Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies - Grain Free

A friend of mine posted a recipe just before the holiday for Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies and I decided to try and make my own go at them using no grains.  They turned out delicious and they are SUPER easy to make!  Enjoy!

Original recipe: http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/09/nutella-stuffed-brown-butter-sea-salt-chocolate-chip-cookies-my-favorite-cookie-ever/

The dough to this recipe needs to be kept in the fridge for 1-2 hrs prior to baking.  It's best to plan ahead for this one.  The dough can be kept in the fridge over night as well to bake the next day.

Ingredients:
3/4c Palm shortening - I use the brand Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening (made from palm)
1/4c Honey
1/2c Coconut palm sugar
2 Eggs
1T Vanilla extract
1t Baking soda
1t Sea salt
2 3/4c Almond flour - I use Honeyville or Anthony's Almonds Blanched Almond Flour - both available for purchase on amazon.  I have found these two brands are the best for baking and other needs with almond flour due to the fine texture.
2T Arrowroot flour/starch*
2T Tapioca flour/starch*
1/2c Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1/2c 70% Dark Chocolate Chips - Organic Equal Exchange bittersweet chocolate chips
Rawtella - Chocolate Hazelnut Spread - Tastes a lot like Nutella but cleaner ingredients.  I purchase mine from Amazon or Abe's Market online.  Abe's is typically a better price but takes a little longer to arrive.  Total needed for the recipe is around 1/2c.

Recipe yields roughly 2 dozen cookies.

Directions:

  • Add palm shortening, honey, eggs & vanilla extract into kitchen aid mixer w/ whisk attachment or use an electric hand mixer to combine all ingredients.
  • Add baking soda, sea salt, almond flour, arrowroot, tapioca & coconut palm sugar and mix together until completely combined.
  • Stir in both types of chocolate chips.
  • Store in covered container in the fridge for a minimum of 1-2 hrs.  You want the dough to get a little hard so it's easier to complete the last step with the rawtella before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 300F
  • Take 1-1.5T scoop size of cookie dough and flatten in your hand.
  • Place 1/2t size of rawtella in a ball in the center of the dough. 
  • Roll the dough up around it and it place on the baking sheet.  You want the rawtella to be on the inside of the cookie.
  • Bake for 12-18 minutes.  Check at 12 minutes and cook longer based on your oven.
  • Remove from oven and set on drying rack to cool for 5-10 minutes or longer before eating.
*Adding tapioca & arrowroot to this recipe ensures that the cookies will have more crunch to them.  If you like a chewier cookie try using coconut flour instead in your recipe. 

**This recipe is also really good using maple almond butter or chocolate hazelnut butter from the brand Justin's if you can't get your hand on Rawtella.

Keep the cookies stored in a air tight baggy or container...THAT is if you don't eat them all in one sitting! They are seriously that GOOD!

Happy Holidays!

Cheers,
Chrissy



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just another beautiful Thursday!

