Favorite Brands in My Kitchen

I don’t rely on many foods that come in a package or can, but there are several that I consider staples in my kitchen. These products are legit, pure, minimally processed and something I can feel good about too. Sometimes, I mention what brands I use in my recipes, but I thought I’d put it together in one handy list. Here goes:

  1. Trade Secret Raw Coconut Aminos: this is the only brand I know of that makes coconut aminos, in fact. Use this fermented coconut product in place of soy sauce or tamari. It’s free of wheat, soy and additives. Oh, and it tastes salty and delicious too.b6cfe6b9ceca747388e4adbe33b65e4e
  2. Aroy-D and Natural Value full-fat coconut milk: this stuff is as pure as it gets without making it yourself. There’s no gums, thickeners, stabilizers, sugar, preservatives or additives. These are my only two go-to brands. Aroy-D comes in boxes and Natural Value comes in BPA-free cans. Aroy-D also makes a wonderful coconut cream that I love. 01b4dc3b8a18d71b933ce753f422d5cc0a757268b885cf3e55843797b7e60d03
  3. Tessemae’s All Natural dressings/sauces: these are paleo-friendly (made from extra virgin olive oil) and come in a variety of delicious flavors. The paleo-friendly flavors even say ‘paleo’ on the label! The BBQ sauce is legit and I love the ranch (non-creamy) and cracked black pepper atop of ground meat and veggies. I find it in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods. f9c4bb8c418f785f17e34c18d932033e
  4. Kerrygold grass-fed butter: I always buy unsalted, unless it’s out of stock, but I absolutely love this butter. It comes from Irish grass-fed cows and tastes delicious. I find it for the best price at Whole Foods, but I think it’s reasonable at Trader Joe’s too. I pay $3.19/block (equivalent to 2 sticks) at Whole Foods. I used to get it for $2.99, but Whole Foods raised the price a few months ago. Also, this is the butter I use when I make my own ghee at home. ecc2c354f858241fc94f6dd284e8d4ce
  5. Vitacost organic extra virgin coconut oil: this is now the only place I buy coconut oil because I can buy a 54 oz container for about $22 at most, but often have a coupon code and get it for under $20. If you stock up on other things, you can usually get free shipping too. Once you buy from Vitacost once though, you’ll be notified of deals all the time, especially on Vitacost brand stuff. It’s totally worth it.4b9f916917f000e9968ae993ac816609
  6. Coconut Manna or MaraNatha coconut butter: these are the creamiest coconut butters of the brands I’ve tried, and so smooth too. I generally pick up a jar of either when it’s on sale and have found it for as cheap as $5.99. I never pay full price for either of these brands. Sometimes, I’ll refill my empty jar with Let’s Do Organic Coconut Cream Concentrate, which comes in a little packet. I soften it first by placing it in a bowl of hot water, and then empty the contents into the jar. This stuff is a little grittier and sometimes needs to be mixed with a little water before using (depending on what you’re using it for). The bonus with this stuff is that it’s cheaper. I always pay less than $3 for an 8 oz box.c2701bed1957677eded68a5c006e8386
  7. Bernard Jensen’s powdered gelatin: this gelatin powder is grass-fed and fantastic. You get a lot of bang for your buck and can use it in many different ways. It’s so good for your gut and skin too!6d915b15660e3dde3d1968ece69ac40f
  8. Pomi tomatoes and tomato sauce: this brand is imported from Italy, so you get exactly what’s on the label, which is nothing but pure. In the U.S., companies don’t have to list an ingredient if the product contains 0.5 grams or less, so it’s possible you get added sugar or other unwanted ingredients. Pomi comes in boxes too, so there’s no worry of BPA. I love that the tomato sauce has a cap on the container too because sometimes, I just need a little bit.7f93ef17b17431ecb1819bc0d29d2008
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5-Minute Peach Ice Cream

Dairy-free and fruit-sweetened peach ice cream.

