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Archive for the category “fruit”

Chocolate Chia Strawberries

chocolatechiastrawberriesIt is a rare person who dislikes the combination of strawberries and chocolate. Since summer calls for fresh, light desserts I wanted to come up with a healthy version of chocolate strawberries that would be easy to eat.

I knew that my chocolate chia pudding was very chocolaty and good for us, so I figured stuffing it into berries would only make it better. They were a hit, and they made me wonder what else could be filled with chocolate….hmm….

Chocolate Chia Strawberries

2 dozen large strawberries, cored
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure stevia powder

In a blender (or a medium bowl with stick blender) combine the milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, cocoa powder and stevia.

Chill filling for about 30 minutes until it firms up.

Using a small spoon fill the strawberries, shape the top of the chocolate into a mound on top of each berry and arrange on a serving platter.

Chill until time to serve or store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Golden Lemonade


As the weather gets warmer I get less and less excited about warm beverages. This is an issue because of how we get turmeric into our systems. We typically do a combination of capsules and a concoction we call slime – a combination of butter/coconut oil, cayenne pepper and turmeric – either in our coffee or hot tea. I don’t do well drinking hot beverages in hot weather, so I had to come up with another method of getting turmeric in me.

Turmeric is a most awesome anti-inflammatory. It has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, boost activity in the immune system, fight against the development of cancerous cells and make you more resistant to neurodegenerative disorders. The best way to maximize absorption of turmeric (up to 2000%) is to take it with pepper and a bit of fat, which is why we take turmeric capsules that include pepper and some fish oil as fat.

After doing a bit of research I came up with this yummy lemonade. It does not include any fat, but with the dash of pepper it helps maximize the turmeric benefits. In addition to the health benefits it is quite a pretty drink. It is a bit more savory than plain old lemon lemonade, but it is a pleasant, refreshing change.

Golden Lemonade

6 cups water
2 large lemons
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/8 teaspoon pure stevia powder (equivalent to 1/4 cup pure cane sugar)

In a large pitcher add the water. Juice both lemons and and add juice with meat to water. Add turmeric and stevia. Whisk together all ingredients until stevia and turmeric are combined.

Chill for at least one hour and stir before serving. Drink lemonade over ice, either straight, or dilute 1:1 with flat or carbonated water.

Drizzly Fruit Sauce

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There is no denying that fruit is naturally sweet, cuz it is full of sugars. Since the body does not really need much sugar, we have always resisted consuming much ourselves or giving it to Little B, whether natural or processed. She does eats fruit, and so do we sometimes, but it is usually whole, raw versions, not juice from concentrate or colored sugar water with a smidgen of processed juice from concentrate.

When Little B does come across such liquids they are overly sweet for her palate, for she is used to the sweet of real fruit, and in the realm of liquids, she is used to the slightly bitter taste of bubbly water (unflavored carbonated water). It is our fault. I love bubbly water and she liked sharing my beverage when little. Although some consider carbonated beverages (whether plain or flavored) not helpful to the body, I find that there are much more harmful things to drink. Tangent over, back to the drizzly stuff.

fruit sauceI was seeking out yet another light summer dessert for a crowd. We had flash frozen fruit in the freezer and I was reminded of a dessert I made regularly when I first started learning how to cook in earnest after college. It was berries and a splash of juice pureed and let to sit. I chose to be more expansive in this version, mixing the frozen stock and fresh stuff in our crisper. It is definitely a sauce to make the day before. The flavor magnifies when allowed to muddle around. I topped it with some cashew cookies (look for the recipe soon) and some lovely chocolate cashews I made a few months back. With some vanilla ice cream as a base it made for a not so heavy dessert on ANOTHER hot summer night.

Drizzly Fruit Sauce

1 cup chopped pineapple
1 cup chopped canteloupe
1 cup chopped peaches
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

In medium pot over medium heat add and combine the six fruit ingredients. Cover and let heat for about five minutes. When fruit begins to bubble, lower heat by half and continue cooking for 30 minutes, until fruit has released juices. Remove from heat, add vanilla, stir and let sit for one hour. Puree fruit with stick blender or food processor. Transfer puree to container with airtight lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Serve over ice cream and top with crumbled cookies, almond meal and/or dessert cashews.

