Some desserts are actually breakfast in disguise

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It’s September, my favorite month ever! I love fall. So even though the days start getting shorter again and that’s kind of a bummer, I do love the lead up to fall…. and boots! and scarves! and apples! and pumpkin!

But… before we get there! It’s still arguably berry season, and I see no reason to end that prematurely unless I have to (which I don’t!). Which means… raspberries! Which pair oh so well with hazelnuts and dark chocolate. And then…

BREAD.

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Because, sometimes you just need some bread pudding. Besides that, I am spoiled to live near Acme Baking, which makes some of the best bread around: all the more reason to get on the bread pudding train. Furthermore, bread pudding is one of those glorious things that only gets better and better the longer it sits, which means breakfast this morning was FANTASTIC. Eggs & cholula + kale + bread pudding? Sign me up. Oh. And obviously caramel. Because bread pudding should ALWAYS have a sauce, no matter if you eat it with ice cream anyway (also recommended; talenti coconut gelato was a spot-on choice). Enter the five second blender caramel with heavy hazelnut overtones… and so full of good things it’s practically a health food. Don’t get me started ;)

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Apologies for the lack of pictures; bread pudding isn’t the most photogenic of all the desserts and also it pretty much got annihilated before I could get in there with a camera for some in situ shots of plated dessert… Sorry not sorry.

Happy September, enjoy the beautiful days of Indian summer!

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Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Bread Pudding with Hazelnut Caramel

This is neither gluten free, vegan, or paleo. Sorry not sorry! Sometimes, you just need some bread. It is, however, dairy free and refined sugar free. It is also extremely easy to throw together, using whatever you have on hand. Yield: one 9 by 9 pan. Like many things I’ve made lately, this does double duty as breakfast and is even better the next day, so the serving sizes are contingent on how hungry you happen to be… A Wait are those Cookies original!

Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf of (stale!*) bread, cubed (I used Acme Pain au Levain)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c coconut milk (mine happened to be light; use whatever you like)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 runneth-over shot of Fra Angelico
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c fresh raspberries (frozen is fine; thaw and drain first!)

Caramel:

  • 1/3 c roasted unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Fra Angelico
  • scant 1/4 tsp sea salt

* You can either cube it ahead of time and let it sit out, like I did, or slice and toast in the oven to stale it day of, if you’re short on time

You can make the caramel ahead of time, or while the pudding is baking (it comes together in about five seconds):

In a vitamix or a food processor, blend almond butter, maple, melted coconut oil, vanilla, Fra Anglico, and sea salt until smooth and incorporated. Adjust taste to suit your preferences!

Butter or use coconut oil to grease a 9 by 9 pan. Sprinkle coconut sugar over the inside of the pan if desired; this gives the bottom a little somethin’ extra…

Put the cubed bread into a large bowl. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, maple, Fra Angelica, vanilla, and sea salt. Pour this goodness over the bread cubes, using your hands to evenly distribute everything. Toss in hazelnuts, chocolate chips, and raspberries (reserve a few raspberries for topping if you’re feeling fancy). Let this sit for about a half hour so the bread can absorb the custard.

Preheat the oven to 350, and once the custard and bread have sat for a bit, bake for 30-40 minutes, until there is no visible liquid at the bottom when you separate it with a fork (you don’t want it dry though, so just look for pooling liquid). Mine was perfect at 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate if you’re like me and like cold bread pudding! Or serve warm, it’s awesome either way. Store leftovers in the fridge and eat them for breakfast — highly recommended.

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One week…

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I did it!!!

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Well, almost. I walked this weekend, which means there is only one more advent calendar baked good between me and me officially having my masters. That and one presentation… as one of my cohort peeps so accurately said “It’s like going back to the Dursleys after spending a year at Hogwarts”. TRUER WORDS NEVER SPOKEN. Sheesh. Nothing like getting hooded and walking in your graduation to go right back to editing your slides for the looming presentation… but whatever. Almost there!

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One more week.

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And in the meantime, I have baked goods. Or rather, a no-bake treat since it’s bloody hot out and I’m not about to turn on the oven. But if I have to work on practicum stuff, you better believe I’m going to have something interesting to eat.

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Fast, easy, and delicious. These kind of remind me of a gourmet PB&J…. except better! And they’re cold. Which is bueno when it’s so hot outside, and you want a treat that feels more like real food (ie. me every day).

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So! Next time I blog I will be DONE DONE DONE DONE.

