Zucchini Brownies

zucchinibrownies

What?! Zucchini Brownies? It doesn’t sound appetizing but I can tell you that it is very good. It’s moist, rich, super dark, not too sweet, and yes, guilt-free (gluten-free, no refined sugar, no butter or oil, nut-free, and wheat-free). My 9-year old daughter loves them. My 4-year old son won’t try anything with the word “zucchini” it in no matter how chocolatey it is. If you’re lucky, it’s a great way to get veggies in your child or husband’s diet. 🙂 Perfect for dessert or a snack.

The recipe is from cookingalamel.com but I made my own changes because I want it EXTRA DARK!

RECIPE

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup Peet’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain Fage Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t liquid stevia (or 1/2 cup more coconut sugar, added to the dry ingredients)
  • 2-3 zucchini squash, shredded
  • One (1) 3.5 oz. of 85% or higher dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or line an 8″x 8″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the almond meal, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and coconut sugar.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and liquid stevia together, until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
  5. Fold in the shredded zucchini, chocolate pieces, and nuts.
  6. Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before cutting.
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Crustless Pecan Tarts

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest. It originates from shecookshecleans.net and I had to try it (with some minor alterations) to prepare for Thanksgiving, and because who doesn’t love pecan pie? Sure, I’ll miss the crust but these gluten-free babies are full of crunch since they’re packed with pecans. And you can also use walnuts or almonds or any favorite nut for this recipe, if you prefer. Crustless Pecan Tarts are just the right size for a sweet nutty snack or top it with a small scoop of coconut vanilla ice cream for a bite-sized dessert. Also perfect for potlucks!

RECIPE (makes 30 mini muffin-sized tarts):

  • 1-1/2 cups raw pecan pieces
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (for toasting pecans)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (for pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional: 1 tbsp rum or bourbon
  1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter and add pecans. Toss frequently until pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from pan immediately to prevent burning the pecans, and allow to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325˚ F.  Grease muffin pan or line a muffin pan with silicone baking cups. Distribute the chopped pecans equally into the baking cups. Set aside.
  3. Using a large heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or a bain-marie), melt the 4 tbsp butter. Remove from the heat.
  4. Stir in sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is absorbed.
  5. Beat in the eggs, then the agave nectar.
  6. Return the bowl over the simmering water then stir until the mixture is shiny, smooth, and warm to the touch. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in rum/bourbon and vanilla.
  8. Pour the pie filling over the pecan-filled muffin pan, distributing equally.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pie filling is set, but still soft to the touch, and the tops are lightly browned.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, at least 4 hours.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

(If you end up storing these in the refrigerator, pop them in a toaster oven for a 3-5 minutes. Still good!)

Sweet Cream and Strawberry Ice Cream

Back in the 90’s there used to be Cold Stone Creamery and its rival Marble Slab. Both places basically hand mixing an ice cream base with your choice of toppings on a cold hard surface. (Not really sure if it was actually marble or stone.) Anyway, I always preferred Marble Slab because their ice cream was soy-based and it tasted better. My favorite ice cream base was sweet cream and I wanted them to mix in fresh strawberries. The taste was wholesome and fruity. Well, there’s no longer a Marble Slab near me and sometimes I miss that creamy concoction from my college days. But since my latest Roasted Peach Ice Cream discovery, I’ve decided to play around and try to recreate Sweet Cream and Strawberry Ice Cream. It’s pretty close and with less guilt.

RECIPE

  • 1 cup of strawberries, sliced and diced
  • Optional: 2 tsp of coconut palm sugar or stevia equivalent if your strawberries are not sweet enough.
  • 2 cans coconut milk*
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup agave nectar

* (Dairy-free option: 2 cans full fat coconut cream, skip the heavy whipping cream)

  1. Mix strawberries and coconut palm sugar in a bowl until strawberries are coated.
  2. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.
  3. In a blender, combine the coconut milk, cream, butter, egg yolks, almond extract and agave nectar.
  4. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple hours. (You can skip this step if coconut milk was chilled beforehand.)
  5. Transfer ice cream mix to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  6. Add in the strawberries when ice cream is starting to freeze.
  7. Enjoy!

