Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Accidental Vegan, Gluten Free with Cacao Nibs Oatmeal Cookie

I was recently asked to make oatmeal cookies for an upcoming camping trip. While I love to cook, I wasn't excited to get going on this project as I am not a baker.  (My older sister has the corner on that one).  I'm also not an oatmeal cookie buff.  Now if I had been asked to make chocolate chip cookies, I may have gotten a little  more excited. Nevertheless, I still wanted to accommodate the request and I set out to search for a gluten free recipe, sweetened as naturally as possible.  I ended up taking three recipes and choosing a little from each and came up with a pretty tasty cookie, if I do say so myself!  It was kind of a science experiment, which is always what makes cooking fun.  It's a tasty, chewy, not too sweet little cookie that leaves you feeling satisfied and happy.  I may be an oatmeal cookie buff after all.  

I have posted this recipe with both vegan and vegetarian ingredients and equivalents.  I do prefer using butter and the eggs but the vegan version is wonderful as well!
Here's how it goes....

1 1/2 cup pecan halves (toasting is optional-it adds a nice flavor)
2 cups gluten free-rolled oats, divided
3/4 cups buckwheat flour or any gluten free flour
1/2 cup Sucanat* or unpacked brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (I don't like a whole lot of cinnamon but some people do)
1 tsp Real Salt
1 Large egg beaten or 1 tsp ground Chi seeds or 2 tsp. ground flaxseed + 2 Tablespoons water
1/3 cup organic honey or rice syrup
15 drops liquid stevia
4 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heaping 1/3 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries (optional)
2 Tablespoons Cacao nibs*

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Put pecans along with 1 cup of oats in food processor and process until coarsely chopped with some fine powder showing. Be sure not to over process or the oils in the nuts will release.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the above mixture with the next 5 ingredients and the remaining 1 cup of oats.  Put aside.
  4. In small bowl, coat the chopped dates in 1 tsp flour and toss until coated. (This prevents the dates from sticking together)
  5. In a large bowl, mix together your version of the egg along with the syrup, butter or coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  Then add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Fold in cranberries or cherries, nibs and dates.  
  6. Take about 2 Tablespoons of dough, roll it into a ball, and then press down on it with your hand or a spoon to flatten.  Space the cookies a couple inches apart.
Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pan and bake for another 5 minutes until the cookies are golden. Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing cookies onto a cooling rack.

Sucanat: is dehydrated pure cane sugar.  It is a golden brown in color and maintains its molasses flavor and minerals.  It has less sweetening power than refined white sugar and a lower glycemic index.

Cacao Nibs: chocolate in its purest form yielding all of its antioxidant benefits. They are the cacao beans that have been roasted but not processed with alkali and are probably the best dietary source of magnesium, which is a wonderful little mineral that naturally relaxes us.  The cacao bean is also a great source of tryptophan which helps with moods. No wonder you crave chocolate when you're PMSing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

They're Back! Gluten Free and Vegetarian Cooking Classes

 I've been on a cooking class hiatus for far too long and I am happy to announce that there will be a class next month, April 26th at 6:00 PM.  I'm very excited to be able to bring these classes back and I hope you will come join me!! 

 One of the biggest joys I receive when I teach these classes is watching people taste and experience wonderfully prepared food and realize that they can eat exceptionally well without a whole lot of effort. 

This class will tickle your taste buds. You'll meet new friends and walk away with new recipes in hand and know how easy it is to prepare delicious and healthy dishes full of flavor and nutrition. The evening combines a little bit of romance, with a measure of fun, and a dash of learning.  It's an event for couples to share, a single person to enjoy, and can be a great birthday gift.


Savory Grapefruit Detox Drink
Chia Nut Bread w/goat Cheese
Fennel Orange Bibb Salad
Quinoa Cauliflower Patties w/Avocado Cilantro Dressing
Fresh Raspberries with Raw Cacao Nibbles
Note: Menu is subject to change depending on availability of ingredients.

Date & Time: Saturday April 26th at 6:00 PM
Location:  The Beautiful Blue Heron Studio in Laguna Canyon
Consideration: $60.00 per person/$110 per couple

To make your reservation, please e-mail cindy@alivingbalance.net or call 949-370-9843.  Credit cards are accepted.

The menu for this evening is vegetarian and gluten free. Ingredients are organic and carefully hand picked.  Although you will experience some hands on, my classes are more in the format of a cooking demo.

  • Space is limited to 12 Guests so please register early to ensure you a place at the table.  Payment received reserves your spot.
  • Because of the nature of the class, the fee is nonrefundable but is transferable.
  • Although I do not supply wine as part of the class, you are more than welcome to bring your own.

Blue Heron Portal Studio, 3337 Laguna Canyon Rd. A, Laguna Beach, 92651: ww.blueheronportal.com

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Savory Lil Cocktail to Cleanse You Liver and Gallbladder

As you can see from my last two posts, I'm kind of in a detox mode and for good reason! Last Thursday was the beginning of a 30 Day Detox that I'm very fortunate to be leading for 16 very brave and dedicated people. Since it is a whole body detox, it includes steps for detoxifying the liver which works many hours overtime and is not to be ignored. The surprisingly delicious little liver detox cocktail, featured here, is one of my favorite recipes that is included in the detox notebook.  The sweetness and tang from the grapefruit and the spiciness of the garlic and ginger makes this a truly savory drink that heals as well as satisfies your taste buds.

Serves 1
1  Grapefruit Juiced the old fashioned way with a hand juicer 
1/2 clove of Elephant Garlic or 1 clove regular garlic
1 dime slice slice of ginger
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil (not pictured here)
Dash of Cayenne pepper

Throw all of these ingredients into your blender to make a mouth watering lil cocktail that will make your liver and gallbladder sing!  Blend for a quick minute until just a little bit frothy.

A little more about our detox powerhouse.... The Liver is one of our most resilient organs with the job of clearing out the toxins and trash that accumulate in our bodies from the environment, the processed foods that we eat and variety of OTC and prescription medications that are so readily at our disposal.  How  do you know if your liver is overworked and under supported? Do you perhaps have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, gallstones, poor fat absorption, excess estrogen, Parkinson's or Alzheimers, or elevated homocysteine levels or liver enzymes?