Coconut Espresso Nutty Ice Cream

“There’s nothing wrong with us that a little ice cream won’t fix.”

-My sweet Grandmother, Loretta Riley

DSC_0629

My grandmother always had the best advice. That quote resonates within me whenever I have a bad day or the yearning for a cold creamy treat. When growing up, my younger sister and I used to spend the summers visiting her in Arizona. Our days flew by there; swimming in her pool, playing cards and marbles, and eating ice cream out of coffee mugs. I miss the simplicity of those days, but I what I miss most is her. She was the kindest, most sincere, wise and witty woman I have ever known. Tonight I will be eating this ice cream out of a coffee mug for you, Grandma.

DSC_0634

Coconut Espresso Nutty Ice Cream {Gluten Free}

Makes about 2 quarts

 

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

2 cups of organic vanilla almond milk

¾ cup organic cane sugar

3 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 heaping spoonfuls of Coconut Espresso Nut Butter (or any nut butter you like)

½ tsp Nutmeg

Pinch of salt

DSC_0641

Using a hand mixer, blend all ingredients together for just a minute,  only until sugar dissolves and almond butter breaks up a bit.

Add to ice cream maker. Let spin for 25 minutes in ice cream maker then pour into a freezer-friendly jar and freeze for 2 hours. Add 2-3 scoops to a coffee mug, enjoy, and remember that “there’s nothing wrong that a little ice cream won’t fix”!

DSC_0651

DSC_0652

DSC_0660

DSC_0733

DSC_0736

 

Coconut Espresso Nut Butter

DSC_0550I cannot tell you how many times I have made almond butter. For something that seems so easy, I have never been happy with results. I always seem to end up with a thick and very dry concoction, nothing drippy or viscous like I had hoped. The first time I had ever made coconut-almond butter was the biggest disaster. I bought unsweetened shredded coconut from the local health food store, brought it home, added it to the food processor and literally processed it for over twenty minutes and nothing had happened. It was supposed to turn into a creamy butter after five minutes! I looked at the ingredients and realized that this particular unsweetened coconut was mixed with a few other preservatives; hence never allowing it to break down. I can only imagine what this looks likes in our digestive tract if it can’t even break down in the insanely aggressive food processor. I went back to the market, purchased ORGANIC unsweetened shredded coconut and it turned into the drippiest, creamiest, smooth butta in just minutes. Phew. But, sadly, the battle was not yet won. I had added raw almonds to the food processor and it took at least twenty-five minutes to grind the nuts into a semi-congealed mixture. The almond butter fell very short of a nice gooey spread; it was more of a thick paste. I learned, that adding the raw almonds without roasting them first was a bad idea.

DSC_0526

Raw nuts have natural enzyme inhibitors, which keep them from sprouting and breaking down, allowing for a longer shelf life.  When we consume raw nuts it can really harmful for our digestive tracts, because the enzyme inhibitors keep our own bodies from absorbing the vital nutrients in food. There are two ways to ensure proper absorption and that is to either soak or roast the nuts.

Soaking nuts is an incredible way to release the enzyme inhibitors and to start the process of germination. Eating these sprouted nuts allows us to ingest all the essential vitamins and minerals. I always have a little jar of sprouted nuts to add to yogurt, cereal, or to make homemade nut milk. I will definitely have more on that later.

Roasting nuts also slightly unlocks these enzyme inhibitors and allows the nuts to break down when thrown into the food processor. Roasting your nuts is an important step when making nut butter! Don’t forget this. Also, be sure to always rinse your nuts and dry them well before roasting them. Almonds and other nuts are sprayed vigorously with pesticides and other chemicals in the farming process, so make sure to rinse them even if they say “organic” on the package.

Another important change I have made in my almond butter is to add cashews. Cashews have naturally higher levels of oils in them compared to almonds. The cashew/almond mixture is much creamier than one with almonds alone.

I can ultimately say that this is my favorite nut butter recipe. I spread it on toast in the morning, add it to cookies and ice creams for a special subtle flavor, or even just by the spoonful. I am so happy to share this recipe, finally!

DSC_0466

coconut

DSC_0502

Coconut Espresso Nut Butter {Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo}

(Prep time: 18 minutes, Processing time: 15 minutes)

 

1 cup organic raw cashews, rinsed and dried

1 cup organic raw almonds, rinsed and dried

3 cups organic unsweetened coconut flakes (or 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut)

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 TBSP espresso grinds

1 TBSP Agave nectar

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lay raw almonds and raw cashews on a small baking sheet. Bake for 16 minutes, stirring half-way through the bake time to ensure even roasting. Almonds and cashews will become fragrant and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor add the flaked coconut. Process until the consistency of coconut butter. This should take about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep scraping the sides of the bowl. The coconut butter should be very drippy.

*Make sure your coconut is organic and has no other ingredients. If the coconut is mixed with oils or preservatives the coconut will never process into butter.

