Cheesecake, Call It No Bake, Some Call It Raw

Sorry, no photos, I ate and shared the cheesecake before I even thought photos.

When people comment on how skinny I am, I often reply “I am just a cheesecake away from being a size larger.” Really, eating on my elimination diet doesn’t offer too many opportunities to worry about gaining weight. I have not had cheesecake for around 3 years. Most non-dairy and vegan cheesecakes use tofu. Thanks to the raw food movement, I am enjoying cheesecake! Google “raw cheesecake” and so many options appear. Personally I am triple interested in the Double Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake out there. But it will have to wait until I can have chocolate.

With so many options, I decided to start with a blog that gave me step by step generic instructions. Thanks to Carmella at the Sunny Raw Kitchen for walking me through how some cashews could turn into something so decadent. Obviously I could have had my cheesecake sooner, her post is from 2007. However, life is all about learning to ask the right questions. If I ask the right question, Google giveth many answers. My next question – can cashews really turn into cheesecake? I had to try it for myself.

I have made modifications to the Tropical Raw Cheesecake recipe based on what I am allowed on my eating plan. The crust I made was good, but could still improve. Also I didn’t measure the ingredients for the crust. So I will have to update this info as I make this again. The filling is basically the same with one substitution.  Topping can be based on whimsy and play. Maybe I added honey to berries because the honey jar was still on the counter.

Crust
Blanched Almond Flour (Honeyville) – est. 1-1/2 cups
Coconut Butter (Artisana) – est. 4 Tbls (softened, but not melted)
Vanilla Extract (Flavorganics) – 1-2 tsp
Coconut Oil (Nutiva) – a drizzle (liquid but not warm)

Place almond flour into a bowl. Add coconut butter and vanilla extract. Using a fork, press coconut butter into the almond flour. Drizzle a little coconut oil into the paste to soften it a bit.  Press into a spring-form pan or plastic container lined with cling wrap. I used the plastic container method.

Filling (I cut this recipe in half for my first experiment)
3 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 6 – 8 hours (or overnight)
1/2 – 3/4 cup honey (or agave)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (Braggs preferred for flavor) (or lemon juice)
2/3 cup Coconut Oil (liquid, but not warm)
1 tsp vanilla, or 2″ piece of vanilla bean
1/4 cup filtered water (add this last, you may not need all of it)

Blend. Use a high powered blender or food processor. I have a Blendtec blender and used the ice cream button. No problem. Some equipment may need rest to cool the motor, so I have read.

Place in freezer for couple of hours. Keep in refrigerator because it is the coconut oil (chilled) that keeps this decadent treat firm.

Fruit Topping
Cherries or berries
Honey

Drizzle honey over berries, spread over cooled cheesecake.

Future experiments
Reduced Topping – I like this cheesecake so much I don’t want to hide it under full berry flavor, so I may puree a little fruit with it’s juice, thicken with arrowroot powder, and drizzle over cheesecake.

Flavors – Goal – Key Lime Cheesecake. I can now add lime juice to my diet, so I will use lime juice instead of apple cider vinegar and add some lime pulp to the filling.

Crust – Goal – give it more flavor. Use half almond flour and half hazelnut meal, so the crust has it’s own personality.

Re-purposed – Goal – a cheesecake popsicle – blend some berry juice into the cheesecake filling and freeze into popsicle makers.

Peach Smoothie Popsicles

I couldn’t resist the idea of popsicles for a summer treat. So on a visit to Sur La Table, I bought some cute small popsicle makers that looked quite sturdy. Sadly, I don’t see this item on their website to provide a link. I love the small size, less than 3 ounces. My next A summertime afternoon treat!goal for these cuties is to make a raw cheesecake recipe and freeze up something really yummy.

Ingredients
1 Qt sized bag of semi-thawed peaches
1-1/2 Cup Coconut Keifer Plain (So Delicious)
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
5 drops Stevia
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tbls Coconut Butter, softened (Artisana)

Instructions
Blend. Pour. Drink any that didn’t fit in popsicle holders. Freeze. Enjoy.

