Cherry Zucchini Muffins with Goat Yogurt & Honey

So, it's a long long story, but in here's the short version for now....

I recently purchased some SaladMaster cookware through a friend who sells them. If you don't already know about this company and this type of waterless cooking, you really should enlighten yourself. It's much healthier for you and everything seems to cook really quickly at low temperatures. 

Anyways, I have been practicing and practicing the new cooking technique and let me tell you, it's been a long uphill battle. It should be fairly easy to follow a recipe but of course, seeing as though I don't follow recipes, I am pretty much SUCKING at it. Put it this way, this Cherry Zucchini Muffin recipe was originally intended to be a "healthy cake".

The idea with Saladmaster and other waterless cooking, is that you can bake cakes on the stove top in a pan in about 15 mintues at a low temp.

I've seen people do it and it totally works. The best part is that you don't need sugar or salt or any added oils. Just enough liquid, which in this case comes from the fruit and eggs or milk, so that the thing doesn't burn.  

I made up this recipe in my head {yeah, at times I'm very fortunate to have this skill but it can also be a mess sometimes} and tested it out in the pan. Well, something went wrong. Not quite sure what. The flavor was there, but the pan was burned and it didn't come out in the shape of a cake but rather a pile of chunky berry sand. 

So, I decided to revert back to "normal" baking and tweeked the recipe a bit...and, voila! Healthy, tasty, low-sugar, gluten-free, no oil, no egg muffins. PERFECT! 

And what better than my son's favorite snack - goat yogurt - to top them with!! So tasty and hearty for a great breakfast or snack. 

Muffin Recipe

1c almond flour
1c gluten-free baking flour mix
1/2 c coconut flour
1/2 xylitol
1 1/4 c cherries, chopped
1/4c zucchini, shaved
3/4 almond milk or water {or 3 eggs, beaten in a blow by hand}
2 Tbls local honey

coconut oil, for greasing the muffin pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl combine all the dry stuff - flour and xylitol. Set aside. 
Meanwhile, chop cherries into quarters. Using a grater, or a cheese shaver, grate zucchini. 
Mix zucchini, cherries and honey in a bowl but SAVE 5 TBLS for the top of each muffin. Add water or almond milk to flour mixture. Then add the cherry/zucchini mixture. 

Grease muffin tins/pan with coconut oil.

Using your fingers and a spoon, put a layer of freshly grated zucchini on top of each muffin. Like you would a frosting or topping. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Note: The muffins don't rise much, so fill the muffin tins until completely full. These are dense and filling muffins.

Topping / Frosting

1 container plain whole greek yogurt
2 tsp - 1 Tbls honey {to taste}

Blend honey and yogurt well. Top each muffin with honey yogurt when ready to eat.

Note: Don't top the muffins until you're ready, this is is important. You might want to store the muffins in a container or freezer, so leave the yogurt off. Once you are ready to eat them make more greek yogurt topping. 

Peach & Cilantro Tempeh Salad :: Vanilla Fig Coconut Ice Cream

Summer is officially in full-effect! It's not only sweaty hot around here but the beaches are full of people, stores and parks are crowded, traffic is crazy and well, my taste buds are all over the place. 

Instead of craving comfort food, I crave fresh produce, sweet coffee {really weird}, green drinks, watermelon, crunchy veggies, white wine and yes, ICE CREAM and popsicles.

Today I have decided to share a really flavorful, Summery but light dish followed by FRESH in-season banana fig ice cream for dessert. No dairy and not a lot of cooking.

Tempeh is one of my favorite vegetarian proteins because it comes from WHOLE fremented soy beans, not flour or soy milk. It's got a lot of protein and vitamins. It also has a really hearty taste. I like to cook it the same way I would cook salmon had I been cooking salmon or stir fry meat in a wok {which I don't eat}. By the way, did I mention, it's meat-eater approved?

Makes a great lunch or light dinner. 

ORANGE TEMPEH & PEACH CILANTRO SALAD
serves 2 dinners, 3 lunches/snacks

1 package tempeh, chopped into chunks
1 peach, thinly sliced
1 large handful chopped cilantro
4 TBLS tamari
1/2 TBLS oil of choice
1 orange
1 avocado

In a small bowl combine tempeh, tamari and oil. Cut the orange in half. Set aside half the orange. Squeeze the juice over the tempeh mixture and using a grater or shaver, grate the orange peel into the mixture as well. Let sit for 10 minutes. Stirring a few times. 

Meanwhile, in another larger bowl combine sliced peaches and cilantro. Using the other half of the orange, squeeze orange juice into the bowl. 