  1. Add the cooled almonds and cashews to food processor with coconut butter. Process for about 5 minutes until very drippy. Add the salt, cinnamon, vanilla, espresso, one at a time, through the feed tube of the processor and pulse until combined. Add the Agave at the very end, pulse until just combined (the Agave will make the butter a bit sticky so I only pulse for about 30 seconds). Spread on multigrain toast or whole wheat English muffin, or eat by the spoonful, like me.

DSC_0513

DSC_0519

DSC_0522

DSC_0534

Mushroom, Leek, Chèvre Panini

Monday’s are my favorite! No, seriously. I know for most, it is possibly be the most dreaded day… but for me it’s the first day off after five consecutive days of working through the brunch craziness at the cafe. Normally, Kris and I have Monday’s off together so it is really extra special. We usually spend the day grocery shopping, walking our sweet pup on the beach trail, hitting up our favorite yoga class, and making dinner at home. Today, on the other hand, Kris got called in to the music studio for a couple of hours. Now what was I do to? I decided to drown my sorrows  take advantage of the afternoon and make myself something warm. I had only a few things left in the fridge, because it is monday after all; grocery day. I had been staring at this giant leek in my fridge for some time. It came in our CSA box and I had basically been drooling over it for the past week, wondering to which dish I would incorporate it. I had a few crimini mushrooms, some goat cheese, a great rustic loaf and voila! A panini was in the works….

This panini is quite the palate pleaser. Creamy, earthy, mildly sweet and crunchy; it was the perfect lunch for my “Han Solo” time. (That was a Star Wars joke for my nerdy hubby) 😉 If you have never had leeks before, you really need to add them to your grocery list. They are a slightly sweet and mild form of the onion family. They are pretty versatile, but are best known for their roll in soups and salads. Leeks are grown in sand to keep their stalks from getting too much sunlight. Sand is pushed high up around them to keep them blanched and white. This is why cleaning and washing leeks is so important! Sand gets in between the thin layers and can really ruin a dish if you skip the rinsing. The best part of the leek is the white stalk; so trim off the root and the very green leaves on the top.

DSC_0609
DSC_0409

DSC_0449

Mushroom, Leek, Chèvre Panini {Vegetarian}

(Prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes)
Makes: 2 Paninis 

4 slices rustic bread

1 Large Leek, rinsed & chopped in little half-moons

5 oz Chopped Crimini Mushrooms

4 oz Chèvre, Goat Cheese, crumbled

2 TBSPs Whole Grain Mustard

A few sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed from the stems

1 large Tuscan Kale leaf, chopped

1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

A few TBSPs red pepper jam for serving

1. Chop the root and the green top off the leek. Cut the leek in half, lengthwise. Then cut each half into small half-moons. Rinse the leeks in a sieve and be sure to get all the sand out of each layer (I run my fingers through each layer, separating them, to make sure they are clean). Chop the Crimini mushrooms into small pieces. Set both the leek and mushrooms aside.

DSC_0514

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a small non-stick skillet. Add diced leeks, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper into the oil and sauté for about 3 minutes. Keep the moving the leeks around to prevent too much browning. Add the chopped Crimini mushrooms and another pinch of salt and pepper to the leeks and sauté together for about 5-6 minutes. Add the fresh thyme leaves and stir together. Remove from heat.

DSC_0524

3. Drizzle one side of each slice of rustic bread with a little bit of olive oil. On the other side of the slice, spread a thin layer of the whole grain mustard (do this to all four slices). Crumble the goat cheese over the mustard. Add the leek and mushroom mixture to the bottom of the sandwich. Add the chopped kale leaves to the top of the sandwich. Put the two sides together and into your panini press. Heat until goat cheese melts and bread has golden grill marks. Serve with red pepper jam, a crispy Sauvignon Blanc or an effervescent glass of sparkling water.

DSC_0557

DSC_0572

DSC_0589 DSC_0608

DSC_0633

DSC_0644

Curried Lentil & Apple Wraps

The rain this morning made it for a quiet day at the cafe and I was able to leave work early! It was such a pleasant surprise. On the way home, I was mulling over all the things that I could do with my newfound free time. I was ecstatic about the all the daylight I still had to conquer my to-do lists. I rushed up the stairs to our home and I immediately started planning out my afternoon, and before I knew it, my to-do list became a to-do novel. How did my afternoons agenda turn into a weeks worth of chores? I decided that perhaps, since I became so carried away, I needed to do just the opposite. Instead, I would enjoy this afternoon and take in the day without stressing over all things I wasn’t getting to. I reminded myself to slow down, practice patience, and to quiet my mind. I listened to myself. I could hear it loud and clear! Oh. Wait. That was my stomach growling….

