Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Did you ever notice how many of your most beloved childhood foods taste better in your memory that in real life? It’s kind of sad and yet somehow fascinating; now that I eat mostly whole foods and try to steer clear of added artificial crap, those treats I adored as a child taste eerily fake and often leave a lingering plasticky taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I can get down on a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or an ice cream sandwich from time to time, but as a general rule the edible foodlike substances of my youth have lost their luster.

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Reese’s peanut butter cups fall into this category. I remember those commercials that would feature all the different ways to go about eating your Reese’s. My favorite one was to poke a perfect hole in the middle, eat that first and then nibble away at the grooved, rigid outer ring. Now when I eat a Reese’s, all I taste is a fistfight between salt and sugar with a hint of peanut butter flavor egging them on in the background (no pun intended). So when I saw a recipe for copycat Reese’s peanut butter eggs on Pinterest, I was all about making a revamped version of my old Easter basket fav.

These tasty nuggets of joy are made from just seven wholesome ingredients. The texture is freakishly similar to the store bought ones, but the taste is supremely better. Coated in bittersweet chocolate and scented lightly with vanilla and cinnamon, these actually “taste of what they are” which is mostly straight-up peanut butter. Coconut flour is the binder and thickener for the filling, maple syrup sweetens the deal just a touch. As long as you can form a semi-reasonable egg shape and refrain from licking your fingers every five minutes while coating these, you should be just as successful in making them as I was. Happy Easter. Have a wonderful weekend of renewal, reunion, and refreshment.

Ingredient note: Coconut flour is soft flour produced from dried coconut as a natural byproduct of coconut milk production. As my friend Elizabeth, who introduced me to this versatile, gluten-free flour, has pointed out, “it’s almost all fiber” and for this reason, it absorbs liquid like a sponge and cannot be substituted for AP flour in a 1:1 ratio. It’s best to use coconut flour in recipes that were created with this ingredient in mind, like this one or this one!

Coconut flour is an exceptionally good source of the essential micronutrient manganese. Manganese helps our bodies optimally utilize choline and biotin (found in eggs), vitamin C and thiamin. Manganese also supports a healthy skeletal and nervous system and promotes thyroid health.

Coconut flour can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill has a version) as well as in the bulk section at many natural food stores (including the Milwaukee-area’s Outpost Natural Foods).

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

adapted from My Whole Food Life
makes about 16 “eggs”

Ingredients:

For the filling:

1 cup natural peanut butter (ingredient list: peanuts, salt)
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon

For the chocolate coating:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 ½ Tbsp almond milk (or milk of choice)

*alternatively you can combine 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup or honey to make your chocolate coating*

Method:

Combine the peanut butter, coconut flour, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix well using an immersion blender, food processor, or a fork and a very strong arm.  The filling should be similar to the texture of cookie dough. If it’s more runny than that, add a tiny bit more coconut flour.Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

With clean hands, shape the mixture into about 16 eggs (~ 1 Tbsp of filling per egg). Hint: make sure they’re tapered at the top and more rounded and wide at the bottom, this is the key to a convincing egg. 🙂IMG_0233

Place the “eggs” on a lined baking sheet and stick them in the freezer while you heat up the chocolate, at least 5 minutes.

Using a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and milk together until smooth and creamy. Remove chocolate from heat and retrieve the eggs from the freezer.

Roll each egg in the chocolate until covered and place them back on the lined baking sheet. (There is no right way to do this. You can use two forks, a spoon, or your fingers. It’s a bit tedious and you may have to put the eggs back into the freezer halfway through to prevent them from melting in their hot chocolate bath, but you’ll get through it and by George, it will be worth it.)

IMG_0244

Stick the eggs back in the freezer to let the chocolate set for an hour or two, storing them there until ready to share.

Wholesome Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Guaranteed to be a hit with bunnies, rabbits and even the occasional hare at your holiday gathering.

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Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

It’s been a spell since I last posted, folks. School became pretty intense for a while there: I was blessed with the challenge of creating and carrying out a lesson plan to teach 7th and 8th graders about the connections between sugar consumption, obesity, and diabetes. At first blush this seemed like a straightforward task, but the lines between these three “epidemics” of our nation are more blurred that you might think. Perhaps there will be more on that in another post, this one’s about cookies.