It’s a beautiful sunny crisp November fall day here in the bay area.  I often forget how much I really do love the crispness in the air once fall arrives and all of the new smells and crops that it brings.  As I sit here in my office looking out the window watching and listening to the leaves fall from the giant tree out front I realize how much I truly love the sound of them hitting the pavement too.  It’s a dry crackle-crinkle sound that instantly takes me back to my childhood.  Countless falls of playing in huge piles of dried leaves in the midwest with my brother’s and sister when they were little pipsqueaks.  We truly didn’t have a real care in the world aside from playing outside every changing season and enjoying everything it had to offer us.   As a child we do this without thinking because we don’t have the stresses of “life” pulling us in 50 million directions stopping us from just relaxing and connecting.   The value of stopping and enjoying life slips away slowly from our grasp as we get older with each year that passes. There have definitely been moments in my adult life where I stop and think I need to slow things down and really take this moment in and cherish it.  Only for something in “life" to pull me back out of that moment and into the next situation or task at hand.  It’s a constant battle that I am sure most of us struggle with daily and wish we could break away from to truly live again.  Traveling around the world has definitely helped me over the years with reconnecting and slowing down but I have always had to get back to the grind so to speak and often fall back into my hectic fast moving life (which I still love and I am very thankful for because it allows me the opportunity to plan trips and time away to reconnect again).  We get so wrapped up in our jobs, sports, electronics, social media, tv, movies, etc, and the world around us outside continues to offer us solace and beauty.  If we could only just break away each day to have a little time with ourselves, nature, our family, our children or our pets we would feel recharged and ready for the next day.  Leaving us feeling like we lived a little more in the moment instead of flying by the seat of our pants day to day.  As humans we often forget that we need to be recharged by nature and all of it’s beauty to reset us and let go of the stresses around us.  Sitting indoors on a computer all day isn’t the best thing for our health and well being (I know how ironic this must sound since I am typing this from my computer inside), it disconnects us from what’s important and ingrained in us as humans.  Since going on maternity leave just two days ago, things have started to slow down thankfully (although at first I thought what on earth am I going to do all day not working) and naturally I feel myself starting to become more relaxed and in tune with world around me (my natural habitat).  I started walking my dog upon waking this week and I have really enjoyed the quiet peaceful walks we have shared together before the world wakes and starts roaring with sounds of traffic, horns, and the squeals of tires around us.  As I walked outside each morning this week I find myself slowing down and listening to the birds chirp, looking up at the sky and clouds floating by or watching my dog Roma stop to sniff every flower she passes, or feeling my baby kick and move and getting stronger every day/moment.  It truly makes me happy, relaxed and recharged.  It’s amazing how just the small things in life can really do this to a person.  I feel so blessed to be able to take this extra time off from work before our baby’s arrival in a few weeks.  I believe within my whole being that this will help me focus and become more in tune with the new journey that stands before me and my husband in the next page of our lives - becoming parents to our beautiful healthy baby boy.  I really hope once our child comes into this world, I as his mother will stop to remember the most important things in life and cherish every little moment because they are so fast and fleeting.  If you find yourself feeling ragged and run down from the “life” outside of your "true life” - just try to stop and take 15-20 minutes a day to reconnect with nature, watch your child, dog or cat relish in the world around them.  It’s a peaceful and relaxing site to see and really does help reset and put what’s truly important into perspective.  Living life for the small moments and not always chasing what’s around the next corner.  

Enjoy this beautiful Thursday!





Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Pork & Butternut Squash Chili

It's been so long since I have had time to devote to my blog.  I am hoping once I wrap up school in the next 10 days with Bauman College, I will have more time to focus on posting a few topics of interest before our little bundle of joy arrives in December.  A few blog posts that I have been wanting to do for a long while are:
Skin & Mouth Care for the Entire Family
Cholesterol (could end up being 1-3 posts depending on the data I type up for this one)
Good vs Bad Fats and what they do/offer in the body.
How important is water consumption on a daily basis?
Who needs GOOD sleep? Why is it so important for my body/mind/weight?

As most of you know I try and hit up the farmer's market every Saturday or Wednesday to pick up the latest in season from our area.  Well as most of you can see around you it's turning into fall and with that comes all of the amazing fall squash & sugar pie pumpkins.  I love using these in chili recipes because they help thicken and provide beautiful richness & flavor (that maybe beans used to do for those who don't consume them anymore).  Almost all of the ingredients in this chili were bought locally from either our CSA - Tara Firma Farms, Lake Merritt (including Fallon Hills meats) or San Leandro Farmer's Market and all veggies were organic and the pork is pasture raised.  We try to eat the best ingredients available to us.  The absolute best way to accomplish this in an affordable fashion is by eating seasonally and supporting your local farmer's (well aside from having your garden on your property - that is by far the cheapest route for food).  The other way to save money and be able to buy organic produce at a discounted rate is arriving to the farmer's market 10-15 minutes before it closes to get fire sale prices on produce.  Lastly another thing is to go to the market without having a specific agenda of ingredients you want for the week ahead.  I will do a rough plan of my meals for the week before going to the market but in most cases I come home with other items that weren't on my list because they aren't in season anymore.  That's okay it is just a matter of adjusting your meal ideas to accommodate those fresh ingredients that you did end up picking up that week.  Okay onto the recipe for today.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground pork - I buy my pork from either Tara Firma Farms or Fallon Hills
  • 1 Red bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 Pasilla pepper - chopped
  • 1 Large red onion - chopped
  • 4 Large kale leaves - de-stemmed & finely chopped
  • 1 Sugar pie pumpkin - peeled and cubed into 1inch cubes
  • 1 Can - Organic butternut squash puree - BPA free can
  • 2 Cans of Water or Homemade bone broth - I was out of broth this time around - it was brewing at the same time I was making this chili so I didn't get to use it.
  • 1/2-1t Harissa (very spicy so add slowly and taste as you go when you use it)- made by Local Spicery - Lake Merritt Farmer's Market 
  • 2T Achiote (mix of annatto, tomato, garlic, green pepper, guajillo chile, sea salt, coriander, chipotle chili, cumin, all spice and oregano) - made by Local Spicery - Lake Merritt Farmer's Market.  If you do not have access to this spice or all of these spices - you could do your own measurements of chili powder, paprika, cumin, turmeric, etc.
  • 1T Turmeric ground
  • Smoked sea salt - to taste
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • 2-3T Coconut Aminos - Wheat free tamari could work too if you don't have aminos on hand but I haven't tried this method because I don't really consume soy sauce of any kind.
  • 12oz Organic strained tomatoes - Bionature in a glass jar is what we had on hand.
  • 1-2T Chameleon cold brew coffee - purchased this a few weeks ago from New Leaf grocery in Pleasanton.  You can use any coffee brewed or just remove it all together - it's your choice.

