My cats are here to show me the way to inner bliss

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Let’s talk about cats.

Mark Twain once said, “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat” (Notebook, 1894)… and how true this is. Cats are such enlightened little furry beings—we discussed this in my last post because Nosh definitely stares at me with his third eye. Definitely. What cat likes banana bread, lentil-apple sandwiches, and butternut squash pancakes unless he’s a guru?! Right. See?

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My cats share tidbits of enlightened wisdom with me every day. For instance… Obviously, inner peace can be achieved easily by a five hour nap on the heater vent, followed by a massive stretch and a round of kibble hockey… and then the search for a warm human to nap on for the next hour. And… repeat. Ohmmm. Inner peace.

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They also are excellent reminders to live in the moment. Mine always do. Picture this: I am cooking. In the kitchen. There are two pairs of eyes staring at me incessantly. Those eyes are very clearly saying: “In this moment, I want snacks. My kibble is in the laundry room. Why aren’t you walking over there? Snacks are for this moment. And then for the moment a moment from now. And then you will let me outside, and I will eat some bugs in a very enlightened manner to illustrate the interconnectedness of the universe”. You see how wise they are? It’s mind boggling.

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In the next life I’m coming back as a cat. A real cat, not just as a really bendy human with cat friends. Because that way I can achieve inner peace by napping for the majority of the day, eating a few bugs, and then finding a human to sleep on. That sounds like a pretty fabulous proposition, doesn’t it?!

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My cats do yoga and have kitty chakras. It’s okay, you’re allowed to be jealous.

In the short term, feel free to make this pizza and achieve a small measure of enlightened gastronomical wisdom. In a pinch (and in your lack of wise cat friends), it’ll do.

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Vegan Pizza on a Pumpkin Crust

This pizza surprised me! It came together quite fast, with things I had lurking around in the pantry. It was perfect for lunch and leftovers. The crust is gluten free (and can be nut free), made with pumpkin puree. The sauce is veggietastic and delicious—and vibrantly green! Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (could be nut free with all cornmeal and no almond flour). Both crust and sauce loosely adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+4 tbsp water
  • 3 c pumpkin puree (2 cans worth)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a few good grinds of black pepper
  • 1.25 tsp dried oregano

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 c raw spinach, packed
  • 1.5 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt

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Preheat oven to 425, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In  a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water. Set aside for the time being. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, almond flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp flaxseed, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir in soaked flax. Spread the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making a roughly oblong-type shape (or not, whatever floats your boat) with edges a bit thicker than the middle. Bake for just about 30 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown (you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper).

While the crust is baking, make the sauce! In a food processor, whirl together soaked cashews , spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, and salt. I highly suggest tasting and adjusting as you go, it’s much more fun that way. Puree until the sauce is chunk-free and smooth.

When the crust is done, spread sauce around evenly, and top with veggies of choice. I used sautéed arugula, bell peppers, and zucchini, but use whatever you have on hand. Bake for another 5 minutes, then let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving. I found that a sprinkle of salted, roasted cashews added just the right crunch and made a nice garnish.

Leftovers store well and taste equally delicious the next day! I stored mine in a glass continuer in the fridge.

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Milk is most definitely a good choice

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So… I went to the movies on Thursday night.

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Which lead me to the realization that I basically carry my entire life in my purse on a regular basis. Purse doesn’t really cut it. Let’s try… BAG. Lip balm? Check. Wallet? Yes. Phone? Obviously. Keys. Gloves. Pen. Gum. Tea bags. Novel (clearly. What if I have a spare five minutes or something?! Better to read than to stare at a screen). Water bottle? Helloooo. And cookies. Duh. Who DOESN’T carry a tupperware of cookies in their purse?

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Besides, movie snacks are horrendously expensive and full of junk. I would rather make my own and save twenty bucks, you know? I’ve even been known to sneak in a sandwich. It was a lunchtime movie!! I was going to be hungry! And hungry=impatience and very little focus. I’m not paying over ten dollars to be hungry and distracted. And it’s way more fun to whip out your smuggled in snacks and watch the looks of jealousy from your neighbors than to eat the theater crap (Except for maybe the occasional popcorn, I might make an exception for that, but only if I have snacks with me to combat the saltiness).

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So anyway. My life comes with me on my shoulder on a regular basis and may even include cookies. Those lucky souls escorting me to the theater are no doubt grateful for this, unless they get asked to hold my bag…

Bicep workout, anyone?

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Almond Coconut Cookies

This recipe is only a teeny bit adapted from Making Thyme for Health, here! These are gluten free and dairy free, AND free of refined sugar! And possibly paleo? Though I’m not gluten free, I’m always looking for ways to switch up my snackies and desserty type things, and these totally fit the bill. Delicious, satisfying, and quick to come together. Besides all that, they’re full  of nutrients, which is how I like all of  my food to be. None of those empty calories for me, thanks!

