chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | vegan

chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking

( I want to thank all who participated in last week's giveaway! I had so much fun reading  all of the thoughtful, funny, and interesting comments on how you feel about grains … the ones you already love, and the ones you want to love. The comments were so wonderful, I wish I could give everyone a book! I did pick three winners - at random - and they have been notified. Congrats to those who won, and thank you so much for your enthusiastic participation.) 
 

For a very long time, I've  been searching for the perfect cake recipe that I could whip up for birthdays or special occasions for my family and friends. Since March and April are two very big birthday months in our family, I figured this was the year and month I was going to find and master my go-to cake recipe. Because everyone needs a go-to cake recipe in their back pocket, and I've been long overdue for mine. 

As you may have guessed, my perfect cake recipe would have a few requirements (restrictions or guides, depending on how you look at it). My perfect cake would have no dairy (milk, or butter) , no refined sugar, and would either be glulten-free or use a better digested flour than an all-purpose white. My perfect cake would not use processed ingredients like vegan butter or tofu to achieve a non-runny frosting. My perfect cake would be so delicious you would have no idea that it had these kind of restrictions attached so that anyone and everyone can enjoy it and lick the frosting and every last crumb off their plate. 

In searching for my perfect cake, I didn't have to look too far ever since Amy Chaplin's book:  At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen, made it's way into my home. It has quickly become my favorite cookbook for it's approach to whole foods cooking, expansive knowledge, and recipes that are just perfect in every single way. Not surprisingly, Amy has created the perfect cake recipe. The first ever cake where I read the recipe once over and said … WOW…… this is it. This is the ONE. This cake is MY perfect cake. 

Since discovering this recipe, I have made the cake three times, and tested it as a cupcake twice. The two layer vegan cake it out of this world … but the cupcakes, which are made with the exact same proportions, were more suitable for baking with my niece, and for bringing to share with my mom's nurses for her birthday a couple of weeks ago. If I've learned anything from this past year, it's that every single birthday and achievement needs to be celebrated, and we now have our perfect cake (or cupcakes) that we can do it with. 

chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking
chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | what's cooking good looking

chocolate cupcakes + spiced cherry filling + chocolate ganache | vegan 

This recipe is ever so slightly adapted from Amy Chaplin's chocolate cake with chocolate ganache recipe in her book: At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen. In her book, Amy shares this recipe as a two-layer cake, using two 8" round cake pans that are greased and lined with parchment. The cherry filling recipe is doubled, and the cake is stacked with a layer of frosting and the cherry filling in the middle, and then covered entirely in the delicious chocolate ganache. This cupcake recipe below uses the exact amount of batter that she uses for the cake and ganache, and results in about 24 cupcakes. Feel feel to make this recipe into a cake if you choose, by dividing the batter equally amongst the 2 cake pans.  One last note is that it is best to make the frosting a day in advance, or at least several hours, to give it plenty of time to set and firm. 

MAKES 
about 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

for the chocolate ganache:
2 - 13.5oz cans of full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup of maple syrup
5 tablespoons of agar flakes
pinch of sea salt
3.5 oz of dark chocolate (70% cacao), broken into pieces
1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
4 teaspoons of vanilla extract

for the cake:
2 cups of toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), roughly chopped, divided 
2 cups of spelt flour, divided
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 cup of boiling water
1/4 cup of ground flax seeds
1/2 cup of extra virgin coconut oil, melted (plus more for greasing)
1 1/2 cups of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt

for the spiced cherry filling:
1 cup of dried cherries
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
2 teaspoons of water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of unsweetened black cherry jam

METHOD

Make the ganache:

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add the coconut milk, maple syrup, agar flakes, salt and stir. Bring to a boil over high-heat, while whisking frequently. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes (while stirring every once in a while). You're done when the agar has dissolved. Make sure there are no agar flakes visible (be sure to look closely at the mixture to tell). 
  • Remove from the heat, and add in the chocolate pieces. Stir, and cover for two minutes. Then whisk again to make sure the chocolate is fully dissolved. 
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl, and set aside to cool. When the mixture has cooled and stopped steaming, place it in the fridge to set for about 1.5-2 hours. 
  • Once the mixture has completely set, cut it into cubs and place it into a food processor with the orange juice and vanilla. Blend until completely smooth. Scrap down side and check for unblended lumps. If the mixture is separating, keep blending until it becomes homogenous. This can take up to 5 minutes. Transfer to a container and keep it in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour, or unit you're ready to frost the cupcake. 
     

