Nutella Torte

nutellatorteIn my 20’s, long before I became a mom, wife, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, or official Pacific Northwesterner, I was a serious wanderlust-er.  I traveled. I visited over 25 countries and tasted all of the foods I could.  But my first love of travel + food was in the back of a 16 passenger van on the way to Virginia when I was 18. (I know.  It’s not what you would expect from soon-to-be college kid in the back of a van, right?)

My  travel + food love affair began in the spring of 1997 with Nutella.  (If you’ve never had it, don’t eat it.  You won’t be able to put the spoon down.  Maybe ever.) I remember my first taste of the gooey chocolate hazelnut mixture; I was on a road trip with some friends to check out a college on the east coast during my senior year in high school.  My friend, Amy, pulled out a jar and a bag of pretzel sticks.  She passed it around the 16 passenger van.  My first taste was something akin to what I understand heroin addicts experience the first time they use.  It was a magical revelation.  It was transcendent.  It was a brand new food reality opening up before me.  I had no idea anything could taste that good.  I was hooked.

The spring of 1997 sparked a long love affair with Nutella  It spanned the course of three decades, four continents, and many life events in between.

  • Spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar during college to soothe a broken heart and pad the waistline with a few post break-up pounds.
  • Nutella crepes in Paris across from the Eiffel Tower on a spectacular summer evening.
  • Fresh Nutella croissants in Germany, Austria, Prague, and Venice to fuel my perpetual mid-20’s wanderlust.
  • A dusty, expensive jar hidden on the back of a shelf in a little shop in Victoria Falls, Zambia, (probably left over from British occupation), spread over hot, fresh chapati straight from the cooking fire.
  • And yes…comforting Nutella sandwiches on not-quite-stale bread eaten at the end of an exhausting remote clinic day in the highlands of Guatemala.

I guess you could say I have strong associations with food.

Well, today I’m trying to stay true to my low sugar in 2015 intention.  My husband is, too, so I wanted to make something familiar and delicious and decadent.  I wanted to  connect with where my life’s journey has taken and honor those travel + food experiences, even while I am in a definite season of staying close to home. But I wanted to do it all without sugar. Or flour. Or (very many) carbs. Or the inevitable self-loathing.

Behold, the Nutella Torte.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’m going to warn you…this is not low-cal.  In fact, it’s high-cal.  You’re going to have to watch your portion control here, but that’s okay because you’ll want to savor every bite.  Remember good times.  Share a memory with your family.  Feel all the warm fuzzies that fill your heart as you fill your belly. Then put the damn thing away because it’s going to be tempting to eat it all in one day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of finely ground hazelnut meal  (you can grind your own with a food processor, or buy it for a pretty penny from WF)*
  • 1 cup erythritol or 2/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp melted butter or hazelnut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 20 drops of liquid stevia (only if using erythritol)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of light cream or half & half
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • a prayer of gratitude that you can eat something tastes like Nutella again

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Lightly grease a 8″ springform or round cake pan
3) Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously for about a few seconds
4) Combine dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
5) Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, and stir until fully incorporated
6) Pour into pan
7) Put pan into the oven for about 35 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude.

Let the torte cool quite a bit, for about one hour.  I know, it’s torture.  One whole hour.  And it’s just staring at you.  Waiting for you to top it with some fresh, home-made whipped cream sweetened only with a bit of vanilla extract and a few fresh raspberries and devour it’s warm hazelnutty-chocolatey goodness.

(*Please note that if you want to forgo hazelnut meal, you can easily substitute almond meal.  One of my very favorite variations is to add a little bit of almond extract and unsweetened dried tart cherries.  I also like to use unsweetened baking chocolate instead of the cocoa powder, melt it with the butter on my faux double-boiler, and add it to the wet ingredients.)

Do you have any favorite Nutella memories?  Please share.  You’re among friends.

Meyer Lemon Coconut Tartlet

coconut lemon tartletThis time of year is always packed full of sweet treats and ridiculously tasty holiday food.  As a mama on a breast-feeding elimination diet, I find sticking to my eating plan particularly challenging during these winter months.  I wrote about it more in-depth over on The Leaky Boob, and gave a few tips for dealing with social gatherings while on an elimination diet.

