Do you remember what it felt like when you were young, when it seemed everyone else had something you didn’t (but you wished you did)? As a gradeschooler, I watched from the sidelines as my friends zoomed around the neighborhood on their new banana-seat bicycles (my parents told me they couldn’t afford one). Then at age 14, I attended my first “social” (what boy-and-girl parties were called back then) and watched from the sidelines as my friends all spent the evening necking with boys (does anyone still say “necking” any more?!); I was perched on a folding chair shoving potato chips into my mouth and guzzling Diet Coke next to MS, the only other dateless girl in the group.
So, when I started the ACD back in 2009 and I had to watch from the sidelines at Christmas time as all my friends sipped wine and champagne, nibbled on pâtés and cheeses/cheezes, consumed obscene amounts of chocolate and sugar. . . well, it felt uncomfortably familiar, I’m afraid.
For you, dear readers, I wanted something better this holiday season. I’ve heard from several of you who’ve just recently embarked on the ACD yourselves, and I remember all too well how despondent one can feel when one wants goodies. . . but there just aren’t any appropriate goodies to be had (ie, without sugar, gluten, dairy, yeast, molds, alcohol. . . et cetera).
Well, here you are. I’ve brought some goodies for you.
And yes, the recipe is suitable, even if you’ve just started the diet and you’re barely into Stage One.*
These cookies are an adaptation of the Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies I saw (via Wellness Weekend last week) on The Taste Space, which were an adaptation of Sarah’s cookies on My New Roots. Now, those other cookies, it is true, contained cocoa powder. And cocoa powder in cookies translates to “CHOCOLATE! IN COOKIES!”–something I never turn down if given the opportunity. However, neither cocoa nor maple syrup are permitted in the first stage of the ACD; so I made some substitutions.
I’ve decided that my mission in 2012 will be to convince carob naysayers that the sepia pod is appealing and delicious in its own right, not merely a second-rate chocolate substitute. Sure, chocolate is my first love, my highschool sweetheart**, if you will; it’s like the guy that sets your heart fluttering whenever you see him, even years later, even after the romance fizzled and you’ve been divorced for decades, the intervening years traced like fine tributaries across your face. Carob, on the other hand, is a more solid, more placid lover; the one you meet in your 40s at the bridge club, the one you call “friend” before “lover,” the one that is consistent and reliable and steadfast. Fewer sparks, perhaps, but a connection that goes deeper, brings out the best in you, is more permanent. That’s the way I love my carob right about now.
I played a bit with the original recipe, adding almond butter to compensate for the lower fat content in the carob. These are not fudgy cookies, but still dense and soft; you’ll find them lovely, moist and almost cake-like. If you’re not a fan of coconut, you can add homemade dried cranberries for a contrast in color and added chewiness. If you happen to be following later stages of the diet, feel free to sub some/all of the liquid sweeteners with agave or coconut nectar, or use goji berries or other dried berries (sugarfree, of course) as your fruit of choice.
These little gems really do feel like a treat–something I think we all deserve about now!
*Please note that there are many versions of the anti-candida diet in existence, and yours may advocate something different. This recipe is suitable for the first stage of the diet I followed; please be sure to check with your healthcare provider to ensure that the recipe is compatible with your diet!
**Considering how early on I was addicted to chocolate, it really should be more like, “my kindergarten sweetheart.” But I couldn’t say that because, well, it just sounds creepy.
Mexican Spiced Black Bean Carob-Cranberry (or Goji Berry) Cookies (adapted from The Taste Space)
Suitable for ACD, all stages (yay!)
A little bit cakey, a little bit chewy, these cookies are a satisfying sweet. Don’t expect to confuse them with chocolate–they have a caroby taste all their own, which works extremely well with the spice mixture and sweet berries.
1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) black beans, rinsed very well and well drained (see Note 1 below)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
Place beans, coconut oil, almond butter an carob powder in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Add remaining ingredients except for chips and cranberries and process again, scraping down sides if necessary (it will have the consistency of a muffin batter, soft but able to hold a shape if scooped). Remove the processor blade and stir in the chips and berries by hand.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) between them. Use the back of a spoon or a silicone spatula to spread the cookies out and flatten them to about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick (they will not really spread during baking).
Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through, until cookies are dry on top and browned on the edges and bottoms. Allow to cool completely before eating. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Makes 22-25 cookies. May be frozen.
Note 1: You can certainly use dried beans that you soak overnight and then cook yourself; use about 1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked beans. In this case, however, you must be sure to cook the beans extremely well–almost overcooked–or they won’t blend as easily as the canned ones do.
Note 2: If you like the taste of yacon syrup, you can use a full 1/3 cup (80 ml) of yacon instead of adding the glycerin. Alternately, if you are at a later stage of the ACD or not on it at all, feel free to use a full 1/3 cup (80 ml) of coconut nectar or agave nectar.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? When she was a puppy, I would have sworn that Elsie had no vocal chords. She never made a peep until she was about six months old. No barking, no whining, no howling, no growling–nothing. (In retrospect, I’m guessing that her inauspicious beginnings, raised as a stray in a shelter cage with at least 20 other bigger and more aggressive pups, taught her to be quiet in the same way that babies become silent if they’re never picked up or soothed when they cry. I know: heartbreaking. Excuse me for a sec, I just need to grab this tissue. . . .).
Even once she learned to bark, Elsie remained an exceptionally quiet dog–that is, until Chaser entered the picture. The complete antithesis of Elsie in every way, Chaser came into the world wailing, and pretty much hasn’t stopped since.
Chaser barks at car headlights as they flit by on the street outside our house; she bays at other dogs being walked by their owners, even if we happen to be driving in the car when she spies them; she howls when she wants me to throw her ball; she yaps when she’s hungry; she growls at the fly that’s buzzing in the windowpane. Whining comes in a close second: she whines when she needs to go “do her business” outside; she whimpers when I don’t respond to the request to throw her ball; she shrieks when she sees a squirrel at the end of the street. And in recent months, Elsie has begun to imitate her vociferous sister.