Since I was home, I whipped up this little wrap. Healthy, easy, and didn’t take long to prepare, which allowed me to continue to enjoy my unexpected day off. 🙂

DSC_0670

DSC_0569

DSC_0605

Untitled

Curried Lentil and Apple Wraps {Vegetarian, Gluten Free}

 Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
 (Prep time: 10 minutes, Assembly: 5 minutes)
Makes: 4 Wraps 

1 cup Lentils, cooked

⅓ cup Mango Chutney

1/2 cup Plain Goat’s Milk Yogurt

2 TBSP Curry Powder

1 TBSP Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Juice of 1 large Lime

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

½ teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Can Organic Garbanzos, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped

3 Green Onions, white and green parts, chopped

2 Carrots, grated

¾ cup fresh Mint, chopped

¼ cup Raisins

¼ teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce, optional

1 small head Romaine Lettuce, thinly sliced to yield about 2-3 cups

1 Apple (unpeeled), diced into ¼ inch pieces

4 (12-inch diameter) Whole Wheat Wraps (if gluten free; use brown rice tortilla wraps)

 

1. In a large bowl, whisk the chutney, yogurt, curry powder, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper until combined.

2. Add the lentils, garbanzo beans, grated carrots, green onions, mint, raisins, lettuce, apples, and drizzle of Sriracha and mix it all together.

3. Spoon the filling into the center of each wrap, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border. Fold the bottom flap of the wrap up and over the filling. Fold in the sides and roll up tightly to enclose the filling. Cut each wrap in half, on the diagonal, and serve. If you are like me, and you have leftovers, store in an air-tight container up to 3 days.

DSC_0636

DSC_0654

DSC_0700

DSC_0694

Seared Ahi Tuna & Soba Noodle Chow Mein

new

DSC_0124

I love everything most things about takeout Chinese food. It usually means that Kris and I are sitting on the living room floor, slurping up noodles straight out of the paper carton with wooden chopsticks, some cold sake, and movie. It is a rare treat for us to be sinking our teeth into those sweet and salty saucy noodles, and usually happens when we have been hit by that damn hangover truck.

I came home from work the other day (not hung-over!), craving some Chinese takeout. Because, I had my wits about me, I decided I would make my own version: a healthier, less salty, naturally sweet adaptation with a little more fiber and protein than the takeout stuff. I used soba noodles, Japanese buckwheat noodles, that are relatively low in calories and high in protein. Buckwheat contains Choline; a compound in the vitamin B complex that plays an important role in metabolism, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing cholesterol. Soba noodles are just as delicious as chow mein noodles and even better for you! I had a couple of Ahi tuna steaks in the fridge and thought they would work great as the protein in the chow mein, and it was incredible. Just be sure to sear the Ahi only until medium-rare, because the fish will cook more in the wok, and you don’t want it too firm. This chow mein will hit the spot and keep you from craving the nasty, calorie-laden takeout, I promise. It is amazing served hot right out of the wok, but I have to say, it was even better cold, at midnight 😉

*If you are vegan, I am certain it would be delicious to substitute the Ahi for sautéed tofu and merely leave out the fish oil.

DSC_0117

DSC_0109

DSC_0050

Seared Ahi Tuna Soba Noodle Chow Mein {Vegetarian}

(Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 30 minutes, Serves: 4) 
 

2 Ahi Tuna Steaks (about 1 lb)

9.5oz of Soba Noodles

4 Carrots- peeled, cut into matchsticks

1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, chopped

4 Green Onions, white and green parts, chopped (save about a TBSP for garnish)

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 TBSP Ginger, minced

1 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted

3 TBSP Sesame Oil

1 teaspoon Fish Oil

2 teaspoons Chili Garlic Sauce

3-4 teaspoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

4-5 dashes Rice Wine Vinegar

2 teaspoon Agave Nectar

¼ cup chopped fresh Cilantro

Sprinkle of Toasted Sesame Seeds

Sririacha and more Soy Sauce for serving

  1. Rub both sides of the Ahi tuna steaks with a teaspoon of the sesame oil and some salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Once hot, add the Ahi steaks and sear about 2-3 minutes on each side until medium rare (pink in the middle). Chop the steaks into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
  2.  Prepare soba noodles to package directions.  Toss the soba noodles in a bowl with about 2 TBSP of the sesame oil, 1 teaspoon fish oil, and 2 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce. This is an important step, for it will prevent the noodles from sticking to each other. Set aside.
  3. Heat wok pan till almost smoking hot (if you do not have a wok, a large saute pan will be fine).  Add the coconut oil, minced garlic, minced ginger and turn heat to medium. Stir-fry until you can smell the aroma of garlic, about 45 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic, it will turn bitter. Add in the carrots and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the carrots and mushrooms are cooked, add in the soba noodles, green onions, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. The trick is to add the sauces around the sides of the wok to allow the condiments to trickle in and stick to the soba noodles. Drizzle the Agave nectar over the top of the noodles.
  5. Add the Ahi tuna to the wok and toss with noodles. Cook all together for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the rest of the sesame oil (about another 2 teaspoons) and toss. Transfer to a large serving bowl and top with the chopped cilantro, a few more green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with low-sodium soy sauce and Sriracha (Rooster Sauce) at the table.

DSC_0141

DSC_0151

DSC_0173

DSC_0183