Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies

by Amanda Paa on September 16, 2014

Coconut Chocolate Chip Blondies Treat yourself Tuesday is here – let there be chocolate! I posted these Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies a few weeks ago on Instagram and many of you asked for the recipe, but I hadn’t quite perfected the recipe. I’m still learning how to bake with coconut flour and the first version ended up a little more crumbly than I would have liked (because it absorbs way more liquid compared to grain flours). They tasted amazing, the whole pan was gone in two days, but I wanted to make sure they were Midwest “bar” material, meaning portable and potluck worthy.

Coconut Chocolate Chip BlondiesA few more pans were made – tweaks to how much many bananas, the number of eggs, and coconut oil were happily tested. And finally these beauties came out just perfect.

They’re quick and easy to make, using only one bowl and just a few ingredients. I found that adding just a little bit of oat flour was best for the texture. Super soft and chewy, it’s hard to resist just one of these coconutty, chocolaty bars. No one would ever know they’re actually loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals.

I could have tried using an unrefined sweetener like maple syrup or honey, but let’s be real – all blondies MUST have brown sugar.

gluten-free chewy coconut chocolate chip bars | heartbeet kitchen Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free (if you use dairy-free chocolate chips) they’re a sweet treat that all can swoon over. Mixing the coconut oil and brown sugar creates such a fabulous aroma that will make you want to eat the batter by the spoonful. I love the flavor combination, there’s just something so right about bananas and chocolate together.  

Coconut Chocolate Chip Blondies | heartbeet kitchenThe result is truly delicious. And who doesn’t need another way to use overripe bananas? Hop on over to Valerie’s beautiful and inspiring blog, Nuance and Bubbles, for the recipe, where I’m happy to be guest posting today. Valerie is originally from Toronto and now lives in Puerto Rico – I have to say the scenes of her everyday life make me a little jealous (which you’ll get to see a little of when she guest posts here next week).

She and I met through Twitter, when she was getting ready to make my Hip Green Dip and let me know that she was waiting for the “avocado truck” to roll past her house. Hello….awesome. But more importantly, her and I connected over all things that nourish a strong woman. When I went to her blog and saw the inspiring space she had created I knew I had found something special. I think you’ll find the same, and such wonderful creativity too, like funky travel, style and lifestyle scenes.

So without further ado…. get the recipe for these delish blondies and have a lovely Tuesday!  

Coconut Chocolate Chip Blondies


2 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Recipe Box, Sweets, Vegetarian

How Cooking Leads to Health Beyond Nutrition

by Amanda Paa on September 9, 2014

I know I’m not the first one to tell you that good health comes from a combination of things, intertwined within our mind, body and soul. Often we think of nutrition and physical activity first even though mindfulness and self-care are equally as important. Admittedly I was one of those people throughout much of my life until I had one of those lightbulb moments a few years ago that I wanted to share with you today on behalf of Silk. I’m happy to work them on this project, to help us all learn from each and support each in other feeling good about ourselves both mentally and physically.

Sometimes I think we get overwhelmed trying to do it all: eat like this, do these exercises, schedule time with friends, be mindful of how much you’re relaxing, etc. But isn’t it funny how sometimes all those things can start to fall into place when we start to focus on each of them separately?

When I took some time to reflect on what has impacted my overall wellness, I realized that much of it began to fall into place with one small change several years ago. One that had a multitude of positive effects on my health beyond nutrition, one that I think you’ll find realistic and limitless:

I’m so grateful for the balance and healthy changes that I started to experience…..

1. Newfound Creativity: I’ve been a Type A person since I came out of the womb. I’m the the girl whose American Girl doll that she got from Santa is still in the box, still with the plastic around her necklace, afraid she might get dirty. I was fearful of trying new things because I might not do it right. But when I began to cook, I felt much of that thinking move to the wayside. Since I didn’t really know what I was doing anyways, I didn’t have anything or anyone to compare myself with. Instead it became a game for me to try a new recipe or pick up an unfamiliar new ingredient from the market and see what happened. It was the thrill of the unknown rather than the fear. And wow did it feel amazing…. something that I knew I didn’t want to let go of.

