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Italian Almond Pear Cake (gluten-free)

I found out about this classic Italian Almond Pear Cake recipe when asked to make a cake for my Grandmother’s 93rd birthday this past September. My brother had just harvested several pounds of pears from a tree my Italian grandfather planted many moons ago. The unique part about this recipe is how little flour it uses and how the pears are placed on top of the cake batter, allowing the cake to rise around the pears. Many recipes you will find online for this type of cake call for a springform cake pan. In my experience this is unnecessary. Just butter and flour your typical 9″ diameter cake pan. This recipe is simple and easy to throw in the oven and impress your guests.

Recipe for Italian Almond Pear Cake

Equipment: Hand mixer or standup mixer, cake pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond flour or ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup flour or  an all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 ripe pairs, peeled and cored and cut into large pieces (halved if possible)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • powdered sugar for garnish
  • sliced almonds

Steps:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Butter and flour a cake pan and set aside
  3. Cream butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs one at a time
  5. Then add vanilla to the butter, sugar, egg mixture.
  6. Next, in separate bowl mix the flour, spices, and baking powder
  7. Then add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture.
  8. Once it is uniformly incorporated spread evenly into the bottom of the floured cake pan, it should only take up an inch or less
  9. Arrange pears on top of the batter, as the cake rises it will rise around the pears
  10. Bake in oven for 30 minutes and remove, add the almonds on top. Place back in oven for another 5-10 minutes until knife or tooth pick come out clean.
  11. Let it cool, remove from pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Banana Brownies

Healthy Carrot Cake with macadamia nut frosting

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Banana Brownies

These banana brownies are a marriage between my oat flour banana bread recipe and chewy chocolate brownies. Bananas are so abundant here on Hawaii Island. They are also extremely versatile and especially great with chocolate. This recipe features coconut oil, maple syrup, and oat flour instead of wheat, butter, and refined sugar. It uses organic cocoa powder instead of processed chocolate chips. These are a guilt free dessert. Eat em up! Use a little less oat flour if you’ like them to come out more gooey than cake like, try substituting a different flour if you’d like a smoother brownie mouth feel.

Banana Brownie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 3 cups mashed banana
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla2016-11-19-15-11-18
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1 2/3 cups oat flour (ground oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • macadamia nuts for topping

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Oil 9 x 11 baking pan
  3. mash and measure bananas. I use a immersion (stick)
    blender and
    its done in 30 seconds. You can leave some chunks if you want the banana chunk vibe
  4. in a bowl combine all the ingredients starting with the liquid (oil, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, banana).
  5. Then add the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, cocoa powder and oat flour)
  6. Mix well and pour into pan
  7. Top with optional chopped macadamia nuts.
  8. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.
  9. Serve warm or cool!

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Blueberry Banana Spelt Muffins

These blueberry banana spelt muffins have become a staple in my household. I make a double batch and they still hardly last us through the week. Perfect for breakfast, a snack or dessert. The amount of sweetener can be adjusted to your taste, but I tend to reduce the amount of maple syrup or honey and add a little stevia. This recipe highlights the use of spelt flour in cooking. Below is a little more information on spelt.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a grass that originated in southeast Asia.  A relative of wheat, spelt is thought to be the “wheat” that was used over 9,000 years ago, it is considered an ancient grain and has been referenced in the bible. It remained a favorite grain until the 19th century agricultural revolutions and the modernization of wheat strains.

Spelt is more easily  digested than regular wheat and it has a reputation for helping people maintain good health. Additionally, it has more protein, fat and fiber than wheat, making it a  a high-quality energy source. The gluten in spelt is of a different molecule pattern than that in modern wheat. Whereas, today wheat has been designed/bred to have a high gluten content, the character of the gluten in spelt has not been modified from its natural state.

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website: “Spelt does not seem to cause sensitivities in many people who are intolerant of wheat.” This is why my sweeties begs me to make him spelt muffins – we are taking a break from regular old wheat. In baking, spelt behaves like whole wheat flour and has a wonderfully nutty but subtle flavor. In comparison to oat flour, rice flour, etc. which have strong flavor profiles, spelt makes a better wheat substitution.

Recipe for Blueberry Banana Spelt Muffins

Equipment:

  • oven
  • muffin tin
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • measuring cups and spoons

Yield: 6 large muffins, 12 small-medium muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup instant rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/2 tsp fine ground good salt (like Celtic Sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (unrefined or refined) liquid form (but not hot)
  • 1/3 cup honey (substitute maple syrup, or reduce the sweetener and add a few drops of stevia)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas mushed well

Add last

  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

 Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line muffin tin with coconut oil
  3. Mix wet ingredients well in medium bowl
  4. Mix dry ingredients well in separate smaller bowl
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredient and mix well but do not over mix
  6. Fold in blueberries at the end
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F for 6 large muffins. Reduce baking time to 20-30 minutes for smaller muffins. Baking time varies on environment, keep a close watch on your muffins looking for a firm golden-brown edge and top.
  8. Tooth pick should come out clean when inserted. Cool 5 minutes and remove from muffin tin.
  9. Enjoy these blueberry banana spelt muffins while still warm
 blueberry banana spelt muffins

 

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Make ice cream with ice cream bananas

I’ll have to brag for a moment here about the wonder of a variety of bananas called ICE CREAM BANANAS. It is a cross between Musa acuminata and balbisiana known as Blue Java. I know they don’t carry these in any supermarkets, they are even hard to find at the farmer’s market here in Hawaii. But you can usually find some trees at home depot for $7, plant it and wait about 1 to 2 years.