Heat your stove to low/medium heat. In a frying pan, add the entire tempeh mixture. Let cook on one side until the moisture/liquid starts to harden and turn dark color {aka reduce the sauce}. After about 5 minutes of cooking on that side, using a metal spatula, scrape the pan and toss it again, coating the rest of the tempeh in reduction sauce. The tempeh should be pretty brown from the tamari, about 5 more minutes. 

One a plate slice the avocado into long pieces. Arrange on plate. Top with the peach salad. Then top the salad with warm browned tempeh. 

Enjoy! 

Dessert is especially fresh and healthy. With only honey and bananas as a sweetener it's a perfect way to end the day or maybe even START the day. I love having cold ice cream for breakfast on a hot Summer day, especially one with in-season fruit, coconut and honey. 

FIG NON-DAIRY ICE CREAM RECIPE
About 6-8 servings

4-5 fresh figs, sliced in half, skin on
1.5 frozen bananas
1 can organic coconut milk {creamy & full-fat}
1-2 heaping TBLS raw local honey {add more or less honey to taste}
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom, powder
1/2 vanilla bean
5 mint leaves, choopped

Chop 4 figs and break the frozen bananas in half. Add to a high speed blender. Open can of coconut milk and add that to blender as well. Mix on high until totally smooth and no chunks {you can keep chunks if you'd like}. Add honey and spices. Using a knife, cut open the vanilla bean. Scrape out the seeds in the inside. Use the sticky black seeds, and discard the shell.

Blend again on high until thoroughly mixed.

Add to your ice cream maker and follow directions. Should only take you 30-40 minutes of freeze time.

note: because we don't use dairy, the ice cream tends to take a bit longer to freeze in the ice cream maker. Be patient. If it doesn't completely get hard like traditional ice cream, you can put in freezer for another 10-20 minutes before scooping out. 

Top each bowl with a mixture of fresh figs, finely chopped and fresh chopped mint.

Raw, Vegan, No Bake, No Salt Date Balls {for the kids}

What a fun project this was today. Super easy, quick, healthy AND delicious. Can't beat that. Oh wait, yes I can, they are also kid-approved

My sons love dates and of course chocolate. I don't allow them much chocolate, even if it is raw cacao powder. Just a sprinkle on these gives the feel and taste of chocolate without the side effects. 

If your kid like to help out in the kitchen, like my oldest son, then this project is a great one for a rainy day. And best of all, there is no baking or dehydrating involved. 

DATE BALL INGREDIENTS

1/2 c sprouted walnuts {or just raw walnuts}
1/2 c sprouted cashews {or just raw cashews}
20 dates 
2 Tbls date sugar {optional}
1 1/2 Tbls lemon juice {or water if don't have this}

Optional: cacao powder, hemp seeds, goji berries, coconut flakes for topping

DATE BALL INSTRUCTIONS

In a Vitamix blend the dates, date sugar and lemon juice until it turns into a paste. Like 1 minute or so. 

In a Cusinart or food processor chop nuts on high until so fine that they almost turn into a flour. 

Using your hands and fingers roll 1 tsp or 1 Tbls of date paste into the nuts until it forms a ball. Then lightly roll that ball again through the chopped nuts. {see photos}

I decided to do a layer of raw cacao powder. You can use regular toasted cocoa powder if you want as well. It gave them a dark truffle sort of a look. 

You can roll them in coconut powder, goji berries or even hemp seeds if you feel like it. 

Refrigerate balls for about 2 hours. 

Your kids should like them as well. Of course I can't guarantee it, but give it try. Great source of healthy fats, fiber and carbohydrates to keep their brains running smoothly {wink}. 

NOTE: If you have any of the chopped nut flour mixture left, save it, I'm making raw vegan banana bread and it calls for this same mixture. 

Enjoy & Happy Weekend!

Cauliflower Kale Salad

 

I made this for dinner the other night. It was one of those nights when we had nothing but caulilfower and kale in our fridge. 

I decided to try and make cauliflower "steaks" by cutting the cauliflower into large think pieces. But, that didn't really work as well as planned. 

I basically just prepared my favorite raw kale salad and added some crisped cauliflower. Sounds basic and easy. It was. But wow, it was GREAT. Better than you might imagine. 

I didn't measure everything exactly, so forgive me if this doesn't turn out exactly as the image shows above. 

KALE SALAD RECIPE

1 head kale, chopped fine, bottom stems totally removed
1 avocado, cut into pieces
1 lemon, juiced
4 Tbls olive oil
1 green onion {optional} thinly sliced
2 pinches sea salt
1 pinch pepper

THOROUGHLY mix everything in a large bowl. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile make the cauliflower and toasted cashews.

note: you might see some sesame seeds. i LOVE sesame seeds on my kale salads. you can add that as well!

