Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Delicious, moist, tasty and healthy muffins that are gluten-free and dairy free. This recipe is adapted from mon amour’s sister, Catherine, who made these the last time she visited us. What a treat! Merci.
IMG_1570.JPGSharing this family recipe with all of you to enjoy.
IMG_1468.JPGIngredients:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup sweet potato, baked and mashed
2 bananas
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/2 cup honey
raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts as you wish

Preheat the oven at 350F.
IMG_1469.JPGPlace the dry ingredients in a bowl: almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix together thoroughly.

IMG_1472.JPGAdd the walnuts, dried fruits and chia seeds.

IMG_1475.JPGMix well together.

IMG_1479.JPGPeel the baked sweet potato and reserve the flesh.

IMG_1481.JPGPlace the bananas and sweet potato in a separate bowl and mash them with a fork.

IMG_1487.JPGAdd the mashed sweet potato and banana to the mixture.

IMG_1488.JPGMix thoroughly…

IMG_1492.JPG…until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

IMG_1496.JPGPlace the oil and honey together in another separate bowl.

IMG_1497.JPGWhisk until fully combined.  The mixture should be filled with little bubbles.

IMG_1508.JPGAdd the honey and oil to the previous mixture.

IMG_1512.JPGMix well until fully incorporated.

IMG_1513.JPGOil the bottom and sides of medium size muffin pans.

IMG_1517.JPGFill the muffin pans close to the top.

IMG_1531.JPGBake for about 25-30 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Homemade Granola

As much as I grew up starting the day with a bowl of Chocolate Chaud and Tartines of French bread (not toasted) with butter and lavender honey or homemade jams, I love my American breakfast: granola.20140523-154704-56824770.jpgI particularly enjoy making it because I only include the ingredients I want, and none of the ones I do not want, such as considerable amounts of sugar and oil which are present in most store bought, packaged or bulk, granola. I typically make it with gluten free oats, gluten free old fashioned rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill, but you can use regular rolled oats if gluten is not an issue for you.  Just be sure they are not instant or quick cooking oats. Finally, I serve mine with almond milk.  Be sure to select the unflavored, original kind that is unsweetened. Whenever ingredients include ‘natural flavor’ or ‘natural flavoring’, often to impart a vanilla flavor, that is synonymous of ‘castoreum’ (animal product), which is not one I want to be putting in my body.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 dates
  • 12 dried figs
  • 8 prunes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

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Start by chopping the almonds and walnuts or pecans into smaller bites.20140523-160954-58194907.jpgCombine the oats, almonds, walnuts or pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

20140523-160955-58195263.jpgThe blackstrap molasses, honey, cinnamon and vanilla quantities are given as a guide.  Please adjust to your preference.
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Add the honey, blackstrap molasses, vanilla and cinnamon to the oat, nut and seed mixture.
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Mix thoroughly until well combined and not lumps remain.
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Spread on two cookie sheets so that the layer is not too thick, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
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Spread the sesame seeds and dried coconut on separate cookie sheets and bake the sesame seeds in the 350F oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
After the granola has been in the oven for 10 minutes, lower the oven to 225F, toss the granola on the cookie sheets and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat tossing the granola every 10 minutes 4 or 5 times until the granola has reach your desired golden brown color.
Meanwhile, place the coconut in the 225F oven for 5 minutes, and toss every 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes.
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Personally I like the sesame seeds and coconut lightly golden. You can keep baking them darker to exude a more intense flavor.
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You can use a bit more, or less ground flax seeds and chia seeds depending on your preference.
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Slice the dried figs, dates and prunes into small pieces.
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When the granola has baked to your desired golden color, set the cookie sheets on a cooling rack or trivet.
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Spread the dried fruits over the granola.
20140523-175903-64743858.jpgAdd the chia and ground flax seeds and mix to combine thoroughly.
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Place in a glass jar with a top and keep in a dark dry place (kitchen cupboard or pantry).
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Enjoy!

