Tag Archive for Gluten-free

Lucky Devil Bread

I have gotten so many requests for this bread recipe, I’m gonna cut right to the chase.

NO GLUTEN.
NO REFINED SUGAR.
NO FLOUR.

I found the original recipe here and along with half the internet, could not believe my good fortune. After following the recipe spot on a few times, I wanted to make some changes to it for myself.

Then I got into making traditional bread and did a lot of reading from Josey Baker who taught me to always toast the nuts and seeds first. I do it for everything now. It’s an extra step, not nearly as much of a pain in the ass as everyone makes it out to be, and it increases the depth of taste like 42 times. So toast the seeds and the nuts.

This recipe is incredibly forgiving and you can make it your own a hundred different ways. The important things that you want to stick to are the psyllium husk and the chia. They hold the bread together. Plus they provide so much fiber. And I should say, this bread is a great comrade in the Getting Digestion Moving department and is more enjoyable than anything a doctor will give you. Plus, it wows guests. And it’s easier than falling off the sidewalk. Which, come to think of it, is sort of a challenge, so pick a new metaphor. Just like in this bread feel free to do swapping. You can use walnuts, dried cherries, cacao nibs… whatever. The important part is that you try it. The tough parts are the ones where you have to wait. DO THE WAITING. Even though, as Tom Petty has told you a million beautiful times, the waiting really is the hardest part.

Dry Ingredients

2c gluten free oats (make sure the package says GF!)
1/4 c psyllium husk
1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
2T + 1t chia seeds
1/2 c chopped raw almonds
1t sea salt
3/4 c flax seeds

Wet Ingredients
1T maple syrup
2T olive oil
1T melted coconut oil
2c warm filtered water

Preheat the oven to 350 and in a thin layer on a baking sheet, toast your sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds along with the chopped almonds for 12 minutes. Combine the toasted goodness with the other dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together your wet ingredients, then add the wet to the dry in the big bowl. Mix everything together. A LOT. You can use a rubber spatula or just your clean paws.

Put the mash into a loaf pan you have oiled well with coconut oil. Now chill the “dough” for AT LEAST two hours, but if you can chill it longer, do it. See? There’s The Waiting, Part 1. Now preheat oven at 375 and when it’s ready, move your loaf pan to the oven for one hour. Now. Here’s The Hard Part #2: let the loaf cool for 2 hours. I know it’ll be tough, but it helps the bread come together in a way that’s worth it.

I like to double toast my slices. My favorite is to double toast, smear a quarter avocado on the slice, add sliced radish and an egg over medium. DELISH! Other nice things: melted coconut oil with cinnamon. Slathered in butter, straight up. Topped with banana slices. Topped with sautéed mushrooms and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Have at it people. DO YOUR THANG. And let me know how it goes!

 

 

Easy and Divine Asian Slaw

I leave in the morning for a working vacation in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, and as is usual for me, I’m still rushing around getting ready to go. I like to just pack it all in leading up to a departure so when I get on the plane, I sleep right the hell through it all. I’ve got my client folders ready, my business book downloaded, and my friend Lucy Corin‘s new collection ready to revel in. Have you had a chance to read any of her incredibly beautiful, funny, whipsmart, complicated, and devastating work? Well, she’s one of my favorites. So I am wholly thrilled to have her new book along with me. Plus… I made this to eat on my journey. I though you might like it,  too.

I am a lover of salad, but I tend to follow a few tried and true versions all the time. For this venture, I got out of my regular zone and plucked a bunch of greens from the shelf I don’t normally go to at first and I gotta say, I’m loving this concoction.

