Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger: Kelly the Spunky Coconut

May 10th, 2011 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Spunky Coconut, Sugar free, grain-free 8 Comments »


Kelly’s Gluten-free Grain-free Coffee Cake
This month’s adoption of Kelly, the Spunky Coconut, inspired me and I hope it will inspire you as well. I think I first came across Kelly when I was searching for restaurant options in Boulder, Colorado. Kelly is a local girl and has two beautiful daughters with another baby on the way. I was immediately drawn to her name, logo and bright, vibrant photos. I was lucky enough to meet her in person this year and I enjoyed chatting with her in person just as much as I enjoyed reading her blog. Kelly is one of those people that radiates health and well-being thanks to her healthful (and delicious) lifestyle. Recently I realized that while I like Kelly’s blog very much, I’d never made any of her recipes! So, I decided to adopt her and see what the Spunky Coconut was all about. Kelly’s first edition of her cookbook is out of print in order to make way for a new, improved second edition! Yay!

The first recipe I tried was her cashew milk. Kelly uses homemade cashew milk in many of her recipes, and she made it look so easy I had to try it myself. She soaks cashew pieces overnight and then blends them in a blender, without straining. My blender is not as good as Kelly’s blender so over time I found my cashew milk got a bit grainy. I did end up straining it a bit. Shhh…. Don’t tell! I gave Baby Yum a sip of cashew milk (which she referred to as juice) and she liked it- before dumping it over her pancakes. I guess pancakes are the new toddler cereal. I thought it was delicious as well, and so much easier than most nut milks. Kelly uses a lot of liquid vanilla-infused stevia to add mild sweetness to her recipes. I have been grumpy about stevia-aftertaste in the past, so I just left it out of the recipes and added a touch of vanilla flavoring to the milk when drinking it. Works for me!

Another cool trick Kelly has is using homemade beans, especially navy beans, as the base for her baked goods. I made a big batch of navy beans in preparation for making two of her recipes. First, I needed beans for the base of her coffee cake (I know, cool, right???) and then the vegetarian in me was drawn to her recipe for szechuan bean cakes. Yum. Sweet and savory from one batch of beans! The coffee cake was a HUGE hit at our house. This recipe is so creative! It is made from beans and lots of eggs, which was PERFECT timing as we were planting our tomatoes and they need eggshells for the soil amendment. Kelly originally sweetened it with some honey (YUM) and stevia, but in the comments suggested those who are stevia-challenged could use an additional 1/3 cup coconut sugar. I had coconut sugar in my pantry that I was just dying to try, so I took her suggestion. The topping also wasn’t a traditional coffee-cake crumble, being based in walnuts with a dab of coconut oil, spices, and coconut sugar. OK, OK, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I used pecans because I was out of walnuts AND my mother and DH don’t care for walnuts but do like pecans. It worked like a charm, and the texture of this bad boy dessert (which really was not bad for you at all) was incredible! I would definitely make this again. It does make enough for an army, so I ended up freezing half of it… it would be a great potluck dish. Don’t tell anyone it is made from beans (barring any intolerance) and they will never know!


Kelly’s Gluten-free Yeast-free Vegan Sandwich Rolls
(makes 3)
I also made Kelly’s sandwich rolls. This recipe intrigued me because it was flavored with rosemary and garlic (I used toasted onion as we have issues with garlic at our house) and contained coconut flour as the main flour (along with tapioca starch) but was EGG-FREE! Amazing. The picture also drew me in. I love rolls for sandwiches! I didn’t realize until I was actually shaping the dough that the recipe only made three buns. Actually, this was okay, but I’m kind of a baked goods stockpiler (and was hoping to have extras for photos the next day) so this threw me off a little bit. (Yes the above was taken at night- sorry about the flat lighting.) We were quite satisfied with the amount in the end, and the DH made a great big batch of tofu-sloppy joes for the buns and proclaimed them quite good. This recipe is wonderful for anyone avoiding yeast breads but craving that savory type of experience. Even Baby Yum enjoyed the rolls, especially slathered in butter. (My girl is a butter fiend- I have actually found her stealing butter off the counter- hopefully she will outgrow it.) I usually prefer yeasty breads but this was a terrific recipe that I would make again! Some commentors had trouble with the bun texture- but I made the recipe in Northern California (not high elevation like Kelly) and it worked for me with her measurements. I just baked it a little longer until it seemed nice and “done” on the outside.

