Deep Chocolate Black Forest Brownies

Vegan. Grain free (paleo). Brownies.

So…. that pervasive day of chocolate and flowers is drawing near, you know the one. Here are three (generalized) camps you might park yourself in:

1. You love it, love to love it, love all it stands for, get out all the pink and red and roses and hearts and glitter and go for it.

2. Whatever, a nice meal out, drink wine, smooches if you give me flowers. Pass me the chocolate.

3. Go away. Valentines day was created by card and gift companies and has nothing what-so-ever to do with real love. Cupid, who was that anyway? Real love cannot be bought. And I don’t eat that crap.

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Seriously, camp 3, lighten up and just honor the chocolate.

When I had young kids at home Valentine’s Day was my favorite. We’d decorate the windows with clear conatct paper hearts that had spoonfulls of glitter in them (that shit’s like pine needles at Christmas.. every where until next September), invite friends over and have an all out dessert (sugar) party: Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake, heart shaped cookies, homemade marshmallows, shirley temples…you know the drill. Gifts of lip gloss and underware (what? all that cute Valentine’s Day underware, how could I not?). I am so grateful for those memories

Now that my girls are grown, the meaning just doesn’t hold up for me. They were absolutely the reason holdiays were special at all. Now, whatever, I try. The man is more camp 3, though he definitely appreciates a good meal and dessert. [Also, when you’ve gone grain, nut, dairy and egg free that Cherry Cheesecake is a bit of a big challenge].

So here we are at dessert, or treats, snacks, lunch box surprises.  Make these for the healthy die-hard Valentine’s Day fan. Make these for the one who likes a good sweet with out the sappy love stuff. Make these to soften up camp 3 ( give them the whole pan full).

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Black Forest Brownies  (vegan, paleo)

2/3 cup tigernut flour
1/3 cup good quality cocoa or raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp flax seed meal
1/4 cup liquid (cherry juice for Black Forest, water or dairy free milk choice)
6 oz (1 cup) dairy free dark chocolate, either in chunks or chips
1/2 cup firm coconut oil

Optional: 1 cup thawed frozen sweet cherries, drained, juice reserved

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350*

Whisk flax meal into a 1/4 cup cherry juice ( or chosen liquid), set aside.

Prepare a square baking pan with 2 rectangles of parchment paper crossing over each other,  allowing the paper to go up the sides. Use a light coating of coconut oil to help the paper stick.

Place all remaining dry ingredients in a fine mesh sieve set over a medium size bowl, stir the dry ingredients to combine and press through the sieve, this helps remove any gritty tigernut skin out of the flour.

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir well to combine, add flax meal mixture and stir again.

Combine wet ingredients into dry, stir well until incorporated.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, if using cherries, press approximately half of them into the batter. Bake for 15 minutes then turn pan, bake another 15 minutes. Let brownies cool then place the whole pan in the freezer until cold, this helps them keep their shape and adds to their gooey texture.
To remove brownies lift the parchment paper, loosening all four sides before lifting. Cut brownies. Store in refrigerator or freezer, they will soften at room temp.

Serve with the additional cherries and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

 

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Coconut Milk Yogurt

Completely dairy free yogurt.

Vegan. None of the nasty additives of commercial brands. Easy to make.

Luscious, delicious, real YOGURT.

freshly made coconut milk yogurt
To make this rewarding and fantastic recipe part of your dairy-free pantry, pop on over to Team Yogurt read all about it and a little bit about me. Then take a trip around the gorgeous website full of delectable recipes and writings from some of today’s most influential food writers and food makers. Team Yogurt is the newest beautiful creation by Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of the award winning blog 5 Second Rule and her current book, Yogurt Culture.


Replace coconut milk yogurt in any recipe calling for dairy yogurt, while it has a different flavor profile, it’s one that is mild and slightly tangy.

 

Stay tuned for my recipes using this yogurt like grain-free, dairy-free CHOCOLATE DEVIL’s FOOD CAKE (and donuts with coconut raspberry glaze!)

 

As always, this recipe has been tested again and again, but glitches happen, please feel free to reach out to me with honest questions.

Thank you for stopping by here!

 

 

Salted Tahini & Chocolate Cookies 

  
You know those decadent 3 (4 or 5) ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been traversing the internet and cookbooks for several years, the ones that became the mainstay of gluten free offerings in hip neighborhood bakeries everywhere (never mind most of us with Celiac can’t eat peanuts)? I used to bake them as extra large cookie sandwiches; spread with a thick middle layer of decadent chocolate ganache. We couldn’t keep them in the shop, people would phone ahead and reserve. The classic peanut butter and chocolate combination we all (North Americans) seem to crave. I read about Ovenly’s variation on the recipe in Smitten Kitchen and, really, WHY can’t I have those? (Oh so many reasons, but nuts in general). 

