Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins

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Eight years ago, I walked barefoot down the aisle to a crazy man. A crazy man who was in love with me. For the past 8 years, he has been my strength through some very difficult times. He has kept me sane (sort of), been my cheerleader, held my hand through illness, hugged me through tears, and made me laugh even when I’d rather be mad.

I’m an amazingly lucky woman. This year we celebrated early with a trip to Paris. So this week we are playing it low key with gluten-free jalapeno-bacon pizza from our fave pizza joint and a few beers. Cheers to my man.

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Speaking of amazing, I also made these Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins for quick treats and snacks.  They taste fabulous with a dollop of almond butter. If you do not have almond flour, these muffins can be made by replacing the almond flour with 2 cups of almond butter.

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Honestly, you can’t go wrong with these muffins. The recipe is very versatile. I created a double dose of chocolate (cacao powder AND chocolate chips). However, you could leave out the cacao powder and just make Zucchini Chocolate Chip Banana muffins. I also delivered these muffins to several of our friends that are new parents. Huge thumbs up by all…and no one knew they were grain free. Muahahha.

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Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffin

Adapted from Against All Grain

Makes 24 muffins (Note – This recipe can easily be cut in half to make 12 muffins…or freeze the extras for quick breakfasts and snacks.)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond flour (or 2 cups of creamy natural almond butter)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (for dairy free, use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place 24 muffin liners in two 12-cup muffin tins. Set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, cacao powder, powder, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger) in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  3. In either a large food processor or a stand mixer, beat eggs, bananas, vanilla, and honey together for 1 to 2 minutes, until egg mixture becomes slightly frothy. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stirring until just combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into lined muffin tins. Place in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and centers are cooked through. Ovens are variable, so this time may need to be adjusted based on your location (altitude) and oven.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in muffin tins. Remove from muffin tins and place on cooling racks.
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Paleo Roasted Banana Creamsicles

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In April, winter would not let go. We had two massive snow storms that dumped over 15 inches of snow each.  And now, it is nearing mid September and summer is being just as pesky and stubborn as winter. We have had the hottest days ALL summer this week with temps breaking triple digits. Really? Why can’t spring or fall be stubborn? Get feisty, fall! Take over…strong arm summer! Who’s the Boss? Not Tony Danza…It’s you, fall. Come ON!

*Stomp* *Stomp* I want to wear sweaters, eat chili, watch football!

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But alas…the heat persists. No rain. Just muggy and sweaty and sticky and mosquito heaven. Fine. SO instead of chili, I will settle for POPSICLES! And I suggest you do the same. Popsicles are really the best sweet treat there is because they are cheap, portable, kid-friendly, and healthy. The other thing I dig about popsicles is that they have built-in portion control.

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These popsicles are really swoon-worthy. I highly recommend roasting your bananas. It offers a whole new level and depth of bananananana-ness. Roasting bananas also is a great way to get under ripe bananas über sweet. They can either be roasted in an oven for 15 minutes or can be placed directly over an open gas flame (as shown above). There is no added sweetener in the popsicles because the roasted bananas take on a luscious caramelized flavor.  If you want much sweeter popsicles, you can add 1 tablespoon of honey. For the “cream” part of the creamsicles, I used light coconut milk to make it dairy free. You could also sub any dairy or nondairy milk instead.

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So cheers to the (hopefully) last days of summer. Tip your cups and popsicles and remember this sweaty weather when winter hits in a few months.

