It’s holiday season–and what works better at the holidays than a holiday PARTY? My friend Cara is hosting a full month of festivities in the form of a Clean Eating Cocktail Party on her blog, with a new recipe for party food (you know–appetizers, finger foods, snacky stuff and yummy sweet treats) every day this month!
Well, today is my day to contribute to the buffet table! I decided to make something I’ve been dreaming up for a long while–these Coconut-Crusted Tofu Bites with Creamy Green Curry Dipping Sauce. I was served little appetizers on Chinese spoons a couple of years ago at a wedding, and I just couldn’t forget them. I combined my idea for this bite-sized fusion dish of crispy cubes of tofu and a creamy hot dipping sauce with the one-bite-per-spoon presentation and came up with one of my favorite appetizers of all time.
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.
How did the HH and I end up in New York last weekend? Well, it all started last December, after the HH had a car accident.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fender-bender, but that left my honey without a car. And since I’d been planning to buy a new one in 2011 anyway, I gave the HH my old vehicle and promptly paid the downpayment for my new one on credit (I’m sure there are a few financial advisors rolling over in their cubicles somewhere at that news). A few months later, I received my Airmiles statement and–based on the car purchase–I had amassed 6000 points! Whoo hoo!
A quick trip online confirmed what I’d been dreaming about: I had just enough points to cover the cost of a two-night stay at a hotel in New York City. Combined with a promotion from Porter Airlines ($49 each way), the HH and I were on our way!
Even with free hotel and (almost) free airfare, our junket still cost as much as our usual summer stay at a resort hotel up north. But no matter: we got to be in New York for a weekend! In honor of the frenetic, pulsing, humming, city-that-never-sleeps energy that is The Big Apple, here is an abridged version of our 36-hour stay.
Saturday: Read, Meet, Eat, Kick up Your Feet on Broadway!
[Two rockin' Over-40 blogger gals!]
3:30 PM: Upon arrival at the hotel, drop bags off in the room and scurry to Lincoln Center and the Performing Arts Library so the HH can request an archived copy of an audio magazine he’s been wanting to read. Yes, we went to the library. Before we did anything else. In New York City. (That HH is one wacky nerd, isn’t he?) The stroll back to the hotel (30 blocks) was lovely, however.
[Nori rolls from Candle 79.]
5:30 PM: Meet up with JL of JL Goes Vegan and her hubby for an amazing dinner at Candle 79, a place I’ve been dying to visit for years. Enjoy stellar eats and conversation. Hit it off famously while gabbing about veganism, blogs, MTV, travel, conferences (I’m so envious that she’s going to both BlogHer and Vida Vegan!), changing one’s lifestyle over 40, stereo equipment, cool iPhone applications, marriage, Las Vegas, and more.
[The HH's Raw Lasagna entrée. Sadly, my tempeh and veggies were unphotogenic.]
Drool over the food as we eat. Many glasses of wine (or, in my case, mineral water) and guffaws later, suddenly realize we’ll miss our play if we don’t end the dinner far earlier than we’d like to. Vow to meet up again some time (hopefully in Toronto next time!).
8:00 PM: See Tyne Daly as Maria Callas in Master Class. Marvel at a brilliant performance that is totally mesmerizing. Listen to the HH opine about how Broadway is the only place in the world where they actually know how to do theater “right.” (Sorta agree).
11:30 PM: Stop at the hotel bar for a nightcap. The HH enjoys a Heineken while I sip on another mineral water (and dream of G&Ts).
Sunday: Artsy Neighborhood, Fine Art and an Artful Vegan Dinner
[Looks pretty good, doesn't it? But looks can be deceiving. . . . ]
11:30 AM: Trek to Quantum Leap for well-reviewed brunch. After many questions and an assurance from the wait staff, order tofu scramble and gluten free cornmeal pancakes. Express intense excitement at being able to find a breakfast that is at once gluten free, vegan, and sugar free! Sample the meal and express intense disappointment that, while the flavor is fine, the texture is incredibly heavy and everything seems drenched in oil. Leave half the meal on the plate.
1:00 PM: Stop in at Barnes and Noble and have a lovely (if far too short) chat with Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Feel very grateful for the world of food blogging.
2:00 PM: Cab it to the Guggenheim to see the Kandinsky exhibit. Hyperventilate at finally making it to a landmark museum that I’ve dreamed about seeing in person for decades. Enjoy Kandinsky, but then giggle uncontrollably at the main museum exhibit, a collection of rocks placed strategically on the floor of the museum. Put up with glaring stare of museum docents as they repeatedly ask patrons to “Please avoid stepping on the exhibits.”
[Be sure to walk slowly and you won't get dizzy. But watch out for rocks at your feet.]
4:00 PM: Walk back to the hotel alongside Central Park (44 blocks!), awestruck at the architecture and topiary fronting the many multi-million dollar apartment buildings. When nearing the vicinity of the hotel, stop at Juice Generation to order a “Detox Delight” (cucumber, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger) to help offset the awful brunch. Feel pretty darned virtuous (and smile knowing that my belly is satisfied).
6:45 PM: Dinner at Blossom. Another hit. Dig in to the raw Sweet Potato Rolls and subsequently the Hickory Smoked Tempeh atop a mound o’ collard greens (the primary reason for ordering that dish). Savor the meal while reveling in the quaint atmosphere of the restaurant. Finish dinner before realizing, I’m a very bad blogger, indeed–I totally forgot to snap a pic of my meal!
9:00 PM: Walk the 22 blocks back to the hotel after dinner. Notice that Times Square at 10:00 PM is brighter than our street at 10:00 AM. Fall into bed so tired that we fall asleep by 10:30.
Monday: Hello Again–and Adieu
8:00 AM: Meet up with my old pal from highschool, “Frank.” Frank was the third member of a threesome including Sterlin and me (no no no no, not that kind of threesome! We were entirely innocent, nerdy teens, silly!) and was the friend who first introduced me to the movie Young Frankenstein. Spend a lovely hour and a half catching up and gabbing before Frank realizes he’ll be late for work if he doesn’t leave. Stride along Lexington (still gabbing) before parting ways. Return to the hotel energized and a little sad that the visit is at an end. Pack bags, check the bathroom for stray underwear, check out and head back to the airport.
