Hi, folks! I’ve been away for quite some time, mostly because the third trimester of pregnancy has sapped my energy and creativity in the kitchen. I apologize for the long silence, and most likely won’t be posting any new recipes until after the baby arrives.

7-5-13_35_weeks_1_day

Me at 35 weeks.

I hadn’t realized how tiring pregnancy is, especially now at 37 weeks! My garden is full of weeds, I don’t want to cook, and grocery shopping isn’t so much fun, anymore. All my plans to prepare frozen meals and keep healthy snacks on hand have gone out the window–I just don’t care at this point, I just want to have the baby, already!

Last month we were invited to a neighbor’s for barbecue and wanted to bring something you’d normally see at Hawaii get-togethers. I asked my sister for her Mochi Cake recipe, thinking desserts are a good way to introduce new foods to people. I make a chocolate version for those of you that want to give it a try, and either recipe will yield a chewy, spongy mochi cake that’s a nice change of pace from sheet cakes or brownies.

I don’t think our neighbors have ever had anything like it before, and everyone seemed to enjoy both flavors of mochi cake. It’s gluten-free and, if you use coconut oil and water instead of milk, dairy-free, too!

I didn’t take pictures of the dessert itself, but here are pictures I got off the Internet of some of the specialty ingredients:

   

Mochiko (sweet rice flour, gluten-free), frozen shredded coconut, instant espresso powder.

Mochi Cake

Ingredients:

4 C mochiko (1lb box)
3 C sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 C frozen shredded coconut (DON’T use the dried stuff you find by the boxed cake mixes, totally different taste and texture!)
6 T melted salted butter (if using unsalted butter or coconut oil, add 1 tsp salt)
1 14 1/2 oz. can coconut milk + water, milk or cream to make 2 cups
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix together: dry ingredients
In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients then pour into dry mix. Stir until well combined.

Pour into pregreased 9×13″ pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350º.

Cool, cut into small squares or rectangles (I like rectangles, easier to bite!) and place in paper muffin liners to serve.

Keep uneaten portions in an airtight counter for up to 2 days.

Double Chocolate Mochi Cake

Ingredients:

4 C mochiko (1lb box)
3 C sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (such as Megdaglia d’Oro)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup frozen shredded coconut, defrosted (DON’T use the dried stuff, totally different taste and texture!)
6 T melted salted butter (if using unsalted butter or coconut oil, add 1 tsp salt)
1 14 1/2 oz can coconut milk + water, milk or cream to make 2 cups (can find it at some supermarkets or Asian store)
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix together: dry ingredients

In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients then pour into dry mix. Stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips OR pour batter into pan and sprinkle chips on top.

Pour into pregreased 9×13″ pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350º.

Cool, cut into small squares or rectangles (I like rectangles, easier to bite!) and place in paper muffin liners to serve.

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Don’t these oranges look delicious? (Image source: http://www.growcitrus.com)

Yes, it’s the old knock-knock joke that could go on and on until you decide to say ‘orange’! One of my favorites to tell, but not to listen to. ;)

It’s been a couple years since I bought oranges, much less ate them. When I started following the Blood Type Diet, there were some fruits that I was supposed to avoid: mango, cantaloupe, papaya, tomatoes, and oranges, for example. I did well on that diet, and some foods I could easily do without…like oranges.

But it wasn’t until last week when I made a batch of  raw Orange Cranberry Oatmeal scones* that I felt like I had to incorporate this fruit into my diet once again. It wasn’t the flavor of these scones that did it (which were awesome, btw) but the fragrant, vibrant, juicyness of the fruit when you slice it, and especially when you zest it. The navel oranges I got were the size of grapefruits, and were incredibly sweet and juicy. Each of these oranges would yield 8 ounces of fresh-squeezed juice, plus some nice bits of pulp that I like to chew on.

Long after eating the scones, the fresh orange taste was still stuck in my head and I needed more of an orange fix. I decided to modify my wheat-free carrot-apple-ginger cake into an orange date cake. This being the first orange cake I made, I think it was a success! After ten minutes in the oven, the kitchen already smelled phenomenal. The taste and aroma from the crazy amount of orange zest made this an incredibly fragrant cake (if our neighbors lived any closer, their noses would be pressing up against my windows!) It’s a moist cake, heavier than a regular wheat flour cake, and I felt that the coconut oil had a more neutral taste than vegetable oil. I used only 1 cup of sugar compared to 2 cups normally called for in a cake recipe, but you won’t miss it. The dates, orange juice and apples give it more than enough sweetness.