Hazelnut Date Muffins

Hazelnut Date Muffins

Now that I am on an elimination and rotation diet, I searched for recipes where I could easily substitute ingredients. This didn’t start out as a banana bread experiment. I have made these muffins before following the directions – very yummy, but found I don’t tolerate the pecans. The batch I made this morning tasted just like banana bread. Humm. Love surprises.

I adapted the recipe Date Pecan Muffins by Elana Amsterdam – in the cookbook The Gluten-free Almond Flour Cookbook. I highly recommend her cookbook if you eat healthy gluten-free and want some treats. Check out Elana’s Pantry Website for a number of great recipes. Buy the cookbook for many more!

Date Hazelnut Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients
3 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville)
2/3 cup hazelnut meal (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup oil (canola oil/coconut oil/safflower oil/grapeseed oil) (organic recommended)
2 tbls honey (or 10 drops stevia)
2 large eggs
1 tbls vanilla extract
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used 1 golden delicious, 1 granny smith)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates and prunes combined, chopped in 1/4″ pieces
1 cup (or more) frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place 18 muffin cups on baking sheet.

In a large bowl combine the almond flour, hazelnut meal, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. In a blender, place chopped apples, pulse until finely chopped. Add to blender canola oil, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, blend until smooth.

Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in hazelnuts, dates, prunes and frozen blueberries.

Spoon the batter into muffin cups. Fill up the cups, these don’t need room to expand.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I bet you can’t wait 30 minutes to eat the first one. Serve with butter (if tolerated) and honey.

Just Add Sauce – Quick Dinner

It is easier to grab a product to simplify “What’s for dinner?,” instead cooking from scratch. Easier still is blogging about a quick product than writing or editing a recipe to post. Today I took the easy road to present you with my latest Thursday night quick dinner.

I love a meal that takes less than 20 minutes, start to finish. My favorite starts with a bottle of sauce. This week I used Cilantro and Coconut Cooking Sauce from Stonehouse 27. I look for sauce without gluten, dairy or soy and find I am left wanting. There aren’t many. Did I mention I also prefer no HFCS. Then again, if they use HFCS, they manufacture with the cheapest ingredients and almost always use vegetable oil (includes soybean oil). This product uses Canola Oil and Agave Nectar. Sweet! I will often try a jar of sauce that meets my ingredient standards, even if I cannot imagine how it will taste.

That said, Cilantro & Coconut sauce is yummy! Though I have never heard of British Indian Cuisine specifically, I can say I felt I was eating a mild dish that might be Indian, but the not quite like what I have had before.  Earthy, warming, with the hint of lemon and ginger. Although I didn’t detect the green chili or the turmeric, I suspect this provides a little zing to avoid boring the taste buds. I liked the Jasmine rice with this dish, because the sauce is mild. BTW: I purchased my jar at Sunflower Market, but I am sure many places carry it. I like slow cooked rice with canola oil and a little salt, it just tastes better than quick white rice. I think it has a lower glycemic index too. You can check it out at http://www.glycemicindex.com/

Ingredients
Cilantro & Coconut Cooking Sauce (by Stonehouse 27)
Oil, (EVOO, canola or your preference)
Chopped veggies (purchased chopped, or chop your own)
Frozen uncooked shrimp (thawed in microwave)
Jasmine Rice (or Basmati)

Directions

  • First, start cooking the rice, per directions. I prefer my rice cooker.
  • Heat oil on medium-high.
  • Add chopped veggies, giving them a head start over the shrimp. There are some nuances about adding hard veggies first so they cook a little longer, but this is a quick meal. Add leafy green veggies last (chard, spinach, etc.)
  • Cook veggies for a couple of minutes.
  • Add shrimp and guide it to the bottom of the pan. Cook until shrimp looks almost cooked. Shrimp over cooks easily and will finish with sauce in the pan.
  • Add sauce, stir. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble. Then cook a little more.

