How I got into making marshmallows is a long story, the short version of which is that I got some gnarly food poisoning over the holidays that left my stomach in a major state of disrepair. As I’ve spent the last month since trying to rebuild my insides, I’ve been craving gelatin like mad. I’m not someone who tends to eat many animal products (though I cook them regularly for clients), so the craving has been super weird for me. I’ve made and consumed gallon upon gallon of bone broth and I’ve plowed through over a lb of grass fed gelatin. In the search for foods that contain as much gelatin as possible, I came across marshmallows. Yes, those gloopy gloppy sugary childhood chunks of sin that most of have not eaten in MANY a year. They can be re-vamped into a healthy treat, they are freaking delicious, and I’m placing bets that once bone broth hits critical mass and the general public becomes aware of its endless health benefits, gelatin based derivatives like marshmallows are going to be huge.
I didn’t invent a paleo recipe for marshmallows; thankfully the internet was already full of them, and they ‘re all comprised of water, either honey or maple syrup (you can find recipes for stevia but they just don’t hold up well), gelatin, and maybe some vanilla. Not much of a vanilla girl, I set forth straight away to the land of better and more interesting flavors. On this ride I’ve made cinnamon maple, salted bourbon butterscotch, and now the best of all: cara cara orange and Levity red asparagus root extract. Not only are these crazy yummy, they are also full of feel good chemicals to create a joyful mindset. I used some sweet orange essential oil to up the orange flavor and health benefits, as orange oil is good for everything from mood to digestion. Longevity Power Levity is something I’ve spoken at length about: it tastes like caramel and it feels like magic. Together these ingredients combine to create a delectable dessert that is as good for your gut health as it is your mental health.
All the recipes I’ve found for paleo marshmallows proclaim repeatedly, “These are so easy to make!!!” so I am going to be the first honest human to tell you, these guys are a pain in the butt. They are messy to make, messy to clean up, and messy to cut, they take about a half hour, and timing for each step is critical. They’re just damn good tasting enough to be worth the effort.
Cara Cara Orange & Levity Marshmallows
If cara cara oranges aren’t available near you, or it isn’t winter when you’re reading this, regular oranges will work fine. If you prefer all maple syrup or all honey, that’s fine too. If you’re familiar with paleo marshmallow recipes, you’ll notice that mine is a 50% increase over the standard. One reason is because this quantity fits perfectly into a 9×13 pan, and another is that if you are going to go through this effort, you should have as much to show for it as possible.
1/2 cup boiling water
juice of one cara cara orange, approximately 1/4 cup
1/3 cup grass fed gelatin powder
2 tbls Levity powder
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
4 drops sweet orange essential oil (organic, therapeutic grade only!)
Pour boiling water over remaining ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir well. Gelatin will lump up, which is ok. Leave to soften as you work on the next step, and return every few minutes to stir gently and help gelatin break down. If after you’ve completed the below syrup making you still have any gelatin chunks that can’t be smushed down, just remove them.
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
Combine in a saucepan over medium heat and boil until soft ball stage, 240 degrees. Do not stir. As bubbles arise, poke them down with a fork.
Once you have soft ball stage syrup, remove from heat and begin pouring over ingredients in mixing bowl in a slow stream with mixer on low. Once combined thoroughly, move mixer up to high and beat until mixture looks like marshmallow fluff, 8-10 minutes.
Grease a 9×13 baking sheet with coconut oil, and if desired, coat with a dusty powder such as arrowroot, corn starch, cinnamon, or cocoa powder, and/or additional orange zest. Pour marshmallow fluff into pan and refrigerate until firm and ready to cut, 3-4 hours.
Some people are content to see the world exactly as they view it through their eyes and call it a day, every day. Other people yearn for more: brighter colors, deeper feelings, cosmic connection. I’ve always been the latter, and even as a small child I did things to get “high,” like push on my eyeballs with my fingers because it made me see flashes of pretty colors. I have multiple memories of my mother scolding at me to stop that, it can hurt your eyes. It became a late-at-night (read: after 8 pm bedtime) pleasure, pretty much until I was old enough to smoke pot and moved on to that instead. My college years were spent seeing A LOT OF PRETTY COLORS on a regular basis, and in the many years since my UC Santa Cruz haze, aka since “growing up” (while remaining a rainbow haired tattooed girl in DIY torn up tank tops), I’ve transitioned to finding euphoria in everything from farmers markets to herbal tonics.
Just because tonic herbs are legal, doesn’t mean they can’t get you crazy blissed out. Beyond that, of course, are their myriad health benefits, which include everything from reversing gray hair (thank you, he shou wu!!) to helping your body better adapt to stress. The only real issue I ever had with herbal tonics is the fact that though they are best absorbed eaten as a food rather than taken as a pill, they tend to taste pretty nasty. Enter Longevity Power, purveyors of outrageously effective– and delightfully palatable– premium quality herbs.
When I first tried LP’s “Levity,” which is an extract of red asparagus root (not related to normal asparagus, the veggie), I seriously felt like I was back in Santa Cruz partying like the type of rock star I am way too old to make my body be these days. It tastes like caramel, and it feels like ecstasy. And it totally helps your body adapt to stress, to boot. Add to that their Epic Reishi, which has an espresso flavor and provides support for your immune system, liver, and nervous system, and what do you get? Well, if you’re a culinary creative, you get ICE CREAM. Killer joyful mocha ice cream that is crazy good for you, being made predominantly of avocado and sweet potato, and is both vegan AND paleo, in addition to low glycemic. It is also super easy to make, the most difficult aspect of it being the do-ahead roasted sweet potato, and no one will know it isn’t full of dairy, soy, or anything processed at all. Because ice cream, like everything else, deserves to make you feel really, really good inside.
Magic Mocha Chip Ice Cream
1 small roasted sweet potato (any color)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk or other thick milk
1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
2 tbls coconut nectar, or honey if not vegan
3 tbls Levity
1 1/2 tsp Epic Reishi
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
3/4 tsp salt
stevia to taste: I like Sweet Drops toffee and use 2 droppers full
Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth. If you don’t have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, add additional milk as needed.
This is awesome eaten straight from the blender as a pudding, especially if you add a couple tbls of coconut oil before blending. But if you want to persevere and take it a step further to the land of frozen summer happiness, just chill the mixture until cold (about 1/2 an hour in the fridge, presuming your roasted sweet potato was cooled off) and then process in an ice cream maker.
Add 1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips, or some of each, at the very end, and freeze until firm.
Serve with a sprinkle of extra reishi on top and subsequently confound your friends and loved ones when you give them some then let them in on the fact that the tastiest mocha ice cream they’ve ever had has not a drop of dairy, soy, or coffee in it. Whole foods and superfoods take the cake– hell, they take the whole dessert– every time.
I’m not generally much of an in-between kind of girl. My hair is black, or it’s white. (Or, currently, it’s black and magenta, which is, again, kind of serious looking, in a really fun and unserious way.) Either I’m working 20 days in a row, or I’m twiddling my thumbs for equally as long. I’m in love with and deeply attracted to extremes, in all facets of life. In line with my character, I vacillate between making the most ridiculously complex food ever, and the simplest. Lucky for you, dear reader, today I came up with a granola bar that is stupid easy and also AMAZINGLY tasty. Better yet, it’s gluten free, grain free, paleo, high protein, and vegan. These would be good with any nut or seed butter, but the chocolate Nuttzo adds a killer dessert-y flavor, plus a bunch of nutrients and omegas via flax seeds.
To make these awesome little guys, throw all of the below in a bowl, stir until combined, pour in a pan, and put in the fridge or freezer. Get back to it in an hour, cut into bars, and knock yourself the hell out never buying granola bars again.
1 cup nuts (I used raw almonds), whole or broken, doesn’t matter
1 cup coconut flakes (exchange for dried fruit if you don’t like coconut)
1 cup sprouted dried buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, fyi, and it’s now delightfully inexpensive sprouted and dried in the bulk section of health food stores)
3/4 cup chocolate Nuttzo
3/4 cup date puree (puree dates, or buy dates pureed)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup
3 scoops protein powder of choice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Like I said: mix together until it’s all gloppy and uniform, spread in a pan, and refrigerate. That’s it. If you have no patience, like me, put them in the freezer and they’ll be ready in a half hour. If you have patience, put them in the fridge and it’ll be more like an hour or two. Keep them in the fridge so they stay hard until eaten, or keep frozen if you plan on having one as a grab-n-go snack later in the day.
The buckwheat gives these a Rice Krispie treat texture, so I wouldn’t omit that, but beyond that you can basically change out any ingredients here you want to keep flavors current. Add dried fruit, add more nuts, change the nuts, change the protein powder, add cocoa powder, do whatever you want because you’re not baking these so you’ve got nothing to worry about. What you see is what you’ll get when you make the batter, only it will firm up a bit once cold. If by some change you add too much stuff and the mixture isn’t spreadable, just add more nut butter until it is, and taste to make sure they’re still sweet and salty enough.
