Bacon Jalapeno Cheesecake

jalapeno cheesecake

Continuing my tale of my favorite “F” words.  Today’s “F” word (no worries, still G-rated) is FAITH.  For anyone that follows me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that my faith is oh-so-important to me. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” [Heb 11:1].  And this great hope is what I cling to.  I must cling to hope.

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Life is crazy uncertain and challenging at times.  I didn’t plan to have my job and my sense of security pulled out from under me, my friend didn’t plan to lose her husband at such a young age, and I’m certain my new friend (who I know only through Facebook) never dreamed of battling cancer. We each face our own challenges, but we hope God has a greater purpose for us, we hope greater things will come out of these events, and we hope to come out stronger on the other side of whatever battles we face.  Faith is what gives each of us great hope.

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On a much lighter note, but still regarding Faith, I’m thankful my family has Faith in my cooking and baking skills…  Even when I throw something crazy at them, like a Bacon Jalapeno Cheesecake!faith 4

This cake was met with rave reviews, so I wanted to share the recipe with you now.  Have a slice and have faith that you will make it through whatever challenge you’re facing.

jalapeno cheesecake
BACON JALAPENO CHEESECAKE

vegan, grainfree, no refined sugars

Ingredients:

  • 1c raw cashews (soak for at least two hours and drain)
  • 1/2c non-dairy milk
  • 1/2t organic lemon juice
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1T nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 jalapeno(s)  [seeds removed… unless you want it super spicy!]
  •  3T lucuma powder
  • 3T  Maca powder
  • 1/3c melted cacao butter
  • 1/8t+ stevia to sweeten

Topping:

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Directions:

Here’s the easy part if the ingredients overwhelmed you.  in a blender (I use a vitamix), begin blending your cashews and liquids until super smooth.  Once it’s nice and creamy, begin adding your dry ingredients and your jalapeno!  Sweeten with stevia.

You should have a very thick and creamy batter.  If it’s not spicy enough, add more jalapeno.  If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more stevia.  Too thick? Add a little non-dairy milk, though it should be very thick.  Too thin? Add a little more maca and lucuma.

Now that you have your “batter” at the right consistency.  Grease two small ramekin dishes or a 4″ spring form ban and pour in your batter.  Let sit in the freezer for at least 4 hours.  Thaw for 20min before serving and top with the uber tasty “bacon” before serving.

Have a little Faith, because this tastes ah-mazing!faith 2

I Can’t Believe it’s not BACON!

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What’s your favorite “F” word?  I have several (and no, nothing bad, sorry to disappoint!), and in no particular order they are: Food, Faith, Family and Fitness.  After a great Father’s day spent with both my father-in-law and my dad, and the rest of my delightful family, I thought family would be a great shout out today.  Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “F” for Family.

My family is super awesome, and I’m not ashamed to admit they just happen to double as some of my best friends.  The importance of family was always instilled in us at an early age.  Dinner time was always family time and always at the table.  There was always a night or two in the week meant for a family movie or board games and weekends consisted of enjoying the Pacific Northwest.  Hiking, biking, boating, fishing, you name it, we did it as a family; the perks of growing up in Washington.

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Our wedding in October. My handsome hubby and my beautiful family. And yes, that is kale in my bouquet!

As much as we have in common (like the desire to live in sunny Florida), there are a few things we don’t all share.  For instance, my meat-loving father doesn’t understand my veggie loving ways, and we can happily tease each other back and forth.  I took this Father’s Day as a challenge to create him a (vegan) dessert that he would enjoy.  He’d raved about a bacon and jalapeno cheesecake he’d eaten recently… challenge accepted!

First things first (the cheesecake recipe will come later),  here is the recipe for that awesome Bacon!

bacon3Bacon Done Right

Ingredients:

  • 1c coconut chips
  • 1t tamari or soy sauce
  • 1t maple syrup
  • 1t liquid smoke
  • 1/2t paprika
  • 1/2t pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 330F* and line a small baking pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together your liquid ingredients.  Now add your coconut and give it all a good stir; I let it sit for about five minutes to make sure it got a good soak.  Now sprinkle the mixture with paprika and pepper.  Spread the marinated coconut on the parchment paper and bake it for 30 minutes.  After 15 min, give it a good shake and then bake for the remaining time.

bacon2*To keep it raw, go ahead and use a dehydrator.

