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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. The crisp cool air and the array of colors that dance before my eyes is a special treat after the hot summer months of steady green.

It’s a joyous season for gatherings with family and friends to share the season’s bounty of autumn fruits, squashes, and vegetables. It’s a time for cooking together and sharing as the sun sets. I love passing by my neighbors’ houses and enjoying quick glances into their windows as I make my way home each evening!

One of my favorite fruits during this season is freshly picked apples.

Apples are picked in the autumn and may be stored quite awhile before they’re sold, so to make sure you’re selecting the freshest apples, check the bottom of the apple (the opposite end of the stem-where the apple blossom used to be). Look for light green instead of a yellow to brown color.

When buying apples, make sure you buy organic. Apples are sprayed heavily with chemicals that penetrate its skin. Since apples are in season, it is easier to find organic ones on sale. If you buy from a local orchard, make sure to ask whether or not the apples have been sprayed. Buying local doesn’t mean organic.

For weeks we have been enjoying an apple cobbler that’s made with no added sweetener in its apple filling and no grain in its topping. The filling’s sweetness comes directly from the sweetness of the apples. The almond flour topping gets its sweetness from the sweetness of the freshly ground almonds and coconut crystals. For added sweetness, this apple cobbler must be served hot to melt the dollop of vanilla ice cream. No, I’m just kidding!! You can add the dollop of ice cream for festive occasions, but serving this cobbler hot will make it taste sweeter. I recently served it cool and it tasted like a totally different dessert. Please serve this apple cobbler hot!

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One of my favorite desserts is peach cobbler. I know. I know. We should eat what’s in season—like apple cobbler (that’s my next recipe). I just had this yen, and it wouldn’t go away. I had to get it out of my system…I mean into my system.

This is a healthier version. That’s gluten-free with some added protein from the almond topping; vegan; and sweetened with coconut crystals, a low glycemic sugar alternative.

It got rave reviews from my husband. John said, “This tastes like a peach cobbler should taste.”

Peach Cobbler

Serves 6 to 8

Preheat oven 375°

7×7 inch square Pyrex dish

Ingredients:

1. two bags of frozen organic sliced peaches (10 oz. each), thawed—save liquid

2. ten dried pitted dates (four added to peaches and six added to topping)

3. pinch of salt

4. one teaspoon of cinnamon

5. two cups of soaked almonds

6. two Tablespoons of coconut crystals

7. one teaspoon of aluminum-free baking powder

8. four Tablespoons of coconut oil

9. one teaspoon of vanilla

Peach Filling

In a pot:

1. Add the thawed peaches and all the liquid.

2. Add cinnamon.

3. Slice four pitted dates into pieces—lengthwise, crosswise. Add to pot.

4. Simmer until soft.

Filling should be thick, a bit thinner than honey. Taste to adjust sweetness. Add more dates or some coconut crystal. Four dates was sweet enough for me!

Topping

Mix in a bowl:

1. two cups of almond flour—grind in blender or food processor.

2.  Slice six pitted dates into pieces—lengthwise, crosswise. Add to bowl.

3. Add two Tablespoons of coconut crystals (try one tablespoon, add more if needed)

4. Add one teaspoon of aluminum-free baking powder,

5. Add four Tablespoons of coconut oil (straight from the jar)

6. Add one teaspoon of vanilla.

7. Mix and squeeze with hands.

Place the peaches in Pyrex dish. Spoon topping onto filling. Bake until slightly golden—about 35 minutes.

Suggestions and Recommendations:

1. Use Deglet Noor Dates if possible.

2. Top with fresh whipped cream (grass-fed cream) to slow down the sugars.

3. To enhance your dining pleasure, may I suggest that you pair this peach cobbler with the viewing of my painting, Peaches and Cream.


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The heat has been intense this summer. The best time to be out is in the early morning when the grass catches the dew, the air is fresh, and the summer flowers are standing tall.

The meals I’ve been preparing have been light and fresh— plenty of cold soups, salads, fresh fruits, and some protein. A light dessert, such as a slice of raw cherry pie is the perfect complement to a light lunch or dinner on a hot day.

The best thing about this dessert is that there’s almost no cooking involved!