If you get the chance, you MUST try them. They are soft and creamy, with notes of vanilla and resemble ice cream when frozen!  The have a blueish tint when they are un-ripe, and once they are yellow and very soft they are at their peak ripeness. These banana trees like to lean instead of standing tall, so beware before you plant them on the side of your path. Read more about ice cream bananas at this article from the Huffington Post.

ice cream bananas

 

Banana Ice Cream Instructions:

To make ice cream banana “ice cream”,  all you need to do is peel several ripe ripe bananas and add to your blender or food processor and whip into a creamy creamy puree and chill in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

Obviously, any bananas will work. Just don’t use ones that are browning or very bruised. An easier way to enjoy the taste, is to simply peel and freeze the bananas and enjoy as a super simple, sweet and satisfying dessert. If left in the freezer longer, it will still be good but the consistency will crystalize. If you have an ice cream maker, you may want to take it a step further and prepare the bananas by churning it to decrease the crystals. I have used my Kitchenaid Ice cream attachment with excellent results. You can try adding coconut milk for a coconut ice cream banana ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Carrot Cake with macadamia nut frosting

This healthy carrot cake recipe is made with coconut oil, significantly less sugar, and goes great with macadamia nut frosting.

A few days ago, I told my hunny I would not try to make another carrot cake for his birthday. The first one I made for him, was huge, dense, moist, but dense, it took days to make our way through ½ of the leftovers and we ended up giving the rest to our dog. BUT, I couldn’t resist trying to make another, better, healthier and with less sugar. This one comes out, light, moist, and moderately sweet, so you can eat an entire piece and feel good. healthy carrot cake

Recipe for Healthy Carrot Cake:

Yield: This recipe makes approx. one 9 x 12 by 2 inch cake, 15 servings or so.

Ingredients for the cake:

dry

  • 2 cups organic white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

wet

  • 4 eggs beaten well
  • 1 ¼ cup organic coconut oil (liquid, if you melt it make sure it cools before adding)
  • 1 ¼ cup brown cane sugar (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Oil glass baking pan with coconut oil
  3. Mix the dry ingredients well in medium bowl.
  4. In large bowl, add the beaten eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, and sugar.
  5. Gently mix in the grated carrots.
  6. Add, little by little, the dry ingredients to the wet.
  7. Lastly, add to oiled baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake springs back when you poke with a finger or when toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

Macadamia Nut Maple Syrup frosting

Yield: approx: 1 ½ cups

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 2 ½ cups macadamia nuts
  • up to ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 4 drops of liquid, alcohol free stevia
  • 2 tablespoons + water

Steps:

  1. Add mac nuts, add ½ maple syrup (2 tablespoons) and water to a good blender and blend on high .
  2. Next, taste for sweetness, add a few drops of stevia (not too many as it can enhance the flavor of maple syrup but too much can make it taste almost bitter).
  3. Add more maple syrup to taste.
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Chocolate avocado mousse with banana

From about July to October we have avocados raining down from a very old, tall large tree. Raining. Each morning during these months I pick up perhaps 20 avocados from the ground. I know for city dwellers this is an insane amount of avos. It’s almost like a money tree if you consider how much money people spend on avocados a year.

For 25 years of my life I never really cared for avocados thinking there we just another bland, fattening, caloric food that people were trending on. I would always give up my share of avocado to the next person that wanted them. My brother told me I was NUTs and one day, craving mousse (but abstaining from milk,) I came across the avocado mousse concept…and it was this dish that made me LOVE avocado.

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and uses unrefined sugar. It is so luscious you will have a hard time putting it down.

If you like the idea of using chocolate with healthier desserts you may like to try my recipes for gluten-free chocolate beet brownies and my chocolate banana brownies

Recipe for Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Banana

Yield: 4-6 servings

Equipment: Blender

Ingredients:

  • Avos (about 2 large)
  • ¼ -½ cup cocoa powder (depending on the size of the avos)
  • To taste honey or maple syrup, or stevia (ideally stevia is an addition to honey or maple syrup and allows you to use less of the honey or syrup by adding a few drops of stevia to bring out the sweetness).
  • Bananas, sliced

Steps:

  1. Add avocados and some of the cocoa powder to blender, add some of the sweetener
  2. Blend until smooth and give it a try for taste
  3. Add more cocoa powder and sweetener to taste
  4. Chill and serve with sliced bananas

 

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Chocolate Banana Cookies with Macadamia Nuts

I have made a lot of cookies in my life. I have also witnessed the reactions that cookies have on people.  And I have been told by many friends, that these cookies, are “VERY good”. The banana in them is pronounced and the oatmeal is not. The texture is chewy, almost like a chocolate brownie cookie. Give them a try!!