This bacon was so stinkin’ good!  My dad and brother couldn’t believe it wasn’t bacon.  And my dad (who not only loves meat, but it also not fond of dessert) demanded I leave the leftovers for him.  Holy validation!  I could not be happier than to win the approval of one of my toughest critics; love my dad!  And most definitely love my family for being my beta testers.

I'll have seconds...
I’ll have seconds…

All I can say is, love, value, and appreciate the family you have for as long as you can. And this happy piggy family thanks you for not choosing pork!

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Hail to the Kale

Cheesy Kale & Artichoke Dip

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Rather than bore you with a lot of information about the health benefits of kale (because the list is ginormous!), here are some of the highlights:

  1. It’s an anti-inflammatory – helpful for those with arthritis or an autoimmune disease (Celiac Disease, can I get an amen?).
  2. Kale has calcium – Calci-YUM! See?  You don’t need dairy, Kale actually has more calcium than milk.hail2kale4
  3. And finally (though I could go on), it’s loaded with iron – With more iron than beef, kale keeps your liver functioning.

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now you can have that extra glass of wine…

am I seeing double?
am I seeing double?

Now with all that great information (cause knowledge is power…), here’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy this super green.

Cheesy Kale & Artichoke Dip

Cheesy Kale & Artichoke Dip

vegan, grain free

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 handfuls of washed, chopped and dried kale
  • 1 can of quartered artichokes
  • 2T hemp seeds
  • 4T nutritional yeast
  • 3 garlic cloves… I really like garlic, feel free to use less!
  • 1T onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pull out your handy dandy food processor and begin to blend your avocado with all of your ingredients (except the kale and artichokes).  You want a creamy consistency and now is a good time to check the taste.  On a stove top over medium heat, you want to wilt your kale until it’s soft.  You can use oil or water, I used a little bit of coconut oil (another wonder food).  Once its warmed, begin adding the kale and artichokes to your food processor. Chop/process until you’ve reached a consistency you like fo yo dip!

And that’s it… a delightful dip of superfoods, enjoy!

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Cherry Vanilla Almond Granola

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Everyone seems to be looking for a quick fix to lose weight.  They go to extremes like fasting, juice-only diets, meat-only diets and somehow through it all healthy grains and carbs have become the enemy.  But with it’s ability to keep you regular and lower your cholesterol,, rolled oats are a winner in my book and a staple in most, if not all, my family breakfasts.

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Granola, on the other hand, I’ve always shied away from.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the taste, or that delightful nutty crunch, but because any store-bought variety was loaded with sugar.  The World Health Organization has said that a person’s diet should consist of no more than 10% sugar but somehow our Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) here in the U.S. allows for a whopping 25%… and we wonder why obesity and other chronic diseases are skyrocketing?  But I was asked to make a granola for a women’s breakfast, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t take that challenge head-on.

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So here it is, my recipe for Cherry Vanilla Almond Granola.  Be warned, your kitchen will smell amazing!!

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Ingredients:

  • 2c rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/4c dried unsweetened cherries
  • 1/2c chopped raw almonds
  • 2 1/2T melted coconut oil
  • 2T maple syrup
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1T cinnamon
  • 1/2t nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325F.  In a large mixing bowl pour in all of your dry ingredients and give them a toss.  [if you don’t like cinnamon and/or nutmeg, leave them out!  It’ll still be delicious].  Next stir in your wet ingredients.

Spread your oats along a greased baking pan (or line your pan with a Slipat or parchment paper) and bake for 15 minutes.  Give the granola a little shake and place in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on this stuff because it can burn, I speak from experience.  When finished, set your pan on the counter and let it cool.  The granola will get crispier as it cools.

