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How to Make Homemade Coconut Butter

15 Feb

Coconut butter, sometimes referred to as creamed coconut, is becoming increasingly popular. With its popularity, however, it can be expensive and often difficult to find. The good news though is that you can still enjoy it…just make your own! If you have access to shredded coconut or coconut flakes, you are in luck. Check out this simple recipe for creamy homemade coconut butter:

Homemade Coconut Butter
Yields approximately 1 cup

4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5-10 minutes*, or until smooth; stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl.

Store coconut butter in an airtight container at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. Coconut butter will begin to solidify after resting.

*Processing time may take more or less time depending on food processor

Flaked Coconut

Before: flaked coconut

Coconut Butter

After: coconut butter

Easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise

20 Jul

Mayonnaise (or mayo for short) is a staple in households all over the world. Said to have originated in Spain, this creamy white condiment is used in various dishes both savory and sweet (source).

In traditional mayo, the lecithin contained in egg yolks serves as not only a thickener but an emulsifier, which stabilizes the mixture, allowing it to hold its shape. In other words, when something is emulsified, it allows two naturally repelling liquids (i.e. oil and water) to stick together. So how does one go about making an egg-free mayo? The answer: use alternative sources of fat and lecithin. Oil may be used in place of the fat. With regard to lecithin, various foods such as raw cauliflower and mustard naturally contain lecithin, but perhaps the most concentrated sources are soy and sunflower lecithin. These alternatives serve as excellent stand-ins and flawlessly replace the eggs.

This super easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise is made in under a minute. The result is a light, creamy, cholesterol-free mayonnaise that looks and tastes like it came straight from the grocery store. If you’re feeling fancy, you can easily flavor your mayo with whatever you choose such as garlic or fresh herbs.

Egg-Free Mayonnaise

Easy Egg-Free Mayonnaise
Yields just over 1 cup

1/2 cup organic unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin*
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup organic canola oil

Using a blender with a 2-piece lid, combine first four ingredients and purée until smooth, approximately 10 seconds.

With the blender still running, carefully remove center part of lid and slowly add oil in a steady stream. Watch mixture closely and stop blender once mayonnaise becomes thick. You will know it is ready when the mixture no longer blends. This should take approximately 5-10 seconds. Be careful not to over-blend as doing so will result in a runny mayonnaise.

Scoop mixture into an air-tight container and store in refrigerator. Mayonnaise should keep for 2-3 weeks.

*If preferred, you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard in place of the soy lecithin. Resulting mayonnaise will have a slightly yellow color and may not be as thick.

Dijon-Marinated Portobello Mushrooms

29 Apr

Ahh, portobello mushrooms. The mature version of the button or crimini mushroom, portobellos have a nice, meaty texture and make nutritious replacements for burger patties or steaks. Raw portobellos are a very good source of Copper, Dietary Fiber, Folate, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin and Selenium, and a good source of Iron, Magnesium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Zinc (source). The selenium contained in these delicious fungi is said to assist with DNA repair, copper and iron help the flow of oxygen through our blood, zinc boosts immunity and helps heal wounds, and niacin has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (source).

Marinated portobellos are delicious on salads and sandwiches (pictured below), in breakfast scrambles and wraps, or even enjoyed as a simple side dish.

Dijon Marinated Portobello Sandwich

Dijon-Marinated Portobello Mushrooms

1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white cooking wine
2 tablespoons liquid aminos
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
4 drops liquid smoke
1 (6-ounce) package clean, sliced portobello mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400º F. Lightly grease a small, rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

Combine all ingredients except for mushrooms in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Brush generously onto both sides of mushroom slices and place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Marinated Portabello Mushrooms

Dry-Roasted Pecans

18 Sep

Pecans are tasty little guys. With their slightly sweet flavor and soft texture, they are very popular among the nut family. Though full of fat — heart-healthy fat that is — pecans can help protect us from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They are a great source of copper and manganese and also provide fiber and protein, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine and zinc to list a few (source). Pecans’ rich supply of manganese helps the body form blood-clotting components, bones, connective tissue and hormones. Manganese is essential for normal brain and nerve function and plays an important role in blood regulation and various types of metabolic functions (source).

Dry-Roasted Pecans

I love pecans to begin with but when roasted, they develop a sweet yet smoky flavor. Delicious on a variety of things ranging from salads to ice cream, roasted pecans are awesome. Dry-roasting is often preferred over oil-roasting for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s cheaper, in theory, as you aren’t using an extra ingredient — oil, and 2) it is less fattening. Below are directions on how to roast them.

Dry-Roasted Pecans

1 cup unsalted pecan halves

Preheat oven to 500º F. Place pecans in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 5 minutes or until pecans begin to turn dark brown, but not black. Allow to cool slightly before handling.

Vanilla Extract: Did You Know?

10 Sep

Did you know that you can easily make vanilla extract from the comforts of your own home? For me, the mouth-watering aroma of fresh vanilla is one that is difficult to beat. The aroma brings to mind visions of fresh baked cookies, pies and homemade vanilla ice cream.

So why not make your own vanilla extract? It tastes just as good, if not better than store-bought. Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 (8-ounce) glass bottle with tight-fitting lid
  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 6-8 ounces vodka of your choice

Split vanilla beans lengthwise so that their seeds are exposed. Place in glass bottle and add vodka until it reaches approximately 1-inch from the top. Place lid on bottle ensuring that it fits tightly, and store in a cool, dark area for 2-6 months, shaking occasionally. Steep the vanilla for longer if you desire a more enhanced flavor.

Brown Sugar: Did You Know?

17 Jun

Did you know that brown sugar is made by combining regular granulated sugar with molasses? Here are a couple of recipes:

Light Brown Sugar

1 cup granulated sugar
1-3/4 teaspoons molasses

Dark Brown Sugar

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses

Mix together until combined. Resulting brown sugar should be light and fluffy.

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