Pecan Fingers

These delicate cookies are a remake of the traditional buttery sugary cookie that was always one of my favorites. By replacing the sugar, butter and flour, you get a gluten free, sugar free, vegan delight.  Recipe makes about 20 cookies.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic vegan butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered monk fruit-erythritol blend, more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or oat flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Whip the butter and olive oil together until emulsified and light. If you have crystallized and not powdered monk fruit, put a 1/2 cup in a blender and blend until powdered. Add 1/4 cup of the monk fruit and remaining flours and vanilla to the oil mixture and beat until completely combined and smooth. Stir in chopped pecans. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 . Using a small spoon, scoop and roll into short logs and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven, until lightly browned.

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!

Cranberry Orange Fig Relish

  • 8 dried figs, softened and chopped
  • One 8 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 2 cups)
  • 1 navel orange (rind removed using a sharp vegetable peeler and chopped, peel and cut into chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar, powdered
  • 2 tablespoons or more, coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

 

Coarsely chop the figs in a food processor. Add cranberries, orange pieces and rind and pulse to chop and combine with figs. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.  Pour into container and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

If the sauce is overly liquid, add a tablespoon ground chia seeds, stir well to mix evenly and let sit to thicken.

Can be made one week ahead. Keeps well in fridge and/or freezer. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy this relish with herbed hemp spread, as a tart filling with sliced fruit, as a canape topping or spooned over roasted squash! Or really any way you wish.

Sugar Fasting

I just finished 40 days of fasting sugar and for me that meant cutting out all forms of processed and “healthy” sugar options and sticking with only fresh, frozen and dried fruit. It wasn’t like I had candy hiding around the house, but I would add honey or maple syrup to my coffee, tea and oats, snack on granola, chips or a square of dark chocolate and then more dark chocolate after dinner. (Maybe there was chocolate hiding, but I hadn’t labeled it “candy” because dark chocolate is good for you, right?) But what made me decide to do this was to become more aware of habitual eating I may not have paid much attention to, and to intentionally let go of a substance that doesn’t offer much in return.

It started when I saw this opportunity to join an online group for the 40 day fast with daily encouragement and accountability. Guess what? My husband decided to join me, and he’s used to having a soda and several sweetened teas at work and then an afternoon trip to the candy bowl and joins me for a square of chocolate after dinner. With a little creativity on my part, we both made it through without too much fuss. It is interesting what we learned and how we’re feeling now.

To begin, we committed to drinking more water whenever we had an urge for something sweet, and then to having a piece of fresh fruit. Apples, oranges, kiwi. pineapple and berries filled our fruit drawer. My husband, Barry, would take fruit to work and make his own unsweetened tea. I drastically reduced my coffee, because I don’t like bitter coffee and drank more herbal and green teas which tend not to need sweetener. The first couple days I used a few stevia drops in coffee, but I really preferred plain tea to the coffee with stevia . For my typical winter breakfast of oats, instead of adding the honey or maple syrup, I just loaded it with a chopped orange and some raspberries, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicious!

I did need to find a way to only use fruit in the granola I make, which is what Barry takes for breakfast. So instead of melting coconut oil and mixing it with maple syrup, coconut sugar and vanilla to pour over the oat, nut and seed mixture, I blended a half banana, two apples, a couple dates and cinnamon with a little water and poured that mixture over the oat, nut, seed mix and then baked. It was a little less sweet than my original. but nicely flavored.

I also kept a small jar of dates soaking in water in the fridge. I would use the water to sweeten some things (coffee, if I really wanted it) and the soft dates in a recipe I was making if it needed a sweetener. But for the most part, I cooked simply, enjoyed a little more fruit than I usually eat and did not bake, except for a date sweetened chocolate birthday cake for Barry, (It was good!).

When I wanted a crunchy snack, I had mixed raw nuts and seeds on hand, as I always do, and I made some kale chips a couple times. But I really missed the after dinner chocolate square. So as a fruit based replacement, I pitted 6 dates and put a small scoop of almond butter in the center of each and kept those in the freezer. Oh my! They have taken the place of the chocolate, at least for now.

I think doing the fast helped both of us think and be more mindful of what we were eating and at the same time, reflect on why we were inclined toward sugar. Reasons like boredom, avoidance, sheer habit and feeling down surfaced. Also sharing a little more sweetness and more hugs with each other helped too! We both benefited by feeling less achy and slept better and Barry lost a couple pounds and saw improved focus at work.

We haven’t returned to our pre-fast behavior and plan to keep a better balance on the use of sweeteners. Whole fruits really can be used in place of sugar and sweeteners in most recipes and I’ll be putting some sugar free recipes together if you need some inspiration. But if this is something you’re interested in doing, I encourage you to go for it.

No Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 14 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Optional stir in: ½ c chopped cranberries and/or 1/3 c pumpkin seeds or chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, bananas, applesauce and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the oat flour, spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add cranberries if using, and coat with flour mixture.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a spoon until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.

Lightly spray or line a muffin pan with papers. Divide batter between muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool before removing muffins from the pan.

Notes: Spelt or Einkorn flour can be substituted if gluten is not an issue, You can make your own apple puree by blending a chopped apple with a little water and adding to the recipe.  To make your own oat flour, grind rolled oats in a blender until fine.