2:00 PM Land at Toronto’s Island Airport. While driving home, begin plotting the next visit to the Big Apple.
One of my concerns before leaving was how I’d remain true to my sugar detox while away. Of course, if someone must follow a detox while on vacation, New York City is definitely the place to be. To ensure “clean” eating, I toted along some almond butter, some Coconut Brittle and fruit for the road, and chose my meals carefully (the only dud was brunch on Sunday).
I mentioned the brittle a while back on Facebook and promised to post the recipe. Here it is! It’s one of the recipes I developed for the Sweet Victory program I’m co-hosting with Andrea Nakayama. There are more than 50 people taking the program, and we’ve seen some great results so far. For me, the detox represents a return to a more pure diet that I established when I first started the ACD. And I’m delighted that I was able to navigate the challenges of a trip away so much more easily this time round without straying from the detox protocol.
As one of the participants in the program remarked, the brittle is almost like a dense cookie bar. . . I think of its texture as cracker-like. It’s not overly sweet (you can add more stevia to taste), but its dry, crispy texture, and the fact that I break it into ragged pieces, is what prompted the name ”brittle” for me.
Coconut Brittle (suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
This is a great take-along snack or dessert. The healthy fats and fiber from the coconut help to make the brittle really satisfying and filling, while the fruit helps to boost the sweetness.
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons (10 ml) whole vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 250F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (the parchment is necessary for this recipe).
In a coffee grinder, pulse the cacao nibs to chop them up. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Without cleaning the grinder, add the chia seeds and grind until they form a powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the applesauce, almond butter, water, yacon, stevia, vanilla powder and sea salt; process to blend. Add the coconut, sesame seeds, chopped cacao nibs and powdered chia and process until it comes together in a sticky “dough” (you should still see some shreds of coconut and spots of cacao nibs; it doesn’t have to be totally smooth).
Using a silicone spatula, spread the “dough” more or less into a rectangle that is about 12 x 10 inches (about 1/4 inch thick). Don’t worry if the edges are a bit ragged.
Bake in preheated oven for one hour. At this point, if the top is dry, cut the rectangle into quarters and flip each piece over and cut each piece into 4-8 smaller pieces, as desired. Separate the pieces so there is space between them.
Bake the pieces for another hour, then check for doneness. The brittle is done when it is dry all the way through and deep golden brown. (If some pieces are ready before the others, remove those and continue to bake the rest until done).
Allow to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, if desired. Makes 10-12 servings. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Prepare the “dough” as above, but spread it onto a teflex sheet and dehydrate until dry on top. Flip and cut into pieces as above, then continue to dehydrate on a screen until all the pieces are dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.
In my 30s (aka the “Decade of the Dinner Party”), I used to bake a lot of elaborate, very involved recipes. I mean, a lot. As I recall, I held a dinner party in my little basement apartment about once a week. Since most of those soirées featured more or less the same guest list (hey, B & P! Long time no dinner party! Are you guys still in California?), I felt it necessary to bake something entirely different each Saturday. Actually, I would have felt that way regardless–I just like to try new things in the kitchen. (No, no, not those kinds of things, silly! I’m talking about cooking and baking). One of my favorites was a ten-layer meringue-and-buttercream concoction that alternated layers of mocha meringue with either chocolate or coffee buttercream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce and little gold dragees. Needless to say, that one was a huge hit.
Today’s recipe reminded me of that gilded extravaganza, if only because it’s multi-layered, involves a creamy filling, and–most importantly–requires more than one day’s preparation. (The original recipe, in fact, tells you to take at least 4 days lead time if you wish to serve this beauty, but I’ve cut it down to three. See, there are some benefits to eating ACD-friendly!)
I guess I must love a challenge more than I realize, because as soon as I saw the original recipe from Fine Cooking, I thought, “I must make this anti-candida friendly.” Now, that’s no mean feat, given that we ACDers can’t eat sugar, refined flours, gluten, anything too starchy or moldy, and–in my case–eggs or dairy. Yowzah. Then, a few days later, Iris posted her “Birthday Cake Challenge.” You see, Iris is about to celebrate a major b-day (the last year of her 20s) at the end of this month, and she’s asking for people to post cakes that would be appropriate. And wouldn’t you agree that this beauty fits the bill perfectly?
I decided that I wanted to make the cake as allergen-free as possible–more than just gluten-free and refined-sugar free. In other words, no eggs, dairy, gluten, refined sugar, nuts, corn or soy.
For the cake, I adapted the Golden Vanilla Cake recipe from Sweet Freedom by using my all-purpose GF flour mix instead of the spelt and adding xanthan gum; those were the only changes required to the original recipe (and I was amazed at how easy it was to convert to gluten-free!).
The vanilla pastry cream (used in place of the original corn cream) is from my Desserts without Compromise ebook (no real changes necessary, but I did gussy it up with a pinch of turmeric and a touch of coconut sugar). And while I couldn’t use corn cream in order to avoid major allergens, millet is a different yellow grain, so I figured that would do just fine.
Finally, to replace the strawberry preserves, I cooked up a simple strawberry compote along with the fresh berries. And while the preparation was a wee bit (!) time-consuming, it is all, astonishingly, still within the confines of the anti-candida diet (well, the later stages of the diet, anyway).
The original recipe also instructs you to freeze the cake to “set” it, then defrost in the refrigerator for 36 hours. I decided to forgo the freezing, partly because agar doesn’t freeze well, but also because it didn’t seem necessary–the cake was ready to go as soon as I assembled it.
Having said all that, this is really not a “daily” ACD dessert. Now that I’m in the final stages of the diet (Stage 3), I am able to eat a dessert this decadent, perhaps, once a month. Starch-heavy, high carb and naturally high-sugar foods are generally avoided, even on maintenance, so if you do make this cake, consider it a once-a-month (or less) indulgence, eat only a moderate slice, and consume it only after a day or two of low-glycemic and low-starch eating.