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I store my granola in a large glass jar on the counter and it stays fresh and crunchy for weeks!   Enjoy it every day with your non-dairy yogurts, sprinkled on oatmeal (or ice cream!) or just enjoy it with ice cold almond milk.  However you decide to enjoy it, enjoy!!

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cake

“When you like what your doing, and your surrounded by the people whose company you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  My husband reminds me of that often and as I pursue starting my new business, Welli Desserts. I couldn’t be more excited to be promoting healthy living (and desserts) alongside my hubby.  Dessert + my husband = happiness. If anyone else needs reminding of this, here are 10 Reasons why you might consider following your passion.

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Doing what I love has found me working harder than (I shouldn’t admit) I did at my previous jobs.  I’m working for hours on my feet developing recipes, reaching out to people in the community I’ve always wanted to speak with and learning all the tech jargin I never thought I could.  It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s wonderful… it’s a startup!

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On one of my delightful outings to meet members of the community, I met with the VP of one of the areas larger health and wellness company’s.  After meeting with him, I received an e-mail from his wife asking if I would make a cake for their daughter’s birthday. “Of course!”, I said, knowing I make an awesome chocolate cake with a delicious caramel frosting.  “Can you make a white chocolate raspberry cake?” she asked.  “Sure thing,” I said, but mentally I’m thinking, “Oh my lanta! how am I going to pull this off?”  Well with a little innovation and research (and one failed attempt), I made a beautiful and delicious white chocolate and raspberry cake.

And just so you don’t have to go through that same struggle, here is my recipe:

White Chocolate Raspberry Cake
White Chocolate Raspberry Cake

*makes a 2-layer cake… you might be able to stretch it to 3!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2c almond flour
  • 1 1/2c sorghum flour
  • 1/2c arrowroot starch (minus 2T)
  • 2T potato starch (you might be able to use just the arrowroot starch….)
  • 1T physillium husk (helps the cake rise a bit, but feel free to omit)
  • 2t baking soda
  • 2t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1 1/3 c unrefined sugar (sucanat is good)
  • 1/4c chia seeds
  • 2c water
  • 1 1/2T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 big apple cored and chopped
  • 1/4c coconut oil
  • 2T vanilla extract

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 330F.  In a high performance blender, throw in your ingredients from the chia seeds on down the list.  DO NOT BLEND, yet.  Give the chia seeds a little stir and let them soak up some of that water for 5 minutes.  In the mean time, sift together all of your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or kitchenaid stand-mixer (I’m in love with mine!).

Now you may blend away.  Pour your wet batter into the dry and mix till everything is incorporated.  Pour your batter between two greased 9″ cake pans.  [I probably could have made three layers; with 8″ cake pans you could definitely divide the batter between three or maybe four.  Let me know what you did].

Bake cakes for 25 minutes, or until you can insert a knife in the center and it comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool before you begin to frost and stack them. [Click here for more frosting ideas].

WCCI frosted the middle of the cake with a bit of the white chocolate frosting

and a raspberry jam.  I made the jam by boiling fresh raspberries and chia seeds with a little cabernet and maple syrup and till reduced and jelly like, then blended it to break down all the seeds.

white chocolate cake

White Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans
  • 1/3c melted cacao butter
  • 12 pitted medjool dates
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • *optional; maple syrup and/or stevia to sweeten
  • coconut or almond milk; pour till you like the consistency of your frosting

wcc3This was probably one of my lengthiest recipes but the outcome was soooo worth it!  And I have to say, I loved the challenge.  Anyone else feeling challenged lately?  How do you face challenges?  head-on or procrastination central?

If you decide to make this cake, let me know how you liked it!

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Homemade Cheese!

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Homemade Cheese! (and it’s vegan, too!)

I hear from a lot of people say, “I could never give up dairy, I just love cheese.”  Well, I like cheese, too.  My skin, on the other hand, does not.  Me + dairy = breakout city… so I made the switch to non-dairy cheese.

