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.
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 :)
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
This is my happy place. Carova Beach, Outer Banks, NC. Once a year I get to be here with the best company for two weeks of laughter, play, sun, salt, relaxation, sandy doggies and lots of good cooking. Oh, and it also involves my birthday, so cake and fancy drinks are always part of the shenanigans.
My 23rd birthday cake to celebrate this new year of life: a blueberry cornmeal cake with lemon curd – neufchâtel frosting. I thought up the flavor combination when blueberry season was just beginning and had been craving it ever since. So when the day came, I handed the special job over to my boyfriend and supervised carefully to make sure he made it exactly how I imagined :) He did great, topping it off with a decorative blueberry swirl. Thanks Forrest!
*Note: my birthday was in July; I am just now realizing I never got to posting this cake recipe which needs to be preserved forever and ever. And I’m reminiscing of those wonderful two weeks at the beach. Summer, don’t go so fast! Continue reading
Strawberry season in the Mid-Atlantic — although fleeting, it always leaves me with excitement for more of summer’s candy to come: blueberries, wild raspberries, and my most beloved, the peach! So while I do cherish the early red berries, admittedly I get more excited for what’s to follow, and the indication that my favorite season is only just beginning.
garden bouquet: summer lettuces and berries
My go-to recipe to highlight the local strawberries for the past few years has been this: an oat square that reminds me of my good old Nutri-Grain bar, but much more hearty and wholesome with fresh-from-the-fields strawberry jam slathered and baked right on top. They’re also vegan, and interestingly made with chia seeds as a thickener in the jam and as an egg-replacer in the dough. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, omega-3, and pure energy! I also like the seedy texture it gave to the jam — i love jam with chunks of fruit and seeds :)
Fresh-picked strawberries ripen fast and need to be put to use, so if you’re looking for a healthy treat or a sweet and wholesome breakfast to use up those buckets of fruit, give these bars a try. Continue reading
This is my mom’s old fashioned apple cake. Sans the 2 ¼ cups of sugar. She made it earlier this season and we gobbled it up, oh yes… but no one can feel good about ingesting that much refined sugar. So I decided to do something about it.
In my version, winter squash puree replaces the shortening to keep it moist, sugar is reduced to just 1/3 cup, accompanied by erythritol—a natural (calorie-free) sweetener—and vanilla protein powder, whole wheat flour replaces the white, and an egg yolk is omitted to reduce cholesterol. *check my notes at the bottom for simple vegan substitutions.
It’s basically a balanced meal in itself. Squash = fiber and vitamins; Apples = more fiber and vitamins; Whole wheat flour = whole grains, more fiber; Eggs + milk + protein powder + nuts = PROTEIN! And that’s my excuse for eating a big ol’ slice for dinner ;) Try it, I dare you.
^Check out that original recipe….. got enough sugar?!
Autumn Apple Cake
- ½ cup pumpkin or winter squash puree
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup erythritol*
- 1 t nectresse*
- ¼ t salt
- 1 egg + 3T egg whites, or 7 T egg whites
- 1 cup buttermilk (make your own by adding 1T vinegar to a cup measure, and fill the rest with milk)
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- ½ cup vanilla protein powder – mine is sweetened with stevia
- 2 t baking soda
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1 t ground ginger
- 4 cups apples, peeled & chopped fine Continue reading
Haaaaaappy Halloween! Hope everyone is safe and recovering from crazy superstorm Sandy ♥
While I’m always one to dread the end of the warm months for the long, cold ones to come, I’m realizing how wonderful seasons are for the soul. The change of seasons brings so much to look forward to: we do different activities, eat different foods, change up our wardrobe, and watch as nature transforms around us. I did always miss the color-intense fall we have in Maryland while I was down south at school. So this year I’m taking advantage of the season’s beauty, from camping and taking many a hike on the mountain, visiting the local vineyard (just voted “Best Of D.C.”!!), carving pumpkins, and eating so much squash I should have turned into one by now.
We’ve had a gorgeous autumn here, with crisp mornings and mild days, deep blue skies, plentiful sunshine and sunset-hued leaves. And so naturally what else would I do but combine all this autumn beauty into something edible. Something simple: a squash picked from the farm across the street, spiced, sweetened with pure maple syrup, and baked into perfection. A mix between pumpkin pie sans crust, custard, and flan ……. If you could taste autumn, this would be it.
Spiced Baked Pumpkin, adapted from Adventures in Cooking
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 cup almond milk
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 3 T Earth Balance (or butter), melted
- 2 eggs (or flax eggs to keep it vegan)
- 1 t maple extract (if you don’t have it, sub vanilla)
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1/4 t allspice
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1/4 t baking soda Continue reading
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 guilt–free 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
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.
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.
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
I don’t know why I’m still surprised when I bake a dessert with beans… and it comes out amazing. I mean I already showed you my success with the beet-bean brownies and the deep dish cookie pie, but somehow the concept never fails to fascinate me. Beans?! Not only are they what I often consume for protein in my meals—being low in fat and super high in fiber—but they can be used to replace a majority of the flour and butter in baked goods! I think what gets me most, though, is that they’re not simply a healthy substitution; beans make things like cookies and brownies so incredibly rich and fudgey and moist. I may never bake without beans again!
….I just won’t tell people this until after they taste my goodies :]
These rich chocolate cookies remind me of these double chocolate fudge cookies my mom used to make from a mix when we were kids. Everyone looved them, especially straight from the oven, all warm and full of gooey chocolate chunks. These bring me back to that same eye-rolling indulgent taste of fudgey bliss, but with a grown-up twist of spicy chiles, cinnamon, tart dried cherries… and of course our healthy little secret ;]
I also gave each cookie a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt, which really brings out the richness and leaves you craving more sweet after each bite.
chili-chocolate-bean cookies, from My New Roots
- 1 ½ cups black beans, or one 15 oz. can
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
- 1/4 t coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/3 cup maple syrup, honey or agave
- 2 eggs or 6 T egg whites
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries