I was first introduced to Nutella when my family spent three weeks in Italy a couple of years ago. I’m not sure how I missed it before because I know all grocery stores in the U.S. carry it. We rented a villa in Italy, so we needed to stock it with food to eat during our stay, and that’s when we picked up the Nutella. It is ridiculously good and not at all like any other nut butter. I would say it more closely resembles cake frosting than a health food – it is that yummy.
We are a very active family, so I’m always trying simple recipes that we can snack on between meals for a quick energy boost. One of our favorites is gutty putty. My mom used to make them for my brother and I growing up all the time. This recipe is a similar idea but using the flavor of “nutella” or hazelnuts and raw cacao instead of peanut butter.
These “nutella” energy bites are not made with actual Nutella, just the Nutella flavors of hazelnut and chocolate. They aren’t nearly as rich and indulgent; however, they can be enjoyed without all the sugar and guilt. I ever so slightly toasted the hazelnuts before adding them to the food processor to help bring out their flavor.
I processed the nuts until they were coarsely ground and then reserved ¼ of a cup to roll the bites in. Without this step, the “nutella” bites end up oily and frankly unappetizing, as they look like brown balls of you know what.
I call these energy bites because I used several “superfoods” known to be a good source of nutrients and energy: cacao, maca, honey, and hemp hearts.
Raw cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world! (according to David Wolfe) Cacao is also high in many minerals like iron, which is necessary to make the hemoglobin part of our blood, the part that carries oxygen to all parts of our bodies – our brains, our muscles, our organs…everything! Cacao also contains endorphins, tryptophan, and serotonin – all of which are feel good substances that boost our mood.
Maca is known for being an aphrodisiac. It’s been grown for centuries in South America as food for warriors to make them superhuman strong for battle. Maca increases blood oxygen and activates our endocrine glands to give us a big boost of energy.
Honey is known for its sweetness and for helping those with seasonal allergies, but it is also a huge enzyme source, so it increases muscle reflexes and mental focus. I choose raw honey from a source close to where I live for the most benefits.
Hemp hearts are one of my very favorite foods and one of the most nutritious and energizing you can find. These little seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are so important to regulate inflammation in our bodies, and contain a healthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 3:1. They are also a good plant source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Protein is the building block for pretty much everything – muscles, bones, hair, skin, nails, glands, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system antibodies.
These energy bites are as easy to make as gutty putty. After coarsely grinding the hazelnuts and removing ¼ of a cup, I added the remaining ingredients to the food processor and processed until a dough formed. Important step – taste the dough to make sure it is sweet and chocolatey enough for your taste. Add more cacao and/or honey and process further until you reach the desired taste.
I removed the blade from the food processor and, using my hands, formed balls out of the dough. I rolled each ball in the coarsely ground hazelnut, and now I have a quick energizing snack when the need arises.
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 12 medjool dates
- ⅓ cup honey (more or less to taste)
- 3-4 tablespoons cacao, to taste
- 2 teaspoons maca
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup hemp hearts
- Very lightly (no more than 1-2 minutes) toast hazelnuts to bring out their flavor.
- Transfer to a food processor, and process until coarsely ground.
- Remove ¼ cup of coarsely ground hazelnuts, and set aside.
- Add the dates, honey, cacao, maca, vanilla, and hemp hearts to the food processor, and process until a dough forms.
- Remove the blade of the food processor, and using your hands, form balls out of the dough.
- Roll the balls in the coarsely ground hazelnuts.
- Store in the refrigerator.
I’m a chocolate kind of girl, but one of Rob and my all time favorite desserts is key lime pie. The tart and tangy taste is somehow so refreshing in a dessert. It’s kind of like a little bit of tropical sunshine in every bite. Now that spring has finally arrived, my body is ready to ditch the warm, cooked vegetables, soups, and stews, and trade them in for all the raw, fresh goodness that is coming in season. And, I just happen to love the whole raw food thing. Even though I’m not strictly a raw foodist or a vegan (I still need a little bit of animal protein in my diet, but not much, and I choose good clean protein sources to eat), I love the creativity, taste, and the way my body feels when I eat at least 50% of my foods raw. 50% is an easily attainable amount of raw food. If I start out my day with a green smoothie and have a salad for either lunch or dinner, throw in some cut up raw veggies and a handful of nuts for snacks, and I’m already there.
Can’t think of a better way to kick off the raw food season, than with a little something sweet. I decided to make a raw key lime pie using soaked cashews, an avocado, and raw coconut oil to accomplish the creamy filling. To make this recipe (like most raw food recipes), I had to dust off my food processor (I had dropped it and bent the post), and try to repair it. In the past, I’ve used my Vitamix dry container to do the job, but for this recipe, I wanted the filling to be as smooth and creamy as possible. I was able to sand down the post enough, so the blade would fit over it – thank goodness!! I’ve missed you, hardworking Cuisinart!!
To make the crust, I used 2 cups walnuts and 1 ½ cups raisins. I processed them together in the food processor until a big clump of dough formed. One of my favorite things about raw food recipes is the simplicity. Who knew such a delicious crust could be made with only walnuts and raisins! Pecans can be substituted for the walnuts, and dates can be substituted for the raisins to make your crust. Or, a mixture of macadamia nuts and almonds would be another delicious choice.
I used a springform pan to hold my raw key lime pie. I have had this springform pan so long that I can’t even remember when or why I bought it! I noticed when taking this picture that it has Pampered Chef written on the base. I don’t think I’ve been to one of their parties since my babies were in cribs. I certainly wasn’t cooking or baking much back then, so who knows why I bought this pan. It sure has come in handy for the right recipes, so I’m glad I did! To form the crust, I pressed the ball of walnut-raisin dough into the bottom of the springform pan, and put it in the fridge to harden.
After rinsing out my food processor, I started on the filling. First, I used my Microplane zester to zest the limes. I used 8 organic limes instead of key limes. Key limes are so darn tiny and hard to zest and juice, so I substituted the plain jane variety, and the taste turned out just fine. I transferred the zest into the food processor and then juiced the limes in my juicer and added the lime juice to the food processor as well.
Next, I strained the raw cashews out of the soaking water and discarded the water. The longer the cashews have soaked in the water, the easier it will be to achieve a creamy texture for the filling. I added the soaked cashews, avocado, raw coconut oil, agave, and vanilla extract to the food processor and processed the ingredients until they were thick and creamy, which probably took at least a minute.
What I love about raw food recipes is that no cooking is involved (duh!), so I can taste the finished product before totally committing. While the filling is still in the Cuisinart, I made sure it was sweet and creamy enough for my liking. I like my key lime pie pretty tart, so make sure to taste yours and add more agave and/or vanilla if you like a sweeter version.
The last step – I poured the filling over the walnut-raisin crust in the springform pan and then refrigerated the pie for at least 2 hours.
Before cutting and serving the pie, I removed the side from the base of the springform pan. So the pie wouldn’t stick to the edge, I gently ran a knife around the edge between the side of the pan and the pie. Once the side is removed, I garnished the pie with a few slices of a lime. Ready to slice and serve. All kinds of taste bud satisfaction with under 25 minutes of actual time in the kitchen! Love, love, love it!
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1½ cups raisins
- zest of 8 limes
- juice of 8 limes
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 30 minutes and soaking water discarded
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup raw coconut oil, warmed to a liquid
- ½ cup agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To make the crust, process the walnuts and raisins together in a food processor until a ball of dough forms.
- Press the dough into the bottom of a springform pan.
- Rinse out the food processor.
- Zest 8 limes, and transfer the zest into the food processor.
- Juice 8 limes, and pour the juice into the food processor.
- Add the soaked cashews, avocado, coconut oil, agave, and vanilla to the food processor, and process until thick and creamy.
- Taste the filling, and add more agave and/or vanilla for a sweeter pie.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan on top of the walnut-raisin crust.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Slide a knife between the side of the springform pan and the pie to separate the edge of the pie from the pan.
- Remove the side of the springform pan from the base, slice, and serve.
I can’t believe Easter is just around the corner, a week from Sunday. 2013 is flying by! Easter is most definitely my favorite time of year. Not only is it a powerful reminder of God’s love and the sacrifice He made for me on the cross, but it is also a time to remember the new life I have in Christ. I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus, and that is why I love this time of year more than any other. “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:39
Easter also comes with it’s own food traditions, including desserts. A favorite of mine is carrot cake, so I made these grain free carrot cupcakes to celebrate the season. Carrot cake became a traditional Easter dessert because little children wanted to leave a sweet treat for the bunny when he comes around to fill their baskets with goodies. Just in case the Easter bunny is minimizing his grains like I am, I made these carrot cupcakes without them (although I don’t think they’ll last long enough for him anyway!).