Takes about 10 – 15 minutes. Hopefully the rice is done before the sauce.

Tips: keep an eye on the vegges so they don’t loose their crunch. If the veggies sweat out a lot of liquid, use tongs with a paper towel to soak it up and throw it out. This is stir-fry not steaming or boiling. If the shrimp gets chewy, it is overcooked. I have made countless bottle, meat, veggie, rice dinners. It takes a few tries to get the timing down and to know how cooked you like your veggies.

Time to walk the dog. Happy eating!

Suki Thai Noodle House

After learning that Suki Thai in Boulder is now a gluten-free restaurant, I had to try it. I opted not to take the hubby until I had a chance to ask all my questions and take my time.

I will start by saying I love Pad Thai. I haven’t had commercial Pad Thai since I got sick after eating it at a restaurant a couple of years ago. (They didn’t realize GF also meant they had to leave off the tiny fried onions that blended visually in with the peanuts, until I looked very closely.) Needless to say, I eat out less than once/month now. I used to eat out about 2x/week before my diagnosis. I am starting to eat out again armed with a lot of questions.

In fact, I usually stop into a prospective restaurant when they aren’t busy and I am not hungry. I am able to ask a lot of questions without worrying about what I am going to eat. I can leave knowing what to look for on the menu when I come back. If I go back. There have been several places who can only say YES we do gluten-free. But they cannot give me more details other than tell your wait-person.

Back to Suki Thai Noodles. All gluten-free means I didn’t have to worry they would boil GF noodles in the same water/pan as the regular noodles. Yeah! I ordered Pad Thai. I asked them to be sure they didn’t use the same utensils for another order with tofu in it. They offer a lot of tofu options.

Other questions:
Are there any soy ingredients in the Pad Thai sauce? It wasn’t busy and the young man at the counter went and checked. He even let me read a container of one of the ingredients.
While eating my meal I came across a soft cubed item in my food, soaked through with sauce. I took it up in a napkin to inquire about what it was. Is this tofu? No, it’s egg.

This is bold for me, let me point this out. I am getting bold in an effort to make sure I don’t continue to damage my digestive system.

So, you read all this to get a review of the place? I will definitely go back and try many kinds of noodle bowls. I will order the Pad Thai again also. Not because it is the best Pad Thai I have ever had, but it fit the bill for a quick easy meal while running errands in town. In the same shopping center as Sprouts, I can get some groceries in the same stop.

Learning to ask questions is one of the most difficult things I face with my food limitations. I have learned the hard and painful way, that I need to ask all the right questions. Because the question I forget to ask could be the one that makes me sick.

Seriously Yummy Tart

Let me introduce myself, Charee here. Like so many other people out there who have a radical diet change due to food allergies, I decided to share what I have learned. There are so many great gluten-free blogs out there, so I don’t see my posts as earth shattering news. Starting from fresh fruits and veggies is the easiest way be gluten, dairy and soy free.

I go though phases of trying new prepared products. Well, new to me. I search the grocery shelves, read labels multiple times and get my hopes up that THIS product will be as good as it’ s non-allergen friendly cousin.

This time the product was better! This tart was BETTER THAN most prepared tarts out there. I love love that it did not contain sugar and that it uses coconut butter and oil. Did I type love twice.

My new tart: Hail Merry’s Meyer Lemon Miracle Tart. The taste was a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Texture of filling and crust left nothing to be desired. Let the taste buds sing. Ok, over the top? Well, you get the idea.

I am in the habit of taking food with me to dinner parties, because the nuances of gluten, soy and dairy free take a lot of patience and time to learn. This little tart will be joining me for dessert.

I might even pick up a little tart just because it’s Tuesday.
I might even remember to take a picture before I devour my next tart.