Clean & Nutty Caramel Corn

It’s October! My absolute favorite month of my absolute favorite season. If you ask me, October is officially the start of the holiday season which means a whole bunch of events and, normally, a whole bunch of unhealthy eating. Fear not! It doesn’t have to be that way. By making your favorite sweet treats clean, there’s a whole lot less to feel guilty about.

Clean & Nutty Caramel Corn // Naturally Lindsey

This recipe reminds me of the popcorn balls that were very commonly passed out on Halloween when I was growing up. But instead of high fructose corn syrup and soy bean oil, this recipe uses unrefined sugar (aka sucanat and honey) to sweeten and stick, with the addition of nut butter and peanuts for extra flavor and an added crunch. Be sure to prep your ingredients and work quickly when making the caramel, as it becomes harder to work with as it cools. As a bonus, you can shape this recipe into popcorn balls if you want – after drizzling with caramel, let cool for two minutes then carefully roll the kernels together until you have a ball.

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Refined sugar-free
• Soy-free

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Too-Good Gluten-free Dairy-free German Chocolate Cake

My dad turned 60. Crazy! It’s funny how when you’re little you think 60 is SO OLD… like the dinosaurs. But now it’s like wow, is my dad really 60? I’m normally in charge of baking for birthdays; this year instead of making his standard yellow cake with chocolate frosting I wanted to make something a little bit fancier, so I decided on his other favorite: German Chocolate Cake.

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Now, yes, I do try to cook as healthfully as possible – and this recipe is no exception– but by no means is this health food! It is only healthier than you average cake in that it is full of nutrient-rich ingredients and uses fewer simple starches and processed sweeteners. And of course NO artificial colors or flavors or preservatives, thank you very much! But this cake really is too good. It’s decadently rich, filling, and wholly satisfying – be sure you have plenty of people to share it with!

Though the recipe for the cake itself came from one of my favorite blogs: Elana’s Pantry, I’m not as much of a saint as she is when it comes to desserts. I used agave for the cake as Elana has her baked goods down to a science, but for the frosting I went with something else. Why, you ask? I think agave has a weird taste, and as it turns out it’s almost as highly refined as high fructose corn syrup, AND contains just as much if not more fructose (55%). What I prefer instead is Sucanat. This is different than Sugar in the Raw, or Turbinado sugar, which has been stripped of its molasses content and the nutrients that come along with it (as I discussed in this post) including iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. Sucanat is simply dried sugar cane syrup that retains all of the molassesy goodness, which gives it a subtly more complex flavor that goes wonderfully with the chocolate and coconut. Plus, Sucanat is lower in sucrose than Turbinado or white sugar, which makes it slightly less sweet. I personally love the flavor.

And in case you’re wondering, this cake has been given the seal of approval by four generations of my family: both grandparents, my parents, my sister, and her 1- and 3 -year-old (my nephews)! The cherry on top was the 1-year-old, who knows sign language, sitting in his highchair signing “more!” after each bite my sister fed him. Precious moments! The recipe does take a good chunk of time to put together (3-4 hours for me), but the result is well worth it – especially for such a memorable occasion. Happy 60th, Dad!

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Soy-free
• Refined sugar-free

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Gluten-free Dairy-Free German Chocolate Cake

• ¾ cup coconut flour, sifted
• ½ cup cacao powder
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 10 eggs
• 1 cup grapeseed oil
• 1 ½ cups agave nectar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl combine flour, cacao, salt and baking soda
2. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to blend eggs, oil, agave nectar and vanilla
3. Add dry ingredients into large bowl and continue to blend
4. Oil two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with coconut flour
5. Divide batter evenly and pour into pans, baking at 350° for 35-45 minutes (mine took 45-50)
6. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely then carefully remove from pans

Coconut Pecan Filling

• 1/2 can coconut cream
• 1/2 cup coconut milk (the “drinkable” kind – if you don’t have this or the coconut cream you can use 1 can full-fat coconut milk instead)
• 1 cup Sucanat
• pinch sea salt
• 1 ¼ cup coconut oil
• 1 ½ cups toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (about 8 oz)
• 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted and chopped

1. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, Sucanat and salt, simmer for 10 minutes
2. Whisk the contents of saucepan vigorously and bring to a boil until it starts to thicken and carmelize, about 3 minutes
5. Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil
6. Place pot in fridge for 30-40 minutes, until frosting starts to solidify
7. Meanwhile, turn your broiler to low and spread the coconut and pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching carefully so the coconut does not burn. The pecans should be sizzling and the coconut golden brown. You can also start preparing the ganache frosting at this point (recipe below).
7. Remove frosting from freezer and blend with an eletric mixer, until fluffy, then stir in shredded coconut and pecans

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

• 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chunks (I use Enjoy Life)
• 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
• 2 tablespoons Sucanat
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• pinch sea salt

1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil, stirring constantly so chocolate does not scorch
2. Stir in Sucanat, vanilla and salt, and continue to stir until the Sucanat dissipates into the mixture
3. Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to cool
4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it thickens slightly. Frosting should still be slightly liquid, but thick enough to spread.

Assembling the Cake

1. With the Chocolate Ganache Frosting, frost the outer inch of the top of one of the cake layers and down the sides.
2. Top with about half of the Coconut Pecan Filling. Then place the layer on a plate or serving tray (this keeps your serving surface much cleaner).
3. Spread the ganache around the outside of the second layer and place on top of the first layer.
4. Top with the rest of the Coconut Pecan Filling. Serve with So Delicious Coconut Milk “ice cream” – trust me, you’ll be happy you did!

What kind of birthday cake is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Protein Pudding

I normally try to eat a fair amount of protein, following the 30/40/30 macro ratio of fat, carbs, and protein, respectively, though sometimes I find it hard to stomach that much protein without feeling sick. However this week I started CrossFit and boy am I craving it! I’ve felt really weak when I don’t eat enough and it’s definitely been protein that’s kept me going. Tonight after dinner I wanted something sweet for dessert, but still needed to meet my protein allotment for the day. This deliciousness was the outcome:

propud

 

Yum! You can use the plant-based protein powder of your choice, but if you use one that’s chocolate flavored you may want to use half the amount of raw cacao powder or just nix it all together. I used Pure Matters Vanilla Pea Protein, which I was going to link to but apparently the company went out of business at the beginning of this past May. How sad!

This recipe is
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Nut free*
• Soy-free*
• Vegan*

*Depending on your choice of ingredients

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Protein Pudding
serves 1

• 1/2 – 1 scoop plant-based protein powder
• 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
• 3 tablespoons coconut, almond, hemp, or other non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
• 1 tablespoon non-dairy plain or vanilla yogurt (you can also use regular yogurt if you can tolerate it!)
• 1/2 tablespoon raw local honey or agave nectar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Add your choice of toppings. I used unsweetened shredded coconut and fresh organic blueberries!

What’s your favorite plant-based protein powder? Let me know in the comments below!