Tag Archives: coconut

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?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

30 Sep

My life is near unrecognizable to the one I led one or two years ago. I live an active life, following a paleo approach to my nutrition. My focuses are on positivity and progression in all aspects of my life, and I’m a better person for it.  The obvious changes are better strength, higher endurance, elevated confidence, and a much smaller body. Then there is all the little, weird stuff that changes that I, oddly, have taken note of…

Twelve Months of Changes:

 

  • Half my wardrobe consists of clothes that are too big and the other half is progressively tighter workout clothes.
  • My Amazon wish list is filled with my dream crossfit shoes, specialized ingredients for gourmet paleo, workout clothes, and clothes that I would never have worn 42 lbs ago (like dresses and shorts, gasp!)
  • Sore feels good. So good.
  • It’s easy to get out of bed super early when I know I get to go workout.
  • I’ve inspired friends to change their lifestyles (workouts and nutrition.)
  • Didn’t get sick for 11 months.
  • I don’t jiggle while brushing my teeth. Seriously, this was a secret new year’s resolution two years ago.
  • Drinking sucks. Even a little bit noticeably dehydrates me and affects my workout performance. Plus big time bloat.
  • Eggs. I could eat eggs for days and still want more.
  • Getting extremely excited when I find a place that uses almond or coconut milk for lattes.
  • Fruit is dessert. It’s a treat that I enjoy 100 times more than I did when it was just food, not fuel. Dried pineapple is like candy.
  • Coconutcoconutcoconutcoconutcoconut obsessed. Can you tell? I use some form of coconut every single day.
  • I flex in the mirror. Oh yes, I do. Not in a vain way, just checking out my growing muscles. Ok, sometimes in a vain way.
  • My entire week can be made by a new accomplishment at JTS. Like going up in weight, or getting my first (insert bad ass movement.)
  • No more ankle problems- the occasional swelling that I barely feel. Other than that, I’d consider my ankle in better shape than it ever was. (I had torn many ligaments, had two surgeries, and permanent hardware.)
  • When I sleep, I sleep. Working out and getting up early translates to great recovery sleep.
  • Goodwill jeans are totally acceptable. They probably won’t fit right in four weeks anyways
  • My bubble got bigger. No, not my butt. My comfort zone. Social functions with strangers? I can totally handle that. Kinda. Talk to my lab partner? No biggie. Ask for help in a store? A breeze. A year ago? Not so much.
  • After many experiences, I find I don’t crave the food that makes me feel like crud: the food that my body isn’t designed to digest easily.
  • New techniques/ingredients/tools in the kitchen are an exciting adventure rather than an anxiety-inducing nightmare. Dates? I’ll give them a go. Coconut flour? A great challenge. Kombucha? Let’s do it!

So there you have it. Now you know 20 random things about me that you didn’t before. So, tell me something random about you. Have you made a change for the good and had other aspects of your life change because of it?

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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Cinnamon Roasted Almonds & Trail Mix

3 Sep

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It’s back to school time around my neck of the woods. My daughter will be starting kindergarten in less than a week; and while I may have a calm exterior, internally I’m fighting the urge to freak out. I know my social butterfly 5 year old will love kindergarten. She went to half-day preschool last year at a public school, so many things won’t be new or scary to her. What I’m not  freaking out about is me. This is the beginning of a decade of making school lunches, driving, more driving, and coordinating my classes to work with whatever school or extracurricular activities that interest her.  I have a resolute stance that yes, I can handle it all like a champ. But then I have this meek, inner doubt trying to squeak out, are you sure you can keep up with it all? 

Last year was a breeze. My husband was off of work due to an injury, and was available for driving, meal making, and keeping up with housekeeping. I had few classes on campus, and therefore a highly flexible schedule. My daughter was in school for 3 hours, and ate all her meals at home. This year, my husband is back to working full(and over-)time, I have many hours where I have to be on campus for classes, and my daughter will have to eat lunch at school for the first time ever. That means I’m the main meal maker, including portable lunches for both my husband and daughter. 

Needless to say, I’ve been preparing for weeks. Influencing posts by Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo persuaded me to purchase a LunchBot for my daughter to use. It comes in the mail tomorrow and I think I’m more excited than she is. Michelle has some great lunch ideas that I’m sure I”ll refer to when I get tired of making my go-to lunches. 

A challenge I’ve recently faced is making foods that are easy to eat while driving, because my husband’s career isn’t always accommodating with a lunch hour at a table or with access to a kitchen. Beyond raw, cut vegetables (that are always included in his lunch box whether he chooses to put them in or I lovingly slip them in after I notice he hasn’t packed enough) I wanted to make something that is closer to a balanced snack that is fantastically delicious, to the point of looking forward to eating it. Something with fat, protein, and sweet goodness. In comes trail mix to save the day! I spent some time in my favorite place (Marlene’s bulk cooler) and scooped baggies full of the good stuff. 