Smitten Kitchen is powerful magic, puts thoughts in your head buzzing like a fly you can’t get rid of. I needed cookies. And I can eat sunflower seed butter and, oh yes, TAHINI. and while I was at it why not throw in some raw cocoa? And here you go. Not anything at all like chocolate laced halvah, but kind of reminiscent. 
According to my quick internet search sesame seeds were originally cultivated around 3,500 years ago just for their oil. Tahini is lower in sugar and saturated fat and higher in fiber than peanut butter (and that’s impressive since peanuts are actually a legume) and was introduced to American health food stores in 1940. I mention this because I made batches of these cookies with two different tahini, and got vastly differing results. Sometimes there is an abundant oil to solids ratio depending on the brand or even within the same brand, due to this we will never get a tahini as thick as peanut or almond butters, and this can affect our cookies. 

The tale of fraternal Cookies.  

Find a tahini that is not too terribly runny, one that stays emulsified for a while after stirring and accept that oil will spread out of these cookies as soon as you begin spooning them on to parchment covered baking sheets (and definitely use parchment). You will be rewarded with tahini and chocolate cookies with a candy-like crunch and supremely gratifying chewiness and may have to hide them. 

  
Salted Tahini Chocolate Cookies 

Makes 24 

Requires 30 minutes freezing time before baking. 

1-1/2 cups well stirred tahini

2 eggs, whisked

1-1/2 cup coconut sugar 

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt (unless tahini is salted) 

Maldon flaked salt for topping 

Method: 

Using a stand or hand mixer whip all the ingredients together to thoroughly blend. Do this by hand if you must, make sure it’s all incorporated. 

Place the dough in your freezer, you may need to transfer it to a smaller bowl. 

Ready two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 350*

Remove dough, you may see oil beginning to pool, don’t worry. 

Scoop dough into tablespoon sized rounds, using a measuring spoon or scoop, try to leave the oils behind. Place evenly on baking sheets. 

Bake 10 minutes then rotate sheets (bottom to top racks and front to back). Bake an additional 6-8 minutes. They may spread, sort of like lace cookies, there may be pools of oil, ignore it. 

Remove and let cool completely before eating. Okay, eat one, but it will fall apart. 

Chewy Decadence paleo and celiac safe. 
Noteworthy: 

Make sure the tahini is thoroughly stirred before measuring out 1-1/2 cups; the thinner the tahini the oozier the cooky.

Using regular or brown sugar will change the overall texture, not bad, just different. 

Sure, try regular cocoa powder. I just use raw. 

Flat Bread  aip & paleo style 

FLATBREAD! and AiP you say?! Yes. Yes.  (If you are not familiar with the AIP diet please read about it here).

Well, truth is, it’s basically my Lefse recipe with several twists (see that here).

I bought myself a bag of Cassava flour from Otto’s Naturals and have been playing around with it. I started with cookies (I need to play with that more), moved on to crackers (good!) and then used it in fried chicken (coming soon!). So far (and this is not a paid-to-endorse message) I like it, quite a lot, in small amounts (hence my remake of cookies). Cassava flour is not tapioca starch, which is highly processed from the cassava plant, but it does have the naturally occuring starch in it along with all the fibre from the whole, peeled, cassava root. So it is a root flour, widely cultivated throughout South America, Africa (yuca, manioc), Polynesia and Mexico. Otto’s is from Brazil, which has been cultivating it for about 10 thousand years. So,  they know their cassava. Having never had cassava before I will have to take Otto’s Naturals word that most varieties of the flour are gritty and have a kind of “sour or musty smell and taste”, except theirs, which was pretty gritless, but does have a faint nutty-fermented smell to it, not unpleasant at all.

As I said,  I like it in small amounts. I found for me personally that it contains too much fibre, carbohydtrates and starch when used alone (as in cookies, I’m so dissappointed!) It’s terrific for basic gluten free and grain free/paleo baking, I am limiting starches on the AIP diet, and not consuming tapioca starch at all, too much is not good FOR ME. You, however, are not me.

This recipe uses aip approved arrowroot, along with white sweet potato and cassava flour. I differed it from the lefse recipe in technique as well. Like the lefse, it makes a thin ‘bread’ that is slightly sweet and chewy. I did bake a few to be super crunchy, cracker-like.  I also made several large ones and used them as a ‘pizza’. 

 

Flat Bread Aip, Paleo, Grain Free

2 cups COOKED, mashed white sweet potato (or white yam)

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup arrowroot flour plus more for rolling

3/4 cup Cassava Flour (I used Otto’s Naturals)

1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to sprinkle on before baking, if desired (try other toppings, drizzle with oilive oil and add za’atar, herbs, curry, cinnamon…)

*The white sweet potato (or yam) needs to be mashed and cooled completely before continuing.

