Progesterone

A couple of weeks ago, a reader asked if I knew of any natural ways to raise progesterone levels in women. The reader had a baby about a year ago and thought her progesterone levels should have been higher by now, but she’s had a history of low levels in the past, which has caused a host of problems.

I did know a little about progesterone, but, oddly enough, because mine tends to run high and aggravates my heart arrhythmia. But, most of my knowledge was centered on the balance of progesterone and estrogen: when one goes up, the other goes down. So, I did a little research, and this is what I found.

As mentioned, estrogen and progesterone run opposite each other, so avoiding foods that increase estrogen will help keep your progesterone stable, or, theoretically, raise it if your estrogen is low enough. Don’t automatically think SOY, however. (Oh, poor soy!) There are a lot of foods with much higher levels of phytoestrogens – like flax! (Think of phytoestrogens as faux estrogen.) Flax is crazy high in phytoestrogens. Sesame is also pretty high in phytoestrogens, as are many other foods. If you have a family history of breast cancer, I definitely wouldn’t give up whole soy; I’d actually start start adding it to your diet if you haven’t  already. Regardless, I’d be cautious of added soy, which is essentially in all processed foods. Whole soy is a completely different ballgame. But, I’d strongly reconsider using flax, and I’d limit intake of sesame (hummus, multigrain breads, etc.) Chia and hemp are great for Omega 3’s and 9’s, if you’re worried about being deficient. (Keep in mind, however, supplementation of EFA’s is not necessary on a whole-foods, plant-based diet.)

Keeping cortisol low will also help keep progesterone balanced. Reducing cortisol levels can be achieved by reducing/eliminating stress (ha ha) and being cautious of super high intensity workouts for extended periods of time (over 45 minutes seems to be the prevailing opinion). Short spurts of intense exercise like those in HIIT workouts are good for cardio. Yoga is great for reducing stress and doesn’t tend to increase cortisol levels. Over time, your supposedly body gets used to the intensity of your workouts, and you can increase their duration.

Since progesterone and cortisol go hand in hand, having higher levels of cortisol is often an indicator of inflammation in the body. Fruits and vegetables, in general, are anti-inflammatory, so eat up! Blood sugars could also be running high with increased cortisol; allergies can flair up, and the list goes on. Balancing progesterone can help regulate blood pressure, too. (If you have trouble with PCOS and/or adrenal fatigue, your progesterone/cortisol/estrogen balances are likely out of sync.)

Luckily, there are foods and other natural ways of naturally increase progesterone/working on that progesterone/estrogen balance (and ultimately decreasing cortisol levels).

Vitamins: B6, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium can all contribute to increasing progesterone. While I don’t normally suggest supplements for any reason other than B12 for those on a completely plant-based diet, in this case, I suggest a B Complex vitamin supplement might be a decent idea. In general, I think supplements are a waste of money and can be dangerous. However, since all B vitamins are water soluble, you’ll pee off the excess. I would definitely go for the best brand of supplement you can afford. Money equals quality when it comes to supplements, unfortunately. Try to find a supplement that has Folate instead of Folic Acid. Folate is natural; folic acid is artificial and has been linked to a host of issues. There are natural, non-food ways to increase magnesium, too. Soaking in Epson salts can produce a slight increase. (Bonus: it’s great for sore muscles!) Magnesium oil can also give your levels a little boost, and it, too, is great for sore muscles.

Foods: Foods that increase B6, Vitamin C, zinc and magnesium include: whole grains, walnuts, beans, bananas, spinach, citrus fruits, watermelon, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, okra, raw nuts (almonds get a gold star) and cacao. (Woohoo for the chocolate!) There are some animals products that may also increase B6, zinc and magnesium, but they all come with hormones (artificial and naturally occurring) – and animal cruelty, which is not supported here. Eat those plants!

