Strawberry Coconut Butter

This past weekend, two of my friends and me taught a class to middle- and high-school students through a program called Splash.  We showed them how to extract DNA from strawberries!

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Did you know that strawberries are octoploid?!  (Meaning, they have 8 copies of each chromosome.)  I didn’t either, until I started teaching this class 😉  Humans, of course, are diploid – they only have two copies of their DNA (one from Mom and one from Dad :))

Ok, enough of the science lesson, let’s get on to the food!  I recently saw a recipe for Strawberry Coconut Butter on Amber Shea’s blog, and so in the spirit of my strawberry DNA extraction class, decided now would be a good time to make it!

Strawberry Coconut Butter (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 cup coconut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced fresh (or thawed frozen) strawberries
  • Big pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: white granulated sugar to taste

To make, simply put all of the ingredients in a food processor or a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.  Add sugar as desired.  The full recipe makes about 2 cups, and I’m not sure how long it will last in the fridge – maybe 1-2 weeks.   I ended up halving the recipe because I wasn’t sure if I could finish eating two cups in that amount of time.

Well now you might be thinking, ‘I’ve never even heard of Strawberry Coconut Butter,  so what exactly would I do with 1-2 cups of it?!’

Well, you can jazz up your peanut butter sandwich…

…or spread it on a dessert pancake for one, as shown here with some blueberries and brown sugar sprinkled on top…

(Side-note:  these pancakes are really awesome with spelt flour!)

…or if you don’t feel like making anything at all, just eat it with a spoon. 🙂  I won’t tell anybody!

I’m sure there are many more yummy possibilities.  If you end up making this luscious strawberry coconut butter, let me know how you decided to consume it!

Posted in breakfast, dessert, gluten-free, no-bake | 1 Comment

Carrot Muffins

Carrot muffins…starring (in my opinion) the vegetable most amenable to baking in dessert…carrots!

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Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts everrrrr.  I can eat a huge slice of carrot cake like it’s nobody’s business (for example, read the first sentence of this post.)    The aromatic cinnamon flavor, smooth and rich cream-cheese frosting, and natural sweetness from the carrots – yum!  Not to mention all the little embellishments that are often added – raisins, shredded coconut, chopped nuts – which provide even more flavor and texture.

It would be great if I could eat carrot cake everyday, but alas, my health would surely suffer if I did such a thing.  Fortunately, desserts such as carrot cake can easily be made more nutritious. 🙂

Carrot Muffins (adapted from Katie’s recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 “flax” egg (mix 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water and let sit for a few minutes to thicken)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 containers applesauce (the half-cup containers)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp liquid (non-dairy milk or water)
  • up to 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used about 1/4 cup, not packed, so they were only a little sweet)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder

Of course, you can also add in the ingredients I referred to above: shredded coconut, raisins, or chopped nuts (such as walnuts and pecans.)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add and mix in wet.  As with all muffin recipes, be careful not to over-mix!  Pour the batter into the muffin liners – the recipe will make 9-12 muffins depending on how large you like your muffins.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or longer if they still don’t look done to your liking.

In place of cream cheese frosting (again, one of my LOVES), I spread a thick pat of coconut butter.  It is definitely a tasty alternative!  I know coconut butter and oil have gotten a bad rap in the past for being for having too much fat (and saturated fat, at that), but it’s actually beneficial for your health!  (See this NYTimes article for some information, and I’m sure there’s other articles about it on the web.)  It’s such a pure, creamy flavor, and since the muffins themselves don’t have any fat in them (the applesauce replaces the fat), all the more reason not to be stingy with the coconut butter.

It may not taste like “traditional” carrot cake, but it still fulfills me at every bite.  And in case you were wondering – I quickly devoured that muffin above right after I took the picture. 😉

Posted in breakfast, dessert | Leave a comment

Hummamole

I know, I know, I originally started this blog to share dessert recipes. But when I was flipping through Quick-Fix Vegan and stumbled upon Hummamole, I was dying to try it!  The results were so good that I had to post about it here. 🙂

If you haven’t figured out already, hummamole is a cross between hummus and guacamole.  The recipe is pretty similar to your standard hummus recipe, except most of the oil is replaced with an avocado.  This ends up working out because avocados are creamy and filled with healthy fats.  I suppose you can also view it as guacamole with more protein (from the chickpeas.)  Whichever way you look at it, hummamole rocks!

Hummamole (adapted from Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan)

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups home-cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-oz) can, drained and rinsed (bonus points for home-cooked!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pinch of cayenne (I omitted)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (I also omitted)

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh into a food processor.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the food-processer, and process until everything looks mashed-up, creamy and uniform.  Serve right away, or store in a container in the fridge.