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Hayley Scott, Master of Public Health. Hmm… that has a nice ring to it :)

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Almond Butter Raspberry Chia Bars

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free. Healthy fats, antioxidants, and chocolate. YAY! All the good things. Yield: 1 loaf pan. Recipe lightly adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life, here!

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  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 c almond butter (mine was salted)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

In a smallish bowl, mash together thawed raspberries and chia seeds. Let sit while you make the rest of the bar crust.

Line a bread pan with parchment paper. In a vitamix or food processor, process the oats until they become flour. Toss into a bowl with the flaxseed, almond butter, maple, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir (or use your hands, it’s more fun) everything together until it all comes together. Press all this goodness into the prepared pan. Set aside for a hot minute.

The raspberry-chia jam should have thickened by this point. Spread it on top of the almond butter-oat mixture in the prepared pan.

In another smallish bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil until melty enough that you can stir it all together sans lumps. Spread this on top of the raspberry layer in the pan, then top with shredded coconut if that’s your thing. Toss it all into the fridge for about an hour before slicing and serving!

Store in the fridge.

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Sometimes caramel is the only thing that will do

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Three weeks. But who’s counting?! Not me, obviously…

Two weeks till I graduate, three weeks from today till I’m done done done! I feel like my posts of late are kind of like some version of a baked goods advent calendar until I’m done with my Master’s degree. Is that a thing?! Well whatever, I just made it a thing.

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I’m taking study breaks with baked goods! This week’s offering could  not be more different than the last post — that one was fruity and light, this one is shut-the-front-door dense, caramel-y, gooey, rich, and decadent (in the best way, of course). All while being paleo (it’s sweetened with maple so not strict paleo), vegan, free of the glutens, and full of healthy fats and real food! Because, well, because. Because real food is good for you! And it tastes better anyway, right? Right.

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Might I point out this also makes a great side dish for breakfast… alongside eggs and salad and leftover caponata. Don’t question. Just do it!

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Highly recommend to consume this in front of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with excellent company for full brain-rejuvenation effect and happy taste buds.

And that is officially all I got on the anecdote front. Brain is in maxed out mode, I think it’s time for bed. Yes, I know it’s 8:45 on a Friday night. Nope, I’m not sorry at all.

Happy Weekend!

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Vegan Salted Caramel Skillet Blondies

Vegan, paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free. Dense, fudgey, gooey, and delicious. Yield: 1 8″ cast iron skillet, which feeds however many you decide (1? 2? a dinner party? you do you). Lightly adapted from With Salt and Wit, here!

For the caramel:

  • 1/3 c almond butter
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted

For the blondies:

  • 1.5 c almond meal (or flour, also fine)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chippies

Preheat the oven to 350, and bust out your trusty little 8″ cast iron skillet! No need to grease it, such is the wonder of cast iron and the use of caramel under the blondie batter…

Mix the flax and water in a small bowl and let sit until gelled, about 5 minutes.

In a large liquid measuring cup (one of those pyrex ones works nicely) or other tall thing, vigorously whisk the almond butter, maple and coconut oil for the caramel until combined. You can do this in a blender if your almond butter is particularly thick — mine was runny enough to make a bicep workout feasible (and I decided I was too lazy to wash the blender later). Pour the caramel into the skillet and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add in flax egg, melted coconut oil, applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Stir until combined (shouldn’t take too long). Toss in chippies and give it one last good stir. Pour the batter into the caramel — you may have to smooth it out a little, and it will cause the caramel to creep up the sides. All good!! The caramel forms a nice crust for the gooey blondies, which turn out almost like cookie dough. Don’t worry too much about it spreading out perfectly, I promise it will be delicious.

Bake until the top is firm and the caramel is crackly on the edges. I checked mine at 20 minutes, then let it go for another 5 minutes since the blondie wasn’t as firm as I wanted. Final bake time was probably closer to 30 minutes. It helps to bang the skillet on the stove a bit to get the batter and caramel to settle. Once done to your liking, remove from oven and let sit for a few before annihilating.

Absolutely delicious with paleo gelato, or whatever floats your boat! Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Sincere apologies for the strange coloration on the photo below; I have no idea what happened and sadly grad school nonsense takes priority over having a proper photo shoot for the last remaining piece of blondie. Le sigh. Three weeks!

