Roasted Strawberry Paleo Pancakes

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is finally starting to become bearable. After many months of rain and dreary days, we have had some pretty consistent sunshine and 70ºF temperatures. With that comes trips to the market and an abundance of gorgeous produce. When we lived in Southern California, we took readily available produce for granted. I can remember my parents’ friends giving us boxes full of avocados and citrus – we struggled to find a way to eat it all before it went bad. In Seattle, you walk into the grocery store and avocados are $2.50 each! Needless to say, we take advantage of the warmer months and indulge in as many fruits and vegetables as we can find.

Yesterday we scored a half flat of some of the most gorgeous strawberries I have ever seen. A photo doesn’t do them justice, but I tried:

When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.
When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.

Most people don’t know that the trick to finding the best berries is to look for the smallest of the bunch. The smaller the berry, the more intense the flavor (assuming it was picked ripe). Additionally, you can macerate or roast the fruit to bring out even more robust flavors. I couldn’t think of a better way to devour these gems than to toss them with a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar, roast them off, and use them as a topping for almond flour pancakes.

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Roasted Strawberry Compote
1 pound ripe strawberries
Sprinkle coconut palm sugar
Dash salt

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. You’ll need a silpat-lined sheet pan (or line it with parchment).
2. Trim the tops off the strawberries. You can slightly rinse them beforehand, but it’s best to gently wipe them with a damp paper towel to avoid excessive moisture.
3. Cut the berries in half, or quarters if they are larger than a single bite when cut in half.
4. Toss the strawberries with a bit of coconut palm sugar and a dash of salt. The amount of sugar you use will depend on the ripeness and sugar content of the berry. Don’t overdo it – you’ll regret it. Let the natural flavors of the fruit shine.
5. Spread the berries on the silpat and roast for 10 minutes, or until the juices start running and you can smell the berries.
6. Cool to room temperature.

My recipe for almond flour pancakes can be found here. The end result is especially delicious if you throw a few dark chocolate chunks into the batter after you scoop it into the pan. It’s the best way to get away with eating chocolate for breakfast.

Paleo Fudgy Brownies

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It seems that the only thing I’ve been craving lately is chocolate. I’ll take it any way I can get it – in coffee, in a cookie, even in savory sauces. This weekend I couldn’t get my mind off the delicious brownies that were sold in my old café. They were gooey, rich and had just the right crunch on the top. These are the caveman version with walnuts, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, and an intense chocolate punch worthy of the Paleo Fudgy Brownie name.

Ingredients

11 oz. maple syrup
2.25 oz. cocoa
8 oz. sunflower butter
1 T. vanilla
3/4 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 large egg, whisked
4 oz. walnuts
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and coat an 8″ square pan with avocado oil (any oil will do).
2. Warm up the maple syrup in a saucepot on high heat, just until it bubbles.
3. Reduce the heat to low and add the cocoa in 3 batches, whisking it in completely before adding the next portion.
4. Whisk in the sunflower butter, combining until homogenous.
5. Turn off the heat, then add the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and egg. Whisk until combined.
6. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks.
7. Pour unto prepared pan and spread evenly.
8. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until the top is set and it is somewhat firm to the touch. Don’t overbake it if you like fudgy brownies!
9. Let cool and for the best results, cut with a disposable knife (or a knife coated with oil, so the crumbs won’t stick).

Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes

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These cupcakes need no introduction. Chocolate. Raspberry. Decadence.

