Tagged delicious

RECIPE: Homemade Coconut Milk (or Coconut Creamer) – Easy, Fast, GREAT for Dairy-Free Travelers!

This summer, I have been doing quite a bit of traveling. Starting off in beautiful Italy and then making my way to Latin America, I currently find myself in the middle of a legit jungle – monkeys howling and all – in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.

Just hanging out off my balcony in Positano, Italy. Totally casual.

This tropical rainforest is amazing and refreshing, but also makes me miss a few small foodie preferences that have been a part of my daily routine for years.

Especially through the most recent experience living off-grid in an isolated, glorified tree house (thankfully with pretty impressive internet to benefit my online clients and me), I learned how to do without a number of American luxuries. These include everything from transportation (no car), no paved roads, no 24-hour convenience stores (or any stores within two miles), and no access to anything from supplements to electronics to mail being reliably being delivered…

Cuddly kittens and warm weather make everything better.

It also includes not being able to find carton-style coconut milk – never mind coconut creamer for coffee. And if you didn’t know, Costa Rica is known for its amazing coffee.

Needless to say, I’m not a milk drinker and never really have been. Anytime I’ve needed a “milk” for something, I’ve opted for the almond or coconut substitution. (If you have my book The Grocery Store Tour Guide, you’re probably familiar with this suggestion.)

Considering the fact that mango, banana, papaya, AND coconut trees are everywhere in this tropical part of the world, I was somewhat surprised that I couldn’t find any carton coconut (or almond) milk near the home I am currently living in. There is one market down the mountain (over 2 miles away and a 90-minute steady walk thanks to the incline) that has one small almond milk carton option, which was unsurprisingly overpriced… and expired by six months.

Luckily, there is also a decently stocked chain supermercado in the nearest town that is accessible by a 20-minute bus ride (in addition to the nearly three mile walk to the bus stop) where I did find a higher quality carton of pure organic coconut cream… but still no sign of a reasonably priced carton coconut OR almond milk.

Did I mention I’m in the [captivating, relaxing, sometimes boring, always magical, yet very remote] jungle?

Here is what I did manage to find in the local market: canned coconut cream (and canned coconut milk).

And the good news for my fellow dairy-free, non-leche drinking people out there? To make homemade Coconut Milk (a comparable version to Silk or Almond Breeze brands that you can use for shakes, cereal, or to simply drink as is) AND/OR Coconut Creamer for coffee or tea, all you need is a can or carton of coconut cream (a second option could be canned coconut milk), water, and a pour-able container to keep it in.

That’s it.

Fun fact: if you read the ingredients on a carton of the aforementioned popular American brands of coconut milk, you will see that they are mainly filtered water and coconut cream (with some added preservatives and vitamins)… which is exactly what’s happening here!

Of course I tend to get a little fancy and doctor things up, so I added a little bit of vanilla extract and a few stevia drops (which I obviously brought with me from the States) to make it taste just like slightly sweetened, cartoned vanilla coconut milk.

Whisking in a small amount of natural thickener such as xantham gum, guar gum, or gellan gum (if you can access it where you are) will lend a slightly thicker consistency that mimics store-bought Coconut Creamer even more – but the thinner, milkier version that results from this recipe suits my needs just fine. :)

And cost wise? One can of coconut cream cost me about 1500 colones (around $3 USD) and is enough for TWO to THREE GALLONS of drinkable coconut milk or creamer. One HALF gallon of Silk brand coconut milk typically costs $3-5 USD anywhere in the world that I’ve been, so this recipe is a very budget-friendly one that is well worth trying no matter where you are!

To prepare, you can whisk everything together or blend it in a blender. Then just pour into your chosen container like this perfect one I found on Amazon. It’s important to remember to keep it refrigerated and shake it up well before using each time since it does slightly separate (adding the thickening gum does help keep it more consistently smooth).

I mainly use this as a “creamer” for my coffee, but it would also make a great milk replacement for any of your milky needs.

Here’s the crazy simple recipe :) Enjoy!

Homemade Coconut Milk or Coffee Creamer

  • 14 C. coconut cream (ingredients should be only 100% coconut cream, if possible) OR 12 C. canned coconut milk (full fat, not “light”)  – shake cans well before opening
  • Slightly less than a 12 gallon of chilled, filtered water
  • Small pinch of sea salt
  • Optional (for vanilla flavor): 12 to 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional (for sweetness): Stevia drops to taste OR 1 Tbsp. cane sugar liquified in a small amount of warm water OR 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Optional (for chocolate flavored): 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Optional (for coffee flavored): 2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules liquified in a small amount of hot water
  • Optional (for thickness): 12 tsp. guar gum, xanthan gum, or gellan gum

Directions

  1. Put coconut cream or milk, chilled water, sea salt, and your optional ingredients of choice in a blender and blend on low until all incorporated, about 1-2 minutes (you can also whisk very well in a large bowl).
  2. Carefully pour into your milk jug or container.
  3. Refrigerate (shaking well before each use) and enjoy as a milk or creamer! It should be good for about two weeks, though mine never lasts that long. Yum!

*If it doesn’t turn out “milky” enough for you, simply add more coconut cream by the teaspoon (or coconut milk by the tablespoon) until your desired flavor and consistency is reached. To make it thicker and creamier, add in more thickening gum by the one-eighth of a teaspoon and blend well after each addition.

*You can freeze your remaining coconut cream/milk in a separate container for future use.

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RECIPE: The BEST Cranberry Sauce (with a twist!) – Healthy, Vegan, Gluten Free

The holidays are upon us! A time for festive decoration, plenty of social events with coworkers, friends, and family, and a plethora of seasonal food favorites to enjoy.

If you’ve visited this blog before (or are subscribed to my YouTube channel), you have already gotten a taste for some of my go-to recipes for this time of year like:

I recently realized that the popular side dish and condiment, Cranberry Sauce, was missing from my growing arsenal of holiday recipes! So, now is the time to fix that.

Not only is the following recipe incredibly easy and with minimal ingredients, but it has an extra twist of flavor thanks to the mango juice, spices, and alternate sugar (like coconut). Plus, including apples and pears bumps up the nutritional value by increasing the vitamins, fiber, and flavonols to make your body one happy machine.

 

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Whatever you do – I beg you – never, ever choose those processed tin jars filled with a solid cylinder of cranberry jam. Then again, I can assure you that once you make this recipe you will never want to go back.

Without further ado, here’s this simple and amazing recipe! Try it out and let me know what you think… and feel free to share the link with others, too :)

 


The BEST Cranberry Sauce… with a twist!

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups coconut sugar, light brown sugar, and/or cane sugar (I will usually use a third of each or whatever I have on hand)
  • 16 oz fresh cranberries (two 8-oz bags)
  • One Fuji apple, peeled and chopped
  • One Bartlett pear (slightly ripe), peeled and chopped
  • One cup mango nectar or juice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg or allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain cranberries. Measure out the mango juice.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and mango nectar to a boil on high heat. Cranberries should begin to pop and coagulate with the liquid.
  3. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes before adding chopped apple and pear. Also add spices.
  4. Let simmer together another 5 minutes or so, until all incorporated (but apple and pear should maintain their form and not mush up).
  5. Serve warm or let cool and refrigerate overnight if you prefer serving cold cranberry jam… It’s delicious both ways! This will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week, though I’ve never had it last longer than a few days :)

Steps in Photos

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ENJOY!

 

RECIPE: How to Make the BEST Banana Pancakes – Vegan / Easy / Single-Serving / Gluten Free

This is one of my GO-TO recipes for the easiest, most delicious, minimal-ingredient Banana Pancakes ever…

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I have this almost every morning with my “moon egg” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video: https://youtu.be/pNkGUw9HPNE).

These Banana Pancakes are not only moist and delicious, but also happen to be vegan, gluten free, and sugar free (for you fans of the “free’s” out there) while being very fiber- and nutrient-rich. Not to mention, crazy flavorful!

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE, FULL RECIPE IS BELOW:

 
SINGLE-SERVING BANANA PANCAKES

Ingredients:

A Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar (about 2 tsp.)

½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk to start (have more on hand to get batter consistency)

A small splash of Pure Vanilla Extract (about ½ tsp.)