Directions:

  1. Saute pork, onions and peppers for 5-7 minutes over medium heat in the stock pot you will be using to make your chili.
  2. Add harissa, turmeric, achiote (or spices of choice), coconut aminos, coffee (optional) and stir together with the ingredients.
  3. Saute for an additional 3-5 min until the meat and veggies looked cooked - but not browned or burned.
  4. Pour in butternut squash puree, water or broth, stained tomatoes, pumpkin cubes & kale - stir together all of the ingredients.
  5. Bring everything to a rolling boil over medium heat - continue stirring off and on so the ingredients don't burn to the bottom of your pan.  You want to keep the lid off until you have reached your desired thickness of the chili  - mine took about 20-30 minutes at this stage.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low once desired consistency is achieved cover with lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes
  7. Taste test - add sea salt or smoked sea salt and spices as your taste desires - stir
  8. Serve!




The chili really thickens up on the 2nd day - that's typically when I enjoy it the most.   Sorry for the not so great photos, my camera was dead when I went to take pictures of the chili so I had to use the iphone camera and it takes pretty bad photos.

**You can also opt to do pureed pumpkin and chop butternut squash.  This option works well too

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apricot Hazelnut Bars

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cup dates
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup roasted almonds
Perpetration:
Place dates and apricots in a food processor and process until it turns into a big gooey ball. Pour into a mixing bowl. Next, place hazelnuts and almonds in the food processor and pulse until the pieces are small enough for your liking. Empty the nuts into the mixing bowl with the fruit and use your hands to mix. It will take a while to incorporate all of the nuts, but I promise it will happen. I like to take the nuts and fold them into the fruit.
Press mixture into a pan, or shape a square in between parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once they are chilled, cut into 8-10 servings...or make bite size pieces if you prefer.

Enjoy
~Tracy

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Quick & Easy - Vegan Baked Buckwheat Doughnuts - Take 2

Tomorrow a group of my closest Cali gals are getting together for the weekend to celebrate a dear friend's upcoming wedding and one of the gals is vegan, so I thought I would experiment a little and try to make her some doughnuts too.  Luckily they turned out delicious, or I would been on the hunt to Whole Foods looking for some vegan donuts.




Yields 8-9 Doughnuts - Used this pan: 

These can also be made into muffins if you don't have a doughnut pan.

Ingredients:
1/4t Sea salt
2t Arrowroot flour
1/2c Almond flour - Honeyville is my favorite
1/2c Buckwheat flour 
1/4c Maple sugar
1/4c Coconut palm sugar
1t Baking soda
1t Cacao powder (optional)
1/2t Cinnamon
2t Apple cider vinegar
1/2c Coconut milk - room temp - Or you can use plain almond or soy milk
2t Vanilla extract
1T Maple syrup - grade B
2 Flax eggs (1T ground flax & 3T water = 1 flax egg.  Put ground flax in a bowl pour water over top - whisk together and put in the fridge for 15-30 min before using in this recipe)
1/4c Palm shortening - melted over low heat and set aside for recipe


Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk until blended.
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix together well.
  • Combine the wet with the dry ingredients and blend well.  Feel free to mix using a hand mixer or your whisk by hand.  I used my whisk by hand for this one.  The dough will be sticky consistency.
  • Fill your doughnut pans 3/4 of the way full  - pat into the doughnut pan to make them more uniform when baking although this step is not required.
  • Bake for 10-12 min - checking at the end with a toothpick to ensure no batter comes out on it.
  • Remove from oven let cool & enjoy with your frosting of choice or plain!

