Raw Goji-, Cranberry and Coconut Truffles

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I was introduced to date-nut balls, raw vegan bliss balls, raw chocolate truffles, whatever-you-want-to-call-’em, by Kimberly Snyder in her “The Beauty Detox Solution” book; she calls them raw cacao balls.

As you may already know, I come from a very large family. I am the youngest of 6 daughters and the auntie to 15 kids. When I go to a family event or just visit family, I’m usually never empty-handed.  Since having a sweet tooth is a common trait in my family, I usually come over with sweet gifts to bear.  I am delighted that my mom, sisters and their kids enjoy vegan and gluten-free treats!  And I am even more delighted when my raw vegan treats are a hit.  Some of the pickiest eaters in the family usually pick up a chocolate cacao ball, they don’t love it, then they try the raw goji-, cranberry and coconut truffles and they come back for more!

Here’s the super simple recipe.  I hope you and your family enjoy them!

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Raw Goji-, Cranberry and Coconut Truffles

1 1/2 Cup , plus more, about a 1/2 Cup for rolling Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

1/3 Cup Dried Goji Berries

3/4 Cup Almond Flour

1/4 Cup Coconut Nectar

1/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted/in liquid state

2 tsp Non-alcohol Vanilla Extract or 1/4 tsp Vanilla Bean Seeds

Pinch of Sea Salt ( I use a fine Himalayan sea salt)

 

1.In a food processor,  add almond flour and coconut flakes and process until finely ground. For at least a minute.

2. Add the dried cranberries and goji berries and pulse a few times to combine and until you reach a texture of your liking.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut nectar, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt until sea salt is dissolved then add to the mixture in the food processor into the bowl and mix well using your hands.  After all the ingredients are incorporated, I like to refrigerate the mixture just so it’s more firm and easy to work with.  This way, they’ll be more round and not flat-bottomed.

4. In the meantime, line a 1 quarter sheet pan or tupperware with parchment paper (and wash dishes?).  After about 7-10 minutes, remove the mixture from the refrigerator and scoop the truffles, about 8-10 of them.  I use a .8 of an oz. ice cream scooper.  I have also just used a spoon to scoop them. Once you scoop a ball, round it out with your hands then roll it into coconut flakes and place onto the lined sheet tray or plate.  Refrigerate immediately until hardened.

Enjoy!

 

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Lasagna

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Growing up, my mom didn’t make a real lasagna; we only had the hamburger helper or Costco heat-and-serve versions.  In her defense, my mom made a mean spaghetti and the most awesome twice baked potatoes and chicken a la king with biscuits! She’s a fabulous cook.  She just never took the time to make a lasagna.

When I was in high school, my sister Janet would take one of my sisters and I to a great spot in Little Italy, San Diego, called Mona Lisa.  During my first trip to the restaurant someone recommended the lasagna, so ordered it. It was so good that for every trip to Mona Lisa thereafter, I ordered the lasagna.  It was a thick, meaty, juicy, gooey, cheesy block of deliciousness.  So good. Soooo soooo good until I watched an episode on the Oprah Winfrey Show about irreversible fatty plaques in the heart.  It was then I had a paradigm shift about cheese, butter and my heart.  My life would never be the same again. This happened around 1996, when I was 16.  From then on, I became a little more health conscious and would have lasagna maybe once a year, or even once every 2 years.  Between 1996 and 2002, though, my healthy eating habits fluctuated and were out of whack due to my out of control thyroid condition (that was treated in 1998).

It wasn’t until I started dating Peyman and visiting his parents that I had lasagna more regularly (maybe once a month). My mother-in-law always packed delicious food for him on the weekends to enjoy during the week. One of her specialties is lasagna.  Her’s t isn’t ‘t too meaty, or too saucy or cheesy.  It even has spinach.  I thought it was good but still not the healthiest as it contains wheat pasta (I’m gluten intolerant) and I consider anything with cheese unhealthy.