There are no added sweeteners, just the sweetness from the cherries and the dates in the crust.

Since this pie is made with cherries, it is high in the phytonutrient—anthocyanidins. These phytonutrients help hold our skin together—meaning less wrinkles! George Mateljan’s article, “Can You Tell Me Which Foods Promote Collagen?” lists the berries that contain anthocyanidins and its effects on collagen:

The anthocyanidins found in deep-colored, red-blue berries and fruits (including cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) have been shown to work in a somewhat different way. These phytonutrients help the collagen fibers link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix.

He also states in “Boosting Your Polyphenols” that cherries and other berries are high in polyphenols, a nutrient that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer health benefits:

In the fruit group, dark plums, cherries, dark grapes, and apples were found to be the most concentrated sources of polyphenols followed by berries. (Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries were included in the group of berries that were analyzed.) Among the vegetables, rhubarb and red cabbage were standouts for total polyphenol content.

Another bonus to this cherry pie is the nutrient-dense crust made with walnuts, dates, and shredded coconut.

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One of my favorite treats as a child was oranges. There’s been a family legend that’s floated around for decades by my mom—”Whenever you cried, we’d give you an orange. You would sit ever so content and eat that orange, skin and all. And then you’d want another one”.

Well, to this day one of my favorite fruits is oranges. I could envision my husband and daughter drinking the orange juice or eating the orange, or some orange zest, but the whole orange peel? No way!!!  To share my love for orange peel with my family, I had to think of a way to make an offer they couldn’t refuse—I sweetened the peel and dipped them in chocolate!!! Now how can anyone resist something sweet with chocolate. Dark chocolate!

Besides, I didn’t have the heart to throw out something organic!

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My husband, John recently purchase five bags of organic cherries on sale! Such a shopper 🙂  He also delivered an order to our friends, Rosemarie and Joe. As delicious as the cherries were, there was no way we could eat about five founds of cherries. I was thinking of washing the cherries, placing them in a container, and freezing them pit and all… until Rosemarie called. She advised me that the cherries should to be pitted before freezing otherwise the cherries would develop an almond flavor from the pits.  As I listened to her over the phone, a running monologue was going on in my head-pit them? That sounds like a lot of work! It’ll take hours with five bags of cherries. I envisioned myself cutting around each cherry pit to remove the cherries from their pits. Rosemarie must have been reading my mind. She said, “Joe has an easy way to pit them. Use the blunt end of a skewer.”

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Apple Delight is deliciously delightful. Clean and simple are the only accurate words to describe this easy to prepare dessert. The slight souriness of the apples is balanced by the sweetness of the raisins. A topping of slivered almonds and whole coconut milk give it crunch and creaminess.

The yin (alkaline) apples, almonds, and raisins balance out any meat meal that’s yang (acid).

Apple Delight

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

2 or 3 organic Braeburns or apple of your choice

1/2 Cup of organic raisins

1/2 Cup filtered water

1/2 Cup of slivered almonds

1/4 to 1/2 Cup of coconut milk

1. Quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter into 5 or 6  pieces.

2. Place raisins in the bottom of a sauce pan. Cover with filtered water.

3. Add apple pieces.

4. Cover and simmer until apples are soft.

5. Serve in bowls.

6. Top with coconut milk and almond slivers.

Suggestions and modifications:

The slivered almonds can be toasted to make them extra crunchy and to heighten their flavor. Different nuts can be used. I wanted a yin (alkaline) nut to balance the beef we had for dinner.

Different apples or fruit may be used. I selected Braeburn Apples. The Braeburns were actually sweet, but when paired with the raisins, they tasted slightly sour! I’ve tried this recipe with MacIntosh Apples and they were also great with the raisins, only more sour.

Make sure to purchase organic apples since non-organic apples are heavily sprayed.

Cinnamon or nutmeg can be sprinkled on top.

You may just want to mash the steamed apples with a fork and eat this luscious treat as apple sauce.

Other milks or creams may also be used.