Non-dairy cheeses, while okay, were certainly not cheap! So the vegan chef in me decided to make my own cheese.  I’m not talking about the delicious queso, alfredos, ricotta‘s or cream cheeses I’ve made in the past.  I’m talking about the solid cheese you can grate, you can slice and you can devour on a cracker! (Gluten free, of course!).  [click here for a “How-to” video]

Here is the recipe for sliceable, shreddable, oh-so-incredible CHEESE!

FullSizeRender_2Cheese

vegan, gluten free

  • 1c non dairy milk (or water)
  • 1 1/2T agar agar *
  • 1/3c soaked cashews (or almonds)
  • 1/4c nutritional yeast
  • salt to season (get crazy with other seasonings, too).

Directions:

In a small pot bring 1 cup liquid and agar agar to a boil.  Once boiling, add to a blender with the remaining ingredients.  Blend, blend, blend until everything is mixed.  You should have a nice liquid that’s not very thick (kind of like milk).  Pour liquid into two small greased ramekin bowls and place in the refrigerator.  Leave overnight; or for 3 hours at least to solidify.

[You might also try putting it in the freezer for a half hour and then the fridge to reduce wait time… but I haven’t tried.]

FullSizeRender_1And there you have it!  Your very own cheese to slice, spread or shred however you desire.  And the next time you make it, get crazy with your ingredients!  Try adding sun dried tomatoes and garlic, or cayenne and artichokes, cinnamon and stevia?…  Go nuts!… oh,maybe try different nuts!…  and tell me about any awesome combinations you make.

Also, for those of you who read my last post, I’m starting a business!  Any advice or support (financial or otherwise) would sure help get this “Welli Revolution” off the ground, thanks!

What is Welli?

 

Chocolate Cayenne Cherry Cookies

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This year has been a year of highs and a lot of lows.  I got married, yay!  The company I worked for closed and I became unemployed… lame.  I got a new car, yay!  And now for the first time, I am experiencing car payments… lame.  And then a very good friend of mine passed away unexpectedly… I don’t think you stop missing someone.  But with his passing and my new circumstances, I am inspired to do what I love.  My friend went to heaven doing what he loved and we should all be so lucky to live a life doing what we love.  We only have this short and precious time on earth.

I don’t want my career to be selling someone else’s dream (of course I’ll have to get a job to get things going) but I want to begin achieving my dreams.  What does that mean?  I have started a business!  Say hello to Welli Desserts (http://www.Wellidesserts.com).  Welli is focused on providing healthy desserts and baked goods to the offices in my area.

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What I love about being in the business world, are the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the last ten years.  What I didn’t like, was seeing those people constantly sick or in the hospital because of illness.  The majority of of these cases are preventable with a good diet.  Good diet does not equal no desserts.  I’m out to prove you can live well and eat really well.  Just because a baked good is healthy doesn’t mean it has to taste awful.

And on that note, just because I throw cayenne powder in my cookies, doesn’t mean that spice won’t pair beautifully with cacao and cherries. like so:

Chocolate Cayenne Cherry Cookies

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Vegan, Grain free

Ingredients:

  • 1c hemp flour
  • 1/4c  each arrowroot starch and coconut flour
  • 1/3c cacao powder (go for the real stuff)
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 2T each applesauce and melted coconut oil
  • 1 flax egg (1T flax meal with 3T water; sit for five minutes)
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1-2t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • few dashes of nutmeg (omit if you’d rather)
  • 3T chopped chocolate
  • 1/4c chopped dried cherries
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Sift together your dry ingredients (not including cherries and chocolate) in a mixing bowl.  Now stir in your wet ingredients until well combined.  Fold in your chocolate chips and cherries next.

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Using your hands grab a golf ball chunk of dough and roll it between your palms.  Flatten the ball and place on your baking sheet.  The cookies don’t spread, so feel free to set them close together.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Feel free to enjoy them as soon they’re out of the oven but don’t burn yourself!

Cheers to pursuing our dreams!

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