2. Satisfying Friendships : After realizing that cooking was something I really enjoyed I decided to get involved with the local food community. If you live in the Twin Cities, you know how blessed we are to have so many supportive folks who celebrate everything food. There are several different groups, but Fortify is where I have met friends that I know will be a part of my life forever. They are talented, down to earth and caring souls that bring me a sense of belonging and happiness.

Photo Credit

3. Soulful Meditation: I never would have guessed how relaxing working with food could be. Chopping vegetables, pitting a bucket of cherries, patiently stirring creamy risotto, or rolling out a beautiful pie crust – they all bring me a sense of calm. I stop thinking about the rest of my worries or parts of the day that might not been ideal. Even though I’m focusing on what I’m doing, my mind is free.

4. Being More in Tune With Your Body: When you’re closer to the food you eat, the more you start to learn what your body truly needs and makes you feel the best. Every person’s body is built differently, so we must adjust accordingly. The only way to figure that out is to pay a little more attention to how you feel physically and emotionally with the nutrition side of things. I’ve found that it has improved my body image too. There’s a sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from being the one behind your nourishment.

I know that cooking is not the end all to living a healthy lifestyle, but I truly believe and am grateful for the balanced wellness it has brought to me. Once I got a taste of the happiness it brought me, it was hard to stop. And so my hope for you is that you are maybe a little inspired, to start cooking if it’s something you aren’t used to doing or even just being more in the moment when you in the kitchen, allowing yourself to see the wonderful ways that it can bring us peace. I’d love to hear below if you’ve experienced any of these things or others from being in the kitchen.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk but all opinions and text are mine. I feel strongly about living a full, healthy and happy life and I’m glad that Silk does too. You can visit their website to find more ideas for incorporating soy protein into your healthy lifestyle, learn about their products, or visit them on Facebook.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

0 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Cooking Techniques, Recipe Box, Seasonal

Five Recipes To Make Before Summer Ends

by Amanda Paa on September 6, 2014

Black Rice Noodles with Broccoli and Seasame Ginger SauceThe weather may be a bit cooler, but summer doesn’t officially end until September 21st. As I mentioned in my last post, there’s a beautiful collision of summer and fall happening right in front of eyes at the market. So before I start recommending you eat winter squash for every meal of the day, here are some of my photos and ideas of the five recipes you should make before the leaves start to fly:

1. Black Rice Noodles with Broccoli and Sesame Ginger Sauce from Relishing It | I picked up these funky, gluten-free Lotus Foods Black Rice Noodles from my co-op (Whole Foods also carries them) without knowing what to make with them and like a recipe fairy, Laurie posted this fantastic dish just a few days later. As with all her recipes, this one is full of flavor and market fresh ingredients. I loved it! To make it gluten-free, I used tamari instead of soy and omitted the hoisin sauce. Then I added more fresh ginger and rice vinegar to replace the “oomph” that might have been lost from my substitutions. (picture above)

Alpaca Burger with Garlic Chive Pesto | heartbeet kitchen2. Your favorite burger + a glass of dry rose’ | This summer I tried alpaca meat for the first time after getting to know a local purveyor. It tastes similar to pork, no gamey taste all, and is even leaner than bison. These burgers were stuffed with Big Woods Blue from my cheese CSA (yes, you heard right – delicious, artisan cheese for every month) and topped with garlic chive pesto for one amazing juicy lucy. I’ll be making them again, this time with basil pesto, which I’ll freeze the excess into ice cubes for use throughout the winter.

Avocado + Zucchini Butter Toast | heartbeet kitchen3. Avocado and Zucchini Butter Toast | I’d surely pay $4 for this slice of heaven at one of those fancy toast bars. The “Genius Recipes” column of Food 52 is one of my favorites for new ideas and this zucchini butter intrigued me from the moment I read “its simpler than you’d ever think, and tastes richer than any vegetable has a right to” Boy were they right. It reminds me of how amazing caramelized onions are, deep with flavor and a silkyness that can only be achieved by cooking out the water. I used a mix of grated zucchini and yellow summer squash, but any type of summer squash will work.

