2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

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The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

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Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

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This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

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More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

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My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

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More beautiful sky!

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Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

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Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

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Crisp = dessert, then breakfast

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Woah woah woah I graduate a month from yesterday! Wheeeeee almost time to decorate my mortar board. Because I care not that I’m getting a masters and that any display of creative originality might be frowned upon for grad ceremonies; any flat, otherwise boring surface is acceptable for yogic doodle decoration and glitter. Also, it’s probably time to make a dent in that giant pile of work I have to do between now and my practicum presentation but…. nah. I made crisp instead.

Because… CRISP!

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Infinitely more fun than papers and literature review and and and.. ew. Someone make all that go away so I can enjoy my crisp in peace, mmk?! Great.

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This one is full of springy, fruity deliciousness. Good for the soul and the bod — brightly colored (food should be fun!) and full of whole-food nutrients. Because all desserts should be able to do double duty as breakfast! Obviously.

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And with that… I’m back to work. Because even that little respite couldn’t last long (waaah).

Let’s get to it. Happy weekend!

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Vegan Raspberry Crisp with Meyer Lemon and Coconut

Fruity, lemony, springy, delicious, and good for your bod! All you could want out of a dessert / breakfast / fruity whole food shenanigan. Full of whole grains (oats), healthy fats (coconut and almonds), antioxidants (raspberries) and all kinds of textural fun. Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free. Yield: one 8 by 8 pan. A Wait are those Cookies original!

For the fruity goodness:

  • 4 c raspberries (frozen is totes fine; just thaw them first)
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp meyer lemon juice*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crispy fun:

  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1 c rolled oats**
  • 1/4 unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • zest of one meyer lemon*
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 c melted coconut oil

*regular lemon will do but Meyers are SO fabulous; find them if you can!

** gluten free if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 and locate your trusty 8 by 8 pan that you make EVERYTHING in. Or maybe that’s just me…

In a large bowl, toss together raspberries, tapioca, maple, meyer lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Once it’s all combined, spread this evenly into the bottom of the 8 by 8.

In another largish bowl, stir together almond meal, oats, sea salt, and lemon zest. Add in maple syrup and melted coconut oil, and stir until combined, mashing out the largest lumps. Spread this goodness evenly over the raspberries in the prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden brown and the filing is bubbly and juicy (omg yum). Let sit for a few before annihilating. Leftovers (ha) store best in the fridge and are excellent for breakfast, just saying.

Top with any kind of iced dessert of choice – i.e.. vegan paleo gelato, dairy deliciousness, whipped coconut cream?! The sky’s the limit. You do you!

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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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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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My sandwich is exploding kale

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Drool drool drool.

I had no idea these bars were going to be so spectacular!!! But they were. And thankfully for me and my sweets consumption they went on the plane to Oregon with m&v, those lucky ducks. I have serious problems when I go to Portland… I just want ALL THE FOOD. And I run into that reoccurring problem of most mortals in that only so much goodness will fit in my stomach. With whom do I register a complaint for this ridiculous design flaw?!

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But anyway. They needed plane snacks and any excuse to bake is fine by me so these happened.

And I am soooo glad they did.

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Sorry in advance for the next bajillion posts being sweets, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Jill (of the blog Halfway There and the tamales and flan madness) and I are having our bimonthlyish baking extravaganza later today sooooo there will be cake and ice cream and cookies. And quinoa pizza…just to, you know, round things out. Because why make just one thing?! How boring. But more on that later.

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Also tacos. And feet. And there was a pool behind me and what more could you want on a weekend? Sadly that was last weekend (of the light side/dark side bars) and there is currently no pool in sight for me. Harumph.

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Also KALE!!! Could there be any more kale in this sandwich?! I think not. KALE EXPLOSION! Love love love. I know it’s random but KALE!!! is AMAZING!! And it’s my blog. So I’m sharing.

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But for now. BARZ. M&V needed something that traveled well and wouldn’t be too crumbly so obviously dates. And nuts for sustenance whilst traveling (much better than that garbage you typically find in airports). And only five ingredients, all whole foods, all things that come from nature and are eaten while still resembling their natural state. Wheeee!

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Pecan Date Bars

Beyond simple to put together! Chewy, naturally sweet and delicious. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free!  Might be paleo? Easily veganized. Healthy fats [pecans], a good source of vits/mins [dates], antioxidants [extra dk chocolate] + protein. Perfect travel (or anytime) snacks. Recipe adapted from Ellaphant Eats, here! Makes 9 giantish bars, or more if you cut them smaller… but… why?!

