Coconut Cake

A very pretty cookbook called Honey & Oats: Everyday Favorites Baked with Whole Grains and Natural Sweeteners landed in my mailbox recently courtesy of Sasquatch Books. Though there are many, many appealing recipes in the book, I just could not resist giving this Coconut Cake a try. Made with coconut milk and covered with a vanilla maple frosting and toasted coconut flakes, this cake had my name all over it.

coconut cloud cake | healthy green kitchen

This cake is easy to make but it’s also a real stunner. Make it for a celebration! Or for no reason at all.

coconut cloud cake | healthy green kitchen

I used regular all-purpose flour because that’s what I had in the house. Next time, I’ll experiment by including some coconut flour. Something else to try: use softened coconut oil instead of butter.

My cake came out a bit dense and I believe it’s because I overbeat the batter. Watch out you don’t do the same if you want your cake to be more fluffy. Be sure to store the cake in the refrigerator if you won’t be serving it right away; leftovers should be kept covered in the refrigerator, too.

coconut cloud cake | healthy green kitchen

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Healthier Holidays Giveaway + Chewy (Unrefined) Sugar Cookies

Disclosure: For this post, I’ve teamed up with Madhava Natural Sweeteners. I received 2 bags of their Better Baking Blend to try, and I am being compensated for my recipe development and photography; all opinions are 100% mine.

madhava giveaway image

This is going to be a jam-packed post! Madhava asked me to discuss how I stay healthy during the holiday season so I’ll be talking about that below, and I’m going to share a recipe I created featuring Madhava’s Organic Better Baking Blend. I’m also going to tell you about Madhava’s Healthier Holidays social media contest, and I am giving away a bunch of Madhava products, too!

I don’t really approach the holidays any differently than I do “regular” days when it comes to food, exercise, and other healthy habits. I am consistent about eating well and getting regular exercise all the time, including during the holiday season. While the holidays are definitely busier, and there are more opportunities for overindulging in treats and skipping the exercise, I just try not to do too much of either one of these. I work treats into my regular diet on a daily basis so I have no reason to overconsume these at parties, on vacation, etc., and I get to the gym and walk as much as I can. That said, if I do overeat now and then, I don’t stress about it…I just go back to my “regularly scheduled programming” the next day. (I also make sure I get plenty of sleep!)

Cookies are one of my favorite treats. To keep them healthier I like to make my own (I included many of my favorites in my new Holiday Treats eBook!), and when I eat them, I do so in moderation. For me, this generally means 2 homemade cookies, usually after dinner when I am in the mood for something sweet.

unrefined sugar cookies

These sugar cookies that I made with the Madhava’s Better Baking Blend are delicious. Their thickness (and not overbaking them) results in a delightfully chewy cookie. Use the bottom of a patterned glass jar to give them a distictive design, if you like.

unrefined sugar cookies

If you don’t have access to Madhava’s Better Baking Blend, you can use coconut sugar or dark brown sugar in these cookies.

cookies top_

To enter Madhava’s Healthier Holidays contest, please visit this link, where you’ll find information on how you can share recipes on Pinterest and possibly win one of Madhava’s gift packs or grand prize.

mixandmatch

And to enter my giveaway for A Mix and Match Package from Madhava Sweeteners, please leave a comment on this post about your favority holiday treat (I want to know what it is!). For extra entries, you can “like” Madhava on Facebook, follow Madhava on Pinterest, follow Madhava on twitter, or follow Madhava on Instagram. For each extra entry, please leave an additional comment letting me know.

Official Rules: This giveaway ends on Monday December 29, 2014 at midnight EST. I will choose a winner via random.com and I’ll email the winner on that day. The winner will have 48 hours to provide me with their shipping address. If no shipping address is furnished, I will choose another winner. You must be 18 years or older to enter this giveaway. No purchase is necessary to enter or win this giveaway.

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Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Rugelach

cookies before baking_

I first met Cathy Barrow “virtually” back in 2009. We were both new bloggers. And frequent participants in the recipe contests run by Food52.

In the summer of 2010, Cathy and I made plans to meet up for lunch at The Spotted Pig in NYC. I recall being extremely nervous beforehand: I didn’t know if we’d have anything to talk about! Well, conversation didn’t end up being a problem…we gabbed for hours, and we have been good friends ever since. We’ve roomed together at blogging/writing conferences, we’ve had many more meals together, and I’ve spent the weekend at her lovely home in Washington, DC. And now it is with great pleasure that I get to tell you about Cathy’s newly published cookbook: Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving.