Since Peyman hadn’t had lasagna in quite a long time, a couple of weeks ago I decided to surprise Peyman with a special lasagna, high in nutrition. It would be my first attempt at making lasagna! Coincidentally, that same day I watched “Forks over Knives Presents the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn” and decided to try Rip’s lasagna recipe.  If Rip thought his lasagna was good enough to serve at his wedding, I thought it was good enough for my man.  I made it extra special by making my own high-protein quinoa pasta sheets.  Finally when it came time for Peyman to try it, he wasn’t too thrilled.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he’s very picky.  First of all, he doesn’t like quinoa, rosemary and sweet potatoes; he noticed 2 of the 3 in his first bite.   Sadly, he didn’t finish his piece and I gave the leftovers to my sister, Riva, and her husband, Scott.

Funny thing, we saw Scott last weekend at their daughter’s birthday party.  Scott told Peyman and I that he really liked the lasagna!  Peyman couldn’t believe it!

Long story short, this inspired me to make a lasagna similar to Rip’s recipe but in a style I knew Peyman and I would definitely enjoy.  In addition to my adaptation being vegan and gluten-free, it is soy-free and a bit spicy with vegan rajas.  Good news, Peyman enjoyed this version very much! After taking a few bites he said with a nod, “this is much better!”. It warmed my heart.

Now, I’m going to share the recipe with you. Hope it satisfies you just the same!

 

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Yvonne’s Lasagna

Servings 5-6

Time: 2 hours

Brief: This is my adaptation of Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Lasagna. My version is both vegan and gluten-free, as well as soy-free. My version is also a little spicy with vegan “rajas”.

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF

You’ll need an 8×8″, 9X9″, or 8X10″ baking dish.

Ingredients

Pasta sheets:

1 Tbsp flax meal plus 3 Tbsp filtered water

3/4 cup quinoa flour

1/4 cup oat flour

2 Tbsp filtered water

1 tsp sea salt

2 drops of stevia, optional

Or

1 box of lasagna noodles, gluten-free

 

Filling:

1 sweet potato, optional

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 head of garlic, mashed or minced

4 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or 2 small Carrots, sliced at a diagonal.

1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 poblano or pasilla chile, deseeded and chopped

1/2 cup frozen non-gmo sweet corn

8 oz. frozen chopped spinach

2 medium zucchini, cut in half, then slice lengthwise to get long, flat pieces

1 large eggplant, sliced thin rounds about 1 cm. thick

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

>1 tsp dried rosemary

1 jar of pasta sauce. I( really like using Trader Joe’s Arrabiata sauce)

1/2 tsp sea salt

crushed red pepper flakes, as needed

3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup raw cashews, crushed or ½ cup cashew cream

 

Directions

Pasta Sheets:

1. In a small bowl, prepare the flax egg by mixing together 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp of filtered water. Set aside for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare other ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the flax egg, and mix.  Mixture should form a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp or more of filtered water.

2. Tear 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap (about 9X10″). Place one sheet on worktable, lightly dust it with flour. Take half of the dough, form it into a ball, dust the top of the ball with a little more flour.  Place the top sheet on top of the ball and roll out the dough about a centimeter or so thick, in the shape of your dish. When assembling the lasagna and when it’s time to add a sheet of pasta, flip the sheets with the pasta so that the bottom sheet now becomes the top sheet. Remove the top sheet from the rolled out pasta slowly so it doesn’t tear. While holding the pasta sheet on the parchment, transfer to the baking dish when it’s time to add the pasta sheet. If it doesn’t fit perfectly, cut the pasta accordingly and fill out the rest of the layer with scraps if there are empty spots, to make one complete layer of pasta.

3. Repeat step 2 when time comes to add another pasta sheet layer.

 

Filling:

1. Cover sweet potato in a paper towel. Wet it, place it on a plate, add a little water on the plate and microwave for 5 – 7 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked.  Alternatively, bake sweet potato in the oven until cooked. (375 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes). Set aside.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add onions. Cook for a minute then add the garlic and mushrooms. No oil is necessary. Cook for another minute and add bell peppers, poblano chile, corn, carrots, sea salt, oregano, basil, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring until the onions become translucent.  Once translucent, add spinach. Cook for one more minute. Place the mixture into a bowl. Set aside.

3. In same pan, brown the slices of zucchini until they become a little caramelized on both sides, not burned. Place caramelized slices on a small plate and set aside.

 

Assemble:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In an 8×8″, 9X9″, or 8X10″ baking dish, add a thin layer of pasta sauce.