 

For the Salad
1 cucumber
1 fennel bulb
1/2 head napa cabbage, cored
1/2 bunch bok choy
1 carrot
1 mango
2 plums or pluots to your liking
1T black sesame seeds
1T  white sesame seeds

For the Dressing
1T toasted sesame oil
1T olive oil
1T ume plum vinegar
1T rice vinegar
1t tamari or coconut aminos
1T fresh grated ginger

Dice your greens in long thin strips. Grate your carrot. Chop your cucumber, plums, and mango into small cubes. In a separate bowl, whisk all your dressing ingredients together. Pour the dressing into the salad and toss thoroughly. Add in your sesame seeds and toss again. Chill the salad for 20 minutes to let the flavor set.

Get your grub on.

A Latke Compendium – Part 1

A LATKE PRIMER:

FROM OLD SCHOOL HEART ATTACK STYLE TO A HEALTHY HANUKKAH AND A FEW FANCY FOODIE VERSIONS AS WELL.

I decided a few years ago that I wanted to thank my body for sticking it out with me through all the years I asked it to do a bunch of stupid shit. I traded my bong and my glass pipe in for running shoes. Daily probiotics have replaced uncharted pounds of gummi bears, and I generally choose to seek solace in meditation rather than unavailable women with great style. And maybe one of my favorite skills I’ve developed in being healthy is the flexibility of not trying to do everything so perfectly that it all ends up going to hell when I can’t swing the Impossible Dream. Which I rarely can. That’s why they call it Impossible. I just try do my best to fit in things that bring my life to a path that features serenity, with room for pit-stops at Mediocrity, The Best I Could Manage, and I Just Didn’t Feel Like It.

To that end, I’ve prepared a Latke compendium here that covers all kinds of versions of one of my favorite dishes that can accompany you on this same journey. Your traditional latke which offers, let’s face it, very little in nutritional fortitude, but then, so many other things! The traditional latke, for me, conjures up a steadfast feeling of comfort like almost nothing else. When I was a kid, I lived a suburban Jew existence in assimilationist tract neighborhoods. We seemed to ride a line between a pride of heritage and a scorn for any kind of militant indentityism that would bring a person into the harsh light of scrutiny. Each holiday season, a diligent Jewish Mom would tote a fryer into our public school classroom with a big bottle of Crisco “Vegetable” oil and a plate of pre-created latkes to fry up for the Christmas-celebrating majority of the school. My classrooms generally had 2 or 3 Jews apiece, and we always knew each other from Hebrew school or simply from this observation: Seinberg. Cohen. Goldstein. And everybody else knew too. Like most “otherings” in life, it is difficult to say just how the texture of being Jewish makes a girl know she’s different. For me it was something about minor chords from music featuring accordions, dark shul head coverings, and an undercurrent of always being in the process of study, our lives a series of Why renderings that brought more questions.

And there were the latkes. At school it’s one thing in open rooms, but at home, the smell would cling to the walls for all 8 nights of candles. And for me, that scent of fried potatoes was separate from all other fried potatoes. French fries don’t smell like latkes. Puffy potato pancakes from diners don’t smell like latkes. Only my mom’s latkes had that smell. I loved it. This was where difference felt triumphant and regal. This was where being baffled by reindeer and a massive cultural lie about a rotund laughing white man felt like a total WIN. I could put down my decoration envy and my longing for a needle, thread and a gargantuan bowl of popcorn in front of a black and white flickering Jimmy Stewart. It is a Wonderful Life, and this week it’s run by a march of beautiful lights, spinning tops, and potatoes. Who doesn’t love a goddang LATKE?!?!?

Since then, I have left my mother’s kitchen and my kitchen has a few other concerns aside from tradition. I have had a serious transformation around food and health, plus many of my loved ones have discovered food sensitivities, allergies and also adventurous spirits in the kitchen. And so I present to you, not just my mom’s latkes, but some gluten-free cakes, vegan options, and just plain exciting ways to get busy with a pancake this season.

Some things will always be true: Make more than you think you need because mere mortals will eat more latkes than you ever thought possible. Make your own applesauce because it’s apple season, it’s more delicious, and it’s easy as hell. You can even make your own crème fresh if sour cream isn’t really hitting the mark anymore. Plus bring in a cream option for your vegan pals as well. They will be the nicest ones to your dog at the party.