*from Judita Wignall’s Going Raw cookbook

This not-too sweet orange date cake is great for breakfast, at home or on the go.

Orange Date Cake
It’s important that you use fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice! 

7 medjool dates, pitted, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice, with pulp
zest from 2 extra-large navel oranges (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup peeled, cored, finely chopped apple
1/4 cup orange zest (from 2 jumbo navel oranges)
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
additional zest for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Soak the dates in orange juice for 15-2o minutes (you can also soak it overnight in the fridge)

In a large mixing bowl (I use my standing mixer bowl,) combine spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & brown sugar. Stir in shredded carrots and orange zest, breaking apart clumps with your fingers.

Make a well in the center of your flour mix. Add eggs and coconut oil, beating well then slowly incorporating flour. Stir in date and orange juice.

Use the following baking times, or bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean

bundt pan: 33-35 minutes
9″ cake pan: 33-35 minutes
paper-lined muffin tins: 18 minutes
mini bundt cake pan (cake pictured below): 25 minutes

Fresh oranges make all the difference.

When I was in the 6th grade, I did a book report on this:

I was pretty excited about doing this report because 1) it was on chocolate and 2) I gave out samples. :)

As I talked about the different kinds of chocolate I handed out paper muffin liners of  unsweetened, bittersweet and milk chocolate chunks to the class. The students were probably more excited about the “candy” than my book report, and I recall my teacher Mrs. Higaki grimacing when she got a taste of the unsweetened chocolate (ewww, bitter! said her expression!) I don’t remember what grade I got, but I remember being really excited about sharing one of my favorite things in the world: food! (and chocolate food, no less!)

So this week’s Flavor of the Week is the very popular happy-go-lucky CHOCOLATE!

In the vanilla Flavor of the Week post a couple weeks ago I mentioned my parents recently sending me a dozen home-grown vanilla beans. You know what else they sent? Hawaii-grown cacao nibs!  They’re about the size of a brazil nut and are processed similarly to coffee (fermented, dried, roasted.) But rather than a berry, these nibs grow in a large, thick-rinded pod that is harvested off the tree trunk:

And, like vanilla, cacao was also cultivated by the Aztecs (they got the best of both worlds, didn’t they?)

Deconstruction of a roasted cacao bean

But with chocolate, it’s hard to get the best of both worlds. You get the antioxidant benefits of cocoa, but the unhealthy effects of sugar. Thankfully chocolate is just an occasional indulgence so enjoying a few sweet treats every now and then won’t reverse all the other good things you do for your health (like eating fresh fruits and veggies, taking your vitamins, exercising, and having fun while you’re at it!) But if you’re like me and are looking to cut down on dairy and wheat, then today is your lucky day!

I love homemade chocolate chip cookies, nothing beats the crispy-chewy texture from the butter and flour (or so I thought) until I came across a really good alternative to the traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe. Cutting back on my wheat and dairy, I wanted a chocolate chip cookie recipe that used neither wheat flour nor butter, and I happened across a wonderful cookie recipe at “Angie and James do stuff.” In her recipe, Angie uses spelt flour and hazelnut meal instead of all-purpose flour. That already sounded great! Although I made a few substitutions, I REALLY liked the results, and so did my husband. So much, in fact, that he even ate the burnt ones! (can you imagine how delicious the normal cookies were??) To view the original recipe, click here. Thank you, Angie, for letting me use your delicious recipe…it was just what I needed! :)

Thin, crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies: wheat-free, dairy-free*

3/4 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup ground almonds (texture of cornmeal)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips*
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*I used Nestle semisweet chocolate chips, which has milk fat, but items like Ghiarardelli semi sweet chocolate chips, Guittard semi sweet chocolate chips, and Enjoy Life semi sweet chocolate chips have no dairy ingredients listed. I have used Ghirardelli in previous cookie recipes and the texture/consistency were very similar (if not same) to Nestle’s.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat.

With a wire whisk, combine dry ingredients (except chocolate chips.) Add softened coconut oil and mash into mixture until coarse but well-combined. Sprinkle in vanilla and add egg. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop rounded teaspoons of cookie mix onto baking sheet 2″ apart. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until edges are browned and middle is golden.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container, will keep for 2 days before they are all gone!

Coconut oil makes them spread more, but the addition of ground almonds give them a different taste and texture from a traditional chocolate chip cookie.

Nooooo!!!

Not to worry, Wolfie doesn’t like cookies; he was just wondering what I was up to!

Do you have a twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie? What was the BEST TASTING cookie you ever had? (If you have a pic, I’d love to see it!)