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Brownies, a fuzzy duckling butt, and a dead fridge

IMG_2240 I’m back I’m back I’m back! Whew. Finally. Except I feel like I said that in my last post… I just have NO TIME to cook or bake interesting things. But… it’s not forever, so I’ll just deal for now. But I miss my invisible internet friends! So today, I have brownies and some random things from life lately. That are sometimes food but mostly not… Because I’ve gotten back into my doodle habit! It took a looooong hiatus all though college but it’s back, and all I want to do is draw. Like this: IMG_2234 And this! IMG_2224 And this. IMG_2235 I also ate this weird tuna-beet-hybird the other day and it was actually delicious: Steamed beets sautéed in a little bit of olive oil with mushrooms, topped with tuna and avo and mustard all mashed up together. I know, I know, I describe it so deliciously… But seriously. Who knew beets and tuna could be friends?! IMG_2219 And then it was Easter! IMG_2226 IMG_2216 Which meant bacon and chocolate and more bacon and more chocolate and also a quesadilla that was PERFECTLY GOLDEN which I admired and promptly spastically threw on the floor. Inadvertently, natch. It was actually kind of comic and hilarious and I a little bit wish I had a picture…. but not really. There was also an incident that particular weekend involving a cake that stuck horribly and ended up gracing the compost…. but let’s not talk about that. Obviously not exactly a banner weekend for cooking shenanigans. IMG_2244 So now I have these brownies to share, because brownies are awesome! These aren’t overly sweet (they’re sweetened with dates and maple) and are gluten free. They’re on the fudgier end of the spectrum rather than cakey, so if you’re seeking the latter, you might want to toddle off to another recipe. IMG_2239 They’re also not as wickedly dark as I usually make my brownies, mostly because there was this solid chocolate bunny lying around and he said that he wanted to be in brownies… So now he is. Don’t worry, no bunnies were harmed in the making of dessert… IMG_2243 IMG_2242 Also…. SO FUN! Our fridge died on Wednesday morning. NO, fridge, that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. You do not just die with no warning. I have nut butters in you!!! So now I am sort of living out of a cooler? Until the part that died is ordered… it is really not spectacular fun. I don’t exactly recommend it… especially when you love love love produce, and all those fancy nut flours that need to live in the fridge. These brownies were an excuse to use up some of the perishable biz (as was the banana bread that happened right after these)… and also, an excuse to use some of the awesome organic-fed eggs from my neighbor! Wheee! Local at it’s best. IMG_2238 IMG_2246

Almond Flour Brownies 

Lightly sweet and appropriately chocolatey, these brownies are gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free. The recipe is lightly adapted from Culinary Couture, here! Recipe yields a 8 by 8 pan (and it’s up to your discretion how large you want to cut them, I definitely won’t be judging). IMG_2247 IMG_2241

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 small deglet noor dates* (actually, I think medjool would be way better but I was using what I had)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 almond butter (mine was roasted + unsalted)
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

*Soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes if they’re all craggy and hard, or if you just have a wimpy food processor Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. In a smaller bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil together, either using a double boiler or the lazy microwave method (I may or may not have done that, ahem). In a food processor, whizz your maple syrup, soaked dates, vanilla, eggs, and almond butter. Process until mostly smooth (less than a minute is fine), then add chocolate-coconut oil and process until incorporated. Dump this very thick, goopy goodness into your dry ingredients, add chocolate chips, and use those biceps to stir it all together. The batter will be very thick, so enjoy the arm workout. Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found that a spoon followed by damp hands did the trick nicely), and bake for 20-22 minutes. I took mine out at 22 but probably could have gone a little less. Let cool before slicing, and store in an airtight container. IMG_2242 IMG_2212

Upper crust bananas always have an accent

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Buhhhhnahhhnuhhhhhhhh cookies!

Because buhhnahhnuhhhh with an accent is much more fun than banana. You know, upper crust bananas always have an posh accent… Admit it, it’s really fun to say buhhhnahhhnuhhh with a silly expression on your face. Also, eating cookies is super fun too. There’s something so homey about a cookie.

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These could pass as breakfast too, if you’re in a hurry or just decide that Monday = cookies for breakfast because ew, Monday. They’re full of healthy fats and whole grains, and happen to be gluten free and vegan, just in case either of those is your MO. They’re a little soft with a bit of a chew—-bananas and a bit of maple bring the sweetness, and oats are just awesome in cookies. Quinoa flour bumps up the nutritional profile and protein count a bit, and the almond butter and coconut oil help out in the healthy fat department. Basically, these are just winner cookies.

