Vanilla Cinnamon Espresso Hazelnut Butter

This recipe meets all the criteria (and more) of a great nut butter. It’s creamy, salty, nutty, and a little crunchy. It’s also subtly sweet with added elements of cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla. The coarsely ground coffee is what adds the slight grainy texture and crunch, and it’s magnificent. All in all, it’s a match made in heaven. I think it might be the best nut butter I’ve ever tasted — not even exaggerating. It’s out-of-this-world good! Enjoy it straight off the spoon or spread on apples, pears, bananas, or in my sunny cinnamon sammie recipe (instead of the sunflower seed butter). It’s also delicious drizzled into plain yogurt.

Also, note that I used decaf beans in this recipe, but you can use regular as well. I don’t like to consume caffeine after 12-ish p.m. and don’t tend to eat nut butter in the morning, so opted for decaf beans. Use whatever you like.

On another note, I’m off to NYC early this morning with my close friend, Heather. We have been looking forward to this trip for months and it’s finally here! We’ve got some fun things in the works, but are leaving plenty of room for trekking and exploring. We’re kicking off our trip this evening with, Sleep No More and I’m super excited…a little scared too! Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I’m up to (and eating) in NYC!

Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • Heaping 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely ground high-quality coffee beans (I used decaf beans from a local roaster)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (use 1/4 tsp if you want it less salty)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast hazelnuts in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Give pan a shake halfway through roasting time.
  2. Once hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, remove some of the skins (doesn’t have to be perfect!). It’s up to you how much you want to remove, but less skin will result in a creamier consistency (the skins can also be bitter). You can also place the hazelnuts on a damp kitchen towel, fold it over, and rub the skins off inside the towel.
  3. Next, add hazelnuts (minus the skins) to the food processor. Blend for about 5-6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Once creamy, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as you like.
  4. Store in a glass jar at room temperature and use within a week. Will last a week or so longer if you store it in the refrigerator.
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Cardamom Spice Sunbutter

Cardamom Spice Sunbutter.
Cardamom Spice Sunbutter.

Before you decide to make this recipe, here’s a few words of caution: do not attempt if you are not patient! That is no joke either! This was my first time making any sort of homemade sunbutter and it takes WAY longer than making nut butter. Holy cow, it was a good 30 minutes of back and forth blending and scraping the sides down. It might have even been longer! I couldn’t believe it, because nut butters come together in a flash, but not sunflower seed butter. With that said, be sure to allow yourself enough time and don’t expect it to come together in a pinch. In the end, it’s worth it because you have homemade sunbutter and saved money by making it yourself. Plus, it’s fun to play with flavor varieties, as I did here.

Also, if you don’t care for cardamom, feel free to omit it.

*****

Totally unrelated, but stay tuned for part II of my San Francisco trip, coming this Thursday! More great pictures to come!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 4 pitted medjool dates, or more if desired for extra sweetness
  • 1 Tbsp Madagascar pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp melted coconut oil

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, coconut and dates. Blend until well ground into flour. Scrape down sides and continue to process.
  2. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and sea salt and continue to process, scraping the sides down as needed. Keep processing and scraping – back and forth, back and forth.
  3. Then, add the coconut oil and continue to process. Continue to blend and scrape. Taste and adjust spices and sweetness as desired.
  4. Once desired consistency is reached, pour into jars and store in the refrigerator. Before using, remove from fridge and let sit on the counter for a bit to soften and come closer to room temperature. It firms up quite a bit when cold.

*Note: You can make your sunbutter to be thick like a paste or creamy and runny, which takes more blending. Just watch out, so you don’t overheat your food processor! It takes A LOT of time.

Grain-Free Carrot Spice Bread

IMG_3357

It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve made something like this and it’ll probably be a while before it happens again. Don’t get me wrong, the bread is truly rad, but I don’t like having this kind of stuff around very often. It’s definitely a once in a while or special occasion treat.

I was prompted to make this the other day as a way to de-stress and take some downtime for myself. I was also in dire need to stand for a while. I had been at the coffee shop studying and sitting for 2-3 hours and all my body wanted to do afterward is stand and move. I figured, why not make some carrot bread? It seemed like a logical and tasty solution.

The bread came out moist, flavorful and subtly sweet, just the way I like it. It also made the whole house smell comfy and cozy because of the warm spices, so I got the added bonus of aromatherapy. It was just what I needed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup grass-fed butter, melted
  • 4 pastured eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan with butter or coconut oil. I used this loaf pan, which is a medium size.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes or so, and then carefully remove and place on cooling rack. Let loaf cool for 10-15 minutes more before slicing.
  4. Enjoy with a nice pat of butter spread on top.