Cathy is truly a preserving maven: she is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the craft of canning. Her first book (I am pretty certain there will be more!) is both beautifully written and photographed (the photos were taken by Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton, the team behind the wildly successful Canal House). If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen and have an interest in preserving fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, canning beans and soups, and making cheese, I think you will love Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry.

One of the things I like most about this book is that it’s not just a collection of preserving techniques. It also includes numerous “bonus” recipes that show you how to use what you have preserved. Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Rugelach, which I made with 2 kinds of jam, is the perfect example.

I’ve sampled Cathy’s jams many times before this book was published and I know them to be exceptional, so I was excited to see her recipe for Straight-Up Preserves with Any Fruit. This is a brilliant recipe that works as a starting point for turning just about any fruit into jam, and Cathy gives many suggestions for herbs, spices, and other flavorings one may use to complement the fruit. With guidance from the book, I made Pear Preserves with Bourbon and Rosemary.

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syrup dripping

pear preserves

Then I used some of the pear preserves (along with some of my Preserved Rose Petals) in Cathy’s rugelach.

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2 preserves on dough 1_

2 preserves on dough

cookies in process

pear preserves + walnuts on dough

These rugelach are really fabulous and I will be making them again and again! I hope you’ll give them a try, and that you will pick up a copy of Cathy’s book.

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Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

My friend Ella writes and photographs the beautiful blog Pure Ella. Today, I am part of a group of bloggers helping Ella celebrate the upcoming birth of her second baby. Ella prefers to eat vegan and gluten free, so I made gluten-free and vegan vanilla cupcakes to bring to the virtual party :)

vegan cupcakes | healthy green kitchen

I adapted these treats from Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Strawberry Beet Cupcakes. They have a somewhat dense, moist texture and they are not too sweet; they are so yummy with the vegan buttercream. I was considering coloring the buttercream, and also piping it onto the cupcakes in a “fancier” way, but in the end I opted to honor Ella and keep things as natural as possible here. I love the look of the single candied violet on each cupcake and I hope Ella likes it too!

vegan cupcakes | healthy green kitchen

Though I’ve never baked with it before, I decided to try these with my homemade walnut milk as the liquid, and I think they came out great. The instructions for how to make the walnut milk are below, but know that you can substitute a different dairy-free milk, if you like. If you do, let me know how these work out…I’d love to know.

soaked walnuts | healthy green kitchen

If you have no issue with dairy, I think you can go ahead and just use milk, and also butter instead of the dairy-free butter. Along the same lines, you don’t have to make these gluten free. Use regular flour instead of the gluten-free flour if gluten is not a problem for you.

cupcakes in pan

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Meyer Lemon Ricotta Bars

If you’ve been reading my site for some time, you likely know that I do not label the way I eat. I don’t follow any particular diet or identify with any particular eating strategy. I eat whole/real/nourishing foods the majority of the time but I also eat things that don’t fit these descriptors when I want them…I don’t exclude anything from my diet unless I don’t like it. This moderation approach works really, really well for me.

Recently my friend/writer extraordinaire Peter Barrett interviewed me about my book for a local publication called The Chronogram. He really captured what I am about- he called the piece The Moderator!- and I could not be more pleased with the article. I encourage you to read it here.

lemons | www.healthygreenkitchen.com
lemon bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com

In other news, January was a rough month. It was cold and filled with a lot of bad news. I am hoping for warmer, happier days in February, and these Meyer Lemon Ricotta Bars symbolize that hope.

lemon ricotta bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com

If super tart is what you seek in a lemon dessert, these may not be for you (try these lemon bars instead). Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons and the ricotta cheese “mellows” these bars, so they won’t make you pucker up. They are bursting with lovely citrus flavor, though; you can find the recipe I used for inspiration over on food52. (The easy crust recipe comes from One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts.)

There is sugar in this recipe and as Peter wrote in the Chronogram article, my stance on sugar has really softened in recent years. Though I wrote in my book that it is best avoided, I currently eat sweet foods, such as these lemon bars, without any guilt or worry. Do I eat 5 of them at a time on an empty stomach? No. I cut them very small and eat one or two at a time after a meal. This is moderation in action. You can find my current thoughts on sugar in this post, if you’d like more clarification on this topic.

I sure hope your February is as lovely as these Lemon Ricotta Bars :)

lemon ricotta bars | www.healthygreenkitchen.com

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