Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins

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Pumpkin is still going strong!

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Kefir is a cultured milk product similar to yogurt, except it has different, more potent strains of bacteria, and is thin enough to drink.  It’s a great alternative to buttermilk in baking and pancake recipes, thanks to its similar consistency and acidity to buttermilk.  Kefir is also a perfect base for smoothies!

Maple Hill Creamery arguably produces the best kefir, because they use the highest quality milk from third party certified 100% grass-fed cows.  Not only is grass-fed dairy better for you, as I discussed here, supporting grazing cattle also promotes the natural ecology of the planet and preserves various perennial grass species, which are at risk of extinction.  Grass farmers (the farmers who raise grass-fed cattle) have a vested interest in using a variety of grasses to support the cows’ health.  These cows then preserve these perennial grasses  by clipping them at the right moments so that the grasses can form deep roots.  The cows are also responsible for aerating the soil with their hooves, which allows water to penetrate the soil more effectively.

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Also, Maple Hills flavors cannot be beat. Maple, Strawberry, and Vanilla, to name a few, are naturally flavored and only gently sweetened.  Of course, Plain is a classic option if you prefer something more neutral.

Now about these muffins.  They’re a sophisticated twist on pumpkin spice with hazelnut and espresso.  However, if you don’t like hazelnuts, almond flour should be a fine substitute and if you don’t want caffeinated muffins, you can easily substitute with decaffeinated espresso or espresso powder.  Just try to look for water processed decaf, rather than chemically processed so that you’re not exposing yourself to unnecessary toxins.

If you prefer a loaf or bundt, go ahead and bake this in a loaf or bundt pan.  Just add extra baking time and check it until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups spelt flour or gluten free flour mix (1/2 cup arrowroot + 3/4 cup brown rice flour is a great ratio.  Cup4Cup and ATK all-purpose mixes are great too.)

3/4 cup hazelnut meal/flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (DIY: 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder or 1 shot of espresso

3/4 cup pumpkin purée, room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Hill Creamery 100% Grass-Fed Plain, Vanilla, or Maple kefir, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup coconut sugar (more or less depending on preference for sweetness)

1/4 cup coconut oil (liquid) or neutral oil (avocado is best)

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Raw pecans, for topping

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease or line a standard muffin pan with 9 muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, kefir, coconut sugar, oil, egg, and espresso powder. Mix until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix gently until just combined.

Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle pecans over the batter in each muffin cup.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 minutes.

Allow muffins to cool in pan. Remove and store in an airtight container for up to one day, or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet


Sweet Surrender Grape Preserves

Sweet Surrender Grape Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

I haven’t had a classic PB&J in years because, honestly, I’m not into grape jelly.  Any jelly, really.  Preserves, which contain the whole fruit, are much better.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find grape preserves anywhere.

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Small fruits like grapes, figs, and berries are my favorite, since I prefer to graze on fruit a bit at a time and can never eat a whole apple, pear, or citrus in one sitting.

When I tasted Sweet Surrender grapes after purchasing them for the first time, I was blown away by their flavor and sweetness.  To be honest, it was a bit much for me, as I’m pretty sensitive to sweet.  There was no way that I could get through the whole bag before they spoiled and I will never waste anything if I can help it.  So, with all that natural sweetness in the flesh and pectin in their super thick skins, I figured they’d be perfect for preserves!  No added sugar needed, with just an apple to provide extra pectin for natural gelling power.

The grapes’ robust flavor is further intensified when reducing it to a preserve, which makes it stand up really well to complementary flavors.  I chose to use clove, star anise, and bay leaf.  If you don’t have such spices on hand, I’m sure classic cinnamon and clove would be delicious as well :).

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I don’t know if this recipe is appropriate for canning, as there is no added sugar.  That said, in regards to flavor, the variety of grapes has so much sweetness that you don’t need any added sugar, and the pectin from the apple provides all the thickening you need.

Makes about 1 cup preserves

Ingredients:

2 pounds (1 bag) Sweet Surrender grapes, or other dark, thick skinned sweet grape varietal, such as Concord (see note if using grapes with seeds)

1 small apple, small dice (do not peel)

2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1/2 medium lemon

1/4″ piece bay leaf

2 whole cloves

1/2 star anise

Procedure:

Bring all ingredients to a simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, reduce heat to low, preferably over a flame tamer, and simmer, uncovered, 45-60 minutes.  Stir occasionally and poke the grapes with a fork to help them break down.  When ready, the grapes will be broken down and the liquid syrupy.

Remove bay leaf, cloves, and star anise (unless using a food mill).  Blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor until uniform, but not completely smooth (unless you like that, in which case you should use a blender).  If you are using Concords or other grape varietal with seeds, pass the stewed grapes through a food mill.  You won’t need to remove the spices prior to using a food mill.