Then last week I had my wisdom teeth taken out, an experience from which I gleaned a deep-seated gratitude for the ability to eat solid food. Even just 6 days of milkshakes, mashed potatoes, and pureed soups left me fantasizing about biting into a juicy cheeseburger or a fish taco or anything with more than a singular taste and texture. I haven’t graduated to caramel apples or chips and salsa yet, but I’m glad to report we made perfectly medium-rare grassfed burgers on the grill last night and I was able to satisfy my craving quite successfully.

And here I am now, on a gray Sunday morning taking in the sounds of robins welcoming spring: cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up and a pot of oatmeal amiably bubbling away on the stove (make that burning away on the stove, oops.)

Today’s recipe is for cookies I shared at dietetic student “eat and greet” (we organized as the dietetics club board a couple weeks ago). Sharing an hour of conversation with smart and dynamic women was a welcome respite from the harried school week. But I think maybe it was the promise of these cookies that auspiciously brought us all together. 😉

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found the recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from the library: The Kinfolk Table. It calls for vegetable shortening rather than the more commonplace butter. The payoff is a denser, more robust chew that preserves the luscious, fat-coated crumb of classic oatmeal cookies.

The oatmeal to flour ratio in these bad boys is 3:1, perfect for cookies that are both acceptable breakfast fare and nearly-guiltless nighttime snack. I switched out the AP flour for whole wheat pastry, my MO for most all baked goods. The vegetable shortening I use is a non-hydrogenated, organic palm oil made by Spectrum, who quells my fears of being an accomplice to orangutan murder with this pleasant blurb: “we craft our shortening from sustainably harvested organic palm oil sourced from dozens of small family farmers in Colombia.” (Palm oil has a rather complex reputation which you can read about here.) That said, if you’re leery of the ingredient you can certainly use butter, the texture will just be slightly different, as noted by the original recipe’s author.

Kinfolk Table cookbook

The recipe note also recommends combining all ingredients by hand, stating that using an electric mixer will alter the intended texture. (I gather the texture is paramount to the success of these cookies.) I must disclose I still used my Kitchen Aid to cream the butter and sugars, but the rest of the ingredients I mixed in manually.

The dough should be refrigerated for at least one hour before baking to ensure, you guessed it, optimal texture. For a fascinating NYT read on how cookie outcomes improve as dough is allowed longer fridge time, click here. Well, this post has taken me almost two hours to write, so I’m just going to get down to the recipe now, which is what you came here for anyway, right?

Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

adapted from Julie Pointer’s recipe in The Kinfolk Table
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup organic vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups whole rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Method:

In a large bowl, combine the sugars and shortening and mix until creamy. Add in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and eggs, and stir until just combined.

Combine the flour, oats, and chocolate chips. Incorporate these into the wet ingredients in three or four additions, stirring until mixture is more or less uniform. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is chilled and firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a spoon, or in my case a melon-baller, scoop the dough into approximately 2 tablespoon spheres and place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with your fingertips.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookie edges just begin to brown, rotating the sheets halfway through if your oven bakes unevenly.

Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and cool for 5 minutes then transfer the cookies directly to the rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes (eat at least three before they cool).

Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookie // funkybeetss

Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

I love eating from a wide, shallow bowl.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, any meal looks delicious and inviting all cuddled together against the lazily sloped sides of a pasta bowl.   Never mind one pot meals,  I’ll do some extra dishes to make me a one bowl meal.  bowls

Some of my favorites as of late:

  • steel cut oats, sliced banana, homemade yogurt (recipe soon!) and raw cashews
  • brown rice, herby tomato sauce, fried eggs, steamed broccoli, parmesan cheese
  • shredded romaine, carrot ribbons, sliced red peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, pulled chicken, olive oil

The possibilities are truly innumerable! (echo, echo, echo)

I’ve had this crunchy kale salad on my to-make list for quite some time.  It hails from the Sprouted Kitchen blog, one of my (any many others’) fav sites for creative, super-healthy, gorgeous and invariably delicious recipes.  So on Sunday morning, when my dad texted: “dinner party: 5 PM,” I knew just what I’d be bringing to the table.  dinner table

This diversely textured salad does demand some chopping, but aside from that it comes together pretty quickly.  The only thing you’ve got to plan for is cooking the lentils and roasting the pepitas (raw, green pumpkin seeds) which are both pretty hands-off steps.

crunch kale salad - ingredients

This salad is a keeper, meaning you can keep it in the fridge and enjoy it for a couple days. There’s lots of lemon juice in the dressing, so the apples won’t go brown on you.  I would definitely say this salad gets better on the second day, since the kale breaks down a bit in the presence of the acidic lemon juice and the flavors have time to meld and mingle.  Just remember to leave out the pepitas until you’re ready to dig in so they don’t get soggy.

How to make this a one bowl meal: a couple scoops of this salad nestled in with a hunk of goat cheese or feta and a hard-boiled egg and you’ve got yourself a crazy nutritious mouth party.  Shazam! crunchy kale salad

Crunchy Cucumber Apple Kale Salad

adapted slightly from Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:

3 cups kale, chopped and stems removed

1 bunch parsley, chopped and large stems removed

1 cup cooked black (beluga) lentils: – bring dried lentils to a boil in plenty of water, then reduce heat and simmer until just soft, but not mushy

1 tart green apple, diced

1 sweet pink or yellow apple, diced

1 english cucumber, diced

½ cup toasted pepitas

dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Juice and zest from one whole lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

crunch kale salad 2

Method:

1. In a large serving bowl, combine the kale, parsley, lentils, apples, and cucumber.

2. For the dressing, put all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until emulsified.  If you don’t wanting garlic bits, use a food processor instead.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to distribute. Garnish with pepitas and cheese of your choice.

crunchy cucumber apple kale salad 3

Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

This is the book that kicked off my food loving, healthy eating, conscious cooking, nutrition fascinated journey.

cook food book

I bought “Cook Food” by Lisa Jervis about five years ago in a small artsy-touristy shop in my hometown of Cedarburg, WI.  I still like looking through the stained and crinkled pages of this small paperback book at the sentences and phrases I underlined and highlighted way back when.  And although there has been much learning and growing since those days, I stay grounded in many of the methods and sentiments that Jervis offered me in this short, friendly guide to health and planet-conscious cooking and eating.

All the recipes in “Cook Food” are approximate and flexible.  Jervis encourages readers from the very first pages to “experiment, try new things, make the recipes your own.”  Well I certainly took that imperative and ran with it. I barely ever perfectly follow recipes (gasp?!) and only break out the measuring cups and spoons when I’m baking.  I tend to use cookbooks as tools of inspiration: I mine them for new flavor combinations or seek advice on how to use an ingredient I’ve never tried.  But… I have to say this non-recipe cooking style doesn’t serve me very well when I want to share something I’ve made here on Funky Beets.  Case in point: I recently made this epically tasty soup, but hadn’t really measured anything in the process. Well, luckily for me (and you!) I do have a pretty slick memory, so I think this should still work out (fingers crossed).

cauli-curry soup

I’m sure Lisa Jervis would agree here, you should take liberties with this soup, add more of the ingredients you like, leave out the ones you don’t. Get a little artsy with it, and TASTE along the way.  Tasting your cooking as it unfolds is the best way to ensure non-recipe cooking turns out fabulously; I read somewhere American cooks don’t do enough of it, so let’s prove whoever said that wrong.  Let’s dip our spoons liberally in bubbling pots on their way to becoming dinner.  Just don’t forget to blow on your spoonfuls before you sample; this soup won’t taste as good with a burnt tongue.

Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee

½ medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 heaping Tbsp curry powder (or more!)

1 tsp crushed red pepper (for medium-high spice level)

1 Tbsp powdered ginger

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into chunks

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 (8.5 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 (8.5 oz) can chickpeas

½ (8.5 oz) can coconut milk

water

salt to taste

toppings (optional):

plain yogurt

cilantro

toasted sunflower seeds

Method:

1. In a Dutch oven or other large pot, melt the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and spices, stirring until fragrant.

2.  Next, add all the cauliflower and sweet potato chunks, stirring around with the alliums and spices until coated.  If you have extra time, you can let the vegetables get a little browned (flavor!) before moving on to the next step.

3. To the pot, add the canned tomatoes (with juice), chickpeas and coconut milk.  Now add enough water to just barely cover the cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  Stir it all together until the broth is mostly uniform in color.

4.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and put the lid on your pot.  Stir occasionally.  When the sweet potatoes are soft, the soup could be finished.  If you want to let the flavors meld a bit more, you can leave the soup on low heat for a while longer.

5. Taste the broth for salt and add as much as you like.

6. Depending on your texture preferences, you can go a number of routes here: leave it completely “rustic” and stew-like (would be great over rice), OR blend it partially with an immersion blender so there is some smoothness and some larger chunks (that’s what I did) OR blend it completely for a silky, luxurious pureed soup.

7. Finish by layering on your desired toppings.  Enjoy!

cauli-curry soup 2

Sublime Lemony Goat Cheese Cheesecake

goat on the roof of Al Johnson's

Here’s a photo of a goat on the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Door County, WI.  I took this photo the weekend my husband and I got engaged (swoon). Here’s a link to the Goat Cam where you can check out what those crazy goats are up to.  If you look now (January 29, 2014), you’ll see a goatless root covered with snow, but check back in May and you’ll see bright green grass and maybe some fine-lookin’ goat specimens! Henyway…

Why am I yucking it up about goats? Because I made this obnoxiously good goat cheese cheesecake yesterday. Yes that’s a mouthful, which is what you’ll want to have many of once you try this recipe.

goat cheese cheesecake

I had never made a cheesecake before. I thought it would be complicated and easy to fail at, but in reality it wasn’t too tough. Having a stand mixer made it simpler, as the recipe asks you to whip eggs whites to form soft peaks. And herein my friends lies the secret to the cloud-like texture of this cheesecake: whipped egg whites. Traditionally, cheesecake is dense, right? This one is a whole other animal.  It’s almost like cheesecake and angel food cake shacked up and popped out a lovechild. This lovechild happens to be flecked with sunny lemon zest, which plays well with the tanginess of goat cheese, the true star of this dessert.

Fresh goat cheese, which is usually sold in a log-shaped package, is soft and similar in consistency to cream cheese, but less dense. Aside from the unique flavor it lends, goat cheese is also a nice choice because it’s easier for some people to digest than cheeses made with cow milk. Goat milk only contains very small amounts of alpha-S1, an allergenic casein protein in cow milk. Goat milk also has less lactose than cow milk, potentially making it a better option for those with lactose-intolerance. (If you are allergic to cow milk, speak with your practitioner before trying the goat version.)

It’s been cold here, cold enough to call off school and close local businesses.  But the sun’s been pouring through the windows, the snow’s been sparkling and I can see a tiny speck of light that is spring at the end of this frigid tunnel.  All is well; there’s seven eighths of a lemon-flecked crustless goat cheese cheesecake in my fridge.

goat cheese cheesecake 2

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit, which I modified slightly by using whole wheat pastry flour rather than all purpose

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter (for pan)

3/4 cup sugar plus more for pan, plus 1 tsp for egg whites

12 ounces fresh soft goat cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks

3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

mixed berries for topping (optional)

Special Equipment: 9-inch-diameter springform pan

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 350°. Butter springform pan and dust lightly with sugar.

2) Using an electric (stand or hand) mixer, beat at medium speed: goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes (take a taste!)

3) Add egg yolks in three additions, beating at medium speed to blend, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Turn off mixer and stir in flour by hand until just blended.  Set mixture aside.

4) Using clean, dry beaters (or whisk attachment), whip egg whites and 1 tsp sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.

5) Fold half of the egg whites into goat cheese and yolk mixture just until blended; fold in remaining egg whites just until blended.  The “batter” should be foamy and light; pour it into the springform pan and tap lightly to level.

6) Bake cheesecake 30-35 minutes until the top is set but still jiggles a bit in the center 30. (I let mine go a bit too long; pull it out as soon as edges are slightly browned.)  Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack; let cool completely in pan before removing outer springform ring.

Serve cold or at room temperature, topped with berries if you so desire.