I found that the coconut flavor is much more pronounced than the almond; if you’re really going for almond, I’m sure a splash of almond extract would be delicious.
Yield: 16 cookies

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Rustle up the following:

  • 3/4 c almond flour/almond meal
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c almond butter (mine was salted, I like the extra bit of saltiness)
  • 1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c raw honey
  • 1 whole egg+1 yolk
  • 3/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together almond meal, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, honey, egg and egg yolk. Keep whisking vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture is smooth and combined (alternatively, you could use a mixer but eehhhhhh I didn’t want to do extra dishes…). Stir in shredded coconut. Toss wet into dry, and stir slowly until combined (trying not to fling flour everywhere, no I obviously don’t speak from experience, what makes you say that?!). Stir in chocolate chips—the dough should be very thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least a half an hour.

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

Once dough is chilled, roll it into tablespoon sized balls and flatten them slightly onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for just about 10 minutes, until golden. Let cool for a few on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack! And don’t do this, unless you want cookies that have… character:

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Oops!

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The smashed ones were definitely my favorites…

I think you’ll find I’ve had a browniepiphany

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So you know how I’m always whining about how I’m soooo picky with brownies and that I never make them and blah blah blah?!

Yes, well…

I think that might have changed.

THESE.

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Gaahhhh… I can’t even.

Crackly crust. Fudgy, dense interior… IN. A. SKILLET. With ice cream. And date caramel. And two spoons.

Be jealous, it’s okay.

And yeah. They were so good I didn’t even really get proper pictures, but that should tell you just how good they really were. I think they might actually be too good for their own good…

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Everything I want in a brownie and then some. AND double bonus, they’re gluten free and dairy free! Not that I’m either (um, hello BUTTER) (and bread. obvs) but for all my little pallies out there who don’t do the gluten and dairy thing, these are for you. Because I love you and I want you to have fabulous brownies.

Time for second breakfast. I ate oatmeal for the first round, so obviously brownies make a logical second choice? Yes, I thought so too.

tis the season!
tis the season!

The Best Brownies

Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free. Recipe adapted from Recreating Happiness, here! I made a 1/2 batch for a 5″ cast iron skillet, so I’ll post those measurements here. Double for a larger skillet, or an 8 by 8 pan. I highly recommend making them in cast iron, because eating them out of a warm skillet is magical.

  • 1.5 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 oz dark chocolate (I used 72%)
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/3 c almond flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips (Guittard)

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease pan of choice (I used a 5″ cast iron skillet and coconut oil).

In a microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil, dark chocolate, and 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips until completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside to hang out with the cooling chocolate.

In yet another bowl, whisk together coconut sugar and melted chocolate until combined. Whisk in egg—longer whisking creates the crackly crust! (who knew). Whisk in vanilla, then stir in the contents of the almond flour bowl and the chocolate chips. Pour/spread batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is set. Make sure not to over bake! No one likes dry brownies… I checked mine at 17 minutes, and then let them bake for another 4ish minutes. Mine were fairly thin, so test according to thickness and how hot your oven runs.
Let cool… or not.

Eat out of the skillet, preferably with ice cream and some date caramel… and someone else. Sharing is caring ;)

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Cookies that play nice in the sandbox

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OoOooOOOOooohhhh the first of the fall baking has arrived!

PUMPKIN.

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Why isn’t it a year-round thing?? I always think that summer fruit is my favorite thing, but then around comes fall (which happens to be my favorite season anyway) and I get all obsessed with pumpkin. So fickle.

But seriously. Pumpkin is one of my favorite things ever. And healthy cookies are right up there next to pumpkin on the favorite things list, so obviously why would I NOT combine these?! Helloooo.

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I’m going to start my pumpkin hoarding sometime soon…. you know what I mean if you’ve hung around my inbox snark the last several years: come fall, everyyytime I go to the store, I grab an extra can of pumpkin. Can never have too much, right?! … Right. Sorry. I have a problem. BUT. That also means that when everyone else is fighting over the *last* can of pumpkin within a 10 mile radius, I am sitting pretty on my hoarded stash. And can therefore make pumpkin things. All. The. Time. Yep. Be jealous. Or don’t, and implement my genius strategy for yourself… you’ll thank me later.

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These cookies play nice in the sandbox, too, as they’re dairy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and paleo. Even if you don’t subscribe to any particular dietary theory (like me. I’m an omnitarian), it’s only fair to make cookies that can make nice for other people too, right?! Cookies are meant to be shared. They’re like love, in food form.

Bake love. Share food (preferably with a bestie over tea). Eat. Be happy!

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Pumpkin Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, here! My batch yielded 10 cookies, about 2.5-3″. Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free! Not to mention full of beta carotene, healthy fats, and antioxidants. How could you pass up these little gems?! That’s right… I thought not!

  • 1 c almond flour/almond meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree (Just pumpkin, not pie filling pleeease!)
  • 2.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cardamom or mace), plus more to sprinkle on the top of yet-to-be-baked cookies
  • 2 large squares of 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

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

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking soda and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, pumpkin, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry (and do try to avoid overmixing, we can’t have that…). Stir in chocolate, and drop by the tablespoonish onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkleysprinkle some extra pumpkin pie spice on there because that is an excellent idea. Smooth them out just a little… then pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few as they’re soft right out of the oven—they’ll seem too soft at first but they firm up nicely. Store them in the fridge, if they last that long!

