Pumpkin Nut Butter Bars with Cashew Cream

Autumn. I love the bright flavors of Summer, I really do. The fruit salads and tomatoes and mint lemonade. But the moment October hits I restock my spice rack with cinnamon, clove, mulling spices, and curry, and I am giddy. I don’t know that any other season’s flavors are as season specific as Autumn’s. And I love every last one of them.

The search for this recipe was inspired by my attempts to replace more and more of the grains in my diet with nuts. My friend John made me an incredible raw cheesecake a month ago, which inspired me to seek out more raw/nut-based dessert recipes. My search led me to several wonderful blogs including one called the detoxinista, which is where this recipe originated. I am hooked, and will definitely be trying more of Megan’s variations on dessert. The recipe below is almost identical to this one on her blog, except that I swapped out the honey for liquid stevia, and used homemade cashew cream to top it off versus her maple glaze (too sweet for my taste buds).

 

Pumpkin Nut Butter Bars with Cashew Cream

These bars use almond butter instead of flour, producing an incredibly airy and cake-like product. They are delicious served slightly warm, with a dollop of chilled cashew cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 tsp liquid stevia
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 heaping tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cashew cream (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350F
  2. grease a small pie pan or square baking dish with coconut oil
  3. combine all of the ingredients until a smooth cohesive batter is formed
  4. pour into your prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes
  5. allow to cool slightly. then serve warm with cinnamon and cashew cream

As with most of my baking projects, I am uncertain of the shelf-life, because the whole batch was gone within 24 hours! I suspect that these bars would keep best in the refrigerator, gently reheated when the time is right for a treat. Read on below the photo for a simple recipe for cashew cream.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw soaked cashews (soaked for at least 8 hours)
1-2 droppers of liquid stevia (really to taste)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
water or unsweetened nut milk to desired texture (start with 1/4 cup)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender for several minutes until the texture is whipped and creamy. Chill and serve as such.

Expect to see almond and other nut butters taking the place of flour in more of my recipes to come! And don’t judge me for putting this cashew cream on EVERYTHING. It’s been a little while since I’ve touched anything resembling whipped cream. Also, expect my next dessert post to be a raw one. What is your favorite raw dessert?

Enjoy!

 

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A Kale Ginger Smoothie & A Green Almond Smoothie

I am so thankful for this gradual Autumn we have been given. A slow transition indoors, with dinner on the screened in porch still possible in sweaters. The days are getting shorter, but the sun and ground are still warm. And the colors. I have been going for long walks through our neighborhood just taking it in. Trying to breathe a little deeper. Allowing myself to be restored in the not quite crisp air and the bright hues. But then the high today is nearly eighty. Thank goodness I haven’t quite packed away my cutoffs. Thank goodness the warmth makes a post about smoothies slightly less out of season.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, when I get bored with food I tend to fall back on smoothies to nourish me through my days. Our trip was the first time in six months I didn’t have one if  not two smoothies in place of meals, and my body felt it. So once we hit Seattle, after three days on the road, my first my only request was to find a green smoothie. I wanted kale and nutrients and protein without having to chew a damn thing. I found just that at Alive Juice Bar in Shoreline, and a smoothie looking something like the recipe below.


Kale Ginger Smoothie

The small amount of orange in this recipe really amps up the citrus notes and pairs so nicely with the lemon and ginger. If you want less fruit/sugar, I would 1/2 the apple and 1/2 the carrot juice for a bit more green tea. I like a lot of ginger, and will sometimes put twice the amount below.

Ingredients:

1 large handful of kale (or two)
1/2 lemon (rind or no rind)
1/4 orange (no rind)
1 small apple, chopped into 1/4
1/2″ piece of fresh ginger (or to taste)
1/4 cup carrot juice (fresh pressed preferably)
green tea, unsweetened
ice
protein powder (Soy tastes great for some reason in this smoothie, but if you’re watching your soy intake a vegan plant blend I recommend is true vitality. If this is not meant to replace a meal, leave the protein out entirely.)

Directions:

Blend with greens at the bottom of the blender. Play with your ice to tea ratio until you find the taste and consistency right for you. My rule of thumb is generally to just cover the fruit with liquid, and then fill the serving cup 3/4 full with ice.

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The second smoothie I want to share is one that I drank nearly daily for lunch at Whole Foods when I was working in the coffee/smoothie shop. It is quite filling, even in the absence of protein powder, thanks to the almond butter and greens.

Green Almond Smoothie

Pack in the greens on this smoothie. There are so many other flavors going on that they really can get lost. Also, adjust the amount of almond butter accordingly if protein powder is added as the calorie content on this smoothie can skyrocket. If that is something you need to take into consideration.

I prefer the texture of frozen bananas in my smoothies. Break ripe peeled bananas into 1″ chunks and throw into the freezer to have on hand. I know they aren’t local or seasonal, but they are really irreplaceable as a smoothie base, imho.

