[Seems to be "dessert week" on DDD! Here's another healthy recipe for you today, the second in a trio of "good for you" desserts that can all be served up to those you love for Valentine's Day: the first was Butterscotch Pudding that can improve heart health; and the final installment is coming up on Thursday with a beautiful, decdadent, traditional V-Day treat revamped to be super-quick and healthier. Be sure to come back and check that one out, too!]
I’ve never really understood the expression, “easy as pie.” In the home of my childhood, it was more like “almost-unheard-of-plus-totally frustrating-and-usually-botched-results” as pie. Although my mom was a superlative baker, the one thing she almost never made (and when she did, it wasn’t very good) was pie. Give her a cookie dough, and she could nail it; a chiffon cake was her speciality; and cheesecake–no problem. But pie crust somehow eluded her.
As a result, neither one of my sisters nor I excel at pie or pie crust. In fact, the only pie my mother ever baked was called “Chocolate Dream Pie,” and as I recall, and it consisted of one ready-made storebought crust filled with chocolate cake batter and baked. In other words, the only pie in her repertoire was actually a cake.
My mom’s sister, Auntie M, on the other hand, a former caterer who excelled in the kitchen well into until her final years-well, she could bake anything.
Like so many pairs of sisters, my mother and aunt were more dissimilar than alike. Mom was softspoken, with a quiet, murmuring voice and (despite her hefty weight) a delicate frame, with tiny ankles and wrists. Her thin, fine hair was the color of wax beans. Auntie M, in contrast, was taller and broad, with sturdy legs thick as telephone poles. Her height was enhanced by the towering beehive of coarse, mahogany hair; her gravelly voice was both commanding and insistent, paired with an easy laugh and an equally easy tendency to criticize. My mother, the younger, was also “the pretty one,” while Auntie M was more what used to be described as a “Handsome” woman (think Mrs. Doubtfire with dark hair). Tough on the outside, she rarely revealed an inner softness, like a cautious turtle peeking out of its shell only when every possible threat is removed.
At once assertive and strong, Auntie M embodied the concept of pure domesticity, yet without even a whiff of the usual sense in which women are considered domestic. She was an archetypal feminist, one who encouraged independence, intelligence, strength and self-sufficiency all within the realm of marriage–and I believed she could accomplish anything. I idolized her, and in many ways wanted to be her (well, minus the shapeless legs).
When I was about 16, I spent a couple of weeks living at my aunt's house after she had broken her arm. While ostensibly there to help her keep up with housework, my role as her personal assistant quickly morphed into culinary protégé as well. It was under her tutelage that I first learned aboutmis en place (though of course she didn't call it that), which I had never encountered before; she also taught me about professional wash-up technique, filling one sink with soapy water, the other with clear and washing the least-dirtied dishes and utensils (such as glasses or cutlery) first, reusing the water for the more grimy pots and pans at the end. I discovered how rotating your baking pans halfway through the cooking time helps to compensate for uneven oven heat, allowing for a smooth, even top to cakes and breads; how sifting flours helps to aerate and separate out impurities like pebbles or bran; and how using an ice cream scoop creates perfectly measured, uniformly sized cookies.
The one thing that Auntie M never got round to teaching me, unfortunately, was how to bake a pie (though I have no doubt that, if she had, it would have been stellar). After years of promising myself that I'd tackle the skill on my own, I suddenly switched to gluten-free baking a few years back, which means that most of my crusts are now "pat-in" versus "roll-out." (Though if you're looking for a good rollable GF pie crust, you must try the one I used in this tortière, which I found on Maggie's blog). As a result, I still have a bit of an irrational aversion to making pie crust (though I did manage to create two fabulous crusts for the upcoming cookbook).
So you can see why I was elated to come across this recipe for Granola Topped Blueberry Pie Bars in Hallie's latest cookbook, Super Healthy Cookies: They're just like pie--without the pie! If you haven't checked out the book yet, I'd highly recommend it: with 50 recipes for healthy cookies from fruity to chocolate to bars to special occasion and more, it also provides a great glossary of ingredients, a resource guide, tips and tricks throughout, and a fantastic appendix of all the recipes listed by different diet type (eg, vegan and egg-free, grain-free, nut-free) plus a list according to taste prefernces (eg, sweet and salty, chocolatey, warm and toasty spices, etc.). All in all, it's full of the healthy, delicious recipes and useful information I've come to expect from Hallie's work!
This recipe is actually not even listed in the "vegan" section, but it was a snap to adapt to my ACD diet. I used The Vegg (vegan yolk) instead of the egg yolk listed, and subbed coconut nectar for maple syrup (obviously, you could make the recipe exactly as written if it jibes with your own diet). I also loved the "sweetness scale" next to each recipe (this was a "two spoon" treat, right in the middle of the scale).
These bars came together incredibly easily. In less than 45 minutes, the HH and I had a fruity, crumbly, warm and inviting pie-like dessert. To make the bars a bit more indulgent for the HH (he does love his creamy desserts), I topped his with a dollop of coconut whipped cream. These do, indeed, taste very pie-like and indulgent--and the HH consumed nearly half the pan in only 2 days! You should have no qualms at all serving these bars as Valentine's Day treats; they live up to a special occasion with the bursting-with-berries filling and yet are made with whole, healthy ingredients. They also fall into my very favorite dessert category: those that can be eaten as breakfast!
Despite the ease of preparation, I'd never call them "easy as pie," though. Unless, of course, we're talking about eating them.
Hallie says: "I took one bite of these bars and my taste buds shouted, 'Hello, Blueberry Pie!' The moist crust and crunchy topping of these bars paired with the juicy blueberry filling is just sublime. Don't let the rather long list of ingredients scare you. They're very easy to make." I agree! And equally easy to adapt to my diet. I've included my changes in square brackets, below.
