Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fragrant Vanilla Cake Holiday Gifts Guide

I am a big fan of home made Holiday gifts.  Sure you can go out and buy presents, but to me it means a lot more when someone puts their time and love into making something special for me.  If you have the time, it is so worth it to make your own creations to give your friends and family.  I have quite a few things on this blog that I think would make wonderful gifts or stocking stuffers, so I thought I would share them with you in case you need ideas of things to make.  Some of them are edible, and some are body care related but I think there are things everyone can appreciate on this list! I hope you draw some inspiration from my ideas.

This stuff works to soothe the most chapped winter skin, I use it during the cooler months when my skin is parched and it actually helps it heal.  Not only that, it smells like dessert when you put it on, and it looks like vanilla frosting.  It would be a wonderful gift for anyone who you feel needs pampering.

These are one of my favorite things lately.  I recently made them, and although I gave some away, I kept many for myself and it is a good thing since I am going through them fast.  They smell so delicious.  The flavors are brownie batter, vanilla maple, rose grapefruit, and lavender orange.  You can mix and match to create your own flavors, and everyone can use a little protection from chapped lips this time of the year.  

Not only does this scrub smell amazing, but it helps to fight cellulite thanks to the coffee.  It leaves the skin feeling smooth and invigorated, and it has the aroma of an almond latte!  There is nothing like the smell of coffee in the morning, and this would be perfect for the coffee lover in your life!

Leave the refined sugar to body care this Holiday season.  This scrub honestly smells like a lemon coconut lavender macaroon.  I am one of those people who likes to put things on her body that smell like dessert, and this is just that.  It leaves your skin silky as the sugar gently polishes.  

This cookie dough butter is my latest addiction. It seriously tastes like sugar cookie dough, and it is wonderful in smoothies, with fruit, or just out of the jar.  It is simple to make, and anyone with a sweet tooth in your life would love this special treat!

If you have anyone in your life who is a fan of chocolate peanut butter cups, you need to make them this.  It is simply heavenly, and is the peanut butter lover's answer to nutella.  I made some for my boyfriend and it was devoured in no time.  

This granola is wonderful for a quick breakfast or snack, and it is gift worthy when put into mason jars tied with a bowl.  It a good excuse to have chocolate for breakfast and is wonderful on top of a smoothie bowl.  Plus it packs a superfood energy boost, which we can all use. 

A little spice in my breakfast makes me happy, and this granola is just that.  A little sweet with the addition of apple, this is a wonderful gift for the busy person in your life that may not have time to make their own breakfast in the morning.  

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate is what these guys are made of.  They keep well, and are free of refined sugar so much healthier than the store bought ones available.  These are perfect for the brownie lover in your life.  

This is the most heavenly fudge I have ever made.  Think nutella in fudge form, but even more heavenly.  You show up with a tin of this to a Holiday party, and everyone will be happy.  

These are perfect for the spice lover in your life.  A little bit of chipotle in these gives them a kick, the maca a little bit of a boost in the romance department, and the cinnamon rounds out the sweet flavor.  

These guys are eggnog in truffle form.  The chocolate is wonderful with the creamy sweet eggnog flavor.  If anyone in your life is an eggnog lover, you definitely need to give them a tin of these.  

 Although this is not a home made gift, I need to add it to my gift list, because I think it would make a wonderful gift for the person in your life who enjoys good food.  I am one of those people who collects recipe books, and I love receiving gifts like this!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Raw Sugar Cookie Dough Butter

I have been hearing about cookie butter for a while now, and I like the idea of it, but I was not fond of the ingredients in most commercial varieties.  That is until I tried the Rawmio Almond Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Butter.  It was amazing, and it inspired me to make my own cookie dough butter.  I have been in a big sugar cookie sort of mood lately, just finished making sugar cookies that day in fact and they were sooo good!  So sugar cookie dough it was!  I could imagine it.  Gooey, creamy nut butter that tasted like sugar cookies.  I was salivating thinking about it. 

