Archive for December, 2011
Christmas is almost here!
I think I could run a marathon with all the energy I have from my sugar overload. Of course, I would completely crash after mile 3, but at least I FEEL like I have that much energy right now. Give me a couple hours though and I’ll be wanting to sleep along with take some Tums…but that’s besides the point
I enjoy making homemade holiday goodies for people; I love cooking for others as I find joy in sharing my treats with people that I care about. For the past 6 years or so, you can expect for me the break out the baking ingredients and whip up some candy or goodies around the holidays. This year is no different….
Enter in exhibits A, B and C:
A. Coconut Trail Mix Bark
B. Dark Chocolate Sweet & Salty Stacks
C. Nutty Chocolate Bark
Now onto the homemade goodies!
First up is coconut trail mix bark – this is a lightly sweetened treat made with homemade coconut butter and a mix of roasted peanuts and fruit-sweetened cranberries, lightly scented with vanilla and dusted with shredded coconut.
Coconut Trail Mix Bark
1 1/2 cups coconut butter or Homemade Coconut Butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup roasted, unsalted almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews or peanuts (could leave out for nut-free)
1/3 to 1/2 cup juice sweetened dried cherries (cranberries, blueberries, apricots or other dried fruit would be yummy too)
2 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
Optional for a sweetener bark: 2-3 tbsp liquid sweetener (agave, honey, maple syrup etc) or stevia to taste
1. Melt coconut butter on low over double broiler, in oven safe dish at 200F for several minutes or in microwave for 30-60 seconds or from freshly made coconut butter while still warm (this is what I did). For an even smoother consistency, add one tablespoon of liquified coconut oil when melting over double broiler.
2. Add extracts, salt, nuts and fruit and stir to combine.
3. Spread the mixture onto a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet, sprinkle with coconut and set in the freezer to harden (about 15 minutes). Break into pieces and enjoy!
Next up – sweet n’ salty chocolate stacks…which is just a long name for chocolate covered pretzels with a few optional add-ins…so easy but so delicious!
Sweet n’ Salty Stacks
12 oz of your favorite chocolate bar chop into chunks (chocolate chips could be used too – I used Chocolove 73% bars) use dairy free chocolate like Enjoy Life for vegan
2-3 Tbsp of unsalted, unsweetened nut butter or homemade (peanut butter, almond, cashew, etc) – can omit for nut free
3 – 4 cups crushed/chopped gluten free pretzels (I used glutino twists)
pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
Optional add-ins (1/3 to 1/2 cup of) – chopped nuts, dried fruit, marshmallows, coconut, etc
1. Line a large baking sheet with wax paper
2. Melt chocolate and nut butter on top of a double boiler over gently simmering water, stirring until smooth. (or in a microwave on 50% power at 30 second intervals until melted)
3. Stir in pretzels gently into the melted nut butter-chocoalte mixture and other add-ins if desired.
4. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let cool until set, can refrigerate if desired.
I ate too many stacks but these are OH SO GOOD!
Nutty Chocolate Bark (adapted from make-it-your-own chocolate bark)
8-10 dates (OR 8 prunes + 3 Tbsp raisins OR 1/2 cup raisins OR 6 dates and 4 Tbsp raisins)
1/2 cup cocoa powder/cacao powder/carob powder (add 2-4 Tbsp for a darker chocolate)
4-6 Tbsp raw or roasted nut or seed butter* (I used 4 Tbsp)
1 cup coconut oil (refined for no coconut flavor, unrefined for hint of coconut)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Drops of stevia or small amount of honey/agave to taste, optional depending on how sweet you like it
Sprinkle of sea salt, optional (brings out chocolate/carob flavor)
1/4 cup Sunspire peanut butter chips (optional if peanut allergy)
1/4 cup juice-sweetened dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts (can sub with another nut if desired)
1. In a small bowl, add dates/prunes/raisins and cover with boiling water until soft. Drain and set aside.
2. Meawhile, melt coconut oil. (I set the glass jar of coconut oil in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot or boiling water and let it melt that way).
3. Add softened dates/raisins, liquified coconut oil, nut/seed butter, cocoa/cacao/carob powder, vanilla and a dash of sea salt to the bowl of a food processor and blend until well incorporated (about 1 minute).
4. Mix 1/2 of the peanut butter chips, peanuts and cranberries into the mixture and pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining chips, nuts and fruit. Freeze or refrigerate until hardened, break or cut into pieces and enjoy!