Farmer's Market Cornbread (gluten-free) 4. Farmers Market Cornbread from The Bojon Gourmet | Alanna posted this recipe and I put it on my “to make” list immediately. You must hop over and gush at her photos, I’m amazed every time I read a new post. This gluten-free cornbread recipe is hearty enough to be dinner, (I actually ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner because it was so good), completely perfect, embracing everything that summer has to offer. Fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, peppers and onions – all baked into the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted. You must make this.

Zucchini Noodles with Blistered Tomatoes & Olive Tapenade5. Zucchini Noodles with Blistered Tomatoes & Olive Tapenade | While writing Smitten with Squash, I experimented with quite a few “zoodle” recipes. Two others made the book, but this one came on such a whim that I never got around to writing the recipe for it. It comes together within 5 minutes thanks to an inexpensive julienne peeler and pre-made olive tapenade. I can’t stress enough how delicious this is, with just the right amount of salty to go with the slightly sweet and clean zucchini.

To make the blistered tomatoes, throw a handful of the beauties into a hot pan with about two teaspoons of olive oil and salt. Cook them over high heat for about 5 minutes, until they start to sizzle and pop. Shake the pan often to keep them moving and when they’ve broken down and squidgy, remove them when the heat and toss them with a little more salt and a pinch ofpepper. Add them to a heaping pile of zucchini noodles, stir in a dollop of olive tapenade, and garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoy this lovely weekend and if there are any recipes you suggest I make before summer ends, let me know in the comments below! And one other quick update, I added a few more book events for September and if you’re anticipating winter squash season as much as I am, you can purchase Smitten with Squash here for lots of inspiration.


12 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Fall, Main Dish, Recipe Box, Salad, Seasonal, Summer, Vegetarian

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam

by Amanda Paa on August 31, 2014

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam | heartbeet kitchenAlthough the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was made for the holidays, I find the lyrics playing in my head as I stroll down the aisles of the farmers market these days. Tomatoes of all colors, crisp cucumbers, zucchini of every size, bags full of sweet corn piled high, winter squash, pears and apples just starting to arrive. It’s the true essence of a beautiful summer meets fall collision.

I also enjoy listening to the chatter on Twitter and in the office, people bouncing ideas off one other for what to do with this or that from their over abundant gardens. Fortunately, one of these conversations worked out quite nicely for me, as I was gifted 4 pounds of these gorgeous little Seckel pears from a co-worker of Brian’s whose tree is plumb full this year. We ate several of them straight from the bag and sliced onto socca with blue cheese, honey and walnuts.

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jams | a canning recipe
Seckel pears are the sweetest and the smallest of the pear family and look like a blushing bosc, which you’ll commonly find in grocery stores. They have a delicious spice flavor to them and a fresh crispness even when ripe. Those qualities make them perfect for simmering and preserving into this Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam. Swoon……

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam | heartbeet kitchen
This recipe is a slight adaptation from the master preserving wizard herself, Marisa of Food in Jars, who made this brown sugar based pear jam. With the addition of flaky sea salt and double the simmering time, this version resembles caramel decadence in jam form. The brown sugar boils down into a sticky, sweet mess, and the addition of cardamom is what autumn comfort is all about.

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam | a canning recipe Cardamom is one of my favorite warming spices, such a lovely match to the slight spice of the seckel pears. I ground the seeds of the green pods with a mortar and pestle, it’s scent so unique – a hint of eucalyptus and citrus and cloves. Used this way the spice is quite potent, which is why you’ll see two measurements – one for if you grind it yourself, the other if you buy it pre-ground, where exposure to air tames it down a bit.

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam |small batch canning | heartbeet kitchen
Getting this jam to set couldn’t be easier. It naturally happens as the fruit simmers for an hour and the juice of a lemon at the end gives it the acidity it needs for canning safety, no artificial pectin needed. I peeled half of the pears, but left the others with the skin on because I like a little bit of texture. (If you like something completely smooth, this Vanilla Chai Pear Butter is delicious too.) The end result is lush, fudgy preserves that are just sweet enough with the addition of salt for that homemade caramel taste.

