Sometimes, you gotta get messy

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Homemade It’s-Its!

Somewhat less aesthetic & refined than my fruit desserts of late, but sometimes you have to trash up your dessert a little. And it photographing such a hot mess (or at least attempting to) is lots of fun! Somehow I managed NOT to get ice cream on my phone, I consider that a rousing success.

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Okay… So we all know that I lovelovelovelove ice cream. But actually I lovelovelove ice cream and I LOVELOVELOVELOVE ice cream sandwiches. There is a world of difference when it comes to this. And no, a cookie with a scoop of ice cream on top is so not the same thing. Close, but no cigar.

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In a pinch it is definitely an acceptable substitute, but give me ice cream smooshed between two chewy cookies and I am one happy camper.

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It’s-It ice cream sandwiches are undeniably delicious but why buy them when you could level up and make some that were even more delicious and with better-sourced/pronounceable ingredients and more nutrition (with minimal effort)?! Right. My thoughts exactly.

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Besides that, these are SO easy and involve really only two steps: make cookies, then play with your food! Who doesn’t like that?

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Besides, these were consumed with berries, so that makes them virtuous…  I kid.

In other news…

The SF series continues!

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Always fun to find new viewpoints and perspectives on old favorites:

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Happy springtime! Mother Nature needs none of your silly filters.

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Homemade Oatmeal Ice Cream Sandwiches (ie, it’s-it… probably trademarked, so I won’t call it that…

These are ridiculously easy! The cookies I used are whole wheat and sweetened with maple, which mollifies me a bit in terms of avoiding refined sugar (yes, I know I’m also eating ice cream… It’s all about balance). I think these are best fresh, so I would only make as many as you’re going to eat in one sitting. Can be gluten free, dairy free, or vegan depending on dairy or nondairy ice cream of choice and cookie recipe [mine were none of the above – sub a gf/vegan/dairy free cookie & ice cream].

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Sooooo easy. Lez do it:

  • 1 batch of chewy oatmeal cookies (recipe I used is below)
  • 1 pint of super delicious, good quality ice cream
  • 3/4 c chopped dark chocolate (mine was 70%)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Make favorite chewy oatmeal cookies. Let cool. Melt chocolate and coconut oil either in a double boiler or in the microwave on 30 sec intervals, stirring in between until fully melted. Set aside.

Take favorite ice cream (I prefer Straus vanilla chocolate chip) and smoosh in between two cookies. Eat ice cream out of the carton because… just because. Squash other cookie on top of delicious pile of cookie and ice cream, and then, working quickly to prevent meltage and structural failure, roll it around in melted chocolate. Pretend to shake off excess (but actually don’t, because chocolate). Place on a parchment paper lined plate and stick them into the freezer until the chocolate hardens, five minutes or up to two hours. Unstick carefully from plate and stuff face!

Grin happily and pat yourself on the back for leveling up.

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Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were SO perfect for making sandwiches. They didn’t turn into rocks in the freezer, and they stayed chewy until the next day. Whole grain, refined sugar free, and lower in sugar than most chewy cookies out there. Mmm cookies.. Recipe slightly adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking, here. I made a batch and a half, sorry for some of the strange measurements. Yield: 18

  • 1.5 c whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)*
  • 1.5 c rolled oats (leveled)
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 eggs (ugh sorry! for the .5, beat one egg, measure & use half)
  • 3/4 c pure maple syrup (I use grade B)
  • 3 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, maple, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Pour wet into dry and mix until just barely combined, stirring in chocolate chips. Cover the dough and refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop refrigerated dough by the tbsp onto the baking sheet, flattening each slightly (they won’t really spread). Bake for 11-13 minutes (mine were done at 12), until the tops spring back when touched and the sides are firm. Cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before turning into sandwiches! Store in an airtight tupperware at room temp unless you eat them all immediately.

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Two Weeks: Brownies are obviously called for.

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The advent calendar of baked goods continues! TWO MORE WEEKS. Actually, less than two weeks. Let’s get to days, shall we? 13. And that includes weekends.