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates [soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes if they’re like rocks]
  • 2 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate, chopped or chips (mine was chips for hurried baking)

*or two flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6tbsp water) veganizes this nicely 

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with your thing of choice (I like coconut oil).

In a food processor (what on earth would I do without these?!), process softened dates and pecans until a sticky, clumpy dough forms. The pecan pieces should be relatively small (just don’t over do it and end up with nut butter…). Pulse in vanilla and sea salt, followed by the eggs. Remove the blade and stir in 1/4 c chocolate chips. Scoop the batter out into the prepared pan, and flatten it out with a spatula or your fingers or whatever. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the bars. Bake for just about 19-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. The center will still feel slightly soft, but a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, then cut and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Light side? Or…. dark side?!

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So, are you on the light side?

Or…

The dark side?

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Both are equally appealing…

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B(lond)rownies are kind of like the Force. They have a light side, and a dark side… and they undeniably hold the universe together. My universe, anyway, I can’t speak for yours…

But really, when brownies are holding your universe together, that universe is pretty freakin fab!

I was a little more inclined to the dark side today with these. Dense, fudgy and rich, with small chunks of chocolate chips.. mmm. Doesn’t get much better than that. Except when there’s peanut butter added to your chocolate, in which case the ridiculous deliciousness of these skyrockets into the stratosphere.

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But then there’s these.

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And if you’re feeling like maybe your inclinations push you to the light side (blue, green and purple are pretty awesome lightsaber colors), there’s these. Dense, chewy-crumbly, with an almost graham cracker-like taste. And chocolate chips. Of course.

Actually, much like the dichotomy in the Force (and the real universe..) these two complement each other startlingly well. The deep dark fudgy of one plays nicely against the lighter molassesy flavor of the other.

So go ahead. Indulge your dark side and your light side, and make a batch of both. You never know when the mood might strike, or when your universe might become ruled by baked goods in the best possible way….

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Deep Dark Peanut Butter Brownies

This recipe is from Minimalist Baker, here! It’s freaking fabulous so I didn’t change a thing (other than omitting the powdered sugar and subbing in maple). Makes about 12 good sized brownies, in an 8 by 8 pan. Vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free!

  • 1 can (15 oz) of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal+5 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/2 c creamy salted peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

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

In a food processor, combine flax meal and water and let sit for a few minutes. Add in beans, coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda, vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. Pulse to combine, and let it run for a minute or two—you want this to be very smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour batter into the prepared pan. In a smaller bowl, stir together peanut butter and maple. Drop dollops of the peanut butter onto the tops of the brownies, and swirl it in with a knife. Top with extra chocolate chips (because, why not?!), and bake for just about 30 minutes. The center should have no jiggle and the edges will pull slightly away from the pan. Let cool almost completely before slicing, as they’re a little fragile when warm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container!

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Light Side Blondies

These are adapted only slightly from Worth Cooking, here! The recipe makes about 12-14 wedges if you make it in a 9″ round cake pan, as I did. E and I decided these reminded us slightly of graham crackers in the way they tasted, and they’re dense, chewy and vanilla-y. They’re gluten free with oat flour, as originally written, but I was out. Vegan and refined sugar free!

  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c tapioca starch
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla (Yes, you read that right!)
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan (or square, or whatever). Preheat the oven to 350.

In a smallish bowl, whisk together flaxseed, water, and molasses and let sit. In a larger bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add in flax mix, followed by coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine, tossing in the chocolate chips as you go. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for just about 30 minutes. The top should be firm, and the blondies will pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Let cool a bit before slicing. I have no leftovers… but if I had, I would have stored them in the fridge ;)

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A case of RUDE tonsils

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So guess what.

This is what happens when your tonsils rebel and you end up with…

TONSILLITIS.

So. RUDE.

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Look what it made me do? I was feeling sorry for myself and this happened.

And I kind of thought it was pretty so I took lots of iPhone photos while I was becoming one with the couch. Which is so not my mo, I’m getting twitchy and this is only my first full day of antibiotics (which I hate but in some cases are obviously necessary).

Ughghghhghghg.

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Thankfully things look a little better with a bowl of trashed up banana bread in front of you. I took a perfectly good-for-me loaf of grain free, refined sugar free banana bread and dumped a load of homemade chocolate hazelnut butter and vanilla ice cream on it. Because, obviously. I do not ever need to justify my ice cream but in this case I have tonsillitis and clearly everyone knows that tonsillitis=ice cream. There’s got to be an official rule written down somewhere that says that… right? Whatever. Just humor me, I’m sickly and cranky. And my banana bread is gone now so I can’t trash up any more of it.

