Thursday, November 26, 2015

Almond Cookies for #smartcookieswap


Nom, nom, nom...

Hi all! I hope you are all doing well! I know I'm having such a great day and am excited to have an awesome Thanksliving with friends! What are you doing or eating for Thanksliving? I hope you have a great time enjoying good food, being grateful for all that you have, and spending time with the people you love. The holiday season can really bring a new perspective to things. Try not to get in the chaos of the commercial holiday season and spending, because I think that isn't what it's all about. That brings more stress than anything. At least to me it does!

That's why I find it's so important to spend time with the people you love. My love and I have been making it a point at least once a week to spend a day together doing something. It can be as simple as going for a hike together or discovering a new part of the island. Or just eating a meal together. It really brings us back to center and makes us realize why we love to be around each other and how grateful we are to have one another in our lives. This past Monday my love and I went hiking and discovered so many beautiful parts of the island as well as the beautiful aspects of one another. It was amazing!

Such beauty!

Love that tiny looking waterfall! And my love of course. :)
Well, anyhoo, let's dig into some cookies! @unconventionalbaker and @caitlinfoulds are hosting a #smartcookieswap, in which they share healthy gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free recipes from Instagrammers all over the world. It has been so much fun to see what all the other people are making and to be able to contribute to this feels amazing. It's so much fun and to be honest, who doesn't love a great cookie? And when it's healthy, it feels even better to eat. :) The two lovely hosts are super talented and show you how they make healthy recipes yummy and oh so satisfying from their Instagram page. You should check them out and get involved in the #smartcookieswap too! All you have to do is tag them in your photo, start following them, make a simple refined sugar free, vegan, and gluten free recipe that has less than 10 ingredients, and share it over Instagram for the world to see! You also must put the hashtag #smartcookieswap and their Instagram names in the post so they can see your recipe. It's super fun!

I already posted one recipe for the challenge to my Instagram page but there's always room for more cookie recipes! Lol! This one is an almond cookie recipe that is a soft, pillowy and chewy cookie. Soft cookie lovers, this one is for you! And its super simple and is very addicting, I was inspired by the Italian rainbow cookies that I used to love as a kid. But these are without the apricot jam filling and the chocolate on top. They are an awesome base for those cookies though and I intend on using this recipe to fully make those Italian delights healthy!

I hope you all enjoy the recipe and your holiday! And stay tuned for more recipes for the holiday season! I hope you all participate in the #smartcookieswap too! Blessings to you all!


Almond Cookies

Prep Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Bake Time: 13 - 14 minutes
Yield: ~12, 1 tablespoon sized cookies

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
3 tablespoons water
75 grams (1/2 cup) sorghum flour
1/4 teaspoon fine pink Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon psyllium
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
85 grams (1/2 cup) raw almonds (plus 12 extra almonds to top the cookies)
100 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) coconut sugar
25 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons) coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
In a small bowl, whisk the flax meal and water. Set aside. 
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the sorghum flour, salt, psyllium, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a high speed blender or food processor, grind down the almonds and the coconut sugar until very fine and almost paste-like but not buttery-like. Add this to a large bowl along with the coconut oil and almond extract and mix. Its okay if its a little clumpy. Add the flax mixture and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture to this and mix rigorously until most of the clumps are gone and you have a smooth dough. 
Drop the cookies onto a parchment lined sheet about 1 inch apart form each other using a tablespoon measurement. Place a whole almond in the center of the cookie and press down so that the almond is indented in the cookie. 
Bake for about 13 - 14 minutes, depending if you like your cookies slightly gooier in the center or more fluffy. 
Let cool on baking sheet for five minutes and then let fully cool on a baking rack (or just enjoy straight out of the oven. I won't tell anyone ;) Hehehehe...). Enjoy! 

Substitutes:
  • Feel free to use any other whole grain flour that you prefer, like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, etc., for the sorghum. Just replace it by the weight amount and not the volume amount. 
  • Try this with other nuts/seeds and different extracts to get different flavors! Have fun with it! :)
Here is the nutritional information for the cookies from CRON-O-Meter. They aren't the healthiest but they are definitely a better alternative to those sugary and artificially flavored creations that the stores sell. And you'll feel better after eating them! :P Hehe...


Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this and check out my blog. It is so appreciated. I hope you all have an amazing day today and have fun over the holiday season! Sending lots of love! 

Love,
Vanessa <3

Monday, November 9, 2015

Three Seed Granola Bars


Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well! I feel like I come and go from this blog. Sometimes I want to keep on top of it and post all the time. But I was moving the past few months and that was taking too much of my time and energy, which prevented me from any blogging. It was quite a whirlwind but I'm so glad my love and I made it to our destination. We're in Hawaii now! I can't believe this happened but it's really real!
One of the beautiful beaches on Kauai. :)
Me and my love <3

I feel like we're living in paradise! It has been a struggle, no doubt about it, especially with moving from the mainland to Kauai, but it has been so worth it. I really missed the greenery and the rain, having been born and raised in New York, and coming back to that has been amazing after being in Phoenix, AZ for a few years. And the fruit! Ah, the fruit... I could go on and on about this. They're so delicious here and cheap. And the variety is amazing. So many different types of bananas (those apple bananas are amazing), papayas, mangoes, avocados, lilikoi (passion fruit), lemons, limes, oranges, etc. We are definitely fruitin' it up here! Ha! :) 

Yummy bananas! Smoothie time! 
Anyhoo, let's talk about this recipe! It's super simple and makes a good amount. They're great for when you're on the go (they keep their shape really well!) and just need something quick and not too sweet to fill you up. Another thing I really love about them too is that they're easily customized. If you don't have sunflower butter, use another nut or seed butter! Or if you want to use another puffed cereal, use that instead! Out of pumpkin seeds? Use chopped almonds instead! Do it up and have fun! That's what being in the kitchen is all about. 

And speaking of that, I'm finally learning to let go and just be creative in the kitchen without worries. Before I would obsess and worry that if I added "this" or "that" to something, that it would mess up the recipe. F@*k that! I'm learning to let things flow and if it doesn't come out the best, at least I learned from it and won't do it again. I still eat it and won't let it go to waste. I think it's about time I start letting go of this perfectionist attitude and start letting life flow and feel from the heart. That's where it's at. :) It's still a struggle sometimes, but it's getting a lot better. 

Granted I still like to follow some culinary rules/ratios, but I think the fun about learning the rules is learning to break them and explore new things. Instead of sticking to a culinary ratio to a "T," I now use it as a guide but still put my spin on it and change the ratios a bit. 

Speaking of perfectionism, I was also hesitant to post this recipe because it contains barley in it, which is not gluten free. But, the reason I used them is because I got them free from my boyfriend's job. They were going to be thrown out, so my love snatched them up and I made these with them. I feel that I can have a little gluten now and again, but not a lot, and I only react to it if it's wheat; barley doesn't seem to affect me. But, as I said before, this recipe works beautifully with other grains! Do what feels good for you or what you got around. :) 


Three Seed Granola Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Ingredients:
60 grams (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) gluten free rolled oats
50 grams puffed barley (2 cups)
35 grams brown rice flour (1/4 cup)
35 grams hulled pumpkin seeds (4 tablespoons)
25 grams chia seeds (2 1/2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine pink Himalayan salt
130 grams brown rice syrup (1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons)
75 grams unsalted sunflower butter (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 310F (155C or gas mark 2).
In a large bowl combine the oats, puffed barley, brown rice flour, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup and sunflower butter. Put on low heat and mix until the sunflower butter and brown rice syrup become one cohesive mixture.
Add immediately to the bowl with the oat mixture. Stir to completely combine all the ingredients into one sticky mass. If you use your hands (which is honestly the best tool for this :P), be careful because it will be hot!
Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and add the mixture to it. Spread evenly flat and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes depending on how thick your granola is and how big your pan is. Do not let overcook and turn brown! It should still be about the same color when you take it out of the oven as when it went in.
Let it cool and cut into shapes! Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Substitutions:

  • Feel free to substitute by weight any of these ingredients:
    • Puffed barley - substitute with puffed brown rice, puffed spelt, puffed millet, puffed quinoa, puffed corn, etc.
    • Brown rice flour - substitute with ground oats, teff flour, sorghum flour, or any other whole grain flour (except for coconut flour or a bean flour - no me gusta bean flours in sweets :P )
    • Pumpkin Seeds and Chia Seeds - feel free to crazy here! You can substitute with chopped almonds, chopped macadamia nuts, chopped walnuts, peanuts, chopped Brazil nuts, coconut shreds or chips, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, etc. Whatever floats your boat! :)
    • Sunflower Butter - Substitute with any other nut or seed butter, such as almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, etc. 
  • Feel free to add some vanilla or almond extract or even some savory spices to make some savory granola bars! The possibilities are endless. :)
These bars are pretty high in magnesium, manganese, selenium, vitamin K, and have some good fiber! Woot woot! I wouldn't recommend eating them all the time but they're great for a little something sweet. :P 


Here is the nutritional information for the bars from CRON-O-Meter.

Thank you all for stopping by and checking out the recipe! Let me know if you have any questions on it or if you've made it and have any feedback. I would love to hear from you! Also, if you are on the island of Kauai, hit me up! I would love to meet you! xo

Peace and Love,
Vanessa <3