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Also, the to-do list is finally getting smaller, which might account for the two types of baked things that emerged this weekend.

And eggs! Always eggs. These were especially pretty though, so… here they are.

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I exercised my math skills and made 3/4 of a brownie recipe this weekend, because a) I’m just cool like that and b) I was using my favorite skillet and I decided that a 1/2 batch doesn’t appropriately fill up the skillet and c) more brownies is ALWAYS the answer. This isn’t a new recipe, but these are probably just my favorite brownies, pretty much ever. Big claim, I know… but I think if I had to pick one brownie recipe for the rest of forever, there is a really good chance it would be these.

And they disappeared in short order (though I did have help…)

This is the recipe I love so much — I suggest just making a double batch (I list the 1/2 batch measurements here) because they’re just THAT good. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, full of healthy fats and… nearly three kinds of chocolate. WINNING.

That elusive last piece…

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And then in the midst of presentation preparations (PowerPoint for DAYS), I needed a study break so I made a small batch of chocolate chip cookies… because, cookies. I wasn’t even really craving cookies, but just to stand up and look at something that was NOT a computer or a powerpoint slide…. and then I ended up with cookies. Solid choice.

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The cookie recipe is from Living Healthy With Chocolate, here! I didn’t alter it aside from using 1/4 c date sugar instead of coconut and added ~1 tbsp maple syrup.

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They’re delicious! And they’re vegan which was important because I was feeling the need to eat a few bites of the dough…

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It’s the homestretch! Let’s see if we can’t squeeze in at least one more baked thing between now and June 3. Ready… GO.

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Can someone explain how it’s already 2016?

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Woah. Apparently I’ve totally fallen off the blogging wagon. It’s nothing personal, don’t worry — I still love you, invisible internet friends!! But life seems to be taking me in different directions these days, so time to blog is few and far between.

That’s not to say I haven’t been baking…. or cooking… or eating… because all of those have been happening in spades.

AND I made cookies last night  apparently several days ago since I really failed at actually posting this when I thought I was going to… AND the cookies are fantastic.

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AND my winter quarter started today, how on earth is that possible?! I swear I just started break. Can I rewind and redo and have an extra month of break please?

In other news, my contribution to the Scott Fam holiday card was quite fun to execute, especially in fun new leggings…

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I’ve been drawing again, wheeee!

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But anyway, cookies! These are fantastic — chewy edges with softer centers, and extra chewy when you keep them in the fridge, which is my fave.

Happy 2016! I think this year is going to be pretty fabulous.

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Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan, refined sugar free, full of healthy fats and whole grains. Just sweet enough for the post holiday season. Thick, chewy edges with a softer center. Perfection. Yield: 17. Recipe lightly adapted and gratefully borrowed from Pralines and Greens, here!

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+3 tbsp water)
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1 c whole spelt flour
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • scant 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3  c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and water and let sit for the flax egg.

In a larger bowl, whisk together almond flour, spelt flour, oats, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and stir until just combined. Add flax egg. Toss in chocolate chips. Form the dough into little balls, and flatten slightly once they’re on the cookie sheet. Bake for just about 11-12 minutes, then let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temp for softer cookies, or in the fridge for cookie with chewier edges (my personal fave).

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My brain is sore from too much grad school

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How is it almost November? Can someone explain this madness to me? I mean, first of all it’s still kind of hot (summer, you can bugger off now… you have officially overstayed your welcome) but also, where did September and October go?! I want them back please.

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And I know the term compost cookies is probably unappealing, but it’s always made me laugh. I suppose you could call these ‘pantry cookies’ but isn’t compost more fun?? Besides… these are hippie enough that the stuff going into them is stuff that usually lurks in the fridge or fruit basket, and therefore is more like… compost! Obviously.

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These cookies get a little crisp on the outside while staying cakey and delicious on the inside. If you want a chewy pumpkin cookie, these aren’t it… but they ARE quite tasty. They store well in the fridge and make for a fast breakfast or a good snack. AND they’re full of healthy fats and good fiber, plus antioxidants. No refined sugar, can be gluten free… the options are endless. Don’t like walnuts? Use something else. Hate sunbutter? Use almond or peanut— These are extremely forgiving cookies.