This recipe is featured in the Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Nurturing Wisdom

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Zesty Lemon Kuzu is a refreshing treat after a meal. It brings the body into balance after indulging in fried, baked, roasted, or heavy foods.

lemon kuzu, flowers 105

Zesty Lemon Kuzu

In traditional Chinese cooking, food is medicine. Each meal my mom cooked was balanced in its yin and yang properties. She called a food either cool (yin) or hot (yang). If we over-indulged in a particular food, she would cook a food with an opposite effect to balance our systems to keep us well.

The yin and yang of food can refer to the balance of flavors, colors, texture, the properties of the food itself, or how the food has been cooked. Mom prepared cooling soups, which required boiling to balance a meal that had something fried, baked, or roasted.

lemon kuzu, flowers 121

chunks of kuzu

My mom often used kuzu, a powder extracted from the kuzu root, the focal point of the kuzu plant’s energy. She used kuzu as another remedy to balance our yang bodies and as a thickener instead of corn starch to make sauces and gravies. When any family member had an upset stomach, she made a sweetened, warm beverage of kuzu for the ailing family member to drink.

I was reintroduced to kuzu while I was following a macrobiotic diet, a diet that focuses on eating local, seasonal, whole foods-grains, legumes, sea/ fresh vegetables, fermented soy products, and some fish. Although I no longer follow a macrobiotic diet, I still use kuzu for sauces and for making desserts. One of my favorite things to do when I cooked macrobiotically was to see how many desserts I could come up with using kuzu.

Zesty Lemon Kuzu is one of my creations. It’s simple, nutritious, and quick.

lemon slices 077Cut three thin slices of lemon for garnishing. Slice each of the three pieces in half. I cut extra slices just in case my twists for garnishing didn’t look right!

Juice three to four organic lemons for 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

dot removed-mix everythingMix 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and sweetener-1/4 cup agave or 1/4 cup honey in a non-reactive bowl such as glass or stainless steel. Taste the mixture. Add more sweetener to taste.

In a second  bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of kuzu in 4 tablespoons of cool to cold filtered water until dissolved. Add kuzu mixture to sweetened lemon juice mixture. Stir well.

lemon kuzu, flowers 088Pour mixture into a saucepan. Cook the mixture on a medium flame. Keep stirring the mixture. Stir, stir, stir, stir…

lemon kuzu, flowers 089The opaque mixture will turn translucent. Let it cool until slightly warm. Pour into serving bowls. Chill in the refrigerator until set.

last lemon

zesty lemon kuzu

Before serving, garnish with lemon slices, berries, and lemon zest.

Zesty Lemon Kuzu

Serves 3, 1/2  cup each (to increase the number or size of  portions, add more of each ingredient)

three slices of lemon for garnishing

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1/2 cup of cool to cold filtered water

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup of agave nectar or honey

2 tablespoons kuzu

4 tablespoons cold water

Mix first four ingredients together-1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup filtered water, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest (reserve 1 teaspoon of lemon zest for garnishing), and 1/4 cup of sweetener in a non-reactive bowl, such as glass or stainless steel. Taste for desired sweetness.

In another bowl mix last two ingredients-2 tablespoons of kuzu with 4 tablespoons of cold water.  Make sure the water is cool to cold. It will not dissolve properly in hot water. Mix until dissolved. I use the chunks of kuzu directly from the package without grinding it into powder. You may want to grind the kuzu and then measure.

Add the kuzu mixture to the lemon mixture. Stir.

Transfer lemon kuzu mixture to a saucepan.

Cook over medium flame. Keep stirring.

Mixture will start bubbling. Keep stirring.

Mixture will turn from opaque to translucent.

Remove sauce pan from heat and let cool.

Pour into serving bowls and refrigerate until set.

Garnish with lemon slices, berries, and lemon zest.

Enjoy!

lemon kuzu, flowers 104

Modifications and suggestions: protein types can top with whipped cream!  If a thicker consistency is desired, dissolve 1 tablespoon of kuzu in 1 tablespoon of cold, filtered water in a bowl and slowly pour into the saucepan of cooking lemon kuzu. Continue stirring and cooking until translucent.

The sweetness was just right for my husband and me, but our daughter would have preferred it sweeter!

If you plan to use kuzu as medicine, please first consult with your doctor.

Copyright 2009 by Nurturing Wisdom

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