These days, it’s a fairly noisy trek to the local trail where The Girls enjoy their best romps. I’m treated to Canine Cacophony–in stereo–as we make our way to the parking lot just beside the field. And while I’m glad to see my Girls so excited, I think I’d rather preserve my hearing into old age, thank you very much. So here’s what I do: just as my friends are wont to do with their young children, I distract the Girls into silence with a question. As soon as Chaser launches into her trademark keening, I glance to my left and remark, “Oh, Chaser, is that a bird I see over there?” [silence.]. Then I just keep talking, pointing out various landmarks, until we arrive at our destination. Works every time!
This little sleight-of-focus came in quite handy last weekend with the HH (because, let’s face it, underneath it all, he’s really just a big kid). I was jonesing for pancakes, but didn’t want to repeat any of the recipes I’d already made before (I’m a food blogger, after all). In recent weeks, I’ve also decided to reduce the amount of grains I eat in a day in an attempt to stave off even more unwanted poundage that seems to be mysteriously accumulating on my belly and hips. (Please note: I am not among the crowd who believes that white potatoes are the edible spawn of Satan, even though I do eat grain-free a good deal of the time. Potatoes don’t seem to elicit the same frenetic, “gotta-have-it-now” reaction from me that other white stuff does–to wit, white flour, white sugar, white rice, white wedding dresses during my twenties. . . so glad I’ve put all of those behind me now).
After being so enamored of Ashley’s Carob and Buckwheat Breakfast Bake recently, I decided to combine those two flavors once more, this time in a pancake recipe of my own. Once the cakes were ready, I noticed the HH eyeing the platter with some suspicion.
“So, what are those made of?” he asked.
Should I tell him, and have him refuse to even try them? Should I lie? Ultimately, I decided to go for the same “redirection-of-attention” technique that worked so well with the dogs:
Ricki: Um, they’ve got carob. And almonds. Oh, and carob chips.
HH: That’s it? But what kind of flour do they have?
Ricki [stalling]: Um. . . . I’d rather not tell you.
The HH grimaces, staring wryly with eyebrows raised.
Ricki: I told you, I’m not happy with my weight these days. So I have to eat grain-free.
HH: Which part is grain-free?
Ricki: [almost inaudible] Buckwheat. . .
HH:But I hate buckwheat!!! [pause]. You mean buckwheat’s not a grain?
Ricki [seizing the opportunity]: No, it’s a seed. [Glancing toward the stovetop]: Oh, sweetheart, are those potatoes getting too browned? Would would you mind giving them a stir?
HH[stirring]: No, they seem fine. They look good. Mmmmm, I love homefries. . .
See how easy?
These pancakes combine the beauty of buckwheat flour (ie, technically not a grain) with unsweetened carob chips and optional chopped almonds for textural interest. They offer up a light, moist (but not wet) and subtly flavored result with an alluring, yet somehow mysterious, blend of buckwheat and carob, the latter neutralizing the brashness of the former. I loved these with some of my recent plumberry jam dolloped on top. For those of you who can tolerate it, maple syrup would produce a spectacular flavor combination here, and I can attest (having watched the HH wolf down 3 of these ‘cakes), they won’t become saturated and then disintegrate the way many gluten free baked goods do when moistened. And no xanthan!
In the end, the HH loved these. At first, he guessed that they contained chocolate, then decided they didn’t. At the end of our brunch, he pronounced this recipe ”at the top of the list” and remarked, “It’s not often that you find a new flavor that works this well.” Just exactly what “that flavor” was, however, he’d forgotten by the time we sat down to eat our meal. And that, my friends, is the beauty of distraction.
Although the ingredient list appears long, these pancakes actually come together very quickly. The only real “work” aside from measuring is to chop up the almonds if you toast them yourself (and slivered would work well, too). If the batter seems too thin at first, don’t worry; just cook the cakes thoroughly and they’ll rise high and won’t remain wet in the middle.
enough unsweetened plain or vanilla almond, soy, hemp or coconut milk (the kind in a carton) to equal 1-2/3 cups (400 ml) with the vinegar (see directions)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other mildly-flavored oil, preferably organic (I used macadamia)
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
10-20 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, carob powder, baking powder, soda and salt. Add the ground flax, ground chia, almonds and carob chips and whisk to combine.
Place the apple cider vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add milk to reach 1-2/3 cups (400 ml). Add the oil, vanilla and stevia to the cup and whisk briefly to combine. Begin to heat a nonstick frypan over medium heat.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend; do not overmix.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop batter and pour it in the pan; spread out slightly if necessary to create a circle shape. Allow to cook until the pancakes are totally dry on the edges and begin to puff in the middle, 4-6 minutes. Flip and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes, until light golden. Keep pancakes warm as you continue to use all the batter in this manner. Makes 9-10 medium pancakes. May be frozen.
*Note: I also tried these with light buckwheat flour for a milder flavor, but I know that it can be difficult to find light buckwheat in some areas. They’re still great with regular buckwheat as well, though the buckwheat flavor is a bit more prominent. If you use light buckwheat, reduce the flour to just one cup (150 g).
“Hey, Elsie, is that a bird I see over there? Better drop that ball. . . “
“Good try, kid. Unless you can get me one of those pancakes Mum made, this ball is mine.”
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
Before I get to this week’s wonderful Giveaway Gone Wild, it’s time to announce the winner from last week’s giveaway of a beautiful handcrafted Strawesome glass straw!
Number 69, Laurel Alanna McBrine! Here’s Laurel’s comment:
And, I like you on Facebook – think I have done it all now, looking forward to sipping my smoothie Thanks, fun promotion.
Congratulations, Laurel! Looks like you’ll be sipping that smoothie from a glass straw after all. Please contact me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom this week to claim your prize. If I don’t hear from you within a week, I’ll choose another winner.