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease an 8 x 8 inch (20 cm) baking dish with coconut oil.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the oats, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, psyllium husks, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 20 seconds. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and egg yolk. Process to combine. Using moist hands, pat half of the dough firmly and evenly into the greased baking dish. Crumble the remaining dough into a bowl and mix in the the pecans and raisins. Set aside.
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the blueberries, honey, lemon juice, and arrowroot starch. Spoon the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberry layer nd press gently to adhere.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely at room temperture, then refrigerate fro 1-2 hours before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 16 bars.
We’re down to the last weekend in August, which here in Toronto means lots of kids getting geared up for school, as many BBQs as you can possibly squeeze in at the last minute, and maybe one more use of that sleeveless white tank top. For our friends in the antipodes, it means looking forward to spring (you lucky ducks!). Despite all this activity, you all served up some amazing recipes for last week’s Wellness Weekend event.
Last week featured 33 incredible entries! Thanks to everyone who participated. It was tough to pick, but here are my favorites from last’s week’s roundup:
Thank you to every one of you who’s played along by submitting your recipes! I love seeing what you all make each week.
Please join us this weekend! There are so many options for healthy foods. . . whether or not you’re vegan, remember that many salads, veggie side dishes, pasta dishes, desserts, smoothies, and more are naturally vegan and can all be included!
Here’s How to Participate (PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP!):
The event occurs once a week, starting Thursdays at 8:00 PM my time and running until Monday at midnight throughout the summer.
Simply link up a recipe you made (and posted about) within the past week that contains health-supporting ingredients (see list below). Use the Linky Tool at the bottom of the page.
Please link the post with your recipe, NOT your blog’s home page.
You may submit more than one recipe, but please follow the guidelines for each one individually.
Please be sure to mention this event and include a link back to this post so that others can find all the recipes posted!
Feel free to use the blog badge, above (or see the left sidebar of this page–if you need the html code, let me know and I’ll send it to you). Many thanks to Adrienne of Whole New Mom for setting up the badge code for me!
As always, I hate to remove links, but will do so if they don’t comply with the guidelines.
What your recipe CAN contain:
Any good-for-you, whole foods, especially those with antioxidant properties or “functional foods” (ie, offering naturally medicinal or health-promoting qualities–such as garlic, coconut oil, all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc.)–but any fresh, real food is welcome!
Natural sweeteners (coconut sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, stevia, Sucanat, rapadura, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, etc.)
Vegan ingredients (even if you’re not vegan, OF COURSE you can still play along! You’ll be surprised at how many foods are naturally vegan; and if not, there are many subs you can use for eggs, milk or butter–include vegan options and we’re good to go!).
Note that this is NOT AN ACD-ONLY EVENT. Any real food ingredients that are sugar-free and vegan are more than welcome–so use that maple syrup, those mushrooms, that nutritional yeast, miso, etc! I’m just looking for healthy, whole foods recipes.
What your recipe cannot contain:
White flour, white sugar, or any highly refined, highly processed ingredients
Anything almost entirely artificial (ie, most boxed mixes, fast food, unnaturally colored cereals or other foods, etc.)
Animal products (meat, chicken, fish or seafood, or their by-products, gelatin, eggs, dairy, butter or honey)
“Hey! Why was my entry removed?”
The major reason entries are removed is because they don’t adhere to the guidelines: either they contain ingredients that aren’t listed here, or they are a re-post of a blog entry that is more than one week old. If you render the recipe vegan-friendly by adding a vegan option to your ingredients, your post will be good to go! For older posts, you’re welcome to re-post them during the week of the event, or choose a newer recipe.
Another reason is because the link leads to an advertisement or a business blog. Please read the guidelines before posting!
[A favorite raw breakfast: chocolate almond spread on apple slices.]
Remember the days when there was only one kind of nut butter–and nobody was allergic to it?
I think I ate peanut butter almost every day until my late 30s. As a kid, I slathered it on saltines alongside chocolate milk during cartoon-drenched Saturday mornings; I ate it in sandwiches for lunch throughout my teen years; once I acquired my own kitchen in which to experiment in my 20s, I packed it into celery hollows for snacks, baked it in cookies, muffins or the occasional Rice Krispie square; later, I ate it straight out of the jar for an immediate PMS pick-me-up, or after a late night when I was too tired to cook.
When I hit my 30s and moved to Toronto, I experienced an almond butter epiphany. For a time, I gave up the previously favored legume. In the past decade, I’ve branched out to hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashew and “mystery” butters (ie, a combination of several different nuts). Nut butter is definitely a staple in the DDD household, and one of my favorite foods.
These days, it seems I’m once again battling the mercurial ups and downs of my scale (ever since baked goods–albeit ACD-friendly–have reappeared on my menus). With summer thoroughly upon us (whoopee! yahoo! yay! Danks Gott! Hallelujah! Bravo! Yeeeeee-haw!) and the desire for raw fruits and vegetables in full force, I thought I’d take advantage and amp up my intake of raw produce, thereby simultaneously reducing my intake of grains and flours as a way to get back on track. This raw almond butter offered a key resource in the battle.
While I do enjoy almond butter made from toasted almonds, it’s never been a favorite base for chocolate nut butter; I’ve always thought that, no matter how much chocolate is added, the toasted almond flavor always predominates. It’s sort of like another musician trying to sing a duet with Celine Dion–whether it’s R. Kelly, Andrea Bocelli or even Barbra Streisand–all you hear is that wacky Chanteuse. On the other hand, whenever I’ve sampled raw almond butter, I found the taste rather insipid and bland (sort of like listening to Michael Bublé).