For my grain free carrot cupcakes, I used a blend of 2/3 almond flour and 1/3 sweet potato flour. Using sweet potato flour helps the cupcakes have a more desired texture, and it also reduces the amount of almond flour. Almond flour is a heart healthy flour to use, but it also has a lot of omega 6 fatty acids. You may remember from an earlier post that omega 6 fatty acids are important for our bodies, but not in the huge quantities in which we eat them, as they are the ones that promote inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids are those that have an anti-inflammatory effect, so the healthiest way to eat is to strive for a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Including sweet potato flour in this recipe helps reduce the omega 6 intake from the almond flour. Sweet potato flour also carries with it all the health benefits of one of my favorite foods, the sweet potato – lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, and E, potassium, and manganese. Plus, as a bonus, sweet potato, like its name, is sweet, so it lends a sweet flavor to any baked item.
Carrots, besides being a favorite of the Easter bunny and being famous for benefitting our eyesight, are also naturally sweet and contain lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, K, and E, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and lots of other phytonutrients. Carrots are a hard root vegetable, so to use them in my carrot cupcake recipe, I must first shred them with a standard grater.
Traditional carrot cake spices are similar to pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, with the addition of cardamom. Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of a ginger-like plant that is used whole or ground and comes in two varieties, green and black. It also lends a warm and sweet flavor when added to gingerbread, banana bread, pancakes and other desserts and combines just as well with savory dishes like risottos, other grains, soups, stews, and sauces.
I used maple syrup and raisins pureed in my Magic Bullet to sweeten these carrot cupcakes. Some carrot cake recipes call for the whole raisin, but I know many people who don’t care for the texture of raisins in their baked goods. The pureed raisins are sweet, so not only can I reduce the amount of syrup but I can also avoid the raisin texture in the cake. I happen to like the taste of raisins in baked items, so this option allows me to please everyone.
After blending the wet and dry ingredients together and adding the shredded carrots and chopped pecans, I lined my muffin pan with unbleached cupcake liners and filled them each with a large spoonful of batter. These liners are free of chemicals, so my cupcakes will be as well. We come in contact with so many different chemicals everyday, making simple switches like these cupcake liners is one small way I can reduce my family’s exposure.
These cupcakes turned out so yummy! While they were baking, I pulled out my Easter decorations and set them out around the house. The kids always notice when I decorate for each holiday, and even though they are getting so old, they still think it’s fun to have a festive home and some festive goodies – chocolate eggs are their favorites and never last long. I have a feeling these cupcakes won’t last long either, as Kayley has already eaten one and let me know they are way better than the last dessert I made. Gotta love her honesty. Happy Palm Sunday everyone!
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup sweet potato flour
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (warmed to a liquid)
- 1½ cups shredded carrots
- ½ cup pureed raisins (soak in warm water for 30 minutes before discarding the soaking water and pureeing in a blender or food processor)
- 1 cup chopped pecans, extra for garnish
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine the dry ingredients – almond flour, sweet potato flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom – in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients – eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and pureed raisins – in a small mixing bowl.
- Mix together the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
- Add the shredded carrots and chopped pecans.
- Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Spoon batter into each liner. Makes 12.
- Bake for 20 minutes, and then let cool.
- To make the frosting, blend together coconut oil and maple syrup in a Magic bullet, food processor, or other blender.
- Chill for at least 15 minutes, so frosting solidifies.
- Frost cupcakes, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Eat something green this Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th or be pinched. No I’m just kidding. But in honor of this Irish tradition, celebrate the day with this oh so yummy green vegan pistachio ice cream.
Why is it that we must wear green or fear the pinch on this fun and festive day? St. Patrick’s Day has become a global celebration of all things Irish, and green is the color most representative of Ireland with its lush rolling landscape, the bit of green on its flag, and of course green is the color of the shamrock – the St. Patty’s Day symbol. Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day in honor of the great country of Ireland began because rumor had it that those who donned the color green were invisible to leprechauns – the tiny little mischievous men that scurry around pinching all of those who forget or refuse to wear green. St. Patrick’s Day started as a show of Irish patriotism with parades on March 17th, and it has grown into a world-wide party with traditional foods like corned beef and cabbage.