Lately, the weather in Portland has not only been warm, but also muggy and humid. Normally, we don’t get much humidity, but this summer has been an exception. Sometimes, I think it feels kinda good, especially in the mornings. This is most likely due to my Midwest upbringing. Growing up in Michigan, I became accustom to a lot of humidity and truthfully, this is nothing compared to the Midwest stickiness. What’s great about Michigan though is that there’s easy access to water, especially in Alpena, where I grew up.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that this sticky weather has left me wanting a cold treat on some evenings. You know, to help me cool off … or something. I don’t like to make many treats and baked goods, and generally turn to berries with melted coconut butter when I want something sweet. Sticking to my same fruit and coconut route, I used some frozen peaches (from a friend’s peach tree that I cut and froze myself) and blended them with coconut milk, coconut butter and vanilla to make a cold and slightly sweet indulgence. It took all but 5 minutes, hence the name 5-minute peach ice cream. It’s so easy and delicious, and can be made with pretty much any frozen fruit. Second to the peach, blueberry is my favorite (we do have a freezer full of them, after all). You can even blend different frozen fruits together to create other flavor varieties as well. There’s many options!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened peaches
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (I like this brand and this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut butter (I like this one and this one)
  • Basil leaves for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a blender or food processor (I used my smallest Ninja container). Blend for 20-30 seconds and then remove lid and scrape down the sides. Blend again and add a bit more coconut milk if needed. Then, add the melted coconut butter and blend again, until smooth.
  2. Garnish with basil, if desired. Top with anything else you may desire. I like raw sprouted walnut pieces, fresh blackberries or raw unsweetened cacao nibs.

Yields: 1 serving

Blueberries N’ Cream Scramble

Blueberries N' Cream Scramble.

Blueberry season is in full effect here in Portland and I am loving it! I always look forward to this time of year and take full advantage of any opportunity to gobble up these juicy, sweet morsels. Berry season doesn’t last that long, so I have to savor it while it lasts. Normally, I moderate my fruit intake a bit more, but during berry season I make an exception. Jesse and I usually go up to one of the nearby farms and pick every summer, and we will this year too. I think we may even go this weekend! You may remember my berry picking post from last year.

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This breakfast delight is basically a pancake and scramble hybrid. Its flavors are reminiscent of pancakes, with the cinnamon and vanilla, but the texture is all eggs with fresh pops of blueberry. It’s incredibly delicious and nice when you’re craving something on the sweeter side for breakfast. Pair it with a side of crispy bacon or sausage — then, you’ve got yourself a complete meal!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 pastured eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 tbsp full-fat coconut milk (I like this brand and this brand)
  • Dash of Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • Scoop of coconut butter, for topping

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, sea salt, coconut milk, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. Then stir in the fresh blueberries.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted, pour in the egg mixture. Allow mixture to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or so (to get scrambled pieces).
  3. Once done, remove from pan and place a big dollop of coconut butter on top, allowing it to melt over the hot eggs. Alternatively, you can melt the coconut butter first and then drizzle on top of the eggs.

Yields: 1 serving

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Creamy Cinnamon Chicken

Creamy cinnamon chicken over mashed butternut squash.

As stated by Jesse, “this meal is like dessert.” I can’t help but agree with the accuracy of his description. After all, it’s creamy, coconutty and cinnamon-y, and the butternut squash adds a touch of sweetness. It’s a beautiful combination.

On another note, it’s officially my birthday week! I enjoy celebrating my birthday every year, whether I do something low-key or not. I just like birthdays. I don’t typically celebrate all week long, and honestly, don’t really have the time to do so right now, but will do something special on my actual birth day. It’s this Saturday, if you’re wondering, and I’ll be turning 28 years young. It’s going to be a hectic week school-wise, so I’m looking forward to getting there.

Anyway, happy Monday and I hope you all enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 – 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp coconut butter
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-3 tsp coconut flour, if needed for thickening
  • Butternut squash, roasted and mashed, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt coconut pan in a large pan over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and saute a few minutes. Mix in the cinnamon and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and the coconut butter; stir. Allow chicken to continue to cook over medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes. Thicken with coconut flour if needed and add up to 1/2 cup more coconut milk, if needed or desired.
  3. I recommend serving over mashed butternut squash. Alternatively, you can use a veggie of your choice.

Yields: ~5 servings

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Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Cookie dough fudge.
Cookie dough fudge.

Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and followers that celebrate this holiday! I wish you a very happy holiday and hope you spend it with those near and dear. Cheers!

Meanwhile, if you still need a holiday dessert recipe, give this cookie dough fudge a try. I made some yesterday for Christmas Eve, and it’s a total hit. It is so indulgent and delicious, and like eating chocolate covered raw cookie dough. The recipe is courtesy of TGIPaleo. Seriously, mad props to her for creating such a tasty treat! I didn’t modify anything in the recipe and it turned out perfect. Jesse agreed that this dessert is awesome. Now, you can be the judge.

Making the fudge.
Making the fudge.
Fudge mixture below, and cookie dough mixture above.
Fudge mixture below, and cookie dough mixture above.