Note – I purchased my popsicle molds from World Market, but there are several BPA-free brands offered on amazon as well. Here is a great article on the Kitchn about top popsicle molds. If you do not have molds, have no fear. You can easily make popsicles with plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, as shown here

Paleo Roasted Banana Creamsicles

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. There are a few ways to roast bananas. (1) Place whole and unpeeled bananas on a foil lined roasting pan. Roast in a 350 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. OR (2) Place whole and unpeeled banana directly on a gas flame of your oven. Use tongs to turn and blacken the banana evenly. This will take about 5 minutes per banana.
  2. Peel bananas and place them in a medium bowl. Mash bananas thoroughly with a potato masher or place in a blender and puree. Stir in coconut milk, salt, and vanilla.
  3. Pour banana mixture into popsicle molds leaving 1/4-inch before the top to leave room for expansion.  For popsicle molds that contain bases with sticks or hold wooden sticks in place, snap on popsicle base and freeze until solid, about 4 to 5 hours. If you do not have popsicle mods, glasses or open paper cups can be used. For these types, pour popsicle mixture into the glasses or open cups and freeze until the popsicle is beginning to set (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). Then insert wooden sticks and freeze until fully solid (another 3 to 4 hours).

Lemony Apricot and Cherry Clafoutis (Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

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I’m jumping straight into this dessert.

Number one: it’s pronounced cla-foooooo-teeeee.

Number two: it’s good.

Number three: it’s easy.

Number four: We jumped straight into this dessert before I could properly photograph it. Doh!

This french-based dessert is a mix between custard, flan, heaven. Traditionally, clafoutis contain a little bit of all purpose flour, whole milk, eggs, sugar, and whole cherries that have not been pitted. The pits give off an amazing almondy flavor. But who wants to be enjoying a creamy amazing dessert and then break a tooth when you bite into a surprise pit. And then have to spit. Mmmm. Fancy.

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So when coming up with a grain free clafoutis recipe, using almond flour seemed like it would work wonderfully and provide that almond flavor naturally. I scoured through several different recipes and finally landed on this one from Gourmande in the Kitchen. I slightly adapted it, by adding the zest and juice of one lemon, a tablespoon of coconut flour to thicken the mixture (making it more sturdy and creamy), and honey instead of sugar.

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A friend brought me some fresh Michigan sweet cherries and apricots that she brought back from her vacation.  We ate most of the cherries, but I managed to squirrel away a batch for this clafoutis.  Halve and pit the cherries and apricots and then place them into the bottom of a cast iron skillet. You could also use a 9-inch pie pan, cake pan, or a shallow tart dish. Simply place all of the remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and whirl together for one minute. Then bam! Pour the custard filling on top of the prepared fruit. Then pop this baby into the oven and 45 minutes later, you have a light, creamy, and amazing dessert. The best thing about this dessert is that you can prepare a stunning dessert for company without having to worry about it. You can focus on the main course, or a side dish…or your drink and company!

If you don’t have cherries, no worries, I also have prepared this clafoutis with blueberries. It would be awesome with any fruit that is in season…pears, apples, peaches, raspberries, blackberries…plums!

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Lemony Apricot and Cherry Clafoutis (adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen)

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • butter or coconut oil for baking dish
  • 1/2 cup pitted cherries
  • 4 apricots, pitted and sliced in half
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • juice and zest of 1/2 large organic lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter or grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 8X8 inch pyrex dish or even a 9-inch round pie pan or cake pan will work.
  2. Place prepared and pitted cherries and apricots in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange in a single layer and evenly disperse the fruit.
  3. Meanwhile, place all of the remaining ingredients (coconut milk through salt) into either a blender, food processor, or bowl of a mixer. Blend or mix on high for 1 minute. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish on top of the fruit, being careful to not disturb or dislodge the fruit.
  4. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Paleo Zucchini Brownies

I like surprises. Do you like surprises? Good. I have one for you.  Be ready to have your mind space blown.

Zucchini brownies.

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We are gettin’ craaaaazy today. Adding veggies to brownies. Ya, you heard me. I know stuffing a brownie with healthy zucchini might not be your idea of a great surprise, but I promise this brownie won’t disappoint you.

These are cakey-style brownies. So for you fudgey-style brownie lovers (like me) these are not those, buuuuut they are incredibly delicious. Plus, they are stuffed with wholesome nutritious zucchini, almond butter, maple syrup, and raw cacao powder! Ya, these are likely the healthiest brownies out there. They are really close to zucchini bread but with a double chocolate edge that comes from the cacao powder and diced dark chocolate bites. Mmmmmm. Can I get an AMEN?!?

