molasses ginger cookies (vegan + gf)

you might all be all tired of cookies after the holidays, but i didn't get my fair share this year! i was too busy to do any baking, didn't have time to host my annual cookie party, and took off for a week-long climbing trip smack in the middle of the holidays. so i've been craving a wintery treat! i've also been rummaging through my pantry since the new year, organizing everything and deep cleaning every cupboard (sooo satisfying!)... anyhow, i realized i have three half used bottles of blackstrap molasses, so in an effort to tidy and a desire to bake, i made some killer molasses cookies. i ate the entire batch last week, made a few tweaks to the recipe, and made another batch this week! the fresh ginger is spicy and the blackstrap molases provides a luscious flavor and healthy minerals and nutrients! these gems are also gluten free and vegan, so practically everyone can enjoy them!


molasses ginger cookies ~ makes about 20 small cookies
1 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats or 1 1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup blackstrap molases
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut sugar *see note

preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment or non-stick silpat.

if using rolled oats, pulse in food processor until you have a fine flour. otherwise, you can use packaged oat flour if you don't own a food processor. in a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over low heat. combine melted coconut oil in a bowl with all remaining ingredients. two options: you can take a shortcut and include the coconut sugar in the cookie dough, or spend a few extra minutes and use it instead to coat the cookies with a light dusting of sugar.

roll a heaping tablespoon of the dough in your palm until smooth and round and then either lay directly onto lined baking sheet or roll in coconut sugar to coat.

bake for 12-15 minutes, but watch closely. they will be soft when you remove them from the oven, and a shade darker brown on bottom. let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes to set than transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

turmeric tahini sauce

i spent new years in las vegas, far away from the insanity unfolding on the strip and packed into a tiny one-bedroom rental condo with my guy and six of our climber friends. we raised a toast at midnight, sipped a pour of fancy champagne and then promptly fell asleep. honestly, i was stunned we all had made it to midnight! we had spent a full day bouldering in red rocks canyon and had plans to wake up early on new years day to get back outdoors. 

david and i had driven from seattle to vegas in one straight 17-hour shot the morning after christmas. we stayed for a full week and climbed everyday for as many daylight hours as we snag. we went down with a fun crew of friends and ran into probably 20 more familiar faces gathering in the nevada sunshine from all over the west coast. the combination of getting to see so many far away friends, the sunshine, the world class climbing, the best all-you-can-eat-sushi and a wildly entertaining burlesque cirque du soleil made driving 2.5k miles so worth it... this trip may is turning into an annual pilgrimage for us! 

after an incredible getaway like that, it's a challenge to come back to work and real life (my health insurance saga continues to weigh heavy on me...) and while it's gratifying to settle back into some routines, the initial push to get those routines back into place isn't easy. i spent the week playing catch up to emails and bookkeeping, running around all over town teaching and cooking, and relying heavily on leftover chocolate from christmas for energy. i finally had a few free hours today to prepare some nourishing foods to have on hand for the week ahead! the resulting marco grain bowl might be the most vibrant plate of food i've had all winter!! it was so easy and full of nutrients and antioxidants! put this tahini sauce recipe on your to do list this weekend... because if i had to guess, nearly all of us probably set intentions to eat clean in 2016! 

turmeric tahini sauce ~ makes about 12oz
1/2 cup tahini 
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
3 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric 
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 + cup hot water
black pepper & cayenne to taste

whisk together, adding enough warm water to make sauce pourable. adjust spice to taste.


free-style macrobiotic superfood bowls 
steamed whole grains
mint, parsley or other fresh herbs
roasted root vegetables or squash 
kraut or other fermented veggies 
red cabbage or dark leafy greens 
slow cooked beans, lentils or fresh tofu
pomegranate seeds, avocado, hemp seeds or other superfoods to garnish 

be inspired by whatever veggies are in season or on hand. today, i sliced a red cabbage into 1/4" wedges and pan-roasted them in a cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil until browned and gently wilted. i piled the cabbage with steamed quinoa, turmeric sauerkraut, mint, pomegranate and spoonfuls of turmeric tahini sauce. delightful! 

kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange

with the winter solstice just a few days away and a forecast of dark rainy sky, seattle is seeing very little daylight. the gloomy days make me want to stay in bed well past our dreaded 6am alarm. and later in the days around 4pm, the sun starts to set and i fight the urge to crawl back into bed to hibernate until winter ends. this is when i need a little pick me up. teatime. and today, an extra special treat! red kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange zest. 

my oven sees a lot of use for savory dishes. we eat loads of roasted root vegetables this time of year, and use the broiler to make toast for breakfast. rarely do i turn my oven on with the intention of baking something sweet. but earlier this week a client requested a gluten free sweet bread so i sifted through some recipes for inspiration and baked off a loaf that smelled so delicious that i had to remake a loaf for myself at home! 

this loaf is beautifully fluffy, moist and has a perfect crumb. i had leftover steamed red kuri squash in the fridge that made for a perfect addition - but you could easily use canned pumpkin or another homemade squash puree. i adore the flavor combo of cardamom and orange, but if you prefer a more traditional "pumpkin bread" flavor, just substitute for pumpkin spice blend. 

kuri squash sweet bread with cardamom & orange 
adapted from kitchentreaty
1 cup almond flour
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 navel orange
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup steamed or roasted red kuri squash (or canned pumpkin)
3 large eggs
1 + 1/2 cups raw walnuts
2 tablespoons raw pepita/pumpkin seeds

preheat oven to 350 and rub a metal bread loaf pan with a bit of coconut oil. if using steamed or roasted squash, roughly measure a cup of cooked squash and add to a blender with the melted coconut oil and eggs. blend until smooth. if using, canned pumpkin puree you can simply stir together in a bowl with oil and eggs.

in a larger bowl, mix together dry ingredients along with the orange zest. add wet ingredients and walnuts and stir to combine. transfer mixture to oiled loaf pan and sprinkle the top with pepita seeds. bake for 40-55 minutes, checking with a toothpick after about 35 minutes to see if center is still wet. continue baking until the toothpick test comes out clean. let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then use a knife to loosen loaf from pan and gently transfer loaf to wire rack to continue cooling. you can slice into it at this point, or let cool completely then wrap in foil or store in airtight container.

serve with strong coffee and continue to hang in there... next week, the days will start to get longer!

yuzu-ginger avocado toast

folks, i think i've created something magical. it's almost to simple of a non-recipe to write a blog post about, but it's also too delicious to not write a blog post about.

yuzu-ginger avocado mash... it's like a japanese gaucamole. plop in on toast with some gomasio and it's like the best damn avocado toast you've ever put in your pie hole. but you can come up with other fancy things to do with this magical mash. put on top of rice noodles and stir fry, or over some sushi rice with sashimi, or maybe fry up some little wontons and serve it as a dip! oh the possibilities...

last month my band retreated to orcas island in the san juans to play a show at the doe bay resort. we gathered a good group of friends to join us, stayed a few nights in adorable cabins near the ocean and played a rowdy live show in the retreat yoga studio for all the retreat guests and our friends! we enjoyed several meals at the amazing doe bay cafe and spent an afternoon at the island hoppin brewery catching up one of my oldest and dearest friends who now lives on the island. before catching a ferry home, we stopped into the natural food coop to pack a picnic lunch and i saw some samples of island-made gomasio that looked delightful. i snagged a sample and packed it home with me. 