Kelly’s Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes
I couldn’t resist trying Kelly’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes. I didn’t add extra coconut sugar and left out the stevia so they weren’t as sweet as she had made them, but I really enjoyed them and found them addicting without being too heavy. Delicious! I did find the melty chocolate chips a bit messy. Not sure what to do about that. Baby Yum had some (without the chocolate chips) and gave them a toddler’s thumbs up. Really nice texture and subtle flavor, and the chocolate chips make them naughty enough that you’ll go back for seconds and thirds.


Kelly’s White Bean Szechuan Veggie Burgers
Kelly’s recipe for White Bean Szechuan Veggie Burgers was right up my alley! How could I NOT make this recipe? It was the second recipe I made from Kelly’s blog. I did have to swap in a different San-J sauce because ANNOYINGLY I had every San-J gluten-free Asian sauce (teriyaki, polynesian, peanut) EXCEPT the szechuan sauce. Fate can be so cruel! I used the Sweet and Tangy Polynesian sauce instead and found it absolutely delicious, even sans garlic. Yum, Yum, Yum! The only thing was I did have a little trouble with texture BECAUSE (I think) Kelly used Bob’s Red Mill coarse almond flour and all I had was Honeyville Farms finely ground almond flour. So the first batches were a bit too liquidy, and then later I added more almond flour and they were a bit too dry. Whoops. I’m sure it is because of the difference in flours. They were also rather delicate, so I had to be careful not to break them. What can I say, I am a clumsy cook. The flavor was delightful, and everyone in our household (except Baby Yum who is currently boycotting beans and mystery patties) loved them!

This adoption was a true delight, and positively educational. Kelly has a knack for working with coconut flours and has the casein-free diet down brilliantly, with delicious results. I enjoyed getting some insight into her culinary perspective and working with some new ingredients (beans, coconut sugar, coconut flour) and one of these days might even give vanilla stevia a chance. This blogger is a gluten-free blogger to know- and lucky us, she even has two cookbooks out! As soon as I get a copy I will review it here, so stay tuned!

What are your favorite cooking tricks you learned from Kelly? What are your favorite recipes of hers, from her cookbooks or her blog? Share in the comments!

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Raw Foods Honey Lavender, Kiwi Strawberry Un-cheesecake Recipe

April 13th, 2011 yum Posted in Blog Event, Dairy Free, Egg Free, JM friendly, Raw Food, Rice Free, Soy Free, Sugar free, Vegan Option, coconut 19 Comments »


I had so much fun participating in Nicola’s detox January, I could not wait to participate in Brittany of Real Sustenance’s April in the Raw blog event. Lately I’ve been enjoying experimenting with raw foods, and her event offered the perfect opportunity to try some ideas I’d had for a raw cheesecake.

The entries for the first week of the event look amazing and I am greatly looking forward to see the other divine entries.

For my entry, I wanted to try to create a delicious cheesecake like the ones I’ve enjoyed at Cafe Gratitude, an amazing raw foods cafe based in the San Francisco- Berkeley area. They now have a small cafe in my local Cupertino Whole Foods, yay! I found a lot of interesting recipes online that provided the inspiration for my recipe, but I wanted to do something a little different. I was initially thinking of making a strawberry or blueberry cheesecake, but as I stepped out the door of my house, I happened to see the lavender plant that I planted next to the door. I love lavender and use it every chance I can, either in body products (I love Dr. Bronner’s)), or in my natural housecleaning supplies. I add a few drops of essential oil in the vinegar and water I use to mop the floor, and drip a few into baking soda to use as a good carpet or couch deodorizer. Not unexpectedly, I also love lavender in food, whether it is delicately flavoring sugar cookies, ice cream, or chocolate. It is yummy however you use it. And so, when I saw this lavender plant on my doorstop with its beautiful small purple flowers, I thought- how beautiful would a mini-cheesecake be, drizzled in a little raw honey and festooned with lavender blossoms. Although I was inspired, I’m a fickle girl and wanted an assortment of flavors, so I still went to the grocery store and picked up some fresh fruit.

I started the recipe last night by soaking almonds and cashews overnight. Even though it is difficult for me to plan ahead enough to do this, I always enjoy the process of setting ingredients out to soak. It makes me feel half like Laura Ingalls Wilder and half like a witch preparing ingredients for some magical potion. This morning I made the almond nut milk and set it in a carton in the refrigerator, after sipping a little as a treat. The box stuff has nothing on the homemade almond milk! I cracked open my bottle of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil that Tropical Traditions had sent me free as a promotion. Woo hoo! Yay for free coconut oil! Next I made my molds for the cheesecake. I didn’t have springform pans that would have made it easy, so what I did was tape removable tart bottoms to my english muffin rings. Then I ground up pecans and date and pressed them into the tart pans as the crust. I put the crust in the refrigerator, made my filling, and then started playing with my fresh fruit and local, raw honey and lavender blossoms.

Ultimately I ended up making a very fun strawberry-kiwi raw cheesecake, mango cheesecake, and a blueberry topped cheesecake with a surprise. I enjoyed each flavor, but the honey lavender cheesecake was my hands down favorite. Sometimes honey has a little too much personality, but since the same is true of lavender, when they are put together somehow they harmonize to make something much more mellow. I could eat this cheesecake every day, if it weren’t for the fact that it requires me to think ahead to soak the nuts. Eating fresh flower blossoms always makes me feel like I’m dining on fairy food. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Gluten-free Raw Cashew Cheesecake with Pecan Date Crust
Ingredients
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup soaked medjool dates
shredded raw coconut

Filling:
3 cups cashews (soaked for at least 4 hours)
1/4 cup pine nuts (soaked for at least 30 minutes)
1/2 cup freshly made almond milk*
1/2 cup raw honey or agave (for almost-raw)
2/3 cup raw coconut oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1-2 sun-dried vanilla bean, cut open and scraped out OR 2 or 3 tsp. vanilla (for almost-raw)
sea salt to taste

6 mini springform pans OR english muffin rings taped to cardboard or metal circles OR silicon muffin liners work too but give a less cheesecake-like shape

Directions
Sprinkle shredded coconut in the bottom of each small springform pan. Then put your pecans and dates in the food processor and process until you have a sticky, crumbly dough. Pat it into the bottom of your pans but not up the sides. Put your pans in the refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Drain and rinse your cashews and pine nuts. Put in blender with the rest of your ingredients and process until smooth. If you have too much in your blender for one batch, you can separate it and process it in two batches until smooth and then combine them. Pour the filling into your individual cheesecake molds and put the molds in the freezer to firm up- about 3 or 4 hours.

Variations:
Honey Lavender Un-cheesecake: Use raw honey as your sweetener for the filling. Sprinkle top with fresh lavender flowers or sprigs and dabs of honey as desired.

Strawberry Kiwi Un-cheesecake:
top with chopped fresh strawberry and kiwi

Blueberry Sauce Un-cheesecake:
after the cheesecake has been in the freezer an hour or two and is firm, use a knife so that it is no longer attached to the sides of the mold. Top with blueberry sauce and put back in freezer to harden. Reserve some sauce for drizzling later if you like.

Mango Un-cheesecake:
Top with slices of fresh mango.

*To serve, remove cheesecake from the freezer and carefully slide a knife around the edges of the mold so it is no longer attached to the side. gently remove from mold and then leave out at room temperature for 20 minutes or so (or put in refrigerator) until texture approximates cheesecake and is no longer frozen solid.

Notes
*I made a batch of almond milk by soaking 1 1/3 cup of raw almonds overnight, rinsing them and blending with 2 cups of filtered water until you have a smooth creamy liquid. Then I strained the liquid in tea straining bags (or nut bags, if you have them) and added some (optional) vanilla scrapings. Delicious, and you’ll have more than you need for this recipe!
Blueberry Sauce with a secret ingredient
Ingredients
1 1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, defrosted and rinsed)
1/2 avocado
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
Directions
Combine in food processor, blend and chill. Serve on vegan nut cream or raw cheesecake.
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