So as an ode to all things Irish, I am making this green vegan pistachio ice cream. And it is gooo-oood! I am a lover of all things creamy (as you probably already know), so this indulgent treat hits the spot.
I started out with a huge bag of roasted pistachios, still encased in the shells. My first step was to shell the little guys (you can purchase them in the bulk section at Whole Foods already shelled if you’re smarter than me), which turned out to be no small task, as my raw fingertips can attest. Next, I soaked my pistachios in filtered water overnight. Not only does this part of the process make it easier to remove the remaining skins, but it also softens them up, so processing them into a paste becomes easier. After soaking my pistachios, I gently ran them under water and rubbed them between my fingertips to remove excess skin (for those of you really smart ones, you can also purchase pistachio paste, and use 1 cup in this recipe).
The last step in preparing my pistachios is to grind them into a paste using my Vitamix, although a food processor or coffee grinder would both work equally as well.
After achieving a smooth paste, I added the avocado for a little more green color and creaminess (why not, right?!), coconut milk (I chose Native Forest because it’s organic and comes in a BPA free can), juice from a lemon, honey, vanilla, and almond extract to my Vitamix. After blending on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy, I poured my pistachio pre-ice cream into my ice cream maker. I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker, and I love it. So easy to use – I just store the bowl in the freezer all the time, so it’s frozen and ready for ice cream making.
The ice cream maker turned my green mixture into this creamy treat after about 30 minutes of churning. I garnished the ice cream with a few sprinkled pistachios on top and a bit of olive oil (sounds unappetizing, but it brings out the nutty taste of the pistachios, so don’t skip this step!). Fantastic! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!
- 1½ cups shelled pistachios, soaked and skins removed
- 1 avocado
- 3 cans organic coconut milk
- ⅔ cup honey
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- optional: garnish with pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil
- Process the pistachios in a blender or food processor until a paste forms.
- Transfer to a large blender container, and add avocado, coconut milk, honey, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract.
- Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Pour into an ice cream maker, and turn on to churn until mixture is frozen, about 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately, and transfer what is remaining to a container for storage in the freezer.
- Optional: garnish with pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil
These cookies are light and refreshing, just like I want to feel. I’ve been looking for new ways to use my bags of grapefruits, as you all know I love them! When I was pregnant with Kayley, I craved grapefruit. I ate 2 – 3 every night after dinner. No pickles and ice cream for me, but instead I just could not get enough grapefruit. My son now reminds me of how I felt while pregnant – a grapefruit fanatic.
When I think of coconuts, I think of the beach. Palm trees, pina coladas, sun tan oil… But coconut is also an incredibly healthy food. Because coconut is naturally sweet with a low glycemic index, it’s a healthier way to curb your sweet tooth while providing lots of important nutrients. Coconut is rich in fiber and a healthy type of saturated fat called lauric acid (a type of medium chain fatty acid), which helps to slow the sugar absorption of coconut. Plus, this type of fat has actually shown to benefit your heart and cholesterol levels. Coconut is also an energy boosting food that is known to help improve endurance and athletic performance. One reason is its ability to support the thyroid and increase absorption of fat soluble nutrients. Another amazing quality of coconut is its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal (yeast, candida), and anti-viral properties. In fact, coconut makes a wonderful preservative when added to your foods! With so many ways to use our friend the coconut, you won’t have any trouble adding more into your diet:
- Coconut oil is a semi-solid fat that can be substituted equally in place of butter or shortening.
- Coconut oil is wonderful for your skin and can be made into homemade moisturizers.
- Coconut flour can be used in baked goods and gives a light and fluffy texture.
- Coconut sugar can be equally substituted for white table sugar in recipes but has a lower glycemic index.
- Shredded coconut can be used as a condiment, added to trail mixes, added to granola and muesli, and used as a dessert topping.
- Coconut water is a super hydrating drink that replenishes electrolytes and provides many nutrients.
- Coconut milk is a delicious substitute for dairy milk and creates fluff when used in place of milk for baked goods, scrambled eggs, and any other recipe calling for dairy milk.