Ingredients:

1 small ripe banana, frozen
frozen mixed berries
1 large handful kale (or two)
1 handful spinach
unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1-2 tbsp almond butter
protein powder (optional. I recommend true vitality)

Directions:

Place fruit into serving cup, leaving about 1″ of space at the top. Pour almond milk over the fruit, still leaving some room at the top. Place the greens in the bottom of a blender and pour the cup of fruit and milk on top. Scoop in the almond butter and protein powder (if using) and blend well.

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Papaya Pok Pok

Have you ever stayed with someone you’ve never met before? With someone whom no one in your party has met before? Adventures in Portland.

Portland. The food and the public transportation. The Oregon coast and sunsets over the water. The care for plant and animal and health and sustainability. The rolling farms just outside of the city and the park running through the city. The homemade whiskey (okay maybe this was specific to our experience, but it was wonderful nonetheless). And did I mention the food?

Day 1 we ate at Pok Pok, created by caucasian Thai food Savant Andy Ricker.  Pok Pok offers a very unAmerican Thai, and I mean that in the best possible way. This was my first experience drinking water with pandanaus leaf, which gives the water a slightly toasted/vanilla/rice essence. I loved it. Based on the recommendation of our stranger of a host, I got the namesake salad, Papaya Pok Pok, with sticky rice.

The dish was spicier than I generally prefer, but delicious all the same. The sticky rice you use as a sort of mitten to pick up the food, and this and the spiciness resulted in me consuming quite a bit more rice than is typical. All things in moderation. My mantra. Except, of course, for the things you’re highly allergic to… here abstinence continues to rule.

I digress. Pok Pok was an excellent introduction into a couple days of allergen-friendly foodie heaven.

For a dinner dessert we went to Salt & Straw where I splurged on a scoop of dairy. Dairy is not on my allergen list, merely my I-know-my-body list. I repeat my mantra. Salt & Straw, like many restaurants in Portland, sources ingredients primarily from local farms, creameries, distilleries, and so on. I got the Aquabeet ice cream; a concoction of House Spirit Distillery’s Krogstad Aquavit liquor and sweet red beets (the primary sweetener for the recipe). What a light and delicious flavor.

Sadly I do not have a recipe for the Aquabeet ice cream. Maybe next Summer. But I did find this recipe for Pok Pok, which I modified slightly (of course).

Papaya Pok Pok

Ingredients:

1 medium green papaya, peeled and shredded
1 handful cheery tomatoes, halved
1 handful green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1/4 cup agave
1 small jalapeno or other hot green pepper, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tbsp brigg’s liquid aminos
1/2 cup sticky rice

Directions:

  1. Soak the shredded papaya in cold water to crisp
  2. Prepare the sticky rice like this (or according to package directions)
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, slightly crush the green beans and cherry tomatoes. Set these aside in your serving dish
  4. Thoroughly combine the remaining ingredients, except for the papaya, to create the sauce
  5. Toss the sauce, papaya, and vegetables together to coat
  6. Serve immediately

NOTE: My sauce is significantly thinner due to using agave versus sugar. You could try using liquid stevia to reduce the liquid volume, or you could embrace it like we did, and use sticky rice to sop up the extra sauce.

The flavor of the salad will keep for a couple of days, however the crispness of the papaya will quickly disappear.

Enjoy!

ps I had a great time at Peacehaven Farm yesterday!

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Before I get to my post and recipe, I wanted to briefly plug an event happening tomorrow outside of Greensboro. Peacehaven Community Farm is having their Annual Harvest Festival, and it would great to see any local readers out supporting this great nonprofit. Peacehaven “is a sustainable farm located on 89 beautiful acres of organic gardens, rolling pastures, and lush woodlands that connects people with disabilities to their community”. The event is from 4-7pm tomorrow, October 21st. Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more about this event, and the work they do!

I will return to our trip in posts to come, but I wanted to break away to share a super simple recipe I made last week that I am super excited about. For a few reasons.

  1. I fried something (Laugh it up or shake your head, but this happens about once a year. Which is good… all things in moderation)
  2. I did not shop specifically for this recipe; the ingredients are simply things that are consistently in my cupboards and refrigerator.
  3. I LOVE falafel. Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe in Winston-Salem makes my favorite falafel, but most local restaurants use gluten-filled flour in their recipes. I always get the sampler platter at Mooney’s with falafel, fried cauliflower, baba ghanouj, and fettoosh. It is one of my favorite date nights, on the sidewalk with lights in the trees.

This recipe was born out of almost having popcorn for dinner, only to glance at the chickpea flour and know. Know that I was destined for something better than popcorn. Even popcorn with coconut oil. This is what happens about four days out from me going to the market. I never plan out meals further than three days in advance.

Based on this recipe off of the back of the bag of flour, this falafel is simple and quick, with some herbs and such added in that I had on hand. The first time I made this I did not have any canned chickpeas, They were missed, and added into the second version of this recipe, but they weren’t missed so much as to stop me from eating half the batch I made in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have the beans on hand, make it with all flour. I love simple solutions.

