eating this way. I walked away with THE most amazing dried pears, dried bing cherries, dried dates and dried apple rings. I also purchased some beet chips, a bag of almond meal, a bag of coconut flour, and some dry roasted pecans.

On the way out, I also purchased some fresh produce from the farmer’s market. Check out some of these veggies! I think those are hands down the largest carrots I’ve ever seen!

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Here are a few more shots from the market. I’m already thinking about my next trip in December!

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I couldn’t WAIT to get home and start working with some of the goodies I purchased. Today marks two weeks on No Sugar and No Grains, and now that I’m into a pretty good routine of what’s compliant and what’s not, I’m excited to get cooking and start experimenting with some recipe creations.

Now although #NSNG means no “bread” type items, I decided to try my hand at baking with different types of compliant flours, like coconut flour and almond meal/flour.

Now while I don’t know much about the science behind cooking with these alternative flours, I did some reading up on them tonight and realized that almond meal (ground up almonds) seems to be an excellent replacement for grain based flours. Check out this post to learn more about this versatile product.

So about those recipes… I decided to whip up two of my favorite “carbs”: fruit muffins and drop biscuits!

Oh drop biscuits. You taste so good.

You can purchase almond meal at any of your local health food stores, Whole Foods, Nutrition S’mart or places that sell bulk bin items.

Apple & Date Cinnamon Muffins
2 cups almond meal
2 eggs + 2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extra
8 dates (at room temp), pitted and pureed (you can use a food processor)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Add all ingredients, except for dates, into a bowl. Using a mixer (hand mixer or standing mixer), combine all ingredients well. Add dates and mix to combine. Pour tablespoon fulls of batter into the cupcake tin. Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick test comes out clean. Enjoy with butter or nut butters!

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Cheesy Drop Biscuits
2 1/2 cups of almond meal
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
4 tbsp. melted butter, cooled
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients using a standing or hand mixer. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough onto greased (butter) baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm and golden brown. Enjoy!

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Have you ever baked with almond meal?

Steph :)

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