You can store your ice cream in a freezer-safe container. It keeps for about 2 weeks unless you eat it all up by then. 🙂

Cheesecake Muffins

If you can’t have real cheesecake, then you should bake a batch of these guilt-free Cheesecake Muffins instead. These low-carb, gluten-free, flourless, sugar-free desserts are super easy to make! You can eat them warm or cold. I tried both ways and chilled is definitely the way to serve this. I’ve decided to highlight the pre-baked state of these muffins because they’re so beautiful, and because the “after” picture (scroll down) shows them all shriveled up. 🙂 It’s okay. They still taste good.

RECIPE

  • One 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1-2 tsp of Stevia or Splenda, depending on preference or 1/4 cup sweetener (agave, coconut palm sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  1. Pre-heat oven at 350˚F.
  2. In a medium glass bowl, soften cream cheese about 40 seconds in microwave.
  3. Add sweetener, egg and vanilla. Beat with mixer till smooth.
  4. Pour into muffin pans lined with the papers. (Option:  sprinkle cinnamon on top.)
  5. Bake for 20 min.
  6. Cool in the fridge for a cheesecake type texture or eat warm. Makes about 5-6 muffins.

Food for the Gods

Food for the Gods is a traditional Filipino walnut and date bar that is typically made and given as gifts during Christmas. Kind of similar to fruitcake but these treats actually get eaten. 🙂 I know it’s no where near Christmas (in fact it’s almost Easter) but I finally found time to make it gluten-free and guilt-free so I can enjoy eating this decadent treat like the rest of my family. Usually this is baked in a jelly roll pan then cut into little bars and wrapped individually in colored cellophane. But, I’m too lazy to do that! Instead I baked them in a mini muffin pan. Same great taste!

This recipe makes a big batch of 36 (or more) mini muffins. I gave a dozen to my mom and she couldn’t tell that they have been “washed of its guilt” with my magic wand. 🙂

RECIPE

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the upper middle position. Line a 9″ x 13″ rectangular pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside. Or line a mini-muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. In a small bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. Put half of this mixture in another bowl and dredge the chopped dates in there.
  3. Combine melted butter, coconut palm sugar, Stevia, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix until batter is uniform.
  4. Add agave nectar and mix.
  5. Fold remaining flour mixture into the batter using a rubber spatula.
  6. Then fold in the dredged dates and walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Or fill muffin liners 2/3 high. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes when using a 9”x13” pan. Or 15 minutes if using a jelly roll pan or mini muffin tin. It should be done when you poke a toothpick through the middle and it comes out clean. The center would still be wet.
  8. Cool completely before slicing into bars.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

When was the last time you’ve eaten a Nestle Toll House cookie fresh out of the oven with the gooey center and the crisp outside? I can tell you that this Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is the closest I’ve gotten to that nostalgic memory. It’s gluten-free and uses coconut palm sugar to get that crispness. My husband and kids think they’re the real thing. They can’t tell that they’re one of my guilt-free goodies!

RECIPE

  • 1 /2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour, firmly packed
  • 1/4 coconut flour, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • One (1) 3.5 oz bar of 72% or higher dark chocolate, chopped
  • Optional: 1/2 c. of nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine butter, palm sugar, flours, baking soda and salt.
  3. Stir in chocolate pieces.
  4. Scoop batter onto sheet trays.
  5. Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

(Makes 18-24 cookies)

Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut Palm Sugar has been my sweetenerr of choice since I discovered that it is low in the glycemic index (GI) at 35, lower than apples with a GI: 38. Amazing, right?

  • Low GI = 55 or less
  • Medium GI = 56 – 69
  • High GI = 70 or more

The taste is similar to brown sugar with a touch of caramel and butterscotch notes. So when a recipe calls for brown sugar, I substitute coconut palm sugar instead (1 cup = 1 cup) then figure out with the next batch whether I need to adjust the amount up or down. Usually it has been right on.

I have only seen the green bag (original flavor) but last month at Whole Foods, I found Fleur De Sel and Vanilla-flavored coconut palm sugar! Hmm… wonder what I can do with them?