Pre-heat oven to 400*

Place sweet potato mash in a food processor fitted with blade, add coconut oil, flours and salt, pulse until a dough ball has begun form, then stop, before it becomes over pureed (this can be made by hand, make sure the sweet potato is mashed until pureed with no lumps). Turn it out on to an arrowroot (or cassava) floured surface. Roll the ball in to a log and cut in to 6-8 even pieces, depending on how large you want your flat breads. Roll each section in to a ball.

Lightly oil 2 baking sheets. Place 2 dough balls evenly apart on sheets, then press one ball into a flat round disc, pressing dough lightly out to sides and evening out the disc. Do this with each dough ball, flouring your hands as needed.

Bake in oven 10 minutes then rotate pans. Bake another 10-15 minutes, checking for browning on edges.

If you wish for crunchy , flip the breads over after 15 minutes of baking and bake until nicely browned on both sides edges, another 15 minutes.

For thin Pizza crust use the dough to make 4 large flat breads, bake 20 minutes, until egdes brown, then remove, flip over and place ‘dry’ toppings on it. Again, since I eat AiP I do not use tomato sauce or cheese, so I’m not sure how well the breads hold up under wet toppings, but baking until it’s crsipy should help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pork Cubano with Jicama Grapefruit Salad

I have a fairly deep love affair with Mexican food (well, I actually have a love affair with all food, many of  which I most likely will never eat again, unless I’m looking for self inflicted sick days). While a Paleo diet is pretty accommodating to traditional Mexican cooking, aside from beans, corn, sugar and dairy, okay so a little challenging (but Tequila is Paleo!) the AIP diet (autoimmune protocol) is not. So, I’m not using any of the 8 varieties of homemade hot sauce we have. Yet.

I posted this list of AIP foods on my fridge so I would see the possibilities instead of looking at foods to avoid and feeling stifled. Restrictive diets are challenging enough, wishing for foods that may make me ill is pointless (though the almond butter slathered banana my husband eats is wearing me down). I filled our kitchen with vegetables, citrus fruits, the only redeeming thing about winter, and good meats (I’ve also started making water kefir, that is another post).

This Pork dish came from a longing for fresh Mexican within the constraints of AIP,  but it’s really Cuban. And it’s delicious. The Jicama Grapefruit Salad is a completely lame attempt to replicate one we had in Mexico, but very good in it’s own right.

Also, toast your peppercorns people! Toast them in a small skillet until fragrant, let cool and put in your pepper mill. It adds a whole new dimension to black pepper.

 

the slow cooker is your friend

the slow cooker is your friend

 

Pork Cubano  (aip style)

1 3 lb pork loin or shoulder roast (give or take a 1/4 pound is fine)

3 or 4 mixed citrus fruit (grapefruit, orange, blood orange, sour oranges) mostly peeled and cut into small sections

1 cup fresh grapefruit or sour orange juice

1 large onion cut into medium thick slices

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tbsp oregano

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp toasted black peppercorns

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, for deglazing

Place all ingredients except pork and cider vinegar into a slow cooker.

Heat a heavy skillet over high heat, add pork fat side down and brown for 5 minutes or until some of the fat starts releasing. Turn and brown the other side. Place pork on top of the mix in slow cooker. Turn flame back on under skillet, add apple cider vinegar scraping up the stuck bits of pork once the vinegar boils, add all this to the slow cooker. Place lid on, turn slow cooker to high and cook until pork is fork tender and can be pulled apart, about 5 hours. Half way through turn the pork roast over (if you’re around).

NON AIP:  add 1 tbsp ground cumin to the spices. To make it authentically Cuban, remove cinnamon and ginger.

No slow cooker? not a problem. Use a dutch oven with a lid and cook for 4 or more hours at 300*, checking every so often to make sure things aren’t sticking, add a little water or citrus juice if you need.

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Jicama Grapefruit Salad

This is really simple.

Napa cabbage (or lettuce), 2 cups shredded

1 grapefruit, peeled, pith removed and sliced into 1 inch chunks removing membranes and seeds as you go (you can segment it if you’re inclined)

1 small Jicama or half a large, sliced very thin (a mandolin works well) then cut into matchstick pieces

2 scallions, chopped

juice from 1 lime

1 tbsp honey

Pinch of salt

avocado or olive oil

Cilantro leaves, chopped, to taste

Toss Jicama, grapefruit, scallions, cilantro and salt together in a  bowl. Mix lime juice with honey and a few tablespoons full of avocado or olive oil in a small bowl. Place cabbage on the bottom of your serving dish, top with jicama grapefruit mix. Drizzle with dressing.

We serve Pork Cubana and Jicama Grapefruit Salad in plantain tortillas and love this meal.

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