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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Bring on the Pumpkin

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The fall baking has arrived!

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Despite the weather not exactly cooperating (it sort of did yesterday…. I wore a light sweatshirt past 10 am. Omg. It was awesome), I have checked the box next to the ‘first pumpkin baked good for fall” box. Would have been earlier, but 90 plus temperatures don’t really lend themselves to pumpkin… I mean, they can but apparently for me they don’t.

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BUT. Solved that problem yesterday (made this, with a few tweaks: chopped dates instead of chocolate, omitted coconut flour; used difference spices and only 1/4 coconut sugar + maple), plus mashed potatoes, shredded ginger-rosemary chicken, mashed potatoes, rice, hardboiled eggs… And I also somehow found time yesterday to have brunch+a walk with a best camp friend, run a grocery errand, go to Target, clean my apartment, do laundry, read for epi, write more of my midterm paper, and finish my stats homework…. which as anyone in my cohort knows is quite a feat, 18 pages of SAS printout later… AND I made quinoa banana carrot bread, which is actually what this post is about, because I’ve now made it twice in two weeks so obviously it’s a winner.

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And I’m stealing the 10 minutes I have early early in the am when it’s still dark out and I’m not studying to share it with you because I love my invisible internet blog friends WAY more than I love doing homework.

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I also drew the next installment for the drawing challenge. Day 5: Best Friend. I have so many friends I couldn’t live without; and they all hold a piece of my heart!

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Also, sometimes this is what a grad school coping mechanism looks like (and yes, this app is still floating my boat) :

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extra dark chocolate, bbread with butter, food writing and a fun app = coping.

So! This bread. Is the right combination of not too sweet, just sweet enough, dense without being too dense, satisfying when you want a snack or dessert. It also has that great craggy top and slightly chewy sides that I think all quick breads should have, but that’s just me. It’s also fodmap friendly, IBS friendly, gluten free with only one teeny tweak, refined sugar free, and whole grain. YAY!

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Quinoa Carrot Banana Bread

Yield: 1 loaf. FODMAP friendly, IBS friendly, gluten free option (Just sub the 1/3 c spelt flour with an equal amount of quinoa flour), refined sugar free, high in beta-carotene and omega 3’s… and absolutely delicious. Inspired by Power Hungry, here!

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  • 1 c quinoa flour
  • 1/3 c white or brown rice flour (I’ve used both and either is delicious)
  • 1/3 c whole spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/6 c coconut sugar
  • 3/4 c (2 large) bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1/4 c mostly-melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c unsweetened hemp milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • 1/3 c chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 (or 360 in the case of my abnormally hot and uneven oven), and grease a standard loaf pan with coconut oil.

Toast the quinoa flour in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until you can smell it: about 5 minutes (this is important! Quinoa flour can be a little bitter if this step is omitted); let cool for a few minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together toasted quinoa flour, rice flour, spelt flour, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and coconut sugar. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas, then add maple syrup, grated carrots, melted coconut oil, vanilla, egg, and hemp milk, and whisk vigorously to combine. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients, and stir to combine (the batter will be thick, which is fine). Stir in walnuts. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes (mine comes out of my stupid hot oven perfectly browned at 360 degrees and 46 minutes; but you most likely have a normal oven that heats appropriately…) Check for a lightly browned top and a skewer that comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For storage, wrap this in foil and store it in the fridge for the 30 seconds that the leftovers last…

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Lousy weeks = Angel Food Cake (Science. Obviously)

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Sooo…. Hi! It’s been awhile.

You can thank grad school for that (and for being a royal pain in my butt). My stomach was being a real winner today too, rude. On the bright side, one of the things it seems to tolerate with a minimum of fuss is this cake! Probably because angel food is basically egg whites and air and fluff, in the best possible combination. I’ve always loved angel food — I asked for it for a birthday cake at some point when I was a kid, and I’ve always thought it was delicious.

