My fall farm harvest inspired this recipe for healthy carrot & pumpkin breakfast bars. Shredded carrots and shredded coconut, along with homemade cassava flour, homegrown squash, and home grown raw macadamia nuts.
Because it’s October and I made these tandem with healthy winter squash cheesecake, I went for the pumpkin spice theme. And, to be honest, I started out trying to make muffins. But after I made the batter, I noticed my muffin pan was rusted. All the better because my muffins are usually more like dense hearty bars anyways.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and/or gather inspiration for your own creations. OF course, you can use fresh ingredients, or canned squash, skip the cassava flour and use another favorite flour.
Carrot and Pumpkin Breakfast Bars
This recipe is inspired by my "fall" harvest on our Big Island farm. Tropical winter squash (curcubita moshata), garden carrots, fresh shredded coconuts, and freshly harvested raw macadamia nuts. I even used our homemade cassava flour.
We are super lucky to have such an abundant fruit farm – but MAN! it is a lot of work to figure out how when to harvest, how to process and how to store the large variety of fruit we have. I’m writing this how-to guide on processing macadamia nuts at home as I’m dealing with my second annual harvest from a tree that was planted on the farm by the previous owners. It just started to produce last year (my 6th year here). So I’m guessing our tree is about 13 years old now. Another fun fact about mac nut trees, they self pollinate (almost all varieties at least), so you only need one to get a good fruit set.
Unlike many of my tropical culinary projects, this one may actually be worth the time considering how much macadamia nuts cost in the stores, even in Hawaii. Cassava flour on the other hand… that DYI is a labor of love. For me macadamia nut season is a time when I get to cozy up in the kitchen, put on my new favorite Spanish-Language series and crack nuts all night long.
Your macadamia nuts will drop from the tree when they are ready to harvest.
For ease in harvesting, it is good to mow around the tree on the highest setting regularly. Or, if your tree is an a shadded area with a lot of leaf drop, you can use a leaf blower to seperate the leaves from the shells.
I like to harvest them from the ground every 2-3 days, but you can let them sit as long as a week.
Husking the macadamia nuts
It is important to husk the macadamia nuts soon after harvesting them about 24 hours. This is because if left in their shell with poor oxygen flow, it will cause mold and make the husks harder to remove, increasing processing time. But, if more time goes by, you can still harvest, remove the half cracked husks, and we like to recommend a thorough cleaning of any mold in warm water first and then food grade hydrogen peroxide.
To husk them, I use my macadamia nut cracker. It usually takes one or 2 cracks to remove the husks. Place them on your drying racks.
Drying the macadamia nuts
If you have ever tried cracking a mac nut right away you will notice they stick to the shell and they sort of taste like coconut. To get that fatty macadamia nut you crave, you need to reduce the initial moisture content of the macadamia by airdrying it for 2-3 weeks. This can be done in a place that is out of direct sunlight and gets decent airflow. I like to dry ours on our screened in porches. I have the best results using trays with holes on the bottom. Specifically, I use trays from a previous dehydrator we had that broke. They are perfect for enhancing airflow and containing the nuts. I use a china marker to date the trays for easy tracking. Every few days I roll them around a little to get airflow to the different sides.
After the initial air drying, you will notice the nuts are more easily removed from the shell but parts still stick. You will also notice a change in color. Pictured to the bottom are mac nuts that have been air-dried about 3 weeks versus the picture on the top only a few days. Now, you need to dry them further at a higher temperature. This is best done in your dehydrator on a low "nut" setting of about 104° F for about 2 days. I find my Ivation dehydrator is actually perfect for this. The nuts fit perfecting into the wire mesh drying sheets. If you have extra space – evenly space out the trays so all the nuts get a lots of air. About 2 times a day it is good to roll them around a little to change their position. After 2 days you can increase the temperature to 130-150° F and check them every couple hours until the shell is very brittle and cracks easily. When the mac nut is perfectly done you can hear it rattle around inside the shell.
If you do not have a dehydrator, you can also use your oven on the lowest setting (mine is 170° F). But they will dry much quicker, which is not necessarily better. If they dry too quick, they may dry unevenly, change color, and they are prone to getting a brown, tough spot in the middle of the nut. This is the case especially when they are roasted and can result in a less desirable taste.
Cracking & storing the macadamia nuts
Once they are uniformly dry, cozy up and start the final cracking.
The raw macadamia nuts can be kept in an air tight container, but they are best stored in the fridge or freezer. You will also benefit from vacuum sealing them for prolonged life.
Roasting the macadamia nuts
You can roast them in the oven on about 275° F for 20-30 minutes, best done on wire mesh baking sheets (like the ones in my dehydrator). If you want them salted toss them in a small amount of oil and salt.
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.
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:
2 cups organic white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil glass baking pan with coconut oil
Mix the dry ingredients well in medium bowl.
In large bowl, add the beaten eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, and sugar.
Gently mix in the grated carrots.
Add, little by little, the dry ingredients to the wet.
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
Add mac nuts, add ½ maple syrup (2 tablespoons) and water to a good blender and blend on high .
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).
Add more maple syrup to taste.
This slight variation will allow you to feed a few more people. It is 1.5 times the recipe above. I also use maple syrup instead of sugar and add cinnamon and a bit more oil to give the cake more moisture.
Ingredients for the cake:
3 cups organic white flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
3/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
6 eggs beaten well
2 3/4 cups organic coconut oil (liquid, if you melt it make sure it cools before adding)
This creamy macadamia nut dressing recipe is Adam’s creation. It is essentially one of the only dressings we make because it is so satisfying. It also has many different applications besides salad. For example, we use it mixed with pasta as the sauce, we use it in our tacos, on top of our shepard’s pie, to dip our carrots in and more. The texture is silky, with a slight tang, a subtle sweetness and a strange taste resemblance to bacon. Adam says it reminds him of the secret sauce commonly used in fast food restaurants. Yet, this recipe is vegan, gluten-free, gmo-free, and extremely delicious.
Macadamia nuts are the local choice for nuts or seeds in Hawaii. They also have a unique set of nutritional benefits. Firstly, it is an excellent source of energy as it has one of the highest caloric values for the seeds/nuts (100g is 718 calories). They are high in fiber and are naturally gluten-free. Additionally, macadamia nuts are packed with minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc), antioxidants, and vitamins (especially B-complex vitamins, with smaller amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Macadamia nuts are also a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These are known to help lower total LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL or good cholesterol.
Recipe for creamy macadamia nut dressing:
1 cup mac nuts (or other creamy nut, like cashews)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce (non-gmo and gluten-free)
1/4 of a medium red bell pepper
4-6” sprig of rosemary (stem removed)
1/2 – 1/3 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
Blend ingredients together in blender, slowly adding water until creamy consistency is achieved. Add salt if necessary.
Ideas for a salad:
Salad: (use as many as you have, but at least 3).
Chopped mixed lettuces
Carrot slices (use a peeler to achieve thin strips)
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
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
2 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter softened
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups mashed/blended bananas
Mix the dry ingredients in medium-large bowl (except for the mac nuts)
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas or blend with a hand mixer and measure 2 cups
Mix in the beaten eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla to the bananas mixture
Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients and mix well
Then, fold in the chopped mac nuts
Place the mixed dough in the freezer and chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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)