Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies

A lot of times when I decide to make things, it is on a whim.  That was how it was last Friday when I decided to bake a batch of cookies.  I have been on a cookie baking kick lately, not sure why since cookies were never my favorite dessert in the past, but they have become sort of a weekly thing at my house in the last few months. Most likely because I am able to make them healthier than I used to, they are vegan and they usually taste wonderful.  I had a little problem though last time. I was going to make some red velvet cookies, and use beets in them, but they were not blending up well. I only had one large beet and it was all chunky and not smooth like I wanted for cookie dough, and not quite large enough to work well in the Vitamix so...I ditched that idea and then decided screw red velvet cookies, I want chocolate cookies.  Not chocolate chip cookies though, German chocolate cookies!  

That is how random I am, and how it works out sometimes. I don't give up, just change it up.  I am happy I decided to make German chocolate cookies too, because they turned out awesome!  I admit these were not a recipe I had made before, I actually took one of my old recipes and changed the dough quite a bit, but I was pleasantly surprised when it worked! They had the perfect texture, tasted amazing, and were just what I had pictured in my head.

The dough was amazing, how could it not be with a cacao base, coconut, crunchy walnuts and decadent dark chocolate.  I could have eaten it as it was, and I did with some, but the dough that made it into cookies was wonderful warm from the oven.  They smelled like heavenly brownies. Dare I say, they tasted better than traditional dairy and flour cookies.  Thanks to the coconut sugar which has a wonderful caramel flavor and the coconut oil to make them a little rich.  These are the type of cookies you bring to a potluck with people who are used to traditional food, let them try it and tell you how good it is, then tell them it was vegan.  Hey, you might just catch their attention!

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies
Makes 16 large cookies

2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp filtered water
1 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups gluten free oat flour

3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chunks

In a small bowl, whisk together the flax seed and filtered water.  Set aside in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, coconut oil with sugar and mix until well combined. 
Mix in the vanilla extract and flax mixture until well combined. 
Add the cacao powder, baking soda and salt then the oat flour, a cup at a time, mixing between each addition, until well combined. 
Mix in the coconut flakes, walnuts, and chocolate chunks. Place in the fridge while you heat the oven.
To bake, Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll balls into about 2 inch balls, and place on prepared cookie sheets a couple inches apart (refrigerate unused dough while baking the other trays).  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until puffed and just starting to brown slightly.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining cookies and let cool completely. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Raw Carrot Chevre Flatbreads

 I find inspiration for delicious things to create from many different places.  Often times, I will see something on pinterest, or in a magazine and I will think to myself, I can veganize that!  Or, those flavors would be wonderful together in something completely different.  Well I recently was out to dinner with my family and I had this wonderful carrot salad.  it had hints of spice, and little bit tangy lemony dressing.  It was supposed to be topped off with goat cheese, but I ordered mine without it since I don't do dairy.  It was amazing though!  I then decided that I wanted to do something with those same flavors, and even include some non-dairy chevre. I wanted something that could be a full meal too, so I decided on flatbreads.  For the flatbreads themself, I made a seeded base, that I use for crackers, mostly composed of flax seeds, but this time I included some Sprout Living Simple Signature Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder to give these a protein boost and make them a full meal.  Before you go thinking it sounds weird to put protein powder in a savory dish, this protein powder is perfect for savory because it is just pumpkin seeds!

I made some coconut chevre to top them, which is what I have been making lately instead of nut chevre.  I even add probiotics to give it a delicious tang so it tastes like the real thing, and it is good for your insides.  I topped off the flatbreads and chevre with some flavorful seeds, lemon dressed carrots and baby kale.  These were delicious!  Not only that, they were satisfying and I loved them as much as I love my raw pizza, but they seemed like less work.  