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And they’re basically the nutritional opposite of the pizza I’m currently eating, in its cheesy, glutentastic glory. Oops. But not really oops, because life is all about balance, and that balance defs includes pizza.

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Also, apparently my balance includes some visually interesting/rather strange and creative oat bfasts. Here are some of the latest shenanigans in the breakfast department:

Oat base with shredded beets and zucchini, hemp seeds, unsweetened egg, nutmeg, and sea salt, topped with avocado and a runny-yolk egg + chopped walnuts + chia seeds.

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Oat base with shredded beets and raspberries, hemp seeds, unsweetened almond milk, nutmeg + cinnamon + cardamom; topped with unsweetened applesauce; seven seed and nut butter [homemade! Walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pepitas, flaxseed, sea salt] + Coconut butter + chia seeds!

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I LOVE breakfast. Obviously…

But cookies! Back to cookies, because I know you’re really here to see those and not photos of my weird breakfasts.

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Banana Oat Almond Butter Cookies

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, egg free. Recipe adapted from Meaningful Eats, here! Yield: 17 large cookies.

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c unsalted, roasted almond butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/6 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water; set aside to gel as a flax egg
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c oat flour
  • 1/4 c quinoa flour, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (try as hard as I might, I couldn’t cram them all onto one sheet as per usual…. so I went with two baking sheets like a normal person. Sigh).

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork and those biceps of yours. Stir in almond butter, melted coconut oil, vanilla, maple, and gelled flax egg until incorporated. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, baking powder + soda + salt. Stir dry into wet, toss in oats and chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Drop by the heaping large spoonful onto the prepared baking sheet (the dough is a bit runny, but don’t worry, they bake up fine), and bake for just about 12-13 minutes, until the tops are firm when gently poked. Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Store in the fridge, in an airtight container.

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Cookies up the yin yang

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So guess what?

… No really. Guess!

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I got into graduate school for a masters in public health, wheeee! Which means I will be starting UC Davis in the summer session of 2015… UCD are you ready for this? I’m pretty rad and very sassy and generally crunchy. And after 18 months of that, I will go on to be rad but also have initials after my name, which makes me kind of a big deal. Ha. Kidding! Actually I’m really excited… and Davis has a legit co-op that I can spend hours in if not properly supervised.

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But enough of that. I went to LA last weekend and hung out with a bunch of super awesome relatives who also happen to follow very similar food philosophies that I do, so I ate extremely well (lots of nitrate-free bacon, plantain pancakes and pure maple syrup. And bacon. Did I mention bacon? Also beets. Mmmm beets), and swiped a few recipes because natch, that’s what I do. And this is one of them! I like calling them YinYang cookies! Light side, dark side… call them whatever you want but by all means make them because they’re fabulous and grain free/refined sugar free! Everyone just wins all around.

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Also, I just feel the need to leave you with this little gem. Obviously I got started early on my yoga squat… sassily, of course. Because no lady squats without a hat on. Obviously.

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Yin Yang Cookies

Almond butter dough and chocolate dough swirled together for chewy-edged, doughy-centered cookies. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free and paleo. The recipe is only tweaked slightly from the awesome book Make Ahead Paleoby Tammy Credicott.

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  • 1 c almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/3 c arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate (I used 75%), roughly chopped into smallish pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, baking soda, and sea salt. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk (or use a hand mixer; I whisked and they came out fine) maple, coconut sugar, egg, almond butter, vanilla, and coconut oil until the coconut sugar has mostly dissolved. Stir the dry into wet, until combined, and toss in chocolate chips. Divide the dough in half, and put half in another bowl so you can stir in cocoa powder and water. Roll chocolate dough into a 1″ ball and smoosh it together with a 1″ ball of almond dough, then roll it between your palms to swirl it together. Flatten them slightly before you put it on the baking sheet, since they won’t spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I took them out at 10 minutes), when the top is smooth and starting to crack slightly. Leave on the cookie sheet until cool, since they are a little soft. Store in an airtight container for a few days if you don’t eat them immediately (good luck).

IMG_1966Also, apparently can’t sit in a car for a long period like a normal person…

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BlondieHenge

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HOmg these are good.

They’re like giant dense, chewy hunks of almondy goodness… almond butter and almond flour and… well actually that’s really all I need, isn’t it?? I swear, nuts are a food group for me. Probably because I AM nuts. Or something.