Yields: 1 loaf

IMG_3355

28th Birthday Recap & Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!

As you probably know, my birthday was this past Saturday, and boy, was it a good one! First of all, I had a wonderful night’s rest, which included sleeping with my bedroom window open, and woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside. It was a refreshing start to my day and made me smile. Then, I got ready for yoga and headed over to my studio. There’s nothing like a sweaty, challenging power vinyasa class to get the day going.

IMG_1011
Root Whole Body. (Taken on iPhone).

After yoga, I came home and made myself a wonderful breakfast. You may have seen it on Facebook, but if not, here’s what I ate:

Birthday breakfast.
Birthday breakfast: US Wellness Meats sugar-free grass-fed beef bacon, pasture-raised eggs cooked in garlic n’ herb pasture butter, avocado, and red chard and tomato cooked in the bacon grease. Not pictured, Numi Organics chocolate puerh tea.

Then, I got a surprise phone call from my 87-year old grandma and 90-year old grandpa back in Michigan. It was so touching and wonderful to hear their voices. Apparently, my dad was on the phone with them earlier in the day and asked if they wanted to call me on my cell and wish me a happy birthday. I’m so glad he offered up the idea! I love my grandparents dearly and they’ve always been a big part of my life.

Next on my agenda, a pedicure! I treated myself to a little TLC at a salon/spa down the road from us — literally just a 5-minute walk away. Lucky for me, I had a $20 off any service coupon that they sent me for Valentine’s Day, so my 50-minute pedicure only cost $20 (plus tip). Such a steal, and my toes look tons better. It was much needed.

A sneaky picture, in the midst of my pedicure.
In the midst of my pedicure. (Taken on iPhone).
After: pretty coral toes, and smooth, moist feet and lower legs. Don't mind the flip-flop marks on my feet. (Taken on iPhone).
After: pretty coral toes and smooth, moist feet and lower legs. Don’t mind the flip-flop marks on my feet. (Taken on iPhone).

The day continued with a drive up to Cultured Caveman for some chicken tenders. I LOVE their chicken tenders. They are crave-worthy. They’re dipped in a thin layer of coconut flour, egg white and spices, and then fried in grass-fed beef tallow. Garnished with course salt and dipped in homemade ketchup and/or aioli, they are divine. If you live in Portland and have not tried their chicken tenders and other delicious food, do it! And try some of my date/nut treats while you’re there…hehe.

Mmm...hot tenders!
Mmm…hot tenders! (Taken on iPhone).
A chicken tender smile. (Taken on iPhone).
A chicken tender smile. (Taken on iPhone).

Next, grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

Afterward, I hung out a home and did a itty bitty amount of homework. Then, I decided I wasn’t having any more of that on my birthday and put it away.

For my birthday dinner, we went to Cafe Nell, one of our favorite restaurants in Portland. We drank the loveliest chardonnay I have ever tasted and shared egg on horseback, minus the cheese. This is asparagus with a sunny side up egg and sage brown butter. For dinner, I had NY strip with roasted brussel sprouts. My phone pictures were really bad in here, especially the one I tried to take of my entree, so I don’t have a picture of that.

Dim lighting, a cozy fire and European-esque windows. The atmosphere here is one of my favorite things about this place.
Dim lighting, a cozy fire and lots of windows. The European feel of this place is one of my favorite things about it. (Taken on iPhone).

After dinner, we came home and ate some homemade butter pecan ice cream that I made earlier in the day, and watched the final episode of season 1 Downton Abbey. I had been wondering what all the hype was about this show and kept hearing people talk about it. Jesse and I finally checked it out on Netflix a couple weeks ago and loved it! I’m bummed that we have to wait for season 2 to come out on DVD before we can watch it, but oh well. That’s the nature of most everything we watch. You know what’s really funny? Up until watching this show for the first time, I thought it was called, “Downtown Abbey.” Am I the only one?

I had such a lovely birthday and feel so blessed. I’m just sad that it went by so fast. Now, it’s just a memory, but a good memory indeed.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

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Birthday butter pecan ice cream, equipped with a candle.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand)
  • 2 pasture-raised egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut cream (I used this brand)
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan pieces

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and let toast, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. The pecans will continue to absorb some of the butter while cooling.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, coconut milk, honey and sea salt together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream, vanilla and pecans. Place in the fridge to cool for a couple hours.
  3. Once chilled, add to ice cream maker and let churn for 17-20 minutes. Serve right away or empty into a container and store in the freezer.