Raw Carrot Chevre Flatbreads
Makes 9

Coconut Chevre:
1 cup young coconut meat
1/3 cup coconut water
3/4 cup coconut butter (not oil)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp powdered probiotics

1 cup ground flaxseeds
3/4 cup whole flaxseeds
4 scoops Sprout Living Simple Signature Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups filtered water

1 large organic carrot
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
sea salt
cumin seeds
coriander seeds
zest of one large organic lemon
red pepper flakes
fresh organic baby kale

For the chevre, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a container with a lid, and set in a warm place overnight. 
Once it has become tangy in flavor, place in the refrigerator to chill completely.
For the crust, whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended, then spread out on a lined dehydrator tray in a big square about 1/8 inch thick.
Dehydrate at 115F for 2 hours, then score into 9 squares with a knife.  Continue to dehydrate until completely dry, about 22 more hours.
Peel the carrots into strips with a vegetable peeler. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little sea salt.
To assemble the flatbreads, spread some of the chevre onto each flatbread, sprinkle with a little of the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. 
Top with the carrots, making sure they are drained well, then top with a little of the kale.
Serve immediately!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Citrus Cacao Butter Lip Balm

I go through a lot of lip products.  When I was in high school I had the nickname "glossy" because I always had many different lip products on me at any given time, and my lips always had to be moisturized.  I am not quite as obsessive about it now, but soft lips are still important to me.  None of that chapped lip nonsense. I am way more picky about what I put on my lips than I used to be also, I only use natural lip products.  Since I learned that most commercial lip products contain things like preservatives, chemicals and heavy metals (just to name a few).  Although there are some great natural lip product brands out there, I love making my own lip balm. I have been making a lot of sweets with raw cacao butter lately, and they were all amazing, but what I have been really dying to make with it is lip balm.  

I had made some lip balm around the Holidays, but it did not contain cacao butter, and so I wanted to make a new formula and give it a go with it included.  I made a simple combination of cacao butter, coconut oil, and almond oil with some of my favorite citrus essential oils like lemon, orange and grapefruit.  It turned out awesome, and whenever I use it I feel happy because it smells like chocolate and citrus truffles or something dessert-like of that nature. I think anyone would be happy to kiss lips wearing this.  Also, I have been using it on the dry parts of my hands as well and it is a wonderful deep moisturizer for my cracked skin.  This recipe takes almost no hands on time at all, I just popped my cacao butter and coconut oil in the dehydrator while I was working on other stuff until it melted, then whisked the ingredients together and put it in the tins.

Citrus Cacao Butter Lip Balm
Makes 14

3 Tbsp raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
2 Tbsp raw cacao butter, warmed to liquid
2 tsp sweet almond oil
5 drops sweet orange essential oil
5 drops grapefruit essential oil
2 drops lemon essential oil

14 small lip gloss tins or containers with lids

Whisk together all ingredients in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout until well combined.  Pour into desired containers and allow to set until hard, about 3 hours (if you wish to speed it up, place them in the refrigerator).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Raw Dark Chocolate Glazed Coconut Almond Doughnuts

I realized last week it had been far too long since I had made raw doughnuts. I needed to remedy that. I haven't had a real doughnut in probably 12 years, and I haven't missed them because I know I can make some pretty amazingly delicious healthier doughnuts.  I was never a fan of how traditional doughnuts left my stomach and body feeling after devouring them, and since I am really in tune with how my body feels I try to treat it kindly.  So... the doughnuts I now make are a perfect solution to craving doughnuts and still feeling good after enjoying them. 

 I thought long and hard about what type of doughnuts I wanted last week, and although I thought up many delicious sounding combinations, the one I decided on was dark chocolate glazed almond.  I had all of the ingredients for this flavor, so no need to shop (which is always a win), and I was quite excited about them.  I made a delicious dough mostly composed of coconuts and almond butter and it was freaking delicious.  I think I sampled away an entire doughnut worth while making it.  The doughnuts filled my home with the lovely aroma of coconut and almond, and I was getting hungry smelling it!

I glazed them with dark chocolate, sprinkled them with more chocolate and almonds, and they were a sight to behold.  They tasted amazing as well, which is what really counts here.  They reminded me of Almond Joy doughnuts.  I will never miss traditional doughnuts...ever!  Not with deliciousness like this!