In the end, it was the nondescript flavor that rendered raw almond butter an ideal vehicle for raw cacao in this recipe. When the two are blended together, the cacao really shines, revealing all its complex flavors from fruity notes of strawberry to caramel undertones and its own subtle honeyed sweetness. Yes, my friends, this is chocolate at its finest and in full flavor! I also used vanilla bean powder for the first time and was delighted with how it adds its own luscious fragrance and character to the mix.
Overall, this raw nut butter is easy to make (though it does take a bit of time) and is almost dessert-like in its chocolate intensity (in fact, once refrigerated, it firms up enough that the texture resminded me of fudge). Not so sweet that it requires toning down with something savory, it’s great directly on a spoon or spread on any (alimentary) partner you fancy. Drizzled on apple slices is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a decadent-tasting, still healthy and raw breakfast.
Who knows? I may revert to the classic peanut butter one day. But for now, Saturday mornings were made for Raw Chocolate Almond Butter.
And don’t forget. . .
Giveaways Gone Wild III continues! Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of my friend Amy Green’s new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free! For a review, recipe, and all the details, see this post.
A fantastic spread atop toast, crackers, apple slices or whatever your fancy (raw sweet potato rounds worked really well for me). To make the spread suitable for ACD Stage One, simply sub carob powder for the cacao.
2 cups (340 g) raw natural almonds, with skin
3 Tbsp (45 ml) raw cacao powder (or cocoa, at your own risk–it is more bitter than cacao; or use carob for ACD Stage 1)
pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 ml) whole vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (see instructions)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
70-80 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (I use NuNaturals)–about 1-1/4 tsp (6 ml)
Place the almonds, cacao powder, salt and vanilla bean powder in the bowl of a food processor (if using liquid vanilla extract, don’t add it yet, but save it to add with the stevia instead). Process until the mixture looks like a powder, with no pieces of almond visible.
Add the coconut oil and stevia (and liquid vanilla, if using) and continue to process until a ball forms, which will then roll around for a bit before breaking up into a paste; continue to process for another 3-5 minutes, scraping sides occasionally, until the butter is almost liquid and very smooth. (This may require some patience; if you just can’t wait, you’ll still enjoy a somewhat grainier nut butter.).
Pour into a clean jar or container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will firm up in the fridge; for a softer, pourable nut butter, allow to come to room temperature before using. Makes about 1-1/4 cups (300 ml). Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
*Note: to make the recipe ACD-Stage 1 friendly, simply sub carob powder for the cacao or cocoa. No, it won’t be chocolate any more, but it will still taste yummy.
This post is linked up to Sugar Free Sundays, where you’ll find a collection of recipes without refined sugar.
[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. 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 easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
I heard an interview the other day on CBC radio (ie, home of the dreamy Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q and object of my major, make-me-squeal-like-a-tween-at-a-Jonas-Brothers-concert, crush) with a woman whose father had Huntington’s Disease. She had decided not to be tested to see if she had inherited the wayward gene because, as she observed, “We’re not meant to know the future” (or something like that).
Would you choose to be privy to your own fate if you could? Well, perhaps where deadly diseases are concerned, I’d say “yes”; but in day-to-day matters, it might make for total paralysis if we knew the outcome of our every move.
Take Vegan MoFo, for instance (from fatal illness to food blogging? How’s that for an original segue?). Ah, yes, I had such good intentions for Vegan MoFo. When I first heard about the event last October, it was too late to participate. I vowed I’d play along this year. But when the time came, I was overwhelmed by ongoing ACD woes and challenges at work; so I decided to sit it out this round as well. “No matter,” I reasoned, “I’ll simply read from the bounty of other vegan blogs (and there sure are enough from which to choose!), and comment instead.”
Or so I thought.
Was that REALLY 224 items in my Google Reader last weekend?? Yep.
And so, apologies to all the wonderful MoFo’ers out there. I’ve opted to read more and comment less. But please know that I am reading and enjoying all the amazing foods, ideas, and photos (so many cute pets, too!) that people are posting. Yay MoFo!
Similarly, when I started this ACD last March (March?!), it never occurred to me I’d still be on the diet this far into the game (perhaps if I’d foreseen the outcome, I would never have started). And while the weight is still moving downward (albeit at a much slower pace) and I do feel better overall, I have not yet reached my objective of “all candida symptoms eradicated,” nor my “goal weight” (still about 7 pounds away–though I may revise the number when I get there).
A major problem for many people following the ACD is the lack of sweeteners except for stevia, an herbal sweetener that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. Now in Phase II of the program, I’m allowed one fruit per day and a few more grains (welcome, Oh Beloved Oats, back into my life!), but that still leaves me adrift when it comes to desserts.
Don’t get me wrong; stevia is great, and I use it in oatmeal, smoothies, salad dressings, and teas; but it is NOT great for baking.
And I dearly miss baking.
Worse, my few experiments in baking with stevia have resulted in, shall we say, less than fortunate outcomes.
“Mum, they’re fortunate for us! We love those new dog cookies you gave us yesterday!”
On the other hand, there are many other desserts that can be sweetened with stevia. In my earlier post, “Anti-Candida Desserts: What Can You Eat?” I wrote about Raw Key Lime Pie (with a secret ingredient!) and Carob-Coconut Sweeties, soft and creamy dessert tidbits made with carob, almond butter, and coconut. And yet, I felt that something was still missing.
Which brings me. . . FINALLY, to chocolate. (See what I mean about knowing the future? If you’d known I would ramble this long before getting to the recipe, you might have opted out of this blog post.).
If you were reading this blog before I started the ACD, you already know how much I love chocolate. Chocolate is my Romeo. Chocolate is my Mark Antony. Chocolate is my Edward. Sadly, chocolate is also my albatross, my Picture of Dorian Gray, my Great White Whale*, and a major reason why I found myself in this candida dilemma in the first place.
