Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

T is for Fall

Seasons are sort of a foreign concept in California. As a result, when the weather finally drops below 80 at the end of October, this girl books it to Trader Joe's to hoard canned pumpkin and cinnamon brooms as if they are only available to the public during certain temperatures.

Tonight, the "cool" Fall weather inspired me to make this thick, creamy, vegan chai and I could not keep it to myself. Give it a try, or a chai, depending on how much you like puns.

Creamy Pecan Pumpkin Chai (serves 4)

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3 cups water
2/3 cup pecans
1 banana
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
8 chai tea bags (I used Red Rooibos Chai)
honey (optional)

Directions:
 
1. Blend the water, pecans, banana and pumpkin until completely smooth.

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  2. Pour through a sieve, strainer, cheesecloth, or muslin bag (depends on how smooth you want it). 

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3. Add liquid mixture to a pot along with your chai tea bags and bring to a boil.  

 

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4. Remove from heat. Take out the tea bags and add vanilla. If you're looking for a more decadent treat, drizzle in some honey.

 

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5. Pour into your favorite mug, curl up by the fireplace channel on your TV and try to pretend it's not going to be 90 degrees this weekend. Also, sip cautiously (it's hot, yo!).

 

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Lavender Cream Eclairs (wheat free, vegan)


This recipe was sort of inspired by my boyfriend. He's not a "sweets" person (I know, I try not to judge him for it), so I often find myself trying to coax him into indulging so I'm not alone in my glutony. If the sweet is in donut form, there's a 50/50 chance he will be into it, and those are good odds. Eclairs were as creative as I could get within these confines and they also happened to conform to my criteria for sweets as well, which is "pretty much anything". Did I mention they are amazing?

After many failed attempts I have finally made this whole food treat completely vegan. A puffy pate a choux-based pastry without eggs?? Don't ask me how, but I've done it. Ok, go ahead and ask me...here's the recipe.

Lavender Cream Eclairs

Pate a choux (dough)
12 oz. water
1 oz. coconut
oil
6 oz. spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 oz. potato boiled, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
pinch of salt

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Combine flour and baking soda, set aside. 

Whisk together mashed potato and 3.5 oz. water, set aside.

Bring 8.5 oz. water, coconut oil, salt and coconut sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture all at once while stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together to form a ball. Cook dough over low heat while stirring. Remove from heat and slowly mix in mashed potato mixture.

Place dough in pastry bag/plastic baggie and pipe mini eclairs onto baking sheet. They aren't going to spread, so make sure they're the size you want them when done. 

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for approximately 20 more minutes.

Filling

Lavender Pudding, omit pistachios

When the pastries have cooled, there is a nifty little break around the edge. Gently slice along one side of the pastry and pipe the pudding inside. Don't be stingy. Pipe until it starts to ooze out.

Chocolate Glaze:

Melt your favorite dark chocolate, or combine 1 part coconut oil with 1 part cocoa powder and sweetener to taste and melt.

Don't pour the glaze over the eclair. Simply dip the top of the filled eclair in the chocolate and lay face-up to harden. This will create that flawlessly smooth chocolate coating

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Grapefruit-Lavender Honey Shortbread

It wasn't until my favorite Aussie friend and former coworker introduced me to her whipped shortbread that I knew what real shortbread was supposed to taste like. Unlike the crunchy shortbread cookies you find in those giant Christmas tins from your neighbor, these were thick, tender, buttery slices of cookie that resembled, well, bread.

This version embodies that winning combo of buttery cookie and sliced bread, with an added infusion of citrus and a slightly flowery finish.

Typically that buttery flavor is derived from, well, butter, but this recipe calls for coconut oil, which is surprisingly buttery in flavor and texture. Coconut oil is great for baking, as it withstands fairly high temperatures. When fats reach their smoking point, toxic fumes and harmful free radicals are released. Coconut oil's smoking point is about 350˚F. It also contains medium-chained fatty acids which makes coconut oil much easier for the body to digest.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Grapefruit-Lavender Honey Shortbread

1 cup softened coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup honey

2 + cups brown rice flour

1 tsp xanthan

1 grapefruit zest

2 pinches lavender

3/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 300˚F. Beat coconut oil, vanilla and honey until fluffy. Slowly add remaining ingredients (fold nuts in last).

Spread into ungreased square baking pan. Cut rectangle slices into batter before baking (this will ensure a clean edge when you cut them again after baking). Bake for 30-40 minutes until edges start to brown.

Icing

1/4 cup creamed honey mixed

1 teaspoon beat juice (for pink hue), optional

Mix icing ingredients together and spread on top of shortbread once cooled. Remove from pan and top with lavender buds and/or grapefruit zest for an added garnish (optional)!

Fiesta Ranch Dressing

I have been using this dressing everyday for lunch for the last week. It pretty much turns a bowl full of lettuce into a satisfying meal. My favorite combo so far has been kale, shredded carrots, black beans and raw walnuts, but really, you could just eat this dressing with lettuce.

Or a fork.

It's creamy, spicy and satisfying. With almond butter as the base, you can check protein, antioxidants, monounsaturated fats (great for your heart) and a slew of other nutrients off your list. Did I mention it's vegan?

Mexican Fiesta Ranch Dressing (serves 2 hungry people)

2 tablespoons almond butter (I like creamy)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

5-10 shakes of tapatillo (or your favorite hot sauce)

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together and gently toss with your choice of greens, pasta, veggies, etc.

"Figamon" Rolls

In case you haven't heard the news, refined sugar is bad news. This is why, I have turned to my amazingly creamy, sweet and versatile pale yellow pal, the banana, as well as his good friend in carmel-y creaminess, the fig, to turn up the sweet in this recipe.

With all these good ingredients here are just a few essential nutrients you will be treating your body to: vitamin C (immunity, lowers cholesterol, fights free radicals), Magnese (bone growth, activates essential ensymes for digestion), Fiber (digestion, helps control blood sugar levels, keeps you regular), potassium (heart, kidneys), good saturated fats (heart, hair, skin).

Banana and fig. Two peas in a pod. Two fruits in a roll.

Warm, flaky, cinnamon-y....

Figamon Rolls

Dough

2 1/4 teaspoons active yeast

1/2 cup warm milk of choice (I use homemade almond milk)

2 tablespoons honey

3 cups flour  (I use this gluten free flour mixture, see below for important notes*)

2 teaspoons cinammon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large bananas 1

/2 cup coconut oil, melted

*Add 1 teaspoon on xanthan gum if you go gluten free and your flour mix doesn't have a binder (usually in the form of xanthan or guar gum).

Filling

14 large figs or dates soaking in water (several minutes is fine)

1/4 chopped nuts (I like pecans)

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (any liquid sweetener works for this)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3-4 tablespoons hot water

Icing

2 tablespoons Creamed honey

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1. Combine honey with warm milk. Sprinkle yeast on top and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl combine banana (squeeze it out of the peel to get it mushy) and melted coconut oil. Beat until combined.

3. In another bowl, mix flour, cinnamon and salt.

4. Slowly add the dry mix and the risen yeast mixture to the banana mixture. Stir until combined. If you are using an electric mixer, put on your kneading attachment (hook-shaped gizmo) and knead for 10 minutes. If you're not using an electric mixer, do this by hand (workout! high five!).

5. Put the ball of dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm place for 60-90 minutes to rise (I like to let my oven heat to 175˚, then turn it off just before placing the dough inside).

Keep in mind, if you're not using gluten, this dough will not rise much.

While the dough is rising, you can start making the filling:

1. Drain the dates.

2. Put dates, sweetener and 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a blender (melt the other tablespoon and set it aside for brushing the dough).

3. Start blending and add the hot water gradually, as needed. Blend until smooth. This may take a few breaks for scraping the sides of the blender.

Meanwhile...

1. After the dough risen, punch it down like an overpacked suitcase and leave it for 5 minutes.

2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about a 10 x 12 rectangle (no ruler necessary).

3. Brush the dough with coconut oil. Spread the filling on the surface of the dough.

4. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

5. Roll. From short end, to short end, tightly roll up the dough.

6. Cut the log into 12 even slices and lay in baking dish. Don't get frustrated. This may seem messy, but just go with it. Trust me, it's all in the plan.

7. Lay slices in baking dish.

At this point you can cover them and let them rise overnight for extra gooey, puffier rolls (all this hard work will be a full night's sleep behind you when you wake up in the morning and pop them in the oven), or you can just bake them now for instant(er) gratification (nom nom nom). 

Whenever you're ready...bake them in a 350˚ oven for 25-30 minutes.

Icing

While in the oven, blend all the ingredients for your icing, then drizzle them over the warm, gooey finished product.