For the cookie dough:

  • 1 c Almond flour
  • 3 T Raw honey
  • 1/4 t Sea salt
  • 1/2 t Pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T Coconut butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 T Coconut oil, melted

For the fudge:

  • 1/2 c Raw almond or cashew butter (I used almond, but it wasn’t raw)
  • 1/2 c Coconut butter, softened
  • 1/4 c Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t Pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t Sea salt
  • 2 T Raw honey
I love licking the spatula and bowl clean! It's one of the best parts. I know, it's a silly self-portrait, but whatever.
I love licking the spatula and bowl clean! It’s one of the best parts. I know, it’s a silly self-portrait, but whatever.

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients for the cookie dough together, then set aside.
  2. Do the same for the fudge.
  3. In an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, carefully spread half of the fudge mixture into the bottom. Press all of the cookie dough on top (it doesn’t have to be pretty). Then spread on the last half of the fudge.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple hours or until firm. Cut into square size of choice.
Dessert anyone?
Dessert anyone?
Look at that cookie dough layer!
Look at that cookie dough layer!

Cocoa Mint Holiday Truffles

chocolate mint holiday trufflesThese taste like the holidays — minty and chocolatey. They’re different than your typical truffle — a bit more firm, but they are a tasty holiday treat, and great to bring to a party. In fact, I brought these specifically to take to my friend, Laura’s house, over the weekend for a get together she hosted. They were a hit and I also decided that they will be my next seasonal flavor at Cultured Caveman, along with my staple, salted almond bites (find my recipe for these HERE).

If you don’t have coconut butter on hand, I imagine melted coconut oil will work too.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds (find HERE)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup softened coconut butter (I used this kind)
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pits removed (about 10-12 large dates)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract (I like this brand) OR 2 drops high-quality peppermint essential oil (where to get good-quality essential oils)

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Directions:

  1. In the food processor, combine the almonds, cocoa powder, coconut and sea salt. Pulse until well combined.
  2. Next add the pitted dates, coconut butter and peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil. Blend until well combined. You may need to add half the dates, pulse, and then add the remaining. If needed, add more dates and coconut butter for added stickiness or sweetness.
  3. Once everything is mixed together well and there are no large chunks, dump the mixture into a large bowl. (Note: mixture may seem crumbly, but will stick together once you pack it. If it’s still too crumbly, try more dates and/or coconut butter as I mentioned above.).
  4. Roll into 1-inch balls (tablespoon-size) and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Alternatively, you can pack the mixture down into an 8×8 pan and cut into squares. These will keep for a 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can freeze them as well.

Total time: 20 minutes + time for truffles to chill

Yields: ~24 pieces

My mom got me this lovely plate on her recent trip to Austria. There's a little deer painted on the middle of the plate too. I love it!

Salted Almond Caramel Dip

Apples and caramel, a fall classic, but one that hasn’t been in my life for many years. I always enjoyed dipping apples slices in caramel growing up, even if it wasn’t remotely close to being real caramel. It’s pretty gross, but I think the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. I remember it being overly sweet, but as a kid, that was okay with me. It was always the fat-free kind too. Fat-free, HFCS and chemical-laden caramel dip … yum?

As for the caramel apples on sticks, I was never much of a fan. I always wanted to like it, but didn’t care for tart green apples as a kid, and caramel apples were always made with green apples. What’s up with that? I also remember them being difficult to eat. I might like a caramel apple now if it was made with this caramel (I like green apples now too) and maybe even rolled in some chopped nuts or coconut flakes.

Since I’ve made caramel from dates for different treat recipes, I figured it’d be easy enough to modify a bit and turn into a dip. I went slow and adjusted the the ingredients incrementally, taste-tasting each time (it gave me an extra excuse to keep taking tastes too). The taste and consistency came out perfectly (or at least I like to think so) and Jesse even oooed and ahhhed over it too. It’s salty, sweet, gooey and thick.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted (heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp water (I used 5 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp smooth unsweetened almond butter
  • 3 Tbsp coconut cream concentrate (aka coconut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp room temp grass-fed butter

Directions:

  1. Add dates to the food processor and blend until the dates are ground up (might turn into a ball – that’s okay). If your dates are drier, soak in boiling water for 10-20 minutes before blending in the food processor.
  2. Add two tablespoons of the water and all the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.
  3. Add in two more tablespoons of water and blend again. Add up to two additional tablespoons of water until desired consistency is reached. It should be somewhat thick, but not too thick.
  4. Adjust flavor to your liking and serve with sliced apples or pears. It’d be delicious spread on banana slices too.