3. Add a pasta sheet layer then cover with a layer of sauce.

4. Add a layer of the cooked veggie mixture (onion, garlic, mushroom, etc.)

5. Add a layer of eggplant. Overlap the eggplant with thin slices so you don’t see any veggie mixture.

6. Add a layer of sweet potato, either sliced or mashed.

7. Add another pasta sheet layer.

8. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce.

9. Add another layer of cooked veggie mixture.

10. Add another layer of eggplant, overlapping eggplant with thinner slices so you don’t see any veggie mixture.

11. Add a layer of zucchini.

12. Add last layer of pasta sauce

13. Add a layer of tomatoes

14. Sprinkle with crushed cashews or smother with some cashew cream sauce and a bit more marinara.

15. Cover with foil. Place on lined baking sheet, in case it bubbles over.

16. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hr and 15 minutes to 1.5 hours, until pasta is cooked.

17. Remove from oven. Remove foil and let it sit out for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

18. Slice and serve!

 

Yes, it is a lengthy recipe, but if you do attempt to make this, please let me know how yours turns out! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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Pancake Brunch

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As you may already know, my weekday mornings typically start with a warm cup of lemon water (to aid digestion), then once I get hungry, I enjoy my energizing glowing green smoothie for breakfast.

On weekends, Peyman and I like to sleep in.  We usually wake up so late that we eat a big brunch as our first meal.  Last weekend, right after we had our green smoothie, I was inspired by my Instagram friend, Lara : @llarah, to make these delicious pancakes.  I came up with an adaptation of her recipe since I don’t always like using protein powder, I like using oat flour more than buckwheat, I like using Stevia and I don’t love tahini, and I added a few more steps.  I want to warn you, these aren’t your typical IHOP pancakes since they are vegan and gluten-free; meaning, they won’t be of the fluffy sort since it’s gluten that lends it’s elasticity to achieve a fluffy crumb in a cake. These will be a bit more dense and just a tad fluffy.  I’ve tried other vegan and gluten free pancakes and so far, these are my favorite.  Come to think of it, maybe it’s the chocolate sauce that makes these pancakes so scrumptious!  I’m a former chocoholic, ya know! The recipe follows. I hope you enjoy them!

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Coconut Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Berries

**Note: I have a new and improved pancake recipe on my recipe page! They are my new favorite!

Makes 6 4-inch in diameter pancakes

Ingredients

Pancakes:

1 Cup Buckwheat or Oat Flour

1/4 Cup Vanilla or Pea Protein Powder or  Garbanzo Flour (first time I made these, I used a little less than 1/4C garbanzo bean flour and completed the 1/4C measurement with coconut flour. They were perfect. Protein powder is from the original recipe. It works, too, but don’t add too much liquid or it’ll take longer to cook, or may even be a bit more wet in the center).

1/4 Cup Almond Meal

1-2 tsp Cinnamon (to taste)

2Tbsp mesquite powder, lacuma or 1 Stevia packet

pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt

3 Chia “Eggs”

2 Large Bananas, mashed

2 tsp Vanilla Extract (no alcohol)

3/4 Cup Almond, Coconut, or Rice Milk

1/4 Cup Coconut Oil

4-5 Medjool Dates, seeds removed

Fresh Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (for garnish)

Bananas or plums, sliced (for garnish, optional)

 

Chocolate Sauce: 

2 Tbsp Almond Butter

2 Tbsp Cacao Powder

Maple Syrup or Coconut Nectar and or Stevia drops

 

Directions

Chocolate Sauce:

In a bowl, mix 2Tbsp almond butter, 2 Tbsp cacao powder and drizzle in maple syrup while mixing until it becomes saucey. Adjust with more cacao or maple syrup, if needed.  For lower fructose and glycemic index, substitute with coconut nectar. For less sugar, use stevia drops and add water to adjust consistency. (I suggest going the maple syrup route on your first try! It is yummy!)

Pancake:

1. Prepare chia egg and set aside.

2. In a small sauce pan, on low heat. Heat coconut oil and dates. Dates should dissolve, melt. Break it down with a fork or spoon. Mash it up.

3. In a medium-large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add remaining wet ingredients (except for berries)

4. Using a fork or whisk start whisking in the flour.  Adjust to taste. ie. if you think you need more cinnamon, add more cinnamon.