For the base, I used mostly macadamia nuts with a little coconut for sweetness because I feel that those two things taste the most like sugar cookie dough.  You can use cashews though in place of the macadamias if you want this to be more budget friendly.  I was just making this for a special treat which is why I went all out.  I used coconut sugar to sweeten it, because I did not want to add more moisture.  I added a little vanilla and almond extract because my Grandma used to use both of those in her cookies and I love the combination.  Once it was all blended together was it ever good.  I mean like eat half the jar in one sitting good.  So be will be addicted!  I think this would make a wonderful Christmas gift.  That is if you can share.  I have also included the recipes for snickerdoodle and gingerbread flavors if those float your boat more than the plain sugar cookie.

Raw Sugar Cookie Dough Butter
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

3 1/4 cups raw macadamia nuts or cashews
3/4 cup finely shredded, dried coconut
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

In a high speed blender, combine the nuts and coconut and blend until smooth (alternatively this can be done in a food processor but it takes a lot longer and will most likely not get as smooth). Add the coconut sugar, sea salt, vanilla, and almond and blend until smooth.  Store in a jar.


Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Butter: Add 2 tsp cinnamon and omit the almond extract.
Gingerbread Cookie Dough Butter: Replace half the macadamia nuts with pecans, omit the almond extract and add 1 Tbsp dried ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cardamom, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Raw Glazed Sugar Cookies

My Grandma was a wonderful baker.  Although she would bake chocolate chip cookies year round, during the Holidays she would ramp up cookie production and bake dozens of different sorts of cookies.  Peanut butter kisses, spritz cookies, sugar cookies, russian tea cakes, fried rosettes, krumkake and a few more were always in the cookie tins that she would give to family members.  I remember always being excited about those.  They were all good, but one of the recipes that my Mother had gotten from her and we made often at my house were her sugar cookies.  Omg, they were the best sugar cookies ever.  Melt in your mouth good.  I made them for many years until I gave up refined sweets, but I have healthified them a few times since then, making a vegan version, and now I have made a raw version. Which I am sharing with you now! 

No refined flours or sugars here!  They are still sugar cookies thanks to raw palm coconut sugar, but they are kinder to the blood sugar levels.  She would just top hers off with sugar, but when I started making them, I decided to include a frosting so I stuck with that this time and made two.  A vanilla coconut and a chocolate glaze made with Rawmio Chocolate Coconut Butter.  I wanted to decorate them as well, but instead of using sprinkles, I decided to use natural sprinkles like dried flowers, fruit and nuts.  

I sort of felt like a kid again decorating cookies. But these have a sort of grown up flair with the toppings I chose.  If you are making them, feel free to be creative with more toppings.  They were delicious, dare I say it as good as Grandmas.  Because thanks to the coconut sugar they tasted a little caramelly.  I will not be making dozens and dozens of cookies like my Grandma, but at least I have some really good ones to enjoy!

Raw Glazed Sugar Cookies
Makes 12

2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1 cup raw oat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup raw palm coconut sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup filtered water

Vanilla Glaze:
1/4 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid
2 tsp raw coconut nectar (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
1/4 cup filtered water and as needed
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup Rawmio Chocolate Coconut Butter, warmed to liquid

Dried or fresh orange peel, cut thin julienne
raw chopped pistachios
Dried cranberries, chopped
Dried flower petals (I used calendula petals, dried lavender, and hibiscus petals)

In a high speed blender, buzz the coconut to fine flour (but not too long or you will get butter). Add to a food processor with the oat flour, flax seed, coconut sugar, sea salt, and process until well combined.  Add the vanilla, coconut butter, and water and process until smooth and dough like (if it seems too dry add a little more water 1 tsp at a time).  Roll the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a lined dehydrator sheet.  Press them down to flatten to 1/4 inch thick.  Dehydrate for 12 hours until firm but not hard.
To make the vanilla glaze, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, adding a little filtered water as needed (it may seem clumpy at first, but it will smooth out, add water until it is a thick, but pourable glaze).  Spoon a little of the vanilla glaze over half the cookies, then top with desired toppings. Do the same with the Rawmio Chocolate Coconut Butter, and the toppings. Let the glaze set (it will happen faster if you pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes).  Store leftover cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Raw Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Truffles