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

1/2 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, processed thoroughly with a blender or food processor
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small shallow, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cumin, ground (fresh ground with a mortar and pestle if possible)
1/4 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup hot water
2-4 tbsp 0live oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together until thoroughly combined
  2. Add the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, hot water, onion, shallot, and cilantro to the dry ingredients and stir until combined
  3. Allow mixture to rest for at least ten minutes (this could be a good time to assemble the dressing)
  4. Heat oil in a large saute pan or skillet on medium high heat
  5. Divide batter into twelve even balls and fry on each side until golden brown
  6. Blot off on paper towels and serve hot with vegan tahini yogurt dressing for dipping (see recipe below)


Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy yogurt (I used soy)
2 tbsp tahini
1 fresh lemon, squeezed
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the first three ingredients. Season to taste and serve.
Like I said, simple but delicious. Enjoy!

Framer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce

The west coast gets me. Gluten free beer ON TAP. Separate gluten free menus. Explicit knowledge of what is actually in the food I am eating. I have never found wait staff so willing to help find food that I can eat.

It’s nice to feel like someone cares. Like you’re not in this alone. It’s funny how simple gestures can be the most profound.

Our first day in san francisco was exhausting. We walked for miles. I got grumpy (unavoidable when I have inadequate sleep and/or food. In this case both). I was in search of Cafe Gratitude. What we found was Gracias Madre, a sister restaurant, and I didn’t hide the fact that I was pissed. Until we got inside.

We caught the last moments of happy hour, and I was brought a $3 glass of organic sangria, with fruit from a local farm. The farm where they grow ALL of their produce. All organic, all vegan, all sustainable, mostly gluten free goodness. When that sangria hit the table I felt my shoulders relax and my temper settle. I was suddenly home. Because I love mexican food, but generally end up ordering off the a la carte menu, still wondering if I am doing some harm to my body. Not here. Here I was safe in a delicious blanket of nourishment.

This is a long story to say that we returned to Gracias Madre on our last day in San Francisco. It was that good. And I came home on a mission to recreate their seasonal vegetable tacos.

My first attempt, in all humility, was pretty damn good. Jump below the photo for the recipe.

(at Gracias Madre for the second time)

 

Farmer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce (dinner for two)

Because I don’t currently have a productive garden I call these Farmer’s Market tacos, as this was the source for my vegetables. Note that this is not a quick meal to prepare, especially if you make the tortillas yourself, which I highly recommend. Each element takes time and attention, but it is well worth it.

The beauty of these tacos, like the rest of the menu at Gracias Madre, is that the vegetables can change with the seasons. Use summer or winter squash, broccoli, different peppers, or even try roasting fruit (peaches, yum!) depending on what season you are in. Keep it simple, and nourishing, and local. Love the food you eat.

Ingredients:

6-8 handmade corn tortillas (in lieu of a tortilla press I used two flexible cutting boards and my dutch oven)
6 medium collard leaves sliced into 3-4″ strips
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 small serrano pepper, halved
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ rounds
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cashew cheese sauce (see recipe below)
1 small handful raw pepita (pumpkin) seeds
salsa verde for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500F
  2. If you haven’t ahead of time, prepare your cashew cheese sauce
  3. Place eggplant on an oiled pan, brush with a coat of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Roast eggplant in oven, approximately 5-7 minutes per side
  5. Once eggplant is in, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat
  6. Saute the onion with a bit of salt and pepper in the heated oil
  7. Add the serrano pepper and greens, bring heat down to low and cover, stirring frequently until greens are wilted and tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Don’t forget about the eggplant!
  8. Remove the greens from heat, and discard the serrano pepper. Keep covered until ready to plate
  9. When the eggplant is finished, remove from oven and dice into 1/2″ cubes
  10. In a smaller oiled pan individually heat the corn tortillas

Assembly:

To assemble the tacos, place the heated tortillas flat on large serving plates. Place a small amount of one of the fillings on each tortilla, and drizzle on desired amount of cashew cheese sauce. Sprinkle pepita seeds over the tacos with sauteed greens. Serve with a side of organic refried black beans. Rice could also be served, but we find the tacos and beans to be more than filling. Keep salsa verde and extra cashew cheese sauce on the table with the meal.

 

 

Cashew Cheese Sauce (thanks to Cafe Gratitude for the base recipe)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Directions:

Place ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute. Taste for flavor and texture, and adjust accordingly. I had to blend mine several times before I got away from the grainy texture of the cashews, but I also don’t have the best blender.

 

I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long absence. A trip. A return.

I haven’t been present here recently for a few reasons: -I lost interest in food and ate a lot of frozen broccoli -I replaced breakfast and lunch with smoothies -I was working a lot, and burning myself out along the way.

But then, at the end of September, my husband and I took a ten-day trip through the pacific north west. We drove the California and Oregon coasts, the latter of which was the single-most beautiful experience we have shared. We’ve discovered that we are at our best spending most of every day together. We ate SO much food and we thrived. It was all such a restorative process of remembering how we want to live and who we are. We were also able to reconnect with a dear old friend, and make a few new ones.

I returned home to a part-time job, allowing myself the needed time to teach art at the hospital, play in the kitchen, and focus on self-care, cooking more in the last week than I had in the previous two months. I am reinspired.

Over the next week expect to see some recipes inspired by our travels, along with a falafel recipe with vegan tahini yogurt dressing.

It is good to be back.

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