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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paleo Coconut Peanut Butter Cups

Call me an introvert, or a party pooper, or downright antisocial. But when the husband asks me to accompany him to a party for the psych department, I groan. And then when I hear it's a potlock? I groan some more, because out in Pullman I swear that every social gathering I'm invited to requires me to whip something up. Whatever happened to "just bring yourself?" 

I thought about making something quick and easy. Baked brie? No, it might need reheating. Pasta salad? No, he says. Too many of his colleagues are on Paleo diets. Well, that's convenient, with my Practical Paleo book within arms reach. So I flip to the way back again and boom -- another recipe to help use up those mini muffin cups. Almond butter cups!

So I go to the Moscow Co-op and would you believe almond butter is $17?! So I made a little swap to peanut butter with coconut oil already mixed in. Perfect, because that eliminates a step.



Making these things is way easier than I thought. The chocolate shell has only three main ingredients -- coconut oil, coconut butter, cocoa powder. Mix it with a little salt, vanilla, cinnamon. I added a dash of cayenne. Pour just a teaspoon into each mini muffin cup, and then it's into the freezer to harden. 


The filling calls for almond butter with coconut oil, but since my substitute includes both, I just add a little pink salt and pipe it out of a plastic baggie.


Then fill in the rest of the cups with the chocolate, stick it back in the freezer, and done!

I guess I should have waited longer to make these, because I already had to make a second batch to replace the ones I ate. How can I not snitch at these perfectly delicious and Paleo-friendly cups?

Give them a try. Bet you can't make one batch last through the day!

Paleo Coconut Peanut Butter Cups
Adapted from Practical Paleo

Ingredients for Shells:
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons coconut butter or manna
1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar, which technically isn't Paleo but I prefer it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon, sea salt and cayenne pepper

For the Filling:
3 tablespoons coconut peanut butter
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the shells. Place about 20 mini-muffin paper liners on a small tray, and spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into each one. Freeze to set while you prepare the filling.

Add the peanut butter, sweetener and salt directly into a plastic bag and mix with your hands. Snip a tiny corner off the corner of the bag and pipe a small amount of the filling into the center of each muffin liner. Once all of the shells have been filled, add the remaining chocolate mixture until the filling is covered.

Place the tray back in the freezer to set, and serve cold (they melt fast).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dabbling in Paleo: Coconut-Orange-Chocolate Melt-Aways

I'm not sure what compelled me at the library last week. Maybe it was the fact that the Neill Public Library had a very respectable collection of cookbooks, including my favorite from Joe Beef in Montreal. Or maybe I'm just curious about different approaches to life: Buddhism, Catholicism, the Zone. But there I was picking up, checking out, driving off with -- Practical Paleo! 

As I'm reading through it at home, I'm sort of nodding and sort of suspiciously scrunching up my face. Wait -- bacon fat is okay, but any kind of grain is not? With my obsession with overnight oats, I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with this kind of diet plan. I can see how it would be great for gluten-free people. I flipped through some more. There are some interesting facts about digestion. I noted the smoke points of different cooking oils. I flipped to the back for the recipes -- no, the WAY back. Treats & Sweets. Yes.

The Orange Cream and Mint Melt-aways caught my eye. Those refreshing-looking little candies in the wrappers. I'll make those. Just the orange ones, to start.

The thing that was both compelling and kind of strange about these treats was the amount of coconut oil. I like desserts that also have the capacity to be a little bit good for you (I should tell you about that tofu mousse I make for people that have no clue it's not real cream... sometime).



The truth about these melt-aways, though, is that they are way too greasy. Even when frozen solid. And the sweetener could use a little pump-up.

So here's my proposal: chocolate + orange, all wrapped up in those fun little mini-muffin cups.


Chocolate-Covered Orange & Coconut Melt-Aways

Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. (Tip: Heat the coconut oil so its easier to work with). Pour into paper liners in a 24-mini-muffin pan. Set in the freezer, and serve cold. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lemon, Thyme and Honey Overnight Oats

It is hard to get back into the healthy breakfast routine after the vacation I just had.

Waking up in the beach cottage on the coast of Maine last week, it was the unspoken rule that whoever was up first would start frying up the thick cut, smoky bacon. Usually the next person up would start scrambling the eggs or frying the potatoes with sausage and brussell sprouts or beets. A third person would brave the line to grab at least a baker's dozen (or two) at Congdon's Doughnuts. Then we'd sit around the coffee table in the living room with our bacon and a plate of the daily scramble and laugh about the missing G on the Doughnuts box. Who wants a Doug-nut?

Now that I'm far, far away from that fresh salty air and staying inside to avoid the dangerous air quality from the nearby forest fires, I am missing Maine tremendously. And wishing that I didn't have to brave two more years of the Inland Northwest.

Though it's tempting to return to the comforting breakfasts of Moody Beach, I knew the day I returned that I could no longer keep up that kind of breakfast routine. Not without all the brothers-in-laws and father-in-laws and cousins that make this kind of early morning gluttony possible. Plus... the health thing.

Before vacation, I had gotten in the habit of making overnight oats the easy way -- the morning of. I used quick oats instead of rolled oats, so they didn't need that 8-hour steepage. I covered them with yogurt and almond milk, added chia seeds and topped it with blueberries. Delicious, but after a few weeks? Boring. 


Luckily, I stumbled upon this amazing Lemon, Thyme and Honey overnight oats recipe by The Breakfast Drama Queen the other day. I still used quick oats, but gave it the overnight treatment it deserved. I added chia seeds and doubled the amount of oats used, because I get hungry in the morning. I have to say, I was immediately impressed. The lemon peel gave it the bright flavor of a dessert, and fresh thyme added a little fanciful green to the otherwise beige breakfast. I think it needs a topping -- maybe nectarine slices, or figs? I'll play with it. 


In the meantime, here's my version:

Lemon, Thyme & Honey Overnight Oats

Ingredients
  • 1 cup rolled or instant oats
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from stem
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Chia seeds

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a Mason jar. Close lid and shake well to combine. Leave in the refrigerator overnight, or at least a half hour if using quick oats. Top with more honey if desired, and enjoy!