- Coconut water and milk can be fermented into yogurt or kefir to make a gut healing and tasty food.
And these are just a few of the ways for you to use the amazing coconut as a nutrient boosting food, a dairy and grain alternative, and sweet flavor enhancer. Comment and let me know how you love to use coconut in the kitchen!
Fluffy egg whites also contribute to the light and refreshing texture and taste of these cookies. I used my KitchenAid mixer to easily form soft peaks out of my egg whites before gently folding in the coconut sugar, vanilla, grapefruit juice, pinch of salt, shredded coconut, and grapefruit zest. All that is left to do is form balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden and crispy on the outside.
- 6 egg whites
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 3 cups shredded coconut
- zest of a grapefruit
- 1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Fold in sea salt, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, shredded coconut, zest of a grapefruit, and grapefruit juice.
- Gently form balls, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Makes about 36.
Egg whitesRead More
Anyone else pick up a big ole bag of local Texas grapefruits recently? I love this time of year when those ruby reds are in season. Grapefruit is Ben’s favorite dessert or snack – he can eat several broiled grapefruits in one sitting! I figure he’s powering up his immune system with vitamin C to fight off all of those circulating viruses. Each grapefruit contains 150% of the recommended vitamin C.
And I love these grapefruits because they’re grown locally in Texas. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season where you live is not only the least expensive way to buy your produce but is also the freshest and therefore healthiest produce. Given the choice, I always choose local fruits and vegetables even if they aren’t organic. For example, I’d rather buy a huge bag of local grapefruits than organic kiwis flown in from New Zealand because the fresher the fruit or vegetable is, the more nutritious it is. Nutrients are extremely sensitive to time. When picking my produce, local and organic is obviously cream of the crop, but a close second is local and my third pick is organic. When buying local produce that isn’t organic, I take extra care to wash any possible chemicals from my fruits and vegetables with a quick homemade solution made with a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and purified water. I either fill my spray bottle with the solution, spray it on my produce, rub, and rinse, or I soak my produce briefly in the solution and thoroughly rinse.
This recipe is similar to an old favorite – the lemon bar. You know the one with the powdered sugar topping? Except I made these bars with one of my Texas grapefruits, so they are not as tart and definitely sweeter. If you prefer a more tart bar, use 1/8 cup grapefruit juice and 1/8 cup lemon juice instead of 1/4 cup grapefruit juice to accomplish a sour taste.
For this recipe, I used a coconut flour crust. I find coconut flour difficult to work with. Often it takes several experiments before I can get my recipe to turn out right. A couple of tips I’ve learned about using coconut flour:
- It is very absorbant, so I substitute about 1/4 cup coconut flour for 1 cup flour.
- After mixing it together to bake a crust, cake, cookie, muffin or whatever, I let it stand for a bit to absorb the liquid in the recipe and become more like a batter or dough.
- Sometimes, I have to add additional eggs when using coconut flour to get the fluffy texture I’m desiring.
- Coconut flour is dry and clumpy, so I take extra care to thoroughly beat it together with the other ingredients.
I used my Hurom Slow Juicer to extract the juice from my grapefruit. I love this juicer. It is so easy to use, easy to assemble, easy to clean, and so very quiet. And, I love the color of this grapefruit juice! Isn’t it so pretty?
When using coconut flour, one last tip I’ve learned is to whisk or beat the egg and flour mixture until nice and fluffy for the best results.
- ½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup coconut flour
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup honey
- ¼ cup grapefruit juice (about the juice of one ruby red)
- zest of a grapefruit
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon coconut flour
- optional: grated coconut for a garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, beat together coconut oil, eggs, honey, and salt.
- Add coconut flour and beat until a dough forms. You may need to let it sit for 30 seconds until it thickens enough to form a dough.
- Spread the dough into a greased 8 inch square baking pan.
- Bake for 13 – 15 minutes or until brown on the edges and baked in the middle. Make sure the crust is baked through the middle.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- While the crust is baking, juice the grapefruit using a juicer or by squeezing.
- In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, honey, grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, baking powder, and coconut flour.
- Pour the grapefruit mixture over the warm crust, and return to the oven for 25 -27 minutes or until it has set.
- Optional: Garnish with grated coconut.