Things to avoid/do more: Try to avoid STRESS as much as possible. Sleep more. Move your body gently every day. Be social. Do things you enjoy. Drink more water. Drink more fresh juices and smoothies. Avoid dairy and other hormone laden items. Stay away from lavender and tea tree oil. I know I use of these oils often, but that’s not a great idea for those with low progesterone levels. Check lotions and other health and beauty products for lavender and tea tree oil; they’re seemingly everywhere!

As a side note, I would be leery of progesterone creams. For the most part, they’re bad news – even the “natural” ones. One of the biggest side effects of those creams is increased blood pressure, which can already be high from the progesterone/estrogen/cortisol imbalance.

Finally, remember it can take a long, long time for hormone levels to go back to “normal” after being pregnant and/or giving birth. Supposedly, natural births helps that process along quicker, as does breast feeding, but each body is different, and it make take more time for some than others. And, as a bright note on the horizon, estrogen levels naturally decrease with age, so progesterone has a tendency to naturally increase – especially around the onset of menopause. Personally, I’m seeing this shift (at nearly 40), and it’s not exactly a pleasant experience so far. However, for those with naturally low progesterone, this time of life may be a blessing. Something to look forward to!

Of course, as with any medical concern, please consult a medical practitioner. If you’re not happy with the results you’re receiving from allopathic medicine, consider a naturopathic physician and/or chiropractor who specializes in natural healing. Acupuncture, massage and aroma therapy, herbs and essentials oils are great supplements to professional medical treatments.

 

Recipe Review: Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo”

As I breifly mentioned in my last post, I’ve made some changes to my diet, which include lowering my daily fat intake. So, when I saw Angela’s recipe for alfredo sauce made with cauliflower come through my in-box, I was all about it!

As luck would have it, Whole Foods had organic cauliflower on sale, so I picked up a couple of heads and Cauli-power Fettuccine Alfredo was moved to the top of the dinner menu.

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I’ve been using corn pasta, or a combo of corn and some other gluten-free grains, and I’ve been pretty happy with the outcome. The taste is good; the texture is good, and I don’t feel all vibratey after eating a big ol’ bowl of pasta like I do when I eat regular semolina pasta. So, for this recipe, I used the pasta I had in the pantry, which was a bag of rigatoncini. I figured that shape and style would work fine with this sauce because of the lines – and I was right. Woot!

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I was a little worried the sauce would come out watery because of my previous attempts at using cauliflower in sauces and soups. (Hello. How do people think mashed cauliflower tastes anything like my beloved mashed potatoes?!) But, surprise surprise, the sauce was super thick and creamy and delicious!

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I ended up adding a little extra nutritional yeast (because I always do), and I waited to add any salt until the individual servings. (I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my sodium intake.) I also skipped the sauteed onions (If you keep them in, please try sauteing them with water, not oil.) and just added granulated garlic and onion powder to the mix. And, I had plain soy milk open already, so I used that for the non-dairy milk. I think using a thicker non-dairy milk like soy or hemp is probably a good idea, although Angela used almond milk.

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I also added some broccoli to my dish. I just tossed in w/ the pasta as it cooked, and eight minutes later, they were both done. Yummy add for no extra work! (Well, except for the little bit of chopping required to get the broccoli florettes off their stems.)

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Other than those few tweaks, I followed the recipe exactly. I even  followed the suggested order of boiling the cauliflower first then making the sauce and letting it sit while I boiled the pasta and broccoli. After I drained the pasta/broccoli mix, I added it back to the hot pan on the still warm burner and poured in the sauce, stirred, and ate!

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I will definitely make this recipe again! One thing I will keep in mind, though, is the sauce really soaks into the pasta as it sits, so the next day, the pasta is a bit mushy, and the sauce is even more bland. I ground on a bit more salt and plowed through my next-day plate, but I kept wishing I’d added some fresh tomatoes or onions or something to brighten it up. (My husband thought adding a little bit of non-dairy milk might help revive things a bit, but I’d already eaten all of the left-overs before he suggested it. Ha!)