4-5 drops of Liquid Stevia (to taste)

½ of One Large, Ripe Banana (make sure it is spotty with brown and NOT green or all yellow)

1 Tbsp. Chia or Flaxseeds (or one packet of this Flax Chia Blend by Carrington Farms)

½ cup Quick Cooking Oats, pulsed in a blender or food processor to be semi-ground

½ tsp. Baking Powder

Generous sprinkle of Ground Cinnamon

A pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Get out a 2-cup Liquid measuring cup, like this one I use in the video and a mini-spatula or fork. Put all of the liquid ingredients in the measuring cup (measuring as you go), stir, and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Take half of the banana and break it apart with your fingers as you add to the liquid ingredients. Then take a fork and mash/mix it in until larger chunks are gone.
  • Add in all dry ingredients, mixing well. Add more almond milk (typically ¼ to of a cup) until it is more of a moderate batter consistency – not too thin, but not thick. Allow the batter to thicken by letting it sit ~5-10 minutes.
  • Preheat stove top to medium heat (I typically go to level 4). Once pan is heated, spray pan with coconut oil spray. Give batter a quick stir and pour in about ¼ cup per pancake.
  • Set a timer for 3 minutes, then flip. Pancakes should be a light golden brown. Let other side cook another 3 minutes.
  • This makes 4-6 pancakes depending on your size. I like to pour a little maple syrup on the side and dip them, but you can also stack ’em up pretty and pour maple syrup on top! Feel free to slice up the other half of your banana to top them off, too!
  • ENJOY (I know you will… they’re amazing) :)

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Find more recipes and smart food-shopping tips in my Grocery Store Tour Guide!

 

The BEST Tapioca Pudding with Mangoes – sweet, amazing, gluten/dairy free dessert! (RECIPE)

Does this look nostalgic to anyone?

k2-_66aae989-09e8-45c4-8d64-0b5773c3dd42.v1I may be in the minority here, but I never had tapioca pudding as a kid. I never even knew what tapioca was and remember wondering if it was just a different name for rice (since rice pudding was actually familiar). I was never a fan of milk or milky things growing up, either, so I never made an effort to try it. Regardless, it was easy to see many a lunch box contained these little sugar-packed and highly processed snacks.

Fast forward twenty-or-so years and tapioca entered my life again. I’ve used tapioca starch as a thickener in recipes for a while and noticed it within the ingredients to many packaged foods, but was still yet to make my own version of this renowned dessert known as Tapioca Pudding.

I don’t know what took me so long… because it is absolutely amazing.

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Though I don’t exactly have anything to compare it to – my prime taste tester did happen to love those school-time snacks back in the day. And I am happy to report he said this isn’t even comparable since it’s the best tapioca pudding he’s ever had (and, possibly, the best pudding dessert he’s ever had). Yet another win!

So, what is tapioca anyway? Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root (which is becoming more commonly found in grocery stores these days – probably next to the potatoes or yucca).  Similar to other starches, it can be processed into sticks, powder/flour, flakes, or fun little pudding-worthy pearls. The pearls are commonly used in Asian desserts where they lend a chewy, satisfying texture to whatever it may be. Oh, and for those wondering, it is indeed gluten free and vegan.

Fun fact: Have you ever had Boba tea? Those boba are actually giant tapioca pearls.

Personally, I absolutely love the texture of tapioca pudding – even more than rice pudding. It’s like eating spoonfuls of simultaneously creamy and chewy surprises with every bite. Plus, by adding sweet, buttery mango, this dairy-free version is also both rich but light at the same time. It can be eaten hot or cold, making it perfect as a summer or holiday dessert.

It’s easy to make, doesn’t dirty many dishes, and has a handful of quality ingredients that are easy to find and much better for you compared to the original kid’s snack.

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Just looking at these pictures reminds me I need to make this again, like tonight. It’s that delicious and that easy to put together. Did I mention that it tastes even better after a couple of days in the fridge?

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I really, really hope you try this recipe. You will be so glad you did (and will impress anyone who tries it!)