Hummamole is good as a dip for pita chips or cut-up veggies, or spread thickly onto a slice of toasted bread.  It is also quite portable, as shown by the picture above. 🙂  I’m also glad that after a few days, it still hasn’t turned brown from oxidation of the avocado – even though only a tablespoon of lemon juice was added, it was enough to help prevent this.

If you happen to be a fan of vegetables, you’re in luck – my next recipe, although a dessert, will feature a famous vegetable ingredient!

Posted in gluten-free, no-bake, savoury | 1 Comment

23andMe and food!

Have you heard of 23andMe?  It is a personal genomics company that will determine your DNA sequence at certain positions (specifically, the positions that are known to vary between different humans.)  They then use this data, along with established genetics research, to provide information about your health, traits and ancestry – essentially interpreting your genome for you!  I first heard about 23andMe almost four years ago when I was an undergrad taking a genetics class at UCSD.  It seemed way cool, but the cost was in the hundreds of dollars, so I decided to wait until the price was more reasonable.

Fast forward to now, and I have my 23andMe results!  I’m actually taking a class this quarter where we are analyzing our raw data generated from 23andMe, which I’m really excited about 🙂 This was my main motivator for finally getting genotyped.

In looking at my results, I find that there are quite a few SNPs associated with eating.   (FYI: a SNP is a single nucleotide polymorphism – essentialy, a single base {A,T, C or G} in your DNA that is known to vary in populations.)   I thought it might be fun to go through these traits, and discuss whether 23andMe predicted things correctly 🙂

In order of highest confidence predictions to lowest confidence :

–  Bitter taste perception: Can taste certain bitter flavors

Yep! And this is probably why it took me a long time to just tolerate the taste of beer and brussel sprouts.

– Lactose Intolerance:  Likely to be lactose intolerant.

This result surprised me the most, I think.  In my younger years, it wasn’t uncommon for me to drink 2-3 glasses of milk a day without any issues.  I don’t drink cow’s milk any more, but that’s because I now find non-dairy milks to taste better.  I think my dad is lactose intolerant (at least, I’ve never seen him with a glass of milk), and I know my brother is to a certain extent, so  I guess I shouldn’t be too perplexed that I have inherited a defective lactase enzyme.   Maybe this just means that my gut bacteria are really good at digesting lactase :-p

– Caffeine metabolism: Slow caffeine metabolizer

A slow caffeine metabolism means that caffeine tends to stay in your body longer than if you had a fast caffeine metabolism.  This generally means that you are more sensitive to the “effects” of caffeine.  I’ve actually avoided coffee pretty much my whole life because I don’t want to get addicted to it, so in a way it’s difficult to know how much I am affected by caffeine.  However, a couple months ago I drank a small cup of chai tea latte and …well… let me just say that I did not tolerate it too well 😦  I’ve also gotten headaches from eating a little bit of chocolate regularly (the headache comes when I stop eating it regularly.)  That, along with the fact that caffeine gives my mom and my brother pretty horrible headaches, and I’ve only heard my dad order “decaf”…well, I’m pretty sure this interpretation for me is correct 🙂

-Food preference:  Typical intake of sweet products and typical daily sugar consumption.

Hm, I’m not so sure what to make of this…I suppose I tend to eat more sweets than the average person, but those sweets tend to be lower in sugar than the average sweet, so then that brings me to “typical” 😀

Well, those are just some of the interesting food-related tidbits you can find out about yourself through 23andMe 🙂  One thing I should note is that they do provide your actual genotype (i.e., AC, TT, GC, etc.) in your report – I just didn’t feel like including it here.

And just a disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with 23andMe!  I just think it’s an awesome company 😀

Posted in no recipe | 2 Comments

I’m back!

Hello all!  Sorry I haven’t posted in so long – in the past few weeks I have been (nearly) drowning in a pool of perl scripts, stat mech equations, unix commands, and tax forms!  I’m finally starting to make my way out of the pool, though, which means I can now post here 🙂

Today I bring you my very first recipe that I created myself: pumpkin pie bites!  I was originally planning to post this on Pi Day (March 14th), but as you can see that did not work out :-/  I used the recipe in my chocolate fudge bites post as a guide.  With these date-y no-bake desserts, it’s actually not too hard to create a delicious treat without a recipe.  I encourage you to make your own!

 Pumpkin Pie Bites

  • 9 pitted dates (I used Medjool dates)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 T shredded coconut
  • scant 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until the mixture forms one big mass.  Roll into little balls (mine are approximately 1 inch in diameter.)

That’s it!

Ok, I know they look like meatballs, but they really do taste similar to actual pumpkin pie 🙂  They also may be really gooey right after you make them, but they will firm up more (and taste better, in my opinion) at least 12-24 hours later.

Well, I am hoping from now on I can post at least once every 1-2 weeks.  Otherwise I may go through dessert withdrawal!!

Posted in chocolate, dessert, gluten-free, no-bake | 4 Comments