Carrie Fehr

Kitchen Garden Food and Fitness

Tag: paleo

Comfort In Cookies

Double chocolate cookie keto

In unsettling moments, one place that always provides sanctuary for me, is in the kitchen.  An unexpected turn of events, recently led me down the coast of California to visit my son, who lives in Los Angeles. We spent the day sharing things we enjoy together: a walk around the lake, breakfast at a new restaurant, conversations on life, while also savoring the quiet moments, and spending time in the kitchen baking cookies, naturally.

Late in the afternoon, at the end of our visit, my son offered to bake some keto-friendly chocolate cookies. The smell of baking never fails to improve my mood and on this particular day, it might just bring a little comfort for a tender heart.

Besides I was really curious, eager to find out how my son would turn out a batch of cookies sans sugar, and minus all of the carb-laden ingredients that make cookies delicious. Keto, or ketogenic is a low-carb diet based on eating real foods that offer healthy benefits. The idea intrigued me. A lot.

And I have to admit, there is something really satisfying and comforting, about watching my son embrace the cooking process in his own kitchen, watching him engage in a dialogue with food that unfolds his story.  I find myself standing beside the kitchen island filled with awe, when a realization suddenly hit me and I digress for a moment, becoming conscious of a difference that stands out like night and day—- my son’s cooking style is the polar opposite of mine!

Step inside my kitchen and the first thing you’ll notice when I’m preparing a recipe, is that it’s very organized. Every bowl, measuring spoon, and ingredient is lined up and ready to be creamed, mixed, or chopped and sent off to its final destination. I also mentally prepare in advance for the cooking adventure, absorbing myself fully in the process, like a method actor exploring a character. I completely immerse myself in the recipe, dissecting every angle imaginable, as I visualize and breathe my next creation.

My son’s approach to cooking sharply contrasts with mine. A creative thinker, he allows his existential journey through food to be guided by delight in haphazard curiosity and spontaneous improvisation. “What do you think if I combine ghee with butter?” he calmly asks, realizing there’s not enough butter in the refrigerator. Or, “I just found some cocoa powder I can throw in,” he says thrilled by his discovery. “Maybe add a few salted nuts?”

He relies on a recipe like a set of guidelines to forge his own culinary path, rather than a roadmap with constrictive rules. It adds a bit of suspense to the process and also serves as a nice reminder that recipes, like life, can’t always be perfect.

Tasting along the way, his cooking style is more defined by feel rather than exact measurements. None of his ingredients are precisely measured, as he casually scoops the concoction of cookie dough from the bowl onto the baking pan with sheer pleasure and satisfaction.  He pops the cookies into the oven, trusting his own intuition and senses to guide him when they will be ready to come out. Like an ear for languages, it’s a talent.

By contrast, I’m one who slavishly counts the seconds with my kitchen timer, in case I get distracted and forget something in the oven. Plus, I like to play by the rules. So many factors go into baking, it’s as much a science as an art. I’ve learned that the smallest alteration in the ingredient or method can completely change the cooking chemistry outcome. Thinking to myself, I begin to wonder about my son’s baking result.

But by the time the sweet smells of chocolate begin to fill the house, I quickly abandon all conventional baking wisdom, and my sense of anticipation is rising from the seductive aromas emanating from the kitchen.

Still warm from the oven, I eagerly reach for a cookie and gently break it apart with my hands. I can’t wait to taste it! I bite into the brownie-like cookie and taste a hint of flaky salt that carries the intensity of the stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips melting in my mouth. It reminds me of a super moist lava cake dripping in a silky river of chocolate. I find myself eating slowly, savoring the way the sweet and salty flavors ricochet around each other. Each bite makes me want another. I want more —- a lot more.

Although my son and I have very different culinary styles, we share the same philosophy about cooking, and appreciate the meditative sanctuary that our kitchen offers us. The intrinsic value of a dish, the product of a labor of love— is the joy it brings to each other.

Cooking is about engaging in the moment. It meets us wherever we are, like a yoga practice. It opens a path that is within us, like a treasure waiting to be discovered.  It is a tactile balm that soothes our heart. It waits to unfold slowly, like a lotus flower blooming.

We find stillness and quiet reflection in our kitchen sanctuary. It is a respite, a contemplative temple of food, where we can retreat, when the noise of life becomes distracting.

Double Chocolate Cookies (Keto)

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup, plus 2 Tbls unsalted butter, softenened

½ cup, plus 2 Tbls swerve sweetener

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract

1 ¼ cup almond flour

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup stevia sweetened chocolate chips, plus a little more for topping

Flaky sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine softened butter and swerve sweetener until  creamy and well-blended.

Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Stir in the almond flour and mix until combined. Add sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  The batter will be sticky.

Using an ice-cream scoop, form tablespoon-sized mounds of dough onto the baking sheets and press the tops down a bit with your fingers, or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle several chocolate chips and a little flaky salt over the top of each cookie.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Advertisements

Turmeric Latte

Turneric LatteMeet your new favorite latte! Creamy coconut milk, spiced and fragrant with fresh turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, is accented by just the right amount of sweetness that is both soothing and rejuvenating. There’s a good chance you will need to make this. Your body will thank you!