Make the spiced cherry filling:

  • In a small pan over medium-low heat, add the cherries, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, water, and vanilla. Cook, while stirring, for about 3-5 minutes, until the cherries are soft. Remove from the heat and fold in the black cherry jam. 

Make the cupcakes:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350º and line a 12 cup muffin / cupcake pan with cupcake liners. 
  • Place 2/3 cup of the toasted hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse a few times. Then add in 1/4 cup of the spelt flour, and blend until finely ground. Place it in a medium bowl. Sift in the remaining spelt flour, baking powder, and baking soda. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Add the ground flax, coconut oil, maple syrup, vinegar, vanilla, and salt and whisk to emulsify. Add in the flour mixture to this wet mixture, and whisk until everything is combined. 
  • Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling halfway, then adding a small spoonful (about 1 teaspoon) of the cherry mixture. Then add another spoonful of the batter on top, until it is just almost reaching the top. Do this until all of the cupcake liners are full. If you do not have two cupcake pans, then you will have to bake these and repeat with the second set.  
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tookpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and set aside to cool almost completely before frosting. Repeat this process, if need be, until the batter is done. 

Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost the cupcakes:

  • Place the frosting into a pastry bag, or a plastic bag with a hold cut into a corner. Frost the cupcakes making a circular motion from the center, out. Top with some of the chopped toasted hazelnuts, and spoonful of the spiced cherries (you should have a little leftover).
  • If yo do not plan to enjoy immediately, you may want to wait to frost the cupcakes until right before you are ready to serve so that the frosting does not get runny, or so that you do not have to refrigerate the cupcakes with the frosting. To store any extra cupcakes that are frosted, keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge. 

 

farro + beet burgers | chimichurri yogurt | & a giveaway!!

farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking

There are two very special parts to this recipe that I am sharing today. First, is this delicious beet and faro burger which is the first recipe I am sharing from my newly released cookbook. It's a super solid veggie burger that won't cost you hours in the kitchen. Secondly, is this very special, very awesome, chimichurri that is my husband's "secret" recipe. I have been waiting for just the right moment to share his chimichurri with you, and these burgers are the perfect companion to celebrate this variation of our favorite south american sauce. 

Michael takes his chimichurri very seriously, and his chimichurri is absolutely one of the reasons why I love him and why we are married. Michael is the designated chimichurri maker in our home. I am not allowed to make the chimichurri unless it is under Michael's strict supervision. My haphazard style of non-measuring and substitutions are not allowed here ….  Michael uses exact ingredients and measurements every single time, for a superb and beautifully balanced chimichurri every single time.  

Michael made some chimichurri for me this weekend, and I added some yogurt to it before adding it to this veggie burger. I fixed a burger for him too, and I left it in the fridge for when he got home from work. Predictably, I got a phone call later when he discovered that I altered his chimichurri (oops! ;) I wasn't sure if he would approve, but he admitted it was a good move, and it turned the chimichurri into the ultimate condiment for this beet and faro burger. 

If you're a chimichurri expert, you might have a thing or two to say about Michael's version. For starters, he does not use parsley or any other herb besides cilantro. Do not question him on this. I have, and didn't get very far. I won't mess with his version, it's too perfect as it is. Of course, I encourage you to use this chimichurri recipe all on it's own, for these burger or for anything else. For the sake of these burgers, I like the addition of the yogurt, because it turns it into more of a spread than a dipping sauce. These burgers have such great flavor, they need little more than a smear of the chimichirri yogurt, some greens, maybe an avocado if you're in the mood. 

 

For the GIVEAWAY!
As promised, I am giving away 2 copies of my new cookbook, Grains as Mains. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your favorite grain OR a grain that you are curious about and would like to start cooking with more. Voting closes Friday, and the two winners will be chosen at random and announced early next week. Good luck, friends! xoxo

farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking
farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking
farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking
farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking
farro + beet burgers with chimichurri yogurt | what's cooking good looking

farro + beet burgers | chimichurri yogurt 

This recipe is from the Grains as Mains cookbook (pg. 173)

This chimichurri recipe has many uses and can be made with or without the yogurt. This recipe makes a lot of chimichurri yogurt, you will likely have a lot of extra which you could use for other things. If you do not want extra sauce, cut the recipe in half, or add less yogurt. The burger patties can be made ahead of time, and stored, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days. 