And now, on to this week’s giveaway–one you’ll all want to enter! (for full details, see the end of this post).
I know that many of you are already fans of Amy, the blogger behind the wildly popular Simply Sugar and Gluten Free (which recently got a facelift–check out the new look!). A few months ago, Amy published her first cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, and her publisher kindly sent me a copy for review.
For someone like me (on an anti-candida diet), the combination of sugar-free and gluten-free was incrediby enticing. Unlike many other gluten-free cookbooks, this one already fit my “no-sugar” requirement! I couldn’t wait to see the book.
The cookbook is filled with recipes and lots of useful information written in Amy’s clean, approachable style. She begins with a personal story explaining why she eats sugar- and gluten-free. The book wraps up with a comprehensive chapter called “The Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free Kitchen Guide,” in which she offers tips on flour blends, kitchen essentials (all the products you’ll need to reproduce the recipes), and even a list of her favorite kitchen tools. The chapter is also peppered with tip boxes containing info on how to succeed at GF baking, conversions, kitchen organization, and more. The book is capped off with a list of resources, including books, blogs, and where to purchase products.
The book’s full title is Simply Sugar and Gluten Free; 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, and given how time-strapped so many of us are these days, this is a very appealing promise. I decided to dig in.
Before I talk about what I cooked up, however, I should mention that the book is not a vegan cookbook–though it does contain some vegan recipes or options. Obviously, I didn’t try out any of the dishes with meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. Having said that, though, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the recipes I could easily adapt. Occasionally, Amy offers vegan variations, and even when she didn’t, I had no trouble finding many recipes to try. And so, on to those I sampled!
First up, I made some very quick and simple Carob Nut Cups. Resembling peanut butter cups without the peanut butter filling (or the chocolate!), these snacks were dense, caroby treats that provided a great afternoon pick-me-up. Made with unsweetened carob chips, they were just sweet enough; I added a bit of stevia for a slightly sweeter version. I really enjoyed these (since I am, as you know, a fan of carob), as did the HH (who is not always a fan of carob).
Next, I turned to the Apple Carrot Breakfast Cake, which I baked up as muffins. For several years now, I’ve been sending the HH off to work in the morning with a homemade muffin (since, when I don’t, he opts for the far less healthy–and more hydrogenated–Tim Horton’s variety). These were quick and easy to put together, moist and sweet without any added oil or sweetener at all. And I had no problem substituting flax ”eggs” for the original recipe’s eggs. The original recipe called for a whipped topping, but I found these didn’t even need it. And the HH enjoyed many days of healthy breakfasts courtesy of Amy!
Another dessert I couldn’t resist were the Carob Chip Cookies. Believe it or not, the finished product was actually a bit too sweet for my current ACD-accustomed taste buds (they contain a cup of coconut sugar); this was also another recipe very easily adapted to a vegan version, and the HH raved about them. “These taste just like real cookies!” he enthused as he grabbed a second (and later, a third) cookie. (I chose not to ask what that compliment would imply about my cookies). As Amy tells us in the preamble to the recipe, “No one ever mentions that they don’t taste the chocolate, and the plate is always empty in no time” when she serves these to friends. I can believe it.
Finally, I couldn’t resist making the Black Bean Soup (a simple switch from chicken to vegetable stock rendered the recipe 100% vegan). The final product wasn’t exactly photogenic (it looked kind of like those kids’ watercolor paintings in which they mix all the colors together. . . swampy and mudlike), but boy-oh-boy, did it taste fantastic! The HH raved over this one, too. And the soup was incredibly simple to make (though I should point out that it’s one of the few recipes in the book that’s not actually ready “in 20 minutes or less”–you have to soak the beans overnight, then simmer for 1-1/2 hours; you could, however, cut the prep time by using canned beans). We cleaned up the entire pot in two days–it was that good.
If you’re looking for a general-purpose cookbook that covers a variety of courses from appetizer to dessert, all in easy-to-follow recipes that work as promised, this book would make a perfect addition to your kitchen. From the basics like Herbed White Bean Dip and Simple Sautéd Swiss Chard to more exotic combinations like Olive Oil-Zucchini Muffins, Blueberry Quinoa Crumble Bars or Chocolate Teff Cake, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy.
Amy’s publisher has granted permission for me to reprint a recipe–I hope you’ll enjoy these quick and easy Carob Nut Cups!
1 cup unsweetened carob chips (I used vegan chips)
2 tsp non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp roasted salted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for topping
Line 10 cups in a mini-muffin pan with mini-cupcake papers.
Place the carob chips and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan. Bring 1 inch of water to a gentle simmer in the saucepan. Place the bowl on top of the pan and turn off the heat. Let the carob and coconut oil sit for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, place the sunflower seeds in the bowl of a mini food chopper fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the seeds are chopped. Add the measured coconut and poulse several more times until combined.
Stir the carob and coconut oil until melted. Add the sunfloer and coconut mixutre to the carob and stir until combined. The mixture will be thick. Using two small spoons, evenly distribute the carob mixture among the cupcake papers, being careful to keep the tops of the papers clean. Tap the muffin tin several times on the countertop to level the melted carob. Sprinkle the tops with the extra coconut and press lightly into the carob. Let sit at room temperature until firm, or refrigerate to speed up the process. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Let the nut cups sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 10 coconutty snacks.
NOTE: I added 10-15 drops vanilla stevia to the melted chips/coconut oil before stirring in the remaining ingredients.
TIME FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
I’m delighted to report that the kind folks at Ulysses Press have offered to provide a copy of the book for one of you!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like the book.
As always, you may acquire additional entries by doing any (or all) of the following:
Subscribe to Amy’s blog, “like” her on Facebook, or follow her on twitter (then come back and leave a separate comment for each one);
Subscribe to this blog, “like” the DDD page on Facebook, or follow me on twitter (then come back and leave a separate comment for each);
Go to the Ulysses Press cookbook page and browse through their other cookbooks (then come back and mention one you found interesting).