Turmeric Latte

Ingredients:

¾ cup coconut milk

¼ cup water

½ inch of fresh turmeric, grated

¼ inch fresh young ginger, grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Directions:

Whisk coconut milk, water, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let mixture steep 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into your cup. Makes 1 serving.

Butternut Squash Soup

butternut-squash-soup-jpgOn stormy weather nights when I crave something warm and comforting, there’s nothing like a steaming bowl of butternut squash soup to assuage the winter chill. This soup is easy to prepare and with a handful of simple ingredients, it will turn into something creamy and soothing. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds adds a little burst of color and crunch. Soup On!

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 pound sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 cups vegetable stock or water

3/4 cup coconut milk

Season with salt and white pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock or water to the onions and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash and sweet potato, return to a boil then, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash and sweet potato is soft.

Pour the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Add the coconut milk. Return the blended butternut squash and coconut mixture to the saucepan, then, bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and white pepper.

Beet Ketchup

Beets and ketchup may seem like an unlikely pair, but this intriguing sweet and tangy flavor combination, will truly make your taste buds come alive. If you’re a newcomer to beetroot, it’s a wonderful way to introduce this vegetable, that is by no means fancy, and is often misunderstood.

Bright and zesty with a hint of spice, this home-made ketchup is great slathered on any sandwich, over a side of sweet potato fries, and is a fantastic barbecue sauce for grilling.  Serve, as a dip for spring rolls, or over eggs—the possibilities are endless.

How do you prepare beets?  Do you have a creative way that encourages children to taste them?  I would love to hear your story.

To find out how students in the cooking classroom explore beets, click here.

Beet Ketchup

Beet Ketchup with Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized beets, diced

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup honey

1 ¾ cups balsamic vinegar

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

¼ tsp powdered mustard

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until liquid reduces by half, about 1 hour.

Remove spices and place ketchup into a blender and purée until smooth.  The consistency will be thick, smooth, and shiny.

Tomato Confit

Confit sounds fancy, but don’t let the word fool you, its origin is quite humble, pronounced con-fee, it comes from the French verb confire, which means to preserve.  Confit, one of the oldest methods of preserving food before refrigeration, is a process of slow cooking fruits, vegetables, or more commonly, meat.

When summer is at the height of the tomato harvest, confit is a wonderful way to capture the taste and essence of this late season fruit before it disappears.  Tomato Confit has an intense concentrated flavor that is sweet like jam and smooth as velvet, it’s so tasty you want to slather it over anything and everything, trust me.  One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy tomato confit, is to simply spread it on crostini and top it with some fresh chopped basil.  So good!  Click here for recipe.

Full of nutrients too, tomatoes are truly a gift of health that your body will appreciate and thank you for later.  So what’s not to love?  Why not give this easy to prepare Tomato Confit Crostini recipe a try!

Butternut Squash Soup

butternut-squash-soup-jpgOn stormy weather nights when I crave something warm and comforting, there’s nothing like a steaming bowl of butternut squash soup to assuage the winter chill. This soup is easy to prepare and with a handful of simple ingredients, it will turn into something creamy and soothing. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds adds a little burst of color and crunch. Soup On!

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

6 cups vegetable stock or water

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 pound sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 cups vegetable stock or water

3/4 cup coconut milk

Season with salt and white pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock or water to the onions and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash and sweet potato, return to a boil then, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash and sweet potato is soft.

Pour the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Add the coconut milk. Return the blended butternut squash and coconut mixture to the saucepan, then, bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and white pepper.

Lemon Energy Treats

Lemon "Energy" TreatWhile “better-for-you” energy bars are part of an on-the-go lifestyle, most are hiding a hefty (and expensive) amount of sugar, oil, and calories.  It is no surprise that obesity rates have increased in a society when meals are a rare occurrence in a busy schedule.

The healthiest nutrition bars do not contain added sugar and are full of ingredients that provide slow sustaining fuel, with whole foods such as nuts, seeds and fruits.  A homemade version is even healthier than almost any energy bar that you can buy in a store, and is incredibly simple to throw together, for a fraction of the cost.

Lemon “energy” treats are primarily dates, sesame seeds, and almonds, and are generously flavored with fresh lemon juice, that add a bit of zing to compliment a blanket of snowy white unsweetened coconut.  The later gives this energy treat its pronounced taste that pairs well with the floral-scented lemon.

The inside of this lemony treat is soft and slightly sweet, thanks to the flecks of creamy dates.  Dates not only replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly, but also contain the right amount of sugar to bring glucose levels up. It is no wonder that Muslims break their daylong Ramadan fast with this nourishing fruit.

The very best energy boost ultimately comes from healthy living.  People who eat real foods, (not processed) drink ample water, and exercise daily will have plenty of energy, the natural way.