MAKES 4-5 burgers

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup of uncooked farro
1 cup of water
a pinch of salt

2 beets (4.5 oz), roughly chopped
2 carrots (3 oz) roughly chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt
pepper
1/3 cup of rolled oats
1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil

for michael's awesome chimichurri (with or without yogurt):
2 cups of loosely packed cilantro
8 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a jalapeño, de-seeded
1/4 of a small red onion
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/8 cup of red wine vinegar
a pinch of salt
6oz (a small container) of plain greek yogurt (optional)

for serving:
toasted buns or pita bread, some sliced avocado or red onion, greens or microgreens

METHOD

Make the chimichurri (it's best to make this a day or two before, so the flavors develop - make it no less than 30 minutes before serving):

  • Chop the cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, and red onion separately and then add them to one large pile on the cutting board and dice them all together until they become minced and uniform in size. Place them in a small bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt, and stir. Cover, and set it aside until you're ready to serve. (Add the yogurt just before serving). 
     

Cook the farro:

  • Place the farro, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until the farro is tender. Drain the excess water. 

Make the patties:

  • Add the cooked farro, beets, carrots, scallions, garlic, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse several times until everything is pureed and uniform (no chunks). You will probably have to scrape down the sides a few times. 
  • Add the oats, and pulse until combined. 
  • Add the sunflower seeds. Pulse a few times. I like to keep some of the seeds whole for some texture. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and add in the beaten eggs, stirring until it is combined. 
  • Place the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or you can also make this a day or two ahead and keep it covered in the fridge). 
  • Once the mixture has been chilled, remove it from the fridge and form the patties. Divide the mixture into 4-5 patties, and place them onto a plate or baking sheet. 

Cook and assemble the burgers:

  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of the oil in a cast iron. Cook the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side, until the are brown around the edges. Do this 2-3 patties at a time (do not crowd the pan), until all of the patties are cooked.  
  • If you have not yet added the yogurt to the chimichurri, do so right before you are ready to smear the burgers. 
  • Serve on a toasted bun, pita bread, or lettuce wrap with a smear of the chimichurri yogurt, and any additional toppings you like. 

braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives

braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking

Today is a very exciting day, friends. Today, my very first cookbook has been released in the US ( ahhh!!!!)
 I haven't made a huge deal about this book (yet) here, because unlike many of the gorgeous blogger cookbooks that have come out recently, mine was a collaboration with a couple of recipe writers and a few other talented ladies that all came together to make it happen. With that said, it is a very very very exciting event, and I hope, if you are at all interested, you will go and check it out ---> 

GRAINS AS MAINS

The recipes in the book are in a similar style to that of my blog's, but with an emphasis on grains, their history, and the many ways to cook, prepare, and incorporate them into any meal. The book is not plant based or vegan, so please keep that in mind, however there is a big focus on vegan and vegetarian recipes. I am really thrilled with the book, and I am proud to say that I think it is a great resource for anyone who loves to cook with ancient grains. 

Also, for those of you who are interested in the book …. I will be giving away two cookbooks, here, next week to celebrate. I will also be sharing a recipe from the book then as well. 

But for today's celebration, I am sharing one of my newest go-to recipes for an impressive / delicious / one pot meal for busy nights (or fancy nights), that can incorporate any leftover grain that you have in your fridge. Before getting into how delicious meal is, I have to admit something to you. I have never … never … ever …. been a person who is okay with olives in my food. And another thing.  I have always thought that cooked citrus might be a little too overpowering for my tastes. Not anymore. This recipe has made me into a new woman who now loves both olives and citrus in her food.  