May you all gather. And may you all be warm in the joy of this festival.

The Latkes

As luck and a kind fate would have it, latkes are easy to make, if not kind of a pain in the ass. The cooking directions for the first recipe can be used for all the recipes. Basically, you grate, slice, mix, squeeze, and fry. BAM.

TRADITIONAL LATKES
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1 medium onion, grated
1 c. matzo meal
3 chopped scallions
4 eggs, large
1T celery salt or sea salt
1t black pepper, freshly ground, coarse.
Safflower, Sunflower, coconut or grapeseed oil to pan fry with. (Coconut has a definite taste.)

Most people go ahead and get russet potatoes for latkes. My mom did. But me? I like a Yukon gold. They are starchier and sturdier, therefor holding the juices in a little better. That being said, I grew up on russets and something about those is comforting to me as well.

Preheat your oven to 200.
Put on an apron for crying out loud.
A cute one if possible.

Grate all your potatoes into a big ass mixing bowl. If you have a food processor, you will never be happier for it than at this moment. If not, maybe a friend or two would help for grating potatoes. Dice your onion small but you don’t have to get all perfectionist about it and throw that in the bowl too. Follow with scallion which I slice as thinly as possible. My mom didn’t use them at all, but I like the color. You could use chives to or omit if you like. Mix everything together after that and form your little pancakes.

Meanwhile heat your oil up in a fryer or a cast iron skillet. I make sure the bottom of the pan is shiny with oil and a little extra for the crisp, but not so much oil that folks is gonna keel ovah. Squeeze the excess moisture from the pancakes and lay them gently in the skillet/fryer. Brown on each side and then place them on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil you don’t need then transfer to an oven safe plate to keep warm while you the fry up the rest.

SWEET POTATO LATKES       *These are both Vegan and Gluten Free
2 lbs grated sweet potatoes
¾ c chopped onion
2T coconut oil
1t salt
½ c olive oil
¼ c diced fresh sage

BUTTERNUT SQUASH LATKES (adapted from the Mile End Cookbook. This is a gluten free AND vegan version using Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flour mix)
3 lb butternutnut squash, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ c Bob’s Red Mill GF all-purpose flour
2 ripe, mashed bananas
1 t sea salt
½ t freshly grated black pepper
Canola oil for frying.

LEEK LATKES (adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe for Leek fritters)
1 lbs. leeks, dark green hacked off
1 lb. zucchini, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ c matzoh meal
½ t fresh ground black pepper
½ t smoked hot paprika
1 egg
Safflower, Sunflower, coconut or grapeseed oil for frying.

On these you have to clean your leeks first. Often there is dirt and grit inside the pretty rings so slice them in half the long way after removing the dark green parts and soak them to get alla that grime business taken care of. Now cook your leeks in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes to soften. Set them aside to dry or wring them dry in a towel. Add them to the scallions in a big bowl. Then add in all your other ingredients and stir everything until the incorporation is even and looks fantastic.  Continue with your frying directions and enjoy!

Tune in for Part 2 to make fixins!!!

Roasted Nectarine and Tarragon Yogurt Pops

There was some flying all over

Good gravy!!! Where the hell have I been? Well, lots of places, actually. I’ve been in Vermont, Massachusetts, Alabama and beautiful New Orleans Louisiana, y’all. Also I’ve been right here, researching, coaching, reading and cooking. But first, here’s some pictures of some places and stuff just for fun.

Burr Pond with my mom in Vermont

Triple Garlic Yukons with garlic scapes

A beautiful living room in MA

Plus a beautiful hike in the woods

 

Gulf Shores working vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch Break between Clients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Easy Co-Op

French Quarter Horns for Sale

Pink Tree on Magazine Str

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing. But now I’m home and I’m in the kitchen and back at the gym and basically ready to rumble. By home, I mean back in San Francisco, where it rarely gets hot as hell, and usually not until October. Nonetheless, it’s been hot where I’ve been and it kept me dreaming of popsicles. I mean I could not keep the ideas of the icy little things away. Ideas in the shower. Ideas strolling down the street. Ideas upon rising. Ideas waiting in lines. And then finally home to collect popsicle molds and get to it!

