I first discovered Date Syrup while perusing my local International Grocer. Since I had been on a raw-food-dessert kick, I was using A LOT of dates as a binder and sweetener. Lots-o-Dates can take quite a chunk out of the Ol’ Grocery Budget, so when I saw a jar of Date Syrup (ingredients: dates) for less than $5, I just thought “CHA-CHING! This is gonna save me the BIG BUCKS!!” When I was experimenting with this Carrot Cake Muffin recipe, the Date Syrup added a delightful richness that the low-carb sweeteners alone could not accomplish. Oooooooo I was so excited. I made multiple batches of the muffins to test amongst various groups of hungry people, and they were received with RAVE REVIEWS!!!
I high-tailed it back to the International Grocer to restock my Date Syrup stores and THEY DIDN’T HAVE ANY!!! I went to the higher-end Grocery Store and was shocked that amongst their healthy-alternative-sweeteners, THEY DIDN’T HAVE ANY, EITHER!!! Despite the protests from my pocketbook, I headed to the way-too-expensive HealthFoodStore, as a last resort. They carried a teensy, tiny jar of Date Syrup for over $7, that could barely make one batch of muffins. Unacceptable! Naturally, I chose to make my own date syrup (here is one online source for instructions), and the recipe turned out just as good.
I want to provide multiple options, depending on accessibility, time and money: these muffins can be made and are still SPECTACULAR!
**Just a friendly reminder: I REALLY hate to endorse/advertise for/insist upon specific brands of ingredients. In this particular recipe, I list Madhava AgaveFIVE specifically because the flavor is so nice and the carbs are SO acceptable. If you are not so concerned about carbs, by all means: use full-blown agave nectar or honey. My nutritional calculations are for the AgaveFIVE, though.
***I did not specify a specific protein powder to use, other than “Plain”. I don’t really want to participate in a this-vs-that protein powder debate… soy, whey, pea, sprouted brown rice… you choose what you like. These nutritional calculations are for sprouted brown rice protein.
****You can cut way back on the fat by substituting unsweetened applesauce for the coconut oil, but I am a BIG coconut oil and Good Fats Fan, so I choose to stick with the slightly greasy and good fatty version 🙂
Carrot Cake Muffins
(protein packed, grain free, no sugar, lower carb)
¾ cup coconut flour
2 Tbs plain protein powder (optional)
2 Tbs flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 lb peeled and shredded carrots
½ cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Tbs vanilla extract
½ cup date syrup
¾ cup Madhava AgaveFIVE (or full-blown-agave-nectar-of-choice)
½ cup bake-able stevia (the kind that measures 1:1 like sugar)
1 cup coconut oil, warm and liquidy
In a large bowl, combine the shredded carrots with ¼ cup date syrup, ½ cup AgaveFIVE sweetener and ½ cup bake-able stevia. Stir to evenly coat the carrots, then loosely cover and allow to macerate for at least 1 hour. Strain the carrots and gently press out the excess moisture. Discard or repurpose the liquid (you could use it for Chia Puddings or Overnight Oats!)
Combine the dry ingredients (coconut flour, protein powder, flax meal, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, allspice) and add it to the strained carrot mixture. Stir and fluff the carrots to evenly coat with the dry ingredients. Add the raisins and walnuts and toss a bit more to evenly distribute.
Blend together the remaining wet ingredients (eggs, ¼ cup date syrup, ¼ cup AgaveFIVE, vanilla, melted coconut oil) and then use a hand mixer to add to the carrot mixture.
*This can be a little tricky because coconut oil sometimes cools-off and solidifies, making big white chips in your batter mixture. Do your best to mix it all together and break up any white chunks that form.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Fill the cups almost to the top. I like to gently smooth out the tops of the muffins into a little mound. These muffins don’t really rise, in the traditional sense, so this step is really just about the presentation.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can stick in a toothpick and pull it out clean.
Allow to mostly cool before serving.
Makes 24 muffins.
These freeze well for future snacking, or you can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about a week.
I love to ferment. I love to eat fermented foods. I love to share probiotic health with friends, family and strangers. Did I mention that I love fermented foods? I do. I really, really do.
Escabeche is a traditional Latin dish. I did not invent it AT ALL. In fact, the reason I am sharing it is because I have been serving it recently at gatherings and potlucks, and people are very excited for my recipe. So, here it is! On the interwebs! Yay!
3 cups sliced fresh carrots
1 cup sliced onions/shallots
1 cup sliced fresh ginger (peeled)
1 cup sliced jalapenos
1 cups sliced sweet peppers
¼ cup sliced fresh (or fermented) garlic
¼ cup sliced fresh (or fermented) turmeric root
¼ cup sea salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh marjoram
Distilled or spring water
Large grape leaf or cabbage leaf.
