Friday, October 30, 2009

Almond Poppyseed Bread

This sweet and simple quick bread serves as a great breakfast treat, dessert, or snack.  The sweet potato flour makes it extra moist!

1 1/4 c. maple syrup
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbl. poppy seeds
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sour milk or buttermilk
(sour milk: 3/4 tsp. vinegar + 3/4 c. milk/milk alternative; let stand 5 minutes)
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl whisk together maple syrup, extracts, milk, and oil.  In a separate bowl stir together sweet potato flour, lima bean flour, salt, baking powder, poppy seeds, and xanthan gum.  Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and whisk until well combined.  Pour batter into a lightly greased and parchment paper lined loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Allow to completely cool before slicing. 

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coconut Cupcakes

These might possibly be the most decadent vegan and gluten free treats I have ever tasted! They will satisfy any sweet tooth whether dietary restrictions apply or not!

Makes 10 cupcakes

1 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tray with cupcake liners.  In a bowl whisk together coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.  In a separate bowl combine sweet potato flour, amaranth flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Distribute batter evenly in lined muffin cups -- filling approximately 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Allow to cool, then frost.  For frosting ideas follow the links: Vegan Frosting or Buttercream Frosting.

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soft Raisin Cookies

These gluten-free, egg free, and dairy free treats are moist and chewy! 
Makes 8 cookies

1/2 c. honey
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 Tbl. flax meal + 3Tbl. warm water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix flax meal and water in small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.  In a larger bowl stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and xanthan gum.  In a separate bowl cream together coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and the flax-water combination until completely smooth.  Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and stir until combined.  Add walnuts and raisins and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Scoop 1/4 cup portions, roll into balls, and press flat (about 1/2 inch thick) on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Note: if egg allergies are not a concern 1 egg can be added and the flax-water combination can be omitted. 

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis

Mesquite Cookie Bars

These mesquite cookie bars are tasty, quick, and easy. The delicious flavor of the mesquite is highlighted by cinnamon, while its sweetness is brought out by raisins and honey!

1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. raisins
3 Tbl. canola oil
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. water
1 Tbl. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside. In a separate bowl whisk together honey, oil, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and mix well. Add raisins and walnuts and mix until completely incorporated. Spread dough evenly into lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

*Do not over bake. It is important to keep a close eye on recipes calling for mesquite. Mesquite can burn more easily that other flours.

Recipe adapted by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Betsy's Latest Peruvian Visit

written by Betsy Power
I have fallen in love with Peru. My love affair began last year during my first journey to this land of contrasts. From its desert coastal regions, stunning mountains, and wild jungles, the range of cultures, foods, and climates crammed into one relatively small country is mind-blowing. I have recently returned from my second journey, equally smitten, and laden with unique foods I hope to share with my fellow Americans.

After a three-day food show in the capital city of Lima, I escaped the mega-metropolis, and headed for the “white city” of Arequipa, dwarfed by giant volcanoes that looked more like enormous conical piles of ash. An inspiring community-based agriculture project brought me to this Southern region. I met with the head of the non-profit that has helped to organize over 500 independent indigenous farmers in hard to reach areas. These producers grow native grains (kañiwa, kiwicha, quinoa), maize, and beans and have formed associations to increase their market power.

Out of necessity, these associations have begun to focus on only one variety of, for example, native kiwicha (amaranth), to have enough volume to compete in the market. Yet, each producer has at least a handful of other varieties in multiple gorgeous colors and with varying characteristics. As they dedicate more land to the single varietals, precious heritage varieties may get lost. Both my host and I were excited to come up with the plan for me to review the varieties available and establish contracts with the farmers for future harvests to, in effect, create a secure demand for these heritage grains. 

My next stop, the region of Lago Titicaca, the highest fresh water lake in the World, is home to an organic trout producer that had me sold after the first bite. Truchas Arapa is an association of trout farmers on the neighboring lake of Arapa.

Over 200 families working together to produce certified organic trout in a country where organic = huh? These un-conventionally educated folks have taken the implausible steps to protect their environment against invading oil companies, pesticides, and chemical pigments.

As usual I was treated with the red carpet – personal row-boat ride out to the floating trout farms, first pour of local wine into a plastic cup, and the best fresh food this side of the equator. When it was time to say good-bye, I had to wrestle some of the shier fisherman to the ground for the customary kiss on the cheek. I NEVER voluntarily miss my share of kisses.

Next I hit Cusco, one of my favorite cities, and a good location from which to discover the wonders of the Andes. I first headed to the salt producing community of Maras – the most unique salt producers I have ever seen or heard of – using sea salt harvesting techniques in the mountains. This is not mined salt; No mountains are disturbed to bring this beautiful rose salt to market. Instead, warm salt water continuously bubbles up from a deep mountain spring and feeds the ancient Incan pozos or salt ponds that are owned by over 400 families.

The ponds are handed down through the generations, since Incan times, and are not allowed to be sold. My tour guide and the president of the Association looked like a blast from Incan past! These salt farmers do not receive a fair price for this beautiful product, but instead sell to others who have the wherewithal to export. I am hoping we can change this.

On Monday, I visited the women of Paccarectambo, a two-hour butt-numbing dirt road ride up into the Andes towards the Sacred Valley. An 8-year project with a local NGO has helped create a women-owned business that supports over 400 women and their families in six neighboring communities.

I am in love with these women! With little to no education they have turned their lives around from having no economic power, to making the money necessary to send their children to school and improve their basic needs AND to actually employing their husbands!

They produce medicinal teas based on ancient recipes and native herbs – everything organic. Unfortunately folks in Peru could care less about organic, and these women desperately need a market to sustain their business, and continue to motivate more women in these resource-strapped communities.

Everywhere I go in these high mountains, I am continually blown away by the ancient knowledge of the medicinal properties of the local flora. Herbs, roots, flowers – everything has a use. And most of these areas have never been touched by pesticides or GMO crops.

It is a wonderland for food lovers. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we will soon be able to offer many of these products to foodies in the US, and in the process contribute to the creation of self-sustaining communities in Peru.