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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A raw re-make: strawberry pretzel salad

I don’t remember how old I was when strawberry pretzel salad was introduced as a part of our thanksgiving menu. Not a dessert but a side, it was delicious, offering the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Ali and I, being the seat of our pants vegetarians that we were, turned this dish and mashed potatoes into our entrees. Seconds and thirds. Fourths even.

At some point I became aware of what I was eating, and my portions slimmed. And then last year, diagnosis and lifestyle change in hand, I ate strawberry-jello-two-cups-of-sugar-and-a-tub-of-cream-cheese “salad” no more.

This is a raw re-make of my previously beloved salad. Made with nuts (I know you’re surprised), and lightly sweetened with local honey and liquid stevia, this dessert is considerably more nutrient-dense (although probably similar in caloric content), and was inspired by the numerous raw cheesecake recipes out there (so many, so good).

 

Raw Strawberry “Pretzel” Squares

“Pretzel Crust” Layer Ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight
3-4 coconut date rolls (date logs rolled in unsweetened coconut)
or
1/4 cup medjool dates, soaked for two hours
1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
a good pinch of sea salt

“Cream Cheese” Layer Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
3 tbsp raw (local) honey
20 drops of liquid stevia (start with 10 and add to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp water (as necessary to reach smooth consistency)

Strawberry Layer Ingredients:

2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until the almonds are rough chopped, and everything is evenly incorporated.
  2. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ dish and set aside.
  3. In a vitamix or high speed blender, combine all ingredients for the cream layer. Blend on medium speed for several minutes, mixing/adding water as necessary, until smooth.
  4. Pour cream mixture on top of crust layer and spread evenly.
  5. Allow to set in the freezer for three hours.
  6. Blend thawed strawberries until pulp forms but some strawberry pieces remain. May be done in blender, food processor, or even with a fork.
  7. Spread strawberry layer on top, and chill for an additional three hours or overnight in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve firm, slightly frozen even.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Chard Tarts (a brief photo essay)

find the recipe for this delicious recipe here although I used the original crust recipe from Elana’s Pantry just adding in the rosemary. I prefer eggs over oil almost always.

spiced pumpkin creme recipe to follow. it needs just a touch of tweaking, but gracious I think it’s going to be my favorite warm dessert.

 

 

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!

 

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.

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.

Summer Sangria

***A Granny smith apple is also a fabulous fruit addition.

Thai Stir Fry, Mixed Greens with Peanut Dressing, and a Passion Fruit Smoothie

I love cooking lunch when I’m home. It makes up for the apple and peanut butter lunches I have so often when I am at the studio or out running errands. I love eating lunch at home too. It is a pause. I sit and eat quietly at the kitchen table by myself. Some days are easier to be still than others, but I am learning to make this quiet a priority.

Today was warm enough to even make a smoothie for dessert. During the summer I live on smoothies, and I am reluctant to put the blender away as the temperature drops. But with February staying in the sixty-degree range, and I still warm from my run and shower, I figured it was a good day to unhibernate the blender. Take that, groundhog.

My  new favorite way to saute vegetables or brown tofu is in coconut milk. I heat a saute pan over medium high heat and cover the bottom with coconut milk. As the milk heats it caramelizes a bit and adds a delicious flavor to whatever cooks in it. Or at least I think it is caramelizing. This is not quite my area of expertise. I just know it is delicious.

Now for the Recipes-

Thai Stir Fry (for one)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut milk (approx.)
1/2 shallot, diced
1 spoonful chopped lemongrass (from a jar or fresh)
1 tbsp. chili paste with basil leaves (CHECK FOR VINEGAR, I use the brand Maesri, which I get at my local int’l foods market)
1 handful bok choy
1 handful cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 handful baby corn (from a can)
cooked glass noodles (to taste, I used about 1/2 cup; CHECK FOR GLUTEN, I use the brand Assi, which is made from sweet potato starch and also found at my local int’l foods market)

Directions:

  1. Heat pan or wok over medium high heat. After a minute or two add coconut milk just to cover the bottom of the pan.
  2. After another minute throw in the shallots and lemongrass and mix with a wooden spatula for two minutes.
  3. Add the bok choy and mushrooms. Stir the vegetables until they are evenly coated with the thickening coconut milk.
  4. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring every minute.
  5. Add the baby corn, noodles, and chili paste. Add a little more coconut milk to coat the noodles.
  6. Cook until the coconut milk begins to brown the stir fry, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve immediately.

Mixed Greens with Peanut Dressing

Ingredients:
Large handful mixed greens
1 hardboiled egg, peeled and chopped (I only use about 1/2 the yolk)
Kara’s Peanut Dressing from the Gluten-Free Goddess Blog (Most recipes call for rice vinegar, but not this one! The only change I make is to use stevia in place of the agave)

Passion Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2-3 tbsp. coconut milk
1/2 banana
1 packet/1 tsp. stevia
1/3 cup frozen passion fruit pulp (also found at my local int’l foods market, are you sensing a trend yet?)
crushed ice (to desired thickness)

Directions:

  1. Place ingredients in blender and, well, blend.

ENJOY

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