Raw Dark Chocolate Glazed Coconut Almond Doughnuts
Makes 10

1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup raw almond butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cups finely shredded, dried coconut
1 cup raw sprouted oat flour

Raw Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup melted raw coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
a pinch sea salt
1/4 cup raw coconut nectar, raw agave nectar or raw local honey

To make the doughnuts, combine the dates, water, almond butter, vanilla and sea salt and process until smooth.  Place the shredded coconut in a high speed blender and buzz to fine flour consistency (about 20-30 seconds but not too long or you will get butter).  Add to the mixture in the food processor, along with the oat flour and process until smooth and holding together.  Shape into 10 balls, and then shape into doughnuts and place on a dehydrator sheet.  Dry for about 5-6 hours at 115F or until not sticky.  To make the glaze, whisk all ingredients until smooth.  Let sit a little while to thicken.  Place the doughnuts on a drying rack.  Drizzle the glaze over the doughnuts, then them on a foil lined sheet pan.  Place in the freezer to harden for a few minutes.  Remove from freezer, and serve!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Raw Marble Cake Batter Nut Butter

I am always experimenting with new flavors of nut butters.  Sometimes I keep them simple and sometimes, I like to play it a little sweet and dessert like.  This is because I think the right sweet nut butter is wonderful drizzled over some bananas for dessert, or over a smoothie bowl as an extra treat with the other toppings.  I made Sugar Cookie Dough Butter and Brownie Batter Pecan Butter recently,  and I decided it was about time for some cake batter butter.  Not just cake batter butter though, marble cake batter butter.

I used a macadamia base, which is my honest to God favorite nut butter because it is so rich and tastes amazing.  I added in a bit of raw cacao butter which made it taste like white chocolate for the vanilla portion.  I added some raw cacao powder to half, swirled it in a jar all pretty like, and was it ever pure deliciousness!  This is the type of thing you would be tempted to eat right out of the jar, it is that good.  Speaking of that, I once ate a whole jar of  Smucker's Goober Grape peanut butter and jelly in a jar in high school.  I have self control now though thank God or this stuff would be gone.

My favorite thing to do with this is to drizzle it over sliced bananas (I warm it in the dehydrator a little first, so it is runny).  It is sooo good! I was totally going to share some of this nut butter too, I had the intention, but I think it will never see pass through else's lips but my own.  If you don't want to splurge on macadamia nuts to make this, feel free to substitute cashews instead.

Raw Marble Cake Batter Nut Butter
Makes about 3 cups

3 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
1/4 cup raw cacao butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw coconut sugar

2 Tbsp cacao powder

In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients but the cacao powder and blend until smooth, using the tamper to push the mixture down into the blades.  Remove half the mixture to a glass measuring cup with a spout.  Add the cacao butter back to the other half of the nut mixture in the blender and blend until well incorporated.  Pour the 2 nut mixtures alternating the two into a jar to create layers.

*Note: this nut butter gets a little firm when refrigerated. Let it sit out if you would like it softer.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vegan Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Layer Cake (gluten free)

Last Saturday on Valentine's Day, Eric and I decided to take a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts for a date.  I had planned on going for a nice walk outdoors somewhere, and as it worked out, Mother Nature did not cooperate and it was about 5F degrees that day.  So, the art museum was a warm and comforting place to go.  It was romantic walking through the museum and admiring art together.  They had an event going on where you place a red paper heart in front of your favorite piece.  So we carried the hearts with us for most of the date, and finally when we had already seen most of the museum, I saw the piece I loved the most. I was about to say so when at the same time Eric said "This one!" Turns out we both picked the same piece.  Funny because we have very different tastes, so it was pretty awesome we agreed this time. 

After the museum, we took a trip to the Wedge Co-op, and the first thing I saw when I walked through the door was a display of beautiful blood oranges.  I had to get some. I had been waiting for blood oranges for what seemed like forever and none of the stores near my home had them yet.  So, I was all over them.  I wanted to make a cake of some sort featuring them.  I asked Eric if he preferred a raw cheesecake or a layer cake, and layer cake it was!  This was going to be a post Valentine's Day Cake, since I just wanted to spend time with Eric and why not make Valentine's Day last two days and have cake on Sunday! 

