Category Archives: Healthy Recipes

Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)

I accepted another cooking challenge from Melissa’s Produce! This box arrived with beautiful winter fruit including Korean pears, mandarin oranges, and red grapes. It also included a package of steamed and peeled chestnuts. I learned making a chestnut bundt cake that prepping chestnuts can be a pain in the butt. But I also learned how delicious chestnut puree can be. I used the same gluten-free cashew/almond crust I made up for a lemon meringue tart (using my meyer lemon curd.) It can be made with butter, but this time I used coconut oil, which inspired me to make the whole tart vegan. Normally I would’ve considered mixing the chestnut puree with some whipped cream, but coconut oil and coconut milk made for a delicious vegan chestnut cream. By sweetening with only a little maple syrup, the whole delicious dessert qualifies as practically health food!

Chestnut Tart with Winter Fruit  (GF/Vegan/Naturally Sweetened)

This post was sponsored by Melissa’s Produce, who supplied the featured ingredients free of charge. Recipe and opinions are my own! The box also included steamed beets, potatoes and a copy of “DYP’s The Perfect Everyday Potato Cookbook.” Among the inspiring recipes was a chocolate potato cake. I experimented with a red velvet potato cake. Unfortunately, it fell far short of being blog worthy. Sometimes I can spin a failure, such as my zucchini bread pudding, but there are also many, many recipes that just don’t make the cut. Being a recipe developer means taking risks. I only share the best of the best recipes — ones I want to make again and hope you might want to try, too.

pressing crust into chestnut tart

Fortunately, this chestnut tart was a keeper! If you, like me, look for opportunities to bring your children into the kitchen, this is also a perfect dessert recipe. This tart crust is simply pressed into the pans. No finicky pastry dough or rolling out. My three-year old enjoyed pressing the dough. She loved decorating the tarts with the fruit, and sampling the fruit as she went along.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: vegan, gluten-free, naturally sweetened
Serves: 5 4" mini tarts or one 11" tart
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A gluten free almond and cashew crust holds an irresistible chestnut cream. Topped with fresh seasonal fruit. Using only a little maple syrup to sweeten yields a winter decadence you don't have to feel guilty about.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup cashew meal
  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 6.5 oz peeled, steamed chestnuts
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest

  • 3 cups fresh fruit, such as mandarins, korean pears, grapes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, cashew meal, almond meal and salt. Using your hands, press the mixture into one 11 in tart pan or 5 4 in individual tart pans. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
  2. In a food processor, mix chestnuts, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and lemon zest until very smooth. Add additional milk if necessary.
  3. Spoon the chestnut cream into the cooled tart shells and smooth the top. Decorate with fresh fruit. Can be enjoyed immediately or refridgerated up to 3-4 days.
Notes
I like using a food processor better than a blender. Even though I have a fabulous Vitamix, my old kitchen aid processor does a better job with thick and sticky chestnuts.

See what my fellow San Diego Food Bloggers came up with. Continue reading

Butternut Squash, Chick Peas and Black Rice with a Clementine Shallot Vinaigrette

We finally have fall weather here in San Diego and I’m enjoying autumn vegetables. This side dish features butternut squash, chick peas and black rice, and is warm and cozy. The clementine vinaigrette gives it a sweet bite and pine nuts make it extra rich. I love the bright and warm combination of citrus and fennel. To me it tastes sunny and cozy and wintery all at once.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice

A fellow food blogger invited me to participate in a recipe challenge from Melissa’s. Melissa’s sent us a box of fresh and seasonal produce and we were challenged to come up with a recipe featuring at least 2 or 3 of the items, sort of like “Chopped.” Fresh Produce from Melissa's (FCC Disclaimer: I received the box for free, but have not otherwise been compensated. Opinions and recipe development are entirely mine.) I immediately gravitated to a beautiful butternut squash, pine nuts and cranberries. Unfortunately, Little Bird also gravitated to the cranberries… and ate the entire bag in a few minutes.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice1I decided to add the garbanzo beans for extra protein. I usually cook with dried beans, and start from scratch, but the convenience of the vacuum sealed beans was nice and the taste was a step up from a can. Apart from throwing the rice in the rice cooker, the only “cooking” was chopping and roasting the squash.  Little Bird enjoying shaking up the vinaigrette in a jar.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice

Keep reading for a printable recipe plus more fall dishes.
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Baby Birds’ Pumpkin Smash Cake with Cinnamon Frosting – Gluten Free and Low Sugar

I’m very excited to share the recipe I developed for a healthy and delicious pumpkin smash cake! Baby Bird’s Banana Smash Cake is one of my most popular posts on Pinterest and in search engines. It is a healthy cake with no refined sugar or artificial coloring. This year we went pumpkin picking to celebrate both our youngest Baby Bird turning 1 and Little Bird turning 3. So of course we had to have a PUMPKIN smash cake and pumpkin cup cakes. I kept the sugar low by using just half a cup of maple sugar. Although we are not gluten-free, so many of our friends are. To be perfectly honest: these came out BETTER than the traditional cup cakes I made for the guests.

Pumpkin Smash Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting - gluten free and low in sugar

The cinnamon frosting is mostly cream cheese with a little grass-fed butter. I wanted to use maple syrup to sweeten it, but we were out. I ended up using a little organic powdered sugar, but less than a quarter of what most recipes call for. Our pumpkin picking party fell on an unseasonably hot 100° day… the candy pumpkins on top of the smash cakes started melting. But the cake was delicious and I can’t wait to make it again! Maybe as a full-sized layer cake.

Healthy Pumpkin Smash Cake

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Smash Cake Recipe

Prep: Let all ingredients for the pumpkin smash cake sit out at room temperature. Cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of 1 or 2 ramekins. Grease well with butter. Line a muffin tin with a dozen cupcake liners for the rest of the batter. Preheat oven to 350° F.

In the bowl of a good mixer, add:

  • 12 tablespoons of softened butter
  • ½ cup of maple sugar (brown sugar would also be nice)

Beat on high until light and fluffy. Add

  • 3 eggs, ideally at room temperature

Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each until well combined. Add

  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ cup of yogurt

Mix well. Add

Mix on slowest speed until just incorporated, then add

  • 2 cups of pureed, cooked pumpkin OR 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin (follow the instructions here if you want to cook the pumpkin from scratch – but I won’t tell anyone if you use the can…)

Mix until incorporated, then add

Scoop into the ramekins and any remaining batter into the muffin tin. Bake the muffin/cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes and the ramekins for about 40 minutes. Cool completely or even overnight before frosting with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Notes:

If you follow this blog, you will know that I am all about making things from scratch. They only time I have mentioned using a mix for anything was when I made my own pancake mix to take camping! But I have to say, I loved using this gluten-free mix! I have had so many not so great gluten free baked goods, and tend to avoid them.  This mix is a household staple as Papa Bird uses it at least weekly for his special pancakes. It was nearly a year before I realized it was gluten-free! I am not affiliated with Pamela’s, although maybe I should be! I am an Amazon Affiliate, though, and do receive advertising fees for qualifying purchases made through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

4.5 from 2 reviews
Baby Birds' Pumpkin Smash Cake with Cinnamon Frosting - Gluten Free and Low Sugar
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Gluten-Free
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A low-sugar, gluten-free pumpkin cake or cup cake recipe, perfect for a healthy 1st birthday party "smash cake."
Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons of softened butter
  • ½ cup of maple sugar (brown sugar would also be nice)
  • 3 eggs, ideally at room temperature
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • 2 cups of Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 2 cups of pureed, cooked pumpkin OR 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Let all ingredients for the pumpkin smash cake sit out at room temperature. Cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of 1 or 2 ramekins. Grease well with butter. Line a muffin tin with a dozen cupcake liners for the rest of the batter. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of a good mixer, add butter and maple sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each until well combined. Add milk and yogurt and mix well.
  3. Add 1 cup of Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix and the pumpkin pie spice blend. Mix on slowest speed until just incorporated, then add the pureed, cooked pumpkin. Mix until incorporated, then add 1 more cup of Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix.
  4. Scoop into the ramekins and any remaining batter into the muffin tin. Bake the muffin/cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes and the ramekins for about 40 minutes. Cool completely or even overnight before frosting with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Eggplant Recipes: In Season NOW

