Potluck Fair: Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I went to a potluck Sunday. I love meals shared, but potlucks have become a bit of a tricky business. Most of the trickiness revolves around the following two questions:

  1. Do you stalk down the creator of each dish and politely demand an ingredients list? Do you take a risk? There have been several potlucks where the only dish I have eaten is the one I have also made.
  2. Will my gluten-free dish (especially if it’s a baked one) be embraced or shunned? Gluten-free is often associated with texture differences, flavor differences, etc. Generally I’m not too worried about this one, honestly. If they don’t eat it, more for me!

But this particular group of potluckers is great. Probably close to 1/2 of us have food allergies, or are married to someone with food allergies, and so the conversation is open and enthusiastic. Things that dishes “lack” are broadcasted with pride. And no one minds offering an ingredient list.

And this bread, well it went over well with the whole crowd, gluten-free and not. Success!


Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I am trying to find a balance between nut butters/flours and coconut flour. Coconut flour on its own has a distinct texture that I don’t mind, but other people (husband included) seem to. Joshua’s reaction to this bread however, was to liken it to a poundcake in lightness and texture. Poor thing misses my pre-gluten-free poundcake.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup cooked sweet potato, flesh removed from the peel
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp liquid stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol free)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash clove and nutmeg
1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
coconut oil (for greasing)
1/2 cup cashew icing (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a single loaf pan
  2. In a food processor, combine the first four ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low, using a spatula to scrape the bottom and edges as necessary. The batter should be consistent, but not overworked.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the loaf is slightly firm to the touch (you could also use a toothpick).
  5. Allow to cool almost completely before icing.
  6. Dust with cinnamon and serve slightly warm.

To store, keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Warm gently before serving. If you are planning on reheating, I recommend not icing the whole loaf at once, but instead slice by slice.

Cashew Icing

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 8 hours and drained
2 tbsp
1-2 tbsp agave or 1/8 tsp liquid stevia (to taste)
a couple drops vanilla and lemon extract (alcohol free)
water

Directions:

Blend all ingredients except for the water at a medium high setting. Slowly add water until desired consistency is reached. Blend for several minutes until the mixture turns from grainy to creamy. Chill for at least two hours to allow to set.

ENJOY on this rainy little day of ours.

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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!

 

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?

Microwave {banana coconut} muffin

My new favorite evening snack is a microwave muffin. With coconut flour of course. Tonight I made a banana nut muffin with coconut flour, oil, and milk. Yum.

Ingredients
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 banana, mashed
1 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp almond milk
1 egg white
1 tsp baking stevia
1 1/2 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions
1. Select your favorite microwave-safe mug
2. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave in mug (50% power, ten seconds at a time)
3. Mix the wet ingredients, banana, and stevia in with the oil
4. Thoroughly combine the flour and baking powder with the wet ingredients, breaking up any clumps of flour
5. Microwave batter for 1:33. Check and add time if necessary

Simple nourishing and delicious.

Pineapple Protein Popsicles

I love the sweet combination of fresh fruit with yogurt, and the warm weather these last couple of weeks has left me craving all things summer. So you won’t judge me too harshly for buying that pineapple on sale at the market that was just ripe. Sometimes seasonal loses. And that’s okay. All things in moderation. Unless you’re highly allergic to that thing. And then moderation factors out of the equation.

Thank God I am not allergic to pineapple.

Every morning I put my breakfast protein shake in the freezer for thirty minutes or so before consumption. I make it at the same time as my chai tea, and then the freezer improves the shake while the tea improves my ability to socially interact. This daily act became the inspiration for this recipe. That and a craving for a creamsicle.

Pineapple Protein Popsicles (makes 5 popsicles)

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened soy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup orange juice (or pineapple juice)
2/3 scoop pea protein (unsweetened)
2-3 packets stevia

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender. Blend on low for 15-20 seconds. You want the ingredients to be integrated without completely breaking down the pineapple.
  2. Pour mix into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze and enjoy.
Of course, if you’re like me, you don’t always have the patience to wait for something to freeze. I poured my fifth popsicle over crushed ice and consumed immediately. Perfect afternoon snack.

Two Juices {Grapefruit Ginger Green & Apple Carrot Collard Kale}

8:44 am- I need tea before I begin this post. I will return.

9:01 am- All is well with the world.

I’m not sure what happened. Since about September I have had very few problems with food, but the week before last things got rocky again. My energy dropped, my complexion changed, and my stomach killed. So this past week I’ve simplified my diet a lot with the hopes that my body will realize that food is friend and not enemy. That my existence is friend and not enemy. It seems to be helping.