The first batch was incredible. Off the hook. Not to brag. Raw coconut water, fresh pluots, and five big fat leaves of basil. Blend. Freeze. For real that’s all it takes and they are NUTSO good. My other ideas have been a touch more labor intensive, but not much. You can totally make these. I had to make em quick to get the yogurt out of the house, as Friday I am beginning my Sweet Summer Cleanse, and dairy and I will be taking a hiatus from each other. Until then, you’ll find me enjoying these.

2 ripe nectarines
2 healthy sprigs of fresh tarragon
1c plain yogurt
1T dark honey
cinnamon for dusting
1t olive oil
1/2t sunflower oil

Preheat your oven to 375. Next, halve your nectarines and get the pit out. Be careful s sometimes the pit wants to stay. Rub all four halves with olive oil. You will probably not need the whole teaspoon but feel free to get generous. Dust liberally with cinnamon. I use Vietnamese cinnamon because it has a particular flavor that makes me feel pretty relentlessly happy. But any cinnamon is a friend of mine, really. Now roast the fruit for 20-30 minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, on your burner, heat up your sunflower oil. Use all the leaves of tarragon from your sprig and saute until translucent and fragrant. The photo above shows the amount of leaves and the way they should look. Maybe 2 minutes. Put the cinnamon nectarines, tarragon and honey all into your blender and whirl around until it’s all smooth. Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze. Yields 5 pops. 5 INCREDIBLY delicious pops. Each one has 3.1 grams of protein, 49 calories, and a good hunk of B-12. Fantastic dessert!

Sunrise Gluten-Free Granola

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All of this delicious homemade almond milk has left a ton of almond meal opportunities around my kitchen these days. There have been banana breads, Black Caraway Bread, Pear Cake, and a magically full mason jar of homemade granola. Ginger loves it, so I end up making this version or a variation a coupla times a week along with the milk. It’s really easy. You can vary the ingredients to your liking, of course. In fact, more often than not, recipes are a guide to help you find the dish you want to make and a place to start that’s kind of close.

It’s funny. Like almond milk, granola is a thing I saw in the store all the time, so expensive, and often with evaporated cane juice (AKA sugar) as the first or second ingredient. I would spend hours pouring over the various flavors and when I’d finally find one that looked great, it’d be like 10 bucks for a little bag. In the end, I’d just forego the whole thing, resigning myself to spend my extra ducats someplace else, like fish oil supplements or really nice olive oil. Yet with all of this time spent, somehow I never saw myself as a person who could just MAKE it, be totally in control of the quality of the ingredients, and accomplish this for like 70% less money. It was like the granola only came from Fairy Land, crafted by a skilled tribe of gnomes gifted by the hippie Goddess while their unicorn neighbors in the next village made that tahini dressing that’s so good.

Well, call me a gnome. My version is not too sweet, gluten free, and sugar-free. Total Gnome Throw Down.

1c almond meal
1/2c rolled oats
1T apple butter
1T maple syrup
1T cocoa nibs
1T goji berries
1T green raisins
1T crushed walnuts
1T apple juice sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat your over to 225. Not so hot.

Take the almond meal from your almond milk, or from the store, and plop it in a bowl. Add your maple syrup, apple butter, and rolled oats. Stir it all up until the oats begin to absorb the liquid. If you want more clumps, you can add in honey, molasses, or more maple syrup. Once everything is all together, add in the dry ingredients and stir.

Spread out the mixture onto a baking sheet covered in foil, and set it inside your heated oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Pull out your concoction and stir it around, then flatten. It will still feel damp. Do this three more times so your granola cooks for a total of one hours. It should come out golden, warm, and dry with small clumps ready to go.