Cake (Yield: 12 regular cupcakes)

8 oz. almond flour (finely blanched!)
1/8 oz. coconut flour
1/2 oz. cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
4 oz. dark chocolate (I love Guittard 72%)
2 oz. high quality butter, unsalted
4 oz. maple syrup
3 ea. eggs
1 T. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 12 regular muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Sift together the almond and coconut flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda and salt.
3. Combine the dark chocolate and butter in a microwave bowl. Melt on high for 30 seconds, stir. Continue melting in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until completely melted. Cool while you prepare the next step.
4. Combine the maple syrup and eggs in a large bowl. Whip on high for 6 minutes. The eggs should be pale yellow and very light in texture.
5. Stream in the cooled chocolate butter mixture, whipping until combined.
6. In three batches, fold the flour mixture into the eggs, not quite combining each time. When you have added the last batch of flour, fold until the mixture is homogenous and there are no streaks of flour.
7. Scoop into cupcake liners with a 2 oz. scoop (or until they are about 3/4 full).
8. Bake 15 minutes, or until the top is set and almost springs back to the touch. Do not overbake.
9. Cool on a rack completely.

Chocolate Coconut Ganache Filling

1 can coconut milk
1/4 c. honey
1/2 oz. cocoa powder
1 T. vanilla

1. Combine coconut milk and honey in a medium sized heavy-bottom saucepan.
2. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low.
3. Stirring occasionally, cook 1-2 hours, or until it has reduced by half and is the consistency of sour cream.
4. Whisk in cocoa and vanilla, stirring to combine.
5. Taste and add honey if it isn’t to your desired sweetness.

Raspberry Compote Filling

10 oz. frozen raspberries
2 oz. water
2 T. honey
1 T. arrowroot powder (with 1 T. water – make a slurry)

1. Combine raspberries, water and honey in a saucepan on medium-high.
2. Cook until the water has mostly evaporated.
3. Add the arrowroot slurry and cook for a few seconds more, until thickened.
4. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Buttercream

4 oz. egg whites
8 oz. coconut palm sugar
3 oz. water
1 lb. butter, softened
6 oz. dark chocolate, melted
1 t. vanilla
pinch salt

1. Whip the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until they are medium peaks.
2. Combine the sugar and water in a sauce-pan. Bring to a rapid boil and cook to 248°F.
3. Slowly pour the cooked sugar into the whipping whites while on high.
4. Continue whipping until the bowl is cool to the touch.
5. Add the butter in chunks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6. Continue whipping until combined.
7. Stream in melted chocolate until combined, then add vanilla and salt to finish.

To Assemble the Cupcakes

1. Hollow out the center of each cupcake with an apple-corer. Don’t take out too much cake, especially on the bottom, or it will be difficult to eat.
2. Pipe in the raspberry compote to fill the hole half-way.
3. Pipe in the ganache to fill the hole to the top.
4. Frost with buttercream and garnish with a fresh raspberry (if desired).

Note: These cupcakes will last for about a day, but are best on the day they were baked. Also, the cake can be baked in a 1/2 sheet pan or smaller round cake pans and made into a fantastic birthday cake!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The foundation for this cookie recipe is actually from a peanut butter cookie recipe that my grandmother used to make. It was about as simple as they come: 1 cup peanut butter (only Jif, of course), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. Mix it, scoop it, fork it, bake it. They were delightful. As a pastry chef, I used this recipe (with a few additions) as my go-to recipe when I needed something simple, gluten-free and delicious.

I originally hoped to mimic the recipe with almond butter and make an equally delicious nutty cookie. After the first attempt, I was disappointed in the flat, lifeless results from my freshly ground Whole Foods almond butter. On a whim, I threw in some almond flour and chocolate chips. The result? Quite possibly one of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. It has a hint of almond flavor, but it really tastes like an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie. The crumb is delicate, the flavors well-developed, and finishes with just a hint of honey. Best of all? It’s still nearly as simple as my Grams’ original.

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Yield: 24 medium cookies (1.5 oz. each)

13 oz. almond butter
4 oz. honey
3 oz. almond flour
2 oz. coconut palm sugar
2 ea. large eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (or chunks)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine everything except the chocolate chips in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine.
3. Stir in chocolate chips, distributing evenly.
4. Portion into 1.5 oz. balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or Silpat), spacing evenly apart (they will spread slightly). Flatten a smidge.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or just until the sides are set and golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Hints:

1. I like an extra-chewy cookie, so I slam my pan on the countertop after taking the cookies out of the oven. This makes for a somewhat fudgy consistency that melts in your mouth.
2. You can also refrigerate (or even freeze) these little gems and bake them fresh. If you freeze the dough, be sure to let them defrost before you bake.

Almond Flour Pancakes

One dish that I miss more than any other since going paleo is a fluffy, warm stack of pancakes. We used to have a weekly tradition every Sunday morning of meeting our friend Bre for breakfast. More often than I’d care to admit, we’d end up at The Original Pancake House. They don’t have ordinary pancakes, they have the queen of gluten-filled pillows: sourdough pancakes. You can smell them outside the front door, their sweet and sharp aroma is irresistible.

Recently I’ve spent many Sunday mornings attempting to make a suitable paleo replacement for pancakes. The sweet potato version that I came up with are good, but not always what I’m looking for, especially on a warm weekend. I’ve scoured the web in search of the perfect recipe. Most of them are dry, dense, and taste like you took a bite out of a coconut – not at all what I was hoping to achieve. Finally, the culmination of many failed attempts has resulted in what I think is the best replacement I’ll ever get for those sourdough beauties, without devouring the real thing. Keep in mind, these pancakes don’t have the delicious pungent flavor as the original, but they do have the taste and texture of a standard breakfast pancake.

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Almond Flour Pancakes
3 ea. eggs, separated
.5 oz. high quality butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
2 oz. coconut milk
.5 oz. raw honey
1 t. vanilla extract
6 oz. blanched almond flour, sifted
.5 t. baking soda
.25 t. baking powder
.25 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Method:
1. Separate the eggs, combining the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Set the whites aside.
2. Add the melted butter, milk, honey, and vanilla to the yolks, whisking thoroughly.
3. Combine the flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, whisking completely to combine.
5. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (about 2 minutes on medium speed).
6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter – this will help to soften it’s texture in preparation for folding in the rest of the whites.
7. Add another 1/3 of the whites into the batter, gently folding them in so as to retain their aeration.
8. Fold the remaining whites into the batter, ensuring that they are completely incorporated without over-mixing.
9. Preheat a non-stick skillet with coconut oil or pan spray over medium-low heat.
10. Scoop with a 2 oz. portion scoop for a 4″ pancake (you can prepare whatever size you prefer) onto the greased pan.
11. Cook over medium-low heat on the first side until the edges begin to set and you see bubbles forming in the middle, 2-3 minutes.
12. Gently flip the pancake and continue cooking on the second side until the pancake is set in the middle (you can check by gently pressing on the center of the pancake).
13. Hold warm until you’ve cooked all pancakes, serve with maple syrup, preserves, honey, or a dash of cinnamon.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Our recent switch to a Paleo lifestyle has been admittedly easier than I thought it would be. I have had a few cravings, but nothing that couldn’t be curbed with a hard boiled egg or a piece of fruit. However, it recently hit me that my beloved, delicious, spicy pumpkin pie was no longer on my list of “acceptable” foods for Thanksgiving! My heart started beating faster, my leg started to twitch, and for the first time since we embarked on this journey, I seriously considered sneaking something into the house that I knew we shouldn’t be eating.

Luckily for us (and our waistlines, triglycerides, and blood sugars), I have a knack for baking and I was pretty sure that I could come up with a delicious version of a pumpkin pie that would fit the bill for our Paleo diet. Initially, I thought it would be pretty easy. Obviously the crust would be the most challenging aspect due to the wheat flour it needed, but the custard itself shouldn’t be too tricky. After 5 attempts, I hit the jackpot and created what I think is a pretty stellar substitute for the pumpkin pie I grew up loving.