I’ve also come up with elimination diet-friendly coconut tartlet, (unless you can’t eat coconut, then let me know and I’ll create something just for you), and handy little infographic that I’m considering printing out in miniature and passing out at holiday gatherings.  Okay.  I’m not seriously considering passing it out, but I’ve definitely daydreamed about it.  Feel free to add your own semi-ridiculous things to the list and share.  We can all have a good laugh over it.

Meyer Lemon Coconut Tartlet

Ingredients for Crust:
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg (optional, binds crust better)
1/4 cup coconut crystals

Directions for Crust:
1) Combine coconut, almond flour and coconut crystals
2) Add butter and mix well, then blend in egg
3) Press into individual tart dishes and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
4) Remove and allow to cool completely

Ingredients for Tart Filling
3 cans coconut milk, chilled in can (full fat, and use the separated cream only)
3-4 lemons, depending on size
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp raw honey
10 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Directions for Tart Filling:
1) Juice lemons by rolling them on the counter top with the heel of your hand, then squeeze juice. (I always put a fork in the halved lemon and squeeze and twist around it.)  Strain the juice to eliminate pulp and seeds.
2) Zest lemon skin into juice.  Organic lemons are best and recommended for this.
3) Take the cream from the cans of coconut and  whip into lemon juice and zest.
4) Scrape down sides of bowl, then add honey, stevia, and vanilla extract and blend well.
5) Scoop into fully cooled tart dishes, garnish with fresh raspberries, and serve!

*Note: One really great thing about this recipe is the tarts don’t need immediate refrigeration.  They are actually best at room temperature.  If you do refrigerate them, make sure to remove at least 30-40 minutes in advance so the coconut can warm up and be nice and creamy when you serve it.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

Photo of Peanut Butter Cookies10 years ago, a fellow culinary-minded friend shared a recipe for easy peanut butter cookies with me.  It went something like this:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 
1 cup sugar
  • 
1 egg
  • 
1 tsp vanilla extract

It seemed so easy, so simple.  Too good to be true, even.  Turns out, it’s not just verbal urban culinary legend.  The origins are rooted in Tupperware.  Some truly genius cook created this recipe and shared it with the most well-known vintage food storage company of all time.  Then Tupperware shared it with the WORLD. Thanks, T-Diddy.

This was a no-brainer for low-carb conversion.  I’m pretty sure the peanut butter had a spiritual experience when it met the erythritol.  I know I did.

I would just like to express how EASY these are to make.  It took a few tries and tweaks to get it just right, but I feel as though I’ve found the winning combination.  I’ve also tried almond butter with a bit of almond extract to produce a decadent marzipan flavor.  Sunbutter is a great option for those who suffer from nut allergies.  I’ve added freeze-dried raspberries to mimic a peanut butter and jelly kind of cookie (I know…how much genius can this recipe produce?).  My favorite rendition, however, is dark chocolate chunks with chunky peanut butter and a latte.

For breakfast.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and my dear family friend, Julia Robertson, made and photographed these cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz all-natural peanut butter (no sugar or oil added!)
  • 1 cup erythritol or coconut sugar crystals (or another granulated sweetener)
  • 
1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw organic honey (optional but worth it)
  • 2 oz chopped 85% cacao dark chocolate (0ptional)
  • 
sprinkle of salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine egg, vanilla extract, honey, and erythritol.
  2. Stir in peanut butter until thoroughly combined.
  3. Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet, about two inches apart.
  4. Score with a fork, sprinkle sparingly with sea salt if you’d like, and bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before eating, and for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  (Erythritol has a slight cooling effect and will make your cookies very crumbly and weird if you eat them too soon.)

And because I think my friends are brilliant and talented, check out Julia’s photography website.  She’s fancy in an understated, award-winning, Wall-Street-Journal-loves-her kind of way.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Picture of Chocolate Chia Seed PuddingChia seeds…love them or hate them, they are packed full of micro-nutrients. While chia seeds are a relatively new food to the United States, they sustained ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures for generations. In fact, in the ancient Mayan language, the word “chia” literally translates to “strength”. How great is that? Food should make us strong. And stable. And restore our vitality. And be genetic building blocks to produce other, stable, strong, healthy, whole, and vital offspring. According to the USDA, this is how a single ounce of chia seeds help keep folks healthy today:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • Decent additional amounts of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

So, why are we not eating chia seeds by the handful?