Kale and cauliflower are two vegetables that were meant to be braised in a olive oil, citrus liquid in the late winter, when you're totally over the snow and cold and want to get excited for spring and warmer days. The olives play so nicely in this dish, and the cooked meyers lemons gives it just the right lemony orang-y zing. I have been so obsessed with this dish, that I have made it at least a dozen times in the past month, a dozen different ways …… but this way right here is the winner, and this is how I will be celebrating this big day with you, with a big 'ole leftover pot of this. 

braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking
braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives | what's cooking good looking

braised kale + cauliflower with meyers lemons, garlic + olives

SERVES 2-4

INGREDIENTS

12 cloves of garlic, smashed
olive oil
red pepper flakes
sunflower oil (or another high-heat oil)
1 head of cauliflower, sliced into 1/2 " thick pieces (most importantly is you want to have flat edges)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 meyers lemons (1 sliced thinly and 1 juiced)
about 8 kale leaves, ribs removes and roughly chopped
salt + pepper
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 cup of kalamata olives, roughly chopped (optional)

for serving: 1-2 cups of a cooked grain or rice such as quinoa, millet, brown rice, or wild rice

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350º. 
  • In a medium sized heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (a dutch oven), heat the olive oil (just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan) over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is light brown and fragrant.  Do not burn the garlic! Pour the garlic, oil mixture out onto a sheet pan or plate. 
  • Return the pot to the heat, crank the heat up to high, and add about 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil. You want the pot to be super hot before you add the cauliflower because the goal here is to crisp the edges. Add the cauliflower to the pot in one layer, so that is does not overlap. It will probably take you 2-3 batches to cook all of the cauliflower, but you don't want to crowd the pot because the cauliflower will get soggy. Cook the cauliflower for about 2-3 minutes on one side and about a minute on the other. Remove and set on the same plate or pan as the garlic. Do this until all of the cauliflower has browned. 
  • Turn the heat down to medium and allow the pot to cool a bit. Then add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and the onions and lemons. Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the  onions and lemons are soft. Then add the kale, and season really well with salt and pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes until the kale has wilted. 
  • Add the reserved lemon juice, the vinegar, and the olives. Nestle the cauliflower and garlic on top, cover with a tight fitting lid, and place it in the oven for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Remove and serve over quinoa, rice, or any other grain you like. 
  • This will get even better over the next few days. Just store it in the fridge in an air-tight container and heat up over medium heat with some olive oil in a pot or pan. 

collard wraps with roasted veggies, quinoa, brown rice + mustard miso

collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking

I chopped several inches off my hair the other day. It might not sounds like that big of a big deal, but it was for me. For the past 10 or so years, I have gone to my hairdresser and requested the same …. Just a trim, not too much, same as last time, instructions.

He chopped off a little more than I asked for, and definitely more than what was in my comfort zone, but I needed to desperately. I needed to get rid of that dead weight..

Cutting your hair or anything that involves changing your look is incredibly liberating. I honestly felt like a brand-spanking new person. Initially I was nervous about what Michael would think, but my feelings of wahooo!!!!  totally took over. I really didn’t care what anyone thought, something inside me wanted this so bad I didn’t care if anyone, including my husband, liked it or not.  (For the record, I could probably get a hot pink mohawk, and Michael would still probably tell me I looked great).

I feel like this might have something to do with my recent spirutal makesover. … you know, the one we talked about last week. After two sessions with the reiki healher, something inside me was screaming for a change, screaming to shake it up.

Despite the fact that I have these new chopped locks, and a newly healed spirit, I still have a bit of craziness going on in my life. Seriously, who doesn’t. I am eating lunch away from home on most days (not my norm, but I know it is the norm for most of my office working friends). I refuse to eat takeout every day, I reserve takeout for only those days where it is totally necessary. When I do bring lunch, I often utilize leftovers, or my grains and beans that I have made for the week.  A salads in a jar work well for this and I do make those often, but more recently, to shake things up, I’ve been throwing together these collard wraps with whatever it is I have in my fridge.

This version I am sharing with you today is super flexile, but it also is the more typial version I’ve been making since I usually have quinoa, rice, or some grain that is pre-cooked in my fridge. In the winter months, a tray of roasted veggies happens often, so leftovers from that is usually around too. I quickly throw together a sauce, like this two minture mustard-miso, and add any crunch and zing I can find in my fridge and pantry, and I have a super-nourishing lunch on the go.

collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking
collard wraps with roasted veggies + mustard  miso | what's cooking good looking

 

collard wraps with roasted veggies, quinoa, brown rice + miso mustard

MAKES
3-4 wraps

INGREDIENTS

½ cup of brown rice
½ cup of quinoa

3 large carrots, cut into thin 2” sticks
2 large beets, cut into thin 2” sticks
6oz (about 10) shiitake mushrooms (caps only), thinly sliced
a drizzle of neutral, high-heat oil (grapeseed, sunflower)
tamari or braggs aminos or low sodium soy sauce

6-8 large collard wraps

for the mustard miso:
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of sweet white miso
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of tamari
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
2-3 tablespoons of water

Optional additions to the wrap: avocado, microgreens, sesame seeds (or gomasio), pumpkin seeds, nuts, herbs, more hot sauce.