Raw Guru was kind enough to send me some of the new Rawmio spreads that they have just started carrying, and they were all amazing, but I have to say the Raw Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was my favorite.  I had eaten half the container before I realized what was going on because I was in my own little world of cookie dough bliss.  Almond butter is so delicious anyhow, but this tasted as if the almond butter and cookie dough got married and had a child together.  The best part is, it is made from quality ingredients like raw chocolate chips, maca and coconut sugar.  So you need not feel guilty about indulging in a jar.  I obviously like it straight up with a spoon all to myself...but I did make a recipe from it as well.  Some raw truffles to showcase the nut butter's wonderful flavor.

For the filling, I simply added in a little coconut butter to make it more firm, and some cacao nibs for crunch.  I dipped it in raw dark chocolate and babam!  Instant deliciousness! I am a huge cookie dough fan, so these were pure bites of heaven! Rawmio is pure genious for creating this delicious flavor.   I would recommend heading over to Raw Guru and getting yourself a jar...or 10 (because you will eat the first jar in no time, trust me).  

Raw Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Truffles
Makes 12

2/3 cup Rawmio Almond Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough spread
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
3 Tbsp raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1/2 cup raw coconut oil warmed to liquid
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw coconut nectar (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
a pinch sea salt

Mix the filling ingredients together until well blended in a bowl and place in the freezer to firm up to scoopable consistency (about 20 minutes, and stir after about 10). 
Once more firm, scoop out by the mounded Tbsp, and roll into balls and place on a foil lined tray (it may get a little sticky if your hands are warm, so work quick). 
Place the tray into the freezer and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes more. 
Meanwhile, whisk together the chocolate ingredients in a bowl.
Once the filling has firmed up, dip each one into the chocolate, then place back onto the foil lined tray (I like to set the filling on a fork and dip it to let the excess drain off).  Once they are all dipped, allow them to harden, and place them in the freezer for a few minutes if necessary.  Store in the refrigerator.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Raw Cacao Almond Superfood Shake

Raw Guru was kind enough to send me some new nut butters to try, and they were all amazing!  Not only did I just try them though, I wanted to use them in recipes.  The Raw Superfood Spread, I thought would be wonderful in a raw shake.  The spread has almond butter, goji berries, hemp seeds, and chia seeds and is sweetened with raw coconut sugar.  It is good straight out of the jar, and that is how I enjoyed most of it, but some of it made it into my shake as well.

I often make shakes and smoothies for Eric and I to share, and that is what happened this time.  I knew I was making it with the spread, which was almond based and I would have left it at that with vanilla in the shake but since Eric loves chocolate so much, I added raw cacao powder plus some raw chocolate protein for a boost.  It was delicious!  The combination of chocolate and almond is heavenly, plus the extra sweetness from the spread made it extra good.  I would definitely suggest this spread for use in smoothies, but it is wonderful with just a spoon.  You know what I mean...straight out of the jar, all to yourself.  Yes I did this.

Raw Cacao Almond Superfood Shake
Serves 2

6 large bananas, frozen and cut into pieces
1/2 cup fresh coconut water or raw vegan milk of your choice
1 scoop raw chocolate protein powder 
stevia to taste (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
1/3 cup raw cacao powder

For the shake, combine banana, milk, protein, vanilla, Rawmio spread, stevia, and cacao powder in a blender and blend until smooth, using the tamper to press the mixture into the blades. Pour into 2 glasses and serve!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Raw Eggnog Cheesecake with Chocolate Swirl and Gingerbread Crust

Tis the season for Eggnog, which is exactly why I decided to make an eggnog cheesecake!  What could be better than one of my favorite Holiday drinks combined with my favorite dessert? Raw Guru and Windy City Organics had just sent me some new spreads and nut butters to try, one of which was a chocolate coconut.  I thought it would be marvelous swirled into the cheesecake.  I have never had eggnog and chocolate before so why not try it?