So what’s a gal to eat when she loves chocolate, but can’t indulge? Why, she makes up her own, stevia-sweetened substitute, that’s what!
Today’s recipe is for faux chocolate made with carob. I have tried it with cocoa powder as well, but find that so much stevia is required to sweeten the cocoa that the taste is rather unpleasant. However, if you can use agave, I’d recommend giving that a whirl instead. The recipe itself is so simple it’s outlandish. Equal parts carob powder, silken tofu, and coconut oil. A splash of vanilla, a few drops stevia, pinch of salt. That’s it! And yet the outcome is smooth, creamy, solid, chocolate-hued.
For those on soy-free diets, you can, certainly, omit the tofu. I tried the recipe this way initially and the flavor was fine, but the texture was much denser (in fact, brick-solid) when refrigerated. It also melted quickly at room temperature. I found that the addition of tofu rendered this smooth and creamy, much more like real chocolate (though slightly less dense than the real thing).
Maybe I can’t read the future, but I do know there will be more of this sweet treat in my life from now on.
“Mum, we see faux chocolate in our future, too! After all, carob is totally safe for dogs, you know.”
* Actually, with chocolate in my life, I myself am more like the Great White Whale.
With a hefty portion of coconut oil in the mix, all you need of this confection is a small square to satisfy your sweet cravings. But don’t feel guilty if you end up having more–organic coconut oil is heart-healthy, and carob contains a good amount of calcium!
4 Tbsp (15 ml x 4) extra firm silken tofu (such as Mori Nu)
1/4 cup (60 ml) organic coconut oil, firm at room temperature*
1/4 cup (30 g) carob powder
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
10-15 drops stevia liquid
pinch fine sea salt
If you have chocolate molds, keep them at the ready. Alternately, stretch a piece of plastic wrap across a dinner plate (to create a smooth, taut surface on the plastic) and set aside (this is what I did).
In a small food processor (I used a Mini Prep), measure out the tofu one tablespoon (15 ml) at a time (it’s true that 4 Tbsp/60 ml is the same as 1/4 cup, but I found that the tofu must be fairly firmly packed, and I achieved a more consistent result by measuring it one spoon at a time). Blend a few seconds to break up the tofu.
Add the coconut oil and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Don’t overblend at this stage; you don’t want the oil to melt!
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth and creamy and no tofu is visible. Scrape sides occasionally to incorporate all bits of tofu. The consistency should be like a smooth buttercream frosting (and, in fact, you can use it as such at room temperature).
Either fill the molds or spread the mixture in a rough square over the surface of the plastic wrap. Pull the sides of the wrap over the square one side at a time to enclose the faux chocolate in plastic. Refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours), then cut in small squares. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week. Makes 12-20 squares (depending on how big you cut them).
* If you room is warm enough that the coconut oil has begun to melt, place it in the refrigerator for a while until it firms up again. It should be solid when you begin the recipe.
[Grain-free biscuits as a base for Nectarine Shortcakes. . . ACD-friendly!]
Today’s post will be a short one*, as I’m still frantically marking essays in preparation for our final exams tomorrow (and then more marking!). But I’ve been wanting to post this for days and have been too busy baking up a storm for yesterday’s Breakfast Televisionappearance. Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes via email, comments, twitter, Facebook, etc. (and thanks again, PR Queen, for your devotion to the cause, waking up at 4:30 to help)–I really appreciated it!
I had a great time and even got to talk about some key ingredients and recipes from Sweet Freedom–so much fun! (well, maybe not having to wake up in the middle of the night–literally–in order to be at the studio by 6:30 AM. But talking about cake and frosting was fun). I’m trying to acquire a copy of the segment so I can post it online–will let you know when I get one!
But you’re not here to chat about TV (well, not exclusively, anyway), are you? And you know that I’m always tickled to chat about baking.
Now that I’ve decided to venture into the realm of baked goods once again, I’ve been playing in the kitchen and seem to have permanent flour dust on my cheeks. After five months with neither flours nor sweeteners (not to mention a host of other ingredients), and even though I’m thrilled with the weight loss, I did sorely miss my muffins, quick breads, bars, cookies, cakes–you get the idea.
Enter grain-free coconut flour, bean flours and buckwheat flour–and a very steep learning curve. And now, make room for biscuits!
My first attempt at grain-free baking, the Grain-Free Lemony Almond Pancakes, were a huge hit, both at home and on this blog. Today’s Coconut Flour Biscuits are my latest effort, and I have to say I’m equally happy with the results (if eating 2 biscuits a day for a week is any indicator of “happy”).
Actually, it’s probably a good thing I’m not yet back to baking my usual treats for now. Clearly, I still have no self control when it comes to baked goods.
[Coconut Flour biscuits without embellishments. . . .]
These scones were the result of my yearningneeddesperation desire to create something that approximated a baked good without actually being a conventional baked good. Rather than use chickpea flour once again (as I did in both of these), I wanted something different to provide a lighter texture and appearance.
Then I remembered my bag of coconut flour in the freezer. I’d purchased it on a previous foray to Whole Foods, where I’d been dazzled by the tempting array of photoshop-perfect produce, local and artisanal crackers and breads, refrigerated glass cases resplendent with Basil-Lime-Chili Tofu (a favorite), spelt berry salads, roasted veggies, veggie patties, tofu “steaks,” even kale and seaweed salad (and all available to sample, just for the asking!).
I spied a bag of coconut flour and, having read a lot about it and its astonishing ability to absorb moisture and contribute additional fiber to dishes (it’s apparently got 61% fiber–the highest of any flour), how could I resist? I figured I’d sprinkle 1/4 cup here, 1/4 cup there to various baked goods. I made something (can’t remember what), then plopped the bag into the freezer for later use, and haven’t touched it since.
[. . . or slathered with almond butter for a delicious breakfast.]
Until now, that is. Well, when I swung open the freezer the other day and noticed the bag sitting there, my spirits lagged as soon as I read the “best before” date. Like a cheerleader on prom night, that flour was about to go bad. I knew I had to save it! I concocted some biscuits and ate two right away. (I wasn’t being a glutton. I was saving that flour from itself, so to speak.)
I’m thrilled this recipe worked out, as I’ve finally got something substantial on which I can slather nut butter for breakfast, and there’s no guilt about diverging from the ACD. They are also the base for that colorful shortcake at the top of the post (variation included below).
These are dense yet tender, without a pronounced coconut flavor. While they’re not a perfect reproduction of conventional biscuits, they were still tasty enough to pass the “HH Test.” In fact, I was forced to bake up a second batch after the HH tried them, because he ate two in a row.
Now that I’ve discovered such a great use for the flour, I should have no problem finishing up that bag. It felt good to be able to use it before it expired. Oh, and to be baking again.
*Well, short for me, anyway, as loquacious as I am. Brings to mind a joke my friend Sterlin and I started in highschool, during the era of four-hour phone marathons: during a particularly busy time one evening, I called Sterline to chat. After the hellos, she warned me: “I really can’t stay on the phone tonight. Half an hour,max.”
Grain Free Coconut Flour Biscuits
Surprisingly light, these biscuits are perfect for breakfast or as an accompaniment to a saucy dish. While they’re not as cakelike as conventional biscuits, they make a great substitute that can satisfy a craving for carbs in a low-carb treat.
1 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus enough soy, almond or rice milk to equal 1 cup (240 ml)
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp (45 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave nectar, light or dark, or 10 drops stevia
2 Tbsp (30 ml) melted organic coconut oil, plus 1 Tbsp (15 ml) for brushing tops
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) baking powder
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp (135 ml) coconut flour
3 Tbsp (45 ml) buckwheat flour (or use chickpea or whole bean flour)
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Place the 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice in the bottom of a glass measuring cup, and add milk until the liquid measures 1 cup (240 ml). Add the vanilla, flax and agave or stevia to the cup and stir; whisk in the 2 Tbsp (30 ml) melted coconut oil until evenly combined. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift the coconut flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir quickly just to blend. Do not overmix. The mixture will seem a bit soft initially but will absorb the liquid fairly quickly; this is as it should be. (If using buckwheat flour, you may need to add 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) more milk to attain the desired texture). The mixture should be softer than a regular dough, yet still hold together, almost like a thick cookie dough.
Using a large scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop the batter and place mounds on the cookie sheet. Flatten each mound slightly with your palm or a silicon spatula.
Bake for 12 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from the oven and brush very gently with the final 1 Tbsp (15 ml) melted coconut oil (the biscuits will be very delicate and can squish easily). Rotate the pan and return to the oven for another 12-15 minutes, until tops are very deep golden brown–do not underbake! Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet, then carefully remove for storage. Makes 6 biscuits. May be frozen.
NOTE: if you try to eat these while they are still warm, the centers may seem too moist. Once they cool, however, the texture changes.
Nectarine Shortcake Variation:
1 batch biscuits (or you can use your own favorite biscuits for this)
For even more desserts, check out Desserts without Compromise, my new ebook with 19 original recipes (all sugar free, gluten free, egg free and dairy free)! To learn about the recipes or to purchase, click here. To see photos of all the desserts, see this post.
[Raw key lime tarts--NOT an ACD-inspired recipe (yippee!) See below.]
After the great response I got from my Anti-Candida Breakfasts post, I thought you all might be interested in some ACD desserts. Since this phase of the diet is very clear about NO SWEETENERS (except for stevia), NO FRUIT (except for limes, lemons and avocados), and NO FLOURS (except for bean flours, in teensy amounts), we ACD followers have to get pretty creative when it comes to satisfying the sweet tooth. And believe me, my sweet tooth has been mighty insistent of late.**
So today’s post is all about desserts–the non-sugar, non-sweetener, non-flour way! Doesn’t that just sound unbelievably appetizing? (I know, I have been deluding myself this way for over a month now). OOOOOH, YUM! Read on to share my painbe glad you’re not me find a few surprises you might actually like!
[Seriously, doesn't that look just like applesauce?]
For some reason, the ACD vetoes all squashes except zucchini, yellow squash (basically jaundiced zucchini) and spaghetti squash. While browsing through one of the forums about the diet, I came across this idea for mock applesauce–essentially, you bake a spaghetti squash, scoop out the (remakrably spaghetti-like) flesh, then purée it with cinnamon and stevia. I added a touch of ginger and cardamom as well. It was surprisingly good, and, I’m sure, would be fabulous if made with an actual sweetener like agave or pure maple syrup. I’ve been enjoying this after dinner on occasion when I need something I can pretend is fruit.
[Well, the texture is perfect, at least. . . . ]
I placed the title of this dessert in quotation marks, because there is no way anyone would mistake this for actual chocolate pudding. Oh, the texture was fabulous, but when you sweeten cocoa with stevia, the result is, shall we say, rather pucker-inducing. Well, except to me, when I’m desperate for chocolate and don’t care if it’s bitter or has a stevia “aftertaste,” that is. The HH wouldn’t even finish the first spoonful (though he did concede that the texture was great). I’m going to work on a non-candida version of this because I know it will be irresistible when made with some other type of sweetener!
One of my favorite junky sweet treats when I was in my teens and 20s was Nielsen “Macaroons.” They were essentially milk chocolate (or should I say, “milk chocolate flavored“) rosettes–sort of like Hershey kisses with toasted coconut in them–and I adored them. I’d stop at the Bulk Barn on my way home from class and purchase a small bag, then munch away during the bus ride home. In my 20s, of course, I was able to do so without any ill effects or physical consequences (well, except for the time that guy in the seat beside me put his hand on my knee–not connected to macaroons, I reckon). My, how times have changed since then! Not only can I no longer eat that way, but these days, I’d be whacking that guy’s hand with my umbrella and disturbing fellow passengers by shrieking at the top of my lungs.
Although I haven’t eaten the Nielsen variety in about a decade, these little confections reminded me of them–only much, much healthier. To me, these sweets taste like actual milk chocolate (not chocolate “candy”), mixed with coconut.
Now, I know there are about 17,428 versions of a “nut butter, carob and coconut” treat on the Internet, but this one is my own (original!) creation, and dear to my heart. And besides, I’d love to know whether any of you out there agree about the taste (or is it simply my ACD-addled tasted buds playing tricks on me?).
I’ve deliberately made a small batch here, so that (if the highly unlikely situation should ever arise, you understand) it’s not a tragedy if you happen to eat the entire batch. However, if you’re sharing with more than one person, or serving several, you may wish to double the recipe.
In a food processor (I use my Mini-Prep; any small processor is recommended for this recipe), blend the almond butter, tahini, carob powder, salt and chia until you have a smooth paste. Add the stevia and vanilla, if using, and whir again to blend. Add the coconut and hemp seeds and pulse until evenly distributed. Scoop the mixture by teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. Refrigerate (or freeze) 20 minutes or more to allow the mixture to firm up a bit. (If you can’t wait to dig in, they’re still delicious right away, but they will be fairly soft). Makes 4-5 balls.
ACD variation: use stevia instead of other sweetener and be sure the vanilla is alcohol-free.
[This is carob, but for a chocolate variation of the pudding, use chocolate almond, soy, hemp or other milk]
As I mentioned in a previous post, this is one of my favorite treats, even when I’m not following the ACD. This version boasts carob, cinnamon, and a touch of stevia. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a teaspoon or two of ground flax seeds to the mix as well. (You wacky dessert-lover, you!)
I was amazed to discover that this recipe, which I’ve been eyeing for almost a year now, is actually more or less acceptable for the ACD! A few minor adjustments, and the HH and I were both able to enjoy these lovely tarts (pictured above is the date-sweetened crust). You could also make the filling on its own and spoon it up as a pudding. As a bonus, this is a raw dessert. You don’t want to overindulge, however, as it does contain quite a hit of fat in each serving.
3/4 cup (80-90 g) dry, raw macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or a combination
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, optional
1/2 cup (120 ml) pitted dry medjool dates, chopped (see note)
3/4 cup (180 ml) chopped just-ripe avocado flesh (1-2 avocados)
3-4 Tbsp (45-60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
2 tsp (10 ml) finely ground chia seeds, optional (but the filling is more runny without it)
lime zest or kiwi slices for garnish
Lightly grease 5 individual tart pans, or line with parchment rounds (I use 3″ or 7.5 cm pans with removable bottoms). If your pans don’t have removable bottoms, it’s worth it to line them with parchment paper rounds, as the crust will stick otherwise. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the coconut, nuts, and sea salt until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the dates and process until it comes together in a “dough” (it’s ready when the mixture sticks together if pinched between your fingers and thumb). Press the “dough” evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans.
If you’ve scraped the processor bowl fairly clean, there’s no need to wash it for this step. In the same processor, blend the avocado, lime juice, agave and chia and blend until very smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly into the crusts and smooth the top.
Freeze the tarts until firm, at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving, garnish with zest or fresh fruit, and enjoy. Makes 5 tarts.
ACD Variation: Instead of the dates, use 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) smooth almond, cashew or macadamia butter to help the dough adhere. Or omit the crust and just eat the filling! For the filling, use stevia to taste in place of the agave.
**Every source you read about the ACD says that, as long as you stick to the plan, your sugar cravings will disappear in 3-4 days. Excuse me while I guffaw. I’m well in to Week Five, and sugar is calling to me just as loudly and insistently as ever.
PS. To read about a non-ACD dessert recipe by yours truly, flip open the May/June issue of Clean EatingMagazine for my second Happy Endings recipe!
UPDATE: SOME OTHER ACD-FRIENDLY DESSERTS on Diet, Dessert and Dogs, below. This is just a partial list. For a full list, see the Desserts Category in the Recipe Index (note that Wellness Weekend posts may contain non-ACD recipes):
Desserts without Compromise, my ebook with 19 ACD friendly dessert recipes, from grain-free fudgy brownies to cookies to mousse to vanilla custard–all sugar free, egg free, dairy free and gluten free (desserts for all phases of the diet)
Cupcakes, frosting, puddings and other non-sweet dishes in my Anti Candida Feast Ebook(for those just beginning, and 2nd phase of the diet)
[Welcome to the new home of Diet, Dessert and Dogs! I'm still tweaking the format and layout of the blog, so please bear with me while I update some links, combine some page tabs, etc. It should all be up and running smoothly within the next week or so!]
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Coombs Family Farms, an organic farm in Vermont that specializes in “all things maple,” to see if I’d like to sample some of their syrup. Since maple syrup is a well-loved staple in my kitchen and many of my baked goods feature it as a key sweetener, I was delighted to accept their offer and eagerly awaited the package.
A few days later, I received this:
A bottle of their certified organic syrup, along with a maple-leaf shaped piece of maple candy!
