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Entries in super-food

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Saturday
Jul022011

Peaches, berries and summer fare

It’s our last morning of a week-long retreat in the mountains of Lake Tahoe. As I type, sitting in front of a wide, sun-lit window, I am gazing out over the calm, glassy lake and marveling in the stillness of nature. 

I have had plenty of time to cook and bake this week. Somehow, whenever I’m on “vacation,” I am not only hungrier but I crave sweet treats much more often. I am definitely not one to ever skip dessert, but since my family is so active I wanted to make something that wouldn’t weigh us down. 

This had me grabbing peaches and berries by the armful. Fruit makes such a wonderful dessert. Inherently sweet, and you don’t need much to dress it up. I used the fruit all week long in so many ways!

Juicy peaches and blackberries made a quick cobbler. A great topping is the one here, or you could simply toss some oats with maple syrup and butter (or coconut oil) and sprinkle over.

Baked oatmeal always tastes so indulgent for breakfast. Like cold pie on the day after Thanksgiving. This one, based on the recipe here, used peaches, blueberries and almonds.

Plump and delicate raspberries were the stars of these unbelievable bars. The crust is based on the one I use for Pecan Pie Squares, only with maple syrup instead of brown sugar. With only a handful of ingredients necessary to throw them together, along with their ability to be served warm, at room temperature, or cold, I’ll be making these all summer long. 

Stay tuned for recipes in the coming posts. With the holiday weekend upon us, these next few days are sure to find me feasting some more. I’m anxious to know: What summer fare will grace your tables?

Saturday
Jun252011

Blueberry Bread

Of all the fruits in the world, blueberries are far and away my favorite. They top my granola, fill my pies, become bubbly and fragrant beneath cobbler crust, leave swirly purple trails in my yogurt, are juicy and plump in my pancakes, and, of course, are baked into moist breads. 

These days, I find them at the market in towering displays that suggest anything but scarcity. With a stroke of luck, I discovered them on sale at Whole Foods last week and scooped them up by the armful. I ate a whole pint in one sitting. 

 

Since I’ve had little time for the weekend morning baking that I love so much, today’s project needed to be something special. My grandmother makes an amazing blueberry cake that she sprinkles with powdered sugar upon completion, and the smell of it baking never fails to remind me of summer and special family gatherings. A breakfast version is what I had in mind as I delicately folded the violet berries into a lighter, whole grain batter this morning. With applesauce and yogurt replacing heavier fats; a mix of brown rice, almond a coconut flours instead of wheat; and medjool dates en lieu of sugar, this bread is virtuous and completely wholesome. 

With my craving for blueberry bread healthfully satisfied, all I need now is a good dose of family. What are your favorite food memories?

Blueberry Bread :: Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour 1/2 cup almond flour 2 Tablespoons coconut flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk 2 eggs 3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped zest of 1 orange 1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven (see step 5) and line a greased loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, whir milk, eggs, dates, and zest until frothy. Add yogurt and applesauce and blend to combine.
  4. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in blueberries.
  5. Transfer batter evenly into the loaf pan. I baked mine at 325 degrees for well over an hour, but next time I plan to try it at 350 for less time.
  6. Once a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve, or allow to come to room temperature and then wrap in parchment. Keep in the refrigerator for a few days. 
Saturday
Mar052011

Chocolate-Fig Freezer Fudge

I have thought long and hard about posting this recipe. As Kelly said to me yesterday when I confessed my dilemma, “Every good cook needs a secret recipe!” And I agreed: This fudge is so unbelievably good, I don’t know what I would change about it; it would surely create explosions at every gathering I bring it to, with every guest I serve it to, and every time I get caught sneaking into the freezer for just one more bite; it would truly be my secret weapon. 

But there is one thing that would make it even better, if you can believe it. The common denominator in the aforementioned scenarios is the aspect of shared experience. Sharing with those I care about, letting them in on my little secret, watching their reactions as they bite into the soft, smooth, creamy decadence that is this fudge, the unexpected glee on their faces and shock when they find out that it is completely raw, completely vegan, completely free of added sugar, completely healthy and just… perfect. 

Sharing good food with people I care about is probably my favorite thing in the world. I love all of YOU, the readers of this blog, because you make it what it is: a place for exchange. I’m not just talking to myself here; although sometimes it may seem like it. No, I’m talking to you, and I adore the conversations we have. And so, it is my distinct honor to let you in on the best recipe to emerge from my kitchen since, well, forever. 

This fudge is a representation of the entire meaning behind The Chocolate Fig. Not only does it contain both figs and raw cacao, my favorite foods in the world, but it is a perfect example of what makes something indulgently healthy; buttery, creamy, smooth on the tongue, slightly bitter but mellowed by the figs’ seductive sweetness and a pinch of sea salt. It is perfectly balanced, euphoria-inducing, and everything fudge should be: rich and oh so decadent. 

The star of the show is the coconut oil: Naturally solid and creamy at room temperature, like butter, it holds the rest of the ingredients together and maintains a fudgy texture even straight from the freezer. Make sure you buy organic, extra-virgin coconut oil. Avocado may be a surprise ingredient to some of you, but it is very well-masked by the other flavors and is essential for a smooth and rich bite. 

What else can I say? Just one thing: Make this, and while you’re at it, smile.

Chocolate Fig Freezer Fudge :: Makes 1 8×8 square pan

1 cup dried Mission figs, reconstituted in hot water 1 avocado, pitted  1 cup coconut oil 3/4 cup raw cacao powder (start here, and add more if you like a deeper chocolate flavor) pinch or two of fine sea salt

  1. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with wax paper. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, puree figs, with a bit of their soaking water, to desired consistency. I prefer a smoother and syrupy puree, but feel free to leave it a bit chunkier. Measure out 1 cup of fig puree  (in a liquid measuring cup) and set aside.
  3. Clean the food processor, then scoop avocado meat into the base and puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Measure out 1/2 cup of avocado puree and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, gently whisk coconut oil and avocado puree until combined and smooth. Too much friction will cause the coconut oil to melt, and you want it to stay softly solid and fluffy. Add fig puree and incorporate, then add cacao powder and sea salt. You may have to switch to mixing with a spatula at this point, gently folding the cacao into the batter. 
  5. Scrape batter evenly into prepared pan and smooth the top. Lick the spoon, spatula and bowl. Place in the freezer and wait as long as you can; it solidifies almost immediately, so you really won’t have to wait very long. I’d give it 10 minutes just to be safe. Slice into squares and serve; store leftovers in the freezer.