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If you don’t have almond butter, any nut butter would work. For the nonPaleo peeps and those not allergic to peanuts, these would be delish with peanut butter swapped in for the almond butter. But if your nut butter is not all natural (or has salt and added sweetener), be sure to eliminate the salt and reduce the sweetener in the below recipe to account for it.

Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone that you ate these for breakfast.

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Paleo Zucchini Brownies (adapted from Fast Paleo)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy unsalted and unsweetened almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Shred 1 to 2 zucchini with either a grater or a shredder attachment on a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in baking soda, salt, and cacao powder. After well mixed, stir in shredded zucchini and chopped dark chocolate.
  4. Pour into prepared 8X8 baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated 350 F oven. The brownies are done with the center is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Paleo Banana Ice Cream Cake

It’s already the middle of July and this weekend was the first time that I put a bathing suit on.  Honestly, between you and me…this doesn’t have to happen again.

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Why do bathing suits have to be so UNFLATTERING! Ugh.

I should just wear a T-shirt or a trash bag.

But Oh well….I guess I didn’t get too upset, because after swimming all day, all I wanted was ICE CREAM.  So I promptly made this amazing dairy free and grain free banana ice cream cake to go along with ribs that we smoked.  Maybe this is why my bathing suit is unflattering?  Ice cream cake + ribs?

Naaaaah.

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This cake is amazing. Creamy. Dreamy. Guiltless. It is made with cashews, bananas, dates, hemp seeds, raw cacao powder! Ya…shhhh….it’s good for you.

So I will just serve myself up another slice of cake…banana ice cream cake, that is. And I will eat it in my ugly, weird fitting, old bathing suit. And be happy.

Very happy.

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Paleo Banana Ice Cream Cake (adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life)

Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 C raw pecans
  • 1/4 C hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C pitted dates

Caramel Ingredients

  • 1 C pitted dates, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Chocolate Ingredients

  • 1/4 C cacao powder
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup or agave nectar

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 C frozen bananas (3 to 4)
  • 2 C raw cashews, soaked for 3 to 4 hours (or overnight)
  • 1/2 C water or nondairy milk
  • 1/3 C maple syrup or honey
  • 1/3 C coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Crust – In a food processor, place nuts, hemp seeds, raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder), and salt.  Pulse until the ingredients combine to make a flour like consistency. Add dates and process for a few minutes until it forms into a paste.  The mixture should hold together when you pinch a small amount between your fingers.  In a springform pan, place wax paper or syran wrap on the bottom. Press crust evenly into the bottom of the springform pan only slightly coming up the sides. Set in the freezer while preparing the filling.
  2. Caramel Sauce – Clean out food processor. Place soaked dates and 1/4 cup of water in the bowl of the food processor. Process for several minutes until a caramel-like substance is formed.  Add additional liquid as necessary. Add salt. Spoon into a separate bowl. Clean food processor bowl for next step.
  3. Banana Ice Cream Filling – Microwave the coconut oil in a small Pyrex dish for 30 seconds until mostly melted. Place all of the filling ingredients (except the caramel sauce) into the bowl of the food processor and blend on high-speed for several minutes until very smooth.
  4. Chocolate Sauce – In a separate bowl, combine cacao powder and 1 tablespoon of warm water. Stir carefully until a fudgey mixture is formed. Add warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until a drizzleable (is this a word???) fudge sauce is formed.  Stir in melted coconut oil at a tablespoon at a time. Keep mixture warm or it will harden. Pop in microwave if necessary.
  5. Assembly – Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour about two-thirds of the cashew mixture onto the crust and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. Swirl in half of caramel mixture and alternate with 1/3 of chocolate mixture using a butter knife. Top with remaining filling. And swirl in remaining caramel sauce and another 1/3 of chocolate sauce. Drizzle any remaining chocolate sauce on top. Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until solid.
  6. Serving – To serve, remove from freezer about 30 minutes before serving.  Heat a smooth and sharp knife under hot water and cut the pie into 8 slices. Serve with any additional chocolate sauce. Store any remaining pie in the freezer.