First off, they’re seeds. They are tiny and get stuck in your teeth and taste like seeds. Not like pumpkin seeds, which are pretty flavorful when roasted. These taste…earthy. Earthy isn’t bad, it’s just not always palatable as a stand-alone flavor. Chia seeds also absorb liquid, which makes them challenging to chew. The good news is, they are very easy to add to salads, side dishes, main dishes, drinks and desserts. They quickly take on the flavor of other foods they are prepared with, and trade in their earthy flavor without any resentment.

My favorite vehicle for this nutrient-dense food is a no-cook, dairy-free pudding. It’s so simple, ridiculously satisfying, easy to prepare, and appeals to many palates. My dad loves tapioca pudding, and I originally created this for him. My young nieces also like it, so I consider this a multi-generational food win. It is also easy to mak

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 
1/4 cup coconut crystals or other low-glycemic sweetener
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 
1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 
10-15 drops vanilla stevia (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix everything together until well-combined.
  2. Chill for 2-3 hours, or up to 4 days.

Alternate Preparations:

*You can omit the chia seeds. Of course, then this will just be Pudding, not Chia Seed Pudding.  If you do omit the seeds, also omit the almond milk.  Chia absorbs moisture and thickens things up, so your pudding won’t hold up otherwise. It will look more like cold, chocolate coconut soup.

**You can also put the pudding in popsicle molds, which is delicious and will last much longer.

Charlie Brown Bars

Picture of Charlie Brown BarsI am not a morning person.  And I know roughly 97% of America can relate.  I’m usually a give-me-coffee-so-I-can-be-human kind of girl.  No, that’s not entirely true.  The complete truth is, I literally stumble around for the first 15 minutes I’m awake.  (I once tripped getting out of bed and fell into my open closet, then managed to knock the sliding closet door off it’s hinges as Itried to get up.)  So, after I stumble dazedly about for a bit, THEN I get my coffee and become human.

Making breakfast is a struggle for me.  I used to grab a protein bar or piece of toast with some peanut butter on it and eat it on the way to work.  Then I stopped eating protein bars and bread.  Then I had a kid and had even less energy to put toward breakfast. I’m not so keen on trying to make breakfast when I can barely function as it is.  What to do, what to do…

Oh, I KNOW!  Eat chocolate and peanut butter.  For breakfast.  (And although I think cold breakfast is generally not the best option, I think not eating at all is much worse.)

Apparently, these are called Charlie Brown Bars (maybe because of the peanuts?), but I’ve been making them for ages.  I saw them on display in the fancy dessert case at a certain store that sells “whole foods”, and guess most of the world eats them for dessert.  To each their own.  The great thing about it is you can use whatever nut or seed butter you like, and eat them whenever you want.  They are packed with fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and calories, so you might have to watch your serving size.

*Please note due to the coconut oil, these bars need to stay cold or they turn to mush.  Delicious mush.


Ingredients for Bars:

  • 
1 1/2 cups nut or seed butter (no sugar, unsalted is best)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsalted nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup coconut crystals or erythritol (I prefer to powder mine in a coffee grinder first)
  • 
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 drops liquid stevia
  • Pinch of salt
cinnamon to taste

Directions for Bars:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt nut butter and coconut oil together over low heat, then add vanilla extract and stevia
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine nuts, seeds, coconut, erythritol, and cinnamon and mix
  3. Pour melted coconut oil and nut butter mixture into bowl, and mix with a non-stick spatula until combined
  4. Spread mixture into 9×13 pan and refrigerate for 2-3 hours (or until very firm)

Ingredients for Chocolate Topping:

  • 3 oz 90% cacao chocolate
  • 
1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 15 drops stevia

Directions for Chocolate Topping:

  1. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in your home-made double boiler
  2. Add vanilla and stevia
  3. Once melted and stirred well, pour into the pan of chilled nut butter mixture
  4. (Optional and delicious step: Spread a layer plain nut butter over the pan first, then pour your chocolate over it.)
  5. Allow to harden in the refrigerator for an hour, then cut into serving sized pieces and store.