Tag Archives: almond meal

Avoid the Sugar Hangover! Gluten Free Peanut Butter, Cacao Nib, and Coconut Cookies

FoodShoot-4466
Photography by Kim Mennen and Jake Lowe, Styling by Ali Nardi
Notice: WordPress is having a mini meltdown and currently won’t recognize spaces between paragraphs. Sorry for the big block of text.
Last night I had my ladies over. We used to get together to exercise, but now, we mainly get together to eat and drink wine, which suits us all just fine…
I made a wholesome and really flavorsome classic for them: a lemon and rosemary roast chicken with roast spuds, sweet potatoes, garlic, and kale (I will try to post that recipe soon). My friend Alice is off the sugar Sarah Wilson style, and inspired by Alice, I haven’t been eating much processed sugar either. It’s usually just a bit of fruit everyday and that’s been the deal. I feel pretty good, and I considered this fact while deciding what to make them all for dinner.
We were all full and satisfied, but then my friend Amelia went into the kitchen, and returned with a box of gorgeous Greek pastries. So gorgeous, that even Alice crumbled. What was meant to be just a bite of each turned into a bit of a feeding frenzy, but lady style, so it didn’t actually look like a frenzy…. and before you knew it, there were only a few measly scraps left–which I ate for breakfast this morning to try and cure the terrible sugar hangover I awoke to this morning.
Sugar. It’s super addictive. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve never really had a sweet tooth, but a few months ago, I slipped into dangerously high sugar-eating territory, and it was a major effort to scale it back. I was addicted for a bit, and I don’t want to go back to that place. I always felt tired, bloated, and desperate for something sweet. It truly made me feel hungover in the morning, without the benefit of actually being drunk the night before..
That being said, I never planned and still don’t plan to quit sugar completely, and by sugar, I mean fructose. I don’t like extreme dieting. I love almost all foods, and to cut out sugar completely would be cutting out a lot more than just the sweetness. It would be cutting out experiences, not to mention always being the difficult one at the dinner table– or any table for that matter.
The problem was just that I was having sugar way too often–like with every meal, and that didn’t feel so hot…
I read Sarah Wilson’s e-book, I Quit Sugar, and there were some strong points in there, and it definitely helped me cut down big time. But that point that stood out to me the most is that she drinks a cup of warm milk while sniffing incense when she wants a treat– and that sounds fairly dreadful to me.
I like to enjoy a hard cider or two on occassion when I’m out with my friends. I clearly enjoy Greek pastries once in a while. I like making birthday cakes for me friends, and enjoying them with them. And I’m certainly not going to miss out on eating a gelato here and there throughout the summer.
So sugar is in, but only when it is really worth it. I stay away from it unless I am eating a proper dessert that accompanies an occasion. The Greek pastry event was a bit over the top, but again, experiences! It wouldn’t be as much fun to share a stick of celery around the table. But that’s one night. And the rest of the week will have to be pretty clean (with the exception of Thanksgiving, which is  free-for-all in my book.
Maybe I should have mentioned at the top that this is not a post that is trying to keep you off the sweets over the holidays. I have no place telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat. I’m just letting you know what I enjoy. Really, what I am trying to say is: I think it is ok to eat bad stuff, as long as it’s usually and mostly eating good stuff. (And Thanksgiving is only once a year…)

peanutbutter cookie 3

peanutbutter cookies

One way I manage to do this is by keeping treats that are low in sugar and packed with protein and good fats in the house, like Tahini Date Refrigerator Snacks.  This week, I’m talking about Peanut Butter Cookies– really good ones, with mostly good stuff in them apart from 1/8 cup honey. They are gluten free, and have some delicious optional extras in them. They are based on a recipe from Elana’s Pantry–she does great desserts– but I’ve cut the sugar in half, made a few other changes, and added some extras to keep you full for longer and add some more interesting flavor.

Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter, Cacao Nib, and Coconut Cookies
Makes about 12 cookies
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tblsn cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded or dessicated coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat peanut butter, honey, butter and vanilla extract, until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients, and beat until well combined. Stir in cacao nibs and chopped peanuts.
  5. Scoop dough 1 tablespoon at a time onto lined baking sheet and press down with a fork.
  6. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
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Flourless Pistachio Spice Cake

cake with wineThe best-worst thing I have been asked since being in NYC so far? “Excuse me, how do I get to ground zero?” I don’t have to explain the issue with that one. Other than that it is great. Weather is gorgeous, the food is great, and the people aren’t too cranky. My favorite bite so far was a really simple but beyond delicious Sicilian Panel Sandwich (i’m pretty sure the sandwich bit is the Italian American twist)– fried chickpea fritters  with a dollop of fresh ricotta and grated pecorino on a crispy light bun. I certainly couldn’t get away with a meal like that on a regular basis, but when I do eat something blatantly unhealthy, I go all in. And it’s not so often I get to spend time with my dad, who is a bit of an expert on the truly great yet hipsterless grub spots in Brooklyn. So when I am home, almost anything goes in the food category if I’m out for a meal.

Like I said though, I can’t or rather know I shouldn’t eat like that all the time, but I still crave the “naughty foods.” But you know my theory– If it’s gonna have bad stuff in it, make sure to add the extra good stuff too. And it’s just starting to get chilly enough to turn on the oven in NYC, which is the perfect reason to make this next recipe.

This is a Flourless Pistachio cake based on a recipe from Spice Trip: The Simple Way to Make Food Exciting by Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette. It’s a massive book and although it’s not particularly original–it’s more abut comfort food, with extra spice thrown in– it’s great way to get inspired in the kitchen. There are some cool spice-based health remedies in there as well.

Of course I healthied up their recipe a bit. I started by cutting the sugar in half (trust me, you won’t miss it). I also used coconut oil instead of butter and added cardamom to the recipe. I baked it in a much smaller cake pan than the one the recipe calls for (which i have provided measurements for below) and the result was a much taller cake with a crunchy outside and a slightly undercooked inside. This actually translated into a beautiful creamy texture on the inside and a nice firm shell with the called-for layer of pistachio crunch on the bottom. It worked. That being said, I am sure it is just as delicious when done in the original pan.

The original recipe is served with greek yogurt with orange zest. I have added those to the ingredient list below, but we all like it on it’s own (about 6 different people demolished tasted this cake).

pistachio cakeThis would go great with some fresh mint tea or even a bit of desert wine…

Flourless Pistachio Spice Cake

Adapted from: Spice Trip: The Simple Way to Make Food Exciting by Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams ground pistachios, and 75 grams coarsely chopped pistachios
  • 200 grams almond meal
  • 120 grams coconut oil, soft but not melted (or softened butter)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 110 grams brown sugar (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • 250 grams Greek yogurt (extra to serve)
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • seeds from 5 green cardamom pods, ground in mortar and pestle.
  • Orange zest for yogurt (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Grease and line an 8″ (20 cm) spring form pan with baking paper (I use a 6″ pan). You can use a smaller cake tin to make a higher cake as in the photo above. Just adjust baking time appropriately.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat coconut oil with an electric beater until smooth. Add ground pistachios, almond meal, and salt, and beat to blend. If chunks of coconut oil form, just work mixture with your hands to knead out any lumps. Press half of the mixture evenly into the pan.
  3. To the remainder of the mixture, add eggs, sugar, yogurt, and spices and beat until mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into cake tin and scatter chopped pistachios on top.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake is fairly firm if you press the top. If you make a higher cake in a smaller cake pan, make sure to cover the top of the cake after 45 minutes with foil so the top doesn’t brown too much.
  5. Allow to cool and serve with greek yogurt mixed with orange zest (optional). Keep leftovers refrigerated (I actually prefer this cake cold from the fridge).