The contest will remain open for a week (until midnight on Sunday, June 26th), at which time I’ll randomly choose a winner. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (with apologies to my international readers!).
Good luck, everyone!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
Unlike many people, I’ve never really thought of carob as a replacement for chocolate (even though I did end up creating a “faux chocolate” recipe with it when I first started the ACD).
In general, I think it’s better to remain 100% of what one really is than be 75% of something or someone else. The last time I tried to imitate another person’s style was back in high school, when I donned embroidered Lee overalls, grew my hair long and painted a little flower on my cheek so I could be more like my then-idol, The Nurse. I ended up catching my hair in the overall’s buckles and losing a fairly large chunk of it. I was decidedly not a happy little hippie.
[A batch made with unsweetened carob chips added.]
Similarly, there are certain foods that are frequently considered inferior versions of something else. For years, margarine was the poor relation of butter (of course, after that it went through the very popular “cholesterol-free-even-though-hydrogenated-but-we-don’t-know-that-it’s-bad-for-you-yet-so-let’s-all-eat-margarine” phase, before it evolved to the “margarine-is-the-devil-real-butter-is-better-than-trans-fat-full-spreads” and finally “let’s-make-trans-fat-free-margarine-but-it’s-still-a-chemical-so-let’s-continue-to-eat-real-fats-once-again” phase). Or how about the debate over whether tofu can be used to impersonate meat in vegan dishes? And years ago, when I decided to enjoy Segura Viudas as a favorite Cava, I was informed rather undiplomatically by one acquaintance that “it’s not real champagne, you know.” (I did know. I loved it anyway.).
This recipe was inspired by one I found in a very old cookbook of mine, called The Alternative Chocolate Cookbook (see, even culinary professionals view carob as a chocolate pretender). I’ve completely revamped the recipe so it’s gluten free, sugar free and vegan–in fact, the only thing I didn’t change was the spotlight on carob–to create a light, crisp cookie with just a hint of chewiness inside, very much like a sugar cookie. A whisper of cinnamon helps to emphasize carob’s natural sweetness, with just enough coconut sugar and stevia to make this sweet enough to qualify as “cookie.”
If you’ve been thinking of carob as a lesser form of chocolate, now’s the time to appreciate this lovely, slightly fruity, barely sweet legume for its own merits. Sort of the way moms appreciate their children.
Light and not too sweet, these cookies are perfect for an afternoon snack with tea or as the base for sandwich cookies. Made without the chips, they’d be great crumbled for a tart or pie crust.
1/4 cup (40 g) lightly packed coconut sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
20-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, melted (I used refined so there would be no coconut flavor, but these would still be great with a hint of coconut)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) carob powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened carob chips, optional
3.2 ounces (90 g) all-purpose GF flour mix (2/3-1 cup, depending on the mix–I used Amy’s Basic GF Flour Blend, which equaled 2/3 cup; other flours will yield different volumes for the same weight)
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, vanilla and stevia so that the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the coconut oil and whisk vigorously to combine, or beat with electric beaters (it’s okay if the mixture appears curdled). Mix in the flax seeds.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, carob powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir to create a slightly sticky dough. If using the carob chips, add them now. Create a roll about 8 inches (20.5 cm) long, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (If you’re in a rush, you can freeze the log for about 15 minutes, until firm, then proceed).
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick and place about an inch (2.5 cm) apart on the cookie sheet. If the dough cracks or if the cookies are squished when cutting, press with your fingers to re-shape into circles.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until cookies are slightly puffed and lightly browned on the bottom. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12-16 cookies. May be frozen.
Welcome to another month and another round of the SOS Kitchen Challenge! After posting April’s roundup, Kim and I realized that the SOS Kitchen Challenge is now a year old. Our first challenge in April 2010 featured the beet, and we’ve been on a roll ever since. Many thanks to all of YOU for continuing to support the Challenge with your recipes and ideas!
To celebrate our one year “birthday,” we’ve decided to pick one of our favorite ingredients and feature giveaways for two lucky readers! This month we are featuring…
Carob, also known as St. John’s Bread, has been used for over 5000 years. The word “carob” is derived from the Arabic Kharrub or Kharoub, which means pod or bean pod. This ancient food has a long and interesting history, feeding Mohammed’s armies and (according to the Bible) sustaining St. John the Baptist in the wilderness (Mark 1:16). Carob was referred to as the “Egyption fig” or “Egyption date” by the Romans, who at the unripened pods as a sweet treat. The ancient Egyptians used carob to make the adhesive used in mummification, and carob has been found in Egyptian tombs. And more recently, thousands of Spaniards relied on the nutrition from the carob pod during the Spanish Civiil War and World Wars I and II. Fascinating!
Carob is harvested from the carob bean tree. Depending on the age of the tree, carob bean trees yield between 100 and 250 pounds of beans per year. Over the course of the growing season, glossy flat green bean pods develop. As they mature, the pods turn dark brown and become very firm. Each pod grows up to 12 inches in length and can contain as many as 15 carob seeds. Seeds are harvested and used for human consumption while the pods are often used as animal feed.
As a food, carob is remarkably versatile. Carob powder, available both raw and toasted, is a wonderful 1:1 substitute for cocoa powder in any recipe. Carob is also used to make carob chips, which can be substituted for chocolate chips. The rich brown color is similar to that of cocoa powder, and naturally sweet flavor reduces the need for other sweeteners in recipes, making it great for low-sugar or sugar-free diets (such as the ACD!). But unlike cocoa, carob is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, so it a great choice for individuals who are sensitive to, or wish to avoid, those things.
