Friday, November 12, 2010

Turquoise Tile Test Kitchen Cookies #2...Power Balls!

So we are heading to Palm Desert this weekend and doing a 15 mile hike up Mt. San Jacinto with some friends. I ensured them that I would bring along some snacks for the hike, which gave me a great reason to create another 'power' cookie!

This time, I used the remains of a failed attempt at almond butter..... The first attempt was successful. I used roasted, barely salted almonds, put them in my food processor (all the while wishing I had a vita-mix), added some honey, salt and vanilla and it was DYNAMITE! The consistency was a bit dry so I had to add some oil. This led me to think next time I could soak the almonds, and then use the same procedure. What I thought was brilliant thinking, ended in a batch of almond butter MUSH similar to the almond pulp that I often have leftover after making my almond milk. Not so fun, but I can't stand to waste things! So....long story short, I am using it in this cookie recipe with the mush as the base. You don't have to go to all of that trouble to make these cookies though....unless you are by odd chance making my almond milk then use your leftover pulp :). I suggest using almond butter or peanut butter instead of my long-winded concoction!

Nut and Seed Power Balls

3/4 C oat flour
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C sesame seeds
1/2 C flax seeds
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 C almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 C brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla
sea salt

(Nata modeling on the
mountain with a power ball!)

Directions: Make oat flour by pulsing rolled oats in a food processor until a fine flour texture. Combine flour, seeds, nuts and cinnamon. Stir in nut butter and brown rice syrup until combined well. Allow 5 minutes or so for mixture to set. Form into 2" balls and roll in shredded coconut, flaxseed meal or seeds (if desired). Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until toasted and firm.

From left: flaxseed ball, coconut ball, original ball

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Easy Eggplant Marinara Bake

I have made a delicious zucchini bake worth remembering a few times from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog, where she creates a casserole using almond flour and nutritional yeast in between layers of zucchini. The combination gives a ricotta like texture and cheesy flavor in between layers of zucchini or summer squash. Not only is it a great recipe for those who can't eat cheese, but it's a much less guilty casserole even for those who can.....without compromising flavor! I have served this to unsuspecting guests receiving rave reviews!

One evening, with a giant eggplant in hand and dinner on the mind, I decided to create a similar dish using the same method with my eggplant and a jar of marinara sauce. To save time I omitted the typical 'salting of the eggplant' method used to extract excess water and bitterness, and it seemed to work just fine. The end result was a delicious eggplant bake that blew my mind, and got an A+ on the hubby factor rating system!

Eggplant Marinara Bake

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2" discs
2-3 shallots or small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C Almond Flour
1/4 C Nutritional Yeast (can usually be found in the bulk section)
1 T dried oregano
1 T Italian seasoning/ Chef's Shake
Salt & pepper
2 C marinara sauce
I used 'Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro, Homemade Style Marinara' sauce made with red wine which is one of my favorites.

Step-by-step photo instructions:
1. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with marinara sauce and then a layer of eggplant
2. Sprinkle eggplant with almond meal, nutritional yeast, herb blend, salt & pepper, some sauce and shallots, then repeat with another layer of the above until all ingredients are used up
3. Top with marinara, a drizzle of olive oil, nutritional yeast and herbs
4. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour
(eggplant should be starting to brown and have settled into dish)

Allow to cool slightly before serving......and enjoy!

Nutritional Nugget: Yeast, believe it or not, is a valuable nutritional supplement as it contains high levels of protein and vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a non-active form of yeast that you can use in a number of ways in the kitchen and it adds a delicious nutty, cheesy flavor. Add it to salads, casseroles, soups, popcorn, crackers and dips to experience all of its great health benefits.

It contains 18 amino acids, making it a complete protein, as well as 15 different minerals. For those on a low cholesterol diet, vegetarians or those looking to boost protein levels, nutritional yeast makes a great addition or substitution to meats, dairy and other high fat proteins.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turquoise Tile Test Kitchen Cookies

Oatmeal-Almond Cookies with Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese

Much of my cooking and recipes are often inspired by utilizing something I have on hand. I love finding fresh ingredients and then saying...."ok, now what am I gonna do with this?" Or I will open my fridge and figure out what needs to be used up, and then try to piece things together to create a dish. I love the puzzle of it all!

Today, it was the leftover almond pulp that I often have on hand after making my D.I.Y. Almond Milk. I also had half a block of Trader Joe's new Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese** (recipe below). The goat cheese (which is delicious and like a dessert!) made me think of the cream cheese danishes I loved as a child. While I wasn't going to dive into a crazy attempt at making a flaky pastry, I decided to combine the two to make some type of cookie...and the testing began!

Oatmeal-Almond Cookies with Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese
yields 8-10 cookies

1/2 C Almond pulp (extract almond milk first...see post)
3/4 C rolled quick oats
1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1 T golden flax seeds
2 T grapeseed oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup blueberry vanilla goat cheese (recipe below) or any kind of jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond pulp, oats, coconut and flax seeds. Mix in oil, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda, salt and stir well. Drop large tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and push thumb or spoon into the middle of dough creating a shallow hole. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of goat cheese mixture (or jam) to middle of each cookie. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

To make your own blueberry vanilla goat cheese combine 1/4 cup plain goat cheese with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 Tbsp wild blueberry jam.

Please note these cookies are only moderately sweet.

**Although I don't eat dairy and my blog is dairy-free, I do find that I seem to digest goat cheese okay and do enjoy it (very much!) from time to time.