Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

My younger sister just turned 21 – I am so excited! To celebrate this momentous occasion (and since I’m always on birthday cake duty) I decided to make her a cake. But being the indecisive little third child she is, she told me to “get creative and do whatever” each time I asked her what kind of cake she wanted…

Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) // Naturally Lindsey

So I did. And it was glorious.

Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) // Naturally Lindsey

She loves bananas and banana cake, so I decided to combine that with another favorite: Samoas. Yes, like the Girl Scout Cookie. The result is tender, moist banana cake layered with creamy banana coconut filling and flooded with ooey gooey caramel sauce and chocolate ganache. Needless to say, it was a hit.

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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!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea, Tomato Salad

I haven’t felt much like cooking lately. With a two-week long heatwave and no air conditioning, it’s very easy for one to become uninspired. However, yesterday it started to cool down… with 87% humidity. No, that’s not a typo. Yes, I too thought I lived in California and NOT Florida. But I digress…

Recently I’ve been try to eat more paleo (not completely – I love a good legume, as you’ll see here!), but I wanted to make my boyfriend a delicious meal that he would enjoy but that I could eat (no gluten, dairy, or soy) while also not spending a ton of money by using things I had on hand. Chicken breasts and bacon in the freezer. A can of chickpeas in the cupboard. A bag of red onions in the pantry. Two cucumbers and a bag of spinach in the fridge. Little did I know where my inspiration would take me.

My FastPaleo app (seriously download it, 99 cents and best recipe filtering I’ve seen on a food app –including a dairy/non-dairy option!) pointed me in the direction of The Civilized Caveman’s B.O.A.R.S. Chicken Breast and then I stumbled across Martha Stewart’s Broccoli, Chickpea, and Cherry Tomato Salad… buuut seeing as I can never seem to be able to leave a recipe alone, I turned them into Bacon, Peach, Spinach Stuffed Chicken and a Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea, Cherry Tomato Salad, respectively.

I made the salad first and let it chill while I cooked the chicken. Though more time consuming then my normal dinner, the recipes were really delicious (IF I don’t say so myself) and I would definitely make both of them again!

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Both recipes are

• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Nut-free
• Soy-free

The chicken is • Paleo and the salad is • Vegetarian/vegan (and can be Paleo if you remove the chickpeas)

Bacon, Peach, Spinach Stuffed Chicken

• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 4 slices of bacon
• 2 fresh peaches, diced
• 1 large red onion, diced
• 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• handful of fresh basil leaves (5-7 leaves), torn
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• kitchen twine – enough for 4 chicken breasts (ask the deli section of your local grocer – they’ll probably just give it to you for free!)

1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook your bacon until almost crispy, then add in the diced onion and cook until soft.
2. Add in your peaches and spinach. Once the spinach wilts, remove from heat and stir in the basil. Set aside.
3. Place a large cast iron skillet (mine’s 12″) or oven-safe sauté pan on the burner. Preheat to medium-high heat.
4. While the pan is heating, butterfly open your chicken breasts and pound them down to 1/4″ thickness with a mallet or other flat heavy object (full disclosure: I was at my boyfriend’s house [read: no kitchen tools] so I placed two layers of saran wrap over the chicken and just used a hammer). Sprinkle salt and pepper inside each breast and spread the B.B.O.P.S. reduction on the inside of the breasts, saving some for a topper if desired.
5. Preheat your oven to 350°. Tightly roll the chicken breasts lengthwise and secure with twine to make sure none of the filling comes out while you cook.
6. The pan should be nice and hot now, so go ahead and place your chicken rolls in the pan. From here, you want to sear every side of the chicken for about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes so there’s a slight char around the outside of each breast and no white spaces in between. When you get to your last side, place the pan in the oven until the chicken is cooked all the way through, another 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and garnish with the extra B.B.O.P.S. stuffing or basil leaves OR just devour them as is.

Broccoli, Cucumber, Chickpea and Cherry Tomato Salad

• 1 pound broccoli, separated into florets
• 1/2 large cucumber, diced
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small red onion, finely chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. In either a sauce pan or pot with a steamer insert, steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegars, oil, and onion until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumber, and broccoli and stir to combine. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve room temperature or chilled.