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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Ready, set… PUMPKIN

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Pumpkin!! And stuff. But actually… mostly just pumpkin.

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Because the air finally smells different, the wind is cooler, scarves are necessary, and the leaves are starting to change and fall. This is my FAVORITE time of year, especially since it gives me an excuse to wear an excessive amount of scarves and boots and eat mass amounts of pumpkin. Also fall = flannels, hot tea, holidays, and eatingcookingeatingbakingeating.

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The other day/night it was really fallish weather here, so I was cooking with the windows open so I could smell the air at every opportunity. It didn’t hurt that the neighbors had a wood fire going somewhere, and obviously that smelled delicious.

And the best part of all this means I can use pumpkin for baking with reckless abandon. Which I’ve already started doing. Two pumpkin breads in less than a week? Oh yeah. Easy money. Bring on endless cans of squash puree, and I will speedily dispatch them. Ooooh I love this season!

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Also. Food is more fun when it’s colorful, don’t you think?

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Apparently everything I eat from now on is going to be orange. A spanish tortilla happened last night and this is partly what went in it. Ooooorange!!! Ha.

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This bread is delicious—light, but densely moist (let’s stick to hydrated, mmk?) and spiced. It’s grain free, gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free [they’re sweetened only with dates!], so there are no excuses not to enjoy. It’s also full of healthy fats and good squash-carbs, as well as enormous amounts of Vitamin A and beta carotene. Wheeee!

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Pumpkin-Almond Butter Bread

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free. It might also be paleo, but I’m not the authority on that business. Makes 1 loaf or an 8 by 8 pan (I used the latter, so the cook time below reflects that. Add at least 10 minutes for a loaf pan and check as needed). Recipe inspired and heavily adapted from the Roasted Root, here!

  • 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 c unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal+3 tbsp water; let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 c pitted dates, soaked if needed
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp extra dark chocolate chips

Lightly grease an 8 by 8 inch pan and preheat the oven to 350.

If your dates are super hard, soak them in near-boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain nearly all the water out, but reserve about a tablespoon or two. Puree the dates and reserved water in a food processor until mostly smooth, then set aside. Make flax egg, and set it aside as well to gel.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond butter, vanilla extract, and flax egg, then stir in the date paste. In a smaller bowl, whisk together cinnamon, allspice, ginger, sea salt, baking powder, and coconut flour. Toss dry into wet, add chocolate chips, and stir until everything is just combined. Scoop all that goodness out into your prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 35-37 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. The top should spring back just slightly when touched.

Let cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the pan, top the pan with a cooling rack, and CAREFULLY (it’s delicate!) invert the bread onto the cooling rack to cool completely (you don’t have to flip it back over unless you want to…). Once it’s completely cool, I store it back in the pan I baked it in. Leftovers only lasted a day in my house, and I recommend storing this one in the fridge.

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Green cookies. Because, obviously.

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Guess WHAT?!

I made cookies. And they’re GREEN!! Muahahah. Like you’re even a tiny bit surprised by this? Nope, I didn’t think so.

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But really. I’m studying for the GRE because I have to and it’s SUPER lame (because let’s be honest, who actually uses the math garbage that they put on there after high school?! That’s right, NO ONE. Remind me again why I have to re-learn quadratics and functions and wait, these are of no use in my everyday life, moving on). So to make my studying that much less icky I made myself green cookies!! Green things always make me feel better.

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I know this is horribly overexposed but I think it’s funny because the cookie looks like it’s levitating…. ooOOOooooOOOOoOooOo

Besides, these are really aggressively green. Artificial food coloring crap can take a backseat because this is soooo much more fun. Wouldn’t you rather the color in your food come from natural fun reactions?! This is what happens when baking soda/powder and the chlorophyll from sunflower seeds have a party in your cookies. When they cool, they turn green!! I like to refrigerate them to speed this along (besides I’m weird and I also like cold cookies)… and if you can refrain from eating them all at once (good luck), they get even greener the next day [the photos in this blog show them in varying states of green-ness… the ones on the blue plate are the next day after spending all night in the fridge].

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In addition to making green cookies, I did a number of other fun and delicious things…

bread at the beach with the boy… what more do you want?
bread at the beach with the boy… what more do you want?

Tea sandwiches. Because HIGH TEA!!! Crumpets!! And scones!! And no crusts!!

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And also creamy coconut buckwheat with turmeric-curry-cinnamon roasted chickpeas. Crappy photos but soooo delicious. I accidentally permanently stained a cookie sheet yellow, thanks turmeric.

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And also this. Frozen pb-banana ‘ice cream’ with a ridiculously good walnut-date-cinnamon-oat crumble [1/2 c raw walnuts, 1/2 c pitted dates, 2 tbsp almond butter+ pinch of sea salt+1/2 c rolled oats+1/2 tsp cinnamon+1 tsp vanilla spun through a food processor]. I couldn’t stop eating it, mildly problematic except not because delicious.

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Oh. One more thing. Are variables delicious? Last I checked, no. These cookies on the other hand? Absolutely yes.

See? Real food fun. Imminently more useful than bothersome little equations and silly variables.

I would much rather have green cookies than remember how to correctly diagram a factor tree, thanks.

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Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free. Paleo? Maybs? GREEN! Full of healthy fats and good fiber. I made a half batch and ended up with seven cookies because I mistakenly thought the 1/3 c was a 1/4 c measuring cup…oops. I wasn’t sorry, it meant I got an extra cookie out of the bunch. I’ll include the full recipe here, for a yield of an even dozen. Recipe lightly adapted from Against All Grain, here!

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/2 c unsweetened sunbutter (mine is roasted, unsalted)
  •  6 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips

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

In a small bowl, combine flax and water and set aside to gel. If your dates aren’t super squishy and soft, soak them in hot/near boiling water for a few minutes—I usually do this anyway so my food processor doesn’t complain as much. In your food processor, combine sun butter, dates, and applesauce and pulse until smooth. Add in vanilla, vinegar, and flax egg, and process until combined (I left a few chunks of date in mine, but it’s up to you). Add in coconut, coconut flour, cinnamon, and baking soda, processing until everything is fully combined. Take out the blade and stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet, smoothing the edges with your fingers if you want (though I kind of like the craggy rustic look). Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for a few, then remove to a rack to cool further. They’ll start turning green once they start cooling, but they get to be a deeper green after about 2 hours. The next day they’re even better! Store in an airtight container in the fridge (I like plastic for these, glass makes them soft).

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Just because. Happy Friday!