Peppermint patties don’t have to be made of corn syrup and GMO madness! This how-to video blog will teach you a simple coconut oil based recipe for a raw version that are as healthy as they are tasty. And it will also educate you on who was NOT a Strawberry SHortcake character, and why you shouldn’t chain up your dog, because those things are totally relevant to candy making.
For the entire year of 2007, the only album I listened to was Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine.” This past fall, Mexicola avocados were in season for two months, and every day for breakfast and lunch I ate two small avo’s and a Hachiya persimmon (both from the same heaven-sent farmer). When I get an obsession going, I tend to just ride it out, and eventually it wanes. Thank heavens I don’t tend to get hooked on anything too expensive…
I’ve always been a fan of making fresh spring rolls, but ever since I created the almond-tamarind sauce I blogged about here, ALL I WANT TO EAT IS KALE SALAD SPRING ROLLS. I limit myself to two meals a day of them max. In the last month or so, I’ve made no less than 1-2 dozen batches of spring rolls– enough that I have acquired a few good tips about working with those daunting yet delicious rice paper circles.
1. Soaking the rice paper sheets in warm water will expedite the time needed for prep. Sure, 1-2 minutes isn’t forever to wait per sheet, but if you’re making a big batch, extra down time can slow your process. Once you get a rhythm going, you can place a new sheet in the water as soon as you pull the ready one out, and it will be ready when you’ve finished filling the first. Conversely, if you find you just can’t keep up, soak them in cold water to give yourself at least 3-4 minutes to construct each roll. Either way, you will streamline the procedure by placing a new sheet in the water directly upon taking out the old.
2. If one meal is not enough– and if you make them well, it won’t be!– it’s easier than you think to make extra and have them not dry out. When you pull the rice paper out of the water, don’t dry it on a paper towel as is generally recommended. For one, it will be easier to work with and less inclined to tear during folding, and for another, they will keep without drying out for at least two days because of the additional moisture in the paper. Store them in an airtight container, and if they do dry out after a couple days, wet your hands with cool water and rub them gently; they’ll soften right back up.
3. Punch up flavor by dressing some of the ingredients. You can add a simple sauce to one ingredient, making sure to drain it well, or dress all ingredients. Marinating porous foods like mushrooms (yes, you can totally put mushrooms in spring rolls) beforehand will lend additional flavors to the overall product.
4. If presentation is key, of course you want all ingredients julienned and placed in the wrappers individually. However, if you just want to eat something very yummy and perfectly decent looking, make a salad of your ingredients, and pack a few spoonfuls of it into the wrappers. I’ve been making this salad and just tossing 1/2 cup or so of it into each wrapper, while using extra dressing as the dipping sauce. You don’t need to julienne anything, but everything should be fairly small, and you do want to avoid any sharp edges that might tear the rice paper.
5. The ingredient options for spring rolls are fairly endless, but fresh herbs are key. If you simply can’t get a hold of any because the urge to make rolls strikes when you can’t get to the store, get creative with greens. When I wanted them but had no herbs on hand, I used carrot fronds, and it worked perfectly.
6. Think outside the Asian box. The spring rolls I made with carrot fronds had a main filling of a salad that consisted of sprouted chickpeas, dried sour cherries, and grass fed Greek yogurt. They were hearty and filling and in no way authentic, but one bite of a unique combo like that will have you proudly calling yourself a fusion chef.
7. There’s no need for noodles in my book (I’m not a huge fan of carb filled carbs: rice in a burrito is madness to me), but should you prefer your spring rolls with something stringy, kelp noodles make a wonderful healthy option. Simply soak them beforehand according to package directions.
8. For an extra pretty punch, place a mint, parsely, or cilantro leaf inside as you’re wrapping it up. Wrap it most of the way, center a leaf or two on it, then fold over the final edge. Make sure that the leaf doesn’t reach the edge of the wrapper, or it won’t stick properly to itself.