I have subsisted on plenty of water, Vega protein shakes with extra pea protein mixed in, juices, and lots of fruits and vegetables. And one legged yoga. And lots of sunshine.

I’ve had a juicer for several years, but shied away from green juices until fairly recently. Now my favorite greens to juice are collard greens and kale. I combine these with sweeter vegetables or fruits, and almost always a piece of ginger. I love ginger for it’s anti-inflammatory properties as well as for its taste.

Two rabbit trails about juicing. The first is that I’ve finally been able to get a slow start on our garden. Slow due to this fracture boot and the pair of metatarsal fractures held within. But a slow start is better than no start, and I am loving the excuse to be outside. I’ve started composting some of my juice pulp (while trying to come up with recipes that use the rest of it), and I am excited to use our own soil-enriching compost this summer.

The second is that I will be supervising the coffee/juice bar at Whole Foods Market when it opens here in Greensboro in a few weeks time. I, as you have discovered if you have brought up Whole Foods within my earshot over the past seven years, am a Whole Foods Market enthusiast. Not just for the quality products they offer, and how much easier they make it to have food allergies, but also for the integrity with which the company is run, and the way in which they treat their employees. But the juice. I was informed on Wednesday that we will have four vitamix blenders at the juice bar for making every sort of green organic nourishing smoothie. I cannot tell you how I have missed my childhood vitamix. Smoothie love. Raw love. The recipes I’ll be able to post here soon. It all just makes me so damn happy.

I have two juice recipes for you this week. One is new and one is my go-to juice. One is spicy and one is sweet. Both are delicious, in my humble opinion. Let me know which you prefer, and what your favorite juice recipe is as well!


Grapefruit Ginger Green Juice

This juice has quite a bite to it thanks to the combination of the grapefruit and the ginger.
Juice in the order listed.

Ingredients:
1 large handful fresh kale
1 small d’anjou pear
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1/2 red grapefruit, rind/peel and all

Apple Carrot Collard Kale Juice

This is my staple morning juice. You can adjust the sweetness and the amount of juice you get by playing with the ratio and amount of apples and carrots used.

Ingredients:
1 large handful fresh kale
1 large handful fresh collard greens (try to get stalks without jumbo-sized leaves)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (optional)
1 small golden delicious apple
2 medium carrots

Drink it outside. It will taste better.

Carrot Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

What is your relationship with stevia? In my baking and sweetening, stevia and I have gone steady. It is a bit romantic, I won’t lie. This little herb provides sweetness without the calories or the crash, and I swear my unending devotion.

It’s not a perfect relationship.

My husband really cannot get past the bit of bitter in stevia. And as with every other sugar replacement, I am sure I will awaken one day to discover stevia is as safe and natural as sweet ‘n’ low. For now, we keep dancing, and I make separate desserts for Joshua.

I don’t pretend I don’t notice the bite that stevia sometimes delivers, it is especially prevalent in the cream cheese frosting I made today. You could use agave nectar or another low glycemic sugar substitute in it’s place, but I honestly don’t mind the taste. I don’t feel it overpowers the other flavors, and I swear the muffins are all the better for it.

Enough of my defense.

This afternoon I baked up a batch of light and nourishing carrot muffins. I like my muffins to be slightly sweet, and not too cake-like. The textures of coarse grains draw me in, and I almost always include a vegetable in my baked goods. Sometimes four. My major beef with many gluten-free mixes and pre-baked goods is the overwhelming ratio of starch to any other ingredient. No thanks.

These pair perfectly with a cup of coconut black tea.

Carrot Muffins (makes 12 medium muffins)

Ingredients:
3 large free-range eggs
3/4 cup cup-for-cup stevia
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or apple juice (if you like sweeter muffins)
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup mighty hot cereal (Bob’s red mill)
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder (GF)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup ground coconut (grind unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor for 2-3 minutes)
1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots (can be chopped in a food processor)
1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly beat in the stevia, and the following ingredients.
  3. Set beaters to a lower setting, and add the flours, leavening, salt, and coconut.
  4. With a wooden spoon, fold in the carrots and raisins.
  5. Spoon batter into non-stick muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
  7. Cool completely before frosting.


Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
6 oz. vegan cream cheese (CHECK FOR YEAST)
2 tbsp. vegan spread (I used smart balance light)
3/4 cup cup-for-cup stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp coconut milk (or addt’l tbsp almond milk)

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and vegan spread.
  2. Slowly beat in remaining ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

 

The carrot muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that store in the refrigerator. I recommend storing the frosting and muffins separately, and frosting just before serving.

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