Eggplants are peaking right now, in our garden and in the markets, so I wanted to share a round up of quality eggplant recipes to inspire you! Here’s a tip for picking a great eggplant at the farmer’s market or store: find one that is relatively heavy for its size. It will have less seeds and more delicious flesh. Papa Bird (our family’s resident farmer) says homegrown eggplants are ready to pick when you push in with your thumb and it leaves an imprint. He recently put up a shade barrier to protect our growing eggplant from the strong San Diego sun. For more tips on cooking eggplant, check out this post.

Eggplant Recipes: In Season NOW

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM BABY BIRDS FARM

Some of my family’s favorite, “regular rotation” recipes highlight eggplant.

  1. Baba Ganoush: a garlicky dip, similar to hummus, and delicious with veggies to dip. Makes great baby food, too!

lamb, eggplant and pomegranate moussaka

  1. Pomegranate, Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka (above): a layered dish that is sweet and savory and spiced with cardamom and cinnamon.

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Maria Nasir of foodaholic is a Pakistani home cook and caterer turned international food blogging star. She has lot’s of delicious eggplant recipes from around the world. But this kid-friendly appetizer caught my eye:

  1. Eggplant Roll Ups: kid-friendly but with a delicious vinaigrette to please picky foodie parents.

 nam prik noom thai green curry

Another international blogger I follow, Azlin Bloor of Lin’s food, recently shared the above treat featuring aubergine (eggplant with a British accent):

  1. Nam Prik Noom (Thai Green Chilli Sauce)

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM FAMILY SPICE

Laura of Family Spice features eggplant in both Italian and Persian-inspired dishes.

roasted eggplant parm sandwich

  1. Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich from Laura of Family Spice (above): a nice, non-fried version of an eggplant parm.
  1. Pickled Eggplant and Vegetables with Pomegranate (torshi-yeh bademjan va anar): I have never even thought of using this combination of flavors and I am dying to try it.

Persian Eggplant Stew

  1. Persian Eggplant Stew (Khoreshteh Qiemeh Bademjoon) (pictured above).

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM SIMMWORKS FAMILY BLOG

Danielle of Simmworks Family Blog makes a lot of delicious family meals that are often quick and easy for busy families – without sacrificing taste.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  1. Baked Eggplant Parmesan: an easy family dinner that will please adults and kids.
  1. Eggplant French Bread Pizza: simple, with just a few ingredients and perfect for lunch.

For even more eggplant ideas:

10 Fantastic Eggplant Recipes from Simmworks Family Blog.

Mint Julep Kale Krunchies

Summer in San Diego means the Del Mar Racetrack is open and an abundance of mint in our garden. Both were the inspiration for “mint julep” kale krunchies, our latest variation on kale chips. Using the same technique and creamy cashew base as my Cilantro Lime Kale Chips, these kale crunchies are flavored with the summer drink ingredients. Yes, even a splash of bourbon.

Mint Julep Kale Krunchies

Mint Julep Kale Chips Recipe

  • 1 head of kale
  • 3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour, then drained
  • handful of fresh mint, washed
  • 1-2 tablespoons of agave or coconut nectar
  • 1 teaspoon of bourbon (optional but fun)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
  • a little water, if needed, to process in the blender

1. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. Dry the kale very well and rip any large pieces into smaller bits.

Or – Purchase a bag of kale pre-washed and cut. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well. (Little Bird likes to help rip and sort the kale.)

2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor, like a Magic Bullet, or blender. If the blender struggles, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until it blends well. Blend at highest speed until smooth, scraping down the sides at least once. Keep in mind the more water you add, the longer the chips will take to dry out in the oven.

3. Preheat oven to 200° F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, massage the “sauce” into the kale. Then spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale occasionally, until it is dried but not overly toasted.

For step by step photos of how to make kale chips, please see my previous recipes for Easy Homemade Kale Chips and Cilantro Lime Kale Chips.

Enjoying the Mint Julep Kale Crunchies with the eponymous drink is optional, but highly recommended!