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It’s fun to make, too! Egg whites are my favorite piece of kitchen chemistry. I love watching them go from foamy… to glossy… to peaks! I never get tired of it. And besides, even though I am the one who hardly ever uses a mixer unless I really have to, angel food gives me the chance to get out my beautiful red kitchenaide stand mixer! Wheeeeee! It looked so happy to see me. And don’t tell me inanimate objects don’t have feelings… KITCHEN APPLIANCES totally do. They feel neglected and sad when you just leave them to languish in the pantry… which is also why I love my pegboard so much. It means that my pots and pans and whatnot can hang out and watch the action from their corner (and egg me on. It’s like “use me!!! I am so great for making eggs!!! … constant ruckus from the peanut gallery).

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But actually.

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I will stop anthropomorphizing my appliances for the time being in order to get back to the cake. But admit it… if you love to cook and bake, your favorite pans and appliances become your friends. Don’t try to deny it, I know you. You know where they stick, how they heat, if they affect the consistency of whatever you’re baking… they’re like friends!

But also, in other news…

Mother Nature puts on some pretty amazing shows:

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Day 4 of the Drawing Challenge! Favorite Place… this one was easy :)

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And E and I had a fun date night at the British pub Fox and Goose, in the historic R district of Sacto. Fun fun!

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But. Back to the regularly scheduled programming…

THIS CAKE! IS AMAZING!

Yep. still obsessed with this app.
Yep. still obsessed with this app.

And is gluten free, refined sugar free, and beyond delicious. When I made this, I actually ended up with a much denser consistency than angel food usually has (I have reason to suspect my oven; firstly, it is wee. It’s like half the size of a normal oven, so consequently all of my sheet pans are quarter sized. I feel like a Barbie. But also I do believe it runs hot and heats unevenly. Further research is required; until then it’s an interesting challenge) — but I don’t care, because it is AMAZING! It’s almost… custardy. But also kind of fluffy?! If you can possibly have custard and fluff at the same time, this is it. Mine got a tad overdone on the top half, and I actually pulled it out far sooner than it was supposed to go (hence the suspicion  that my oven runs hot), since it was done and browning quickly. It didn’t rise as much as they normally do, but it has that custardy wonderfulness so E and I definitely don’t care. Add to that, it’s tummy friendly and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, so it just wins all around.

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That all being said, I highly recommend making it on a Friday afternoon when your week has been rather wretched and you just need some cake. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Nope. Not me..

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Grain Free Maple Angel Food Cake

Made of arrowroot starch, this cake is tummy friendly for IBS, gluten-free, grain free, and paleo. It’s also refined sugar free and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, which is a bonus in my book for sure. Recipe from Deliciously Organic, here! I didn’t change a thing, as it was perfect as is. Yield: 1 cake (standard angel food pan).

  • 12 egg whites (I used 1 carton = to 10 whites + 2 whites from whole eggs for convenience)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.25 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c maple sugar, divided
  • 1 c arrowroot starch
  • whatever toppings float your boat for serving — I made a simple raspberry compote and topped it with a little shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350, and get out your *un-greased* angel food tube pan. You might want to put a cookie sheet down below the cake pan in the oven to account for any leakage — my tube pan tends to leak just a bit out of the bottom. Adjust the rack for the cake to be in the middle of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice on medium high until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla, and continue beating on medium high until soft peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes.

With the mixer running on medium, slowly add 1/2 c of the maple sugar, a spoonful at a time. Sift the remaining maple sugar and arrowroot starch into a small bowl, and, with the mixer still running, slowly add this to the mixer bowl. Once it’s all added, whip on medium high until completely incorporated (you may need to scrape the sides of the mixer bowl, I did). Pour the batter into your tube pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes*, until the top is golden brown and the cake is puffed.

*Normal ovens are probably done at a minimum of 40 minutes. Mine was excessively brown at 35, and done, though not as puffy as it could be.

Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert over the neck of a wine bottle to cool completely — about 1 to 1.5 hours. Cooling it upside-down helps maximize loft! Once the cake is completely cooled, run a knife around the inside of the pans to loosen the sides, and pull the cake + the removable bottom out of the pan. Run a knife along the bottom between the pan and the cake to loosen it fully, then lift off to the serving plate. Decorate at will!

Angel food cake keeps well at room temp for a day or two if it’s not too hot or humid where you are. I’m keeping mine in the fridge and it’s totally fine — cover it with an inverted bowl and it will stay good for several days in the fridge.

Enjoy your perfect bits of cake fluff!

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