Coconut Cake with Lemon Coconut Frosting

Coconut cake with lemon coconut frosting.

As you may know, Jesse’s 32nd birthday was New Year’s eve. I always like to do something special for him and this year, I let him choose his cake. Usually I pick it completely, but I guess I still kind of picked it because I showed him different options, but he made the final decision.

Anyway, the cake recipe is compliments of The Food Lovers Kitchen from their cookbook, Make it Paleo. I’ve made this cake two other times, but it turned out the best this time around. Three’s a charm, right? Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious before, but there were a few things I needed to toy with to perfect it. The only ingredient change I make with this recipe is that I swap out the maple syrup for raw honey since maple is a no-go for me. In terms of directions, I bake the cake for less time than the recipe states, and instead of a four-layer cake, I stick with two layers.

Two layers is easier to work with than four.

The lemon coconut frosting is compliments of The Detoxinista. I doubled her recipe after realizing a single batch was not enough for the whole cake. I listed the double recipe below. This frosting is fantastic by the way. It’s the first time I’ve ever made it. When I’ve made this cake before, I made a frosting from dripped 24-hour yogurt. This makes the yogurt a bit thicker and sort of cream cheese-like (a little runnier though). Making The Detoxinista’s recipe was actually a lot less fuss. Plus, I didn’t have any yogurt ready and didn’t have enough time for all the waiting. I think the lemon coconut frosting will be my go-to whenever I make this cake from now on though.

IMG_2736

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk, at room temp (or almond milk, which the recipe calls for, but I didn’t have any made)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  1. Measure out all the ingredients and toss into the blender. Make sure to measure out the coconut flour exactly — it’s dense, so a little extra can throw the recipe off. Also, this can not be done with a hand mixer or whisk. You need to use a blender and be patient!
  2. Blend for 30-45 seconds or until everything is mixed together well. Pour into a bowl once done. FYI it will not be thick yet.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to set. The frosting will be runny after you first mix it, but it does firm up in the refrigerator. Just be patient! I recommend letting it sit overnight.
  4. Before using, remove from refrigerator and mix well. Then, let the frosting soften to room temperature a bit. This will make it easier to spread.

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup raw honey (or maple syrup)
  • 10 eggs, preferably pasture-raised (Yes, 10 eggs! Coconut flour needs a lot of moisture.)
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut plus a little extra for garnishing, if desired

The cakes, post baking.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, add sifted coconut flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl or kitchen mixer, combine eggs, vanilla, honey and melted coconut oil. If you don’t have a kitchen mixer, use a hand mixer. It works just fine.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and continue blend.
  5. Once batter is blended and smooth, stir in shredded coconut by hand.
  6. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides of the pans with coconut oil. Pour batter evenly into both pans.
  7. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes were perfect after about 26 minutes.
  8. Remove cakes from the oven and cool.
  9. Frost one of the cake tops with the lemon coconut frosting and then, stack the other cake on top (stack it top-facing up, flat side down). Then, frost the entire top and sides of the cake. Garnish with a little unsweetened coconut flakes, if desired.
  10. Store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator, as it is perishable.
Wonder what he wished for...
Wonder what he wished for…
Birthday cake beauty.
Birthday cake beauty.

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!

Pumpkin Banana Spice Cookies

The pumpkin saga continues. It’s just that time of year when there’s literally pumpkin everything (I even tried pumpkin burgers last night, compliments of Civilized Caveman — they were awesome!). Being the pumpkin lover that I am, I’m okay with that. Sometimes I don’t know why I decide to do stuff at the last second. Like yesterday evening, about 30 minutes before I had to be at the gym to help coach class, I decided to whip together these cookies. I didn’t think they’d bake as long as they did, and literally walked out the door one or two minutes after taking them out of the oven. Yes, I ate one on my way out the door too because I can’t resist a warm cookie, fresh from the oven. My kind self even grabbed one for Jesse since he was at the gym (we coached together last night). He was pleasantly surprised when I handed him a warm cookie upon my arrival. What’s even better is that he enjoyed it, despite the fact that it didn’t contain chocolate (have I told you that he’s a dark chocoholic? Well, he is. Hardcore). *Inspiration for this recipe came from What Runs Lori.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp water, coconut or almond milk (start w/ 1 Tbsp & add more if batter needs it, omit if batter is moist enough)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp raw honey, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-slip baking mat.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. (Note: mine took 20 minutes).
  4. Remove pan from oven once done and let cookies sit on the baking sheet for a couple minutes. Then, carefully remove with a spatula and place on a cooling rack.

Yields: 12-16 cookies