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

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

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

lemon + zucchini corncakes

Limón y calabacín, or lemon and zucchini as you may know them, were the flavors of my summer. Working at a Montessori school’s garden all season, we had an overflowing crop of zucchini and lots of time to mess around with new recipes and get creative.

…zucchini ice cream, anyone? ;)

I’ve never been a huge fan of lemon flavor in desserts, but this summer my taste buds must have changed on me. ‘Cause now it’s all I crave. With the help of the Montessori kids who came to work in the garden, we started experimenting with some lemon-rosemary zucchini bread, then progressed to Martha’s lemon-zucchini cornmeal cookies *veganized* (Mom’s faaavorite), and from there I decided to add the tasty combo to my favorite cornmeal pancakes that I posted here last summer.

Fluffy and buttery cornmeal cakes with shreds of bright green zucchini and tangy lemon zest, spread with maple syrup-greek yogurt….. it’s summer bundled up into a little pancake.

Continue reading

a well balanced cookie

It’s been a while since I’ve made a good, wholesome, nutritious cookie — one that I can feel good about snacking on for a boost of energy first thing in the morning, or as a perfectly sweet treat after dinner.

As a self-professed cookie monster, I’ve embraced the art of “healthy cookie” making so I’d always have something slightly more nutritious than a box of nutter butters when the monster decided to come out. But lately my cookie baking has been less-than-healthy, and I’m longing for those guiltfree goodies of my past….

Some may laugh at cookies for breakfast, but to that I say simply compare the ingredients & nutrition facts to a your typical banana-nut bakery muffin and thennn we’ll see who’s laughing….

These pack serious protein from the egg, protein powder and nuts, a modest amount of healthy fat from almond butter, coconut oil and hazelnuts, slight sweetness from agave nectar, vanilla protein and cherries, and antioxidants from the cocoa nibs.

And in terms of taste, the sweetness contrasts with a peppery kick and tart cherries, nuts and nibs provide bits of crunch, the whole wheat and oats lend a dense and hearty chew, and the gentle scent of vanilla reminds you that you’re nibbling on a delicate little cookie. (For breakfast).

A cookie as balanced in nutrients as it is in texture and flavor. What more could a cookie monster ask for?

Cherry Hazelnut Power Cookies, adapted from the 17-Day Diet Book. Thanks Janet!!

makes ~18 cookies

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 1 T flaxseed or coconut oil
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 egg or 3 ½ T egg whites
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • ½ t almond extract
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ½ t salt
  • ¼ t ground white pepper
  • ½ cup vanilla protein powder (I use tera’s whey bourbon vanilla)
  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs (optional) Continue reading

treats for tara

So I’m not big on posting recipes that I copy exactly from someone else. Writing up my own creations (the few successful ones) or a recipe that I’ve at least adapted to make my own feels much more like an accomplishment.

But I’ll make exceptions when something turns out just so perfect and everyone’s begging for the recipe.

Like these…..

When my family went to Colorado to celebrate my sister’s graduation, she threw a little party featuring sumo wrestling and tasty food prepared by us. Two pretty great things.

Among many other nibbles, mom made cute shrimp gazpacho shooters…..

…and I contributed the sweets, of course. My favorite chili-chocolate-cherry bean cookies emerged from the oven sadly flat (blaming that on the altitude..), but these almond butter rice crisp treats certainly made up for it.

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