Which will work out perfectly, since you’ll have at least 3 days to think about it while you’re preparing the cake.
[For those of you who think I'm insane to make thisdon't have an extra four days to make cake want to use the individual aspects of the recipe on their own, the cake is great as cupcakes or in a larger pan; the pastry cream is wonderful in a tart shell, covered with fresh berries, or in a parfait; the cookies (uncoated) are terrific as decorated holiday sugar cookies, or with tea; and the strawberry spread is a perfect stand-in for jam, or served atop pancakes for breakfast.]
Special Occasion ACD-Friendly, Allergen-Free Strawberries and Cream Triple Layer Cake with “White Chocolate” Covered Cookie Crumbs (inspired by this cake from Fine Cooking magazine)
If you’ve been on the anti-candida diet for a while, if you can’t eat gluten or sugar or eggs or dairy or nuts or corn or soy–No longer must you miss out on spectacular showpiece cakes on special occasions! This stunning three-layer confection is impressive both aesthetically and for its superb combination of light and tender cake layers, cookie-crumb garnish, custardy-smooth pastry cream filling and sweet-tart, juicy strawberry filling and topping. There’s no need to tell anyone this is a “special diet” cake–they’ll never know.
For the Cake, adapted from Sweet Freedom’s recipe (can be made up to 3 months ahead):
3 Tbsp (45 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3/4 cup (180 ml) light agave nectar
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line three 8-inch (20 cm) round pans with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flax, agave nectar, soymilk, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Set aside while you mix the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and whisk again to combine; do not overmix.
Divide the batter evenly among the three pans. If you have a kitchen scale, you can weigh them to ensure they are exactly the same; if not, set the pans side by side on the counter and just estimate. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and smooth the tops.
Place two pans on the top shelf and one pan on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through, until the tops are puffed and deep golden and a tester inserted in the center of each pan comes out clean (depending on where they were situated in the oven, the cakes may not all be ready at exactly the same time; if necessary, remove one or more as they are ready and keep baking the others). Leave in the pan until completely cool, then run a knife along the sides and invert onto a cooling rack. Peel off parchment, then gingerly wrap in plastic and place on the cooling rack (or a cutting board or plate) in the freezer until firm. Store in freezer bags until ready to use. May be frozen for up to 3 months.
Cookie Crumb Garnish (coated cookie crumbs can be made up to one week ahead; store in a covered container in the refrigerator):
1 recipe Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies, below
1 recipe “White Chocolate” Coating, below
Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies (adapted from this recipe; can be baked up to 3 months before using)
6 Tbsp (90 ml) light agave nectar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground chia seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut oil, solid at room temperature (if necessary, place in refrigerator until solid)
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the agave, chia seeds, soymilk, vanilla and lemon extraact. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine evenly. Drop the coconut oil in large chunks over the flour mixture. Then, using your hands, pinch the mixture between your thumb and forefingers repeatedly until it comes together and the oil is completely blended into the flour. The mixture should appear crumbly but hold together when squeezed in your hand. (Note: the dough should NOT be the same as a pie dough, with visible, pea-sized bits of coconut oil distributed throughout; it should all be smoothly and completely blended into the flour).
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir well to combine. You should have a soft and sticky dough, but one that holds together.
Gather the dough and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour. Once firm, remove the dough from the plastic and place on a lightly floured piece of waxed paper or countertop and roll out to about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thickness. Cut into rectangles about 3 x 2 inches (8 x 5.5 cm) big. Place the cookies about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on cookie sheets. Gather any remaining dough and roll again; repeat until all dough is used.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets about halfway through, until cookies are deep golden brown on the edges. Cool completely before removing from the cookie sheets. Makes 24-30 cookies. May be frozen: wrap in plastic and store in an airtight bag or container in the freezer until ready to use, up to 3 months.
“White Chocolate” Coating (should be made just before you coat the cookie crumbs):
4 cups (320 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut sugar
30-50 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender (I use a VitaMix) and blend until perfectly smooth and almost liquid; this will take some time, and you will have to push the mixture toward the blades using the tamper. When it’s done, it should be pourable and the consistency of a very thin natural almond butter. Use immediately to make the Cookie Crumb Garnish.
To make the Cookie Crumb Garnish (coated cookie crumbs may be made up to a week ahead; store in in a covered container in the refrigerator):
Have the freshly made “White Chocolate Coating” at the ready.
Break the cooled cookies into chunks and place them in a food processor. Process until you have coarse crumbs. No pieces should be larger than a pea. Turn the crumbs into a medium bowl.
Pour the freshly made white chocolate coating over the crumbs in the bowl. Toss with a fork until they begin to clump together and form little balls; keep tossing until all the crumbs are coated. If the mixture seems too wet, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and then toss again; repeat until the coating is firm and you have a bowl of little clumps. Break apart with your fingers if necessary to ensure that none of the pieces is larger than a pea. If you’re making the garnish ahead of time, transfer to a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Pastry Cream Filling (can be made up to 3 days ahead):
1/4 cup (50 g) dry millet
1/2 cup (120 ml) water or plain or vanilla rice milk (only rice milk will do for this)
1 can (14 oz or 400 ml) full-fat coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) packed coconut sugar
pinch fine sea salt
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) turmeric, optional (for color)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure almond extract, optional
Place the millet and water or rice milk in a medium pot and bring to the boil; lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed, 15-20 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt and turmeric and return to the boil over medium heat. Lower heat to simmer once again and continue to cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching (a silicone spatula works well for this) until the grains of millet have begun to open and break apart and the mixture has the consistency of very thick oatmeal or thick wallpaper paste, 30-50 minutes. If necessary, add a bit more water, 1/4 cup (60 ml) at a time, to ensure that the mixture has cooked long enough. Don’t worry about overcooking at this point–the longer it cooks, the better!