They’re also super fast to whip together, no muss no fuss. I made them on a lunch break between classes because I desperately needed a brain break — I can only cram facts and knowledge into my brain in concentrated intervals for so long before I start glazing over. Case in point:

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Sometimes, you have to take a break from taking lecture notes for your own sanity.

Making cookies like this reminds me of undergrad when I would run home and make lunch and a batch of cookies in the hour I had between class and work. If that isn’t time management, I don’t know what is.

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Also, I really need to study right now but I am sleepy and brainsore (that’s a thing) and I just want to cuddle on the couch with my novel and a cookie and a nap. But.. le sigh. That is currently impossible because stats and the billion other things I have to do are calling my name and I really should get on that. But at least I shared cookies, so that if your Sunday is less nuts than mine, you can make something delicious out of your fridge compost. Happy almost November! Enjoy your pumpkin goodness.

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Pumpkin Banana Compost Cookies

Vegan, low FODMAP and IBS friendly, gluten free option (just switch the spelt flour for a gf flour of your choice), refined sugar free. And delicious! A Wait are those Cookies original. Yield: 12 cookies.

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  • heaping 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp sunbutter (mine is unsalted)*
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (mine is unsalted)*
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened hemp milk
  • 2 c rolled oats (gf if desired)
  • 3 tbsp spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • ~1/4 c chopped raw walnuts and dark chocolate

*alternatively, you can use 2 tbsp of the same nut butter; I just wanted a little variety

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or 2, if your oven is stupid tiny like mine and normal cookie sheets don’t fit. Rude. Bring on the quarter sheet pans).

This is pretty much as easy as it gets. Bust out a bowl. Mash up the banana with a fork, then stir in pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, maple, sunbutter, almond butter, and hemp milk. In the same bowl, because we’re making cookies on our lunch break between classes today and this needs to be fast, toss in oats, spelt flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir to combine. Stir in chopped walnuts and chocolate. Make sure the whole thing is nicely mixed, then drop lazy spoonfuls onto your prepared cookie sheet (all 12 should fit onto a standard cookie sheet no problem; these don’t spread). Bake for 15-16 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and mostly firm to the touch. Let cool on the pan for a minute before moving, then move to a rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in a plastic container in the fridge (glass will make them go soft).

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Upper crust bananas always have an accent

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Buhhhhnahhhnuhhhhhhhh cookies!

Because buhhnahhnuhhhh with an accent is much more fun than banana. You know, upper crust bananas always have an posh accent… Admit it, it’s really fun to say buhhhnahhhnuhhh with a silly expression on your face. Also, eating cookies is super fun too. There’s something so homey about a cookie.

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These could pass as breakfast too, if you’re in a hurry or just decide that Monday = cookies for breakfast because ew, Monday. They’re full of healthy fats and whole grains, and happen to be gluten free and vegan, just in case either of those is your MO. They’re a little soft with a bit of a chew—-bananas and a bit of maple bring the sweetness, and oats are just awesome in cookies. Quinoa flour bumps up the nutritional profile and protein count a bit, and the almond butter and coconut oil help out in the healthy fat department. Basically, these are just winner cookies.

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And they’re basically the nutritional opposite of the pizza I’m currently eating, in its cheesy, glutentastic glory. Oops. But not really oops, because life is all about balance, and that balance defs includes pizza.

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Also, apparently my balance includes some visually interesting/rather strange and creative oat bfasts. Here are some of the latest shenanigans in the breakfast department:

Oat base with shredded beets and zucchini, hemp seeds, unsweetened egg, nutmeg, and sea salt, topped with avocado and a runny-yolk egg + chopped walnuts + chia seeds.

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Oat base with shredded beets and raspberries, hemp seeds, unsweetened almond milk, nutmeg + cinnamon + cardamom; topped with unsweetened applesauce; seven seed and nut butter [homemade! Walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pepitas, flaxseed, sea salt] + Coconut butter + chia seeds!