Roasted carob seeds have a rich flavor, and can be used as a substitute for coffee or black tea. Whole pods are eaten in Egypt as a snack and crushed pods are used to make a refreshing drink (I actually used to snack on the pods when I first began the ACD about ten years ago. . . slightly warmed, they become soft and chewy, very date-like). In addition to using the pod whole or ground, it can be used for a variety of other purposes. Throughout the Mediterranean, carob is used to make liqueurs and syrups for both culinary and medicinal purposes (carob syrup can be found at Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or speciality markets). The commonly-used thickener locust bean gum–often found in many processed foods–is derived from carob.
In addition to being delicious, carob is actually quite health promoting. As mentioned earlier, it is free of caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, perfect for anyone intolerant to caffeine or on a low oxalic diet. It is high in fiber and contains a respectable amount of calcium, potassium, riboflavin, copper, potassium, and omega-6 fatty acids. It can be used as a treatment for diarrhea, and is particularly effective in infants and children.
How To Participate (And Enter To Win!)
Kim and I are offering great prizes this month to two lucky readers as a way to celebrate our one year anniversary. By submitting a recipe to this month’s SOS Challenge, you are automatically eligible to win! (Please remember that recipes must be vegan or provide reliable vegan substitutes, cannot use refined sugars, and must utilize whole ingredients–no box mixes). For full Challenge guidelines, please see this post. If your entry does not comply with our rules, we will be obliged to remove it–so please read the rules!
Entries must be recieved by 11:59 pm CST on May 31, 2011.
Our prizes this month:
A 1-pint jar of Harrison’s Sugar Bush Maple Syrup, harvested by Kim’s family in Fence, Wisconsin. This syrup is made in small batches and is only available through them–it is not sold in stores. So, lucky you!
At the end of the month, Kim and I will choose the two winners at random from the entries, and will announce the winners on our blogs Wednesday June 1, 2011. Be sure to come back here and check if you won at the beginning of next month!
We’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and incredible creativity you’ve all shown over the past Challenges. So put those carob-filled thinking caps on, and start cooking!
Here are some carob-based recipes on the blog to inspire you:
[Whipped "buttercream" variation. Go ahead. . . lick the beaters.]
When we were kids, my sisters and I used to crowd round my mother every time she baked something (coffee cake, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, or her legendary chiffon cake) just so we could vie for who’d get to lick the beaters, or bowl, or spoon (this was before the days of, “eggs carry salmonella” and “never share a spoon with your sister” and “kids aren’t allowed near the electric beaters,” of course).
At those times when she also frosted the cake–if she were making a layer cake for guests, say, or a custom cake for one of our birthdays–the competition turned a little more fierce. Frosting-laden beaters or icing from the bowl were the real prizes. And when it was finally my birthday and I got to choose whichever piece of cake I wanted, I always selected the corner slice, since it contained the largest percentage of icing roses (because, really, that was the real reason I was eating the cake in the first place).
Around the time we began to bake our own cakes (when I was about seven or eight), the CFO and I quickly figured out that it wasn’t necessary to mix up a batter, bake it, cool it and frost it just so that we could get our icing fix; we started mixing up icing on its own, in soup bowls (my mother, who was at work and never got home before dinnertime, had no idea about our little habit, of course).
Even throughout my twenties and thirties when I had my own apartment in the city, I continued to feed my habit and would get my frosting fix on a regular basis. Ironically, at that time, I appeared outwardly healthy and slim, yet unknowingly feeding the latent spores in my system (doesn’t that sound incredibly sci-fi? Ooooh, creepy!). How could I have known that I was actually nurturing candida through my addiction?
When I first made today’s recipe, I was at first reminded of the frosting of my youth. True, feasting on frosting may not compare with shooting heroin, or snorting cocaine, or gambling compulsively, but it is an addiction nonetheless. I had completely forgotten about the old habit, burning it from my memory the way Bette Davis burns off her fingerprints so she can impersonate her twin sister in Dead Ringer. Around a dozen years ago, I had stopped cold turkey (cold ganache?) when the candida made itself known through a cluster of severe, chronic symptoms that all appeared within a few weeks of each other.
Totally unlike the icing of my youth, however, today’s recipe (a) has no refined sugar; (b) is low on the glycemic index; (c) contains a vegetable, for goodness’ sake!; and (d) is anti-candida friendly (if you’re in the later stages of the diet, as I am now). And guess what? Even though I assumed I’d want to eat it all, I discovered–miraculously–that this frosting doesn’t trigger the desire to consume the entire bowlful, even if I indulge my inner child and lick the beaters. It’s so full of nutrient density that I wasn’t able to eat more than a couple spoonfuls (no, seriously).
I spread some of this “buttercream” on the grain-free mini cupcakes from Kelly’s Divine Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe (have you entered the giveaway yet to win her book??) and later used it as the filling in my own Chocolate Whoopie Pies–my very first whoopee pie, ever! The HH sampled a whoopee pie and declared, “These taste just like regular baked goods.” Whoo hoo!
It feels great to know that I’ve kicked the frosting habit–well, even though I may have started a new frosting habit. This time, it’s a habit I’m happy to share.
This frosting can be used as soon as it’s mixed at room temperature as a dark, fudgy chocolate frosting that can be piped and will hold its shape. For a lighter frosting, refrigerate until firm and then whip into a “buttercream”. Either way, no one will believe what is–and isn’t–in this!
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (150 ml) sweet potato purée (I always use homemade for this, so can’t vouch for the canned variety. I bake rather than boil my potatoes to bring out the natural sweetness as much as possible, then cool, peel and purée).
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut sugar
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (I use NuNaturals)
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) carob powder**
2.5 ounces (65 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate (I use Cocoa Camino)
1/4 cup (60 ml) smooth natural cashew butter or sesame tahini (for nut-free)***
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
Place sweet potato, coconut sugar, stevia, vanilla and salt in food processor and process to blend. Add the carob powder and process until combined. Set aside.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, place the chocolate, cashew butter and coconut oil over low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate melts; remove from heat. Turn the mixture into the food processor and blend everything until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as necessary.
