Archives for category: Dessert

Sesame… such a humble seed. Tiny in stature. Used by many cultures in a multitude of dishes. Sesame oil for stir fry, plain seed for seared ahi, blended in hummus, and my new found favorite, Halva. A middle-eastern “candy” like treat traditionally made  from tahini (sesame seed butter), honey, and any sort of mix in you can imagine.

I was recently introduced to this confection at the Saturday morning farmer’s market at Pasadena High School. There was a booth, there was a sample, and finally there was a purchase. My halva had swirls of chocolate in it. Um, yes. I took, I ate, and just like the infamous couple of Eden… I gave it to the boyfriend. Let’s just say he took one bite and was in such bliss he probably wouldn’t have noticed if he were naked or not (Biblical joke, no worries if you don’t get it).

So, like a good chef, I sat down to my computer and researched my brains out for the best way to make some homemade Halva.

Here’s round number one.

Ingredients... minus the vanilla. I ended up not using it.

Halva

2 c. honey

1 1/2 c. tahini

1 Tbsp. cocoa

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1.  Heat honey over the stove and stir constantly while it simmers. Take off heat once it reaches 240 degrees

2. Warm tahini over stove, not too hot, just to make it workable

3. Once honey cools a bit, add any flavorings or nuts. I added almonds at this point.

4. Pour honey into tahini pot and fold them together.

5. Pour into a flexible pan or greased pan. I added some cocoa swirls at this point.

6. Refrigerate for 36 hours for sugar to crystallize.

Almond Halva with Cocoa Swirl

 

It would behoove one to use a candy thermometer to get the honey up to the correct heat. My second batch of halva did not get hot enough to crystallize into flakes. First batch crystalized but it was like a toffee more than a wafer. I’ll definitely have to keep messing around with the recipe and methods

The raw version is delicious and I love that I can add all kinds of booster foods like maca powder and spirulina.

Look for the raw recipe tomorrow!

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The individual quest for knowledge should never be discounted, especially when it comes to health. I know that many people become disgruntled and borderline hypochondriac trying to diagnose themselves using WebMD, “health” magazine questionnaires, and the ever popular self-help section of the bookstore, however, an intelligent pursuit of scientific as well as anecdotal answers to biological concerns is a noble one.

Right now, as I finish up my culinary studies, I am well-aware that my learning and growing does not stop once I drive away from Santa Cruz. In fact, I have a lengthy list of books and topics to read and research once I have a bit more time on my hands!

As of right now, the best I can do is Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. It’s a really great reminder of why I do what I do, why I cook what I cook, and why I preach it to everyone else. Reading the evidence, the scientific backing for Paleo creates a mindfulness that is shrouded when the world closes in with it’s questions, criticisms, and denials. I like to keep myself constantly in the intellectual circle of food and it’s effects on the body because without the reassurance that comes from other people’s stories and countless medical studies, I begin to lose sight of the greater importance of teaching others about their food choices. My personal experience definitely has helped me, but is that enough to change someone else’s mind. Well, the unfortunate truth is a resounding “no”. People need to be convinced. Believing is seeing, and seeing from all angles in all different lights.

Here’s my Paleo Sunday

Coffee with freshly made Cashew Coconut Cream (recipe below)

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Raw Honey and Eggs

Curry Flax Crackers with Smoked Oysters and Avocado

Sautéed Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale with Garlic

Apple, Dark Chocolate, and Salted Marcona Almonds

Cashew Coconut Cream

2 c. soaked cashews
4 c. coconut water
2 dates, soaked
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
 
1. Blend cashews and coconut water, strain through nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Discard or save solids (use in paleo pancakes or crusts.)
 
2. Put cashew milk back in blender with other ingredients and blend until frothy!

coconut milk in coffee

 

Here we go again! Sorry, no pics from today… but hopefully I’ll get some good ones tomorrow.

8:30 am – green tea

10:30 am – 1/4 papaya, 1/4 c. coconut flakes, and 1 Tbsp. pecan pieces

12 pm – Crossfit! ( I was forced to take a bite of a horrendous macaroon upon arrival… pshhh.)

2 pm – snacked on some walnuts while making a basil-artichoke pesto

2:30 pm – The always delicious skillet. Cabbage, 1/2 beet, 2 mushrooms, 1/2 onion, broccoli slaw, 2 eggs.

3:30 pm – unsweetened chocolate (or as the BF calls them = dirt. I call them delicious)

6 pm – sweet potato chips and blood orange

7:30 pm – 1 can tuna, 1/2 jar TJ’s salsa verde, 1 avocado, 1 cucumber, hot sauce and chili pepper flakes

9 pm – pink lady apple and a handful of almonds

Still a few too many nuts throughout the day but overall I feel pretty good about today’s eats. Papaya in the morning is my new favorite thing. It helps start my day with some good natural enzyme power!

Papaya with Coconut Flakes (this pic was taken in Hawaii!)

Papaya –  a wonderful source of carotenes, anti-oxidants present in orange colored fruits and vegetables. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties such as papain and chymopapai, digestive enzymes which help break down proteins in the digestive process. Papayas also provide immune supporting vitamins such as Vitamin A and C.

I’ve got truffle’s on my mind. Not only are truffles delicious, but I’ve recently discovered that they are also ridiculously easy to make. Check this: equal parts cream and chocolate… heat and mix, cool and roll. It’s just so simple.

Last weekend, an instructor at Bauman College held a truffle making class and I reluctantly attended. Right, reluctant about chocolate? Me? No, never. So I learned the fine art of making gananche and the candy chocolate coating of heaven that decadently enrobes these fine pieces of happiness. Needless to say, all us women were in a full on chocolate coma by the end of the 5 hour long instruction. Fortunately for us “lac-tarded” people (and dairy-free by choice), I made my truffles with full fat, organic coconut milk and 70% Scharffen Berger dark chocolate.
Since that weekend, it has dawned on me that most people appreciate a good truffle. This is my reasoning for engaging in chocolate madness yet again, this time in the spirit of Christmas giving. Yesterday I embarked on a truffle expedition and succeeded in creating varieties such as coffee, peanut butter, and peppermint. Rest assured, I will be sharing the wealth. 

I love chocolate, but my tolerance levels for all things sugar is drastically lower than most folks due to the Paleo lifestyle which I follow (well, on non-truffle making days of course). So what do you do when you have truffles on the brain but you prefer to have a truffle-free digestive system? Well, glad you asked!

Here I present the Breakfast Truffle of December 20th. I wanted truffles, but I also needed breakfast. Here is the marriage of two fine individuals:

Breakfast truffles
Cranberries (I used fresh ones that had been coated in orange juice and then partially dried in a dehydrator)
Raw Coconut flakes
Raw Cashews (or any nut you prefer)
Optional: honey, spices, etc… (make it your own)
Throw it all (carefully) into a food processor and pulse till combined. Roll into a ball and then roll in some unsweetened coconut shreds.

Voila! It’s breakfast in truffle form. Paleo-friendly. Kid-friendly. Christmas-friendly.

Ginger Peach Tea and Coconut Cranberry Truffles