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I LOVE breakfast. Obviously…

But cookies! Back to cookies, because I know you’re really here to see those and not photos of my weird breakfasts.

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Banana Oat Almond Butter Cookies

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, egg free. Recipe adapted from Meaningful Eats, here! Yield: 17 large cookies.

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c unsalted, roasted almond butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/6 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water; set aside to gel as a flax egg
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c oat flour
  • 1/4 c quinoa flour, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (try as hard as I might, I couldn’t cram them all onto one sheet as per usual…. so I went with two baking sheets like a normal person. Sigh).

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork and those biceps of yours. Stir in almond butter, melted coconut oil, vanilla, maple, and gelled flax egg until incorporated. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, baking powder + soda + salt. Stir dry into wet, toss in oats and chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Drop by the heaping large spoonful onto the prepared baking sheet (the dough is a bit runny, but don’t worry, they bake up fine), and bake for just about 12-13 minutes, until the tops are firm when gently poked. Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Store in the fridge, in an airtight container.

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Bacon and vegan things: All my eating proclivities in one post

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Ugh. It feels like it’s been forever and a year since I blogged last, but my stomach decided to take a little trip to the valley of the extremely irritable the last several weeks so I haven’t been cooking much of anything exciting.

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BUT!

Elliott and I made up for it this weekend by making these ridiculous paleo brownies that were all dark and fudgy and involved BACON. If that’s not perfect, I don’t know what is. Mmm. Bacon. And then of course a little vanilla ice cream was necessary to balance out extreme chocolateyness and savory baconess of it all. Trifecta. Especially because we ate it al fresco in a park on some grass, on a fuzzy blanket in the sun. Have I made you vomit from the cuteness yet? Ha. And it wasn’t even Valentine’s day! Double ha. We’re just non-traditional… only the cool kids make brownies the day after Valentine’s day.

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Excuse us while we annihilate them.

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I also made cookies for a friend last week that were similarly delicious except were vegan (no bacon) and gluten free and not chocolate. So not exactly similar at all except for delicious. And all treats should be delicious! These were a hot mess in the crumbly department but were tasty tasty so might I recommend crumbling them over ice cream? Or maybe straight into your mouth? Double fisted cookie crumbling into that big hole in my head sounds fantastic, who needs a plate?!

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And everyone knows that a four day weekend (Or three day. Or just any normal weekend) means that it’s time to go bop around outside and then come in and make dessert. Because weekends=dessert. Actually most things = dessert. Because… mmm treats.

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Also, one last side note… I get quite a few inquiries into my eating habits. Most everyone tends to think I’m a vegetarian, but that’s not exactly true. I choose not to have a label: sometimes I bake and eat paleo things, sometimes I eat vegetarian, and sometimes gluten free. I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of eating, and I like to mix it up… and I have lots of friends who are gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, and I like to make different things that are accessible for everyone. Also, I like to eat! I noticed as I was finishing this post that it’s a very accurate representation of the way I eat: something meaty and paleo, grain free, gluten free, and vegan. ALL delicious!

And Jessie and I have very interesting conversations. Apparently she thinks I’m fascinating, see exhibit A below…

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Paleo Maple Bacon Brownies

Paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free. Full of healthy fats and BACON so obviously you should make them. Refined sugar free, depending on the brand of chocolate chips you use. Yield: a small skillet or a loaf pan’s worth, 2 gratuitously obnoxious large servings or 4 sensible people servings (or you can just eat the thing out of the pan, to hell with proper plates because… picnic!)

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For the maple bacon:

  • As much bacon as you care to consume
  • maple syrup for brushing

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium until hot. Brush bacon with maple syrup and pan fry until it reaches your approved bacon-doneness (I like less crispy, feel free to make dead bacon if that’s your thing). Set aside and let cool.

For the brownies:

We used this one here by Clean Eating with A Dirty Mind, but I think these are my all time favorite brownies (so far. You never know). Both are very dark, not overly sweet, and super fudgy. Either way, they’re winners!