How is it already pretty much Thanksgiving?! Where did the last two months go?? This is absurd. I would like October back, please.

But actually… I like Christmas music. And coniferous trees in my living room. So I guess we can keep this moment of now where it currently is…

And in the meantime, I’ll eat these, thank you very much.

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Whoever told you playing with you food wasn’t socially acceptable is lame because it’s FUN! Who doesn’t want to make Stonehenge out of tiny bits of almond butter blondie!? I speak from experience. You should really try it sometime. Extra points for squatting on the floor because the light is better down there, and that way your cat can investigate and decide that what you’re doing is acceptable. They do that, you know. But look!!! There are trilithons and uprights and lintels in my blondie henge. Which, by the way, is lots more fun than Stonehenge because you can play deity for a bit and then EAT YOUR HENGE!! What a revolutionary concept.

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Also this kind of reminds me a lot of fifth grade when we studied colonial America and made shops out of shoeboxes. Not sure really why making an henge out of blondie bits as a 24 year old reminds me of fifth grade, but whatever. It’s fun walk down memory lane. Anyway… I chose the apothecary, since they fascinated me with all the little jars of interesting things. And being the architect’s daughter that I am, I cut up bits of clear plastic tubing (no doubt obtained on an educational trip with said architect to Ace hardware to learn about practical things) into ‘jars’ and filled them all up with spices and mysterious things, and hot glued them all to the back shelves of the box-shop. It smelled… AMAZING. Maybe that is where my early love of spices came from?? Anyway. This has nothing to do with blondies or henges but there you go. Welcome to my brain box, it’s weird in here.

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Make blondie henges. Just trust me. Your inner child (or maybe your outer child because really, who wants to grow up?! It’s overrated) will thank you.

Also blondie henges are delicious. They also do double duty by satisfying my eternally curious and historically inclined nature.

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

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Ps. Furry friends are the absolute best snuggle buddies, especially when you’re wrapped in their favorite blanket.

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Almond Butter Blondie Bars

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free! Those are my current four favorite things about treats these days (especially the refined sugar free bit). They’re super easy to whip up and don’t bake for very long, both plusses for me. I’m definitely not against spending quality time in the kitchen, but there also time when you need a treat like yesterday and a quick baking time is essential. This recipe makes very tall bars in an 8 by 8 pan—anywhere from 9 to a zillion bitty bits of Blondie Henge depending on how you slice em. Recipe adapted from A Clean Bake, here!

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  • 3.5 c almond flour
  • scant 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c roasted unsalted almond butter
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan. Make your flax egg by combining flax and water, and set it aside to gel for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour (sift it if it’s lumpy, nothing ruder than lumps of coconut flour in baked goods), sea salt, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, stir together almond butter, gelled flax egg, vanilla, maple, and almond milk. Add wet into dry, add chocolate chips, and stir until everything is combined. The dough is thick—I added an extra splash of almond milk when I stirred everything together, which is totally fine but don’t go overboard (I used only about a tbsp extra). Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found a silicone spatula to work well for this). Sling the pan into the oven, and bake for 13-14 minutes (mine was perfect at 14). There might be some moist crumbs on the tester, but they should be a little densey-fudgy. Let cool before slicing, or else they’ll get crumbly. These are my favorite right out of the fridge, since the cold kind of solidifies their chewy denseness. Store any leftovers in the fridge (I usually just leave them in the pan and cover it with foil).

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Welcome to the inside of my brain box: Part 1. Useless math facts

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Mo’ cookies! Because cookies.

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Also because imminent GRE equals some amount of stress-baking. Or maybe a lot of stress-cooking. Or maybe both… not that I’m admitting to anything here. Definitely not.

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Basically I just want to take this stupid thing and be done. Like, now. Not in five days but NOW so it can get out of my head and I can have my brain space back. Ommm. Five more days. Ommm….

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I’m to that lovely point where your brain simply cannot take in any more information, no matter how hard you study and try to cram it in there. So I did what I do best and made soup and cookies and vegan lentil enchiladas and went to yoga and jazzercise and and took a study break. And now I’m blogging. Because there is no more information that wants to go into my brain. I will be SUCH a happy camper this coming Monday at five pm when I land on College Ave. and face plant into a Zachary’s pizza [all my East Bay peeps, you know why this is such a fantastic idea]. Ahhhh. Post GRE pizza nirvana.