Paleo Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Sandwich

I grew up in the smack dab middle of Oklahoma. And Oklahoma summers are HOT. And Windy. And LONG. We often experienced over a month or two straight of days exceeding 100 degrees!  The only cure for those days is a body of water, air conditioning, and ICE CREAM.  Or just ice. Lots of ice ice baby.

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Unfortunately I did not grow up around any body of water nor a creek (pronounced crick). Instead of lakes or ‘cricks’ or rivers….I grew up running in and out of a water sprinkler attached to our water hose in our front yard. I would jump over and over and over the stream as it sprayed into my face.  The only thing that would make me stop the water dance was when the homemade ice cream machine would finally stop churning. I would inhale fresh ice cream with it dripping all over my face as the sprinkler water quickly evaporated from my hair and swimsuit. By the time I had devoured my ice cream, I was bone dry and ready for another round of the great water sprinkler dance.

Even though I’m older (much), my priorities of summer remain the same. But sometimes, waiting for fresh churned ice cream is not possible…also, my butt loves to hoard it. Stupid butt. So in order to deny my butt the pleasure of hoarding all of the ice cream AND to cut down on time to prepare homemade ice cream, I came up with a BRILLIANT ice cream sandwich that is gluten free, grain free, dairy free, paleo-friendly.  Bonus…they taste like the classic ice cream sandwich (or even better in my opinion).

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My criteria for this recipe were: (1) simple to make; (2) gluten free and dairy free; and (3) the cookies couldn’t be rock hard. There is nothing worse in my opinion than biting into an ice cream sandwich and having all of the ice cream squeeeeeze out the sides and into my lap and floor and face and shoes and toes and other odd crevices. UGH. Or is that just me?

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I’m serious…these puppies are amazing. I woke up in the middle of the night with this idea. I would patent the crap out of these if I could. I’m THAT excited about it. Pretty sad, huh? My little sister was in town for the weekend and once I proclaimed my amazing recipe idea to her, she immediately replied “LET’S DO IT”. Such conviction! I love it.

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The “ice cream” is just 5 to 6 frozen bananas that have been pureed into an amazing banana sorbet. Simple. One ingredient. Then the banana ice cream is sandwiched between two simple chocolate-nut butter cookie-cakey layers. I have made the cookie layer using peanut butter and almond butter.

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So first things first, go peel and chop up a crap-ton of bananas and throw them into the freezer. I always have a huge gallon bag of frozen bananas ready to go. Anytime one is nearing the “great for banana bread stage” I just chop it up and add it to the ziplock freezer bag. Insta- banana ice cream whenever I want!

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Paleo Chocolate Banana Ice Cream Sandwich 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of creamy nut butter (almond butter or peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 to 6 sliced frozen bananas

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond butter, honey, and egg until combined. Stir in the baking soda, salt, vanilla, and cocoa powder until well mixed. Spread cookie mixture with a spatula onto prepared pan evenly to 1/4-inch thick.  The batter will be thick like dough. Keep pressing it until it evenly covers the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (times vary between ovens) or until edges appear done and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. I placed the cookie sheet into the freezer while I made the banana ice cream.
  3. Once cookie is cooled, make the banana ice cream. For the banana ice cream, place the sliced bananas into the bowl of a good food processor or into a blender. Blend on high or process for a few minutes. Bananas will turn into a creamy sorbet.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut the cookie in half crosswise. Use a spatula and spoon out the banana ice cream and place onto one side of the cookie. Spread evenly. Then carefully lift and place the other side of the cookie (flat side up) on top of the ice cream-covered side. Smooth sides and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  5. When ready to serve, unwrap the ice cream sandwich. Using a serrated knife, cut into 12 rectangles. Freeze leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap.