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Good thing I still have ice cream. I’ll have to just make do with that…

IMG_0372 Simple Grain Free Banana Bread

This is one of my favorites—it comes out with a great crumb, it’s moist but not soggy (ew, no one wants that), and it bakes up cleanly in less than an hour. Grain free+gluten free, refined sugar free (in fact, it doesn’t have any sweetener added at all, except banana), and paleo. Yay! I adapted the recipe from Peanut Butter Runner, here! Makes one loaf.

  • 3/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil (measured when completely liquid)
  • 3 medium-large, extremely ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • shredded unsweetened coconut for topping, optional

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, trying to get all the lumps (sift coconut flour if it’s super lump-tastic). In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined—the batter is thick, and almost a little ‘dry’, but it spreads out easily into a loaf pan. Top with shredded coconut, if using, and bake for 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Use the parchment to lift it out onto a cooling rack, and let cool completely before wrapping in foil. It does best stored in the fridge!

Trash it up with anything you feel like. Chocolate? Peanut Butter? Ice cream? (I mean, obvi)… This banana bread is your oyster.

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Rustic chunktastic cookies strike again

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Food girl strikes again.

And so does Cookie Thursday. Or okay fiiiiine…. cookie Wednesday. Picky picky.

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I haven’t posted a good, rustic chunktastic cookie in awhile but these are pretty fantastic. And sort of sorry (except not really) that the last eleventy posts have all featured cookies. My savory life these days is a little lacking, sadly, due to ridiculous scheduling (sort of my fault, sort of not) soooo… yeah. At least I have cookies! Life is really lame if you don’t have cookies, trust me on that one.

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And well, cookies.

Because, Thursday.

And look! I just can’t help it. Once a mermaid, always a mermaid. Beachy weekend day off= happy happy happy!

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I’m feeling slightly less than coherent at the moment—I just came from jazzercise and then pounded down some toast (hello, enthusiastic and energetic dancing requires immediate carb replenishment, obviously) and now it’s only 10:45 and I already want lunch. Um. Hello, stomach? You’re not being very cost effective right now. Kind of like when you make me so starving at work that I eat ALL of my food on my first break and then that apparently doesn’t make a dent so then I have to go scrounge up some other victuals. As I said.. Not cost effective. But also, I like eating… so really, maybe we can come to some middle ground here…

Like lunch. At 11. Ha.

Oaty Coconut Almond Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen, here! Thick, chewy cookies filled with oats and coconut. They have a fab almond taste from the almond butter and extract, so if almond is your jam these are for you. Whole grain, refined sugar free, and gluten free. I made a half batch for a yield of 12 [measurements for the half batch posted here].

  • 1/4 c smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/6 c maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

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

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together almond butter, maple, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and egg. In a smaller bowl, combine oats, almond flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Stir wet into dry until combined, and fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by the large spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet. These won’t spread too much, so feel free to cram them all on there. Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two. Remove them to a cooling rack until they cool completely. Store them in an airtight container, if they last that long…

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This has absolutely nothing to do with cookies but just illustrates how I’m really like five years old. Ice cream is not complete without rainbow sprinkles, everyone knows that…

Nutty shenanigans involving chocolate

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Hello!!

Happy Rainy Wednesday, wheee!!! I LOVE rain. So does my cat, apparently, since he spent the majority of the morning outside in it, little furry twit. And now he’s sitting on me and purring, all pleased with himself. And damp. I am apparently a fab kitty towel… (not that I mind. He’s adorable).

But anyway.

This morning I skinned hazelnuts and listened to really loud opera and the rain. The opera was L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti, one of my favorites. What did you do, invisible internet friends??

Why did I skin hazelnuts, you ask? Funny you should ask…

Because, THIS.

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And then THIS.

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And then all of this will become COOKIES as of tomorrow and well… it just obviously doesn’t get much better than that (Don’t fret. I will also share the cookies).

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And also. Can I just say refined sugar free?! Yep. This is nutella. Except it isn’t, because it’s unprocessed and refined sugar free! Boomshakalaka. I just blew your mind, right? It’s okay, five minutes ago I blew mine too by tasting this. Just sit down for a minute, you’ll be fine. Deep breaths… Right. See? Now you feel recovered enough to trot into the kitchen and whip this up for yourself. Just be sure to hang onto at least a cup so you can have your mind blown all over again when I share the cookies for tomorrow.