Minty Melon Salad

2015-07-03 16.17.07When I was young and helping my parents in the kitchen I steadily graduated from simple tasks to more complicated,  (and for clumsy me) dangerous ones. I started with setting the table, then got to put condiments straight from the fridge to the table, eventually graduating to placing crystal and working in the oven and on the stove top. One very typical, simple task I did was melon balling. We often made weekend brunches at home, which included melons when in season. Since we had a cool little melon baller it made sense to us it instead of making boring, square pieces of melon.

2015-07-03 21.01.32When I made this salad about ten years ago I did not write it down – I don’t remember if someone told me how to make it or I read it, but I loved balling the melons.  I made it again recently as a dessert to a burgers and dogs meal while staying at my mom’s house – I even used the old melon baller that was still hanging around! I guessed pretty close on ingredients because tasted just like I remember. It did a great job topping off a hearty meal as we sat around the pit fire on a warm summer night. The mint soothed the full stomachs and the melon refreshed. I strongly recommend it!

Minty Melon Salad

3-4 cups balled or cubed watermelon
3-4 cups balled or cubed cantaloupe
1/2 cup water
1 cup Stevia In The Raw (or other preferred 1:1 sugar substitute)
3/4 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp amaretto liquor
Place melon balls in large serving bowl. In blender place remaining five ingredients. Blend on medium for 15-20 seconds, until mint is finely chopped.  Let sauce rest until foam subsides. Pour sauce over melon and gently stir to coat. Chill at least an hour or overnight. Toss to again coat, then serve.
Note: The mint won’t be bright green after sitting overnight, but the flavors will settle better in the melon balls.

Peach Fool

peach fool

I adore the name of this dessert! Fool! I don’t know much about it’s history, short of it being English and traditionally made with gooseberries. I do know it is not heavy and is easy to make ahead when you have dinner to get ready. I was reminded of the dessert during a recent weekend road trip. If you have ever been to Texas you may have discovered that the Hill Country is prime for grape growing and wine making, and the people there know it. There are more than forty wineries west of the Fort Worth/Austin/San Antonio corridor. The area is also prime for growing other fruits, like peaches. There is an abundance of the sweet stone fruit during the summer, sold at produce stands and grocery stores all over the state and beyond.

During a recent overnight adventure to sample wines between Johnson City and Fredericksburg we discovered it was a prime peach picking period. It was a beautiful trip, full of wonderful company, wines and food, as well as beautiful arts and crafts we discovered along the way. If you want to create your own adventure in the area this website was extremely helpful to us: On the way home we sought out some fresh produce, including the lovely and talented Fredericksburg peaches. The ripe mound we claimed for ourselves were freestone, so they did not stick to the pit.

They are much more sweet that what I usually eat, but here is the thing: enjoying such things in moderation really makes a difference to me when experiencing the seasons, especially summer. I am not a summer fan. Correction – I am not a hot summer fan. Anything above 75 degrees has the potential to make me grumpy. I am currently hanging out in a place that is lucky to have that temperature as the LOW each day. If I can find a bit of summer joy by eating a few peaches with whatever iced beverage I choose to have with me every minute of my waking hours, then I will eat them. To balance out their natural sugariness I took a stab at this fool. I have attempted to make a good tasting fool that is sugar free (except for those wondrous juices in the peaches) and abundant in protein. Hope you like it!

Peach Fool

3 cups sliced, pitted peaches, skin on
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp granulated sweetener (recommend erythritol/stevia mix)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mint leaves and thin peach slices (optional, for garnish)

In a medium skillet over medium heat add the peaches, drizzle lemon juice and 1 Tbsp sweetener and gently toss. Cook for about five minutes until peaches soften and begin to break apart. Gently toss again and remove from heat, allowing to cool completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator. When peaches are cool prepare the cream. In a mixing bowl add the whipping cream, yogurt, 2 tsp sweetener and vanilla. Whisk or beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold in peaches and their juices just until combined, creating a swirled effect – over stirring can cause the cream to collapse and loss of the swirl. It is recommended that the folding step occur in the serving bowl, to avoid over stirring. Serve ‘family style’ from the larger serving bowl, or carefully transfer to individual dessert dishes. Garnish with mint and thin peach slices (optional), then serve with crisp cookies or squares of shortcake.