Anyone who’s ever consumed real maple syrup can attest to its unique flavor–sweet, slightly smoky, with an appealing, earthy aroma. Made from the sap of maple trees, it’s naturally rich in minerals (per volume, higher in calcium than dairy milk!). The syrup is available for purchase in three grades of A (light, medium and dark) and one of B–each darker and more intensely flavored than the last. I was sent a bottle of grade B, an intense, soulful auburn that was so thick and deep it was nearly opaque. As soon as I removed the cap, the maple perfume escaped to envelop the room with that distinctive scent.
Now, I’ve enjoyed maple syrup for many years. Like pretty much everyone raised in Quebec–the heart of Canada’s maple country–I consider myself a maple aficionado, if not an expert. Maple syrup is ubiquitous in La Belle Province: you can find it on every checkered tablecloth in every greasy-spoon breakfast diner, cheerily lining the shelves in corner grocery stores, awaiting the call in every kitchen cupboard. When I was in grade school, each spring our class would make an annual trek up north for “sugaring off” parties, where freshly tapped, warmed maple syrup was poured over vast expanses of pristine snow to create a kind of maple taffy that we kids scrambled to scoop up with plastic spoons. I might even classify myself as a bit of a maple syrup snob, in fact, one who’d never even consider trying the artificially flavored stuff from that iconic slender-waisted bottle.
Still, despite my fine maple sensibilities, I’ve never really thought it essential to buy organic maple syrup. For one thing, the price is usually, shall we say, immoderate. In addition, I’ve always recalled a conversation I had with a student once in a sociology of food course I was teaching. She mentioned that her family owned a local maple tree farm. There was really no difference between organic and non-organic syrup, she explained, since most maple trees aren’t sprayed with pesticides anyway (unless infected by some vermin or another). I filed away that bit of information and continued to purchase my regular (non-organic) variety.
Well, let me tell you, that student got it wrong (luckily, she wasn’t writing a test at the time). Now that I’ve tasted the Coomb’s organic version, I’m not sure I can go back to my generic brand. Their syrup is outstanding, with a rich, deep amber color and more intense maple flavor than I’ve ever tasted. It’s perfectly sweet and subtly smoky, with a heightened maple essence that lingers gently on the palate, enduring like an unexpected compliment.
Seriously, I may not be able to tolerate my old brand any more. To heck with the price–I’ll just have to be more judicious in my use of it, I reckon. Or else use a bit less and savor every drop more. Or simply ignore the cost entirely (I suspect that a pawn shop may come into play at some point). Seriously, it’s that good.
My first taste of the syrup was straight, poured onto the Lemony Almond Pancakes I wrote about a few days ago (I wanted to sample the delicacy in its pure, unadulterated state before combining it with other ingredients). The flavors melded beautifully, the maple’s presence strong enough to match the zesty lemon while counterbalancing the slight sourness of it. The HH practically asked to drink the stuff straight out of the bottle (but I wouldn’t let him, of course, as I was saving it for my subsequent kitchen experiments). He did manage to polish off the maple candy in one sitting, however–I got barely a nibble!
With such a winning flavor, I opted to design a cookie that would really showcase the unique taste that is “maple.” I concocted these Maple Flax cookies (sorry, the two of you who are also on the ACD; these are NOT ACD-friendly–I created this recipe a couple of weeks ago). They are naturally gluten free (and even flour-free, in fact). In this case, the light, chewy texture was a natural outgrowth of my desire to minimize other ingredients in order to allow the natural maple to shine through. And you will most definitely taste it, with every chewy, sticky, sweet and maple-y bite.
Thanks again to everyone at Coombs Family Farms for allowing me to sample this extraordinary product. Now my only lament is that I can’t find any more of it here in Toronto!
They’re not quite Irish, but since they contain oats, I can claim a Celtic connection, anyway. . . Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
P.S. It’s time for another Sweet Freedomgiveaway. . . stay tuned for details next post!
Maple Flax Cookies
Looking somewhat like oatmeal cookies, with a crunchy exterior and chewy center, these intesely maple-flavored treats will please everyone. Whole flax seeds add bulk, while the oatmeal and flax meal both contribute heart-healthy soluble fiber.
1/2 cup (60 g) whole old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil, solid at room temperature*
3 Tbsp (45 ml) pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) whole flax seeds
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a mini food processor or coffee grinder, whir the oats until they resemble a coarse meal. Pour the meal into a small bowl and set aside.
To the unwashed processor bowl, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, Sucanat and ground flax seeds. Blend until combined well and smooth. Set aside while you measure the rest of the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
To the bowl of oats, add the whole flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and mix to distribute everything. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to create a sticky “dough”.
Using a melon baller or teaspoon, drop the mixture onto cookie sheet about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Do not flatten the cookies (they will spread on their own).
Bake 10-13 minutes, until puffed and cracked on top and dry on the edges. Allow to cool completely before removing from sheet (they will firm up as they cool). Makes 8-10 cookies. May be frozen.
* If your room temperature is warm enough that the coconut oil melts, place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to firm up before using in this recipe.
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In my imagination, I’d love to live on a farm. I say “in my imagination” because, in my reality, I’m actually the farthest thing from a farm type of gal (“What the-? What do you mean, 5:15 is the normal time for the rooster to crow?!!” OR, “What do you mean, it’s almost 2 hours to the closest Barnes and Noble?” OR, “What do you mean, ‘that’s just what manure smells like, so get used to it’???!!!”). Um, nope, I don’t think so.
Still, in my fantasy, I’m a latter day Lisa Douglas. Mid-afternoon, I turn to my HH Wendell Douglas and casually remark, “Oh, dahlink, what shall we have for dinner tonight? I think I vill go out back to our vegetable patch and pick something fresh.” And then I cook it and we eat it and it’s delicious, of course.
