almond + blackberry tarts, and living in Texas

almond + blackberry mini tart

I know, last year was a rough one for me and blogging. I apologize, and am determined to get back into the groove now that I’m settled in a new home for at least a year. (!)

The past year was about getting some more travel out of my system, going to school and figuring out where to go and what to make of my adult life. Turns out my next chapter begins with a move to Austin, TX, more on a whim than any real specific reason, but I think it was a good choice.

I brought my big furry beast with me and we moved in with a little furry beast and his human into a small home with a big back yard in south Austin. The house, pretty neglected and dirty looking when we first moved in, is really starting to grow on me. We broke it in with a delicious meal and bonfire with friends on a warm, starry night, and since then it’s really starting to feel like home.

home sweet home - austin, tx

happy ingredients

So, what other important activity must I do when breaking my new house in? Bake. Something chocolatey, something nuttty, something healthy…(ish).

I’m a big fan of using nut flours and butters in baking for the rich, buttery texture it gives, and, obviously, the nutty flavor. I’m also a big fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and even more so, what I call the grown-up version: almond butter & blackberry sandwiches. Today I decided to convert this combination into little bite-sized desserts – or snacks, because they’re healthy :)

blackberries + almonds Continue reading

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wholesome cookie dough bites

wholesome cookie dough bites

It’s been two weeks since I’ve been home in the US and I already miss making treats. Cookies, bars, cakes, granola, cobblers… there was always something to be concocted and it was a breeze, or should I say piece of cake ;) in our—thanks to my lovely mother—well-stocked pantry and well-equipped kitchen. How I took that all for granted! Whipping up a batch of after dinner peanut butter cookies isn’t quite as simple when my current pantry has zero ingredients, and my kitchen not a spatula, mixing bowl nor cookie sheet. I know, poor poor me… :) Continue reading

nanatella muffins

banana nutella muffins

I can’t think of a single person who actually dislikes banana bread. And I dare you to find someone who doesn’t like that oh so dreamy creamy cocoa hazelnut spread (aka nutella). They’re two very lovable things, and when combined will put a smile on anyone’s face.

So what happens when you mix banana bread with nutella? Well, there could be many outcomes, but mine just happened to be these banana-nutella swirl muffins. And given 98% of our population’s fondness of the two components, these muffins are the perfect treat to bring to a party, a potluck, or a very special friend’s birthday… as I did for my very special friend Corey. Continue reading

Nikki’s healthy cookies, revisited

favorite banana cookies

One of my first posts was my adapted version of Nikki’s Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks, a “classic” healthy cookie of the blog world. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and sugar-less, these continue to please as my go-to healthy cookie and friends still ask me for “that banana cookie recipe you always made.”

Well with time after time of baking these and my unending obsession with changing up recipes, I have for you my new and improved healthy banana cookie. It’s peanutty, banana-y, coconutty, puctuated with drops of creamy chocolate (or carob), and to me the flavors never get old. Substantial + healthy enough to eat for breakfast, ideal for a midday snack, and decadent enough to satisfy my sweet cravings…. what more do I need to say? :)

Get baking and have yourself some guilt-free deliciousness! Continue reading

coconut flour cookies – gluten free & grain free

Not often does one get offered a giant bag of coconut flour because someone has just too much of it. So when my uncle offered me an extra bag he had lying around (my gluten-free aunt orders online in bulk because it’s cheaper), I was glad to take it off their hands :)

I left their home after dinner with arms full of goodies— coconut flour and bunches of collards and lettuces fresh from their garden. It’s been nice living close to them for 4 years of college; I never left without something yummy, usually homemade applesauce or jarred South Carolina peaches. mmmm.

Anyway, with more coconut flour than I ever thought I’d have in my possession (that stuff can be expensive!) I was dreaming up all the recipes I could add it to. And what did I settle on first? The classic chocolate chip cookie, of course. Except this one’s not so classic

I knew my aunt had been on a search for the best tasting gluten-free cookies, so I thought I’d add a homemade recipe to the competition. And it’s not only gluten-free, but grain-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and very low in sugar overall. The baked cookie certainly has a different texture than the classic—a bit more dense, soft, and dough-like—but delicious in its own way.