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But anyway. Until then I am trapped in my head with useless math facts. So cookies. Because the math involved in making 3/4 of a recipe of cookies is WAY more fun than weighted averages. And “real life” (ha) word problems. Also lovely, that this batch makes roughly 19 cookies, which is the exact number that I’m really good at cramming onto a cookie sheet. Why, you ask? I did this because a) I’m lazy and b) I had to study so I could only procrastinate by cookie baking for so long. Also I apparently developed an aversion to using more than one cookie sheet when I was living in Salem with Kira and we only had one, and rotating batches was too annoying. So maybe that’s where this comes from?! Ingrained behavior. And laziness. And studying. Let’s not forget that…

The wise mistress of the otherworldly cat realm who hangs around me says… ‘Sit in your favorite blanket and eat cookies and I will sit on you. Because it’s actually my blanket and you are actually my human’. And then she smiles at me, like the darling cute thing that she is:

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And I probably take her advice and eat cookies with her on my lap. Because life and studying are more more appealing when there are cookies and smiling cats.

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 Almond Butter Gingerbread Cookies

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free [date sweetened!], and vegan! These cookies are sweetened with dates and molasses—both nutrient-dense natural sweeteners. They’re full of healthy fats from the almond butter, and good fiber from coconut flour. Go ahead and indulge with glee! Yield: 19.

  • 1 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water [2 flax eggs]
  • 3/4 c pitted dates, packed [soaked if needed]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 c coconut flour [sifted if lumpy]
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • a twist or two of fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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In the bowl of a food processor, process soaked dates with a bit of their soaking water (only about a tbsp or two) until a mostly smooth, slightly chunky paste forms. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp flax eggs and 6 tbsp water; let sit aside to gel.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet (or two if you’re not like me) with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, molasses, gelled flax egg, date paste, vanilla, and grated ginger until smooth and incorporated. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, and pepper. Add dry into wet, toss in chocolate chips with reckless abandon, and stir until the dough is combined and all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet (it’s sticky, so prepare to eat leftover sticky on your person). Cram all 19 cookies onto a sheet if you’re feeling adventurous. Pop them into the oven for at least 12 minutes—they will start to form a chewy crust on the outside, but we need the inside to be NOT mushy. I checked mine at 12, then baked them for another 4 minutes, checking at the two minute mark. They should be not too squishy on the top, with just a little give and a chewy crust on the outside.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack—they’re soft when they’re warm! Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for chewy-fudgy cookies, or on the counter in an airtight container for soft cookies.

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Ready, set… PUMPKIN

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Pumpkin!! And stuff. But actually… mostly just pumpkin.

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Because the air finally smells different, the wind is cooler, scarves are necessary, and the leaves are starting to change and fall. This is my FAVORITE time of year, especially since it gives me an excuse to wear an excessive amount of scarves and boots and eat mass amounts of pumpkin. Also fall = flannels, hot tea, holidays, and eatingcookingeatingbakingeating.

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The other day/night it was really fallish weather here, so I was cooking with the windows open so I could smell the air at every opportunity. It didn’t hurt that the neighbors had a wood fire going somewhere, and obviously that smelled delicious.

And the best part of all this means I can use pumpkin for baking with reckless abandon. Which I’ve already started doing. Two pumpkin breads in less than a week? Oh yeah. Easy money. Bring on endless cans of squash puree, and I will speedily dispatch them. Ooooh I love this season!

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Also. Food is more fun when it’s colorful, don’t you think?

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Apparently everything I eat from now on is going to be orange. A spanish tortilla happened last night and this is partly what went in it. Ooooorange!!! Ha.

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This bread is delicious—light, but densely moist (let’s stick to hydrated, mmk?) and spiced. It’s grain free, gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free [they’re sweetened only with dates!], so there are no excuses not to enjoy. It’s also full of healthy fats and good squash-carbs, as well as enormous amounts of Vitamin A and beta carotene. Wheeee!

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Pumpkin-Almond Butter Bread

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free. It might also be paleo, but I’m not the authority on that business. Makes 1 loaf or an 8 by 8 pan (I used the latter, so the cook time below reflects that. Add at least 10 minutes for a loaf pan and check as needed). Recipe inspired and heavily adapted from the Roasted Root, here!

  • 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 c unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal+3 tbsp water; let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 c pitted dates, soaked if needed
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp extra dark chocolate chips

Lightly grease an 8 by 8 inch pan and preheat the oven to 350.