Note: if the coconut oil begins to separate (the mixture will appear oily and a bit curdled), OR if you find that the mixture is too thick, add one tablespoon more of the sweet potato purée at a time and blend again; it should come together in a silky, spreadable frosting.
May be used immediately as a fudgy frosting; or else refrigerate until firm, then beat with electric beaters until fluffy and lighter in color for a “buttercream” frosting.
Makes about one cup (240 ml), enough for one layer or 12 mini cupcakes. Avoid the urge to eat most of it straight from the spoon. May be frozen; defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and beat with electric beaters before using. Great in these Whoopee Pies!
**I use carob powder because it adds a bit of sweetness that allows me to use less stevia. However, if you can use sweeteners, feel free to substitute cocoa instead of carob and add a bit more coconut sugar or some agave nectar to taste.
*** I’ve made this both with cashew butter and tahini (and one batch with cashini–a mix of the two) and I don’t taste the sesame in the finished product. Chocolate is great that way!
Yes, all you Frosty-philes, I know all the ways I am supposed to “learn” to enjoy winter. I own top-notch, thinsulate-lined boots and long underwear. I wear Arctic-approved gloves and earmuffs. I wrap my scarf around my face in a manner reminiscent of a Brendan Fraser movie villain. I have tried skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (forget about downhill–I can barely stay upright on the snowshoes). I drink cocoa, eat soup, wear sweaters, use flannel and snuggle with my HH throughout the season. I will always appreciate summer (with all of my heart) and don’t need no stinkin’ winter to provide contrast, thank you very much. And Canadian? Shmamadian! I must have missed the “I love winter” genes.
In fact, the only teeny, tiny, miniscule bit of positive I can find in the Dreaded Season of Ice and Snow is that it looks pretty. For about 48 seconds.
And after that, it sucks.
So, suffice it to say that
I despise the cold, I dread the slush, I abhor the ice, I shun the snow, I resent having to scrape the rime off my car windows, I can’t stand that it takes longer to get dressed for a dog walk than it does for the actual dog walk, I loathe being chilly even indoors, I curse that my glasses fog up, I begrudge having to wear a hat and the resulting hat-head, I detest that I have to watch where I walk or risk slipping and breaking a hip.
And I really, really, do not like it.
Hate or not, however, I live in Toronto, which has cold, snowy winters. Except for the saving grace of The Girls romping and gamboling in the snow whenever we get to the trail for a walk, I’d probably just stay inside for four months. If there is a visual expression of the word, “elation,” Chaser and Elsie, playing in the snow, is it.
“Thanks, Mum! We really have fun over there. And we appreciate that you take us every day even though you hate it. But you really should get down on the ground and wrestle with us. I bet you would enjoy winter much more that way.”
[It's rich and smooth, but coconut is not the most prominent flavor.]
Luckily, around Christmas time (one of the other few bright spots in the season), I discovered Peppermint Bark from Heather (of the legendary Heather Eats Almond Butter blog). My first attempt at the recipe followed Heather’s own almost exactly, and I posted it on my Facebook Page.
And yes, this is a dessert. Did you think I’d stop making (and eating) them after my recent whinge about gaining weight? Mais, pas de tout! No, I have not eliminated the sweet stuff (made with stevia) from my menus. In fact, I feel that I need to keep such treats in my diet now more than ever, if I am truly going to learn to tap into the physical messages of hunger and satiation. I’ll continue to eat all kinds of foods, in moderation, and redouble my efforts to stop and think–and pay attention–before I eat (and I’ll be chronicling my progress in that area as well; more on that coming up).
Since I first tried the recipe, I’ve continued to play with it, as I found the taste of concentrated coconut butter a bit much for my palate. I added some nuts and spices to create a firm-at-room-temperature, solid-when-refrigerated, impossible-to-resist version of chocolate bark, yet without any chocolate (of course, if you’re not limiting the stuff as I am, you can always sub chocolate or cacao nibs for the carob).
When the texture is refined in the blender, as I’ve done here, it becomes smooth, creamy and melty in the way that a good quality chocolate bar is melty. Even the HH proclaimed this to be a great snack (as he bit into his fourth piece). However, this bark is more akin to one made from white chocolate, with some additional goodies thrown in. It’s also a perfect high-energy snack or dessert, or a little sweet treat to set out on a tray when you’ve got people over on the weekend.
Because, you know, you won’t be going out much now that it’s winter.
This recipe is linked up to Amy’s weekly event, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Check out all the other goodies over there (or submit your own), too!
[Freeform marbled pattern courtesy of natural coconut oils from the coconut, after they are chilled.]
Cinnamon Spiced Coconut Bark (ACD stage 1 and beyond)
This bark makes a great substantial snack. By blending the coconut with the nuts until perfectly smooth, you are, in effect, mixing coconut butter with your nut butter, which will allow the mixture to retain its shape at room temperature. Containing healthy fats and a good protein content, this bark will satisfy your sweet tooth while tiding you over to the next meal. It’s good enough that you can serve it to friends, whether or not they follow a special diet.
2 cups (160 g) unsweetened, dried shredded coconut (or you can use 1 cup coconut butter)
1/2 cup (60 g) lightly toasted walnut halves
1/2 cup (85 g) lightly toasted natural almonds (with skin)
Place all ingredients except carob chips in a food processor and process until smooth and almost liquid (as if making nut butter). This will take up to 10 full minutes; scrape the sides occasionally as you do so. If you are okay with a fairly crunchy bark, you may omit the next step.
Next, for a smooth and creamy textured bark (this is what I did), place the already-pourable mixture into a high powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth and silky, so that no traces of coconut texture are visible (if you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can probably do this in small batches; transfer the batches to a medium bowl after each one). Once the mixture is perfectly smooth, transfer it to a medium bowl.