Baked Apples with Dates, Walnuts, Prunes and Salted Caramel Sauce

A warm winter treat.
Using Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe posted on 1/11/14) as a finishing touch, these apples are stuffed with a simple mixture of dried fruits and walnuts. A perfect balance to enjoy the delicate flavors of the salted caramel sauce.
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If you do not have salted caramel sauce on hand, or to simply prepare a vegan, lactose-free version, you might add a hint of cinnamon in the dried fruit mixture and serve with a little sprinkle of cinnamon instead of salted caramel sauce.
I like to use a variety of apples, so long as they hold reasonably well after baking: Fuji, Jonathon, Honeycrisp. Some might split, but they remain deliciously tasty. The apples to avoid would be Golden Delicious or Red Delicious, as they have a tendency to become mushy and mealy when baked.
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Ingredients for 4 guests:
4 apples (honey crisp, Fuji,…)
3 dates
3 prunes
A handful walnuts
4 Tbsp Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe posted on 1/11/14)
Preheat oven to 350F.
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Slightly cut the bottom of each apple to that they stand straight.
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They should be relatively even on a flat surface.20140120-143609.jpg
Cut off the top of each apple, about 1/4 of the way down, keeping the stem up. 20140120-143627.jpg
Core the center to remove the seeds and tough center part. 20140120-143644.jpg
Be careful not to go too deeply and leave enough thickness at the bottom.20140120-143703.jpg
Mince the dates and prunes.20140120-143719.jpg
Then, continue chopping them as well as the walnuts and mix.20140120-143736.jpg
Place the apples in an oven-proof dish, add this mixture in the center hole of the apples, press down to pack the cavity, and spread the remaining dried fruit mixture on top.20140120-143754.jpg
Cover each apple with their respective cap. Place them in the preheated oven.20140120-143814.jpg
After an hour, remove from the oven. Set the apples aside, turn off the oven, and place the jar of salted caramel sauce in the still warm oven to melt it slightly. 20140120-143834.jpg
Serve the apples on each plate and spread some warm salted caramel sauce. 20140120-143855.jpgEnjoy!

Acorn Squash and Kale Salad with Lavender, Walnut Caramelized Onions

Enjoyed cold or warm, this salad combines autumn colors and fragrant flavors. It is easy to prepare the ingredients individually ahead of time and assemble them at the last minute for a Thanksgiving dinner or other get together. You can also add a few dried cranberries if you wish to make it a bit more festive.

20131122-053413.jpgIf you do not have lavender leaves, you can substitute for sage. A different flavor but one that also harmonizes well with the acorn squash.

20131122-053548.jpgIngredients:
1 1/2-1 3/4 lbs acorn squash
1/2 lb kale
1.5 lbs white onions
2 oz walnuts
6 Tbsp olive oil for vinaigrette + 2 Tbsp for caramelized onions and acorn squash
3 tsps balsamic vinegar for vinaigrette
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar for caramelized onions
1/8 oz lavender
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven 400F.

20131122-053804.jpgWash and cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds with a large spoon.

20131122-053950.jpgBrush a little olive oil on the cut sides.

20131122-054133.jpgPlace the acorn squash cut side down in a baking pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The squash is cooked when it is slightly soft to the touch, but still somewhat firm.  You do not want to fully cook the squash as if you were making soup as the flesh will not hold well for the purpose of the salad and rather it would become pureed.

20131122-054323.jpgPeel the onions, cut in half and slice thinly.

20131122-054424.jpgHeat olive oil on medium high heat in a heavy cast iron pan and pour in the onions.  Reduce the heat to low. Mix well to coat them with the olive oil thoroughly. Simmer for about an hour, tossing periodically.

20131122-054531.jpgSeparate the stems from the lavender leaves.

20131122-070232.jpgChop the lavender leaves finely. Set aside.

20131122-131132.jpgChop the walnuts medium-coarse. Set aside.

20131122-131802.jpgRinse the kale carefully.  Gather the leaves together, with the stems on one end.  Cut off and discard the hard part of the stems and chop the leaves very finely.  Set aside.

20131122-132537.jpgMake a balsamic vinaigrette in a bowl large enough to contain the chopped kale. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper.

20131122-150822.jpgAdd the olive oil in a stream slowly and continue whisking vigorously to transform the mixture into a well homogenized sauce. Set aside.

20131122-203927.jpgWhen the acorn squash is cooked, turn each half upside down to release the steam and let cool for handling.

20131122-204023.jpgPlacing each half of the acorn squash cut side down onto a cutting board, cut through the skin using a serrated knife into thick slices.

20131122-204158.jpgPeel each slice carefully.  Set aside.

20131122-204314.jpgBy now, the onions should have mostly caramelized. Add the walnuts to the pan and keep on low heat for a few minutes longer.

20131122-204413.jpgAdd the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and turn off the heat.

20131122-204512.jpgPlace a few slices of acorn squash on each plate and brush a little bit of the vinaigrette on the top of each slice.

20131122-204601.jpgToss the sliced kale in the large bowl with the vinaigrette and display the kale around each acorn squash slice for presentation.

20131122-204943.jpgSprinkle with the caramelized onions and walnut mixture. Add the fresh lavender.  Enjoy!