Note: this dessert can be made with berries as well, with a much more dramatic swirl effect. The cooking time for the berries will probably need to be doubled to make sure the juices are released enough to make the fool swirly.


straw shortcake

Summer is so  much about bright, ripe fruit I could strangle myself. I grew up in South Texas, where they have at least a dozen fruit-based festivals every summer – watermelon, blueberry, tomato, peach, grapefruit, cantaloupe, gourde, hot sauce, wine, strawberry….oh wait, some of those aren’t fruit, but they might as well be, the way Texans consume them in the summertime. My favorite is strawberries. We would get strawberries by the flat. They would go in our cereal, salads, on toast and waffles, and of course dessert. One year I ate so many I got hives while in a movie theater watching Steel Magnolias. First there was the itch, then the welts, then the freaking out because I never had them before and wondering what I caught at work serving frozen yogurt. Friends assured me they would go away and they did, after a day or two. Strawberries were the obvious culprit. It has not happened since, but I am very careful when faced with an entire flat of the berries.

Because of the higher carbohydrate count of the stuff, I am also careful, in spite of the fact they fall very short of the most wonderful stuff on earth. To balance the carbs of berries I have come up with this otherwise pretty low carb dessert. My favorite version is with strawberries, but any berry will do. I took a chance and tweaked some successful almond meal based muffin recipes, in the hope that there would be enough sponginess and firmness to honor the berries. The cake came out wonderfully – moist and cakey but not too dense. You cannot believe how happy I am to have strawberry shortcake in my grain free, lowish carb repertoire!


1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp granulated sweetener
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Fresh Berries (see below for strawberry version, other berries can be left whole)
Whipped Cream (see step 3 below in strawberry version)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl combine the meal, sweetener and baking powder. Add the eggs, butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir until completely combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and with a spatula even out the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean from the center and the top begins to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely or place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Trying to manipulate it before completely cool or cold will result in a crumbly mess. Slice in squares or rectangles and layer with whipped cream and berries.

Strawberry Shortcake

Preparing strawberries for shortcake is a little different from using other berries. Other than strawberries can be left whole and layered with whipped cream and cake. To make a traditional strawberry shortcake take the following steps:

1) Set aside enough pretty, whole berries to put one on top of each planned servings (one cake will serve 6-8).

2) Gather three to four additional berries per person. Slice and dice the berries, tossing them with 1 Tbsp of granulated sweetener and a splash of lemon juice. Let sit for about ten minutes and the juices will release. Mush them up a bit to add to the sauce.

3) Place one cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp granulated sweetener to a bowl. Whisk them together until cream makes stiff peaks. Double quantities for every four servings. This whipped cream does not have any stabilizers and will not keep for more than a day or so.

4) To prepare the dessert it is recommended that steps are completed in a production line, doing every layer for all servings at the same time, evenly distributing chopped berries and whipped cream. Cut the cake into 6 – 8 pieces. For each serving slice a square of cake in half lengthwise. Place the bottom half on a plate. Drop a spoonful of strawberries on the cake slice and spread, pressing it into the cake a bit. Drop a dollop of whipped cream and another spoonful of berries. Place the top half of the cake square on top and lightly press it down. Add more chopped strawberries, top with a final dollop of cream and finish with a pretty, whole berry. Serve immediately.

Savory Watermelon Salad

IMG_9048As kids my brother and I spent summer afternoons outside a lot. We were able to cavort around our neighborhood bicycling, rollerskating, swimming, playing soccer and other things kids did in the 80’s ‘on the streets’. One of the snacks we ate was messy, juicy, sweet watermelon. Mom would cut it up and bring a bowl out to the back yard. We would take a break from gardening or playing in the sprinkler to feast on it, sprinkling each wedge with a bit of salt and letting the juices run down our chins. After we were done we often had seed spitting contents. The watermelons we  had were always riddled with slippery black seeds. We would save them up as we ate, then would have the contest. There were occasional arguments about whether seed bounces counted in spitting distance, or whether one of us stepped over the spitting line when getting a running start on a spit. To this day I am surprised there weren’t more watermelon plants growing rogue in the yard. This may be the oddest sounding salad I have ever made, but it was curiously satisfying. On a warm summer day in Texas I was looking for something other than a green side salad at dinner. We don’t eat much watermelon, considering the higher carbohydrate count for the fruit, but I am glad I plunged in with this salad. Very refreshing, and quite a different slant compared to the spiked Whiskey Watermelon I made a few years ago…different type of satisfying…