If the mixture is warm (it will likely get heated up from friction in the processor and blender), place it in the refrigerator and cool it to room temperature, stirring every 10 minutes or so (it will take about 30 minutes). Once it’s cooled, stir in the chopped carob chips. If you add them while the mixture is warm, the chips will simply melt and you’ll have carob bark, which is okay, too. Turn the mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top.
Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Remove the bark by inverting the pan over a cutting board. Peel off the plastic and cut into desired shapes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 12 servings. May be frozen.
[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's "no fuss." I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
Do you remember when milk came in glass bottles (the first time)? We had a milk delivery man (yikes–I swear, I really was born in the 20th century) who would drop off the bottles at the door every morning, then zoom away in his milk truck (and didn’t even ask for payment until the end of the week!).
Until I was 11, I thought milk came from trucks.
In those days, the bottles were stoppered with cardboard plugs that looked like inverted baby soothers–the part resembling the nipple was the handle, and you could push the cardboard disk below it back into the top of the bottle to close it. In first grade, our math teacher had us save the stoppers over the course of a month to use as props for addition and subtraction exercises. We each brought in about 50 stoppers–that’s how much milk we drank in those days (no wonder I have a reaction to it now!).
Well, this post isn’t about archaic cardboard milk stoppers, but the milk itself. My mom always ordered four bottles of chocolate milk the day before one of our birthday parties, because it was more expensive and too rich for every day. In fact, most moms would thin out the ultra-thick, ultra-rich chocolate milk with some two percent–but not in our house. We drank it straight–if “drank” is the right word. It was so rich it could coat a spoon, and you had to slurp it, slowly. My sisters and I loved it.
This carob chai latte reminded me of that chocolate milk. The inclusion of cashews and carob chips renders the liquid thick, glossy, and luxurious–just like that chocolate milk of yore, it coated a spoon. The consistency was very much like old-fashioned hot chocolate, frothy on top, with aromatic cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to warm it even more. If you’re not a fan of chai flavors, simply omit the spices for a comforting mug of hot, milky carob. Sipping this by the fire, I could almost see the milk truck in the distance.
Since I was already using my VitaMix to blend this together, I decided to take advantage of the “soup-making” capacity and run the blender until the drink was heated through by the power of the blades rather than dirty a pot. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, melt the chips first to ensure that they will blend in completely.
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened rice, almond or soy milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened carob chips
2 Tbsp-1/4 cup (30-60 ml) raw or lightly toasted cashews, depending on how thick and rich you want the latte
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cardamom
15-20 drops vanilla or plain stevia liquid
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until hot. Pour into mugs and serve immediately. ( Alternately, place all ingredients in a small, heavy-bottomed pot, and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until everything is melted and blended together. Then, use an immersion blender or frother to ensure that the melted chips are well-blended and to create a foamy top.) Makes 2 servings.
I’m linking this recipe to Amy’s weekly event, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (even though it will feel entirely indulgent!). Check out the other entries, too!
And, TWO copies of Artisanal Gluten Free Cookingby Kelli and Peter Bronski (also not vegan). Peter was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, and Kelli is a professional chef, which makes for some gorgeous gluten-free fare!
For my own contribution this week, I decided to re-create a holiday staple that’s often used for gift-giving–Almond (or any nut) Bark!
According to the media, we should all be making homemade gifts this year, what with the economy as bad as it is. True, many of us may find ourselves frugally filling jars with mom’s granola recipe; mixing up homemade hot chocolate and bagging it with ribbons; placing shortbread and gingersnaps toe to toe in cellophane-lined boxes; steeping vanilla beans in vodka in tall, pretty bottles; or wrapping our own version of almond bark in glittery gift bags. But I’ve always loved making gifts of food for friends and family (and using a lot of “F”s in one sentence, too, apparently).
A gift of food is more than an inexpensive way to fulfill the need for a present. It represents time spent thinking about what the person might like, as well as time spent carefully preparing, baking (or soaking, or drying, or stirring, or whatever), and then carefully packaging the gift. It’s the personal dimension that makes it so special–and so cherished.
Well, having been on the ACD for almost 2 years now (I know, time flies when you’re fighting fungus), I thought about those of us who can’t enjoy the tradtional almond bark. I knew that an all-chocolate version (unsweetened chocolate with added stevia) could be bitter tasting, so I almost abandoned the idea. Then, about a month ago, I stopped in to the local health food store on my way home from work. I’d forgotten to bring a lunch with me (bad, bad) and was ravenous. I posed my usual enquiry: “Do you have any snack-like foods that are vegan, unprocessed, gluten free, without sweeteners of any kind except stevia, with no yeasts. . . etc.?”
“On a candida protocol?” the clerk asked. Smart cookie, that one (though, inevitably, one likely containing gluten, sweetener, or yeast).
“Why yes! Yes I am!” I responded. As expected, she led me to the bags of Mary’s Sticks and Twigs. Snack-like, yes, but not sweet.
“Oh, wait!” she went on, heading toward the bulk section. “We just got these carob-covered almonds. They’re vegan, with no added sugars. Just carob coating. I actually tried them and they’re not bad at all. . . “
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. “You’re sure they’re vegan?” I insisted. “Yep,” she replied. “Just carob and almonds.”
Perhaps it was my near-blinding hunger,* or perhaps just that they looked so much like chocolate-covered almonds. Either way, I managed to consume the entire portion on the way home. While perhaps not the most ACD-friendly snack (I’m sure the oils used weren’t top quality), at least there were no sweeteners to spike my blood sugar, I reasoned.
Sadly, the next time I visited the same store, they had posted the ingredient list for the almonds–and the second from the top was “whey powder.” A DAIRY PRODUCT!!! Never mind that dairy is a hidden source of natural sugars not recommended for the ACD; but whey is most definitely NOT vegan. I really hate it when I find out, after the fact, that I’ve eaten something I don’t want to eat. Grrrr.
[Freshly made nut bark still in the pan, just set.]