Recipe for Chocolate Banana Cookies with Macadamia Nuts

Equipment: Oven and baking sheets

Yield: 15-24 cookies

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 and ¾ cups flour
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup raw organic extra rich cacao powder
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 cups mashed/blended bananas

Steps:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in medium-large bowl (except for the mac nuts)
  2. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas or blend with a hand mixer and measure 2 cups
  3. Mix in the beaten eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla to the bananas mixture
  4. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients and mix well
  5. Then, fold in the chopped mac nuts
  6. Place the mixed dough in the freezer and chill for at least an hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Drop 1 inch balls onto un-greased cookie sheets and bake  for 10-15 minutes until the tops of cookies look done (the color changes from light brown to darker brown)
  9. Chill on cookie sheet and enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Cookies with Macadamia Nuts

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Black sapote pudding

The Sapote “brothers” are my favorite type of fruit ever. Even though sapotes aren’t in the same families. Black sapotes (Diospyros digyna), are great for pudding-like texture and creaminess. Enjoy this as a healthy raw dessert or for breakfast if you allow your self to indulge in AM chocolate.

Black sapote pudding recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 black sapote
  • 4 bananas
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter

Steps:

Cream together in blender, food processor or with a hand mixer, chill and enjoy!

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Carrot apple beet ginger pulp bread

This carrot apple beet ginger pulp bread recipe is the perfect way to use your juice pulp. I was inspired to make this recipe after watching so much good fiber go to waste from my carrot apple beet ginger fresh juice recipe. I created it by substituting the banana out for juice pulp in my healthy banana bread recipe. It is also gluten-free because I used fresh ground oat flour instead of wheat flour. You can use just carrot pulp, or just carrot apple pulp. But I would try experimenting with multiple combinations. A little bit of beet and ginger give the bread a zing. This bread will come out moderately dense, slightly chewy, and delicious.

Recipe for carrot apple beet ginger pulp bread

wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups carrot pulp (if other flavorful pulps are mixed it even better – apple, beet, ginger, experiment with flavors. )
  • ½ cup coconut oil (the softer the better, but make sure it is not hot- you don’t want to cook the eggs)
  • ½ cup or less honey
  • 2 eggs (room temperature so the coconut oil doesn’t solidify)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups oat flour (freshly ground in your blender!)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and oil the baking dish (larger loaf pan, round cake pan or whatever.
  2. In a medium to large sized bowl, mix the wet ingredients (except for the pulp). First, add the eggs and beat, then the honey, the vanilla and then coconut oil.
  3.  Next, mix the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl
  4. Then, slowly add the dry into the wet and slowly add the 2 cups of the juice pulp (the batter will be thick and stiff)
  5. Place into the baking dish and bake about 25-40 minutes depending on thickness. Done when golden brown on top and knife comes out cleanish.
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Rugalech

The year is not complete unless I make at least one batch of my number 1 favorite cookie in the world and share it with as many good people as possible. this recipe is slight adaptation of my grandpa’s rugalech.

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ingredients for the dough

  • 1 # of butter
  • 1 # of cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs (plus one for washing the cookies)
  • 1 and ½ # of flour plus more for rolling out the dough

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suggested fillings:

  • cinnamon and sugar
  • chopped nuts (walnuts, macadamia)
  • raspberry, strawberry, apricot, etc. jam
  • mini chocolate chips, other chocolate shavings

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materials list:

  • several small bowls for the filling
  • rolling pin
  • heavy duty mixer
  • sharp knife or dough scraper
  • large surface you can use to roll dough and cut dough
  • 2-4 cookie sheets (parchment paper)
  • pastry brush

Steps:

  1. Mix cream cheese and butter together until well blended
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and sugar
  3. Add flour a little at a time until well the dough forms a ball that is not too sticky, not too stiff and somewhat elastic. Don’t worry too much about it being too soft or too sticky, as you roll it out you can add more flour
  4. remove from a bowl and leave on the counter on a patch of flour (you can refrigerate it at this point if you need time to clean up from the first step) 2014-12-31 13.31.38
  5. break of a ball of dough that is proportionate to the amount of space you have to roll out the dough. 2014-12-31 14.02.11
  6. roll out the dough into a rectangle shape, turning it over and flouring frequently to prevent sticking.2014-12-31 14.10.59
  7. cut edges to ensure a nice rectangle and put aside the scraps to use again. 2014-12-31 14.02.18
  8. spread an even portion of the filling and cut a small strip of dough and begin rolling.2014-12-31 14.22.182014-12-31 14.03.50
  9. placed on non-greased cookie sheet or one with parchment paper (especially for the jam cookies).
  10. Wash lightly with egg wash and bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees until tops and bottoms are slightly brown 10) cool and enjoy! 2014-12-31 14.57.102014-12-31 14.57.31
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