For serving:

Top brownies with crumbled bacon and some creamy vanilla ice cream/non dairy thing/coconut whip/whatever your favorite thing is. Live a little and eat them straight out of the pan in a park in the sun. You won’t regret it :)

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the crumbliest things imaginable but they’re delicious so if you like crumbly cookies, defs give these a go. I prefer chewy cookies but I liked the consistency of these and they would be superb crumbled over ice cream. Gluten free, vegan, dairy free, refined sugar free. Yield: 19 cookies.

  • 2 c rolled oats
  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1 c millet flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (<–not a typo!)
  • 1/2 c melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I fit all my cookies onto one sheet because I have intense cookie cramming skills, but you can also use two.

In a large bowl, whisk together oats, almond meal, millet flour, baking powder and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and toss in chocolate chips. Stir to combine until fully incorporated, and drop heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheet. Flatten the balls slightly since these don’t spread all that much (if at all). Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

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Cookies up the yin yang

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So guess what?

… No really. Guess!

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I got into graduate school for a masters in public health, wheeee! Which means I will be starting UC Davis in the summer session of 2015… UCD are you ready for this? I’m pretty rad and very sassy and generally crunchy. And after 18 months of that, I will go on to be rad but also have initials after my name, which makes me kind of a big deal. Ha. Kidding! Actually I’m really excited… and Davis has a legit co-op that I can spend hours in if not properly supervised.

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But enough of that. I went to LA last weekend and hung out with a bunch of super awesome relatives who also happen to follow very similar food philosophies that I do, so I ate extremely well (lots of nitrate-free bacon, plantain pancakes and pure maple syrup. And bacon. Did I mention bacon? Also beets. Mmmm beets), and swiped a few recipes because natch, that’s what I do. And this is one of them! I like calling them YinYang cookies! Light side, dark side… call them whatever you want but by all means make them because they’re fabulous and grain free/refined sugar free! Everyone just wins all around.

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Also, I just feel the need to leave you with this little gem. Obviously I got started early on my yoga squat… sassily, of course. Because no lady squats without a hat on. Obviously.

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Yin Yang Cookies

Almond butter dough and chocolate dough swirled together for chewy-edged, doughy-centered cookies. Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free and paleo. The recipe is only tweaked slightly from the awesome book Make Ahead Paleoby Tammy Credicott.

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  • 1 c almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/3 c arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate (I used 75%), roughly chopped into smallish pieces
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, baking soda, and sea salt. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk (or use a hand mixer; I whisked and they came out fine) maple, coconut sugar, egg, almond butter, vanilla, and coconut oil until the coconut sugar has mostly dissolved. Stir the dry into wet, until combined, and toss in chocolate chips. Divide the dough in half, and put half in another bowl so you can stir in cocoa powder and water. Roll chocolate dough into a 1″ ball and smoosh it together with a 1″ ball of almond dough, then roll it between your palms to swirl it together. Flatten them slightly before you put it on the baking sheet, since they won’t spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I took them out at 10 minutes), when the top is smooth and starting to crack slightly. Leave on the cookie sheet until cool, since they are a little soft. Store in an airtight container for a few days if you don’t eat them immediately (good luck).

IMG_1966Also, apparently can’t sit in a car for a long period like a normal person…

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Hello, I’m a stressball and this is what I ate last week

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Here we go again with one of those hopefully-not-too-often posts of, “hello, I’ve been super stressed and super busy and have therefore not cooked often enough for my liking but I love my bloglet and invisible internet friends and I can’t abandon them sooooo… here is a post of ‘this that and the other thing’ I’ve eaten recently…”

Just bear with me. I’m still recovering from taking the GRE, which was the test equivalent of something sucking out your soul and dancing on it. Four hours staring at a computer screen, testing. And testing. And testing. Ewww. Good thing I face planted into THIS afterwards.

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All I wanted was carbs and cheese. Literally.

Thank you, Zachary’s, for saving my soul. Seriously though, what a horrible thing to make people do. Ugh. Just thinking about it is making me want pizza again from the horrible stressyness of it all. But actually I just love Zachary’s pizza anyway so that’s not too hard of a sell.. mmmkmovingon!