When it’s reached the desired consistency, stir in the stevia, vanilla and almond extract. Stir and taste; adjust sweetness if necessary. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a high speed blender (I use a Vita Mix) and blend, scraping down sides as necessary, until perfectly silky smooth. Pour into a large bowl. (If you are using a conventional blender, you can still make it; blend in smaller batches and transfer each blended batch to a bowl after mixing, then stir it all together in the bowl). Allow to cool at room temperature before covering and chilling in the refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight. It will thicken as it chills. May be made up to 3 days ahead; store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Strawberry Filling and Topping (can be made up to 2 days ahead):
3 pounds (1.4 kg) fresh strawberries, preferably organic
juice of 1/2 lime
10-20 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) agar powder (not flakes–I used this brand)
Measure out 2 heaping cups of berries (about 15 large berries), choosing the most beautiful looking ones for this purpose. If you’re making the cake now, hull and slice about 2/3 of the beautiful berries into slices; hull and quarter the other third of the beautiful berries (keep the two piles separate). The slices will be used beween the cake layers and the quartered berries will be used as garnish on top. (If you’re making the cake a day or two later, don’t slice or cut the separated 2 cups (480 ml) of berries; leave those whole, and store them in the fridge until you need them. Slice and quarter right before you assemble the cake).
Hull the remaining berries (everything but the 2 cups you removed) and wash well. Place berries in a blender, in batches if necessary, and purée until liquefied. Transfer the liquid to a medium pot. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching, until the mixture reduces to 2-1/2 cups (600 ml) total (about half the original volume), 1-1.5 hours. Add the stevia and adjust sweetness level if necessary. Whisk in the agar and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Allow to cool until it reaches room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator and refrigerate until cold (it will be firm at that point). If making ahead, store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 days (and keep your fresh berries in the refrigerator as well until ready to use).
To Assemble the Cake:
Keep the cake layers frozen (they will defrost very quickly–mine were defrosted by the time I assembled and finished photographing the cake–but it’s much easier to assemble everything with frozen layers). Bring all your other components to your work station: the coated cookie crumbs, the pastry cream, the strawberry spread and the sliced and quartered fresh berries.
Measure out one cup (240 ml) of the cookie crumbs and set aside for garnish. Divide the remaining cookie crumbs in half.
Place one frozen cake layer on the center of a cake platter or serving plate. Cover the top with half the pastry cream; spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with one half of the (non-garnish) cookie crumbs. Measure out 2/3 cup (160 ml) of the strawberry spread and dot the top of the cake layer with spoonfuls of it evenly over the crumbs, then spread it as evenly as possible to cover the surface evenly using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with half the sliced fresh berries.
Top the first layer with another frozen layer, and repeat the toppings, first spreading with the rest of the pastry cream, sprinkling with the other half of the non-garnish cookie crumbs, covering with 2/3 cup (80 ml) of the strawberry spread, and sprinkling with the other half of the sliced berries.
Place the final frozen layer on top of the cake. Cover the top with 2/3 cup (160 ml) of the strawberry spread, leaving about 1/4 inch (1 ml) of cake uncovered around the edge. Sprinkle with the quartered strawberries and the cookie crumbs you reserved for garnish. (You may have a bit of the strawberry spread left over at this point; if so, store in a jar in the fridge up to 4 days. It’s great as a jam or atop pancakes).
At this point, you may serve the cake immediately, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours. Serve cold, from the fridge. Makes 8-10 stupendous servings. It doesn’t keep well for much longer, however, so should be made for an occasion with 8-10 eaters, if possible. . . over time, the cake will absorb moisture from the fillings and will seem more like a trifle by day two (not that there’s anything wrong with that. . . . ).
Since it’s also such a celebratory cake, I’m submitting the recipe to Kelly’s Our Spunky Holiday event as well, for the 4th of July! Drop by Kelly’s blog next week to see all the other recipes in the roundup as well. I’m also sharing this with Carrie’s readers at Ginger Lemon Girl’s Make it Gluten Free Tuesdays.
[Grab a few of these babies and while away the afternoon. . . . ]
Seriously, what more do you need than the word “bon bons” in a recipe title to know you want to make these asap?
Still need more? Okay, then, how about this:
COOKIE DOUGH-LIKE FILLING!
AMAZING COCONUT-CINNAMON COATING!!
I ATE SIX OF THEM IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES!!!
(Oh, wait. Did I say that last one out loud?)
I got the inspiration for these little balls of bliss from the recent Raw Cake Pop event co-hosted by Lisa of Vegan Culinary Crusade and Nicole of A Dash of Compassion. I was late to the party and didn’t have a chance to enter the event, but just looking at all those innovative cake pops made me want to try my own hand at these confections. Even missing the necessary equipment (just imagine they’re beckoning from atop a lollypop stick), I forged ahead anyway. As soon as I saw Deanna’s raw cake pops, each irresistible orb in its own shiny white coat(ing), I knew I’d use that for my recipe, too. But what about the all-important interior?
[And also delicious as a snack without the coating.]
While I’ve made raw chocolate chip cookie dough before and absolutely loved it, this time I wanted to go for a less common flavor (but one I love equally well). One of my all-time favorite recipes in my sugar-fheavy, pre-ACD, pre-gluten-free, pre-HH days was called Triple Ginger Cookies from that 80s and 90s staple, the Silver Palate cookbook. It’s a mélange of molasses, three kinds of ginger and loads o’ brown sugar that bakes up into chewy, crackly, intensely ginger cookies that are extremely addictive.
Without the candied ginger (or most of the other ingredients), I decided to go for the same ginger intensity. To reproduce the distinctive bite of molasses, I chose yacon syrup, which has a slightly milder flavor and not quite the same mineral undertones, but worked well nonetheless. I also added more spice to the mix, with cinnamon and a touch of cloves to balance out the ginger. These are great eaten on their own without adornment, but if you have the time and inclination, the “white chocolate” coconut coating is a showstopper. It firms up completely after a few minutes in the freezer and remains firm at room temperature, so you can line these up on a plate and serve at the end of a dinner party or on a buffet table. Or, if you’re like me, you serve them for no particular occasion at all. . .mostly because you just like the word, “bon bons.”
[A mouth-watering bite of gingery cookie dough bliss.]