A moderately traditional vegan set up: cucumbers, red carrots, spinach leaves, Dave’s Gourmet tempeh, kelp noodles, mint
Decidedly untraditional vegetarian rolls: sprouted chickpeas mixed w/dried sour cherries and grass fed Greek yogurt, roasted sweet potatoes, carrot fronds, and Belgian endive
When it comes to dressings and sauces, I typically maintain a close and strong relationship with mustard. Any savory food + mustard = better tasting food, I feel, and I usually construct my salad dressings and dipping sauces around it. However, just because I have monomaniacal tendencies doesn’t mean I’m a total bore, and lately I’ve been very into tamarind. In the past I’ve bought whole dried beans and soaked them, but I’m often unsatisfied with the flavor and texture of that, so I tend to get jars of tamarind paste instead (which has no other ingredients, just the fruit).
Tamarind, in all its goodness, doesn’t particularly get along with mustard, so my sauce experiments of late have had different bases. Through the trial and error of fridge and cupboard random ingredient exploration, I have come up with a salad dressing/dipping sauce/stir fry sauce, aka SuperSauce, that is rich, creamy, sour, sweet, salty and spicy. The only thing we’re missing here is bitter, and I pretty much hate bitter, so this to me is a perfect combo of flavors that I have been using in everything from salad to spring rolls. It also works for basting veggies or proteins with before baking, or as a sauce for noodles (kelp, brown rice, soba, or if you’re totally retro, flour) or other grains, and can be thinned with water if desired.
Tamarind SuperSauce: (makes enough for 6-8 servings)
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tbls coconut nectar or honey
3 tbls tamari or nama shoyu
1 1/2 tbls tamarind paste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
5-8 drops liquid stevia
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Ratios can be changed depending on your preference, though too much more tamarind will make it unpalatably sour. (As is, the tamarind flavor is quite prominent.) For a more typical Asian-sauce flavor, you could substitute almond butter with peanut butter.
Tamarind SuperSauce dressing a winter salad of dino kale, shaved carrots, apples, and radishes.
I’ve been out of the blog-habit lately; I hadn’t made any new and interesting food, my CO recovery hasn’t made any new leaps or bounds, and I’ve been outside enjoying the summer as much as I can. My only news, really, is that I started swimming again after a many year hiatus, and within about three weeks, am just about up to a mile! Monday I swam 1400 meters, and tomorrow I’m going for the full 1600.
I’ve also been still sticking to the Wahls’ Diet, which is why I haven’t made anything too terribly thrilling– I never thought I could get tired of vegetables, but my goodness, I am pretty damn veggied out! That said, tonight I made some haricot verts that are AWESOME TASTING. They are gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan, but not soy-free because I used Bragg’s liquid aminos. You could switch out coconut aminos, which I have but didn’t use because I didn’t want to impart any sweet flavor. The soy isn’t Wahls’ compliant, but with a daily consumption of nine cups of produce, you kinda have to let a condiment slide by here and there. There are definitely more condiments in this dish than I’ve been using on my veggies lately, but these also taste better than any veggies I’ve made in weeks, so there is something to be said for that.
Fan-freaking-tastic Easy Stir Fried Green (or Purple) Beans 1 lb haricot verts or regular size beans; I had purple ones on hand from the market
4 cloves garlic
1/2-1 chopped jalapeno
1-2 tbls Braggs
2-3 tbls So Delicious plain coconut kefir
1 1/2 tbls chile powder; I used Frontier Herbs, which I think is the absolute tastiest
1/2-1 tbls oil (grapeseed, olive, etc.) Feel free to omit if you’re low-fat, and saute in water instead.
Take stems off beans. If using full-sized green beans, feel free to cut into manageable pieces. Heat a pan on medium high heat, and add oil, garlic and jalapeno. Saute for a minute or so, then add green/purple beans and chile powder. Stir frequently for about five minutes, then deglaze pan with Braggs. Cook another five minutes or less, until beans are tender-crisp. Remove from heat and stir in coconut kefir. Note that purple beans, which are a little sweeter and gorgeous when raw, will turn plain old greenish brown when cooked.
There’s no need for salt or pepper, seeing as Braggs is salty and jalapenos are spicy. The coconut kefir adds a richness to balance out the strong flavors of those, while also adding a unique tang.
Dessert has a different meaning in my world currently than it used to… though I ate a lot of raw and vegan desserts anyway, on the Wahls’ Diet (which I’ve been doing to heal from CO poisoning) there aren’t too many dessert-friendly ingredients allowed. I’m still square with avocado pudding, thank heavens, and have eaten that pretty damn regularly, as evidenced by previous blogs. However, before I also baked somewhat regularly, and even when I made gluten-free stuff there was usually some sort of grain SOMETHING involved. When I decided to do the diet I did so fully (I went free of everything suggested), meaning that for now, with the exception of one small serving of a cheat food every 1-2 weeks, I am pretty much all Wahls-compliant food all the time.