In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine all ingredients except the salt, water and marjoram.
Add the salt to the bowl and gently massage into the vegetables to coat (you may want to glove-up for this. DON’T RUB YOUR EYES DURING OR AFTER PREPARATION OF THIS DISH!!! Also, bedroom activities can get pretty exciting-in-a-bad-way if you don’t thoroughly remove all the pepper and ginger oils from your skin.)
*Optional: cover the bowl and leave sitting out at room temperature overnight. The salt will start to pull the juices from the vegetables and make for a better (in my opinion) ferment.
Place the marjoram sprig in the bottom of a clean, dry glass jar (if using multiple smaller jars, put a small sprig of marjoram in each).
Stuff the jar(s) full of the vegetable mixture. Gently press as many vegetables as possible into the jar, taking care not to actually crush the vegetables. The goal is to avoid having any air pockets in the jar.
DO NOT OVER-FILL THE JAR. Only fill to the level of the “shoulder”… about ½”- 1 inches below the lip.
Pour whatever juices are left in the mixing bowl into the jar(s). If vegetables are not totally covered by liquid, add a tiny bit of distilled/spring water until all veggies are submerged.
Use a cabbage leaf or grape leaf to cover all the veggies and hold them beneath the surface.
Put a lid on your jar, and store in the dark, at room-temperature to ferment.
Start taste-testing the veggies after 2 weeks.
**if you are having an escabeche emergency and need to speed up the fermentation, you can add 2 Tbs of liquid whey. Escabeche should be tasty in 4-6 days, but you can’t feed it to your vegan friends any more.
***tips: “burp” the jar every couple days to keep excessive pressure from building. I’ve heard explosions can happen, though I don’t know anyone who has experienced one.
**** sometimes a whitish film forms on top of the ferment. This happens when your veggie matter breaks the surface of the liquid and is exposed to air. Most fermentation experts agree that it is totally acceptable to skim the film off the surface to discard, and it causes not harm to the ferment.
Nutritional Estimates are SUPER estimate-y because things transform during fermentation, and I don’t know how to calculate that! Estimates are for a ½ cup serving
*Do research about hygiene, contamination and possible risks of fermenting foods. Weigh the benefits of probiotics and fermented foods vs the possible hazards. Make informed decisions. This is merely a recipe that I enjoy and the methods I use. Proceed at your own risk.
It seems a bit pretentious to call this a “recipe”, as it’s really more of an assemblage, but they are SO GOOD that I had to document it for the betterment of society (that’s not too pretentious to say, is it?) I brought a tray of the vegan version to my monthly potluck, and it has been requested with enthusiasm ever since! I may never get to bring a different dish 😉
I get on a kick where I eat one of these for lunch, every day. It brightens my day and gives me an optimistic mood for the afternoon!
Escabeche Stuffed Avocados (Vegan)
1 juicy lime
1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
½ cup fermented escabeche, drained and coarsely chopped
1 ripe, medium sized avocado
Cut an avocado in half and remove the pit.
Mix the cilantro into the escabeche and spoon it into the little avocado cave.
Squeeze a lime over the avocado and eat it directly out of the skin with a spoon.
*You can make these in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container. The lime juice prevents the avocados from turning ugly 🙂
OH, how I love the Avocado filled with Escabeche…
OHHHHH, how I considered it the perfect food…
UNTIL I kept seeing photos online of baked eggs in avocados (like this one)… Finally I gave it a whirl, and gee-boy-howdy… not bad at all 🙂
Avocado with Egg and Escabeche (vegetarian)
1 juicy lime
1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
½ cup fermented escabeche, drained and coarsely chopped
1 ripe medium sized avocado
2 medium eggs
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.
Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out a bit extra from the void left from the pit (you want a space that will fit about 2 Tbs).
Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into a small bowl, and plopping one yolk into each avocado half.
Spoon the egg whites over the yolks, just filling the void from the pit (do NOT overfill).
Balance the avocado halves in a pan, or ramekin, and carefully place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the whites are “set”.
**If you are not planning to eat these immediately, I recommend transferring the avocados posthaste to the freezer for 5-10 minutes, to stop the cooking process and cool them for storage.
Combine the escabeche and cilantro.
If serving the avocados hot, wait to cover with cold escabeche until RIGHT BEFORE consumption.
If you plan on serving/consuming the avocados cold, you can apply the escabeche/cilantro mixture at any point and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.