Nutty Tahini Fudge

This is a delicious candy alternative and so easy to stir together. It takes a little time to set up in the freezer, but well worth the wait.  This is a treat that is gluten and dairy free. If nuts are something you avoid, add in chopped pumpkin or sunflower seeds for texture in place of the almonds.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cacao butter or coconut oil
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 dried cranberries or cherries (optional)

Melt the cacao butter or coconut oil in a mixing bowl over a pot of steaming water.  When melted, add the tahini, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine into until smooth. Then add in the chopped nuts and dried fruit, if using.

Line a small rimmed dish with parchment paper and pour in the mixture, smoothing out the top.

Chill in the freezer for two hours, cut and serve. Keep refrigerated. Fudge will last for two weeks in refrigerator, longer in the freezer.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Molasses Ginger Cookies

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, soft
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink or grey salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a blender to mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar, pumpkin and molasses together until smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Then add the pumpkin mixture and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, just until the flour is completely incorporated. The dough is a little thin, so use a 2 tablespoon scoop to spoon the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle a little coconut or cane sugar over each mound of dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies start to crisp around the edges. Let cool and enjoy!

Warming Vegetable Curry

Add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and two stalks of celery, chopped, to large high sided skillet or soup pan. Sauté until onions soften.

Chop a bunch of broccoli, separating florets from chopped stems. Chop 1 cup of cauliflower into small florets.

Gather 1/2 cup of red lentils, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of coconut milk and 1T of curry powder.

Add the chopped cauliflower and stems of broccoli to the pan along with the tomatoes, lentils and curry. Fill the tomato can 1/2 full with water and add to the pan and stir everything together. Then add the can of coconut milk. Full fat or lite can be used.

Stir together and bring to a simmer, cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. The lentils and vegetable should be tender. When the vegetables are tender stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and serve!! This fills the kitchen with a warm curry aroma and tastes fantastic.

Creamy Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Mushroom& Wild Rice Soup

1 lb sliced mushrooms 

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves 

1 cup Wild Rice 

3 cup water

4 cup veg broth

1/2 cup cashews

1/4 cup gf rolled oats

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp rosemary 

1/2 tsp sage

In a 4 qt saucepan, over medium heat, sauté the onions in a tsp of olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute so the garlic does not burn. Then add the mushrooms. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. When the mushrooms have released their moisture and the pan is almost dry, transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside. Into the same pan add the wild rice and water and a tsp salt. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and cover pan. Cook for 30 minutes. While the rice is cooking, in a blender, combine cashews, oats and 2 cups of broth. Blend until smooth and creamy, about a minute. 

When the rice is tender, add the remaining 2cups of broth, the mushroom mixture, herbs and the cashew blend to the pot and bring to a simmer and cook for another ten minutes. The soup is ready when thickened. 

Garnish with more fresh herbs and a sprinkling of sliced almonds, if desired. 

Caramel Apple Dessert

Caramel Apple Dessert ( Nut, Dairy, Gluten, Soy and Refined Sugar – FREE)

Crust
1 1/2 C hemp seeds (can sub cashews)
1/4 C coconut flour
3 Tbs honey
1 Tbs coconut sugar
1 Tbs coconut oil

In a food processor, combine hemp seeds and coconut flour and process until a very fine meall is reached. Add remaining crust ingredients and pulse until it becomes sticky. Press into a parchment lined 8X8 in baking dish.
Place in freezer while you make the filling.

Filling
1 1/2 cups of dried Apple slices, soaked for 15-30 minutes to soften slightly
2Tbs maple syrup or honey
1/3 C sunflower butter (may substitute,  almond or cashew  butter)
2Tbs coconut sugar
3 Dates
1/4 C cacao butter, melted (may substitute. Coconut oil)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Soak apples, strain and gently squeeze out excess water. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix well to completely combine into a thick caramel. Spread about half of this mixture over crust. Roughly chop the dried apples and add them to the remaining caramel. Stir to coat the apples well. Pour into pan and spread evenly.  Place in freezer while you make chocolate layer.

Chocolate layer
1/4 C cacao butter, shaved and melted, measure before melting ( may substitute coconut oil)
1/4 C cacao powder
3 Tbs maple syrup or honey

Pinch salt or sprinkle Malden salt on top.

Shave cacao butter into a small bowl or jar, melt it by placing the jar into a pan or bowl of steaming water. Once its melted, add to the remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine and until it is shiny and smooth. Pour over the caramel and apples. Place in refrigerator until set. Slice into pieces and enjoy!

June is Dairy Month?

