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Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen

8 Nov

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I hope you read the title a la Princess Vespa trapped in a cell. If not, go here.

What qualifies a round ball of something as a truffle? The sweet kind, not the fungus kind.

Well, according to dear Mr. Wiki, “Their name derives from the usual shape they take as the word ‘truffle’ derives from the Latin word tuber, meaning “swelling” or “lump”, which later became tufer.”

So there you go, a lump. Sounds scrumptious, right? There are evidently different versions of what is considered a truffle, depending on where it comes from. French, American, Belgian, and Swiss are a few. Apparently, these ones we have here might qualify as a “vegan truffle.” The “Vegan truffle” can have any shape or flavor, but is adapted to modern-day diet by replacing dairy with nut milks and butters. (Source)

Confession- I am extremely picky about chocolate. I can not stand to bite into chocolate. Just the thought of it stuck to my teeth makes me curl my lip, even as I type. I like half melted chocolate, like in a warm cookie. Chocolate truffles are a chocolate covered teeth disaster waiting to happen. You can imagine my elation when I saw these sweet potato pie truffles. Little round balls of “dessert” that won’t cause me any dental discomfort? Oh me oh my.

I completely intended to make them exactly as written. I did. I love sweet potatoes! Then I remembered there was leftover roasted butternut squash in the fridge that I couldn’t let go to waste. I thought maybe I didn’t need quite so much maple syrup, and maybe I can substitute my homemade pumpkin pie spice instead; and maybe I didn’t need so much coconut flour- that stuff sucks up moisture better than a dry sponge. Wow that was a weak analogy. Sorry.

My daughter’s honest reaction to these truffles:

After first bite: “This isn’t dessert.”

After second bit: “Mmm!”

After first bite of second truffle: “These are so delicious Mom!”

These morsels of happiness came together rather quickly; even when I realized it was a bit too much dough to fit into my little Ninja and switched to manual stirring in a bowl. The cool thing about them? You can use any squash puree you want- pumpkin, butternut, whatever. And of course, sweet potato would also work.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 5 TB coconut flour
  • 1/8 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar

Directions

  1. Add pecans to a food processor and process until it’s a meal.
  2. Add the squash and mix.
  3. Add vanilla and spices, mix.
  4. Add the coconut flour a tablespoon at a time, until you get the consistency you’d like. I used 5 TB, you might want more or less.
  5. Roll into balls, it shouldn’t be sticky.
  6. Roll the balls in either toasted coconut, coconut sugar, or both. 
  7. Set on some parchment paper and refrigerate for a half an hour.
  8. Store in the fridge.
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Pumpkin Spice Coconut Cookies

4 Nov

I made it to the other side of midterms week alive and mostly unscathed. I had a good 60% reduction in homework over the weekend, so I took full advantage of it! In the past weeks, my only “me” time has been working out at JTS. So what do I do with a whole day without studying? More exercise, naturally. I went falling  hiking, even though I don’t have the correct shoes for it, especially in the snow. I had a blast. It was much needed.

Yes, I'm laughing so hard my eyes are hardly open.

Yes, I’m laughing so hard my eyes are barely open.

If you follow me on facebook, you might have seen my purchase of a certain coconut product that came in the mail- Nikki’s pumpkin spiced donut coconut butter. It’s amazing on any fruit or baked good. Or…on a spoon. With some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yep, I went there. I would recreate this wonderful coconut butter myself, but my food processor just isn’t sharp enough nor powerful enough to make coconut butter. I’ve made plain coconut butter three times, and those will be the last until I can upgrade my processor. It should not take 60 minutes and a ton of melted coconut oil added to make it the right consistency.

Maybe the world has gotten a little too obsessed with pumpkin-flavoring-everything. I spotted these in Fred Meyer the other day. While I’m a don’t-knock-it-till-you-try it kind of person, I am  just going to say no to pumpkin and potatoes. Plus I don’t eat chips anyhow.

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No thanks.

My fridge had run out of sweet snacks for my husband to put into his lunch. I hadn’t noticed; so he kindly asked me to make my chocolate coconut no-bake cookies and I eventually got around to obliging a few days later in between the hectic whirring around the city and formidable study-homework-test-report-study-homework tornado. Staring at the recipe on my fridge, spatula in hand, I thought about the almond butter and what I could substitute in for it. I have gotten in the habit of smothering bananas/apples in it right before I take off for biology class, and therefore wanted to preserve what I could for that bad, delicious addiction.

It was like one of those cartoonish lightbulb- epiphany moments. Pumpkin spiced cookies! It’d be so easy. And it was. These are even better than the originals.

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  • 2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup raw, local honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Nikki’s pumpkin spice donut coconut butter, softened**
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  1. Measure out your softened coconut butter and have it ready.
  2. Put honey, pumpkin spice, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning..
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the coconut butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in shredded coconut until everything is coated evenly.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. Serve cold.

**Softened coconut butter and an extra 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice may be substituted.

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Have you seen any weird or wondrous pumpkin spiced anything lately?