Well, now that it’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmashockey seasonreruns springtime here in Toronto, all the gardeners are out on our street. Our neighbours across the way have been scattering a wheelbarrow full of rich, black composted soil over their front lawn. Everywhere I look, I see women on their knees yanking weeds out of the flower garden, others pulling up dried-out webs of branches and roots.
And I? Not so much. On the other hand, the previous tenants in our house were quite the gardeners. When we first viewed the place last August, the back yard was lush with flowers and all manner of greenery, and it seemed everything was in bloom. (Bizarrely, when we finally moved in in November, we discovered that they had literally uprooted every plant, bush or tree they’d planted in the back yard, and taken everything with them to their new home. Remember that huge, gaping crater out of which emerged the creepy farmer-cum-alien in Men in Black? Well, that’s what our yard looked like, times twenty.)
As far as I could tell until yesterday, what remained in our garden was one puffy green bush near the tree in the front yard, some teeny purple flowers (or were they weeds?) and a few long, sharp green plants that look like miniature palm trees. What they are called, or what they will sprout, I’m afraid I have no idea. My one and only previous gardening experience involves a single jalapeno seedling (I chose a jalapeno because I guessed it would require no maintenance, would self-repel bugs and raccoons, and would yield a small enough harvest that I could use it all up before it began to rot). I was correct on most counts, though the plant, remarkably, flourished and the HH and I ended up eating jalapenos in every imaginable food, from scrambled eggs to pesto to muffins to plain ole roasted in a pan. But at least it proved I could grow a plant without killing it (or neglecting it to the point of killing it).
This year, I vowed, I’d venture into something a bit more exotic. My friend Gemini I (a gardener extraordinaire) has promised that herbs are fairly easy to grow, so I figured I’d plant some basil, cilantro, dill and sage. Then, yesterday, I was strolling past the side of our house on my way toward the back yard for some Frisbee-toss with The Girls and noticed something odd. There, spanning the entire length of the house, was a patch of earth the previous tenants had evidently forgotten–completely covered in small, green, leafy, plants in full bloom. They were a dazzling, almost translucent shade of green, lighter than grass but deeper than lime. . . the color reminded me of something, but what? It was sort of like. . . the color of. . . the color of mint. Yes, mint! And I’ll be darned, when I bent over and pinched one of those verdant babies between my fingers, that’s exactly what they smelled like.
“Oh, that’s mint,” my next-door neighbour said as she sauntered over to me and The Patch. Wow. And so, without even a modicum of effort, I now am the proud owner of a fully formed, instant mint garden. But what to do with it?
“Want some?” I asked her.
I am still planning to plant the cilantro and basil, as I can never get enough of either. But I have to admit that, much as I enjoy mint as a flavoring, I’ve never really been forced to make use of this much of it before. Something tells me I’ll be drinking my share of mint juleps over the next few months–though, even once I’ve given much away to friends and colleagues, I’ll still have more mint than could possibly be consumed even by Daisy and Tom and Jordan and Gatsby during a long, hot, humid summer. (I see much green in my future: chocolate-mint cookies, mint smoothies, mint ice creams, mint salads and all manner of mint drinks, alcoholic and otherwise. . . ).
There was one high point to the discovery, however. Just around dinnertime, I glanced at the swath of green running across the side of my house and said, to no one in particular, “Why, I think I’ll step over here to my herb patch and pick some fresh herbs for dinner tonight.” And I cooked something, and we ate it, and it was delicious. (“Mum, why are you talking with a Hungarian accent? And, come to think of it, why are you talking to yourself?”)
We had planned to have a favorite Indian-spiced potato dish called Aloo Masala, but the recipe didn’t call for any mint. No matter; I threw some in anyway. Along with the complement of other spices, it made for a delightful, slightly sweet and slightly peppery bowl of spuds. The HH had these with an organic chicken breast (on which he piled even more mint), while I was happy with a simple bowl on its own.
Well, that took care of about 1/85th of our mint. Any suggestions for tomorrow?
These potatoes come together very quickly and offer a spicy, smooth and comforting side dish to pretty much any main.
3 or 4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) turmeric
salt, to taste
2 green chilies, chopped (or 1/2-1 jalapeno)
2 tsp. (10 ml.) garam masala
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) shredded or dessicated coconut, unsweetened
1-inch (2.5 cm.) piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) olive oil
1 tsp. (5 ml.) glack mustard seeds
4-6 mint leaves, finely shredded
leaves from 2 sprigs cilantro, finely shredded
Cook the potatoes in just enough water to cover with half the onion, the turmeric and the chilies until about half cooked, about 8 minutes [note: next time I do these, I will omit the onion here and simply fry it all together at the end--I think the potatoes would have a better flavor that way, infused with the caramelized onion].
Meanwhile, blend the garam masala, coconut and ginger in a coffee grinder or miniature food processor. Add to the potato and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes, until tender but not soft, and most of the water has evaporated.
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds until they have popped, then add the onion and fry until deep golden brown. Stir this into the curry in the pot.
Add salt to taste and sprinkle with the mint and cilantro. Makes 4 servings.
NOTE: Although I’ve always cooked quite a bit of gluten-free foods, it wasn’t until March, 2009 that my diet became 100% gluten free. All recipes are included in this index, a mix of those with or without gluten. If you’re looking for gluten-free only, please check the Gluten Free Recipe Index.
Also. . . .This page is updated periodically. In the meantime, to locate recipes from the current month, you can use the “search” box on any blog page, or scroll back through the entries themselves.
To make this very long page a little easier to navigate, I’ve included a list of recipe categories below. Just click on the category that you want and you will jump to that section in this recipe index.