And that means that in order to switch things up with the avocados, I’ve been rethinking sweet potatoes. Though not normally allowed on a Paleo-based diet, Wahls allows both beets and sweet potatoes in the “brightly colored” category because of their high nutrient content. Rather than a side dish, I’ve been treating them as dessert, and they work very well as one. Inspired first by Erewhon’s deli-counter sweet potato puree with coconut milk and vanilla, then by a blog about using sweet potatoes as a basis for a peanut butter pie, I’ve come up with a pretty freaking tasty version of sweet potatoes. There’s no butter, no sugar, no soy, and no need for any of it. It’s rich, it’s decadent, and it will satisfy your dessert tooth, I promise. Amounts given are basic guidelines so that you can make as small or large a batch as desired.
Garnet sweet potatoes, aka yams, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices then rough chopped into 3/4 inch squares and triangles. I do enough to fill a 9×13 baking dish, which is about half a dozen medium ones.
Put chopped sweet potatoes into a dish, and preheat oven to 375.
enough unsweetened coconut milk to go 1 inch up the pan– not so much that it will boil over.
Sprinkle liberally with:
a touch of cloves
Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, and adding more milk as needed– don’t let them dry out. They should take about an hour to bake.
Stir every few minutes as they cool, adding 1/2 cup coconut milk at a time until they stop absorbing it. I use at least 2 additional cups over what I used when they cooked.
Once cooled, throw the whole lot into a blender.
1-2 droppers each toffee and hazelnut stevia
1/3 cup (or more) almond butter
more salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and/or ginger to taste
Blend until mostly smooth, with some chunks remaining if you prefer (I do). Eat as is, or layer with additional almond butter, avo pudding, or anything else. The coconut milk is rich enough that you won’t even notice the lack of butter, but if you are used to super decadent sweet potatoes you could add some coconut oil, or more almond butter. The stevia alone makes them more than sweet enough, since they are very sweet to begin with.
A couple of Thanksgivings ago I got hooked on my own adaptation of this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for cranberry bars. I used a crust that had coconut flour in addition to the nuts she uses, and saved some to sprinkle on top, which was an idea I got many years ago from America’s Test Kitchen, when they did an oatmeal-based recipe for peanut butter and jelly bars. I love using one mixture for two different textures and purposes in a dish. This past week my mom sent me a few new recipes from Elana’s site, including this one for Raspberry Streusel. While I liked the idea of her recipe, it made me long for those old peanut butter and jelly bars, so I jumped ship from her basic recommendations and came up with a new version of that old favorite of mine.
Generally when baking for myself, I use either all stevia or a combo of raw buckwheat honey and stevia, but I wanted to make something that Ace would enjoy too, and she is a firm believer in desserts involving actual sugar. Since I was already making this vegan and gluten-free, I decided to use coconut sugar as the sweetener, which is a good compromise because it has no bitter flavor like stevia, but is still moderately low-glycemic. You could easily sub out the sugar for stevia, xylitol, or erythritol, but since these still have fruit in them they wouldn’t be completely sugar-free.
Strawberry-Cherry Almond Butter Streusel Bars:
Filling: (any other fruits could be substituted in same proportions)
16 oz strawberries, cut into halves or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup dried (unsweetened) tart cherries
3 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup date soak water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Cook stovetop on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are limp, cherries are plump, and dates have mostly dissipated.
Top Crumble and Bottom Crust:
1 cup nuts- I used 3/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup walnuts
Pulse in food processor until finely ground
1 cup almond flour or meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (Earth Balance or butter could be used if that flavor is preferred)
2 tbls coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pulse until a crumble forms, then place 2/3 of mix into a greased 9×7 or 8×8 baking dish.
Press crumble down firmly with hands until a uniform layer is formed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Once crust has cooled slightly, gently spread 1/3 cup almond butter onto it. (You could, of course, use peanut butter instead- almond is just a healthier option.)
Add fruit filling to pan and spread to edges.
Drop remaining crumble on top, scattering about into randomly sized bits and pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then allow to cool before cutting.
These are the bars right out of the oven:
And this is how the layers look once cut:
If strawberries aren’t in season and you want to use apples, below is a similar cobbler/crumble/streusel I made with those, on its way into the oven. Lining them up makes for a very pretty presentation.