Easy Moroccan Spiced Carrots

Easy Moroccan Spiced Carrots

Where does inspiration come from? 

Actually, let me rephrase that: Where does your inspiration come from?

Sometimes I can think of recipes faster than I can write them down. It just takes over my body and I become a machine. Last weekend alone, I made, photographed and wrote up 6 recipes (granted, it was a 3-day weekend, but still), but now I’m just … blank. 

Sometimes life takes it out of you, but by “it”, I mean every ounce of energy including the positive, restful, rejuvenating energy that typically balances out a long and harried work week. All I have the inclination to do is watch Restaurant Startup marathons and eat chocolate (the latter, of course, being for doctor’s orders, so I must obey). Meanwhile, my house is in shambles due to some relatively minor construction (Bahahaha. “Minor construction” is, for those of you lucky enough to not be homeowners, a ridiculous oxymoron). Everything is covered in a not-so-fine layer of plaster dust, Bryan and I are sleeping on a mattress in the living room, there is nearly nothing in the fridge, and somehow I was looking for a pair of boots and turned up…a mandoline. Slicer, not stringed instrument. Yeah, we’re deep in chaos around here. 

When all else fails, chop something. At least, that’s what works for me. Small repetitive motions are meditative and if you start with something small, like chopping a veggie, and just let your mind clear, it usually makes room for something that inspires something else that, in turn, triggers something else and before long you have a meal/snack/treat that fulfills the exact craving that you didn’t even know you had. And before long it all makes sense: the limited food in the fridge becomes a perfect meal, the mattress on the floor becomes a fun camping staycation and the house being turned upside down becomes an opportunity to finally clean out the bedroom closet. Only – can someone else come take care of that last one for me? :)

Easy Moroccan Spiced Carrots

I had an elaborate post planned for today, but instead, let’s chop  something, and see what happens. 

These carrots rose out of the chaos [insert a phoenix-related simile here], but what they really offered was a barrier of calm. As our trusty contractor and his crew (all of whom we ADORE and who are incredibly respectful, friendly and as neat, quiet and invisible as they can possibly be) came in and out dragging drop cloths and hoisting shop vacs and bags of materials over their heads, it was a relief to turn my back to the construction highway passing behind me and ignore the gusts of frigid air from the open back door and lose myself in the smooth back-and-forth of the knife. An effective form of therapy in and of itself, and as though that’s not enough, don’t forget that it results in crunchy-savory-sweet-spicy snack that will transport you to out of the dreary winter and straight to sunny, vibrant northern Africa.

Easy Moroccan Spiced Carrots
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb carrots, peeled and ends discarded
  2. 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 3/4-1 teaspoon ras el hanout (see note)
  6. 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  8. Packed 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Steam the carrots for 2-3 minutes, until they are slightly cooked but still crunchy. Remove and immediately transfer to an ice back (bowl of cold water with ice in it). This stops the cooking process so that the carrots remain crunchy and retain their color. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together the remaining ingredients, except for the parsley. Adjust flavors to taste.
  3. Toss the carrots with the parsley to combine, then add the dressing and toss again until everything is thoroughly mixed and all of the carrots are coated.
Notes
  1. Ras el hanout is available at specialty stores and online, but if you can't find it, you can replace it with cumin, chili powder or a mixture of the two, to taste. The flavor will not be quite as complex, but it will still be good.
A Clean Bake http://acleanbake.com/

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup

Is there any combination of foods more familiar and soothing than cream of tomato soup with grilled cheese (or grilled cheeze, for the vegan and lactose-intolerant crowd)?

As half of the country is probably still working on shoveling itself out of a snowdrift, there’s no better time to re-enact that classic Campbell’s commercial where the kid warms up with a steaming bowl of tomato soup. 

Only…let’s face it, who wants to eat that shelf stable version with one million ingredients when a an all-natural version made of only 3 ingredients (plus salt, pepper and spices) is only a blender whirl away?

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup

Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  3. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  5. 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  6. 4-5 cups crushed tomatoes
  7. 1 can (15 ounces or 1 3/4 cups) coconut milk
  8. 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
  9. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot, head the oil and sauté the onions on medium high heat until translucent.
  2. Add the spices and fry until fragrant.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot, stir to combine and bring to a simmer and cook 5 more minutes. This allows the flavors to mingle a little.
  4. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the tomato mixture into the jar of a blender. Add the coconut milk, salt and pepper and blend on high/liquify setting until smooth. Adjust spices to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or in the fridge for up to a month.
A Clean Bake http://acleanbake.com/

Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Swirl

Paleo Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Swirl

No one, including me, eats dessert all the time, and that’s why, when I do have dessert, I like to go big or go home. Which brings us to this cake. When I say go big, I mean big – deep dish! Dark chocolate! And did I mention the almond butter swirl? To say nothing about the chocolate drizzle to top it all off? It’s almost hard to believe this is all paleo-friendly, but miraculously, it totally is.

It’s ridiculously easy to make. It takes nothing more than a few bowls and a spoon, a baking pan and a tongue to lick the spoon. You really wouldn’t want any of this batter to go to waste. But don’t eat too much of it. This is one of those cakes that is infinitely better after baking than before. So, don’t taste the batter and go “hmm, the chocolate flavor isn’t very pronounced; I’m going to add more cocoa powder”. Just trust me, it’s all going to be fine after the oven works its magic.

Paleo Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Swirl

The cake is irresistible. Bryan and I ate two whole ones in about a week and a half (luckily, the recipe makes a smaller 6″ cake…but still). Its crumb is dense, but the cake still feels light and just airy enough. The little bit of almond butter on top is just creamy enough to complement the chocolate flavor of the cake and the chocolate drizzle that finishes it all off creates a satisfying crack when you sink your teeth into the first bite.

It’s also deeply chocolatey, low-glycemic, profoundly satisfying, and guaranteed to sweep you off your feet. This is the perfect crowd-pleasing paleo dessert for anyone who loves chocolate, paleo or not! 

PS: I am also guest posting over at Primal Palate’s blog today. You can check it out here!

Paleo Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Swirl

 

Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Swirl
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Ingredients for the cake
  1. 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  2. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1/2 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
  6. 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  7. 1/2 cup cocoa powder (Special Dark is recommended, natural is fine too)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 2 Tablespoons Norbu monk fruit sweetener, coconut sugar or other granulated sweetener (or to taste; see note)
  10. 1/8 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the swirl
  1. 1/4 cup creamy unsweetened almond butter (or other nut or seed butter of choice)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon Norbu monk fruit sweetener, coconut sugar or other granulated sweetener (adjust to taste)
  3. Pinch salt
  4. 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 6" springform pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter/coconut oil together by microwaving on high for about 60 seconds until nearly melted, and stirring until completely smooth.
  3. Stir in the rest of the wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, applesauce).
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, sweetener, and salt) and then stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth into an even layer.
  6. In a separate bowl, prepare the swirl by stirring together the almond butter and granulated sweetener. Distribute spoonfuls of the almond butter across the cake (or pour into a zip top bag, seal it, snip off the corner, and use it to pipe thick lines of almond butter across the cake), then gently drag a butter knife or toothpick through to create the swirl pattern.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, before removing from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack.
  8. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and, while still warm, drizzle over the top of the cake. Allow to set before serving.
Notes
  1. Yield: one 6" cake.
  2. Sweetener note: I used semi-sweet chocolate chips when creating this recipe, and I like super-dark chocolate flavor, so I only needed 2 Tablespoons of sweetener. Depending on your chocolate, your cocoa powder, and your sweet tooth, you may prefer a few more Tablespoons of granulated sweetener. Taste the batter and adjust the amount of sweetener to your preference.
  3. If all you have is a 9" springform pan, you can double the recipe and use your larger pan. However, you may need to adjust the baking time so start at 30 minutes and add more time in 5 minute increments. Just be sure to watch it very carefully.
  4. Serve immediately, or store the leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
A Clean Bake http://acleanbake.com/

 

 

Easy Grain-Free Biscuits

Simple Grain-Free Biscuits (gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo, Sugar-free, low carb)
The day your grain-free biscuits finally rise is a very good day. That’s not a euphemism or a metaphor; it just took a lot of tries before I finally got the tall, crackly and fluffy result I was looking for. But it was well worth the effort. Because, really, what meal isn’t improved by a soft, warm biscuit on the side? Think about it: everything from breakfast to barbecue to soup goes becomes a meal if you add a biscuit (or three).

I’m happy to report that these are insanely easy to make with just a handful of ingredients, including my favorite combination of flours for grain-free breads: almond flour, coconut flour and tapioca flour. Just add salt, leavener, eggs and your butter of choice.

A quick note about the fat in these recipes: I tested these with real butter, vegan butter, and oil. The oil version doesn’t rise as much, so just be warned if you want to make that substitution. The butter option – regular or vegan – is the better way to go, and you must (must!) chill it for at least a couple of hours, because cold fat contributes to leavening. If you really want to be authentic, you can even cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas instead of melted it and stirring it in – but that’s my favorite shortcut for quicker biscuit-making.

I first made these for a dinner party hosted by some friends who aren’t accustomed to eating gluten/grain free. Luckily, they are incredibly open minded and just like good food, so they aren’t the type to shy away from something with a grain-free label just because it’s unfamiliar. I think they loved these, or at least did a great job of being polite by eating several biscuits each.  Even my gluten-loving husband who regularly asks me to make or buy “not weird” baked goods turned down a regular gluten roll in favor of one of these at dinner the other night. Now that’s what I call a success. 

Simple Grain-Free Biscuits (gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo, Sugar-free, low carb)
Easy Grain-Free Biscuits
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups blanched almond flour
  2. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  3. 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  4. Scant 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  5. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  6. 4 large eggs, beaten (by hand is ok)
  7. 1/2 cup butter or vegan butter, melted and slightly cooled (see note about coconut oil substitution), plus more for brushing the biscuits before baking
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, salt and baking soda).
  2. In a separate bowl, quickly whisk together the beaten eggs and melted butter. Then stir into the dry mixture.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out 12 3-Tablespoon biscuits. Use the palm of your hand to press them down gently, just enough to get rid of the peak, so that they form thick discs.
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight) in an airtight container.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with a nonstick pad. Once the oven is preheated, remove biscuits from the fridge, arrange 2" apart on the prepared sheet, brush with melted butter, and bake for 10 minutes, or until puffy and slightly golden.
Notes
  1. You can use coconut oil in place of the butter, but your biscuits won't rise as much.
  2. If you really want to be authentic, you can even cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas instead of melted it and stirring it in - but that's my favorite shortcut for quicker biscuit-making.
A Clean Bake http://acleanbake.com/