Un-frosted Yummy Doughnuts!  If you don't think they will be ate right out of the oven, let them cool and place them in a ziplock bag un-frosted.  They will stay nice & moist in the fridge.  We ate ours this weekend a couple of days after I made them this past week.



Quick & Easy - Baked Buckwheat Flour Donuts

I love the lightness that you get from cooking with buckwheat flour over say almond flour.  Almond flour is great sometimes but it often makes things taste so heavy and dense.  In the past few months I have been experimenting a lot with buckwheat flour in my recipes and I have seen great success.

Below is a quick easy recipe that incorporates the use of buckwheat flour in making baked donuts for your next brunch or weekend breakfast with the kids.



Yields 14-16 mini doughnuts or 8-9 regular doughnuts

Pan options below or you can use your electric donut maker but follow the cooking directions for your machine not what I have listed below for these pans.

Mini Doughnut: http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-3980-12-Count-Nonstick-Donut/dp/B0000DDVVL/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377201139&sr=8-2&keywords=mini+doughnut+pan

Doughnut: http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Nonstick-6-Cavity-Donut-Pan/dp/B004CYELOQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1377201139&sr=8-4&keywords=mini+doughnut+pan

Donut Ingredients:

1/2c Buckwheat flour
1/4c Almond flour - my favorite is Honeyville
1/4c Coconut flour - my favorite is Tropical Traditions
1T Arrowroot flour
1/2t Ground sea salt
1/2t Baking soda
1/2t Cinnamon ground
1/2-3/4c Maple Syrup grade B or sweetener of choice
3 Eggs - Tara Firma Farms & Tropical Traditions carry my favorite pastured eggs
1/4c Melted ghee (you can use coconut oil in place of this if you aren't doing dairy)
2t Apple cider vinegar


Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk until blended.
  • Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix together well.
  • Combine the wet with the dry ingredients and blend well.  Feel free to mix using a hand mixer or your whisk by hand.  I used my whisk by hand for this one.
  • Fill your doughnut pans 3/4 of the way full
  • Bake for 10 min - checking at the end with a toothpick to ensure no batter comes out on it.
  • Remove from oven let cool & enjoy with your frosting of choice or plain. 
These are best ate immediately from the oven or just after cooling.  Storing them in the fridge for a long time will dry them out.

Today I made two quick test frosting's for the doughnuts.  These doughnuts are also super delicious plain with no topping too.
  • 90% dark chocolate, Nikki's coconut butter - midnight mocha, cacao butter & a little grade b maple syrup melted together on low over the stove top.  Let thicken and cool a bit before dipping your donuts into the mixture.

  • Melt a little ghee, cinnamon, maple sugar (or sugar of choice) over medium-low heat.  Spread onto doughnut before eating with a knife.  Enjoy!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Mustard & Almond Crusted Roasted Chicken Thighs

We had some great looking chicken thighs thawing from our CSA called Tara Firma Farms (out of Petaluma, CA) and I decided it was time to try something new instead of our typical roasting with some herbs or spices on the skin.  I haven't ate gluten (knowingly) in a little over 2.5 years and sometimes I do miss that breadcrumb (more so now that I am pregnant for some reason) coating on my chicken when you fry or bake it.  I had some almonds soaking to make almond milk and thought they would be great as the coating! It turned out absolutely delicious and I hope you enjoy this easy to make recipe too.

Ingredients:
2-4 chicken thighs (skin on/bone in)
3T Virgin palm oil (or grassfed butter/ghee)
2T Stoneground mustard
1-2T Italian herbs
1/2t Sea salt
1/4-1/2c Raw (soaked) almonds chopped (I used my coffee grinder to chop them)
2-3T Lewis Labs brewers yeast (or if you can tolerate dairy use grated parmigiano reggiano)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425f
  • Melt virgin palm oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan
  • Remove from heat and whisk in mustard - set aside.
  • On a plate combine herbs, sea salt, chopped almonds and brewers yeast 
  • Dip rinsed & patted dry chicken thighs into the palm oil/mustard mixture
  • Pat crumb mixture onto the chicken thighs, place in baking dish or pan
  • Repeat remaining thighs
  • Bake for 30 min, possibly 35-40 depending on the size of your chicken thighs & oven temp variance.  Let the oven cook for 30 min without opening it, check temp of thighs to make sure they are at 165f.  
  • Serve with your favorite veggies or chopped salad
  • Enjoy!