The recipe below includes teff flour. I have done a lot of research trying to find out if it is acceptable on a Paleo diet. As of today, I have found no definitive answer. Some say it isn’t, because it is technically a grass. Others say it is, because it is essentially gluten free, doesn’t have as much phytic acid (which makes minerals nearly useless when eaten), and it is loaded with nutrients. It is a staple in the Ethiopian community and is often eaten fermented into flatbreads (which makes it even better for you). With that said, it was the best option for a pie crust that gives good flavor, great mouthfeel, and stood up to the pumpkin custard. While I wouldn’t suggest inhaling pounds of teff every day, I would also say that everything can be eaten in moderation. Even though you’ll probably want to devour this entire pie…

The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don't get with almond flour.
The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don’t get with almond flour – it resembles the texture of a graham cracker crust.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard - low and slow.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard – low and slow.

The Crust

Ingredients:

2 cups teff flour
1/2 cup macadamia oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 t. salt

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly to combine.
2. Press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate, making sure to press all the way to the top of the sides. It is important to get an even thickness throughout.
3. Freeze completely.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Bake the crust for approximately 35 minutes. Start checking it early to prevent over-baking. It should be firm to the touch, and will have lightened in color.
5. Chill the crust until your custard mixture is ready.

The Custard

Ingredients:

6 ea. large eggs
15 oz. pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
2/3 cup almond milk, unsweetened
2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz. coconut palm sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1.5 t. ground cinnamon
1.5 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground nutmeg
3/4 t. salt

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.
2. Combine the eggs and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
3. Add the almond milk, cream and coconut palm sugar. Continue whisking to completely incorporate the milks.
4. Finally, add the vanilla, all the spices and the salt. Combine.
5. Pour into your pre-baked crust and set into a baking dish (big enough to hold some water).
6. Place the baking dish into your pre-heated oven and fill half-way with hot water.
7. Bake until the custard is set in the middle, about 2 hours. If it still jiggles in the middle, it may need longer. Start checking it after an hour and a half. If it over-bakes, there will be a noticeable crack in the center after it cools.
8. Let cool to room temperature, then finish chilling in the refrigerator to ensure a complete set.

A Few Notes:

– You can use any lightly flavored oil in the crust, including melted butter or ghee.
– Honey can be substituted for the coconut palm sugar, but it will be significantly sweeter. Reduce the measurement to 4 oz.
– It is always best to freshly grate your nutmeg for the best flavor. If you are using pre-ground nutmeg, increase the measurement to 1.5 t. per 9″ pie.

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

Arguably, the best part of the weekend is brunch. Enjoying a cup of coffee, catching up with friends, and gobbling up tasty syrup-covered pancakes can’t really be beat. Unfortunately, those gluten-filled babies weren’t enjoyed by our caveman ancestors. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative and throw down some equally delicious pillows of goodness that actually pack a healthful punch. Enter, sweet potato pancakes…

A healthy dose of cinnamon awakens your taste buds and makes these pancakes even more delicious.
A healthy dose of cinnamon awakens your taste buds and makes these pancakes even more delicious.

These paleo pancakes are fantastic. I’m a true cinnamon connoisseur and these are the perfect vehicle to deliver a variety of spices to your palate. The spices themselves can definitely be adjusted to your taste-buds, but they do more than the job that refined sugars would do in your typical pancake recipe – add a ton of flavor. I also like to use freshly ground nutmeg for an extra punch. We do our best not to add salt to any dish unless it absolutely needs it. I use the spices to give these flavor, but feel free to add a pinch of salt. I’ve posted the recipe at SparkPeople.com, which includes the nutritional information for a single batch.

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

1.5 T. coconut flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
.5 t. ground ginger
.5 t. ground nutmeg
.5 c. mashed sweet potatoes
3 ea. large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T. honey (for garnish)

Method

1. Combine coconut flour, soda, and all spices.
2. Combine sweet potatoes, eggs, and vanilla – whisk thoroughly.
3. Add coconut flour mixture to the sweet potatoes and stir to combine.
4. Spray a non-stick skillet with pan spray, and heat under medium-low heat.
5. Scoop batter with a #24 scoop (for 1.3 oz. scoop) into the heated skillet.
6. Allow to cook until you see bubbles in the center and the sides are set.
7. Flip and continue cooking on the second side.
8. Remove from pan and garnish with a drizzle of honey.