Almond Butter Banana Muffins

I am a bit of a hoarder.  I’m definitely a food hoarder, but also a hoarder of things. My husband thinks it is junk.  Which it isn’t! But seriously, I keep things in boxes that I have never looked at for the past four years that we have lived here.  I find myself holding on to things because… “don’t you dare get rid of it because I am saving that chair just in case some day I want to paint it red and have a tea party”. Yes…that really came out of my mouth.

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He recently decided to have a garage sale…or an “Alissa’s Things Sale” as I refer to it. He doesn’t hold on to anything. When we got married, he moved into my house with a single box. I had a U-Haul trailer that could have fit a plane. So needless to say, purging is a hard thing for me. I remember every gift someone gave to me. I can’t seem to part with it even if that person totally does not remember giving it to me. They probably just picked it up randomly and thought “crap, it’s her birthday…uhm…ya, here’s a chicken tea pot…she eats chicken…she drinks tea…CHICKEN TEA POT!”.  And here I am 15 years later with the ugliest tea pot and refusing to get rid of it. Until one day I wake up and the love of my life is selling all of my precious belongings (crap) and other people are walking away with my chicken tea pot!  *sob*

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It was a similar feeling for me when I made the switch a year ago to give up gluten. Making the switch to being gluten free can be tough sometimes. It’s hard to not feel like an outsider when everyone is laughing and enjoying cake and big plates of lasagna. Family gatherings and cookouts and office parties offer a plethora of pasta salads and cupcakes and brownies and bread and crackers.  I would end up being the person in the corner snacking on carrots and a bag of nuts that I had stashed away in my purse like a squirrel.  BECAUSE I AM A HOARDER.

One day I decided to PURGE! I threw away everything that contained wheat or even traces of wheat.  It felt awesome.  I began researching and arming myself with easy recipes to bring to gatherings. So now I always offer to bring something that I know that I can eat and that will blow the socks off of others that have no idea how great gluten free food can be.

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This recipe uses nut butter in place of flour! No flour, no oil, no butter.  Basically it is just almond butter and bananas and honey and eggs. Those purged cabinets probably have these simple ingredients in them.  These muffins are rediculously good and rediculously easy!  I have made them with almond butter and also with peanut butter. Both are fabulous.  You can also add cocoa powder to the batter for chocolate cupcakes!

Almond Butter Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter* (see note below)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the banana, eggs, and almond butter until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients except the cocoa powder. With half of the batter, fill 6 muffin liners 3/4 full. I use a 1/4 cup to measure for each. With the remaining muffin batter, add the cocoa powder. Fill the remaining 6 muffin cups to 3/4 full with the chocolate batter.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Muffins will be firm a slightly golden, but fluffy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove from the muffin pan to a wire rack.

*Notes

  1. I have also made these with peanut butter and they were great. I assume other nut butters would work too. If you have a nut allergy, sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) would be a good substitute.
  2. I recommend all natural and unsweetened nut butters. However, if you aren’t using all natural nut butters (that is, if they have added sweeteners) then lower the overall amount of added honey in the recipe.
  3. These are also delicious as cupcakes!

Blackberry Cashew Cheesecake (Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo)

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I like surprises.  Well…good surprises. This week has been full of some unpleasant surprises but it has also been filled with amazing surprises like…friends dropping by to say hey for no reason but just to visit, a letter from an amazing friend telling me how they cherished our friendship, random hugs, dinner ready when I get home from work, coffee ready when I get up (what a blessing), random dance parties downtown…

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I also like having intimate gatherings at our place and surprising people with a healthy dessert.  When it comes to a dessert that surprises most folks because it is both gluten-free and dairy free, this cashew cheesecake takes the “cake”. I have made multiple versions including strawberry-vanilla, chocolate-banana, and now blackberry.

This blackberry cashew cheesecake was the BEST so far.  I made the cashew cheesecake filling using my high-powered Cuisinart Pro Plus food processor.  If you have a Vitamix or Blendtec, use it. I’m jealous. But seriously, a great food processor will do the trick but it just may take a bit more time.

