recipes

4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

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I couldn’t let one of my favorite holidays go by without making something festive to contribute to the red, white and blue section of the blogosphere. This little treat is almost too simple to warrant a recipe or a post but really isn’t simple just what you need on a holiday that’s all about being outside with great friends and family? Then again, making something a little more challenging is always fun too.

These berry and coconut yogurt parfaits are just sweet enough for a light dessert and look festive without even trying. I’m really wishing all of our kitchen stuff wasn’t in storage right now because I have the most perfect cocktail glasses that these parfaits would look beautiful in. They’d also be cute in little 2 oz shot glasses if you happen to have a collection of those. Otherwise a small glass or clear plastic cup will do – I say glass or clear so that you can see the pretty layers.

Leftovers make a delicious and healthy breakfast too (love it when that happens), especially with some added ground flax and walnuts – one of my favorite yogurt breakfast combos that adds a hearty dose of omega-3s and fiber. Not that this treat isn’t healthy on it’s own. Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants to protect your DNA, and your skin and hair too. They’re good inflammation fighters as well.

blueberries

strawberries

Side note… On our California Highway 1 road trip last week we pulled over for some fresh-picked organic strawberries at a farm stand after driving past miles and miles of strawberry fields being hand picked by workers. Gotta say, I have a whole new appreciation for how we get these little gems. And my god were they the sweetest, juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had. Ever. I mean it; they were candy. Here I am in front of the “you-can-pick” olallieberries. We didn’t have time for that so we just took the pre-picked berries and hit the road in our Mustang convertible (hence the head scarf).

olallieberries

coconut yogurt

These parfaits use coconut yogurt which is a fantastic alternative to traditional yogurts for those that can’t tolerate dairy or are trying to avoid cow’s milk products. It’s  sweeter and a lot less tart than dairy yogurts too which makes it good for desserts. I buy the So Delicious brand and opt for plain. Then you can flavor it however you want with fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries or peaches. It’s much fresher tasting that way and you can skip the added sugar and natural flavorings.

So there you have it – what just might be the simplest dessert for the 4th. I hope your Independence Day is as sweet, juicy and full of life as these little treats. Happy 4th!

parfaits

4th of July Berry & Coconut Yogurt Parfait

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pint coconut yogurt
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, chopped

Directions

In a small glass or plastic cup, place a layer of berries (you can do either just strawberries or blueberries, or mix them together) then top with a layer of coconut yogurt. Then add another layer of berries and top with yogurt. Continue alternating layers until you reach the top and make the last layer of berries.

 

recipes

Lemon Drops

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Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. I know I sure enjoyed myself. If you’re anything like me, here in the first few days of the new year, you’re struggling to get back into what was once your routine. And maybe wondering how you even got into that routine in the first place. The good news is, new years are new beginnings. After the holidays have turned our routines upside down and given us some distance from our own little hampster wheels (whatever that may be for you), coming back, we shouldn’t just jump back on and go right back to what we were doing before. With distance we gain perspective and are given the perfect opportunity to shake things up, do something different, try something new.

Maybe it’s the gym – you haven’t been in a while and you realize you really just have no desire to go. Don’t force it. Maybe you just really don’t like the gym. And it’s time to give the yoga studio down the street a shot. As you get back to your routine, go easy on yourself and listen to your inner voice to shape a new routine that’s going to make you happier and healthier in 2013.

After weeks of indulgence, going cold turkey on that sweetness we crave can be suicide. Start by weaning yourself off processed sugar. These little lemon cookies are perfect way to ease the transition. They’re made with honey so you’re not going to get that high and low you typically do with sugar and are full of good things for you like almond, coconut and lots of lemon. Lemon is high in vitamin C to help fight colds and flus and has an alkalizing effect on the body – just what we all need after eating lots of acidic foods like white flour and wine. Lemons also help to cleanse the liver and aid in digestion. Plus, that fresh tart taste can’t help but make you smile. Even better, add a lemon wedge to your water to get all these benefits throughout your day. It can be part of your new and improved 2013 routine.

I wish you all the happiness and health you handle in the New Year. Here’s to fresh starts…

lemon coconut cookies

lemon zest

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Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 pinches of salt
6 tbsp honey
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla (I use vanilla powder)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible (ours settled at 170 degrees).

In a mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, dried coconut and salt. Whisk to mix well.

Depending on size, you’ll need about two or three lemons for the zest and juice. Zest lemons then set aside. Juice lemons into a separate small bowl. In another small bowl, add the honey, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer, add dry ingredients and begin to mix. While the mixer is running, slowly add wet ingredients.

To melt coconut oil, place in a small pan over medium heat until it becomes a liquid. Once the oil is in liquid form, slowly add to the batter while the mixer continues to run.

To make cookies, roll batter in balls (about 1 inch diameter) and place on a coconut-oil-greased baking sheet. For less mess, use plastic baggies over your hands to grab and roll dough.

Bake for one hour or until the outside is dry and firm.

recipes

Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is having a big breakfast at my parents house. Even though we’re all grown up now and (almost) out of their house (the front door is a revolving one these days, but I think they like it that way…), we spend the night on Christmas Eve and wake up in the home we grew up in. Things aren’t quite the same – I have a husband. And my old room is now an office. So my brother gets bumped to the couch to give us old marrieds his bed (sorry, Michael). But for one night we’re all under one roof again and it makes me smile.

It’s the thought that years ago we were waking up at the crack of dawn, sneaking out to see what Santa had brought us. And now we will be trying our hardest to sleep in as long as possible. And then, instead of going straight for the presents, we’ll go for the coffee (it will be needed after a late night of drinking wine, talking and laughing with aunts, uncles and cousins). And in the morning we’ll have a leisurely breakfast with our traditional foods and some new additions (gluten and dairy free of course).

This year I’m making these gluten and dairy-free pumpkin muffins that are full of holiday spice and fresh orange for Christmas. Oh, and I threw in some chocolate too… They’ll be an addition to our traditional bacon, eggs, waffles, coffee cake and (drum roll) Pilsbury cinnamon rolls. When we were kids, we’d fight to the death for that “middle one.” Ooh, and the extra icing. This year, Ross, I’m tagging you to represent — Don’t be afraid to use those elbows. That warm, gooey center is worth it.

So maybe not that much has changed…

I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of indulgences… but most importantly love, laughter and memories. Merry Christmas to all!

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Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch sea salt
1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice…)
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1/2 chocolate chips (to keep these dairy-free, you can use vegan, available at Whole Foods) (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Either line muffin pan with liners or grease using coconut oil. This recipe makes about 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins. Or mix it up like I did with 24 minis and 6 large.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, large enough to hold all of the wet ingredients, beat the eggs. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins to a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the outside and baked through. You should be able to stick a toothpick through the center and pull it out clean.

recipes

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Nutmeg-Spiced Hot Milk

IMG_2814Hot milk… there’s got to be a better name for this. Blech. This is so not just hot milk. It’s wrap-yourself-up-in-a-blanket-on-the-couch-and-stare-at-the-christmas-tree [milk]. It’s not  cocoa; it’s not cider. But they got together and had a love child, this would be it. If anyone has a more succinct way of expressing that, I’m all ears. Leave it in the comments.  For now though, I’m keeping it short and sweet. I’ve got to go cozy up and enjoy my Christmas-in-a-mug [milk].

IMG_2791Vanilla, Cinnamon & Nutmeg Spiced Hot Milk

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of ground ginger (optional)
dash of ground clove (optional)

Directions:

In a small sauce pan, add 1 cup of almond milk. Then add the honey and spices and whisk. Continue to heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the milk begins bubble. Pour into mug, get comfortable and enjoy.

recipes

A Head Start on Thanksgiving

I don’t really believe it, but Thanksgiving is next week. This holiday has completely snuck up on me. Thankfully I don’t have any major responsibilities for the day. In years past my sister Molly and I have volunteered to make macaroni and cheese, which my mother said, “we don’t need this year.” Probably because we double the recipe and take up valuable real estate in the oven. This stresses my mom out.

There’s only so much space in the oven and sooooo many things that need to be warm and ready all at the same time. Plus a giant bird. To actually get everything at the optimal temperate at once, and then to get everyone to sit down for dinner simultaneously is really a tremendous feat.

For all those facing a similar task next week, here are a few ways to get a head start on the day – 101 dishes that you can make in advance and even serve cold.

Mom, sign me up for one of these….

28. Toss cooked Israeli couscous with toasted pecans, orange zest and juice, chopped mint, cider vinegar and honey. Bake in an oiled dish or use as stuffing.

41. Toss chunks of sweet potato and 2-inch lengths of scallion with neutral or peanut oil. (Again, a little sesame oil helps.) Roast, turning as necessary, until nicely caramelized; drizzle with soy.

43. Toss chunks of butternut squash with butter and curry powder. Roast until half-tender, then stir in chunks of apple and some maple syrup. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until everything is nicely browned and tender.

50. Cook chopped onions in olive oil until soft. Add chopped spinach and a handful of raisins — maybe a little port, too — and cook until wilted and almost dry. Roasted pine nuts are good on top.