Also this. Oops. But I shared, don’t worry.

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And then of course Jill and I had our annual monthly-ish cooking extravaganza. So delicious beet caviar happened {adapted from this recipe here}, like this {our iteration had less garlic, used yogurt, and more lemon juice}:

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And then mmmm spaghetti squash with chard and chickpeas {recipe adapted only slightly from here}:

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And then we baked. I mean, of course. What else would we do?!

Cookies. Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free. Like this, and found here:

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Note scientific fork division of chocolate chip filled cookies and carob chip filled cookies. It’s SCIENCE.

And then cake. Pumpkin pecan with pumpkin seed crumble. Vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free, but I have to say it’s delicious with ice cream (because really, what isn’t). Recipe was as is, minus the addition of flax, here.

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And also apparently my dresser looks like an iSpy page. Which is totally fine with me… it makes hunting for appropriate jewelry so much more fun. No surprise my nickname is Little Magpie….

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i spy, anyone??

Welcome to the inside of my brain box: Part 1. Useless math facts

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Mo’ cookies! Because cookies.

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Also because imminent GRE equals some amount of stress-baking. Or maybe a lot of stress-cooking. Or maybe both… not that I’m admitting to anything here. Definitely not.

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Basically I just want to take this stupid thing and be done. Like, now. Not in five days but NOW so it can get out of my head and I can have my brain space back. Ommm. Five more days. Ommm….

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I’m to that lovely point where your brain simply cannot take in any more information, no matter how hard you study and try to cram it in there. So I did what I do best and made soup and cookies and vegan lentil enchiladas and went to yoga and jazzercise and and took a study break. And now I’m blogging. Because there is no more information that wants to go into my brain. I will be SUCH a happy camper this coming Monday at five pm when I land on College Ave. and face plant into a Zachary’s pizza [all my East Bay peeps, you know why this is such a fantastic idea]. Ahhhh. Post GRE pizza nirvana.

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But anyway. Until then I am trapped in my head with useless math facts. So cookies. Because the math involved in making 3/4 of a recipe of cookies is WAY more fun than weighted averages. And “real life” (ha) word problems. Also lovely, that this batch makes roughly 19 cookies, which is the exact number that I’m really good at cramming onto a cookie sheet. Why, you ask? I did this because a) I’m lazy and b) I had to study so I could only procrastinate by cookie baking for so long. Also I apparently developed an aversion to using more than one cookie sheet when I was living in Salem with Kira and we only had one, and rotating batches was too annoying. So maybe that’s where this comes from?! Ingrained behavior. And laziness. And studying. Let’s not forget that…

The wise mistress of the otherworldly cat realm who hangs around me says… ‘Sit in your favorite blanket and eat cookies and I will sit on you. Because it’s actually my blanket and you are actually my human’. And then she smiles at me, like the darling cute thing that she is:

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And I probably take her advice and eat cookies with her on my lap. Because life and studying are more more appealing when there are cookies and smiling cats.

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 Almond Butter Gingerbread Cookies

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free [date sweetened!], and vegan! These cookies are sweetened with dates and molasses—both nutrient-dense natural sweeteners. They’re full of healthy fats from the almond butter, and good fiber from coconut flour. Go ahead and indulge with glee! Yield: 19.

  • 1 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water [2 flax eggs]
  • 3/4 c pitted dates, packed [soaked if needed]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 c coconut flour [sifted if lumpy]
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • a twist or two of fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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In the bowl of a food processor, process soaked dates with a bit of their soaking water (only about a tbsp or two) until a mostly smooth, slightly chunky paste forms. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp flax eggs and 6 tbsp water; let sit aside to gel.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet (or two if you’re not like me) with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, molasses, gelled flax egg, date paste, vanilla, and grated ginger until smooth and incorporated. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, and pepper. Add dry into wet, toss in chocolate chips with reckless abandon, and stir until the dough is combined and all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet (it’s sticky, so prepare to eat leftover sticky on your person). Cram all 19 cookies onto a sheet if you’re feeling adventurous. Pop them into the oven for at least 12 minutes—they will start to form a chewy crust on the outside, but we need the inside to be NOT mushy. I checked mine at 12, then baked them for another 4 minutes, checking at the two minute mark. They should be not too squishy on the top, with just a little give and a chewy crust on the outside.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack—they’re soft when they’re warm! Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for chewy-fudgy cookies, or on the counter in an airtight container for soft cookies.