If you’re in the mood for a savory main dish try turkey chili with almond butter or healthy kung pao chicken or tofu
Is dessert calling your name? Try flour less chunky monkey cookies or vegan maple almond spice biscotti
Growing up, all I knew of cranberry sauce was the jellied variety in the can. Cranberry jelly accompanied all our holiday meals at Thanksgiving as well as Christmas through the years and was a holiday table staple. Once I started to pay more attention to the ingredients I was consuming, I was shocked to realize it was basically sugar and more sugar.
This year, I wanted to make a homemade version I would feel good about eating. I also aimed to create a recipe that embraces the tartness of the cranberry while using fruit juices and natural sweeteners to highlight the berry itself.
I prefer my cranberry sauce with smashed whole berries for texture purposes and so I know I am consuming the real deal! If you like nuts in your cranberry sauce, chopped pecans or walnuts would be lovely additions to this homemade condiment.
Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce
2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (I bet you could use frozen too)
4-6 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, honey, agave OR 9-11 medjool dates OR a combo (adjust sweetness to taste if too tart)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup orange juice (can be subbed with apple juice if desired)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, optional (ginger or other sweet spice would be great too for a different variation)
For a stronger orange flavor, add a teaspoon or orange zest
For a different flavor, add 1 or 2 diced apples to cook alongside the berries
For a chutney, add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans after cooking
1. In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to bring to a simmer on medium-low and let cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Halfway through cooking (5-6 minutes) use a fork or a spoon to mash berries and release more of their juices. Let cook for another 5 minutes, occassionally stirring and mashing until thick. (sauce will thicken more as it cools)
3. Serve immediately warm or refrigerate until ready to serve for a chilled sauce. Heat on low to reheat if preferred warm and enjoy!
*If using dates for your sweetener, soak them until soft and puree them along with the orange juice before cooking.
Serve this cranberry sauce over stuffing, roasted meat or even a veggie burger (recipe to come)!
Cranberries are one of those fruits that I tend to crave around the holidays. Maybe it’s their bright red color that just reminds me of Christmas time or maybe my body’s telling me I need more fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants that are found in these bite-sized ruby berries!
A little tart, a bit sweet and so versatile, cranberries are the perfect compliment to cookies, bars, cakes and other baked goods. I made a batch of cranberry bars last week and they suddenly disappeared…they were the perfect snack after a run, an on-the-go breakfast bar or a treat when I’m craving something sweet but non-chocolately.
These bars are sweetened only with fruit and do not contain any added oil, just natural and healthy fats from coconut and almonds, thus making them the ultimate guilt-free snack. They are packed with nutrition and energy, so whip a batch for a quick accompaniment to breakfast, pre or post-workout snack or a lightly sweetened dessert!
Oil-Free, Fruit-Sweetened Cranberry Yum Bars
Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free with Grain-Free & Vegan options
1 cup dried juice-sweetened cranberries
1-2 Tbsp orange juice or apple juice or apple cider (or spiced rum for an adult touch!)
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds (or pecans, walnuts or other nut)
1/3 cup almond flour (or other nut meal)
1/3 cup buckwheat flour (almond, oat, millet, sorghum or brown rice could also be subbed)
1/4 cup amaranth flour (almond, oat, millet, sorghum or brown rice could also be subbed)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg (flax egg or blended tofu may work for vegan, let me know if you try it!)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
optional: 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon or other sweet spice
1. In a medium bowl, add cranberries and orange/apple juice, cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Let sit covered until cranberries have mostly cooled and have softened.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil, butter, ghee or earth balance.
3. Add cooled cranberries to the bowl of a food processor along with the shredded coconut and chopped almonds. Process until it resembles a paste or until desired texture if you prefer a more chunky consistency.
4. Pulse in the flours, salt, baking soda, egg and vanilla extract until all is incorporated. Mixture will be thick. If mixture seems too dry, add a tablespoon of orange juice or apple juice and pulse again.
5. Spread and press into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy!
*For a grain-free option, use all almond flour for the flours (although buckwheat and amaranth are technically grain-free since they are seeds, but it’s up to you)
*For vegan bars, try substituting a flax or chia egg in place of the egg or even blended tofu.
To continue the cranberry lovin’, I also made a healthy and refined sugar free cranberry sauce, recipe coming soon