Savory Watermelon Salad

1 small seedless watermelon
1 cup crumbled feta
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced with meat retained
1 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Prepare about 8 cups of watermelon in bite-sized pieces by cutting it into 1-inch cubes or using a melon baller. In a medium bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Whisk until combined. Add the feta, olives and onion. Stir to coat with the dressing. Add mixture to watermelon and gently toss, trying not to crush the watermelon pieces.  Sprinkle mint and more salt to taste on top. Serve immediately or chill until served.

Note: as you can see from the picture the watermelon juices will mix with the dressing build up as the salad sits. It is recommended that a slotted spoon is used to serve, to reduce the soupiness of the salad when plated.

Secret Muffins

secret muffin
Little B and I have a wonderful opportunity to start spending more time together for a while. I guess that would be an obvious (to me) wonderful consequence of quitting my job. Of course part of the time will definitely be spent doing stuff in the kitchen. In recent months she has randomly thrown together fruit and veggies with cheese and called it soup. While some has been yummy, other batches not so much. Knowing that I often share kitchen experiences on my blog, she insisted this time I don’t share the recipe. It must be kept a secret! I cannot tell you we puréed a banana and berries, using them to substitute for butter, and then doubled the sweetener in some microwave muffins. At least I will stop short of listing all the ingredients or tell you how to cook them. I am a bad person, but they were soooo good!

Banana Bread

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Little B has been requesting banana bread for over a month. We don’t usually buy bananas because Little B is the only one who eats them, and often loses interest before the bunch is gone. The same was true this week. Two bananas were left to get dark brown and look pathetic. I remembered all the breads we have made over the past year and did a crap shoot. The ratio between almond and coconut flour definitely needs to be considered to ensure a moist result, but not overly so. The bananas would provide a natural sweetness, but no need to do much sweetening otherwise. Cinnamon always tastes yummy when sprinkled on a banana, so why not drop in a bit? The bread did not rise very much, but it was still light and fluffy. Little Be loved it, but picked out the walnuts, so the next batch we will do without. A lot of buts that turned into a lovely bread. And the darned bananas are finally gone.

Banana Bread

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp Stevita (can be excluded, if you find the mild sweetness of banana sufficient)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 eggs
1 cup finely chopped raw walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rectangular bread pan with parchment paper or grease muffin pan. In a large bowl combine the almond and coconut flours, baking soda, sea salt, sweetener and cinnamon. In a separate bowl place the bananas. Puree the bananas with a stick blender (or mush with hands like Little B prefers) until smooth. Add butter and eggs, whisking together until smooth. Pour liquid mixture, and nuts (optional) to dry mixture. Whisk together until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour batter in bread pan, or divide batter equally among muffin pan divets. Bake in oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Muffins take about 20 minutes, loaf about 30. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about ten minutes. Serve or store in refrigerator.


Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

peanut butter yogurt dip

Double duty yogurt stuff! This works as an awesome dip for fruit as well as a spoonable non-dip snack for Little B. Talk about protein and protein and some subtle sweetness from the apple sauce. The recipe is quick and dirty (but clean) so I will leave the intro the same. Make it and enjoy, even adding some extra cinnamon to make it spicier, if the apple sauce is not already enough. Yum yum! You can see Little B’s hand dipping a blurry strawberry in her eagerness – could not wait until the pics were taken….

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup apple sauce

In medium bowl combine peanut butter, yogurt and apple sauce. Stir until completely combined. Store in covered dish and chill overnight. Serve with celery, apple slices, mango slices or other fruit. Also works plain as a snack for peanut butter lovers.

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