Healthy Fudge: A Childhood Recipe, Revamped

Today I’ll be sharing a recipe from my early childhood. When I was small, my mom kept us well with home-cooked meals that included plenty of unprocessed, whole foods, and very little sugar. One of the treats she would make for us included “Healthy Fudge”. The original recipe contained peanut butter, wheat germ, and powdered milk, none of which I can tolerate today. So I revamped it and enjoy it as much, if not more, than the original.

Healthy Fudge

makes about 16 balls

1/2 cup cashew butter (or almond butter or tahini)

1/2 cup molasses, honey or (1/4 cup of each)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra for rolling

1 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins (optional)

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a mixing bowl and stir together with a spoon. Add in chocolate chips if using. Put some coconut into a small bowl.

Form into 1-inch balls, roll in coconut, and place in an air-tight container. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

The One Italian Cookie You Need to Bake (Recipe)

I wish I could remember exactly when I began baking biscotti, but it was definitely when my kids were very small. Even though I grew up in an Italian-American family, I knew no one who actually baked their own. My Grandma Corriero bought hers at the supermarket and those were the only ones I’d ever tried. (They definitely tasted store-bought.) But one of my Moosewood Cookbooks had a recipe for them, so I made them on a whim once and have loved biscotti ever since.

My two favorite aspects of biscotti are: you pretty much can’t ruin them and they are so easy!!! I am an impatient, lazy cook and baker, so I go with easy recipes whenever I get the chance.

Here is my biscotti recipe, adapted from Moosewood.

Biscotti

1/4 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lemon) peel

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar, add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and grated orange peel. Fold in the nuts.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to wet and and mix until blended and dough holds together when pressed with floured hands. This dough is meant to be on the stiff side.

Scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet and shape into a log, about 12 x 3 inches. Press down and flatten until it’s about 14 x 4 inches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until dough is firm and just starting to brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer log to cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Lay each piece cut side up on the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

The biscotti will last in an airtight container for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a few months.

You can add fruit or chocolate chips instead of nuts. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

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I grew up in an Italian-American family where it was considered a sacrilege if one ate canned pasta sauce. Ever. In fact, I never ate canned sauce unless I happened to be at a friend’s house. My mom, who is not Italian, diligently learned how to make amazing “gravy” as we all called it, from Italian women in my dad’s family and friend group. This gravy always included meatballs and often, sausage. She didn’t make marinara sauce very often, which is a quick meat-free sauce, and when she did, it often seemed over-acidic to me.

 

When I decided to follow a vegetarian diet nearly five years ago, I knew I needed to find a good marinara sauce recipe; one that was rich, garlicky and had just the right balance of acidity and mellow mouthfeel. I bought Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and liked her marinara sauce recipe. I’ve tweaked it a bit and here is what I make once a week to use on pasta and homemade pizza.

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As I almost always do with recipes, I give you an amount range for a few ingredients. For example, if the tomatoes you are using are sweet and not too acidic, you might not need all the sugar or milk. You also might prefer a less garlicky sauce, so use less garlic. Cooking has a lot to do with personal taste, so adjust it to your liking.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

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A Little Island Addition (Juice Recipe)

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My eyes are doing so well these days! It’s not that I don’t have to be careful when I want to open them when I wake up. I still proceed with caution and a bottle of eye drops in hand, but I have not had an extreme episode of corneal erosion since I started juicing again last month.

Do I get tired of washing, peeling, and cutting up vegetables and fruits and cleaning the juicer afterward? Yes, of course I do, but I just have to remind myself of the alternative (extreme eye pain, puffy, scratchy, red eyes, light sensitivity, migraines…loss of productivity) and then my perspective becomes clearer. It’s a very small portion of time and energy out of my day and the benefit of eye health far outweighs any inconvenience. I’m so thankful for the simplicity of the solution.

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Because my eyes are what I am mainly treating with juice, I’m always using carrots as a base, but this week, for some variety, I added pineapple. So here is the recipe; it makes about three pints, which lasts a couple of days for me and Alan. Feel free to cut it in half.

Pineapple-Carrot-Orange-Celery-Apple-Pear Juice

  • 10 carrots, tops cut off
  • 4 cups, peeled and cut up pineapple
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
  • 2 oranges, peeled and halved
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 pear, cut into large pieces

 

Enjoy!

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In Search of Soup (Recipe)

Happy International Women’s Day! This post won’t directly relate to this celebration of women; it’s about soup. However, soup is nurturing, soothing, and kind to us, and maybe a bit like a mother, grandmother, good friend, or Mother Earth. 

I don’t know what has been my problem this last fall and winter, but I just didn’t feel like making or eating soup. The idea would pop up occasionally, but I couldn’t get inspired enough to make a soup that I really wanted. This is so unusual for me; my kids could tell you how they ate soup two or three times a week fall through spring as they grew up. Maybe that’s it: I burned out.

Anyway, this week, I think I finally turned a corner. The weather here in Interlaken, NY, is still snowy and cold. The Spring birds might be singing, but Winter is stubbornly holding on.

My daughter has nightly rehearsals for the musical Shrek at school and I’m trying to ensure she gets something nutritious in her before she goes back to school each night for four hours.

Today, as I was thinking about what to make, I remembered a soup recipe I was given last year from a young man I worked with last year at a cafe in Trumansburg. His version was sweet potato and kale, which was delicious, but today, I decided I wanted to swap in spinach. So I did.

Here’s the recipe, simple and comforting. I give you a range of amounts, because it’s really ok to make more or less. This is a very flexible recipe, as are most soups, so make as much or as little as you’d like.

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Sweet Potato-Spinach Soup (serves 4 or more)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 sweet potatoes (I used yams), peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 6-10 cups water
  • 1-2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3-4 handfuls baby spinach ( or a bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped)
  • salt to taste

In a soup pot, heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add sweet potatoes, and saute a few more minutes, stirring often. Add water, nutritional yeast, bouillon and red pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft enough to eat, and add spinach. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Feel free to add rice or noodles if desired.

 

 

Pumpkin Please and Butternut Too

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For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been lactose intolerant my whole life. I also struggled with migraines for many years and, after trying various things to get rid of them, I went gluten free in 2013. My migraines almost completely disappeared. So whenever I share a recipe here, it will be dairy and gluten free. Here is a pumpkin smoothie recipe I love, adapted from the The Oh She Glows Cookbook.

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

(I tend to make giant smoothies; I drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon.)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice

1/2 cup pumpkin purèe

1 banana

2 tablespoons gluten free rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and ginger

(optional) 2 scoops Naked Pea Protein Powder

Throw everything into your blender ( I have and love the Vitamin 5200) and blend until smooth. If it’s not sweet enough for you, add a little maple syrup or molasses.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples:

1 small butternut squash

2-3 apples

So simple! Preheat the oven to 425. Peel, seed and cut up the squash and cut the apples into similarly-sized pieces. Place in a bowl, coat with canola, sunflower or olive oil. Place on rimmed baking pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Roast for 20-35 minutes, checking them every so often so they don’t burn. Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack. Add to salad, or serve over quinoa, rice or pasta. Or just eat them by themselves.

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