You can sprinkle it into yogurt, put a tin of it in your bag for a healthy snack during the day, get adventurous with probiotic-rich goat milk kefir, or just set it swimming in your almond milk.

Gluten-Free Black Caraway Bread

photo 1

In an effort to combat the evil that is perfectionism, I am dedicating today’s post to the effort of a thing rather than its ultimate perfect state. This bread is my first attempt of an altered recipe. Usually I will wait and try and tweak and fuss until I can show you an outcome that sings arias and scales mountaintops. Not today. Gluten-free baking is a whole new venue for me since I discovered by accident that I tend to feel better without the stuff. I’ll tell you about that first and then we’ll get to the kitchen.

So many of my clients come to me with questions about gluten and its side effects. They want to know if it might help them feel better to cleave it from their lives, and how they would know whether it affected them or not. I knew about its inflammatory effects on the system, about the difference between Celiac Disease vs. a gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or a wheat allergy, all of which are actually different, but these were all things I knew from books. Even though books are one of the great loves of my life, I decided to do my own firsthand experiment so I could pass on at least some personal experience. Of course, we are all different and everyone must try their own path. But anyhow, this is how it went for me:

Even though I was fairly sure I did not have any sensitivity, I set out on my experiment. As I learned to do from some doctor’s suggestions in school, I eliminated gluten entirely for one week, and then on the eighth day, I brought it back into my diet. For many years I have had a pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, little belly pooch. After about 3 days of no gluten, my cute pooch began to evaporate and by the seventh day it was gone. While I found the thing to be downright fetching, the idea that it was a result of a food sensitivity made me feel less affectionate toward it.

In addition, have you ever been in a room and found yourself growing increasingly annoyed for no apparent reason and then all of a sudden an air filter clicks off and you realize there has been a constant noise in the room that never registered until it vanished? That’s what happened with my sense of feeling bloated. I had no idea I felt that way until I stopped feeling that way. My assumption was also that I would feel deprived and pissed off about not having gluten for the week it was gone, but it turned out to be no big deal. In fact, the challenge made my choices so streamlined, it was kind of a relief. Even so, I did look forward to the eighth day, on which I had a hunk of my very favorite Acme whole wheat and cranberry bread.

While my mouth rejoiced, my innards stewed and churned and revolted. And there was my answer. My system isn’t that psyched about gluten. I can still choose to eat it, which I do on occasion, sparingly, and knowing full well the consequences. But sometimes, it just seems like I must have pizza. Period.

In the mean time, I like to keep my own kitchen gluten-free now, and as such have been dipping my toe in the pool of attempting baking. It’s hard. Turns out people like to measure by weight rather than volume. In addition, some of the flours are not grain based and therefor act totally differently than grain based flours. Anything can happen. The breads tend to be dense and heavy, which people LOVE to make jokes about. I’ve come to sort of appreciate the richness of their flavors and earthy bottom of the weight. This bread in particular turned out to weigh a full metric ton and not be NEARLY as gorgeous as Heidi Swanson’s version that I based it on. I will say, after all the changes I made, it tastes delicious. It has a kind of sour (teff flour) and bitter (ground espresso) and sweet (carrots and molasses) combination I like. It’s weird at first but each slice tastes better than the last. I am going to keep working on it over time and get it right for you, but here’s to getting it close. A nice pitstop on the way to getting it better.

I also have a wonderful feeling about this bread because the kitchen was so quiet, the light was beautiful, and I got to cook all day yesterday. It’s such a nice feeling for me, and it’s been awhile, so maybe a lot of what I like about this bread is how great I felt while I made it.

1 3/4c warm filtered water
2 1/4t dry yeast
1t maple syrup
2T cocoa powder
2T finely ground espresso (I used decaf)
1/3c blackstrap molasses
3 1/2t caraway seeds
3T earth balance or coconut oil
2t fine sea salt
3 grated carrots
1c brown teff flour
1/4c garbanzo flour
1 1/2c almond meal (fresh from the almond milk you just made!)
3c brown rice flour (1/2c set aside for dusting later)
2T olive oil

Preheat your oven to 450.