Waffles, Round Two

29 Sep

I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder in one week from today. I’m excited and only apprehensive of one of the obstacles- the Arctic Enema. For those that don’t know much about it, the obstacles of the Tough Mudder are meant to test your abilities to the maximum. I hate cold. I really hate it. When I had a bad ankle injury and was told to ice it all the time, I hated every minute of it. Ice is supposed to numb. Well, for me, it just hurts. So…I’m going to be jumping into a huge dumpster full of ice water and wading through to the middle where I will be forced to submerge my entire body to get through to the other side. Does that sound crazy stupid? Yes. Am I going to do it? You betcha.
Completing the Tough Mudder is more than bad ass bragging rights. I’ve come so far and changed so much about my lifestyle to better myself and live a fuller life. To me, finishing such a mentally and  physically trying challenge will signify “victory” over my fitness. Reaching new heights in my physical capabilities is the ultimate “high” for me. That feeling from getting seventeen double-unders in a row for the first time  or using a heavier weight correctly or squat jumping twice as many times before getting tired is exhilarating! The Tough Mudder will be chock-full of new, difficult challenges all in one eleven mile course. I’m ready for it.

I posted about waffles a few weeks ago, using Paleo Parent’s recipe. This morning I woke up nice and early on the only day of the week that I can sleep in (thank you circadian rhythm!) and I wasn’t quite ready to be super productive (like studying or housework) so I decided to make a big breakfast. I had purchased and set aside a banana and apple earlier in the week specifically to make waffles to freeze, but never got around to making them. Since the banana was nearing the end of its usefulness, I figured it was now or never. I grab all my tools needed and put the banana in my ninja to puree. Then I go to grab the apple to peel and core and it is nowhere to be found. Some unknown family member had already eaten it.
I had already peeled the banana. I was committed. Improvisation to the rescue! So I tweaked the recipe here and there, dumped it into my fancy Goodwill waffle iron, closed the lid and crossed my fingers. Thanks to my culinary genius (or sheer luck) the waffles turned out spectacular. I’ll be using this recipe from now on to save me the trouble of peeling and coring an apple.

The cool part is the waffles turned green this time. The last time I made them I used 50/50 sunbutter and almond butter and they were normal “waffle color.” This time it was all sunbutter and vividly my favorite color. Chlorophyll (in sunflower seeds)+ baking soda = green!

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Waffles
Grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free.

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  • 1 cup sunbutter
  • 2 bananas, pureed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 TB arrowroot powder
  • 1 TB real vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Melted coconut oil for waffle iron

Thoroughly mix your sunbutter to distribute oil evenly. I use a whisk on a hand mixer.
Added pureed bananas. Mix.
Add everything else. Mix.
Slather your waffle iron in coconut oil. I use a silicone basting brush.
Fill each waffle space 3/4 full and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on how hot your iron gets.
Watch for the steaming to decrease and check to see if they’re floppy. Of course, you may like floppy waffles. If not, wait for them to stiffen. This is best if you plan to freeze them and later throw them in a toaster.
If you’re not eating right away, cool on a wire rack to prevent sogginess.
Enjoy!

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Have you ever done a mud run or obstacle course? What was your experience like? Have you ever thrown something together and it turned out great?

Banana Cereal

25 Sep

I used to have a serious relationship with Honey Bunches of Oats. We were the best of friends. I was never disappointed in my HBOO. HBOO was always there for me, always crisp and crunchy and honeyed. But then I don’t think HBOO liked me as well. I started spending more time and using bigger bowls with HBOO, but all I got in return was the need for bigger pants. How dare you HBOO! I loved and appreciated your multi-textured, just-sweet-enough loveliness, and that’s how you treat me!? So I said goodbye to HBOO. It was a tearful day. But I don’t regret it, not one bit.

You could call this cereal or granola. We use it both ways. The recipe is rather versatile, as long as the ending quantity isn’t more because this will completely fill a regular cookie sheet. Omit the chocolate and just use more coconut; or use less of either of those and throw in some chopped nuts. Sunbutter could replace the almond butter. Heck, I might even try replacing the banana with pumpkin someday. The size of the chunks depends on how you intend to eat it. I leave mine in bigger chunks so my husband can munch on it at work; and if I want some in a little bowl with almond milk, I just use my spoon to break it up a bit.

About the bananas- dried bananas can be crunchy or soft. I personally can’t find crunchy dried bananas with nothing added to them. I buy my dried bananas in bulk at Marlene’s (big surprise, I know.) I was intrigued the first time I saw them because they’re dried whole. And let me tell show you, they don’t look the most appealing.
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They smell like banana bread and are mushy, chewy, and moist. I throw them into my little Ninja one at a time to chop them up. It does not make them look any more appetizing. In fact, once it’s chopped, it resembles wet dog food…
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But I can look passed this stage of the cereal, because I know in the end it’s delicious and better looking by the time it’s over with.

Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts, shelled/hulled) were new to me when I first read this particular recipe. They’re a complete protein, which means they contain the proper proportion of amino acids for our bodies to absorb/digest. You can absorb it all on its own without the need to eat it with something else to get the maximum effect; which I think is fantastic. It’s also a great source of fiber and vitamins. Nutrient dense foods have a special place in my heart. I haven’t tried liver yet though… Anyways back to the seeds. Where’s the first place I look for them? In bulk. And they were there, right under my nose the whole time. I’d never given them any close scrutiny because the bin looked to contain some sort of foreign grain.
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I’m glad my family and I are always up for trying new things, because I’m so glad I discovered this recipe. I can dump some almond milk over it and eat it like cereal and not have to wonder what bad side effects I’ll be dealing with. So go try this, you won’t regret it.
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Banana Cereal
Recipe inspired by Our Paleo Life
Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried banana (about five whole) chopped
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions
Preheat to 325F.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Anything else will stick!
Combine the almond butter, egg, and honey in a large bowl and stir until incorporated.
Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir again.
Add in the rest and stir again.
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It’ll be goopy like cookie dough.
Dump the mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet and break up with a spoon or spatula to the size you’d like.
Bake for 25 minutes, flipping twice to brown it evenly. I like to use my biggest metal spatula to get the job done quickly. Plus some of the melted chocolate sticks to it during the flipping- bonus taste!
Keep an eye on it to prevent burning.
Let it cool completely, it will harden as it cools-depending on the size of your chunks and crunchiness of your bananas.
Store an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
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Pumpkin Creamer

16 Sep

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Oh yes, I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s mid-September, so I must consume something flavored with this orange squash that is oh-so popular in the autumn months. But as I sit here with cold feet on this cloudy day, I can’t help but miss the sunshine. This is the first summer I’ve particularly enjoyed the sunshine. I wore shorts that were shorter than my knees (gasp!) and even sported a bikini top instead of a tankini. I wasn’t constantly thinking about how fat my arms looked when I wore a tank top. It was nice being so comfortable with my body without six layers on in the sweltering sun. The swimming, sun tanning, lazy summer days are now behind me and I’m reluctantly accepting the changing of the seasons. Autumn means back to a routine, each week hurtling towards the cold winter that will get here too fast and linger too long. Autumn- when I’ll have just a fraction of the family time I’ve enjoyed these past months. So onward I I trudge into September with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger for comfort.

A lot of pumpkin creamers out there (especially the store bought ones) are just pumpkin spice creamers. Which means just the traditional spices paired with pumpkin. I wanted actual pumpkin in my creamer- for both flavor and the goodness of the squash. Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A, C, and fiber (among others.)

I tried researching a creamer that looked yummy, but most of them didn’t use very much pumpkin and the dairy-free versions used almond milk. I enjoy the creamy-ness of coconut milk in my coffee, so I thought I’d just make up a recipe and taste as I go. Turns out I’m a pumpkin creamer genius, because after my first attempt and taste I couldn’t think of a single thing to add to it. I liked it so much I immediately proceeded to make a second batch.

Pumpkin Creamer

1 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup raw honey (can sub. maple syrup)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Throw everything into a food processor, blender, or bowl and mix until well incorporated. Refrigerate. You’re done. That was so fast, now you can go rake some leaves, make an apple pie, or whatever Autumnal festivities you prefer.
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Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

12 Aug

As a kid, I hated coconut. The smell, taste, and texture did not appeal to me in the least. Now? Now I can’t get enough of the stuff. If coconut wasn’t so healthy, it’d be a problem. Thankfully, it’s a freaking awesome food to be in love with. As Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom explains:

Unlike most tree nuts, coconut does not contain omega six fatty acids.  Instead, coconut is rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a very special “short”-chain saturated fat (unlike the longer saturated fatty acids typically found in animal fat).  MCTs do not require bile salts for digestion.  They diffuse passively from the intestines into the blood and do not require modification before being used as energy for your cells.  They are metabolized very easily and, because they are a fat and not a sugar, they can be used by your cells for energy without a spike in your insulin. Also, because MCTs are a saturated fat, they do not oxidize easily or produce free-radicals.

Like I said, coconut is amazing. I use extra-virgin coconut oil in cooking and baking, unsweetened shredded coconut in sweet and savory dishes, coconut flour in both goodies and main dishes, coconut cream concentrate 10 different ways, and coconut milk in a million different ways. I even have been known to mix my protein powder with some coconut water for post-workout goodness.

I found this recipe when searching for grab-and-go snacks for family paleo camping. Things I like about these cookies- ridiculously quick to throw together, doesn’t use a ton of cocoa powder but still has a chocolatey flavor, and my kids and husband love them. The one downside is that heating up raw honey cooks out all the goodness of being raw, but what can you do?

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Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

 

2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/3 cup raw, local honey

1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder (or cocao powder for extra goodness)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup almond butter

1 teaspoon real vanilla

  1. Measure out your almond butter to have it ready.
  2. Put honey, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning. It’ll bubble like a weird brown science experiment.
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the almond butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in coconut until everything is coated.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. (If camping, keep an ice pack on top of the container.)

If you try any add-ins, let me know in the comments below!