One Thing Aussies Don’t Take the Piss Out of: American Punkin’ Pie

Photography by Kim Mennen Styling by Ali Nardi

Photography by Kim Mennan, Styling by Ali Nardi

First, I want to give a big thank you to photographer Kim Mennen, who has done some gorgeous photography for For the Love of Cabbage. She is super talented, and I am thrilled to have her on board! So thank you Kim!  To check out some of her other work, go here.

Now onto to that Punkin’ Pie….

pumpkin pie 3

Thanksgiving in Australia has been a bit of a dud so far. It’s my least favorite holiday politically, but far and away my favorite holiday for the food and it’s always a hard one to be away for. The food, however, is incredibly heavy, and it is crazy hot here in Australia by November. Understandably, I don’t want to spend all day sweating it out like the would-be-turkey in the oven in the summer.

So since my time here–(over a year and a half! cray cray….) I have been sneaking snippets of a the traditional thanksgiving meal into my everyday cooking. By snippets, I mean going straight to the best part: The Pumpkin Pie (although I am quite partial to sweet potato with marshmallow as well– yeah i know it sounds weird but it is seriously good).

Pumpkin Pie isn’t “a thing” here, and it’s almost funny how excited everyone gets when I make it. It is an American novelty, as is the way I say “coffee” apparently. Luckily, it lives up to the hype and everyone loves it. So I’m providing the recipe here–perhaps a bit late as Spring is upon us, but the weather is still a bit nippy. And since this one has coconut in it and it’s great cold from the fridge, why shouldn’t pumpkin pie be a hot weather food? I’ve managed to turn it into a breakfast staple at ours…

I don’t muck around with the concept of pumpkin pie too much. It’s one of those things that is great as is, and in my opinion, attempts to jazz it up just don’t really make it any more special than the straightforward version. So my approach to the pumpkin pie was to make it healthier, while making it taste as similar to the original, which was surprisingly easy. It is dairy free, gluten free, and if you are counting honey as Paleo, it’s Paleo as well.

It’s one of those cases where the back of the can got it right. I defer completely to LIBBY’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe, cause that Libby knows what she’s talking about. I just toggled a few things:

  • -The condensed milk gets switched out for coconut milk to make it dairy free and add the benefits of coconut
  • the sugar gets swapped out for honey
  • I use steamed pumpkin (squash), or sweet potato, or a combo of the two instead of the canned stuff (which honestly isn’t that bad…)
  • And the crust is a protein packed and healthy gluten free almond meal and coconut crust

I tried almond meal based crust recipes and had to make a few tweaks to get it to a good place, but I’m feeling good about this one, which is based on a recipe from Elana’s Pantry. It doesn’t deliver the same firm texture as a traditional crust, but it tastes great and gets a nice gentle crunch around the edges.

I’m not a huge fan of healthy versions of desserts that don’t taste like they should. I’d rather just not have dessert at all if it doesn’t taste like a dessert. And that’s why I’m sharing this pie recipe. It is right on the mark. I suggest serving it without letting everyone know you’ve adjusted it, so the skeptics won’t go in biased.

As they say here, this dish is a cracker!

Eat it for Breakfast Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from the recipe on the back of the can of LIBBY’S canned pumpkin/ Crust adapted from Elana’s Pantry

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • standard 9-inch pie dish
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup dessicated unsweetened coconut
  • ½ teaspoon good salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed pumpkin (squash) or sweet potato (start with 1 1/4 lbs to get 1 1/2 cups– peel, steam, and mash with fork)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey (if you like less sweet, subtract 2 tblspn)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C
  2. For the crust: In a bowl, combine almond meal, dessicated coconut, and salt. Add egg and coconut oil and mix to blend. Use fingers if needed. Press into a pie dish and blind bake for 12-15 minutes, until firm. Allow to cool completely.
  3. For the filling, mix ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Pour into cooled pie crust. Place on baking tray and bake for 60-70 minutes or until center doesn’t jiggle. Allow to cool completely.
  4. In cooler weather, just leave it out for a few hours. In warmer weather, pop into the fridge for a few hours. Then serve with whipped cream, or if avoiding dairy, whip up some coconut cream.

