Saturday, June 9, 2012

Foodie Friday: Carrot Cake and the Green Giant

Today is Foodie Friday, which means it's time to try out a recipe for the weekend! The recipe in this post is definitely a dessert or treat, but it's also definitely one you can feel good about eating. While fruit is generally your best bet for a quick, nutritious dessert sometimes you just need the satisfaction of eating something that feels a little fancy.

Before we get to the recipe, I will talk a little about menus and food ideas. I spend a LOT of time searching cookbooks, magazines, and other blogs for recipes that make eating healthy appealing and, whenever possible, easy. Every Wednesday and Friday, I will post a recipe and provide some of the highlights of what I've been eating to help spark your creativity. So here we go for this week:
  • Sweet Potato Crab Cakes
  • Raw Lasagna (this was suprisingly fast and easy to make, and I was just winging it)
  • Salad with chopped zucchini, avocado, and tomato topped with olive oil and balsamic and two over-medium eggs
  • Pei Wei Spicy Korean Beef without the rice (this was pretty good and comes in at less than 300 calories, but they are not kidding about the "spicy" thing! My nose was dripping and my lips were burning!)
  • Homemade vegetable soup
  • Marinated grilled portabello mushrooms with tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and fresh basil
  • Green Giant smoothie (bonus recipe at the bottom of the blog)
  • Lots of fruit for snacking: watermelon, cherries, grapes, and mangos
Since this diet really emphasizes eating whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables, I have found vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan cookbooks to be great resources for recipes that prepare vegetables in new or delicious ways. I especially love books by Matthew Kenney, my favorite raw food chef. His stuff is kind of intense, though, so I mostly just like to get ideas from him or use his recipes for weekend cooking projects. When it comes to non-raw vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, I generally steer clear of the tofu and tempeh recipes because I try to limit my soy intake to miso, soy sauce, and edamame. (The reason for this is that I don't want soy messing with my hormones and I'm trying to give Monsanto the bird.)

Paleo diet recipes are another good resource. The Paleo diet has a lot of great things about it. It emphasizes eating whole foods and it does not allow flour or dairy, so the recipes are great for what I'm doing. There are a couple sites I have used that I like for recipes and menu ideas, but if you search Google for Paleo diet recipes you will get loads of sites to browse. Many of the recipes rely on tricks I first saw in the raw vegan world including the use of soaked, blended nuts to replace creamy cheeses, sour cream, and mousse-like desserts. I really like this technique, especially because I feel so much better when I have less dairy, but sometimes a dish really just calls for a creamy sauce or filling.

Check out the recipe below for a raw vegan carrot cake cupcake recipe, which I adapted from a recipe I found on the Choosing Raw blog. They are less like a real cupcake and more like a Lara bar. The effect is that they taste shockingly a lot like cake batter. While they are pretty calorie dense, they are also nutritionally dense and FULL of fiber. I must admit, though, that I think I will try a different frosting recipe the next time. I've been dreaming something up in my head, but I still need to run it through the R&D process. I will share it as soon as it is party-ready. For now, these are still really tasty. Enjoy!

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

1 cup walnuts
1 cup dates (pits removed)
1/2 cup flax, ground
3 carrots, peeled
1 small/medium zucchini, not peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cashews
3 dates
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Soak cashews and three dates for frosting in enough filtered water to cover them completely for one hour.

Grate carrots and zucchini. It is especially fast to do this using the grater insert for your food process. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a food processor, blend together walnuts and one cup of dates until the mixture is well combined and begins to form a loose ball. Add flax, salt, vanilla, and spices. Blend for about 10 more seconds. Add carrots, zucchini, and golden raisins. Process to your liking. I prefer to blend for about 5 seconds so the raisins and veggies are only chopped, not completely pulsed.

Form the dough into mini cupcake tins and transfer to refrigerater. (This recipe yielded 21 mini cupcakes for me.)

Next, you will make the frosting. Place soaked cashews and dates in a high-powered blender with coconut butter, lime juice, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Add water or coconut milk if the mixture is too thick.

Transfer to a piping bag and place bag in a bowl in the freezer or fridge to allow frosting to firm up.
When cupcakes are firm, use a knife to separate cupcakes for the tin and remove them. Pipe with frosting and serve immediately.

Nutrition (per cupcake)
124 cals
15 g carbs
7 g fat
2 g protein
10 g sugar
3 g fiber

Okay, and because I can't help myself, I'm adding a bonus recipe . . .

Green Giant Smoothie
I loved this, but I only recommend it if you are a fan of the flavor of almond. I thought it was creamy and perfect, but Nick wished it were a little more multidimensional. Maybe next week I'll do another recipe that is more to his liking, but for all my amaretto loving friends, here's one for you . . .

1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 avocado
4 big handfuls spinach
6 cubes ice
3 dates
3 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp almond extract
pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a high power blender (start with just 1/2 tsp almond extract). Blend until completely smooth. Add more salt and almond extract to taste. Serve in a goblet and sip it while imagining you are King of the Leprachauns.

Serves 2


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