Raw Gingersnap Cookie Bon Bons
The variations are endless for these yummy bites–either press into a loaf pan and cut in squares, or roll into balls and coat in “white chocolate” coating for a mind-blowingly good treat (and an impressive gift). The balls are great without the coating, too, for a healthy snack, or frost the bars with icing before cutting–either way, they won’t last long.
2/3 cup (110 g) raw natural almonds
2/3 cup (110 g) raw or lightly toasted cashews
2/3 cup (65 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves
2 tsp (10 ml) whole chia seeds, measured and then ground into a powder in a coffee grinder (or use 1 heaping Tbsp/20 ml chia meal)
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely grated fresh ginger pulp
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup
50-70 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (about 1/2 tsp/2.5 ml)
up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) almond or soy milk, as needed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut sugar (for ACD Stage 1, use more stevia)
15-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
extra cinnamon, if desired, for sprinkling
Make the dough: Place the almonds, cashews, oats, cinnamon, cloves, chia and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles a very fine meal (like a coarse cornmeal). Add the remaining ingredients and process until it begins to come together in a ball. It should look fairly dry but stick together when pinched between your thumb and fingers. Add milk only if absolutely necessary to make the dough stick together; it should not be wet.
Using a small scoop or a teaspoon, scoop the dough and form into balls. Place on a plate in the freezer to firm up and become very cold, 10-20 minutes. (Alternately, press the “dough” in the bottom of a loaf pan and refrigerate).
Prepare the coating: Place all ingredients in the container of a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth and liquid, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary. Pour the mixture into a small, deep bowl. (If you don’t have a high-powered blended, you can first process the mixture in a food processor until it comes together and looks like coconut butter, up to 10 mintues. It should be loose. Transfer the coating to a regular blender and blend, in batches if necessary, until perfectly smooth and liquid. Transfer to a bowl).
Coat the bon bons: Line a large, flat plate with plastic wrap and set aside. Dip each ball in the coconut coating until it is completely covered. Scoop out carefully with a fork, and tap the fork handle on the edge of the bowl so that excess coating drips back into the bowl. Place on the plate and return to the freezer until coating is solid (about 5 minutes); then repeat the coating process once more. Sprinkle gently with cinnamon, if desired. Once the coating is hard, the bon bons may be kept in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 bon bons. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to one week.
Hope all of you who celebrate are having a great Passover! And Happy Easter to everyone who will be celebrating this weekend. The HH and I were invited to not one, but two seders this year (one of which was entirely vegetarian–whoo hoo!) and had a lovely time. This weekend, I’ll be cooking up a special meal in honor of Easter featuring a new nut roast recipe, to be posted next week (wish me luck!).
You know that old adage, “You can never be too rich or too thin”? Well, I would modify it somewhat to say, “You can never have too many pancake recipes.” (Oh, and also, you can never be too rich).
Yes, indeed, I do love me some pancakes! Fluffy pancakes, grain-free pancakes, savory pancakes–they all appeal to me. I love pancakes so much that I even adopted the CFO’s irreverent toast that used their name in vain.
As I am fond of repeating (and anything worth repeating is worth repeating often), breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It’s also a pretty darned good snack, if you ask me. Not only do I relish every Sunday brunch that I share with the HH, I even wrote an entire ebook filled with delectable ACD-friendly, gluten free breakfast recipes!
In fact, it’s because of the ebook that I present you with this recipe today. Around the time that the book was going to launch, I received an email from Howard, a co-worker of one of my recipe testers. Howard mentioned that Ms. Tester had talked about a specific Coconut Pancake recipe that had been tested, but which never made it to the ebook (the result was a little too dry for my tastes and I wasn’t 100% happy with it). He asked if he could have the recipe anyway, as he loves coconut.
Well, I just didn’t feel right about sharing a recipe that I myself didn’t enjoy eating. I offered to work on it until I got it right–and then post it on the blog.
I’ve been playing with the recipe since then. I wanted it to contain both coconut AND coconut flour. I’ve always found that coconut flour on its own is difficult to use in baked goods, as it absorbs so much moisture that the result is often too wet and gooey. If you use less liquid to compensate, your batter is often too thick to spread. In this case, I finally decided to compromise (after about 16 trials–good thing I love pancakes), and decreased the coconut flour while adding a touch of brown rice flour. The result was a fairly light and very coconutty breakfast cake.
So Howard, this one’s for you. Though, having said that, I do hope you won’t mind sharing it with Hallie and her readers. Hallie is hosting a cool breakfast-themed event called Build a Better Breakfast. The challenge is to create a nourishing breakfast and post about it–either a recipe, or any other tip on how you might improve on the first meal of the day. In fact, I’m getting this in just under the wire, as today is the deadline.
As for a tip, I’ll leave you with one I included in the Good Morning! breakfast ebook. For a quick and foolproof method to ensure a balanced meal (whether breakfast or any other), just think in terms of threes–the three macronutrients, that is: protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. If you team up one food from each category in a meal, you’ll be well nourished and well satisfied, for hours.
These pancakes almost fit the “three nutrient” bill on their own; they are rich in complex carbs (from the flours) and healthy fats (the coconut, flax seeds and olive oil). But protein? Not so much. So I always top my pancakes with a delicious nut butter “sauce” such as this one to add a touch of protein. (Two tablespoons/30 ml of almond butter has about 5 g of protein. Win!). Of course, you could also pair your pancakes with tempeh or tofu, for instance, or some high-protein hemp or chia seeds.
Perfect for an Easter brunch, I’d say. Because you can never have too many dishes at the brunch table, either.
“Mum, pancakes are fine and everything, but we think you can never have too many treats in one day. . . so how about giving us that sixteenth biscuit now?”
[The money shot: inside, coconutty goodness]
Coconut Pancakes (suitable for ACD stage 2 and beyond)
These are thick, coconut-rich pancakes that are moist without being gluey. Because I’m basically lazy, I used untoasted coconut, but you can certainly toast it first to enhance the flavors even more. This recipe makes only 4 pancakes, but it can easily be doubled.