In Wisconsin, I thought every month was dairy month.  Milk and cheese are major players in Wisconsin cuisine, it is the biggest dietary issue I see for people living here who want to regain their health and reduce the inflammation and acidity they are dealing with.  Many people are not willing to take dairy products out of their diets to even check the possibility of them being the cause of discomfort and dis-ease. I believe this is because, if they felt better, than they would know dairy is causing their problems. And just the thought of not being able to have a slice of cheese, is enough for some people to give up on getting better naturally and instead rely heavily on prescription and OTC drugs.  That is such a sad scenario because more and more research is surfacing showing that Food is one of the main factors in staying healthy and reversing poor health. Lifestyle choices have shown to be even more influential than your genes.  Epigenetics is the focus of study that is actually showing how food can regulate whether certain genes are turned on or off, causing certain genetic dispositions to surface. In other words, if you have a gene for a certain illness or disease, but you are not showing any signs of that disease yet, your diet, environment, and emotions play a significant part in whether or not you will show signs of that genetic disease in the future.  Also, if you already have symptoms of disease, diet changes have actually been shown to reverse disease, especially in the case of certain cancers, diabetes 2, gastrointestinal diseases, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Food can be your medicine, either by omitting certain food from your diet or including specific foods. It is usually a combination of both to achieve the greatest impact.

I have taken dairy out of my diet since  about 2010, and I can say I do see a difference…definitely less mucus in my respiratory tract. I used to wake up every morning and have to hack up phlegm that collected in my throat while sleeping (I know, too much information). I do not have a tendency for colds or sinus issues since getting dairy out of my diet. And I do not have the bloated feeling after eating. If I decide I want some cheese, a nut cheese or even goat cheese seems to digest much easier and not have the mucus forming result for me. But the craving for cheese isn’t there anymore. I believe your body craves poor quality food when it doesn’t know better. Once you begin supplying better food options with higher quality nutrients, over a relatively short period of time, your body stops the junk cravings and starts craving the foods it knows will nourish and fill in where nutrients are lacking. I was amazed when my body started craving greens and green smoothies…Huh? We are all ingrained with the idea that cravings are things that are “bad” for us. But I really think we crave nutrients and our body counts nutrients, not calories.

My dairy symptoms were pretty mild things to be dealing with, but just so you know how significant dairy can be in the system, I wanted to share some research that used exclusively the dairy protein, casein.  Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD researcher and author of the China Study, used two diets of differing casein percentages, 5% and 20% to show the influences on cancer cell growth. In the case of the mice eating 5% casein and having been injected with cancer causing agent, none of the mice grew cancer cells, all had a normal life span and good health. The other group of mice, eating 20% casein, being injected with cancer agent, like the first group, all developed cancer tumors and died early. Then repeating the study, the diets were switched mid stream to show how changing the diet can influence cancer growth and it was indicative, that the higher the casein protein amount, there was greater influence on cancer growth, and if decreased, lesser cancer growth and effects.  Tests were repeated and results were consistent. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about how food affects disease manifested in the body. Your body can keep disease/genes under control, or it can lose control and the disease takes over until the body is given what it needs to overcome. I would risk saying that for most people, food is a main issue that allows the disease to take over and the body to be deficient…but to me that also means there is always hope for a reversal, if food is considered part of your health care!

So, Because June is “Dairy Month”, maybe you would like to start eliminating dairy by the end of the month, so you can see if this omission will allow you to feel better by mid July.. Removing dairy, which includes, milk, yogurt, cheeses, ice cream, cream, whey, casein, derivatives found in processed foods, etc. can seem like a very difficult undertaking. But keep in mind that there are a lot of alternatives that can take the place of, or fill in, where you would have a tendency to have dairy.  Almond and coconut milks are great for basic milk substitutes and can be used in cooking. You can cultured them to make yogurt and kefir and use them as a base for ice creams.  Making your own with a blender is ideal, but some of the commercial brands are decent.

To make your own almond or coconut milk, you will need a blender and a nut milk bag or sieve. For almond milk: soak 1 cup of raw almonds in a bowl of water for 8 hours. Rinse, strain and place in a blender. Cover with three cups of pure water, blend and strain. If you want to keep the milk from separating, place strained milk in blender and add a teaspoon of powdered lecithin and blend for a minute. Pour into a jar and keep refrigerated up to 5 days.  Save the nut pulp for baking or raw crackers or breads. For milk, you can also use almond butter and water blended, straining is optional.  You can use most nuts and seeds to make milk, just soak, rinse and adjust water amount to 3X the nut amount. adjust the amount lower for a thicker/creamier milk.  HERE is a link for more plant milk variations and ideas. And  Ice Cream without dairy, (pictured)

For coconut milk: you can use a young coconut and blend the flesh and the water to make a milk. If young coconuts are not available, you can use dried shredded coconut and water, blended and strained. Coconut butter and water blended will also make a nice milk. The ratio of dried coconut to water is about 2 parts water to one part dried coconut, be sure to use the unsweetened coconut shreds. You can sweeten the home-made milks by blending with one or two dates or adding a bit of stevia or honey.

The Versatile Carrot

Carrots are a favorite vegetable across the globe, enjoyed by children and adults.  It is packed with nutrients that have been researched and found to be beneficial specifically for eyesight and cardiovascular disease, colon cancer preventive and liver supporting.. Carrots can also be enjoyed in so many ways:  raw, steamed, grilled or roasted, or incorporated into either savory or sweet recipes. Here are a couple recipes for using these beneficial roots this spring. Let me know if you try them.

Coconut Carrot Cookies

  • 1cup sugar (coconut, maple crystals, cane, xylitol)
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour (or rice or sorghum)
  • 1 tbs flax meal
  • 1 tsp grey or pink salt

Combine all these in a bowl and  mix well.

  • 1 cup shredded carrots or carrot pulp from juicing
  • 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 6 Tbs elted coconut oil
  • 7 Tbs water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Add carrots, chocolate and nuts to the dry ingredients. Drizzle in the oil, followed by the water and vanilla, mix well until all the ingredientsare incorporated and the mixture commes together. It is recommended to place mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help bind it together, making it easier to form the cookies.

Preheat oven to 325. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet, flatten then slightly using the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned and still moist. Remove fro oven and allow to cool on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. You can adjust cooking time if you like them more or less done. The dough can also be formed and frozen for quick-bake cookies.

For a savory carrot salad check out this recipe: Thai Carrot Noodles

 

Make Your Own Plant Milk & Coffee Bar

I enjoy checking out plant-based cafes while I’m traveling internationally, on a road trip or even just surfing online.  Recently I found a cold-pressed juice bar offering different plant-based milks and I took it as a challenge to make my own variety to have on hand while my daughter was home for a month.

I wanted to have milk available for her daily green smoothies, but rather than sticking with plain nut/seed milks, we decided to make a  variety of flavors which turned out to be delicious. Coffee is a favorite, so incorporating coffee flavors into the milk variety was a no-brainer.  We tried these flavor combinations: Plain Almond, Vanilla Almond-Cashew-Hemp, Matcha latte,  Coffee Latte, Mocha, and Cacao milk. All Yummy!  My next batch will incorporate some herbs and roots, like ginger, turmeric, cardamom, pepper, lavender and more. It really can be an endless flavor adventure. So why not give it a try.

Combining nuts, seeds and even soaked grains, will also yield different tasting milks with different nutrient profiles. Here’s an oat milk recipe. Remember, variety is good, it allows your taste buds to develop and mature, but it also provides the body with a variety of nutrients, all important for building new and healthy cells.

Making milk is an easy process. By making a large batch, dividing and mixing in desired flavors,  you can have a variety on hand for the week.

I’ll walk you through what we did…

  • Soak 2 cups of almonds in pure water overnight.
  • In the morning, drain, rinse and add 1/2 of the nuts to a blender along with 4 cups of water and two pitted dates.  Blend on high for one minute.
  • Use a sieve or nut milk bag to filter the milk into a large jar, but keep the pulp.  Repeat with the remaining nuts, making two batches. (The reserved nut pulp can be saved and used in baking or blending with dates and spices to make raw cookies.)
  • Once your plain milk is made, decide how much you want to keep plain and use for the next couple days. It can be used in sauces, soups and smoothies.
  • We wanted to make  three cups of the milk into 1 cup of creamer and 4 cups of coffee latte. So we put 3 cups of plain milk back into blender, added 1/2 cup of cashews, 2 tablespoons of hemp seed and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and blended for a minute until smooth cream resulted. We poured off one cup into a jar to use as a creamer when desired. Poured the rest of the vanilla milk into a large jar and then added 2 cups of strong coffee into that same jar to make coffee latte.
  • With the remaining  plain almond milk, we divided that into three containers and added Matcha tea powder to one and blended that for a Matcha Latte. To another jar, we added an equal amount of coffee and a tablespoon of raw cacao powder and blended it to make a Mocha Latte.  To the final jar, 1-2 tablespoons of cacao powder and one more date blended to make a chocolate milk. All the milks can be enjoyed cold or warmed gently.
  • Be creative and add some spices and herbs but most of all, don’t feel deprived because you can create so much delicious goodness with nut and seed milks.
  • I really like green milk! Blend the plain milk with greens powder or fresh mixture of greens and ginger or turmeric. This is a great alternative and easy way to get a few extra greens in your day.
  • Other posts for different kinds of milk include this turmeric post and berry oat milk.