I absolutely love these cookies and could easily just eat balls of the raw dough as well. I know my aunt enjoyed them, and even if you’re not avoiding gluten you should give them a try! A soft, dense, chocolatey, coconutty, just-sweet-enough treat, without any of the guilt ;)

grain-free coconut flour cookies, adapted from girl meets life.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 T agave
  • 1/2 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 T dark chocolate chips (I use grain-sweetened or dark mini chips)
  • other options: cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, chopped nuts Continue reading

spinach frappe

This should really be called a banana mocha frappuccino, but I like to say spinach frapp just cause it sounds gross. Don’t get me wrong, I love my spinach. But who really wants it in their sweet blended coffee drink?

Leafy greens—fresh or frozen—turn out to be a great addition for smoothies and shakes. They add vitamins and fiber and substance to your smoothie without loading in the sugar, fat, or ice that waters down the flavor. Nor does it add any flavor of its own, so don’t worry about you frappucino tasting like a drinkable salad.

This homemade frappe has it all — sweetness from a frozen banana and vanilla soymilk, fiber from the spinach and banana, richness and antioxidants from the cocoa, a jolt of espresso, and extra protein (optional) from protein powder — without too much ice watering it down! To indulge in a mocha frappuccino for breakfast and not feel one bit of guilt? Mornings just got way sweeter. Continue reading

cookie dough bites of bliss

I try my hardest not to buy processed snacks—both for the processed factor as well as the ingredient factor—because even “health food” companies and organic snacks from Whole Foods use lots of added sweeteners, fats, and refined flours. But I simply don’t have the time to bake fresh granola bars and healthy muffins every time I reach for a snack.

My lack of time for baking has led me to experiment with a quick-to-make, easy-to-eat, and sweet-tooth-satisfying treat. After a few attempts (eh ok.. maybe like 6 in the last two weeks ;) I’m proud to give you my new favorite go-to treat: bliss balls.

I can put them together in 5 minutes tops (and I’m especially slow in the kitchen so this is incredible for me), they don’t get dried out or stale since they live in the freezer, and they leave you with one (just one!) dirty bowl. But best of all… the dense, peanut buttery flavor interspersed with bittersweet chocolate bits is exactly what my sweet tooth craves. Plus I’ve always been a dough girl… who needs the oven when you can eat spoonfuls of the gooey dough?! (egg-free, Mom!)

Oh, and I almost forgot – not only is this a guiltless recipe, it’s a very nutritious one. Whole grains, a good boost of protein and fiber from the peanut flour, antioxidants from cocoa, just a bit of healthy fat, a touch of fruit, and no refined sugar to be found.

…Bliss in a ball :)

Freezer bliss balls, inspired by these

  • ¼ cup peanut flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour (gluten free options: use oat flour, coconut flour or almond meal)
  • 2 T erythritol, or other granulated sweetener of the unrefined variety (depending on your tastes you may want to add more – I don’t like mine too sweet)
  • dash n’ a half of salt
  • 1 T smart/earth balance, softened (or coconut oil)
  • 1 T unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ t vanilla extract
  • ¼ t maple extract
  • 1-2 T vanilla soy milk
  • 1 t honey (optional – I added this at the end for a bit more sweetness and to help bind the dough)
  • ¼–1/3 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (or try mini choc chips, chopped chocolate, cocoa nibs, carob chips..)

Whisk together flours, sweetener and salt. Add butter, applesauce + extracts and combine with spatula to form thick dough. Gradually add milk til you have the right consistency. Batter should be thick and hold up well. If you add too much milk, add an extra spoonful of peanut flour. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spoon into balls/blobs, flatten, sprinkle with sea salt, & freeze for on-the-go-goodness. They’ll thaw in about 60 seconds into a sweet dough ball of bliss.

Makes 12 small cookies. (Since I made these several times to perfect them, I kept the batches small. Feel free to double or triple the recipe :)

*Update Sept 2013: I now usually triple this recipe (so that they last me more than 2 days!). I use 1 cup peanut flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour (omitting the wheat flour altogether) and about 2 T coconut sugar along with enough stevia to make it sweet. Coconut flour is very absorbent so if you use it, you may have to add another Tbsp or two of applesauce. 

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