Kitchen Experiments – Beans for Dessert?

Flourless Coconut Great Northern Bean Blondies

It seems like these days I am continually searching for new recipes and especially things made without flour.  Anita and I have been on our low grain and fruit diet now for over a month and we are sick of what we are eating.  We keep looking for different ways to cook with nuts and beans.  Someone gave Anita a recipe for Almond Blondies, which you make with almond butter, and it peaked my interest so I decided to make them.  I did not have the recipe however, so I did what everyone else does when they need a recipe, I put it in Google search.  Wow, I am always surprised by the number of recipes that pop up no matter what you are searching for.  I found the almond blondie recipe but this recipe caught my eye as well:

Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt.

I couldn’t resist the urge to click on that link and I was so glad that I did.  Beans for dessert?  You bet!

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I made the recipe and then got to thinking …what other bean nut combinations could I make? One of my favorite things that I have been making involves pecans and coconut.  I like those two things together so why not a pecan coconut blondie.  As many of you already know, when we started the ALCAT diet we also started a rotation diet, meaning that we try to only eat the same foods about every 4 days.  So, it was easy to decide which bean I wanted to use because on my pecan and coconut day I also eat white beans.  Now, there are many different white beans and any of them would work well.  I used Great Northern beans, but you could use navy, cannelini or a small white bean. I added an egg to the batter to make it more cake like, but it can be made without the egg or made with an egg substitute.  My new favorite substitution is 1 tablespoon chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons of water.  Stir and let sit until thickened.

Here is the recipe that I followed:

1 can (15oz.) Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Pecan Butter (I made my own in the Vitamix)
1/3 cup Coconut Nectar (you could use maple syrup or honey)
1 egg (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup Coconut Chips (you could use flakes)
 
~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray.
IMG_0967                                                                                                             (GROUND PECANS)
~In a food processor (again I used my Vitamix), add all ingredients except the coconut and process until batter is smooth. Fold in coconut (I added the coconut to the vitamix and then just pulsed it 2-3 times). Batter will be super thick.
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~Spread batter evenly in prepared pan with a spatula.  It may be easier to spread with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray or dipped in water.
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~Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown.  The batter may look underdone but you don’t want them to dry out.
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 Adding the beans to the recipe give the bars a really creamy texture.  To me it almost has the texture of a cheesecake.  It has got me thinking … do you think you could make a cheese cake using beans?  I will keep you posted!

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Kitchen Experiments – Strawberries with Coconut Whipped Cream

Have you been hearing non-stop now about coconut oil, milk and water?  Even coconut flour and sugar have found their way to the shelves! It seems like not long ago when coconut anything was a definite no-no.  Well, not anymore. It seems the more coconut the better!  Actually, when I went to school to get my masters in nutrition at Bastyr University in the 1990’s they were already talking about how good coconut oil was for you, it just took the mainstream community a few more years to catch on.  Basically the fats that are found in coconut are made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which do not get processed the same way that the short or long chain triglycerides do and therefore are able to be used directly for energy.

Well, honestly, the “good for you” part is nice, but I just love the versatility of coconut and of course the taste.  I was looking for a recipe for whipped cream made from something other than heavy cream when I came across this recipe for coconut whipped cream.  It looked so easy so I just had to give it a go!

straw and whipped creamIsn’t it beautiful!  Now, it does not taste like the whipped cream that you know, so don’t expect it to, but boy is the flavor delicious.  The best thing about it is that you need very little sweetener to make it taste good.  It was really the perfect pairing for these strawberries.  I think it will replace regular whipped cream in my house.  I can’t wait to make pumpkin pie!  I will let you know how that turns out!

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

1-2 Tbs. maple syrup 

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the coconut milk in the can in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 3 hours, but better overnight.  When removing from the refrigerator, try not to agitate the can. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of white, fatty goodness into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high-speed for 15-20 seconds, just until the mixture turns to liquid. Add the maple syrup slowly (amount depends on how sweet you like it) and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high-speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immediately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. It will harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high-speed until creamy again.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Kitchen Experiments – Granola in a Crockpot

I am all about having the right tools in the kitchen to make life easier. When I counsel people on how to improve their diets a common complaint is “I just don’t have time to cook good meals!” My first response to this is: “what kind of tools do you have in your kitchen?” This makes all the difference in the world! I do not think that I could cook without my pressure cooker, rice cooker and crock pot. OK, I could, but it would take me a lot longer.