Pour into sterilized glass jars, seal, and refrigerate.  I do not know if this recipe is appropriate for shelf stable canning.  Just keep refrigerated for up to one month, or portion and freeze in airtight plastic containers for later use.

 


Tahini Apple Snack Cake

I have to share this adaptation of a recipe from one I saw on Thrive Market’s blog last year, as I get this requested at least once a month by clients and friends.  I’ve reduced the sugar, subbed buttermilk with grass fed yogurt, and I use apple instead of pear since pear ripeness is so unpredictable.  I also like baking in mini loaf pans, as it’s easier to share and bakes much faster.

So here you have it!  A perfect balance of nutty and a hint of sweet, it’s a unique way to savor fall.

Tahini Apple Snack Cake

Makes 3 mini loaves or 1 regular loaf

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose mix (plus 1 tablespoon, separated)

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (sub 1 tablespoon with black sesame seeds if you can find), plus a little extra for sprinkling on top

2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup softened butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil

1 cup + 1 tablespoon unbleached sugar

1/2 cup tahini (if you keep yours in the fridge, bring to room temperature)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup European style grass fed yogurt

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans with butter, oil, or nonstick spray.

Toss apple chunks with 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk flour, almond flour, sesame seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk butter or oil with sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add egg and egg yolk and mix again until pale and light, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in tahini and yogurt.

Fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until halfway incorporated.  Add apple chunks and fold gently, being very careful not to overmix, until the dry is fully incorporated with the wet.

Pour batter into prepared pan/pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.  Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes for large loaf, or 45 minutes for mini loaves, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tahini Apple Snack Cakes - The Clean Gourmet

Adapted from: https://thrivemarket.com/blog/nutty-tahini-complements-delicate-pear-in-this-light-tea-cake


Mesquite Banana Bread

No, this is not barbecue flavored banana bread.  Mesquite powder (or “flour”) is what boosts this banana bread.

Mesquite powder is made of dried and ground pods from the mesquite plant.  It has a toasty, sweet flavor, yet it’s extremely low on the glycemic index.  Renowned for its nutrition density, mesquite is high in protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  Also, thanks to its high proportion of fiber, it actually reduces the glycemic load of whatever you’re adding it to (baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.), giving you sustained energy and fewer snack cravings.

This banana bread is loaded with flavor and nutrition.  Aside from the addition of mesquite, it’s gently sweetened with bananas and a hint of coconut sugar, and is made with whole wheat and almond flours for extra fiber and minerals.

Mesquite flour tends to have stubborn clumps, so make sure to sift it, or else you’ll end up with pasty clumps of mesquite flour in the finished product.

To make it pretty, top with banana slices or pecan halves before placing in the oven to bake:).

If you find you love mesquite as much as I do, I highly recommend you try Warm Pecan Mesquite Milk– perfect for cozy fall and winter nights, it’s essence of mesquite in a mug.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mesquite flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Scant 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)

1/3 cup grass fed butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup European style yogurt (preferably grass fed cream on top) or buttermilk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup pecan halves, broken into pieces

What you need:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper (alternatively, makes 2 mini loaves).

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat butter and coconut sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, mashed banana, and yogurt.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing with a large spatula until just incorporated.  Fold in the pecans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes (30-35 minutes for mini loaves), or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie - The Clean Gourmet

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Cucumber is actually a melon so, technically, the name is redundant, but no one probably cares.  I love a good theme, and cucumber and cantaloupe fit the melon theme perfectly.

I love cantaloupe (like other melons) for smoothies because its mellow sugar and flavor let you still appreciate a good homemade nut milk, while the low acidity makes for a super creamy smoothie that could almost pass off as a milkshake.

If you can’t have dairy, sub the yogurt with coconut cream.  You can either buy a can of it or open a can of regular coconut milk and scoop out the solids (a.k.a. the cream) that have separated from the liquid.

Note: If your cantaloupe and cucumber aren’t frozen, I recommend adding a few cubes of ice or frozen nut milk.

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Serves 1-2 

Ingredients:

⅔ cup nut milk (I love almond sesame milk from scratch for this smoothie) or grass fed cow’s milk

1 ½ cups cantaloupe chunks (ideally frozen)

½ medium cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks (ideally frozen)

1 teaspoon cold milled flaxseed

4 fresh mint leaves

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

⅓ cup yogurt or 1/4 cup coconut cream

1 Medjool date

Optional: 1 scoop protein powder (I use Tera’s Whey Grass Fed Plain)

What to do:

Place all ingredients in blender and run at high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 


Breakfast Beets with Yogurt - The Clean Gourmet

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

This is the sweet breakfast for savory breakfast fans, but a healthier, yet satisfying alternative for those who prefer a sugary start to their day.

Personally, I don’t tolerate much sugar, including fruit, first thing in the morning, but beets have a low/moderate effect on blood sugar (a.k.a. glycemic load).

If you exercise often, then I highly recommend regularly incorporating beets into your diet, as they’ve been shown to aid in muscle recovery, thereby boosting future performance.

For a dairy-free version, replace the yogurt with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

Serves 2

Ingredients:

3 medium beets, steamed until tender and cut into quarters

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon unhulled sesame seeds

Juice of 1 lemon

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup whole Greek yogurt (dairy-free version: 1 tablespoon cold-pressed flaxseed oil)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Chopped toasted nuts and seeds (pictured: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds)

What to do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately.


Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

This is a real muffin.  As in, not a breakfast cupcake.  As in, not that wolf in sheep’s clothing you see at Starbucks or your local bakery.  This muffin is barely sweet and is full of protein and fiber, so you avoid a morning insulin spike and imminent sugar crash, followed by sudden hunger pangs.

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There are 10 grams of protein within a modest 191 calories per muffin.  Not that I’m into calorie counting, but just to give you an idea…

Fluffy and deceptively flourless, these muffins have a gluten-free and highly nutritious base.  Just plant protein, coconut, oat bran and flax (if you’re celiac, make sure the oat bran is certified gluten free, as oat products are often cross-contaminated with wheat).

I love oat bran and flax, because they are extremely high in soluble fiber, a gelling agent that removes cholesterol from the blood stream and makes you feel full for a very long time.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

High quality protein powder, combined with MCTs (a.k.a. medium chain triglycerides, a.k.a. metabolism supporting fats) in the coconut gives you energy and keeps your blood sugar stabilized.

These muffins are gently sweetened with bananas and raisins.  No sugar or liquid sweeteners added. If you do prefer a sweeter muffin, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of honey to the batter, or just put a smear of your favorite fruit preserves.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

Yield: 9 muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups oat bran

¼ cup ground flax

¼ cup Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla Protein Powder (or other protein powder, preferably without stevia)

¼ cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins or 1/3 cup dried currants

1 cup milk or nut milk, room temperature

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 cup mashed very ripe banana, from about 1 1/2 bananas (don’t need to mash if you use blender for liquid ingredients)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted

Optional: 1-2 tablespoons honey, if you prefer a sweeter muffin

What to do:

Heat oven to 400º. Line a muffin tin with 9 muffin cups. Whisk together oat bran, flax, protein powder, coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and raisins/currants in a medium/large mixing bowl.  Whisk together remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl, or simply blend in a blender to get an extra smooth consistency and not worry about mashing your banana!  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and fold until fully incorporated.  Fill muffin cups with batter until almost full.

Bake 20 minutes, or until a knife poked in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin tin 15 minutes and remove.  Store at room temperature for one day and in the refrigerator for up to five days. (These are also very freezer-friendly!)

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

 


“Mocha” Oat Bran Pudding (Budino di Crusca d’Avena al Caffè d’Orzo)

While living in Italy, I discovered “caffè d’orzo”, a barley-based coffee substitute that is by default caffeine-free.  It’s a very common drink there, but virtually unheard of in the U.S.  After doing some research, I found that it does exist here under the name “grain coffee”.  While it’s more difficult to find here than in Europe, there are a handful of brands available in health food stores and on the Internet.

Grain coffee is almost always barley based and sometimes has rye and chicory added for flavor as well.  I get the kind that dissolves when stirred into water, but some are meant to be brewed in a coffee pot, just like regular coffee grounds.  Not only does it have a similar taste and aroma as coffee, but grain coffee has a maltiness that reminds me of mocha- the combination of coffee and chocolate.  Try mixing it with warm almond milk on winter nights as a “grown-up” alternative to hot chocolate!

In the summer, I like to make this raw porridge as a cooling alternative to traditional oatmeal (perfect for an AC-free New York City apartment!).  If you don’t have grain coffee, the base of oat bran, flaxseed and nut milk can be the starting point for limitless other variations (mango-brazil nut, berry-almond, apple-walnut-cinnamon…)!

“Mocha” Oat Bran Pudding:

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/4 cup oat bran

1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed

1 cup nut milk of choice, preferably homemade

1/3 banana, thinly sliced

a few raisins

pinch salt

2 teaspoons grain coffee powder (water soluble kind)

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

walnuts, for topping

What to do:

Mix all of the ingredients (except for walnuts) in a mug or small bowl, cover and let sit 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove from fridge a few minutes before eating so it’s not ice cold and top with crushed walnuts.