For the sweetness part, I perused a list of real snacks compiled by Katie of Girl Meets Nourishment and immediately wanted to give the cinnamon roasted almonds a try. The original poster uses pure cane sugar, which I don’t use. I did have a bunch of coconut sugar though, and honestly I had no idea if it would work as a substitute for this particular recipe; but I was willing to sacrifice having sticky nuts if it didn’t turn out right. I figured if it could become granulated/crystallized once, I could do it again. 

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted almonds (if using raw, you can roast them beforehand for 10 minutes at 350°)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TB water

In a big skillet, add all your ingredients except the almonds. Mix it all together until if forms a paste.

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Add the almonds and stir to coat. 

Place the skillet on a burner over medium, and stir. Stir, stir….constantly for 7-10 minutes. 

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn't know...

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn’t know…

Don’t walk away from them, you have to keep stirring and watching them like a hawk. After a while, the mixture will begin to solidify.

Keep stirring until the sugar crystallizes onto the nuts.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour onto some parchment to cool.

Hardened coconut sugar

Hardened coconut sugar

They are perfect on their own. Maybe a little too perfect. Without restraint, I’m sure I could have eaten the ENTIRE batch in one day. To prevent myself from eating handfuls of them at a time (besides that first one, of course) I put them into my fantastic trail mix. 

 

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Trail Mix

  • Cinnamon roasted almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Raisins 
  • Goji berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Use whatever proportions you like. You know you’re going to pick out your favorite ones anyways.

 

What do you pack in your kids school lunch or your own lunch?

 

SB&J

27 Aug

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Since easing my (bread loving) five year old into paleo, the one thing she still asks for on a regular basis is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After a few weeks of explaining that we don’t even have bread in the house to make a pb&j, she has started to ask, “did you buy bread yet?” It’s difficult for her to grasp/remember that we’re not eating peanuts OR bread anymore.  Having never liked peanut butter, it’s hard for me to empathize with her craving for this lunch time treat. She does enjoy almond butter, which is a great for me since I don’t have to convince her to like other nut butters. She even saved up a dollar of her earned money to buy a squeeze packet of Justin’s maple almond butter.

Then one day Taylor Made It Paleo posted these pb&j bars (which don’t really have peanut butter in them, but sunflower seed butter and cashews) and I thought I’d give them a try to help my daughter transition easier. I’m going to call them SB&J bars-sun butter and jelly- because that seems more logical to me.

Despite all I’ve heard and read about how great they are, I’d never bought or tried Chia seeds before. I knew exactly where to find them though, so I picked some up in the bulk section of Marlene’s. Kinda off topic-that little cooler room in the back of the store filled with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and all sorts of natural goodies is one of my happy places. Does it make me crazy that I could joyfully spend an hour a week in that little room? Probably. But I’m ok with that.

Anyways, back to the bars. The SB&J ones, not the kind with alcohol and single creepy guys. The crust was super easy and much like many other paleo snacks/desserts that use dates and nuts. The jam middle layer is so super simple and amazing that I wonder why I don’t make my own jam this way. In my opinion, reduction > pectin. (Oh yeah, I threw in some Tuesday morning math symbols. You are welcome.)
As for how they turned out, not only did my daughter love them, but my husband’s first response was, “Do you have enough ingredients to make more? I could eat one of these in my lunch everyday.” I’d call it a win.

SB&J Bars
Courtesy of Taylor Made It Paleo

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut cream
10 dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
pinch of salt

Directions:
Place blueberries and honey in a small saucepan over med-high and bring to a low boil.
Turn heat down to medium-low, and continue to cook while mashing blueberries, and stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add chia seeds and coconut cream and continue to cook/stir until you get a jam-like consistency (about 20-25 minutes).

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Thick and jam-like

Put mixture in the fridge to cool while you make your crust.
In a food processor, combine dates, cashews, sunflower seed butter, and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated.

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Separate mixture into two “equal” parts. They’re just as awesome if one layer is a little thicker, so unless you’re a perfectionist, don’t fret too much about it.
Line a small bread pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper for easy removal.
For the crust, take one half and press down into the bread pan using a spatula to compress.
Remove jam from fridge and spread evenly over the crust.
Crumble the rest of the crust mixture over the top of the jam and press down to evenly form top layer.
Place in the fridge for 30-40 minutes before using the plastic wrap to remove it from the pan and cutting.

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