Sunday, September 20, 2015

Walnut Honey "Shortbread"

raw shortbread cookies

These little bites are slightly sweet and have a hint of the light melt-in-your-mouth quality that shortbread embodies.  They are a breeze to make, and taste best chilled or frozen but can also be eaten seconds after making.  When frozen I think they resemble shortbread even more in terms of consistency.

If you're sensitive to nuts, you can use all seeds or whatever ratio of nuts work for you.  For me, I use 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup sunflower seeds as the first ingredient, or even 1/4 cup walnuts and 3/4 cup seeds.  On a hot day, especially after a run/walk/swim/what-have-you, it is pretty amazing to have a couple straight from the freezer.  They will stay soft yet be delightfully chill, making them a perfect summer treat.

Today after a lap swimming workout, I enjoyed a couple for a post workout treat and I must say they are one of my new favorites!  Speaking of lap swimming, I aim for 30-45 minutes per session and recently discovered the joy of creating a plan to make the swim time fly by.  A sample workout would be to do the following, repeating it if you'd like!

1.  Warm up 4 leisurely laps either freestyle or breaststroke
2.  Swim 4 laps at a higher exertion with a kickboard fluttering your legs keeping your head in the water and taking breaths as you would in freestyle.
3.  Swim 5 laps at a medium intensity.
4.  Leisurely swim 2 laps backstroke or sidestroke.
5.  With a float between your thighs, swim 2-4 laps using just the upper body.  Squeeze the float as much as you can with your thighs, even making little pulses.
6.  Swim 4 to 8 laps at a medium to higher intensity/speed.
7.  Cool down, 2-3 laps super easy.

Note: though I was forced to be on the swim team for years as a child, I'm no coach: I just took an online workout and tweaked it to my enjoyment/capability.  Use it as a loose guide and enjoy!  Now that I'm pregnant with my giant twin belly, the pool feels amazing and I can always count on swimming as a good way to exercise with no pressure on my joints.

walnut honey shortbread

Walnut Honey Shortbread
yields 16 cookies or so


1 cup walnuts
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
(my lovely friend makes a similar cookie using stevia; use stevia to taste and omit the sweetener for a sugar-free version)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (soft, not melted)
1 to 2 tablespoons water

easy raw cookies


1.  Food-process the nuts (or seeds if substituting), and coconut.  Once it is pretty mixed and mealy, add in the rest of the ingredients.  Start with 1 tablespoon of water, adding more only as necessary for dough to stick together.
2.  Roll into 1 or 2 tablespoon-sized balls or discs and chill.  Store in an airtight container in the freezer.
3.  Enjoy!

raw walnut cookies

Simple Cherry Date Bites

raw cherry cookies

These fruit and seed balls are a breeze to make and only require three ingredients! (or four, if you opt to sprinkle in a dash of sea salt).  They also take about 1 minute to make, so it's a good quick snack to make.  They store well in the fridge, and you can easily pop some into a bag to take with you for an energy boost while at work, school or on the go.

raw date pumpkin seed cookies

Simple Cherry Bites

6 to 7 medjool dates
1/3 cup dried unsweetened cherries
1/3 to 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
dash of sea salt
water, if needed

1.  In a food processor, mix the dates (pitted), cherries, seeds and salt.  Sprinkle in water if needed for mixture to come together.
2.  Roll into little balls and eat or chill to firm up more.  Store extras in a sealed container in the fridge.  They will keep for several days and are very versatile; add in chia seeds for omegas and protein or nut or seed butter if you'd like a snack that's a little more filling.

raw date cherry bites

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cinnamon Spice Zucchini Cake

healthy cinnamon spice zucchini cake

This is a great, easy "cake" that can easily be a breakfast, snack, or dessert option.  It's also a good way to sneak in zucchini (especially if you have zucchini growing in your garden like crazy still) and also obtain a bit of that fall-is-coming spicy cinnamon aroma wafting through your house.

To be honest, I'm pretty excited about autumn and was planning on baking something with pumpkin and cinnamon, but since I didn't have any pumpkin in the house, I figured using up extra zucchini would be more productive and useful anyways.  This is also a really fast recipe; stir it up and bake 30-35 minutes and done!  (A little extra time maybe for the optional glaze, but really, it's a snap).

I ate two pieces and then the hubby and I walked the dogs along Asilomar Beach--today there was a triathlon taking place on the road near our walk, so I felt extra lazy stuffed full of breakfast cake walking while cyclists huffed and sweated as they streaked past us.  But hey, what else are Sundays for?? (Pregnancy has its perks, like when I eat two pieces of healthy-ish cake for breakfast and don't really care).  Or hey if you're not pregnant, and just want a great morning--I say dig in!

gluten-free zucchini cake

Cinnamon Spice Zucchini Cake
Yields 9x13" cake
12-16 pieces


1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup nondairy yogurt OR 6 TBSP ground chia + 9 TBSP water OR 3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 cups All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour or oat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded raw zucchini

gluten-free cake with honey frosting


1.  If using coconut oil, warm the applesauce and melt the coconut oil before stirring together.  Add in eggs or egg substitute, vanilla and sugars and whisk well. (If using chia seeds and water, as always, let it sit and gel at least a few minutes).  If using olive, sunflower or avocado oil, no need to heat the oil or applesauce.
2.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  I used 2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour and 1/2 cup brown rice flour, but any flour blend might well except for coconut flour; that will make the recipe super dry.
3.  Stir in zucchini last, and pour into a greased or lined 9x13" pan.
4.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350F degrees.  (Check after 30 minutes; my oven baked it perfectly at 33-34 minutes.)  Your oven may take up to 40 minutes; a good way to tell is you'll start smelling it and when a toothpick is inserted into the cake, it comes out clean.

healthy zucchini applesauce cake

5.  Let cool, cut and serve.  Serve plain or whisk creamed honey, organic powdered sugar, and a few drops of water to glaze.  Store leftovers in an airtight container.  I prefer not to refrigerate baked goods as it will dry them out much faster.

P.S. want pretty reusable cake pan liners?  I'm obsessed with my easy-to-wash and very presentable Ikea Drommar Cake Doilies!

gluten-free cinnamon spice cake

For the optional glaze:

organic honey frosting
I used Trader Joe's creamed honey and organic powdered sugar (corn-free)

honey and powdered sugar
Stir together honey and sugar, adding a little water if necessary 
creamed honey frosting
Aim for a smooth texture with little to no sugar clumps--spreadable or drizzle-able is good

glazed gluten-free zucchini cake
Spread, drizzle or squeeze out of a plastic bag for desired look.  Enjoy!