Nutrition information, courtesy of Bon Appetit:

8 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories: 240 Fat: 13g Saturated Fat 7g Cholesterol 180mg Carbohydrates 22 g Dietary Fiber 1g Total Sugars 17g Protein 13g Sodium 210 mg

goat cheese cheesecake 3 IMG_0108

Syrian Sliha aka Nutty Pomegranate Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

I got this cookbook, see?

Grain Mains cookbook

And I’ve been browsing its pages over the past couple weeks, filling my head with visions of barley mac n’ cheese, polenta coffee cake, and quinoa date bread.  There has been a mini-miracle as well.  Do you ever have those quietly lovely internal celebrations when you read through an enticing recipe and realize you presently have every ingredient it calls for? I do. I did! And so I made this.

IMG_0054

The cookbook titles this recipe Syrian Sliha.  According to the authors, Sliha is a dish eaten by Damascus Jews to celebrate a baby’s first teething… interesting, no?  It wasn’t so much the name of the dish or its backstory that grabbed me, but the beautiful array of colors and textures boasted by the gorgeous full-page photograph.

…and the fact that I auspiciously had every last thing on the somewhat exotic ingredient list.

pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts

This grain salad of sorts brings some serious flavor to the breakfast table.  Its lead character is soft white wheat berries*, a varietal typically used to make one of my favorite flours: whole wheat pastry.

soft white wheat berries

Wheat berries are satisfyingly chewy and slightly sweet with a hint of nuttiness which echoes the toasty pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts. Then of course come the toasted fennel seeds, lacing the dish with a haze of anise, the shredded coconut, lending tropicalness and texture, and pomegranate arils: the perfect juicy-tangy foil for all those rich nuts. Cinnamon, maple syrup, and coarse salt round out the closest thing your taste buds may ever experience to a full-on breakfast rock symphony in surround sound.

Oh please, don’t let me forget the yogurt.  After everything I just said, this dish is nothing without a very generous dollop of whole milk yogurt atop its colorful peak.  I’m not kidding. If you don’t have access to yogurt, don’t even make this.  Sliha on, Wayne!

Syrian Sliha with yogurt

*Wheat berries are fully intact wheat kernels (aside from the inedible hull) and are the most unprocessed version of wheat you can buy in the supermarket. Wheat berries, like many whole grains, are an excellent source of fiber and B vitamins.  They also contain some healthy fats, yeehaw!  Because of their toughness, wheat berries typically work best when soaked before cooking.  Anywhere between 8 and 12 hours of soaking in lots of room temperature water should do the trick.  I like to soak and cook a big batch of grains on the weekend to help me through busy weeknight dinners.

Syrian Sliha aka Nutty Pomegranate Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

Note: I altered “Grain Mains’” recipe by reducing the amount of nuts by half (for calories’ and economy’s sake) while bumping up the coconut and pomegranate.  I chose maple syrup in place of white sugar and toasted the fennel seeds and added them at the end rather than boiling them with the wheat berries as the original recipe suggests.

Ingredients:

1 cup soft white wheat berries, soaked for 8-12 hours, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp fennel seeds

½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 Tbsp real maple syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp coarse salt, like kosher

plenty of plain whole milk yogurt for topping

 Method:

1. Dump the soaked and drained wheat berries into a medium saucepan and cover grains by at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grains are just tender, about 50 minutes. The wheat berries should barely dance in the water while cooking. Drain the grains in a small-holed colander.

2. While the wheat berries cook, combine the fennel seeds, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the nuts and seeds, stirring occasionally and guarding them with a watchful eye and alert nose, until they are lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Pour the wheat berries into a big bowl, maybe the same one you soaked them in. Then stir in the nuts, seeds, pomegranate arils, coconut, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Let the Sliha come to room temperature before enjoying (with a giant dollop of plain whole milk yogurt, that is!) or “store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for breakfasts (or snacks) in the week to come.” –Grain Mains

Syrian Sliha with yogurt 2

Sliha with yogurt

Sliha beauty shot with yogurt, so good

Homemade Almond Milk and Almond Meal Thumbprint Cookies – plus Quinoa for Breakfast!

