melT: The Almond Drop

I met Melissa Thomas on a progressive dining tour with Local Table Tours. We got to talking about cooking, food blogging, the gluten free trend and just how terrible some of the “healthy” gluten free pre-packaged foods taste. Melissa mentioned that she actually made a gluten free treat called The Almond Drop. She told me that her original intentions were not to create a gluten free product, but it just so happened to be delicious and naturally gluten free, so she found herself right in the middle of the gluten free industry. As she was incredibly friendly, a knowledgable foodie, and passionate about her craft, I told her I’d love to sample them and write a post to help spread the word.

I was expecting a small sample, perhaps one or two of each flavor, so I was really surprised when she gave me four whole packages: Walnut White Chocolate Dried Cherries, Cranberry Chocolate, Apricot Chocolate, and Simply Apricot (a vegan treat). I’m really glad she was generous with me because these things were my nightly dessert for a week or so.

Almond Drops

A combination of almonds, dates, almond butter, unsweetened coconut, and flax has never tasted so good. These little bite-sized balls are sweet enough (agave syrup) to satisfy my sweet tooth, yet wholesome enough to indulge in more than just one, as those calories (140 per ball) are mostly comprised of nuts and healthy fats. I loved each variety of Almond Drop almost equally, and found that having all four in one sitting made for a most satiating dessert.

You can purchase The Almond Drop here in Boulder at Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market. Way to go, melT Foods! That’s a well-deserved product placement.

 

Green Bean and Purple Potato Salad

I love stopping by the Black Cat Farmstand at the Boulder Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings to see what Chef/Farmer Eric Skokan is harvesting. I’ve been getting into the habit of letting him suggest I try something, and then I ask him how I’m going to prepare it. He almost effortlessly rattles off a recipe to highlight something seasonal, and I rush home inspired to try it. This past week I bought his first harvest of green beans. They were a light green color, which leads me to believe they have some special name other than “green beans,” but for the purpose of this post, they were Black Cat Farm Green Beans. Chef Skokan suggested I blanch them, cool them off, and add them to a potato saldad in a mustard vinaigrette.  So, that’s exactly what I did. I bought a pound of local purple potatoes from the market that day and boiled them after blanching 2 big handfulls of the beans. When they were cool, I coarsely chopped them, mixed them with the green beans, and tossed them in a maple mustard vinaigrette. I let this chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving with turkey burgers and corn on the cob. A perfect summer meal. For a simple Maple Mustard Vinaigrette, whisk together:

  •  2 TB Grade B Pure Vermont Maple Syrup
  • 2 TB Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Walnut Oil
  • 1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
  • a splash of soy sauce

Mayan Cocoa Peanut Pudding

This might be my new favorite dessert, and with a Vita-Mix, it takes seconds to make… and even less time to scarf down and enjoy!  
I didn’t have a plan for dessert, but had 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice left over from dinner, some homemade peanut butter from dry roasted Valencia peanuts, and Mayan Cocoa powder from Savory Spice Shop.  Turns out those ingredients blend into a fantastic vegan pudding.
Here’s what I did-
I made 1 cup of rice milk with the leftover rice (which was cooked in water with no added herbs, etc.).  Then, into the Vita-Mix went 1 cup homemade peanut butter, 2 very ripe bananas, 1/2 cup Mayan Cocoa, and 1/4 cup maple syrup.
Blend this on high for just a few seconds, pour into smaller dishes, and chill to allow it to set a little like a pudding.  I sprinkled some Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar on top (which, of course, you’ll find at Savory Spice Shop), and added a few pretzels for crunch.  Otherwise, it would be gluten-free.  I ate so much of this…
The chile peppers, cinnamon, and vanilla in the Mayan Cocoa go really well with peanuts, and the vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, mace, and cardamom in the Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar pulled the whole thing together.  Looks like I’ll have to keep Mayan Cocoa on stock from now on.

Healthy Lunch Smoothie

This might not sound good to you. I don’t know if it would have sounded good to me a few months ago… during the stage of my life before I had my Vita-Mix. Everything has changed now.
Why has everything changed? Because now I grind up a ton of veggies to drink for lunch. I had been living on peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches for lunch for almost the entire 5 years I’d been living in Colorado. This past January I spent my birthday money (plus some of my own) on a Vita-Mix, and it has changed my life. If you have one, you’ll likely understand. If you don’t, you might find me weird. Either way, here is one of my healthy lunch smoothies.

Ingredients:
  • 1 apple
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1/4 golden beet
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 2 carrots
  • 3/4 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • ginger (as much fresh ginger as you like- I used 1 tsp)
  • 1-2 cups water (add more if you like it thinner… or should I say, less thick)
I put it all in the Vita-Mix, turn it up to 10, then high, then it’s done. This makes enough for 2 people to have a ridiculously healthy lunch smoothie.

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