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You know what’s funny about hazelnuts? I absolutely love them, but the taste takes me back immediately to my trip to Europe when I was 10. At some point in Austria, I was given a couple of Mozart Balls (I kid you not, that’s what they’re called), which are these chocolate-hazelnut truffle thingies. And guess what. I disliked them with great intensity. Apparently, something about the nuts in chocolate combo really turned off my 10 year old self. But oddly enough, that prejudice didn’t stick around (thank goodness), and now I love hazelnuts with reckless abandon. ESPECIALLY when paired with chocolate. But that smell and taste totally takes me back to Europe. Not saying that’s a bad thing in the slightest..

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But anyway. Hazelnuts!!! In CHOCOLATE!! Doesn’t get much better.

Also ps. The weather is doing that crazy spring thing where it’s SUNNY!!! and then it’s RAINING!!! and then it’s SUNNYYYY!! RAININGGGG!!! SUN! RAIN!SUNRAINSUNRAINSUNRAIN! You know exactly what I’m talking about… it really reminds me of the weather in Salem. I remember one particular day where it rained, was sunny, hailed, and I think probably snowed. All in one day. Don’t even ask. An umbrella becomes exceedingly useless at a certain point…

So anyway. Enjoy the nutty springtime weather and some homemade, garbage-free chocolatey hazelnutty goodness.

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Recipe loosely adapted from Living Healthy with Chocolate, here! My batch yielded about a cup and half. Vegan (sub maple for honey), gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo! Winner, winner. Also, if you’re allergic to/can’t have chocolate, this could be done with carob powder/carob chips.

  • 2 c hazelnuts, dry roasted
  • 3.5 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped (choose something above 70%–mine was 73%)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1.5 tsp unrefined coconut oil*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

*hate coconut? (though I’m not sure we can be friends if that’s the case…)(just kidding!) Use olive, avocado, hazelnut–whatever oil floats your boat.

Rub the skin off the hazelnuts using your palms. You can buy pre roasted ones, and most of the time the skin is already off 3/4ths of them, or you can roast your own for about 10 minutes at 350, then rub the skins off while they’re still warm. Either way, make sure almost all of the skin is removed. Toss the two cups of skinned hazelnuts into a food processor (or a vitamix, if you’re lucky), and process until they start to form a buttery consistency. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times. This should yield a cup of nut butter—do try not to eat it all in advance since you need it later…

Using a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate until it’s completely melty. Take the double boiler off the heat, and stir in the hazelnut butter, cocoa powder, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, and almond milk until smooth. Adjusting to your personal taste preferences is obviously totally acceptable.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. Mine will be going into cookies tomorrow (get ready for epicness in the next post), but I would assume it would stay good in the fridge for a week or two.

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Wednesdays are BANANAS

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It’s Wednesday… time to go BUHHNAHHNUHHSS!!

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Or something like that.

But first: a little throwback Wednesday to get things started off right. These were my shoes as a baby:

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And we wonder why I turned out like I did?! Ha. Evidence. I’m sure my current state of affairs also has quite a bit to do with the fact that as a baby, I looooved tofu and bananas mashed up together. Yeah. I’m not too sure about that combination these days either…

And then there’s this, which is a throwback to like.. yesterday. Or maybe breakfast. Because apparently quite a few of my meals start off looking like this:

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Huge pile o’greens. Are we surprised? No, not really. ANYway…

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Banana bread!! Only this time its grain free, for peeps who either don’t wanna or can’t have gluten or grains. I like grains and gluten (bread. obvi) but I also really like new things, so this happened. And I am sooo glad it did because it is also delicious, and as I’ve said many times I really don’t have time for things that aren’t delicious. It also happens to be refined sugar free, which I love. Actually… there aren’t ANY added sweeteners in this, period—all the sweetness comes from buhhnahhnuhss! Awesome. Just make sure you use some really dead bananas—mine were pretty nasty looking but they found bliss in their next incarnation as bread, so everybody wins.

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Grain Free Banana Bread

Makes one loaf. Grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo. It’s high in healthy fats and fiber (yay!), and very satisfying. I think that covers just about everything! Recipe only slightly tweaked from Heather’s French Press, here!

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  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed (mine were smallish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350, and thoroughly grease a loaf pan (Or use parchment— my bread stuck like WHAT so obviously I was lazy with greasing and should have used parchment. Whoops. Whatever, it created “crumbs” and then I got to eat them all).

In a bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour (sifted if chunky), flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, mash bananas, then vigorously whisk them together with the eggs and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. This batter (because of the coconut flour) is very thick—it won’t pour like typical banana bread. I smooth mine out with a spatula and then give it fork marks on top for fun. Smooth the batter out in the prepared pan, then pop it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. A tester should come out clean when it’s done. Let it cool for a few in the pan, then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in the fridge! I found that it got better and better the longer it lasted (which sadly wasn’t that long…)

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