6 Tbsp (90 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond or soy milk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
6-8 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (or use 1/2 tsp coconut extract)
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted if desired
2 Tbsp (30 ml) brown rice flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato starch
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
In the bottom of a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, flax seeds, oil, vinegar, stevia and vanilla. Stir in the coconut to coat.
Into the same bowl, sift the brown rice flour, potato starch, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Stir quickly to blend; do not overmix. It will be thick.
Heat a large nonstick frypan over medium-low heat (cooking over slightly lower heat, but for a longer time, ensures that the pancakes are fully cooked). Using a large ice cream scoop or spatula, scoop about 1/4 of the batter into the pan and spread it fairly thin with the back of a spoon or spatula (it should be too thick to spread on its own). Allow to cook for 4-6 minutes, until the edges of the pancakes begin to dry and the bottoms are a very deep golden brown. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes, until fully cooked. You want the pancakes to be very well browned.
Serve with nut butter, fruit topping, or any other topping of your choice. Makes 4 medium pancakes. May be frozen.
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.
Welcome to the new year, and to the first SOS Kitchen Challenge of 2011! It’s hard for me to believe that we’re already at January 4th–seems as if the HH and I just celebrated Christmas! Thanks, all, for your New Year’s wishes and for the great response to my call for recipe testers. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the response and will get back to everyone this week. I’m looking forward to cooking with you in 2011!
Now that the HH’s holiday from work is over (Canadians had a day off yesterday to compensate for New Year’s falling on a Saturday), it’s back to our regularly scheduled blogging. . . Kim and I are both refreshed after our holiday season, ready and raring to kick off this year’s SOS Challenges with a bang.
Our featured ingredient this month is something that both of us use almost daily in our kitchens. In fact, we’re both so coconuts for it that we want to share some with one lucky participant through a giveaway at the end of the month. This ingredient is versatile for cooking, baking, bath and body applications, and has some impressive nutritional and medicinal characteristics. It is a solid at some temperatures, and a liquid at others. And it smells like the tropics.
What could it be?
Drum roll please…
[Beautiful, white, fragrant chunks of coconut oil. Cold temperatures mean very solid oil!]
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut. High in lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin K, coconut oil is definitely at the top of the “healthy fat” category. Don’t worry about the high saturated fat content–the high concentration of medium chain triglycerides in the oil are said to assimilate well, converting directly to energy in the body.
Although we can’t technically say that coconut oil has specific medicinal or curative properties, keep in mind that many of the naturally occurring properties of coconut oil such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid function as natural antimicrobial agents, and may help strengthen the immune system. Coconut oil is also very versatile for health and body applications; it can be used foroil pulling, topically as a moisturizer or massage oil, as a carrier oil for essential oils, and as a hair treatment (note: I’ve never actually tried oil pulling, though I would be willing to give it a go. The link was provided by Kim. But I did get a kick out of the second video on that page!).
Unlike olive oil or other popular plant oils like flax, sunflower, or canola, coconut oil is NOT destroyed or changed chemically from its original form by using low heat. The medium chain fatty acids present in coconut oil are very resistant to any change via heat. Even commercial oils heated to a very high temperature have their medium chain fatty acids kept intact. This makes coconut oil one of the best oils to use in cooking and baking, because it does not break down easily. It can be used as a replacement for butter in any recipe, since it often behaves much like butter (solid at room temperature and liquid when hot). It is also wonderful spread it on bread or muffins instead of butter; you can add a dollop to smoothies or hot chocolate; or melt it over cooked vegetables or grains. The uses are endless!
[Coconuts on a coconut palm tree in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo courtesy of Kim!]
Since many of Kim’s and my readers have food allergies or sensitivies, we want to share a note regarding the allergenic potential of coconut. Coconut must be labeled on food packaging as a tree nut, according to regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
On the other hand, neither the EU nor Canada considers coconut as a tree nut for food labeling purposes. Botanically, the latter is more accurate – coconuts come from coconut palm trees, are not closely related to most other tree nuts, and technically, they are the seed of a fruit, not a nut. While you can’t simply rely on botanical relationships to determine the potential cross-reactivity between two foods, those foods which are close biological relatives generally share related allergenic proteins (like cashews, mangos, and pistachios).
That being said, there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between coconuts and hazelnuts and between coconuts and walnuts, which is strange because those trees are not at all closely related. However, allergies to coconuts are believed to be far less common than allergies to many true tree nuts, such as walnuts, cashews and almonds, a point with which the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network agrees. A June 2007 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology indicated cross-reactivity between coconuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts in one patient. Your allergist can advise you on the suitability of coconut for your diet.
I don’t have allergies to tree nuts and am fine with coonut, too, but I know that many readers require substitutions for coconut; it will be different for everyone. However, for many of us with dietary restrictions, coconut is a nourishing addition to our diet, and it makes an excellent substitute for dairy butter in most recipes. [see References at bottom of post for sources]
THIS MONTH’S GIVEAWAY
This month, we’re giving away a jar of beautiful organic coconut oil to a lucky SOS participant. To learn how you can enter to win, click here.
TO ENTER THE CHALLENGE, link up your healthy vegan recipe with coconut oil. Please be sure to adhere to the SOS Kitchen Challenge General Guidelines, posted here.
And to get you in the mood for coconut oil-based recipes, here’s my first contribution to this month’s challenge: ACD-Friendly, High Protein, No-Cook Snackin’ Orbs!
This recipe was inspired by one posted on the forums at the Whole Approach website. As those of you who’ve been following my anti-candida journey might know, Whole Approach has been my primary guide for the diet I’ve followed since March, 2009 (that’s right–almost two years! I’ll be posting more about my diet and an ACD Update later in the week–stay tuned).
These snacks offer a great protein boost in the form of portable little spheres (I just can’t bring myself to call them “balls,” ever since that classic Christmas skit aired on Saturday Night Live). Halfway between a protein bar and a raw truffle, they’re sweet (but not too sweet), chewy and a little crunchy. I played around with various combinations of seeds, powders and protein sources (all rice protein-based) to find what worked best for my tastes. I’ve added my two favorite variations at the end.