If your dates are super hard, soak them in near-boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain nearly all the water out, but reserve about a tablespoon or two. Puree the dates and reserved water in a food processor until mostly smooth, then set aside. Make flax egg, and set it aside as well to gel.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond butter, vanilla extract, and flax egg, then stir in the date paste. In a smaller bowl, whisk together cinnamon, allspice, ginger, sea salt, baking powder, and coconut flour. Toss dry into wet, add chocolate chips, and stir until everything is just combined. Scoop all that goodness out into your prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 35-37 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. The top should spring back just slightly when touched.

Let cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the pan, top the pan with a cooling rack, and CAREFULLY (it’s delicate!) invert the bread onto the cooling rack to cool completely (you don’t have to flip it back over unless you want to…). Once it’s completely cool, I store it back in the pan I baked it in. Leftovers only lasted a day in my house, and I recommend storing this one in the fridge.

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Just for laughs, guess how many jars of nut butter I have…

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Guys. My songza playlist is SPOT ON tonight. Actually it’s so perfect it’s frightening. I got a bunch of funk up in here, perfect for a Thursday-almost-Friday-weekend-time.

Or let’s be real.

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Funk is perfect ALL the time. Fact.

Just like these.

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Welcome to end-of-summer-I-have-so-much-zucchini-someone-help. Or actually don’t. Really actually give me ALL YOUR SQUASH so I can make this bread over and over and over.

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Because the whole pan was gone in pretty much four hours and there were only three of us.

And I really don’t feel like I got a justifiably large amount. So obviously this has to happen again. I have a question to pose to you: Is baking a bread out of nut butter and then putting more nut butter on your bread redundant?? Because that’s basically the story of my existence. I don’t even want to know how much nut butter I consume on average (thank you, GRE studies, for immediately making me think of mean, median and mode. No, I will NOT be calculating the ‘real life word problem’ of my nut butter eating. Just… no.) Do you know how many jars of nut butter are in the fridge right now? I bet you can’t even guess.

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SEVEN.

And that’s not including the coconut butter in the cupboard (no need to refrigerate that sucker). I think I have a problem…

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So make that eight different types of nut butter. There are two types of peanut butter. And two types of almond butter. And a few medleys. And some sunflower butter… oh god.

Um okay so new subject.

Bees!!! Hooray for new jobs and local bees!! Welcome to my morning:

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If you want some, you know where to find me!

And you know what local honey would be amazing on??

THESE BARS.

They’re freaking fantastic. They’re even good by themselves!! Though obviously superior with a  smear of extra nut butter (obvi NOT the nut butter you used to make them, because how boring. Don’t you have six other choices to pick from?!). Super fast to whip up, which is basically as close to instant gratification as you can get with baking biz.

Side note: Playlist is reading my mind. “don’t stop till you get enough”… nut butter?! Right on, Michael, you are soooo right.

Anyway. Bars. Eat yo’ veggies! In something that is grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, and full of healthy fats and fiber and all that good stuff! And they taste kind of like gingerbread?! Which is baffling considering there is no ginger to be found in them. Whatever. They’re delicious and I didn’t eat enough last time sooooo…. does someone have any extra zucchini lying around they want to chuck my way? Puhhleeez??

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Almond Butter Zucchini Bread

Recipe only a teeny bit adapted from Hummusapien, here! It was so perfect I didn’t want to futz too much, though next time I might try them with a flax egg just for funzies. Gluten free, grain free, flour free. Paleo, refined sugar free, healthy fats, good source of fiber and sneaky veggies! Makes about 9 good sized bars in an 8 by 8 pan.

  • 3/4 c almond butter [mine was roasted and very lightly salted]
  • 1 giant zucchini, grated [1 heaping c shredded zucchini]
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 c raw coconut nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt [adjust accordingly if your almond butter is salty]
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 baking pan with coconut oil or whatever your thing of choice is.

In a largeish/mediumish bowl thing, combine almond butter, egg, maple, coconut nectar, and vanilla. Whisk together until combined. Add in baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt and whisk all that goodness in too. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for just about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool for a few, then flip out onto a cooling rack. I store it in the original baking pan after it’s fully cooled, with foil over the top  in the fridge (Not like I needed to since it all disappeared in about thirty seconds anyway, but you know…). Leftovers keep for… I have no idea. I didn’t have any.

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