That made me more determined to create my own version. I decided to combine the concept of barely-sweet carob coating with various nuts to create a carob-based stevia-sweetened nut bark! After playing with proportions of carob vs. chocolate, I came up with a very appealing variation that uses very little stevia, retains a smooth, chocolatey consistency, and offers up a tiny hint of peppermint in reverence to the season. It would make a perfect gift for anyone who’s on an anti-candida regimen, Type II diabetics, or anyone concerned with blood sugar levels (which would be everyone around the holidays, I’m guessing).
Of course, if your dietary habits allow, you can make this the old-fashioned way, with semisweet chocolate instead of the carob; omit the stevia in that case.
* Who am I kidding? I’ve never experienced “near-blinding hunger” in my life. . . I always make sure to eat long before that!
[. . . and revealing the nutty goodness inside.]
Dark “Chocolate” Nut Bark for Gift Giving (ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
A perfect gift for those you love. . . this nut bark won’t spike blood sugar levels and contains minimal caffeine because of the carob. Plus it’s filled with heart-healthy oils courtesy of the nuts.
3/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened carob chips
1.5 ounces (45 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate (I used Cocoa Camino), chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
pinch fine sea salt
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp (45 ml) soymilk powder
1 cup (240 ml) unsalted toasted nuts–your choice (I used cashews and almonds)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) lightly toasted seeds (I used sunflower, but pumpkin would be stellar)
Line an 8 x 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the carob chips, chocolate and coconut oil over lowest possible heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, stevia and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mini food processor or blender.
Add the soymilk powder and process until perfectly smooth. Stir in the nuts and seeds to coat.
Working quickly (the carob chips will cause it to set fairly fast), pour the mixture into the prepared pan and tilt the pan this way and that until the mixture is evenly distributed (if you try to spread it out with a spatula, you will dull the naturally glossy sheen on top). Set aside at room temperature and allow to set; mine took about an hour in a cool kitchen. Or place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Once set, remove from pan, peel off the plastic, and break into shards of “bark.” Wrap in decorative cellophane, bags, or boxes as gifts.
Variations: the recipe is infinitely adaptable–you can add dried fruits if permitted, cacao nibs, coffee beans, candied ginger, or whatever strikes your fancy.
After reading through the comments on yesterday’s SOS Challenge reveal post (this month’s ingredient is MINT and Kim and I can’t wait to see what y’all cook up with it!), I realized I may have sounded perhaps a wee bit whiney about everything that’s going on in my life right now. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I was on the precipice of a nervous breakdown (well, no more than usual, anyway)
It’s true, I’ve got a lot going on right now. But of course, I am also fully aware that it’s (mostly) of my own doing, too, as I keep adding more and more activities to my schedule. Like so many women out there (and let’s face it, this is primarily a problem for women), I must learn to say “no” more often. For my own physical and mental health. For peace of mind. For the others I care about in my life (because what good will I be to them if I’m a babbling puddle of melting goo?).
(“Um, Mum, sorry to have to break it to you, but you have no trouble saying “NO!” to us. None whatsoever. And anyway, what’s so wrong about gently picking that leftover chocolate cupcake out of the garbage? You and Dad weren’t going to eat it.”)
In fact, my overflowing schedule was actually pivotal in this month’s choice of SOS ingredient; requesting mint-based recipes was really a selfish choice on my part. After considering the overflowing patch of mint at the side of our house, I decided that I needed some creative inspiration to find recipes that would use it up. And so, I’m counting on all of you to save me by providing a huge array of awesome recipes! So settle back, settle into your chef persona and start creating–use fresh, dried, or mint extract–your choice!
In the meantime, here’s my mint ice cream recipe, as promised. This is something I created so that those of us on the ACD (or with dairy, egg, gluten or sugar dietary restrictions) can enjoy ice cream in the summer, too. Imagine: no more silent (or, in my case, not so silent) suffering while your honey and friends gobble up the “real” thing! This verseion is easy and, if you’ve got a food processor, really quick, too. The texture is silken smooth, creamy, and has just the right kick of mint.
So go ahead–it’s real ice cream, and you can enjoy yourself with a clear conscience. Now, if only I could clear my schedule as well.
And even though this ice cream truly does taste more than “slightly” indulgent, I’m submitting the recipe to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event to showcase the healthy aspect of the recipe. Hop over to Amy’s blog to see what else is on the list!
Easy Mint Carob (or Chocolate) Chip Ice Cream (suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 can (400 ml or 14 oz) full-fat organic coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure mint extract, optional (but it really brings out the flavor)
Pinch fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened carob or chocolate chips (1 Tbsp/15 ml per serving)
Line an 8” (20 cm) square pan with two pieces of waxed paper, overlapping paper in either direction to cover all sides of the pan; or place 10 silicon muffin cups in a muffin tin; or set out three silicon ice-cube trays.
Place all ingredients except carob chips in a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Pour into the pan, muffin cups or ice cube trays and freeze until firm. Pop the mixture out of the muffin cups or ice cube trays and place in a clean food-grade plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use. If using the square pan, remove from pan by flipping out onto a cutting board as soon as the mixture is frozen solid, about 4 hours, and peeling off the waxed paper. Cut into 8-10 equal squares; place squares in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use.
To make the ice cream, remove the desired servings from the freezer bag (one muffin cup per serving, or 4 ice cubes, or one square from the square pan) and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles the texture of bread crumbs, then scrape down sides and continue to process just until it begins to form a ball. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the mixture in the processor bowl to cover the bottom; sprinkle with the reserved carob chips (enough for the number of servings selected). Replace the processor cover and pulse 5-10 times, just enough to break up most of the chips and distribute them through the mixture. Scoop into bowls and eat immediately. Makes 8 servings.
[EDIT, May 2011: I'm linking up this recipe to Brittany's weekly Seasonal Sundays event, as it features mint!]
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