THE BEST TAPIOCA PUDDING with mangoes

Ingredients

½ cup tapioca pearls

½ of a 14 oz. can of Coconut Milk (~200ml)

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp stevia-for-baking or xylitol (or sugar of choice)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

½ cup + ½ cup water

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

~2 cups chopped mangoes (frozen or fresh)

Optional, for thickness: 1 egg, separated (yolk and white)

Directions (with photos below)

  • Place coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, ½ cup of water, tapioca pearls, and egg yolk (if using) in a medium saucepan. Mix to incorporate ingredients and let sit on stove top – no heat or cooking yet – for 20 minutes.
  • Turn burner to medium-high heat to bring pudding mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Once it boils, turn burner down to low heat and allow to simmer for about ten minutes or so, until it thickens and the tapioca pearls become translucent. Add more water from the remaining ½ cup if it gets too thick.
  • Add mangoes and cook until mixture begins to simmer again, about 3-5 minutes.
  • If using egg, whip egg white in a small bowl (or the measuring cup) with the sugar/sweetener. Temper this mixture into the saucepan by folding 1-2 tbsp of the hot pudding mixture into the egg white/sugar mixture. Do this at least three times before pouring the egg white/sugar bowl mixture into the saucepan. Then allow pudding to cook another 2-3 minutes in saucepan.
  • If not using egg, simply mix the sugar into pudding on stove and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour into a serving bowl and add vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well.
  • You can serve this warm from the oven or cover it and refrigerate up to 5 days for a cool dessert. It’s really delicious both ways (and thickens even more as it sits). It’s really presentable when served with cinnamon sticks (as shown in pics).
  • Enjoy! :)

 

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Quinoa Cocoa Cakes for Two

… or for however many you like, really. This impromptu what-do-I-have-in-the-pantry-that-I-can-make-dessert-ish recipe is VERY easy and came out to two super moist and tasty little cakes. The consistency is almost fudge-like; the outside is just crisp enough to make it sort of a less gooey chocolate lava cake.

 

Yes it is as decadently good as it looks.....
Yes it is as decadently good as it looks…..

 

And added bonus, they are egg-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly (depending how strict of a regimen you’re on considering there is a pseudo-grain flour involved), and it can easily be vegan/dairy-free by simply substituting the kind of protein used in the sweet cream sauce to something like Sunwarrior Protein-Vanilla. Make sure to check out the notes below the recipe for more tips! :)

 

Try it out and let me know what you think!

 

Quinoa Cocoa Cakes for Two

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Quinoa Flour

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 Tbsp Stevia*

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

Pinch of salt

Scant 1/4 tsp instant coffee or espresso (optional)

1 Tbsp Ground Flaxmeal

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil*

1/4 Cup + 3 Tbsp water

1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract

 

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350.*
In a small glass or bowl, whisk together flaxmeal, olive oil, water, and vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together quinoa flour, cocoa powder, stevia, baking powder, instant coffee, and salt.
Add flax liquid to dry ingredients and whisk together well.
Split batter into two greased large muffin tins (or I had mini-bundt tins). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Plate each on top of half the Sweet Cream Sauce. Optional tops include.. well.. basically whatever you want. I had a dollop of Son of a Butter! Smoky Bacon Peanut Butter and a fresh strawberry.
*Next time I may try baking at 375 for around 18 minutes. If you like a more cakey, less fudgy center, this option would encourage that more.

 
Crazy Easy Sweet Cream Protein Sauce:

Scoop 1-2 Servings of your favorite vanilla protein powder into a bowl (I used Vi-Shape by Body By Vi since that is all I had on hand) and whisk with just enough water for thick sauce consistency. I added a touch of cardamom and cinnamon for an extra yumminess.

 

P.S. Don’t forget, if you want photos of recipes as they are created, workout tips, free gym routines, and other random goodness, you can follow me on Instagram or Twitter too. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

Healthy “Birthday Cupcake” in a bowl!

After today’s workout, I came home to nonchalantly mix up a little recovery meal to hold me over a bit. This amazingly delicious bowl of goodness was the result of that. Filling, healthy, and literally tastes JUST LIKE the classic yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting on top. Not kidding! Definitely recommend you all try it out, feel free to share the credited photo, and ENJOY! :)

Great substitutes for the oat bran include quinoa flakes, cream of rice, or rolled oats.