in case you didn't already know, gomasio is a dry japanese condiment made of toasted sesame seeds, salt and sometime dried seaweed. i often used to buy the eden brand gomasio from my local coop, until they stopped carrying eden products all together due to the company's anti-birth control scandal. and the gomasio sold at nearby asian food markets were all laden with msg. so i was thrilled to find this particularly special gomasio! it's made with kelp and nettles foraged from around orcas island and blended with toasted sesame seeds. what a nourishing treat! after gobbling it down with my avocado toast i regretted not buying a full jar of it from the orcas coop! luckily, you can order online from the maker, landsea

yuzu-ginger avocado toast ~ serves 2+
sliced & toasted baguette 
1 avocado, mashed
crushed garlic
fresh yuzu or bottled yuzu juice
fresh grated ginger
thinly sliced green onion, optional
spicy chilis, optional
sea salt

combine ingredients adjusting proportions to taste. i liked tasting more ginger flavor than garlic flavor. if you don't have yuzu juice or fresh yuzus, simply use some lime juice. top over toasted baguette or sprinkle with gomasio or toasted sesame seeds! 

tarragon, mushroom & barley soup

in my last post i explained why david and i challenged ourselves to follow a fully vegan diet for the month of october. there were a few slips ups on eggs and cheese while traveling one weekend and when david found himself at a work-related dinner without any vegan options. but besides those few slips, we did pretty well!

the shift in diet was fairly easy for me, but i already ate primarily vegetarian and had an expansive repertoire of vegan recipes. i guess the more surprising part was the lack of cravings for animal products (besides runny eggs!) also, i'm not sure if it was the change in diet or the change in seasons to colder, wetter weather, but i found myself eating a lot of carbs (grains, sweet potatoes, sprouted grain bread) and my sweet tooth was raging! david's sweets consumptions didn't change much though, so i'm not going to blame the vegan diet. but now for november, i'm considering giving up sugar for the month to recalibrate myself!

moving forward, i think we will both shift our diets towards more vegan foods. although i'm still not ready to give up pastured eggs and the occasional fancy cheese!! david enjoyed the fact that he wasn't buying lunches as much this past month, and i enjoyed the culinary challenge of coming up with new creative vegan meals - like this soup recipe - that would satisfy even our biggest meat-eating dinner guests. and if you didn't follow my suggestions from the last post, go now and watch cowspiracy!

tarragon, mushroom & barley soup ~ serves 3-4 
* you could easily double this recipe to serve a crowd or for extra left overs! 
1/2 cup hulled barley
1/2 cup french lentils
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 medium size yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 quarts water
2 sprigs each of tarragon and fresh thyme
1 heaping tablespoon takii mushroom umami powder (reduce added salt if using takii)
1 small bunch toscano kale
pinch red chili flakes
salt & pepper to taste

notes: i cooked my lentils and barley in separate pots, so that the finished broth was less cloudy and each ingredient was cooked to tenderness without getting mushy. i'm sure you could also make this a one-pot-meal, instead of dirtying three pots if you prefer. if you don't enjoy the flavor of tarragon, you could use only fresh thyme or add in some rosemary. finally, the takii powder is an amazing umami boost to the broth, but purely optional. the mushrooms, onions and herbs will give the broth plenty of flavor! 

simmer barley in 3 cups of water until tender, but not mushy - about 40 minutes. in a second pot, simmer lentils with 2 cups of water until tender, but holding together - about 25 minutes. once fully cooked, strain and rinse and set to side until stock is finished.

for the stock: crush/mince garlic and set aside for 10 minutes before adding to heat. slice onions and sauté with olive oil in soup pot for 5 minutes. add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and sauté for an additional few minutes until mushrooms are almost fully cooked. add chopped celery, garlic, chili flakes, salt, pepper, takii powder (if using) and 2 quarts of water. simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. during this time, you can clean the kale, remove the ribs, and slice into thin ribbons.

once stock is made and lentils and barley are fully cooked and rinsed, combine together in soup pot. make a small bundle of the fresh herbs, tied with kitchen string, and add to soup along with the sliced kale. if it looks like there isn't enough broth, add a bit more water. bring soup to a simmer for about 5 minutes, to wilt the kale and infuse the broth with the fresh herbs. serve with crusty bread and enjoy!