Your kitchen will smell like heaven. Indulge responsibly ;)

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My personality in four words: I eat bird food! Peck peck peck…

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Ahhh, a day off.

And… I have THIS!

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Mmm… birdseed. Peck peck peck.

Not even joking. You know those little seed thingies they put in birdseed mix? Yeah. These things:

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That I just ate for breakfast! And youuu thought I couldn’t get any weirder. HA!

These little birdseeds remind me of being in my grandma’s backyard and blowing bubbles… and feeding the birds! And quite often the squirrels… Anyway. I associate millet with sun-drenched afternoons with my gram, eating ice cream and getting soapy bubble stuff all over the dish towel in my lap. And then probably running through the sprinklers! So obviously I’m naturally inclined to like this seed, besides it being totally delicious.

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But anyway. Millet is an excellent grain substitute: creamy and kind of nutty tasting, high in manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. So far I’ve only used it as a breakfast/pudding/dessert thingy, but savory biz is coming soon, just wait. I can’t believe I haven’t eaten this before—it’s like rice pudding but a thousand times better! AND it’s good for you, soooo… why not eat it for every meal?! This one has heart healthy fats from coconut milk, natural sweetness from dates (as well as a boatload of other good bennies like vitamins and minerals), and cardamom has the added benefits of (in Ayurveda theory) of being warming, improving blood circulation to the lungs, and balancing the doshas.

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Coconut Millet Pudding

Recipe slightly adapted from Delicious Living, here. As listed below, this one is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free. Hooray! And… it’s delicious. Obvs. Otherwise I wouldn’t share it with you!

Rustle around and collect the following:

  • 1/2 uncooked millet, rinsed
  • 1 (14oz) can of light coconut milk
  • 3/4 c milk bev (I used Eden Soymilk, which is just soybeans+water)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 c medjool dates, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • optional: pistachios for topping

Combine millet, coconut milk, soymilk, water, chopped dates, cardamom, and sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil (Being careful not to let it boil over, oops no of course I don’t speak from experience…), covered, then turn it down to a simmer and let it cook, covered, until millet is fluffy and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes (mine was more like 20), stirring frequently. Once millet is cooked, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Top with pistachios for a garnish if desired! Excellent warm or cool.

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A little cheese with your vegan risotto?

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Stop the presses!

Something savory?! What the what?

But this was amazing, so I had to share. I totally made risotto in less than an hour (And then I made cookies. All within that same hour) And the risotto was vegan. And then I put cheese on it. Don’t judge me, I love me some cheese (Life would be soooo boring without cheese, no?).  All an excellent use of my Monday, I might add.

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I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, so a short post it is. But the recipe is fantastic and was very well received… sooooo since it’s dinner time in my part of the world, this is directed at those of you over here on the west coast with me: y’all should head to the kitchen with your laptop. Right…about…now! You know you want to…

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Vegan Cashew ‘Risotto’

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Whole Foods site, which is awesome as they have some bomb stuff! Served 4, with leftovers for 2-3. This came together really quickly, and is totally nutritious and sooo delicious. It’s economical too, with most ingredients being something you’d have on hand, or that is inexpensive.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk (soy, rice, or dairy okay too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 1.5 frozen cubes, each cube=1 clove)
  • 3/4 c low-sodium veggie broth
  • 20 oz frozen brown rice (which equated to one package. I used frozen as it’s precooked, lessening my cook time)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ground cracked pepper, to taste

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Soak cashews in just enough water to cover, for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight).

Peel, seed, and slice the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add squash and boil until fork tender (4-5 minutes). Take out about a cup of squashlet cubes for later, and let the rest boil until very soft, about another five minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside.

Drain cashews, and add them to a blender (if you have a non-crap one, or a food processor like me if your blender is worthless) with the very soft squash, cinnamon, sea salt, and milk bev. Blenderize or process until smooth.

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Heat a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and onions once hot, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. Add in broth, frozen rice, and reserved cup of squash cubes, and cook for another few minutes, still stirring (it’s risotto, after all…). Stir in blenderized mix still sitting in your blender*, followed by the minced sage and marjoram. I added just a wee bit more salt here, as well as pepper. Cook for several more minutes, until the sauce reduces a bit and the risotto thickens slightly (6 to 8 minutes more). Remove from heat and stir in more pepper, if desired.

*the original recipe called for 2.5 c of squash cubes. I definitely had waaaay more than that since I went ahead and used the whole (rather large) squash, so when I added the cashew mixture to the risotto, I didn’t use it all (probably about 3/4 of it). Any more and the risotto would have been too soupy—use your judgement based on how large your squash is, and how much liquid your rice absorbs. I love the sauce anyway, as it makes great dip for veggies or over a salad, so I was happy to have 1+ cups left over!

Garnish. Serve. Eat. Love!

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