A few years ago I really wanted to use my crock pot more so I bought several cookbooks. Who knew you could make so many things using a crock pot. I was thinking soups, stews, meats, but granola?  I never would have thought!  Well, if you think that you do not have time to make homemade granola because you don’t have time to stand around the kitchen waiting to turn the granola every few minutes so it won’t burn – pull out your crock pot and give this a try!

It was so easy.  If you have a favorite granola recipe or something sitting on the back burner waiting for you to have time, pull it out and let’s get cooking!  Basically what I did was put my dry ingredients in a large bowl.  I used gluten-free oats, pumpkin seeds, coconut, black currants, and maple sugar.  The recipe also called for milk powder but since I can’t have milk products yet, I used brown rice protein powder instead to give it an extra boost.  The next step was to turn the crock pot on high and melt/heat the liquids for 30 minutes.  I did not have that much time so I decided to heat the liquids on the stove in a small pot.  I used agave syrup and 1/2 cup of oil, instead of 1 cup and used 1/2 cup of applesauce as well. Once it was heated through, I poured the liquids over the dry and mixed it until everything was coated.

granola

I did preheat the crock pot while I was preparing the ingredients.  I had it on high for maybe 15 minutes.  It seemed pretty hot when I added the oat mixture.  Here comes the easy part.  I cooked it on high for 1 1/2 hours with the lid off, stirring once every 30 minutes.  After the hour and a half, I turned the crock pot to low, placed the lid on it, and left it for 3 hours.  The recipe had said 4 hours but when I came home after 3, it seemed pretty well cooked.  I removed the lid for another 1/2 hour to cook off some of the moisture and then it was done!

cooked granolaI allowed it to cool and then placed it in an airtight container.  The next morning I had delicious granola with oat milk for breakfast!  Boy, that was easy!

Kitchen Experiments – No Bake Nut Butter Cookies

So I was thinking one day about cookies.  What kind of cookie could I make on day 3 of my rotation diet when there are no eggs and the grain is millet?  Sometimes this Alcat diet presents some very critical problems!  Well, somehow I remembered that I had a recipe somewhere for some no-bake cookies, so I decided to take a look.

The recipe looked interesting but of course I could not have all of the ingredients that it called for so it was time to experiment.  Basically the no bake recipe included peanut butter, sugar and oats mixed together and then rolled into balls.  So, what could I do if I had millet instead of oats?

chocolate ballsI decided that I needed to have a nut butter cookie that included chocolate, so my first attempt was peanut butter, agave syrup, cocoa, puffed millet and shredded coconut.  They were very good but the texture was a little strange with the puffed millet.  I liked them but I forgot to write down how I made them.  Well, time for another try.

The coconut in the recipe inspired me to have a nut-butter cookie with cocoa and coconut.  This was a winner!

nut ballsPeanut butter was good, but I recently was able to add back in pistachios and cashews – so I pulled out the Vitamix and made some cashew-pistachio butter.  Yummy!  That is a good combination! I decided that the texture of the millet was too weird and instead just used the coconut.  I rolled them into balls and then rolled them in extra coconut.  You have got to try these.  They are so simple, but they are delicious! Here is the recipe:

2/3 c. nut butter

1/2 c. agave syrup

1/2 c. cocoa

1/2 c. coconut + extra for coating the outside of the balls

I mixed the nut butter with the syrup first, then added the cocoa and mixed it thoroughly.  I then added the coconut.  Roll them into balls and then roll the balls in the extra coconut.  Done!  Takes about 10 minutes and it makes about 25 balls depending on how large you make them.

Try them!  Use any nut butter you have on hand and substitute any liquid sugar you like, maple, brown rice, or even barley syrup.  Roll away and you will not be sorry!  A healthy snack to have at anytime!

Sesame Squares

Someone reminded me of this “candy” that I made years ago.  A delicious treat if you are wanting something sweet at the end of your day! I have made them substituting soy milk powder for nonfat dry milk and they work just as well.  Enjoy!

Sesame Squares

1/3 c. honey

1/3 c. peanut butter

¾ c. nonfat dry milk

¾ c. sesame seeds

¼ c. raisins

¼ c. unsweetened shredded coconut

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.  Spread in an 8-inch-square baking pan and refrigerate for 4 hours.  Cut into 1-inch squares.

Makes about 5 dozen