CAULIFLOWER RECIPE

1 cauliflower head, chopped into fairly large pieces
4 Tbls olive oil
4-5 pinches sea salt
4 pinches cracked pepper
1 tsp powdered mustard {optional}
1/2c raw cashews

I used two separate large pans. On medium heat I head the olive oil while coast the cauliflower in the oil in the pan. I used two pans because I wanted each piece of cauliflower to be touching the pan. Let it sit for about 5 full minutes. Sprinle with sea salt, pepper and mustard powder. Then flip cauliflower and let it get cook for about 5-10 more minutes. Keep tossing for the next 5 minutes until still crunchy but dark on the edges and lightly cooked through.  

You can add cashews to the salad for more crunch, fat and protein. I toasted them for a bit because I like the taste of toasted nuts sometimes. But this is optional. 

To do so, heat a pan between low and medium. Toss cashews in the pan for about 5 minutes total. You gotta keep the moving for most of the time. I used a touch of oil, but you don't need to. 

Mix the raw kale salad with the cashews and cauliflower. 

Enjoy the weekend! Make a salad!

Shannon Staglin & Her Pasta Favorite

I'm so excited to introduce you to Shannon Staglin. I have raved about Staglin wines in the past {Napa Valley, CA} and displayed wonderful pictures of their property

I'm excited today to introduce you to Shannon and share one of her favorite pasta recipes! 

Shannon might not be a vegan but she is one of those people who uses mostly fresh organic produce from her yard. One of the coolests parts of Staglin Vineyard is that it's CCOF Certified Organic. So that means the lemons, pears, grapes, persimmons and so on, are all not sprayed and just perfect. 

Their yards boast of gorgeous fruit and vegetables. I'm always so jealous of Shannon's facebook pics showcasing her vast array of home grown tomatoes, herbs, grapefruit {greyhounds}, peppers and greens GROWN IN HER BACKYARD {wink}. 

Here is what Shannon has to say:

Living in the Napa Valley I am surrounded by an abundance of seasonal fresh produce from our gardens in Rutherford.  Late winter is the perfect time for green garlic, broccoli di cicco and a bowl of pasta! 

BROCCOLINI QUINOA PASTA RECIPE

Broccoli di Cicco
2 Green garlic
1 Meyer lemon (zest & juice)
Flat leaf parsley
Basil
Chili flakes
Quinoa pasta
Parmesan cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook quinoa pasta according to instructions on package.

Chop up green garlic removing the root and the dark green part of the stem.  Slice stalk in half the cut in half moons.  Rough chop the Broccoli di Cicco in to bit size pieces.  In a heated sauté pan add olive oil, green garlic and chili flakes and sauté for several minutes until softened.  Add Broccoli di Cicco and cook until al dente.  Add the zest and juice from one meyer lemon.  Add salt to taste.

Strain the pasta and reserve a half cup of pasta water.  Add the pasta to the sauté pan with Broccoli di Cicco, drizzle with olive oil, add pasta water and cook over medium heat for several minutes to infuse the flavors into the pasta and the pasta water has been soaked up.  Toss with shredded parmesan, chopped parsley, chopped basil and serve. 

Staglin chardonnay goes really well with this recipe, but if I had to choose a wine other than ours, I'd say Goccino Chardonnay

GOCCINO December Selection: De Forville Chardonnay 2006 Most of the Piemonte region's Chardonnay vineyards are located in the Langhe DOC zone, which includes both the Barbaresco and Barlolo DOCGs, as well as the hills east and west of the Tanaro River. The Langhe DOC allows for a number of varietal wines, both red and white, however Chardonnay is quite unique in the sense that it is a non-native variety of the region. Grown in the calcareous clays on the slopes of the Lange hills, the Chardonnay grown here is able to retain both its acidity and its minerality. Langhe Chardonnay has recently become an important white wine category in Piemonte, with many of its producers making rich, complex and well structured wines. The better of the Chardonnays from Piemonte, as the 2010 De Forville Chardonnay, reflect the soils from which they are grown from in a very direct way.

MORE GUEST BLOGGER:

Shannon Staglin is President at Staglin Family Vineyard. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Cultural Anthropology she moved back to Napa to work as a harvest intern in 2001 where she learned the details of production and viticultural practices. In 2002 she moved from the winery into the office where she honed her skills in marketing, hospitality, consumer and trade sales. After earning her MBA from the UC Davis Graduate School of Management she chose to work for several years outside of the wine business to gain insight, a different perspective and valuable experience that she could one day share with Staglin Family Vineyard. She was recruited to create the marketing program for Wells Fargo Family Wealth, providing multifamily office solutions to ultra-high net worth client families.

In 2011 Shannon returned to Staglin Family Vineyard where she oversees all aspects of the business. Her educational and professional experiences provide a new perspective and a fresh outlook that will enhance the family business for many years to