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Instead of mixing whole blackberries into the filling, I made a blackberry sauce and strained out those pesky seeds that looooove to stick around in your teeth while you are trying to be sexy and suave but no one tells you that you have a massive black seed the size of a minivan lodged in your front teeth.  So, I just amped up your sex appeal and created a seedless sauce to mix into the blackberry cheesecake layer. You are welcome!

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The blackberry sauce is easy and takes only an extra 10 minutes. I used 2 cups of blackberries that I froze last summer.  You could also use a bag of frozen blackberries (completely thawed and use organic if possible) or fresh blackberries when they are in season. Boil the blackberries and juices in a saucepan until it begins to thicken (about 5 minutes).  Add a tablespoon of arrowroot powder mixed with water to make a slurry. Arrowroot powder is a grain-free starch alternative to cornstarch. If you aren’t worried about grains, then you could swap cornstarch for the arrowroot powder. Adding the starch will make the sauce even thicker.  Strain the cooked blackberries through a strainer and reserve about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the sauce. This sauce is amazing in yogurt, on pancakes, waffles, my face.

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So go surprise your face and someone you love or maybe even just tolerate and make this cheesecake. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Plus, it is gorgeous!

Blackberry Cashew Cheesecake (Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free)  (adapted from My New Roots, serves 8)

Note – You will need a very powerful food processor or blender (such as a Vitamix). I have a Cuisinart Pro Plus food processor that works like a champ and a half. 

Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked at least 4 hours)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey for non vegan)
  • juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (thawed if frozen and retain the juices)
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder + 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions

  1. Crust – In a food processor, place nuts, salt, and pitted dates and pulse until the ingredients combine into a paste.  The mixture should hold together when you pinch a small amount between your fingers.  Place Saran wrap in a 7″ pie pan (spring form pans work best but aren’t necessary) or 8×8″ square baking dish. Spoon crust mixture into pan and press evenly and firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed. Wash and rinse the food processor.
  2. Blackberry Sauce – Place the blackberries and thawed blackberry juices in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.  In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of cold water until it forms a slurry. Slowly stir the arrowroot slurry into the blackberries. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes until the homemade blackberry sauce thickens to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat. To get separate the seeds from the blackberries, set a strainer over a heat-proof bowl. Pour the blackberry sauce into the strainer and mash with the back of a spoon to get all of the juices from the blackberries. You should get about 1/2 cup of sauce. Reserve the sauce for later use in the filling. You can keep the blackberry mash for either a topping or another use (stirred into oatmeal? in yogurt?).
  3. Cashew Cheesecake Filling – Microwave the coconut oil in a small Pyrex dish for 30 seconds until mostly melted. Whisk in maple syrup to combine. Place all of the filling ingredients (except the blackberries) into the bowl of the processor and blend on high-speed for several minutes until very smooth.
  4. Assembly – remove the crust from the freezer. Pour about two-thirds of the cashew mixture onto the crust and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. To the remaining third of the cashew filling mixture, add the blackberry sauce (about 1/3 cup). Blend on high until smooth. Pour this mixture onto the first layer of filling. I drizzled an additional 1/4 cup of sauce on the top of the blackberry layer and made a swirl pattern with a butter knife. Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until solid.
  5. Serving – To serve, remove from freezer about 30 minutes before serving.  Heat a smooth and sharp knife under hot water and cut the pie into 8 slices. Serve with any additional blackberry sauce. Store any remaining pie in the freezer.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

Weeks like these deserve stress relieving treats. They deserve a treat that evokes memories of great times, great summers, great friends, and great loves.  A treat worth sharing! Cherish and celebrate those that are with us now.  Treat the ones you love. Treat yourself with….

Homemade ice cream.  Ding Ding Ding!!!!

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I am typically pretty boring when it comes to ice cream flavors. A good homestyle vanilla is always my choice over a triple chocolate chunk or candy bar crammed scoop. I love the simplicity of a deeply intense vanilla ice cream. But step out of my way if fresh strawberry ice cream is available. I will knock down an old woman for it…just kidding…well, unless she had the last scoop. Am I right?

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My favorite strawberry ice cream recipe is from the queen of simplicity, Alice Waters.  Her recipe calls for both heavy cream AAAAND half and half. Double yum. However, this time I used 2% milk instead of the half and half, and felt it was sufficiently creamy. If you can get your hands on a pint of fresh picked strawberries, this ice cream will scream SUMMER with no apologies. And you will be dancing like Beyonce with every bite that enters your mouth. Oh oh Oh oh Oh oh!

But don’t fret…I have a fix for those of us that either don’t have access to fresh strawberries or just can’t wait and gotta have it NOW.

*whisper* Use frozen strawberries.

Shhhhh. I’m serious.

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Thaw out a package of unsweetened frozen strawberries (organic if possible) in the microwave or in the fridge. Throw them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 400 F for about 20 minutes and voila…jammy strawberries that pack a super duper punch of strawberry love. Scoop the strawberries and jammy juice into a bowl and add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey. Mash up the whole jammy strawberry goodness and allow it to cool in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

After it has cooled, it can be added to the base recipe for vanilla ice cream provided below. Process according to the directions of your ice cream maker.

Although this recipe does take some planning, it is well worth it. So kick your heels up this weekend, make a fresh batch of ice cream, share it, and then take a nap in the hammock.  We all deserve it.

P.S. – Use these steps to make ice cream without a machine.

P.P.S. – For a dairy free version of this recipe, check out Sprouted Kitchen’s coconut milk version.

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Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream (adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or maple syrup, or honey)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. If using frozen strawberries, defrost in microwave. If using fresh, quarter the strawberries. Place strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Place roasted strawberries and juice into a bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Allow to cool completely. This can be done in a day in advance.
  2. To make the vanilla custard ice cream base recipe, place egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl and lightly beat, just breaking the yolks. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and sugar to a light simmer. Add a few tablespoons of the hot sugar-milk mixture at time to the eggs to temper them until they are warmed.  Once the egg mixture is warmed, slowly add back into sugar-milk mixture. Cook the egg-milk-sugar mixture over a medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add cream, vanilla, and salt. Cool and then chill for several hours (or overnight) until cold. This is the vanilla ice cream base recipe.  You can proceed from here for just vanilla ice cream OR you can mix in fresh or roasted strawberries or whatever your sweet ice cream-loving heart desires.
  3. Place a large bowl in the freezer and have it ready for the ice cream. For strawberry ice cream, mix the mashed strawberry mixture with the vanilla ice cream base mixture.  Add this mixture to the bowl of the ice cream machine and follow the directions of your ice cream maker. My ice cream maker takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Immediately transfer the strawberry ice cream to the bowl that was placed in the freezer. Freeze for an hour or two to harden. Pull the ice cream out of the freezer and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Paleo Hazelnut Banana Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Two ingredients! That is all this ice cream contains. TWO! In reality, when it comes down to it, you only need one ingredient: frozen bananas. But I had to get all fancy and throw some roasted hazelnuts into the food processor…Oh ya…NO ice cream maker! 

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Frozen bananas + whatever you fancy + food processor = soft serve ice cream

If you don’t have a food processor, a blender would also do the job.  This ice cream is basically instantaneous gratification in soft serve form! 

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It does take a small amount of forthought…freezing bananas. But seriously…we all have those lingering black bananas that need a home (and not banana bread..again).  I simply chop my spent bananas up into bite-sized pieces, throw them into a baggy, and freeze ’em. 

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This past weekend, after I finished a hellacious 10 mile run (IN THE STRONGEST WIND STORM EVER), I ate this hazelnut banana ice cream for my recovery meal. It was the best treat after such a tough run.  I was too hungry to even think or else I would have thrown cocoa into the ice cream too…. next time!

Paleo Hazelnut Banana Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/8 cup roasted hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Place frozen bananas and hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, until the banana turns creamy like soft serve ice cream.  
  2. Spoon into two bowls and EAT!