"Mocha" Oat Bran Pudding - The Clean Gourmet

Budino di Crusca d’Avena al Caffè d’Orzo:

1 porzione

Ingredienti:

4 cucchiai di crusca d’avena

1 cucchiaio di semi di lino, macinati

ml latte di mandorle, preferibilmente fresco

1/3 di banana, tagliata a fette sottili

un pò d’uvetta

pizzico di sale

2 cucchiaini di caffe d’orzo in polvere (quello solubile nell’acqua)

1 cucchiaino di miele

piccolo goccio d’estratto di vaniglia

delle noci, per servire

Cosa fare:

Mischiate tutti gli ingredienti (tranne le noci) in una tazza o in un scodella piccola, coprite e lasciate in frigo per almeno quattro ore.

Tirate dal frigo qualche minuto prima di mangiare, così non è freddissimo, e sbriciolate le noci sopra.

"Mocha" Oat Bran Pudding - The Clean Gourmet


Grain-Free “Biscuits” (“Panini” Senza Grano)

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

I’ve made these grain-free biscuits dozens of times and they never disappoint.  They pair great with sweet spreads, such as jam or lemon curd, and are perfect for savory accompaniments too, such as cheese or gravy.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

Since they are quite neutral, you can add a dollop of preserves in the middle before baking or fold in savory herbs and cheese.  Perfectly customizable.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

These require very few ingredients so they’re easy to whip up and are grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

Ingredients:

3.5 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil (coconut oil works if ingredients are room temperature)

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

What to do:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda and salt.  In a small/medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, oil, honey and vinegar together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine with spatula.  Spoon batter into muffin tin to make 10 biscuits. Bake 15 mins in 325 degree Fahrenheit oven. Let cool in muffin tin for 5-10 mins before removing to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day and in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (they freeze very well also- just be sure to halve before freezing).

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

 

Ingredienti:

350 grammi di farina di mandorle

3/4 cucchiaino di bicarbonato di sodio

1/4 cucchiaino di sale

4 uova

1 cucchiaio d’olio neutro, tipo olio d’avocado oppure olio di vinacciolo (va bene olio di cocco se gli altri ingredienti sono a temperatura ambiente)

2 cucchiaini di miele

1 cucchiaino di aceto di sidro di mele

Cosa fare:

In una scodella media, frustate assieme la farina di mandorle, il bicarbonato di sodio e il sale.  Dentro una scodella più piccola, frustate le uova, l’olio, il miele e l’aceto.  Unite gli ingredienti morbidi a quelli secchi e incorporate con una spatola.

Trasferite la pastella a cucchiaiate in uno stampo da muffin, facendo 10 muffin.  Infornate per 15 minuti a 160 gradi centigradi.  Lasciate raffreddare per 5-10 minuti prima di toglierli per farli raffreddare completamente.

Mettete via in un contenitore a tenuta d’aria per un giorno a temperatura ambiente o per 4 giorni in frigo (stanno benissimo nel freezer, basta che li dimezzati prima).

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet


Matcha Chia Pudding with Toasted Coconut

Matcha is green tea for people who think they don’t like green tea.  It’s bright, fruity and slightly grassy.  While, personally, I like it all- sencha, silver leaf, gunpowder, genmaicha, etc., matcha is special.  Matcha is a powdered form of green tea, which dissolves in water, milk or any other liquid, which means you get more nutrients since you’re eating the whole leaf.  Also, it’s easy to cook with!

Matcha Chia Pudding with Coconut - The Clean Gourmet

I like matcha in my morning chia pudding because not only do I get an extra boost of energy on top of my morning cup of brewed green tea, I reap more of the tea’s benefits, because I’m ingesting the whole leaf.  Some of the purported benefits include, but are not limited to: lowered cholesterol, strengthened immune system, increased metabolism, stress reduction and sustained energy that does not end with a crash.

Matcha Chia Pudding with Coconut - The Clean Gourmet

With matcha, quality is especially important if you want that bright, zingy flavor.  It should be very bright green and organic. Do not use “culinary” grade, even if you do plan to cook with it (junk in, junk out).  Instead, look for “ceremonial” or “imperial” grade organic matcha.

Serves 1-2 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon honey (you can always add more if you need to)

1 teaspoon matcha powder

pinch salt

6 fresh raspberries, cut into small pieces OR 2 dried apricots, cut into smaller pieces

1 cup coconut milk, whole cow’s milk or fresh almond milk

2 tablespoons dried coconut flakes, toasted

Matcha Chia Pudding with Coconut - The Clean Gourmet

What to do:

To toast the coconut flakes: In a small pan over low heat toast coconut flakes, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.  Do not walk away.  Remove flakes from pan to cool, as there will be carry over heat in the pan, which can cause them to burn.

Combine all ingredients, except for coconut flakes, in a small bowl or cup and refrigerate 6-12 hours.  You should end up with a pudding-like consistency.  Top with toasted coconut flakes before serving.

Make the night before if you want a healthy and satisfying breakfast or midday snack.  Best consumed within 24 hours, but will keep for three days.

 

Matcha Chia Pudding with Coconut - The Clean Gourmet

Mise-en-place bowl courtesy of OK Ceramics.