I ended up making a chocolate cake with a fluffy coconut based white chocolate orange frosting that tasted like creamsicle.  It was delicious, and this cake ended up being a little like me and Eric's taste in art.  He prefers chocolate, I prefer vanilla or fruit flavored.  But we both agreed that this cake was wonderful.  The best of both, and something we could share.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Layer Cake (gluten free)
Makes 1 6 inch 4 layer cake

2 6 inch cake pans

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (or gluten free oat flour)
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup pureed apple
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp fresh blood orange juice at room temperature
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 cans organic full fat coconut milk, chilled

2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours in water and drained
2/3 cup blood orange juice
2 Tbsp blood orange zest
3/4 cup raw coconut nectar, maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2  tsp sea salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups coconut butter, warmed to liquid

2/3 cup raw cacao butter, warmed to liquid**

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Line two six-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and pan sides lightly with coconut oil so that the cake doesn't stick and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment fit to the pan.
Whisk flour, cacao powder, baking soda, sea salt, sugar in a large bowl to blend well.
Whisk apple puree, oil, vanilla, orange zest and juice together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in the cider vinegar until bubbles form.
Transfer cake batter to prepared pans and bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool cakes completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. Cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cakes out onto platter; peel off parchment paper. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge to chill until very cold to make slicing easier. When chilled, slice cakes horizontally in half so that you have 4 layers.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, combine all ingredients but the coconut butter and cacao butter in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  With the motor running, add the coconut butter and cacao butter and process a minute more.  Pour the frosting into a bowl and let sit in the freezer until the consistency of whipped cream (this may take anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour depending on how warm it has gotten). 
When ready to frost, place one cake layer on a plate. spread frosting about 1/2 inch thick over the first layer, then top with the second.  Repeat the frosting, then another cake layer, then more frosting then the last cake layer. Spread frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake.  Decorate the top of the cake with blood orange slices just before serving.  Store cake in the fridge.

**If you can not get cacao butter, you can substitute more coconut butter or coconut oil.
***if you would like a 4 layer 9 inch cake, double this entire recipe and bake in two 9 inch cake pans.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Spicy Peanut Slaw with Edamame

 Although I tend to spend a lot of time on my desserts, I tend to keep my dinners fairly simple.  This might be because I spend my days at work in a deli making lots of savories such as soups and salads, and I get enough savory creating action.  Or, it may be because I want dinner fast and I am a bit lazy at that point.  Plus, I am on a budget, and I like to make meals that are relatively cheap.  So, last weekend when I was grabbing ingredients for dinner for Eric and I, I decided on a slaw.  Slaw is so versatile, it can be made from many things but most popular is the cabbage which is also inexpensive.  So I grabbed some heads of cabbage, and I was really craving something spicy, so also some hot peppers and ginger, and some edamame for protein,  I was thinking spicy peanut slaw, but not like I have made it in the past.  You see, this was knock your socks off spicy.

Me and my Man are both spice lovers, and this slaw had the kick of habanero, jalapeno, ginger, and chipotle powder.  But not so spicy that you could not taste the other flavors.  I scarfed down a large plate of this and it was so crave worthy good!  Not just your run of the mill peanut slaw, but party in your mouth awesome.  It was satisfying as well thanks to the extra protein in the edamame. I think I may just have to make this again next weekend, because I want some more now.

Spicy Peanut Slaw with Edamame
Serves 2-4

1/2 medium head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced
4 scallions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut julienne
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 habanero, sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) edamame, shelled

1/3 cup raw jungle peanut butter (or regular peanut butter)
1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp nama shoyu, or tamari
1 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
3 Tbsp filtered water

In a large bowl, combine all of the veggies.
In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients, and whisk until smooth, adding a little more water of you would like it thinner.
Toss the dressing with the veggies until they are well coated, and serve!