Also, options for secure the wraps: several toothpicks, or several long pieces of green onion (white parts removed)

METHOD

*Pre-heat the oven to 400º

Cook the brown rice + quinoa

  • Cook the quinoa and brown rice according to instructions (brown rice should take about 45-50 minutes, and quinoa about 15).
  • When both have cooked completely. Add them to the same pot or a large bowl, stir, and set aside, covered, until you’re ready to assemble the wraps.

Roast the veggies

  • Place the carrot and beets on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, and drizzle with the tamari or braggs aminos.
  • Place the shiitakes on a separate parchment lined baking sheet (this is so the beets do not stain the super-absorbent mushrooms, but if you don’t mind feel free to use the same tray). Drizzle with oil and tamari (or aminos).
  • Roast the veggies for 20-30 minutes. You want the veggies to be tender (but not mushy) and the edges to be brown. I also like the mushrooms to be crispy. When they are done, remove, and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the wraps.

While the veggies are roasting, make the mustard miso

  • Combine all of the ingredients, except for the water, in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, making sure to smooth out any lumps from the miso.
  • Then, add the water one tablespoon at a time until you have the consistency you desire. I find that 2-3 gives the right consistency.

Prep the collards, and assemble the wraps

  •  To prepare the collards for wrapping, carefully remove the center rib. Then, place one collard on top of the other, facing the opposite directions so that you cover any gaps from the removed center rib. If there is any overlap, which is likely, then neatly trip around the edges of the collards so they match in size. 
  • To assemble, drizzle some mustard miso over the center or the wrap. Then place a large spoonful of the quinoa / brown rice mixture, and some of the carrots, beets, and mushrooms on top. Drizzle a little more mustard miso, and fishing with any additional toppings.
  • To wrap the collards (follow the pictures above). Fold up the bottom of the collard halfway. Then, fold over the right side and then the left side. Secure with a toothpick, or you can also tie a green onion (or two) around to secure the wrap. 

matcha brownies (gf+df)

matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking
matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking

I've felt a little off balance the past month. Maybe you've noticed …. last post I insisted my turnip waffles were parsnip, and the post before that I left out some of the main ingredients. I also spilt an entire bottle of water over my new laptop. I needed to hit that reset button badly. 

Last week, I went to go see my doctor, because on top of feeling way off balance, I've been having a weird allergic reaction to something, and a general feeling of "something is not okay".  When I saw her and told her what was going on, she insisted my problems were 100% stress related and immediately (I mean, immediately) sent me to her "healer". I had no idea what this "healer" was going to do to me, but I went straight from my doctor two stops down on the subway to see her. When I arrived in the office, I felt and immediate sense of clam, and an overwhelming feeling of happiness. The waiting room was filled with bright colors, and soothing meditative music. The healer woman ushered me to the back room which was bright purple and filled with that same warm and loving energy. We talked for a bit, I told her about what craziness was going on with my life, as well as the symptoms I was having, which were very likely a result of that craziness. Then, she asked me if I had any idea what she did. I smiled and said, I have no idea. 

Turns out, she is a reiki healer with extensive training in chinese medicine. Hum. Fascinating.  I've always been intrigued by reiki, I even have a very dear friend who was trained as a reiki healer, however, I have never considered seeing someone for this kind of therapy. I've just always thought that I am a more hands on / need to see results, kind of person. Although I am a very firm believer in any form of natural healing over popping pills, the skeptic in me sometimes holds me back from trying things that are a little less tangible. 

She explained that I was going to lie down on the table, fully clothed, and she was not going to make any contact with me, but that she was going to use her energy to replenish some of my depleted energy. Okay. I'm game. If she just gives me a tiny fraction of her positive energy, it's worth it, right? She worked her magic for 20-30 minutes, and when I walked out of there, I honestly felt as though I was walking on a airy cloud of happiness. To prove so, afterward I was standing on 6th avenue trying to flag down a cab and some aggressive driver literally almost run me over …. and I could care less. I knew it worked, and I could not wait to see her again. 