5. Important Step: Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes.

5. Heat non-stick griddle pan on  a less than medium heat. Spray with coconut oil spray, or use coconut oil to coat pan. Pour a circle that is 4-inches in diameter. Flip pancakes when edges appear cooked and batter bubbles a little on top. If after you cook it and it’s a bit wet in the center, add more almond flour to the batter or stick in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 5-10 minutes.

6. Serve immediately, topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and mixed berries.

Enjoy!

If you make this, please let me know how yours turns out!

 

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2-Minute Miracle Oat/Flax Bread

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If you have not yet read my 3-minute miracle bread post, you are definitely going to think this 2-minute bread recipe is crazy.  Let me tell you, it is crazy…crazy good!

Before I begin, I want to share that I happen to be married to a very picky eater.  Please do not get me wrong, Peyman is open to trying just about any type of food.  He just has a very discriminating palate.  One of the recipes that Peyman enjoys is my 3-minute miracle bread recipe.  Since it is made of primarily almond flour, I have always felt that it contained too much fat for regular consumption.  In my never-ending quest to discover and create healthier recipes, I researched and tested other bread recipes.  As my test guinea pig, Peyman did not particularly like any of the breads.

For a while, I was at a loss.  It was not until I was testing a dessert recipe, that I experienced an “aha!” moment.  While I was substituting sorghum flour with oat flour, I realized that I could probably use oat flour to create a quick-to-make bread.  I tested this idea one night while making veggie burgers for dinner, and I am proud to report that my quick-to-make oat/flax bread was a success.  Peyman loved it!

I am so grateful to have Peyman beside me on this journey.  Although Peyman does not suffer from gluten intolerance like me, he is willing to support me and sacrifice for me.  Since I eliminated gluten in my diet, I can breathe better and my skin has improved tremendously.  The little changes that we have made in our diet have been positively life-changing!

We enjoy this bread as a burger buns, slathered with dijon mustard, ketchup, crisped veggie burger patties, accompanied with sliced tomatoes, onions, and pickles. So good!

I also enjoy this bread, sliced in half and toasted on a griddle and smothered with my mixed berry chia jam. Yum!

I hope you find 2 minutes to enjoy this bread, too!

 

If you’re not sure if you’re gluten-intolerant, here’s a slide to help you out.  My IG friend, Natasha Gildea posted this and I thought it was something great to share!

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Now, finally, here’s the recipe I’ve been talking about!

 

2-Minute Miracle Bread

Serving size: One bread = 2 slices

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

1/2 cup of gluten-free oat flour (I pulverize gluten-free oats in my blender to make oat flour )

2 tsp of coconut flour

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1 1/2 heaping tsp coconut sugar (or 2-3 drops liquid stevia)

A pinch of sea salt

 

Wet Ingredients:

3 Tbsp of flaxseed egg (or 1 Tbsp of flax meal mixed with 3 Tbsp of filtered water)

1 Tbsp of filtered water

1 Tbsp of coconut oil (melted) or grapeseed oil (just a smidge less than 1 Tbsp)

 

Directions

1. In a small bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix.  In center of the bowl, create a well and add the wet ingredients.  With a fork, incorporate the dry into the wet ingredients.  Mix well.

2. Spray coconut oil or non-stick cooking oil in a large ramekin, small bowl, or Pyrex glass bowl.  Spoon the batter into the bowl and flatten.  It may help to have slightly wet fingers when pressing down on the batter to remove holes and to even it out.

3. Microwave the batter for approximately 2 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. If it feels too gooey, microwave for an additional 15 seconds. 2 minutes is always perfect for me.

4. Remove the bowl from the microwave and flip over onto a plate or cutting board.   It’s important to allow it cool for about 2-3 minutes before slicing.  Slice with a small serrated knife.

*Alternatively, you can bake this bread in a preheated 375F oven.

 

You can eat as it is, as we did, or toast in a toaster (make sure it’s completely cool first though), toaster oven, or on a pan or griddle with a little oil.

 

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Before being heated in the microwave

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After being removed from the bowl. Remember to let it cool before slicing!
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Sliced oat/flax bread

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Please let me know how yours turns out!  Bon appetit!

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