Unemployed? Have a Cookie

cookies 4Photography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

My housemate really likes ice cream. We have a freezer full of it. Sure, it’s his ice cream, but it’s right there, and it’s not just one brand and one flavor. It’s a whole selection. Damn you Tom!

I repeat, it’s his ice cream. But like I said, there was so much of it, and right there! I cracked the other night and stole far more than a modest scoop. Then I felt like the horrible housemate who steals food, and excessively apologized the next morning. I started with, “I did something bad,” which is up there with “Can we talk,” as a phrase that fuels anxiety. It was a poor sentence to start with. I could see the color drain from his face and feel those unpleasant butterflies fluttering around in his ice cream coated belly. He was thoroughly relieved when he realized I was just talking about ice cream.

I’m unemployed. It’s a state of being that I personally find really challenging, especially after leaving a perfectly good job. But, I simply had to move to Melbourne, and I don’t regret that. And starting over is kind of habit of mine, except for the past almost three years, instead of flying solo I’ve got a start over buddy whose beard looks like haven for birds at the moment (it suits Melbourne though).

There is of course the honeymoon period, where everything is new and exciting, and honestly, my interest in Melbourne hasn’t worn off in the slightest, and I am genuinely thrilled to be here. There is just the fact that I will eventually need an income if I want to stay, and I definitely want to stay.

So now just simply isn’t the time to go cold turkey on sweets, or I could end up dipping into something much worse as the psychological effects of starting over yet again and being unemployed slowly but steadily chip away at my self-esteem.

I know, it’s not to the most interesting or dramatic vice, but god forbid I revert back to my smoking days. I lost track of how many times I had to quit to truly kick my addiction to those delicious cancer sticks, and for the past few years it has been breezy. I have maybe two a year just for the nostalgia factor, and the next day I feel hung over and shitty.  I couldn’t go back if I tried. My body won’t let me, not to mention Anders would hound me the same way I hound him about eating bacon EVERYDAY. And I am grateful for that (not the bacon part, just the rest).

Yeah, being unemployed can suck, and that’s nothing new. Depending on where you are in your life and what your goals are, it can be a good experience too, if you can motivate to go do some cool things with your new-found free-time that don’t cost anything. Currently I am working on building defensive forces against the negatives of unemployment by constantly distracting myself with projects.

But the negativity still managed to slip in. In fact, I feel like I cause a lot of my own grief over not having a job.

choc chip cookies 2 asia

For example: I feel rejected even when I’m not applying for jobs! This is the most ridiculous contradiction I experience. Even if I am actively NOT looking for a job, I still feel like no one wants to hire me. What? That one just makes me angry at myself, and it is probably annoying to read. You might be thinking I need a good slap and a shake. I don’t blame you.

Another thing: Being unemployed is an excellent conversation killer, but I could easily eradicate this problem by simply lying. When people ask you, “What do you do?” meaning “what do you do for a living?” and not what do you do in your spare time for fun (unless you are in San Francisco, where it actually means, “what do you do that makes you happy”), they often get uncomfortable when you can’t provide them with an answer. If you are speaking to a gainfully employed individual, chances are you are making them feel like unemployment is contagious, and they must exit the conversation post-haste to save their own pay check. So instead of saying, “Oh, I’m currently looking for a job….” or “Yeah, things are a bit slow right now….” I could be saying I teach Norwegian lions how to speak Spanish, or even better, I could say I am an Internal Project Manager Analayst Engineering Consultant. I guarantee no one will actually ask me details about that one.

Choc chip cookies

To cope with the “U” word, and that fact that I am back to having one friend within over 500 miles (shit that’s far, and true!–Anders alone has to act as my BFF, boyfriend, personal butler, and therapist all at once) , and so I don’t attempt to overcome the challenge of un-quitting smoking,  I indulge in sweets and watch The Biggest Loser in moments when I feel like throwing in the towel. Those are the bits I am willing to share with you at least. But I like to think I am being clever about it. I’ve been steadily baking sweets that aren’t going to harm me too much, and might actually help me on both the nutritional and psychological front. And ultimately, they prevent me from pilfering Tom’s ice cream.

choc chip cookies 3 asia

I do this by cutting out the flour (my usual MO) and adding some extra nutritional bits in there. There is a flourless chocolate chip cookie recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara Forte with lovely photos by Hugh Forte that I  keep coming back to. (They also have a blog by the same name with loads of recipes.) It uses almond flour and is so easy and delicious, and it ain’t that bad for me (so I let myself have way to many which bring me back to square one). It is without a doubt my favorite flourless recipe so far, and one of my favorite recipes in general. I have adapted it just slightly by adding espresso and chia seeds for flavor and texture and to keep my energy levels up.

Chocolate Chip Chia Espresso Cookies

Adapted from: The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods

Yields 22 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups almond meal
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tsp espresso powder
  • ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tblspn chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil (or oil of choice), melted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat over to 375 F/ 190 C
  2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl as well as chia seeds if using.
  3. Beat egg until doubled in volume and foamy. Whisk in butter and vanilla (make sure butter has cooled so it doesn’t cook the egg!)
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry and allow to stand for 10 minutes
  5. Wet hands, and roll dough into balls the size of a large marble (about 1 tblspn dough per cookie). Place dough onto ungreased baking tray and flatten dough balls with palm.  Bake for 7- 10 mins. (Almond meal tends to brown fairly quickly, so it’s best to make these small so you don’t end up with a burnt outside and undercooked inside)

Flourless Vanilla Thyme Loaf and My Friend Lil

It’s been a few weeks since I have posted any new recipes. I usually cook and shoot over the weekend, and last weekend, our apartment was a flooded watery mess. Three times! It wasn’t even close to the same impact as Sandy, and I’m not complaining. In fact, it made me feel oddly closer to home, and perhaps prepared me only slightly for what I will see when I visit NYC at the start of next year.

I wanted to complain while trying to contain the water flow in the apartment though. My back was hurting, the floor was looking more warped by the second, everyone was arguing about where the water was coming from and the most effective way to stop it… But I found my strategy early on. Just get into a bailing rythm, and channel my friend Lili.

My friend Lili (Olivia) has an insane work ethic, and she never bails (no pun intended). She also happens to be the most talented pastry chef I know. She can do everything from amazing novelty cakes to simple, delicious, down-home treats. If you’re lucky, you will taste one of her legendary Oaties– a cookie that, before Lili, was a myth no one could succesfully make into a reality.  Since she moved to Barcelona a few months ago, the time difference and our work schedules have made it virtually impossible for us to skype, but I wanted to keep channeling Lil! So after the floods had passed and a new weekend arrived, I brought some Lili inspired ideas to the kitchen.

She makes an amazing Vanilla Thyme Loaf, and I decided to use her brilliant flavor combo in a flourless version. The thyme and vanilla are subtle–the thyme, like the vanilla, acts as an essence–and after a hectic few weeks, the flavors are also calming and comforting. This flourless version is super moist and it’s great with tea or coffee. I shamelessly smear butter over a slice and have it with my morning tea.

Flourless Vanilla Thyme Loaf

(Adapted from Olivia Figel’s Vanilla Thyme Loaf)

  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal*
  • 2 tblspn coconut flour*
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled to room temp
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tspn chopped fresh thyme leaves

* You can find almond meal and coconut flour at health food stores. In Brisbane, a lot of the big supermarkets are also starting to carry them. Coconut flour is just very finely ground coconut. I usually make my almond meal at home by grinding raw almonds finely in a small food processor or bar mix.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F /175 C, and butter a loaf pan (I use 8.5 by 4.5 by 2.5 inches).

2. In a medium bowl, mix first five ingredients.

3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add honey, butter, and vanilla extract and mix well. Add egg mixture and thyme to dry ingredients, and mix until well combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cover the loaf pan with foil and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. The loaf is ready when a toothpick comes out clean and the edges of the cake are firm and center has some resistance.