Lemon “Energy” Treats

Lemon “energy” treats come from a Whole Foods Recipe that I tweaked, just slightly. I substituted toasted almonds for walnuts, and then added a couple of tablespoons of water to the mixture, using a blender to purée it, instead of a food processor.  A small-sized ice cream scoop is handy to portion these energy treats into even 2 “ round shapes. Oh, and one more thing, these raw energy delights are gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

Adapted from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pitted dates, (I use Medjool dates)

1 cup toasted almonds

1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 lemon, zest

1-2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Directions:

Place dates, almonds, sesame seeds, lemon juice, zest and water in a food processor or blender and mix until creamy. If using a blender place 1/2 of the mixture into the blender and mix until creamy and repeat with the other half. The mixture will be slightly sticky.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop mixture in coconut and roll into a ball shape.  Chill until ready to serve. Makes 2 dozen 2” sized balls.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemon 1

Preserved lemons add a bright fragrant flavor to a variety of dishes that are common in Moroccan or North African cuisine. With just two ingredients, they take no time to prepare, store almost indefinitely, and are economical, especially if blessed with a neighborhood lemon tree.

There are endless ways to enjoy preserved lemons. They can be chopped and added to vinaigrettes, salads, or salsas, or pureed in aioli, as a spread for sandwiches. I like to pair diced preserved lemons with a little goat cheese or fresh ricotta, and slather it on crostini, topped with toasted pistachios.

Homemade preserved lemons also make great gifts for friends, not to mention look stunning on the kitchen counter.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Ingredients:

3-4 Organic Meyer lemons, cleaned with both ends trimmed

¼ cup Kosher salt

Pint-sized Mason jar

Directions:

Put a teaspoon of salt in the bottom of pint-sized mason jar.

Quarter lemons leaving ends attached.

Sprinkle salt on the inside of the quartered lemon.

Place the lemon into the Mason jar, open end down. Press down to release its juices.

Sprinkle salt over the top of the lemon.

Repeat the process until the Mason jar is filled with lemons.

If necessary, squeeze more lemon juice over the lemons to cover. Close the Mason jar.

Leave for several days. Open up the Mason jar and press lemons down. Close it and leave in a cool place for 30 days.  Before using, remove the pulp and rinse under cold water to remove the salt. Store in the refrigerator.

 

Coconut Chia Pudding

Chia 2 photoNeed a little breakfast inspiration? Throw together some chia seeds and coconut milk. Add a swirl of honey and voilà— you have a great start to the day.  These magic little seeds are nutritional superstars loaded with omega 3’s and protein that make this creamy pudding ideal as a pre or post workout snack.  A crown of summer berries or any other seasonal fruit is delicious on top of this cloud of chia seeds.  I enjoy it as a morning, noon, or evening treat.  And I’m certainly not above mid-morning or mid-afternoon too.

Coconut Chia Pudding

Ingredients:
2 cups coconut milk
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl stir ingredients together.

Set aside in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours or overnight until the seeds puff and expand.

Serve with your favorite fruit, nuts or seeds.

Lemon Energy Treats

Lemon "Energy" TreatWhile “better-for-you” energy bars are part of an on-the-go lifestyle, most are hiding a hefty (and expensive) amount of sugar, oil, and calories.  It is no surprise that obesity rates have increased in a society when meals are a rare occurrence in a busy schedule.

The healthiest nutrition bars do not contain added sugar and are full of ingredients that provide slow sustaining fuel, with whole foods such as nuts, seeds and fruits.  A homemade version is even healthier than almost any energy bar that you can buy in a store, and is incredibly simple to throw together, for a fraction of the cost.

Lemon “energy” treats are primarily dates, sesame seeds, and almonds, and are generously flavored with fresh lemon juice, that add a bit of zing to compliment a blanket of snowy white unsweetened coconut.  The later gives this energy treat its pronounced taste that pairs well with the floral-scented lemon.

The inside of this lemony treat is soft and slightly sweet, thanks to the flecks of creamy dates.  Dates not only replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly, but also contain the right amount of sugar to bring glucose levels up. It is no wonder that Muslims break their daylong Ramadan fast with this nourishing fruit.

The very best energy boost ultimately comes from healthy living.  People who eat real foods, (not processed) drink ample water, and exercise daily will have plenty of energy, the natural way.

Lemon “Energy” Treats

Lemon “energy” treats come from a Whole Foods Recipe that I tweaked, just slightly. I substituted toasted almonds for walnuts, and then added a couple of tablespoons of water to the mixture, using a blender to purée it, instead of a food processor.  A small-sized ice cream scoop is handy to portion these energy treats into even 2 “ round shapes. Oh, and one more thing, these raw energy delights are gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

Adapted from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pitted dates, (I used Medjool dates)

1 cup toasted almonds

1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 lemon, zest

1-2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Directions:

Place dates, almonds, sesame seeds, lemon juice, zest and water in a food processor or blender and mix until creamy. If using a blender place 1/2 of the mixture into the blender and mix until creamy and repeat with the other half. The mixture will be slightly sticky.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop mixture in coconut and roll into a ball shape.  Chill until ready to serve. Makes 2 dozen 2” sized balls.