First get yourself a nice small bowl and whisk together the yeast in the warm water with the maple syrup. Set this aside while you get busy but check on it to make sure it gets foamy like a little root beer float.

Meanwhile, put your espresso, 3t of your caraway seeds (the rest is for the top later), cocoa, molasses, earth balance (or coconut oil) and salt together in a saucepan and stir it until it’s just melted. It will be the richest color in the world. It makes you not care if the bread is perfect because it smells so good and is so beautiful.

Next pull it off the flame and set it aside while you combine the yeast mixture and the grated carrot in a large bowl. Then add in all your flours. Now add your rich molasses mixture and stir. It won’t come together like a traditional bread dough. It’s looser and seems more like a dense cake mix really. Mine was a little wet and I added some rice flour. I then put it in my mixer for about 3 minutes with the hook attachment. No worry if you don’t have a mixer. The dough doesn’t really need kneading at this point because it’s so loose, but turn it out onto  cutting board and form it into a ball. Take your dough ball and place it in an olive oiled bowl, nothing metal, and cover it with a cloth. I leave mine in the sun to rise for about 2 hours while I putter about. If there is no sun, I leave it on top of the oven and bake something else while it rises, using the heat to keep the bread rising.

Return to your dough and look how puffy it is!!! So cute! Bully it gently and push it down. Then turn it out onto a floured surface and make it into a round. Because the dough is heavy, it will settle wide and kind of flatten. Do not despair. Also do not expect that it will turn into a fluffy little debutante in the oven. This is a hearty country girl bread who can toss hay bales all day and picks her teeth with stray stalks. Now put your dough on an oiled cookie sheet and recover it with a tea towel. Let it rise again for another hour. Cover the ole’ lass with a dusting of brown rice flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of your caraway seeds. Then throw it in an oven at 450 for an hour. Turn the heat down to 350 for another half hour and check on her all as you go. As you know if you read this blog, my oven blows so check on your bread for you own times. Hopefully your oven is more well-endowed than mine is. The bread should be crisp on the top and bottom and dense all the way through. Dense, but done.

Ok. Good luck.
Enjoy the imperfections and let me know what you do with this recipe as you go. We can discover it gluten-free perfect version together.

 

Almond Milk

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Here’s the secret to really killing it with a smoothie: homemade almond milk. It’s got four ingredients and could have less if you want, takes maybe five to ten minutes to make, and all you need is a regular blender and cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. No fancy expensive equipment or hours of toil and cleanup. It is a beautiful thing in this life to find something so simple that adds such decadence to a healthy breakfast, or really any meal I guess. For the record, a nut milk bag is this thing:

Specialized nylon thing

Basically a nylon mesh bag with a drawstring on the top. While the almond milk that comes in aseptic containers, those lined cardboard boxes, had recently come to be a staple for me in my smoothies, when a friend brought me some homemade stuff while we were on a cleanse, I knew there was no going back. The milk was so delicious, I would just drink a glass of it for fun. At her suggestion, I simply watched a video on YouTube, made a few changes for my liking, and voila, it only takes like 5 minutes, saves a bunch of money, and tastes out this world.

1c raw almonds, soaked overnight (this activates enzymes in the nuts to help digestion)
1 Medjool  date
1 vanilla bean
3c filtered water

Take your almonds out the night before as you putter around the kitchen and soak them in filtered water. In the morning, drain the almonds and toss them in your blender. Cover the almonds with 3 cups filtered water, extract the pit from your date and toss it in, and add your vanilla bean. Alternately, you can use another date for sweeter milk, you can use vanilla extract if you like, or omit vanilla altogether if it’s not your jam.

Turn your blender on for about 2 to 3 minutes. As you can see, I don’t have a fancy Vitamix or anything, just that cute deco number up there we found at an estate sale for 4 dollars. It’s the best. Pour the resulting milk into a mixing bowl. Then take your nut milk bag (you can also use cheesecloth) and turn it inside out which will take the seam out of the way when you clean it, and insert it back into the blender and fasten the drawstring around the top. pour everything from the bowl back into the blender and lift the bag slowly up out of the liquid. Then wring all the liquid out of the almond meal. Voila.

I save the almond meal in the freezer to use for my next gluten-free baking attempt, which by the way, is really some heavy trial and lots of error. It might be awhile before you see an original recipe here, but I am enjoying the learning. You can also sprinkle the meal in yogurt, over oatmeal, on pancakes or use it in your next muffin or bread mix.

The homemade milk is low in saturated fat, has NO cholesterol, very low in sodium and provides you with a great source of magnesium. Magnesium activates enzymes in our bodies, contributing to energy production. It also helps regulate calcium levels, as well zinc, potassium, and Vitamin D.  We also use it to build bones and regulate body temperature. Word.

Pear Cake for Kimberly

I worked as a barista when I was in college at a joint that no longer exists called Cafe Roma. I was an insecure youth whose unfortunate fears manifested in rejecting others. Santa Barbara had a massive Greek system and my days at the cafe were spent lounging with goths and punks, hurling silent scorn at the sorority ladies who came in to order Non-Fat, Decaf Lattes. We called them Why Bother Lattes. They’d walk away with the pints of coffee clutched in sapphire bedazzled fingers and greek letters in arcs over their butts, ponytails and ribbons bopping toward a study date with their boyfriends. I was a bitch.

Eventually, I dialed down from being a bitch to being snarky, where the mean might not be AT you, but more around you. The new Why Bother target of my days had become Vegan baked goods. Desserts with no butter and no eggs. Add to that No Sugar and you could have me in a serious mouth frothing tirade of Why Bother, providing, of course, I didn’t froth too much and get the filter of the cigarette all wet. Nothing less appealing than a soggy filter, even for smokers. Those were the years where I always wanted to be right.

Now I am not so invested in being Right. I really just want to be happy. Which also means being healthy, for me. While I am not vegan, I would say about 80% of my meals these days just turn out that way, and refined sugar is, with any grace at all, a thing only to be found in my rear view mirror. But I love dessert. This one is particularly delicious with No Sugar, No Dairy, Vegan, and No Gluten. And I’m picky about dessert. I altered this recipe from Terry Walters’ Clean Start, a wonderful book with incredibly clean and healthy food, packed with flavor and creativity. I brought it to the first Moving Out of the Sugar Shack workshop where the attendees seemed pretty sold on it. As with most recipes, I first read them a few times. Then I make some initial tweaks just in my mind. After I attempt the recipe, I make notes and keep tweaking it until it suits my own tastes. Hers is pretty dang good right off the bat. Her other book, Clean Food, is one of my favorite books to recommend to clients just beginning to get back into the kitchen and make clean healthy choices.

1c garbanzo flour
1c almond meal
1/2c potato starch
1T baking powder
1t baking soda
3/4t ground cinnamon
1/4t ground cardamom
1/4t fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 c crushed walnuts

3c grated pears (about 5), whatever ones look best
1/2c pear juice
1 banana, ripe
1/4c maple syrup
2t lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1T vanilla extract

1 pear for topping
Other topping options:
Dried cranberries (sweetened with apple juice)
Currants
Walnuts

Turn your oven on to 350 if you have a good oven. If you are me, and you have a crappy oven, use 375.

Put your dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. I put my wet into a food processor, but any mixer will do. If you don’t have one, just mash your banana by hand and then whisk them all together in a bowl.  Then dump your wet into dry and mix the whole shebang.

Pour the goods into a 9″ square or round pan, greased. I used coconut oil to grease the pan. Top the thing attractively and bake for 45 minutes or until you poke a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean. It should be slightly browned on top.

Now have friends over and play cards. Enjoy each other. That’s the best part.