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Squash Wrestling Champ

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You don’t even want to know my struggles yesterday involving a kabocha squash.

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Well…

Maybe you do. They’re kind of funny.

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Let me just preface this with a simple suggestion. Don’t ever ever ever go to jazzercise on circuit day and then expect to be able to wrestle open a kabocha squash for roasting purposes an hour later. Just don’t. It will end badly, with the knife stuck in the squash and your arms aching. Also that weird spot where your arm meets your body?? You know, not your armpit but in front of it?? Yeah. That is impossibly sore too, which means picking up squashes and putting them in the oven (as well as taking the heavy bottom of the food processor down from the ridiculous high place that it’s stored in), not to mention cutting them open, rather difficult. I FINALLY got that squash cut in half (a little unevenly but don’t you judge me) after quite the struggle. We’re talking two hands on the knife, full body weight bearing down on the stupid thing trying to make things happen. Safely, naturally. Those squash don’t give up easily, let me tell you…

I think I might actually be sore-er today due to squash wrestling yesterday. For reals.

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Also I made so many things yesterday!! Day off + too much studying+ in between forcing myself to study + fall + pumpkin = bopping around in the kitchen all day! Which I love. Hello, kale chips out of the dehydrator, roasted and curried kabocha squash soup, and gluten free, vegan, date sweetened pumpkin cookies!!

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Aside from all that, I have some other pretty pictures of stuff [food. obvs]:

Darling skillet brownie for two! Paleo, gluten free, vegan. From this:

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To this!! Oops.

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And cranberries! Hi Fall, I love you. IMG_1336

This soup is delicious. And I love kabocha squash (minus the difficulties of getting them open) for their bright orange color and sweet flavor. I actually like them better than butternut—there’s something about the flavor of the kabochas that is richer, or more caramelized? Anyway. They’re easy to roast—toss them in the oven (halved) on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 45 minutes, until they can be pierced with a  fork easily. Take them out, flip them over and let them cool off… then scoop all that pureed goodness out and toss it in some soup. Or something. Like this:

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Roasted and Curried Kabocha Squash Soup

Yield: a vat. I used this recipe from My Darling Vegan, but obviously used a roasted kabocha squash instead of pumpkin. I reduced the garlic to 1 clove but went heavy handed on the cumin and curry powder, and I blended in all of the cashew creme instead of saving some for topping. Delicious all around, I wouldn’t change a thing!

And then obviously you need some beta carotene to go with your beta carotene… and some cookies to follow up that soup sooooo…..

THESE happened. Obviously.

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Date Sweetened Pumpkin Cookies

Vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! These cookies are soft, but not cakey. They’re oaty, pumpkiny and spicy—everything you want in a fall cookie. I made 3/4 of the recipe (don’t even ask) for a yield of 22. Recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies, here! They do tend to soften as they sit, so I like to store mine in the fridge in an airtight container.

  • 1 c pitted dates, soaked in near-boiling water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+ 3 tbsp water)
  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • scant 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

In a food processor, make date paste out of your soaking dates. Chuck em all in there with a little bit of water and whizz whizz whizz until it’s mostly smooth. This isn’t an exact science and I love chunks of dates in my cookies so I don’t go crazy trying to get it to smooth out. Set aside. Make your flax egg by combining flax and water in a small bowl, and set that aside as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together oil, pumpkin, vanilla and gelled flax egg. Stir wet into dry, add in oats and chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Drop by large tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, flattening them slightly and rounding the edges if you like perfect looking cookies (I usually opt for the rustic variety). Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and slightly firm. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 3-4 minutes before moving them (they’re soft, be careful!). Let cool completely on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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