I’ve found myself snacking on these in the afternoon or biting into them for breakfast. There’s only one caveat: when the HH tasted these, he remarked that they tasted “healthy.” Those of you who whip up hemp protein smoothies for breakfast likely know what that means. If you’re the kind of person who likes an extra-thick (and perhaps green) smoothie in the morning, you’ll really enjoy these.
[On the left: hemp seed-lucuma-coconut variation. On the right: sesame seed-carob-pumpkinseed.]
ACD-Friendly, High-Protein, No-Bake Snackin’ Orbs (ACD Stage 1 and beyond): Inspired by a recipe on Whole Approach
The beauty of these orbs is that they’re portable–they stay firm at room temperature and can be packed in plastic wrap or a container for later consumption, or grab a few on your way out the door in the morning and feel confident that you’ve started your day with a good portion of your protein requirements. Alternately, press the “dough” into a pan, refrigerate, and cut into bars.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
1/2 cup rice based protein powder (I used SunWarrior Vanilla or NutriBiotic plain; you could try flavored powders as well)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) carob powder (or use lucuma powder or a mix of carob and mesquite)
1/8-1/4 tsp (.25 ml to .5 ml) stevia powder or more, to your taste, depending on how sweet your rice protein is (I used NuNaturals)*
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup (120 ml) finely ground flax seeds or flax seed meal
2 Tbsp sesame seeds (or use hemp seeds)
1/2 cup (120 ml) pumpkin seeds (or use sunflower seeds or unsweetened dried shredded coconut)
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened carob chips, optional
1/2 cup (120 ml) nut or seed butter (natural almond, hazelnut, walnut, sunflower, pumpkinseed, etc.)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (or use 1/2 tsp/2.5 ml almond or orange extract)
3/4 cup (180 ml) water or unsweetened milk alternative (soy, almond or rice),or a bit more, as needed
In a medium bowl, sift together the coconut flour, protein powder, carob powder, stevia and cinnamon, if using. Add the flax, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and carob chips, if using, and stir to distribute the seeds and chips evenly.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot melt together the nut butter and coconut oil over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and water until smooth. Pour the nut mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well to combine; it should come together and be slightly moist and smooth, like a cookie dough.
Using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop the dough and form into balls. Place on a plate in the refrigerator until chilled and firm, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Alternately, press into a greased or parchment paper-lined 8 or 9 inch (20-22.5 cm) square pan; refrigerate until firm and then cut into bars. Makes 6-10 servings for breakfast (4-5 orbs per serving) or 24-30 snackin’ orbs.
Carob-Pumpkinseed Variation: Use sesame seeds, vanilla protein powder, carob powder, almond butter, pumpkin seeds and water options
Lucuma-Coconut Variation: Use hemp seeds, plain protein powder, lucuma powder, sunflower seed butter, coconut, and unsweetened almond milk options
*NOTE: If you are at a later stage of the ACD or can use other sweeteners, up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) agave or yacon may be used in place of some of the stevia.
Overview: Tree nuts include macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, chestnuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts (pignoli or pinon), gingko nuts and hickory nuts. Like peanut and shellfish allergies, tree nut allergies tend to be severe, and are strongly associated with anaphylaxis. Walnuts and cashews are the two tree nuts that cause the most allergic reactions. At least 90 percent of children diagnosed with tree nut allergies will have them for life.
Question: Is Coconut a Tree Nut? Answer: That’s a surprisingly complicated question. If you ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the answer is “yes:” a food containing coconuts is required to be labeled “contains tree nuts” under FALCPA.
Allergic reactions Allergic reactions are severe adverse reactions that occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a particular allergen. These reactions may be caused by food, insect stings, latex, medications and other substances. In Canada, the nine priority food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, seafood (fish, crustaceans and shellfish), soy, wheat and sulphites (a food additive).
Seems we all focus on the “main event” meals during the holidays, poring over cookbooks or stressing about which dressing would be best with the tofurkey (okay, I know many of you don’t eat tofurkey–but it’s such a fun word to say, isn’t it?). But what about the meals after the big meals? What about breakfast or brunch? This week, Carrie will take care of all of that. First, she offers a fabulous recipe for. And she’s including a linky at the bottom of her post so that all of you can share your own breakfast and brunch favorites, too!
And by linking to Carrie’s post–or simply leaving a comment–you can enter to win one of these four fabulous cookbooks:
Years ago, I jumped at the chance to go on a date with a guy from England–his name even sounded dashing (something like “Darcy Bedford”). Well, it was clear from the start that Mister Bedford perceived me to be a Cretin for my want of proper etiquette or decorum (and the fact that I lacked a decent stereo, as he judged it). After all, back in the Queen’s homeland, everyone grows up saying “pleased to meet you,” and “by your leave,” and “cheerio”; they don’t speak with their mouths full; and they are all very proper in every circumstance, you understand.
In this particular case, my twenty-something self was overwhelmed (I didn’t realize I should have been insulted): first, that the guy even asked me out (not only was he British, but an actor; not only an actor, but a working actor; and, most important to me at the time, he was terribly good looking–what the heck did he want with me?); second, that we went to a very posh restaurant; and third, that the table was set with a plethora of silverware.
Like an erstwhile Pretty Woman (though I, of course, wasn’t as pretty, or as tall, and I had much less hair. . . oh–and, right, I wasn’t a hooker), I had no idea which fork to use, nor which knife to grip. I followed Mr. Brittania’s lead and the meal worked out fine . The remainder of the evening, sadly, wasn’t nearly as successful, what with the bloke leaving my place in a huff almost immediately upon arrival, clearly miffed that I was not, as it turned out, a real-life counterpart to the celluloid pretty woman.
Whenever I think of British society these days, I think of High Tea and the elaborate spreads of cucumber sandwiches, bread with the crust cut off, watercress, and miniature scones with clotted cream. Clotted cream! I’ve never had the stuff, but anything rich and creamy evokes the notion of gustatory satisfaction. But it’s the scones, of course, that take the spotlight.