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam | heartbeet kitchenIt’s ideal match is toast, but let me tell you, it’s amazing on ice cream or stirred into steel cut oats. Or if you’re like me, just plain licked from the spoon as you’re cooking it. Enjoy this jam and the beginning of September my friends. xo

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam

Makes 3 half-pint jars
barely adapted from Food in Jar’s recipe

3 ¼ pounds of pears, half of them peeled (I used Seckel, but I think any variety would work)
1 1/4 cups lightly packed brown sugar (not firmly packed)
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of one large lemon
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom if you grind it yourself in a mortar and pestle or spice mill (it’s more intense this way so less is needed)

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jams | a canning recipe 1. Sterilize jars in boiling water canner, lids too if you are using those made prior to 2013. See new rules about canning regulations regarding lids here.

2. Coarsely chop the pears, then combine them with the sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer, stirring frequently and lightly mash with a potato masher the pears soften, until the mixture thickens and is syrupy. This will take about 45 minutes, and you will see larger bubbles forming in the simmer. Stir in the salt, lemon juice and cardamom, then simmer for 2 more minutes.

3. Ladle the hot preserves into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims. Center the lids on the jars. Apply bands until the fit is just tight.

4. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes then remove the jars and let cool in a draft-free spot overnight. Check the lids for seal after 24 hours – they should not flex up and down when the center is pressed. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to mess with the canning, you can skip the whole jar sterilizing and boiling water bath process and just store in clean, air-tight jars in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam | heartbeet kitchen

22 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Appetizer, Breakfast, Canning and Preserving, Cooking Techniques, Fall, Featured Recipes, Recipe Box, Seasonal, Sweets, Winter

Socca for One : With Sundried Tomatoes, Kale & Kalamata OlivesHave you ever heard of socca? I hadn’t either until I craved a crispy flatbread after learning of my gluten allergy several years ago. Imagine your favorite thin crust pizza only made of chickpea flour & a little olive oil, cooked on a blistering hot cast iron skillet. It’s a fine example of crunchy deliciousness that makes the perfect single lady meal when topped with in season fixings.

Solo dinners happen quite often around here in summer, as I enjoy coming home to relax and Brian likes to head out for an evening round of golf or a soccer game. As two very independent people, we both support each other in doing the things that make us happy whether that be together or alone. It’s part of the reason our relationship works.

Socca for One : With Sundried Tomatoes, Kale and Kalamata OlivesBut on to the main topic –> Socca originated in France which surprised me. I figured it came from somewhere like India where they make many different flatbreads out of ground grains or lentils. Since I now have a grainmill, I can grind chickpeas and have super fresh flour, a very nice perk thanks to their team. I do have to say that grinding beans takes a little longer than grains because you have to grind fewer at a time otherwise the mill will jam. Not that I would know. Oops.

You’ll probably find several different ways to make socca around the internet, but my preferred method is to  mix it with equal parts water and a splash of olive oil, then sear it in a smoking hot cast iron skillet that’s been preheated in the oven. When I have fresh herbs on hand, I throw them into the batter, along with a pinch of garlic powder.

Socca for One : With Sundried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and KaleBut the best thing about socca? It works with every season or whatever you have mingling in your fridge, which is exactly how this version came about. I massaged a few kale leaves, chopped up some kalamata olives, green onions and sundried tomatoes, then sprinkled it with some fresh feta. It reminded me of a “just picked from the garden” salad on flatbread. Simple flavors, simply good.

And a single lady dinner wouldn’t be complete without a glass of wine now would it? I enjoyed it my favorite Chardonnay, but a Pinot Grigio would be just as nice. Bon appetit!

 Socca for One : With Sundried Tomatoes, Kale and Feta

Adapted from The Kitchn and Dolly and Oatmeal

½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch of garlic powder
½ cup cup thinly sliced kale, massaged for a few minutes to soften in it
handful each of chopped kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and green onions
feta cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place cast iron skillet (mine is a 10 inch) inside of it. Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl using a whisk. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven using oven mitts. Set on a burner, which you turn onto high heat. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Whisk the chickpea batter quickly and then pour into the hot skillet. Tilt the pan so the batter coats the entire surface of the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip socca and cook for another 2 minutes. Return skillet to oven, turn to broil and cook for 4 minutes until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and scatter toppings onto socca. Cut into wedges and serve.

14 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Appetizer, Fall, Main Dish, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter