Papaya, Lemon, and Coconut Cashew Mousse

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I’m writing this post while sitting atop a “doughnut pillow” and an ice pack. I took a pretty nasty fall a few days ago, and not much to my surprise, got myself a broken tailbone. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed to try recover as quickly as possible, despite the fact that a tailbone injury takes the longest to heal of most broken bones. Sigh. I think I’ll make it. Even though I’m confined to my house, I’ve been able to conjure up some new easy-on-the-stomach recipes for myself while my body is feeling the wrath of pain medicine. Among these new recipes are soups, smoothies, and this little jar of heaven- papaya cashew mousse.

To be honest, I’ve never really experimented with papaya much in the past. Only recently have I taken an interest in its nutritional properties and have worked to conjure up a recipe using it as the primary ingredient. Papaya, in my opinion, is undoubtedly an under-appreciated fruit considering the health properties of it. The first notable health benefit of papaya is its ability to aid in digestion by providing your body with numerous proteolytic enzymes such as chymopapain, papain, caricain, and glycyl endopeptidase.

For most of us, a lot of the foods we consume on a weekly basis put a strain on our digestive systems, forcing it to work harder in the future in order to digest foods and absorb nutrients and energy from them. The papain enzyme in papaya, as I mentioned previously, is responsible for splitting (or severing) the peptide bonds into individual amino acids, fit and ready to be used by the body for growth. Eating even a small amount of papaya or even papaya enzyme supplements with a meal can significantly speed up your body’s digestion process. When consumed in combination with salivary amylase (an enzyme naturally produced in the saliva) and plant-based food enzymes, papaya has the ability to work wonders in your digestive system, especially during or after a meal when these enzymes are present.

I think I’ve bored you enough with the biology behind papaya enzymes; who’s ready for the recipe behind this deliciousness? This recipe produces the most velvety, smooth, and subtly sweet cream/mousse hybrid that you could ever imagine. It can eaten as a snack, dessert, or even a breakfast item because its full of nutritional goodness and satiating nutritional properties.

This recipe is super easy to throw together; however, you must soak cashews overnight and preferably should use a high-speed blender (preferably a Vitamix or Ninja) in order to make the mousse.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:
(Makes two large jars)
1 medium, ripe papaya with seeds scooped out and skin peeled off
3/4-1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for ~8 hours
coconut milk (the amount depends on the consistency you want)
pinch of Himalayan pink salt
1/4 tsp dried lemon zest
2 probiotic capsules (I used this brand)

Method:
1) First, place your cashews in a bowl with filtered water to soak overnight; they should be covered and should be soft the next morning.
2) Place your papaya flesh in a freezer bag and allow it to freeze up for about 6-8 hours (this gives it the creamy consistency).
3) The morning after you’ve done all this, place 3/4 cup of drained, soaked cashews in a high-speed blender with the frozen papaya. Blend this mixture for a few seconds; it probably won’t do much because there’s no liquid in it.
4) Next add in a splash of coconut milk and blend. This should improve the texture a bit, but you may have to add another splash or two. Be careful not to add to much liquid or you’ll end up with a smoothie. I probably used a total of 1/2 cup of lite coconut milk and achieved a pretty stellar consistency in the end.
5) Once you’ve gotten a yogurt-like velvetyness in your blender, add in the lemon zest and salt and blend a bit more. Empty the contents of your probiotic capsules and blend one more time before transferring the mousse into glass jars with lids. Store the mousse in the fridge for up to 5 days.
6) Top your mousse with bee pollen, goji berries, blueberries, granola, or chia seeds for a delicious, nutritious, enzyme and antioxidant-packed treat.

Enjoy! x

 

 

 

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Coconut, Cardamom, and Blueberry Chia Pudding

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Chia pudding is one of my favorite things to eat- breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s subtly sweet, creamy, and packed with nutrients to keep my body going for hours. It’s so versatile, too; you can play around with flavor combinations and add-ins to change it up every time. In addition to being absolutely delicious, chia pudding is so simple to make- just toss the ingredients together in a jar, shake it up, leave it in the fridge overnight, and grab it n’ go in the morning! If you’re looking to spice up (or sweeten up, rather) your breakfast meals, give this recipe a go!

If you’re curious about the health benefits of chia seeds, look no further. I’m here to open up your mind to the endless wonders of these little guys. To start, chia seeds are extraordinary sources of high-quality protein and amino acids. In addition to proteins, chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids which I like to call “brain fuel”. These fatty acids contribute to clear skin, healthy hair, and strong bones. Chia is packed with antioxidants which are super important for the summer months; they help reduce oxidative stress on the body. Additionally, these antioxidants help strengthen the immune system and fight off infections. Impressed yet?

Ingredients: 
(Makes 2 servings)
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 handful frozen blueberries
Optional add-ins: goji berries, blueberries, coconut flakes, mulberries, granola, nuts, seeds, ect.

Method: 
1. Add all ingredients into a large jar and shake, shake, shake! Set in the fridge for 5 minutes and shake it again, making sure that the chia seeds and blueberries are evenly distributed throughout the milk and aren’t sitting at the bottom of the jar. Once this is done, place the jar in fridge to sit overnight.
xoxo,
Lyndsey

 

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The Best Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies (Vegan, GF, Flour-free)

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Hi everybody! It’s been a while since I’ve posted because of the craziness of life at the moment. I’m still trying to find a  heathy balance between my full-time job, social life, and personal life (including food blogging). I’m really looking to expand The Little Vegan Kitchen; I’ve considered hosting vegan potlucks in my city and launching recipe videos, but I’m still stuck ironing out logistics and learning to manage my time. However, I promise that you’ll be seeing a lot more of me lately even if it just means more frequent recipe and lifestyle posts. On the topic of lifestyle, I’m also going to be incorporating more aspects of my life into my blog including beauty and wellness so keep an eye out for some changes to the content of my blog!

Enough talk- I know you’re all eager to get to this cookie recipe. If there’s anything I crave the most, it’s cookies. I love cookies of all shapes, sizes, and flavors- snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, thumbprints, you name it. With this being said, nothing beats a good ole’ chocolate chip cookie for me. They never fail to bring me back to my childhood with their fluffy inside, gooey chocolate pockets, and crunchy, golden exterior. A good deal of chocolate chip cookies, especially those without gluten, lack these qualities and fall flat of the mark. I can say with full confidence that this recipe will yield the most gooey, indulgent, and satisfying cookies you could ever hope for. The bonus is that these little balls of goodness are cruelty-free and use only the most wholesome ingredients. I made a batch of these and took them to work and they got devoured. If you’ve got a hankering for some sweet treats, whip up a batch of these cookies and watch your world change. 🙂

Ingredients: 
(Makes about 24 small cookies)

Dry:

2.5 cups almond meal (You can make your own by grinding raw almonds in a high-speed blender until it forms a gritty meal)

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

 

Wet:

2/3 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (I prefer to use brown sugar for this recipe)

6 tbsp melted Earth Balance vegan butter

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 5 tbsp warm water)

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

 

Method:

  1. First, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease it with coconut oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 5 tablespoons of warm water. Mix and set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes gelatinous.
  3. Next, combine your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, ensuring that the almond meal isn’t clumped up. (I typically use my fingers to mix the dry ingredients for this recipe because I find that I’m able to incorporate everything easier).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients and add the flax egg to the bowl.
  5. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a spatula as you add it in. The dough should be pretty sticky and should hold together well when squeezed into balls. Using your hands, roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. These cookies won’t rise much, so you can place them pretty close together without them expanding.
  6. Place the cookies in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the outer edges become golden brown but the middles are still squishy to the touch. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days and spoil your friends and family with these little balls of magic.

 

Lemon Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream & Toasted Coconut Garnish

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Happy Saturday, all!

So I’m not exaggerating when I say that these cupcakes were absolutely life changing. I made a dozen of these for a friend’s birthday several months back and was beyond pleased with the end result. These cupcakes are delightfully fluffy, floral, and perfect for the spring and summer seasons. The combination of tart lemon, luscious vanilla, sweet lavender, and toasted coconut is so divine. I conjured up this recipe based on what was seasonally available, so I absolutely recommend that you seek out fresh, organic lemons for optimum flavor. The lemon plays such a significant role in this recipe, so if you go out of your way to make these, make a point of ensuring that your lemons are top-notch!

These cupcakes are vegan and can easily be made gluten-free, however, I haven’t actually tried using a gluten-free flour blend with this recipe before. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free flour blend, I’d suggest using King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can always make your own gluten-free flour with a combination of different flours. Do a bit of research before throwing a blend together though; we all know how just one extra tablespoon of the wrong kind of flour can compromise an entire recipe. Here are a few tips for gluten-free baking from One Green Planet– it’s definitely worth a read for all you foodies and bakers out there.

In addition to seeking out fresh lemons, you should also make sure that you use good-quality lavender in this recipe. Most conventional grocery stores don’t carry high-grade culinary lavender flowers, but any specialty grocery store should carry them in bulk. I’ve cooked with lavender many times before and I’ve found that low-quality lavender leaves a bit of a soapy aftertaste, compared to high-quality lavender which adds just a bit of lovely floral bitterness.

If you’ve got any social gatherings coming up or you just feel like treating yourself to an indulgent treat, I strongly recommend that you dive into this cupcake recipe with no regrets. The complexity of flavor is definitely a game-changer for your tastebuds and I guarantee that you’ll impress your friends with these cupcakes. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how the recipe works for you and/or any substitutions you made!

Cake Ingredients: 

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

Wet:

2 1/2 cups coconut milk (I recommend this brand by Native Forest)

2 heaped tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups coconut sugar or cane sugar

1 cup vegan butter alternative

3 tsp vanilla extract

1 madagascar vanilla bean, scraped

2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

Dry: 

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

3 tsp baking powder

1/2-3/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

Buttercream Frosting: 

(Ices at least 24 cupcakes)

1 cup vegan butter alternative, softened/room temperature

2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

3/4 cup desiccated coconut, sweetened

3 tsp vanilla extract

1 madagascar vanilla bean, scraped

1/4-1/2 tsp pink himalayan salt

5 cups of confectioners sugar + more as needed for thickening

Method: 

  1. First, line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Next, combine coconut milk and lemon juice in a small and whisk for at least 1 minute and set aside for at least 10 while the milk curdles. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream together the coconut sugar and softened vegan butter and gradually add in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Next, add in the flour mixture in 1/2 cup increments while beating on low speed. When the flower is incorporated with the sugar/butter mixture, slowly add in the coconut milk mixture an beat on medium speed until no lumps remain in the batter. At this point, you can toss in some extras like lavender flowers or desiccated coconut.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling them up about 3/4 of the way full. Keep in mind that these cupcakes will rise, so try to avoid overfilling them. Place in the oven for about 22 minutes until the tops are lightly-golden and the interior is cooked through.
  5. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing them.
  6. To make the icing, use a stand-mixer with a paddle to combine the softened vegan butter and the confectioners sugar. When the two are sufficiently incorporated, add in the vanilla extract, vanilla beans, lemon zest, salt, and coconut. If the mixture is too wet and moist, add in another 1/2-1 cup confectioners sugar. If the mixture is too dry, add in more earth balance until you reach a desired consistency. (You want the icing to be pretty thick so that it’ll stand up after being piped onto the cupcake).
  7. After icing your cupcakes, top cupcakes with toasted coconut, lemon zest, and a few buds of lavender flowers.

 

Enjoy! x

Lyndsey

Lavender Fig Coconut Yogurt

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Don’t be intimidated by the plating – this sweet treat is not only a color explosion, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse, flavor heaven, and a perfect breakfast/dessert. It utilizes a lot of unconventional ingredients and flavors that work in perfect harmony and the nutrients will keep you going for hours! I’ve used matcha (the bright green power) in a number of recipes on my blog, but for those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s essentially Japanese green tea powder. It has the perfect amount of caffeine in it to give you a morning energy boost or an afternoon pick-me-up. Additionally, the blueberries provide you with a burst of antioxidants which are critical to maintaining healthy skin, particularly during the summer seasons.

The star of this dish, however, is the coconut yogurt which, if homemade, is absolutely divine. I have a detailed tutorial on how to safely open a Young Thai coconut and to scoop out the meat to make a creamy, velvety, and absolutely heavenly yogurt. Coconut meat is one of the most nutritionally-dense foods on the planet. It’s loaded with seventeen out of the twenty essential amino acids that aid in the formation of our body’s proteins. Coconut meat is also essential to body systems such as the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and collagen formation. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try coconut meat, then remember that it’s the jackpot for important nutrients such as iron, folate, potassium, and fiber. It can be an excellent addition to smoothies, porridge, parfaits, and much more!

Basically, this recipe is a combination of a handful of separate components. You can play around with the composition, but I have a few recommendations that you can try for optimum flavor.

First off, you’re going to want to start with the coconut yogurt because this can be a time and labor-intensive job. Once you’ve reached a desired consistency with the yogurt, add about 1 teaspoon of matcha into the yogurt and pulse until it’s fully incorporated. Next, fold in 1 teaspoon of lavender leaves, also making sure that they’re thoroughly mixed- (they have a very floral taste which can be counteracted by the velvety-ness of the yogurt).

*Top the mixture with fresh berries, seeds, or nuts for a protein punch.*

Optional: Top your yogurt with sliced figs or fig preserves, which can either be homemade or bought at a supermarket. I prefer to make my own fruit preserves, so I’m going to provide a simple recipe below for those who want to make their own fig jam.

The recipe for fig jam is so simple- it requires just three ingredients. You’ll need about three or four medium-sized figs to start. Puree them in a food processor or smash them up with a fork depending on your preference for consistency. Now, you should have a gooey, figgy smash. Next, add in 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds along with about two teaspoons of agave nectar (or liquid sweetener of choice). Mix everything together in a bowl or jar, cover, and place in the fridge for at least one hour- you’ll be able to tell when its become a jelly. The chia seeds, when combined with moisture, become gelatinous and it makes for a tasty, nutritionally-dense version of jelly.

Enjoy! xx