To make the cake even better, I thought why not make a gingerbread crust for it as well and go all out with the Holiday theme.  For the filling, I used something you would not expect in a cheesecake...yellow squash (the type that is similar to zucchini).  It kept it light, but it tasted just as rich and you would not have any idea it was in there had I not told you.  I made the cake taste a little more like eggnog with the addition of nutritional yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg as well as vanilla which I consider an essential ingredient in all my cakes.  

The filling tasted heavenly, even before I assembled and chilled the cake.  Like thick eggnog. The Rawmio Chocolate coconut was marvelous swirled in as well and it paired perfectly with the eggnog and gingerbread flavors!  I think this cake would be perfect as the finale to any Holiday meal, but it was awesome as an early December treat as well because one needs no occasion to eat cake, it is good every day!

Raw Eggnog Cheesecake with Chocolate Swirl and Gingerbread Crust
Makes one 6 inch cake

2/3 cup raw sprouted buckwheat groats (or additional coconut)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup dried finely shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped (if they are not soft, soak them in water until they are and drain them well)

3 cups young coconut meat*
2 cups diced yellow squash (yellow zucchini)**
1/3 cup coconut water
2/3 cup raw coconut nectar, raw agave nectar or raw honey
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean
3/4 cup raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)

1/2 cup Rawmio Chocolate Coconut Butter warmed to liquid

Fresh cranberries, pistachios and pecans for garnish

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process flax, coconut, buckwheat and sea salt in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers (if not holding together, add more dates). Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside. 
To make the filling, in a high speed blender or food processor, combine coconut meat, water, coconut nectar, sea salt, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. With the processor running, add the coconut butter and process for a minute until blended.  
To assemble cheesecake, 1/3 of the filling over the crust, then drop some of the chocolate spread over it by the tsp and swirl with a knife to create marbling. Pour half the remaining filling over that, and drop more of the spread by the tsp over that. Then pour the remaining filling over and more of the spread, then swirl with a knife to create marbling. Place in the freezer for about 4 hours to firm up. Garnish the top with cranberries, pistachios and pecans before serving.

*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can substitute 3 cups raw cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained.
**If you do not want to use yellow squash, you can use additional coconut.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Raw Cranberry Pecan Shake

You know what I love about going for runs in the dark?  The Christmas lights I get to admire when I am out.  Trust me, I miss summer and warm weather and running in the sunshine, but it is pretty awesome being able to look at pretty lights while I am on a run. Takes my thoughts away from the cold wind.  Everything is so festive right now from those lights to the music being played on the radio (or at least mine, I am going for Christmas), and the decorations inside all of the stores.  Even my smoothies are festive!  I made this super delicious Cranberry Pecan Shake the other day and I thought I should share it with you as well because I think you would enjoy it too!

Think pecan pie and cranberry sauce in shake form with creamy banana ice cream.  Talk about heaven in a glass.  Or love in a glass because I was in love with this one.  I layered it into a glass and the colors were so pretty. If you have cranberries and pecan butter around the house, you should try this deliciousness out!

Raw Cranberry Pecan Shake
Serves 2

6 large bananas, frozen and cut into pieces
1/2 cup fresh coconut water or raw vegan milk of your choice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw pecan butter
1 tsp maple extract
stevia to taste (or your choice liquid raw sweetener)
1 cup fresh cranberries

For the shake, combine banana, milk, vanilla, pecan butter, maple extract and stevia in a blender and blend until smooth, using the tamper to press the mixture into the blades. Pour half into a large glass liquids measuring cup.  Add the cranberries to the blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the the two mixtures, alternating them into 2 glasses (to create layers). Serve!