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Overt Fat Free

I need to write a post about the current state of my diet, but long story short, I’ve gotten a handle on my moving + holiday eating frenzy and feel like I’m in a good place right now. Basically, I’m eating within a ration of 80% carbohydrates and 10% each fat and protein. And while my diet is high raw, it is not all raw, so it’s not the 80-10-10 of The 80-10-10 Diet – just the ratio.

Back to why we’re here today…I made cookies!

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Yup. Delicious, nutritious, overt-fat-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies made with only four ingredients (five if you count the optional cinnamon) and sweetened only with fruit. 80-10-10 for the win!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Overt Fat Free)

2 c old fashioned oats

1/2 c super thick date paste

1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/4 c)

1/4-1/2 c raisins (soaked if dry)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

First, make date paste by blending soaked dates. Try not to use any of the date soaking water, so the paste is extra thick and sticky. Then, mash the banana using a fork (or pulse it in a mini-chopper). Don’t blend it because the liquid banana will add liquid to the dough.

Add oats and cinnamon to a bowl. Stir to combine. (Optional: Add a dash of salt.) Add mashed banana and date paste. Stir to combine. Add raisins. Stir to incorporate. [If  dough is too dry, add more date paste.]

Scoop dough onto a parchment or Paraflexx lined dehydrator tray. [I used an ice cream scooper.] Use the back of a spoon to flatter the cookies into desired thickness. Shape edges for prettier cookies (and so no little bits dry and fall off).

Dehydrate at 145F for about 30 minutes to quick set the cookies. Reduce heat and continue to dry at 110F for about 60 minutes. Flip cookies and continue to dry for 60-90 more minutes.

Makes 10 cookies at about 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each.

NOTES:

EFA’s: If your diet is a little low on EFA’s (essential fatty acids 3-6-9), try adding a flax “egg” (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water). You might need to cut back on the date paste if you.

Baking: If you don’t have a dehydrator or don’t feel like using one, you can try baking the cookies. Try a low oven of around 200F and check on the cookies every 5 minutes. I’m guessing it will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes to dry out the cookies. (Be careful; without fat, these cookies will go from not-quite-done to burnt in the blink of an eye.)

Storage: Completely cool the cookies and store in an air tight container. You can probably store these outside of the frig, but I like to keep all of my goodies in the frig. [Remember, glass will help keep baked goods crispy, and plastic will help keep them soft. So, store according to texture preference.]

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Vegan MoFo: My Favorite Thing is…Oat Flour!

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Ok, so my MoFo’ing is off to a slow start. Here we are at day 6, and this is my first real post. At this rate, I won’t get to share very many of my favorite vegan things :-/

Regardless to my pace of posting (posting pace?), I wanted to get this month rolling with one of my very favorite ingredients…oats! And, more specifically, oat flour. Why oat flour versus the whole oat? Sometimes I react to whole oats, specifically oat meal. I use make a point to purchase organic, gluten free rolled oats (or steel cut/oat groats), but sometimes, when I eat oat meal, I almost feel asthmatic. I would probably feel the same if I ate an entire batch of whatever it is I make with the oat flour, but I’m usually able to control myself. Usually 😉

Back on track…Why do I love oat flour so much? It’s crazy versatile! I’ve had great luck substituting it one-for-one for in everything I’ve tried. (Given, I haven’t tried it with every recipe.)  But, I’ve great luck with pancakes, muffins, and…cookies! Yummy, yummy cookies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c oat flour

1/2 c rolled oats

1 c peanut butter

1 c fruit spread/jelly

1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water – combine and allow to gel)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking powder

Splash vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Sprinkle salt (if peanut butter is unsalted)

Combine dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder) and stir to combine. (I do this with a fork, but a sifter would work wonderfully. Just add the whole oats secondary.) Add wet ingredients (peanut butter, jelly, vanilla, flax egg). Stir just to combine ingredients. Scoop by large scooper (I used an ice cream scooper.) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten a little after scooping.

Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. (Check after 8 minutes if your oven runs hot.) Time will depend upon your oven and thickness of cookies. Remove cookies from cookie sheet right away (the oat flour will draw moisture and make the bottom of your cookies soggy), and cool on a wire rack.

My batch of dough made 16 large cookies, but don’t let that stop you from making them; they freeze well and reheat great too!

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Notes:

I thought these cookies are naturally sweet from the sweetness of the whole fruit spread, but if you’re feeding these to people who eat ‘traditional’ cookies, you might want to add a little liquid sweetener or your favorite non-nutritive sweetener. Additionally, if you want to turn these soft, cake-like cookies into muffins, try thinning out the batter with a little non-dairy milk. Mix-ins would be good too! Try crushed peanuts, diced pieces of whole fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Go crazy!

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Orange Gogi Berry Better Than Newtons

I’m back with another Low Fat Raw Vegan dessert recipe 🙂

Remember my Better Than Newton cookies from last year? No? Well, check them out; they’re delicious! And, they were so well received, I’ve considered selling them. I just need to do the costing and figure out packaging and labels and talk to some people, and, and, and. Sigh. That’s why I’ve only considered it.

Ok, onto this week’s LFRV recipe.

Orange Goji Berry Better Than Newtons

1 1/2 c chopped dates (pitted)

1 1/2 c chopped figs (stemmed)

1/4 c goji berries

2 – 4 TBSP orange juice, fresh squeezed

Start by juicing half of a medium orange. Juice will be roughly 1/4 c. Either put juice aside or use it to soak goji berries if they’re hard.

Add dates, figs and orange juice to bowl of food processor. (If you’re using the orange juice to soak the goji berries, remove the berries from the juice before adding to dates and figs.) Process until coarsely incorporated. Add goji berries and process until mixture forms a ball.

Use a small ice cream scooper to scoop balls of cookie mixture. Place cookie balls on a teflexx dehydrator sheet and flatten to desired thickness. Place teflexx sheet on mesh dehydrator sheet lined tray and dehydrate at 145F for an hour. Reduce heat to 105-110 and dehydrate three more hours. After three hours, cookies should be firm enough to peel off of teflexx sheet. Flip cookies and place onto mesh dehydrator sheet and dehydrate another 3-4 hours. Cookies should be firm to the touch, like an under-done oven-baked cookie. The outside will not be sticky, but the inside will be warm and gooey.

Store cookies in the refrigerator or freezer. Great cold/frozen or warmed in the dehydrator.

My batch made about 9 cookies at about 150 calories each.

I reluctantly shared one of these cookies with a friend, and the first thing she said was, “Wow! These are better than Newtons!”  I. Know!

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Low Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

Ok. This isn’t really a cake. But is is low fat. And it is vegan. And it does contain strawberries. Lots of strawberries. Yum!

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Low-Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

1 c (heaping) dried dates, pitted

1 c (heaping) dried figs, stemmed

1 1/2 quarts (about 3 cups) sliced strawberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 c coconut/palm sugar (optional)

Prep dates by removing  pits, if needed. Prep figs by removing stems. Roughly chop both and place into a food processor. Add juice of half a lemon. Process until pasty. (Mix may begin to form a ball; that’s ok!) Remove date/fig mix from processor and press into a small cake, brownie or pie pan. (Two mini tart pans would probably work too.)

Prep strawberries by washing and stemming all of them. Slice about half of the strawberries into thin slices and place them in a bowl. Top the sliced berries with coconut sugar (or other sweetener), if using. Set aside and allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes. Place the remaining berries in a food processor and pulse until berries become a chunky paste. 

Place processed berries on top of date/fig mix in pan. Refrigerate while remaining berries are macerating – about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and top with sliced berries. Return to refrigerator overnight for a more ‘cake’ like texture.

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Notes:

  • This dessert is surprisingly cake like after it sits overnight in the fridge. If you want to cut and serve as a cake, consider doubling the amount of dates/figs.
  • If adding fat is an option, process some shredded coconut or almonds/almond meal with the dates/figs. This will also make the base layer more cake like, and it will allow for cutting and removal of cake pieces from the pan.
  • For a more gel-like middle layer, add chia seeds to the processed berries.
  • My strawberries were very sour. (Strawberry season hasn’t hit my part of the country yet.) If yours are too, you may want to add sweetener to the processed berries as well. Remember, however, the sugar from the macerated berries on top will soak through to the processed layer as the cake sits.
  • For a sugar free cake, use a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia to macerate the berries.
  • If strawberries aren’t your thing, try a different berry or fruit. Blueberries naturally have an abundance of fruit pectin and will naturally gel on their own after they’re processed. If you make a blueberry cake, expect the middle layer to be much more gel-like than the strawberry cake. (Cherries would also make a delicious cake!)

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I love this recipe because it’s 80-10-10 friendly, and it fit nicely into my month of raw challenge. If you’re interested in incorporating more raw foods into your diet, join us for the Raw Fusion Challenge on Facebook. Everyone is welcome, regardless of your dietary choices, but the focus of the group is high-raw vegan.

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Virtual Vegan Potluck #3

I can’t believe it’s that time again…Virtual Vegan Potluck #3 is here!

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For the past two VVP’s, I’ve made desserts. (Click here and here to review my previous VVP posts.)  Surprised, aren’t you? Ha ha ha.  But, this time around, I’m shaking it up a bit, and I’m sharing a main course dish! Woohoo!

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve been eating a high-raw vegan diet off and on since last May. And I love it. It makes me feel my best. My heart doesn’t skip as much. My weight stays pretty stable. My energy levels are higher. I sleep better, and the list goes on. But, there are some popular foods in the raw-vegan circles that I’ve yet to embrace. Raw “noodles” is one of them. But, not one to be easily defeated, I keep trying. And this time, I think I got it! I’ve conquered my dislike of the raw noodle! Yes! Bring on the summer cucumbers and zucchinis!

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I’ve shared a recipe or two in the past that has featured raw zucchini noodles, and I’ve eaten and not disliked them, but I’ve never relished in their flavor. But, during my nightly watching of food related YouTube videos (I ❤ YouTube!), I stumbled upon a suggestion to peel the zucchini before using it. Hum…Why haven’t I tried that?! With this also came the revelation that I find the yellow summer squash milder in flavor than the green zucchini squash. A short trip to the store and a little digging for the spiralizer I bought last summer and promptly put in storage, and by golly, I think I got it!

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At the same time, I went ahead and spiralized a large, peeled cucumber, which I then squeezed in a kitchen towel to remove the excess water from the noodles. Success once again!

Both noodles went in the dehydrator for some warming while I made the sauces to cover each.

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First up, the sauce I used with the cucumbers. Sooooo gooood!

Raw Tomato-fredo Sauce (or Raw Tomato-fredo Hummus/Dip/Soup)

1/2 c cashews, soaked

1/2 c tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)

2 TBSP sun dried tomato powder (Read below to find out how to make your own!)

1/2 lg red bell pepper, diced

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder (all to taste)

First, make your sun dried tomato powder by grinding 1/4-1/2 cup frozen sun dried tomatoes in a small food processor or bullet style blender. After the tomatoes become a fine powder, add cashews, tomatoes, and red pepper to blender/food processor bowel and pulse to combine. Add seasonings and processes mixture until desired consistency is reached. (I left mine on the thick side, and it really stood up to the cucumber noodles.)  You might want to strain the resulting mix through a fine mesh strainer; this will enhance the flavor of your sauce and, of course, make it a little thicker 😉

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I loved this sauce on the cucumber noodles. I’m pretty sure I could spiralize three or four cucumbers and toss them with this sauce and call it a salad. I think some ripe olives and maybe some fresh herbs like parsley or a chiffonade of basil would be awesome adds to a cucumber and tomato-fredo noodle salad. Mmmm…

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I can also see myself using this sauce as a raw hummus type dip with raw veggies, spread on a lettuce leave for a raw sandwich or burrito, eaten with a spoon as a raw soup, and tossed with dehydrator warmed veggies for a primavera type dish.

For the second sauce, all I did was marinate some thinly sliced mushrooms in 2 TBSP of tahini and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. I stored the mix in a zip top bag so I could squish the mixture around a couple of times a day, making sure each ‘shroom was soaking in marinade. Then, I dumped the mushrooms and their marinate onto a plate and heated them in the dehydrator for a little while. Finally, I added the peeled, yellow summer squash noodles, mixed, and ate!

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As I was eating the mushrooms, I kept thinking how good it would be with a little tofu. So I added some 🙂

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Have you ever tried this tofu? I love it!

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All I did was slice the block into four slabs, then stacked the slabs and sliced them into long strips, then cut across the strips to create little blocks of tofu. I didn’t even have to press it! That’s why I love this stuff so much 🙂

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I gobbled up the rest of the noodles and shrooms after I added the tofu. Triple yum!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the VVP participants. Click here to start from the beginning, or click the photos below to work your way forward and/or backward through the VVP chain.

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Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

Happy Easter!

I whipped up these tasty little treats earlier this week, and have been enjoying and sharing them for days.

Staying with my theme of using as much left-over almond milk pulp as possible, the base for these cookies is almond pulp. If you don’t have almond pulp, almond meal/flour should work (your dough may require more liquid), and if you can’t have almonds, any nut/seed meal/pulp should work. I don’t know about grain based flours; they’re much denser, so you may have to play with the liquids a bit if you choose to use a base like that. Enjoy!

Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

1 c wet/fresh almond pulp

1 c dry/dehydrated almond pulp

1 large banana

10 regular sized dates, soaked

1/2 c shredded carrot

1/4 c raisins, soaked

1/4 c goji berries, soaked

1/4 c coconut shreds, unsweetened

1/2 c pecan pieces (or other nut)

2 t vanilla powder (or 1 TBSP vanilla extract)

1 t cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c water (use the date soak water for more sweetness)

Add almond pulp, banana, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 c water to food processor and pulse until combined. (You don’t want to see pieces of banana or date.) Then, either pulse in remaining chunky ingredients or fold in by hand.  Scoop cookie mix onto mesh dehydrator trays, flatten to form a cookie shape, and dehydrate until dry. NOTE: Do not flatten cookies by pressing into the mesh; the dough will squish through to the other side, and your cookies will be stuck on the tray. Lift each cookie and flatten it in your hands or on a solid service.

Dehydrator times will vary: I start the process at 145F for about an hour, then lower to about 110F. My cookies took 4-6 hours at this temp.

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The cookies become much darker as they dry.

If you want to “cook” these cookies in the oven, I’d suggest a lower temperature for a little bit longer time – perhaps 250-300F for 15-20 minutes. You want them dry to the touch and firm in the middle.

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

Thanks to everyone who commented for a chance to win the free download for the Vegan Delish app! The winner was LV, who said…

I’m always on the lookout for inspiration in cooking! Sometimes I’m just not very creative.

Congrats! Be on the lookout for more give-a-ways! (There are at least two book reviews/give-a-ways coming, and maybe more!)

Today, I’m sharing another recipe to help use up the never ending supply of almond pulp you probably have hogging valuable space in your freezer. No? Well, I do! I need to dehydrate some SOOOOO bad! That’s a weekend plan 😉 And, bonus, it uses my favorite nut butter…cashew!