My mother used to buy prepacked sweets that were labeled “Tea Biscuits” when I was a kid. Inside were hydrogenated shortening-heavy biscuits studded with brown raisins. I loved their heaviness and density and the occasional sweet surprise when I bit into a sultana. To me, those were “scones” until my late twenties, until my office mate at work baked up true scones, with butter and cream–and I was converted on the spot.
These days, there’s no butter and no cream, but I still love the morning sweet breads and try to bake them as often as I can. Since the ACD doesn’t advocate too many grains (even if they are gluten-free), I’ve made these grain free (since quinoa isn’t truly a grain). After several trials, I came up with a recipe that is at once light, tender, and flavorful. The fresh ginger adds a little kick while its dried counterpart confers a warming spice; together, the flavor mitigates the sometimes potent quinoa. And quinoa makes them high protein, too–perfect for a balanced breakfast.
These are great for anyone who wants a satisfying breakfast bread without piling on too many carbs. Jolly good!
Not too sweet, these scones are great slathered with fruit spread or a flavored nut butter. If you’re not a fan of ginger, you can certainly leave it out, or substitute another spice (such as cinnamon) instead.
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave nectar (omit for Stage 1; use all stevia)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated ginger root
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 ml) light buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dried ginger
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) quinoa flakes
additional oil (about 2 tsp/10 ml)
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vinegar, flax, oil, agave, vanilla, stevia and fresh ginger root. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, dried ginger, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.; whisk to blend. Add the quinoa flakes and stir them in.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix just to blend. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, place mounds of the mixture on the cookie sheets 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Flatten the biscuits slightly and brush with additional oil.
Bake 20-24 minutes, rotating the sheets about halfway through, until the scones are deep golden brown on the bottom and browned on top. Cool before servings. Makes 6 scones. May be frozen.
Well, right off the bat, I want to say this to all the other Vegan MoFo participants:
I salute you.
Kudos to you all.
You have my admiration.
I am in awe of you.
And also, I am very tired.
Sure, I’ve been accused of being a little bit off my rocker in the past (and have, coincidentally, been turned off of Rocker Guy–He of the Black Leather Pants–for quite some time, now, too), but let me tell you, this “writing every day” business? I must have been utterly, truly mad when I signed up.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my blog. I love writing my blog posts. I love Vegan MoFo. I love writing, period. And I really love my blog readers and reading their comments. But writing every day?? For a month–????
Insanity, I tell you.
Well, today marks the (almost) halfway point of the quotidian posting that is Vegan MoFo IV, and I’ve made it this far–yay!. (I make no promises about the future, however.)
This past week was hoppin’ here at the DDD household! I thought I’d share a few highlights, plus a few of my favorite MoFo posts from the past week.
[Win my giveaway and get a gift pack so you can make this at home!]
II. Giveaways Galore–and you can still enter all three of them!
III. Cranberries Galore–and you can make them yourself!
If you’re like me (hmm, sorry to hear that), then you don’t eat sugar at the moment, in any of its myriad forms. That means no unrefined evaporated cane juice, no maple syrup, no brown rice syrup, no Sucanat, no dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose or any other -ose. . . basically, the only permitted sweeteners are stevia, yacon syrup and the (very) occasional grain of palm sugar or drop of agave nectar. Well, around holiday time, I like to bake things with dried fruits, but the ACD doesn’t allow dried fruits. I am, however, permitted fresh berries. So. . . I decided to dry my own.
This recipe for oven-dried cranberries seemed to stike a chord with many of you, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve used them in biscuits and muffins so far. . . and must admit, I just ate the rest as-is, by the handful.
[Moi, with the lovely Natali who interviewed me today. See the special foil-covered light above her head? How cool is that?]
IV. Cameras Galore–and you can peek into a TV shoot at my house!
This afternoon, the lovely folks from York Region Livingdropped in to interview me and tape me making up some Coconut Macaroons. I’ve shared the recipe before on my one and only YouTube video, but here it is again (below) for those of you who don’t want to skip over there.
The two hours they were in the house flew by, and before I knew it, the interview was over and the crew was busy filming the props (ie baked goods). Here’s Jeff, the cameraman, taking a shot of the table after the interview was done:
Yes, I am a total nerd: the entire experience was incredibly fun and exciting. I really enjoyed setting up the kitchen space and chatting about healthy baking, food intolerances and the ACD. Thanks so much to everyone on the show for a great afternoon! (NB: the show doesn’t air until January; of course I’ll let you know when it’s available to view!).
And here’s the recipe Natali and I baked up during the segment:
These were one of the most popular cookies from my bakery, Bake it Healthy. The HH still requests them on a regular basis. Nicely browned and crisp on the edges with a soft, chewy interior, these are bona fide macaroons. The tahini adds a good source of calcium, yet the flavor isn’t prominent in the cookies.
3/4 cup (135 g) raw, natural almonds, with skin
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
2 cups (160 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) light agave nectar
1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) coconut extract, optional
2 Tbsp (60 ml) cacao nibs or chocolate chips, optional
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds, flax and salt together until they resemble a coarse meal, about the texture of cornmeal. The mixture should be very finely ground, without any identifiable pieces of almond visible. Add the coconut and pulse once or twice to combine.
Pour the maple syrup, agave nectar, tahini, vanilla and coconut extract over the dry ingredients. Process again until everything is incorporated and the mixture forms a sticky ball (you may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl once or twice). Stop as soon as the mixture holds together to avoid grinding the coconut too fine. Stir in the cacao nibs or chocolate chips by hand; do not process again.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon (15 ml), drop small mounds of the mixture onto the cookie sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Wet your palms (or use a silicon spatula) and flatten the cookies slightly.
Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets about halfway through, until the cookies are deep golden brown on top. Cool completely before removing to a cooling rack (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Makes 14-16 cookies. May be frozen.
V. MoFo Posts Galore:
It’s been tough to keep up with all the posts happening over the past two weeks–so many amazing bloggers blogging daily! I’ve been reading and commenting as much as I can, but am woefully behind even now. Here are but a few of the stellar posts I’ve encountered recently: