Friday, October 3, 2014

Almond Flour Brownies

If you try explaining the paleo diet to a twenty-first century caveman, you'll get all kinds of funny looks. They think it sounds crazy. And maybe they're right. I tend to agree with a lot of people that all the different diet plans dreamt up by Americans must make us seem clueless and crazy to non-Americans.

But if following a particular diet helps people get healthier, then I say let them be. If eliminating bread, or all wheat, helps a person lose weight, then that works for them and there's nothing wrong with that.

But I don't necessarily think that's the only diet that would do the trick. When I see people exiting the grocery store with a big case of soda and a big bag of chips, I want to vaporize the stuff. I want to tell them to please, please use your money to buy food that will keep you OUT of doctors' offices, not guarantee a diagnosis of diabetes among other ills. I want to tell them about all the delicious food they're missing out on.

I'm not sure what all this has to do with almond flour brownies, other than I discovered the recipe while reading about the paleo diet and looking for recipes that use almond flour and coconut flour. 

I'm not trying to avoid wheat altogether, but all the reading did make me stop and think about how much wheat does find its way into nearly every meal. Breakfast -- wheat in ready-to-eat cereals (pretty much all of them), toast, muffins, pancakes, pastries. Lunch -- sandwich breads, quiche crusts, crackers, chips. Dinner -- breading on meats and fish (and lots of other foods like fried appetizers, etc.), pizza, breads (again). Desserts -- cakes, pies, cookies.

I like trying different ingredients, so I wanted to see how a brownie made with almond flour would measure up. I was impressed and thought they were just as good as all-purpose flour brownies. I also used the recipe to experiment with coconut sugar, which worked nicely too. I think the chocolate flavor comes through more than a dominating sweetness, if that makes sense.  

I adapted the "Almond Brownies" recipe from the Bob's Red Mill website. I substituted coconut oil for butter, 3/4 cup coconut sugar for 1 cup evaporated cane sugar, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla for 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tbsp coconut flour for 2 tbsp corn starch, and added chocolate chips (approx. 1/4 cup) and 1/2 tsp espresso powder.

Almond Flour Brownies

1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the melted coconut oil and cocoa powder. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and stir. Stir in the salt and espresso powder. Then add the flours and baking powder. Lastly, stir in the chips.

Spread into the pan and bake for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced into bite-size pieces
rainbow carrots, small-diced
squash and/or zucchini, small-diced (I used zephyr squash)
green or red pepper, small-diced
red onion, thin-sliced
kalamata olives, halved
goat cheese
extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chunky Vegetarian Chili

This is an easy, one-pot dish that doesn't need meat to make it hearty. Amounts are flexible, depending on what you like in your chili. Don't forget to rinse and drain the beans well before using.

red kidney beans (1 can)
garbanzo beans (1 can)
(other possibilities: cannellini beans, black beans, pinto beans)

1 can diced tomatoes (I used organic, unsalted fire-roasted)
carrots, peeled and diced (3 small)
yellow onion, minced (1/4 of a large onion)
red pepper, small diced (1 small)
shiitake mushrooms, sliced/diced
kale, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (1 handful)
garlic, diced (3-4 cloves)
(other possibilities: green peppers, jalapeno peppers, celery, other greens such as collards)

Spices (amounts are approximate):
chili powder (1 tbsp.)
paprika (1 tsp)
cayenne pepper (1 tsp)
cumin (1/2 tsp)
allspice (1/2 tsp)
nutmeg (1/2 tsp)
cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
(other possibilities: onion powder, garlic salt)

tomato paste (2 tbsp. or more)
maple syrup (or honey or brown sugar) (1 tbsp. or less)
vinegar (sherry, red wine, or other) (1/2 - 1 tbsp.)
salt & pepper

- Start by sautéing the veggies in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. (I started with the shrooms, then added the onion, carrots, and pepper, after about five minutes.) Add salt & pepper.

- Add the can of diced tomatoes, garlic, and tomato paste, and stir well.

- Then add the beans, kale (or other greens), spices, maple syrup or honey, vinegar, and more salt & pepper (to taste). Stir well and simmer for 45 minutes or so.