During our session, my eating habits came up, and she brought up something very interesting. She asked what I ate on a daily basis, and I told her my usual, smoothie, salad, mostly raw / gluten-free / dairy-free, always for breakfast and lunch, and sometimes through until dinner. I always get the thumbs up from any healthcare-type person when I talk about my diet, however, she is the first person to have found an issue with what I was eating. She said, because it is winter and our body is in hibernation mode, I really should be eating more cooked food. More roasted vegetables, more soup,  more tea. Makes sense. She told me to stop trying to focus so much on salads and smoothies, and try to listen to what my body needs.  Yikes, but okay. Limiting my salads and smoothies until the weather warms up, this could be difficult, but she might be right. 

She even said, I want you to give yourself a treat once in a while. Have dessert, eat something you wouldn't normally eat. Live a little. What has happened in your past, has happened. You need to start living in the present, and stop making up so many rules for yourself. Let stuff go. There's a whole life out there waiting for you to go and live. Here is your prescription for no guilt, for whatever it is you are or are not doing, so take it with you and live your life. 

YES. Maybe it was those words that made me feel like I was walking on clouds. I needed someone, a outside person, to tell me this. That is was okay to let go, okay to not feel guilty. It was okay to eat dessert for lunch, if that's what I wanted to do. 

So, the next day I made some brownies. I did keep the gluten and dairy out of them because that is what my body likes, but I gave myself some extra chocolate and a touch of matcha because I like my indulgence with a boost of antioxidants. 

matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking
matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking
matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking
matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking
matcha brownies | what's cooking good looking

These brownies are slightly more on the bitter side than the sweet side, so if you are a dark (bitter) chocolate person, then these brownies are for you. The matcha adds to the intriguing, unexpected bite to these brownies that I really like. If you've cooked with matcha before and you love the taste (bitter with an underlying tone of sweetness), then go ahead and add two tablespoons, but if you are hesitant, then just add one tablespoon. 

Another thing to note is that these brownies are on the cakey side, and I like them that way. However, there are slight adjustments you can make in the flour, butter, and sugar to get a different result. This article has the most detailed write up of how to achieve the brownie texture you're looking for, if you're up for experimenting: 
http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to/brownies-chewy-cakey-fudgy.aspx?pg=1

Feel free to sub the brown rice flour regular all-purpose flour (1:1 …. or even take out and additional 1/2 cup of the nut flour and add another 1/2 cup of all-purpose)  if you don't mind the gluten, and want a chewier result. One last thing. I tested these with both coconut oil and earth balance butter ….. the butter definitely won, but if you want to avoid any kind of butter all together, then by all means use the coconut oil. Oh …. one last thing, I promise. I used maple syrup instead of a more refined white sugar. The results are less sweet, but I also like it like this. Feel free to use white sugar (1:1) here, for a sweeter result. 

matcha brownies

MAKES
about 10 brownies

INGREDIENTS

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons of ground flax seed + 4 tablespoons of water)

dry ingredients:
1 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of hazelnut (or almond) flour
2 tablespoons of arrowroot 
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoon of matcha (plus more for dusting, if you like)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

wet ingredients:
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla

for the melted chocolate
1/3 cup of butter (vegan if you prefer, or you can also sub coconut oil)
1/4 cup of hemp or almond milk (unsweetened)
4 oz of semi-sweet dark chocolate (vegan, if you prefer, 65% cacao)

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 350º.  Grease a 9x9 pan. 
  • Make the flax egg but combining the ground flax and water in a small bowl. Stir and set aside for now. 
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir well to combine everything. 
  • Set up a double broiler, and add the milk, butter, and chocolate (in pieces), while stirring constantly. When the chocolate and butter have melted, remove from the heat and immediately pour over the prepared batter. Add in the flax egg, and stir until everything is combined.
  • Transfer the mixture to the greased pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).  Be careful not to overcook. 
  • Wait at least 10 minutes for the brownies to cool before removing them from the pan. Then, flip the pan to release the brownies, and cut into square. Enjoy warm (the best), or they will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge.