01.22.2018

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Nick turned 36 last week and, per his request, I made him a Classic Yellow Birthday Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream frosting. The cake smelled, looked, and tasted delicious (I made it while the boys were at school so I had the frosting covered spatulas all to myself…). There was just one problem – I recently challenged myself not to eat sugar, dairy, or gluten during the week (I’m not sweating the frosting licks) as a simple way to recover from our holiday overload. Nick’s beautiful birthday cake had serious doses of all three.

This Raw Pineapple-Mango Cheesecake saved the day for me and was the perfect thing to have as a healthier option alongside the classic birthday cake. I love tropical, tart desserts, especially during the dark winter months – they remind me of sun, sand, and heat! This dessert is also a great party alternative for guests who have food sensitivities.

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Raw Pineapple-Mango Cheesecake is incredibly simple to make – you don’t actually cook anything. The most challenging step for me is to remember to soak the raw cashews overnight. The crust, cheesecake filling, and fruit topping are all whizzed up using a food processor then layered into a springform pan and chilled.

While some sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free desserts are made with tofu or processed vegan foods, I like that this treat is full of recognizable ingredients like nuts, unsweetened coconut, and fresh fruit.

For all of you staying among snow and darkness this winter, give this cake a try. I promise it’ll make you feel like you’re lounging under a palm tree somewhere, however far off that actually may be.

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Raw Pineapple-Mango Cheesecake

Makes 1 9-inch cake – serves 12 to 16

 

Crust:

1 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Juice and zest from 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

10 Dole pitted dates

1 tablespoon flour of your choice (all purpose or gluten-free)

Pinch of kosher salt

 

Cheesecake:

3 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Dole cup pineapple juice

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Juice and zest from 1 lime

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup water

 

Pineapple Topping:

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 1/2 cups Dole frozen pineapple chunks, thawed

1 ½ cups Dole frozen mango chunks, thawed

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  1. Start by making the crust. Place all the crust ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and run the motor until the mix forms into a dough. Turn the ball of dough out into a spring form pan and, using your fingers, press the crust into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.  
  1. Next, make the cheesecake filling. Add all the cheesecake ingredients to the rinsed food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness. This is not a sweet cake so if you prefer more sweetener, add in a tablespoon of agave syrup or other liquid sweetener. Pour the cheesecake batter over the pressed crust.
  1. Lastly, make the fruit layer by blending the melted coconut oil and thawed fruit in the food processor until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake. Set the cake in the freezer to set up. After an hour in the freezer you can remove the springform ring and serve or place the cake in the fridge to serve at a later time. Raw Pineapple Cheesecake is good chilled or at room temperature.

This post is sponsored by Dole Packaged Foods.

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05.24.2017

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I just opened our family calendar, glanced at the next two weeks, and let out a low, painful howl. This end of the school year stuff is no joke – concerts, water days, celebrations! It’s all good stuff but makes for a lot of busy afternoons and late nights. Dylan is playing the part of a 3-headed marker eating monster in his school musical and Gray will have his first violin performance next week. I will undoubtedly cry and both – it would be shocking if I didn’t.

In an attempt to plan some meals for these crazy spring days, I spent some time with my friend and fellow island gal Susie Middleton’s new book Simple Green Suppers a few weeks ago and folded down a handful of tempting weeknight dinner ideas. Last night I finally got around to cooking from it and started here with Cauliflower, Chickpea & Spinach Curry. The simple and satisfying dinner made our whole house smell amazing and was the best lunch today. I served it with a pot of rice but I’d like to try it with garlic naan bread next time.

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Indian Curry with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Spinach, Tomatoes & Coconut Milk from Simple Green Suppers

3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups cauliflower florets (1-to 1 1/2-inch pieces, cut so that most have a flat side)

1 cup sliced yellow onion (about 1 medium-large onion, cut lengthwise)

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste (I left this out due to kids’ heat tolerance)

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar (I omitted)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3 cups packed baby spinach

1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

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1. In a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are golden and browned in spots, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chickpeas to a plate.

2. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir, cover, and cook, uncovering to stir occasionally, until the cauliflower pieces are browned in spots (they will be softened but still crisp), about 5 minutes. (If the cauliflower is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. If your pan does not have a lid, use a baking sheet or the bottom of a large skillet). Transfer the cauliflower to the plate with the chickpeas.

3. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are browned in spots but haven’t lost all their stiffness, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chili-garlic paste, curry powder, brown sugar, and cumin. Stir well to combine, and fry the spices for 30 seconds. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and coconut milk and stir well to incorporate the spices with the liquids and to soften the spinach. Add the cooked cauliflower and chickpeas and simmer, stirring, for 1 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and remove the pan from the heat. Serve hot or very warm in two or three bowls.

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02.10.2017

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I know weather talk is really boring most of the time but this has been a wild weather week for us so, forgive me. It was 55 degrees on Wednesday. We stayed late after school playing soccer, football, and sliding down the slide 1,000 times. Nobody had a jacket on. Then came Thursday. A storm blew in and dumped wet, heavy snow all across the island. Most houses lost power, the ferries stopped running, and school was canceled. Today, the island looks pretty and sparkly with its fresh coat of white but it hasn’t gotten warmer than 25 degrees and I do prefer those jacket-less winter days, however abnormal they are.

If you’re looking for an easy cooking project this weekend or simply want a new snack to toss into lunch boxes next week give these Popcorn “Granola” Bars a try. The list of ingredients is completely adaptable to your tastes and your pantry.

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Popcorn “Granola” Bars slightly adapted from Food52

Makes 1 9-inch by 13-inch pan of bars

cup almond or peanut butter

1/3 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or fruit compote 

Olive oil, as needed

4 to 6 cups popcorn

1 1/2 cups whole walnuts or almonds or a combination

1/3 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds (I used raw sesame seeds) 

1/3 cup ground flax seed

 

1. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with parchment or wax paper so that you have overhang.

2. In a small pot over low heat, warm the nut butter, honey, and applesauce until melted. You want a sauce that is loose enough to cover the popcorn kernels and become evenly distributed amongst them. You may need to whisk in some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) to achieve this consistency.

3. In a large bowl, mix together popcorn, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flax seed. Pour over the nut butter mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.

4. Dump into the prepared pan, then use plastic wrap to mush the mixture down evenly. Freeze overnight, then slice into bars! Store in the freezer.

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12.05.2016

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What’s happening around here? We cut our tree down / put our tree up, keep making / slurping Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup, and are playing Town Mountain’s I’m On Fire over and over and over. The winter trifecta. XO

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Green Lentil Soup: Curry Powder, Brown Butter, Coconut Milk & Chives from Super Natural Everyday

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon Indian curry powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

Fine-grain sea salt

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauce until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives.

10.03.2016

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Gray turned 3!!! on September 22nd and we celebrated with a box of Grape-Nut and Chocolate Chip Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies on the playground and this over-the-top decadent Chocolate Pudding Pie after dinner. As birthdays always make me nostalgic, I thought it would be fun to take a little walk down birthday cake memory lane. Here we go…

Gray comes home with Apple Crisp.

Gray turns 1 with Spiced Applesauce Cake.

Gray turns 2 with undocumented ice cream sundaes because life was like this.

Dylan turns 1 with a classic birthday cake in Providence then we move here.

Dylan turns 2 with Strawberry Layer Cake.

Dylan turns 3 with Full Moon Chocolate Cake.

Dylan turns 4 with Chocolate Cake.

Dylan turns 5 with an undocumented mint chocolate chip / brownie ice cream cake decorated with dragons the same week as Frozen Summer Treats.

Dylan turns 6 with another undocumented mint chocolate chip / brownie ice cream cake shaped into a lightning bolt the same week as Peach Frozen Yogurt.

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Chocolate Pudding Pie adapted from an old Gourmet Magazine

makes 1 pie

Crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pudding Filling:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream

Bittersweet chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Make crust: Heat oven to 350°F. Combine graham crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. Bake the crust until lightly browned, about 9 to 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, you can even transfer it to the freezer to get it started on the chilling process.

Make pudding filling: Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, two minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least two hours.

Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings, if you’re feeling fancy.

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Grape-Nut and Chocolate Chip Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies slightly adapted from Food52 Baking

Makes 24 to 48 cookies, depending on the size

 

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup raisins

1 cup toasted nuts, preferably pecans or walnuts, chopped

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut

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Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until very pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flours, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, cereal, and coconut. Add this dry mixture to the butter and egg mixture and stir until combined.

For smaller cookies, drop the dough with a tablespoon, allowing 2-inches between each. For larger cookies, use an ice cream scoop or 1/4-cup measure to portion the dough and allow for 3-inches between each one.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, until firm and golden brown at the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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