I love the fresh feeling that a new year swirls into life.  Even though I don’t have a laundry list of resolutions this go round, I’m laced with the desire to take small steps of self improvement.  One that’s been on my mind is increasing my self-sufficiency, becoming less reliant on convenience and ready-made products and more apt to make things myself or improvise with something I’ve already got.  It’s so easy for me to go to the store any time and buy most ANY thing I want or need, but what if I first comb through a few forgotten basement alternatives or YouTube how to fix the thing I already have, or gosh, even just hit up Goodwill before heading to Target?  I figure this could be good for my soul and my pocketbook.

Another small change I’d like to work on is generating less food waste.  This summer I read Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal which embraces economical cooking: not wasting the parts of food we tend to throw away.  I tried some of her tricks but then got a little lazy (and also tired of all the broccoli stems and cauliflower cores building up in my fridge), but I’m willing to try again with some New-Year-zaza energy!

The recipes that follow are manifestations of these two small changes: homemade almond milk to prove I can do it myself (without carageenan and potassium sorbate to boot!) and almond meal thumbprint cookies to showcase how delicious and worth keeping the “byproduct” of almond milk can be.  Then, in celebration of all our New Year clean-eating intentions, there’s a recipe for tummy-friendly quinoa breakfast porridge simmered with chocolate almond milk and topped with pecans and cinnamon.  Happy New Year.

freshly soaked almonds

Homemade Almond Milk

Ingredients: 

2 cups almonds

6 cups filtered water

pinch of salt

optional add-ins: cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, maple syrup

almond nuggets of joy

Method:

1. In a large bowl, cover almonds with 2 inches of water.  Let soak for 8-12 hours.

2. Drain and rinse almonds.

3. In a blender, combine 2 cups almonds and 6 cups filtered water. Blend on high speed for 3 minutes, or until almonds are completely pulverized and liquid is milky in color and consistency.  Add salt and any flavorings and blend on low until incorporated.

4. To strain almond milk, set a strainer over a large bowl or pitcher. Line strainer with cheesecloth.  Slowly pour the milk from the blender into the lined strainer, watching to make sure it doesn’t overflow.

5. Allow milk to drain for a minute or so.  Now, the fun part: gather cheesecloth ends to form a pouch, making sure the almond meal is totally enclosed in the cloth.  Next, with clean hands squeeze the pouch in all different spots, wringing out every last drop of milk.

6. Transfer your almond milk to an airtight container and store in the fridge.  Shake well before use.  It should last about a week!

*To utilize the leftover almond meal, heat your oven to 200°F.  Pour almond meal out of the cheesecloth onto a baking sheet with raised sides and spread it into an even layer.  Dry almond meal in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10.  Almond meal is done when fluffy and mostly dry but not crispy or sand-like.*

almond meal

Almond Meal Thumbprint Cookies 

makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup natural cane sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

¼ tsp sea salt

almond meal from 3 cups almonds (~2 cups meal)

jam or preserves of choice (I used raspberry jam, because raspberry and almonds are the KimYe of baking, duh.)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine softened butter and sugar.  Whisk until light and fluffy.  Stir in the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt.  Add the almond meal and stir to combine, making sure there are no dry spots.

3. Gently roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on your cookie sheet at least two inches apart. Make a “thumbprint” in the middle of each cookie.

4. Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes or until they’re just beginning to crack and brown slightly.

5. While cookies are still cooling, fill the thumbprints with about ½ – 1 teaspoon of jam.  Cool completely before serving.  I also made some without jam and they are almost as delicious.

almond meal cookies IMG_0746

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

Ingredients:

½ cup quinoa, rinsed

¾ cup almond milk

¼ cup water

¼ tsp cardamom

½ tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

toppings of choice (see below)

Method:

1. In a small saucepan, combine quinoa, milk, water, spices and salt.

2. Bring mixture to a boil for a few seconds, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to sit covered for another 15 minutes.  After sitting, remove pan lid and fluff quinoa with a fork.

4. Serve this quinoa porridge warm with more homemade almond milk poured over the top (chocolate almond milk preferred!).  Other yummy toppings include: chopped nuts, banana slices, maple syrup, and more cinnamon.

quinoa for breakfast