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

1/4-1/2 c cashew butter, softened

2 TBSP date paste

1/4 c almond meal/flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla powder (optional)

Stevia or other additional sweetener (optional)

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Scoop into balls and sprinkle with vanilla powder. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes:

Cashew Butter: If you’re cashew butter is stiff and/or dry, heat it up. It heats up beautifully and will be nice and creamy again in no time. [Of course, if you can’t eat cashews, don’t have/like cashew butter, use something else :-)]

Vanilla powder: What’s vanilla powder? It’s just just ground vanilla bean and/or pod. It’s a lot stronger than extract, so be cautious before you dump it into something if you’re new to the product.

Optional Sweetener: I gave my mix a little squirt of liquid stevia, but it didn’t make much difference in the sweetness. You might want to try some maple syrup (You may need to increase you almond meal due to the extra liquid.) or some coconut sugar (You might have to loosen the mixture with a tiny splash of non-dairy milk or water to counteract the extra dry ingredient.) I can see these rolled in sugar, too. Yum!

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Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins are grain free, sugar free, soy free, oil free, and they can be nut free if you’d like them to be. But, most importantly, they’re not free of flavor; they’re delicious!

Strawberry Banana Muffins

2 c almond meal*

2 medium bananas (very ripe), blended until liquified

1/2 c strawberries, chopped (frozen/thawed is fine)

2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 heaping tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp warm water)

1 TBSP chia seeds (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp baking soda (This might not be necessary; I added it to neutralize the acid.)

Optional: Stevia or other sweetener to taste

Thoroughly combine dry ingredients. Add wet. Stir to combine. Fold in strawberries. Spoon into muffin tins (or cupcake holders) and bake 12-15 minutes at 350F.

Notes:

Almond Meal: I use almond meal that I create from left-over almond milk pulp. I freeze it until the bags start sliding out of the freezer when I open the door (ha!); then I thaw and dehydrate it. After that, I process it in the food processor until it’s a fine grind. It stores very well in a glass container forever – as far as I know. I’m guessing you could use fresh almond milk pulp for these, too. You might need less flax if your meal is wetter/heavier. Since mine was so dry, I added the extra flax for it’s gelling power.

Almond Fee/Seed Options: If you can’t or don’t want to use almond meal, I’m sure a different nut or seed meal would work; make your own by grinding your favorite nut or seed until forms a fine powder, or use left-over nut or seed pulp from any nut or seed.

Grain Option: Don’t care if your muffins are grain free? Sub out the almond meal for oat flour. Equal parts should work. I would reduce the flax egg down to one, however. And, you may need to adjust (lessen) the cooking time.

Flax Eggs: If you don’t have flax, or don’t want to use flax, I’m sure a chia egg would work well here (or whatever egg substitute you prefer).

Chia Seeds: I like to add chia seeds to my muffins for extra Omega 3’s, especially if I use something high in Omega 6’s (like peanut butter). I also like that they’re high in protein, calcium, iron, fiber and tons of other stuff. Well, high for their size. They’re little powerhouses!

Sweetener: I didn’t add any sweetener, but if your strawberries aren’t sweet enough (of if your bananas aren’t super ripe and sugary sweet), you might want to add a little stevia or your favorite nutritive sweetener. I think coconut sugar would work great in these!

Cooking Time: Don’t be afraid to bake these for a while. The almond meal is pretty wet, so it might take a while to cook. Our oven runs a little cool, so mine took a full 15 minutes (plus). You don’t want there to be much give in the middle if you push on one while it’s in the oven.

Keepin’ it raw? I think these would be great as muffin tops in the dehydrator. On their own, all of the ingredients are considered raw 🙂 If you choose to try this, place a large scoop of mixture on a paraflexx sheet and dehydrate for one hour at 145F, then lower the temp to 115-110F until the muffin tops are firm to the touch. I don’t know how long this will take, but most things I dehydrate take at least 12 hours. Try leaving them in over night and go from there 🙂

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