Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.

Want to stay up to date? Check out my new website www.constellationacu.com.

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

Entries in Recipes: Desserts & Sweets (51)


Gluten Free Sugar Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe with Crunchy Crust and Cashew Whipped Cream (soy free, ACD-friendly)

THIS PIE IS AMAZING.  I like this more than regular pumpkin pie.  My whole family and some of my friends tried it, and they all said it was totally bangin'.  Even my put-a-pound-of-butter-in-everything grandma loved it. How can a egg free, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free pumpkin pie win over a crowd?  Magic and a pinch of love.  Okay, okay, and some good recipes to work from.


The whole foods/gluten free/vegan/allergy blogosphere is bursting at the seams right now with pumpkin recipes.   'Tis the season, after all.  Ali from Whole Foods Nutrition just posted a recipe for Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, Nancy from The Sensitive Pantry shared her Spiced Pumpkin Cider Smoothie recipe , Gluten Free Goddess Karina posted a Pumpkin Pie Bread recipe that makes me drool at the thought of it,  Naomi at Straight Into Bed CakeFree and Dried posted a recipe for Stuffed Tiny Pumpkins a while back that looks lovely, Susan from FatFree Vegan Kitchen posted a recipe for Fat Free Pumpkin Raisin Biscuits that I want to make GF, and Stephanie at Gluten Free by Nature offered up some delectable-looking dairy-free Pumpkin Ice Cream that I want to try making without eggs.  And that's just the beginning!  Whew.  My reader has been full of pumpkin.  And I, like all of you, REALLY wanted something pumpkiny/squashy last weekend.

I wanted pumpkin pie.

Actually, no, I wanted butternut pie.  I love butternuts in pie instead of pumpkin, because they are sweeter and just darn tasty.  My family was in town, we were having Sunday afternoon dinner, and I wanted those homegrown butternuts in my pantry to be served in pie form.  But given my decision to return to the ACD plan, I knew I had some obstacles when embarking on this pie mission.  On top of all my other allergy restrictions, I could only use stevia to sweeten, and I needed a lower carb crust.  Hmn.

Not easily intimidated, I jumped in headlong, and set to work researching in my big collection of cookbooks.  I found inspiration in two standbys: the pie filling is adapted from Myra Kornfield's The Voluptous Vegan, and the crust is adapted from Jeanne Marie Martin's Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook.  Kornfield's book is great, whether you are vegan or not - her recipes are innovative and always delectable.  I've had this cookbook for years, and have always loved everything from it (her chocolate cake is incredible).  I love this filling recipe because it is soy free, unlike many vegan pumpkin pie recipes.  It is creamy and dense, with a great mouth feel, and took to my little tweaks very very well!  Best yet, it is incredibly easy to make - if you can use a blender, you can make this pie.  The most complicated part is finding agar agar powder instead of flakes (according to Myra's recipe notes, the recipe will absolutely not work with flakes).   I used a combination of mesquite flour, allspice, and cardamom to season it, since I am still avoiding all those tasty traditional pumpkin pie spices due to some allergies.  But I included Myra's original spice combination below as well.  The crust is made of high protein flour and ground nuts and seeds, and also worked well with my little tweaks.  Martin's Candida guidebook has a ton of great recipe suggestions (as well as great Candida treatment recommendations), and I've tried many of them over the last year or so. This crust is especially awesome, and totally ACD approved: it bakes up crunchy, has a great flavor, and actually holds together better than a lot of gluten-containing crusts I've seen!  Last but not least, the cashew cream is born of my own mind, and is rich, thick, quite addictive, and absolutely perfect for dolloping on a big slice.

If you have nut and seed allergies, give this crust a try, substituting coconut oil or shortening for the ghee if you don't tolerate it.  Otherwise, try going totally crustless, baking the filling in a greased pie pan for a tasty pumpkin custard!  I'm going to give that a try it this weekend, and think it will be just as delicious. The pie will last for 4-5 days in the fridge, and slices can be frozen and thawed.  Trust me, I tried both, and those slices of leftover pie were just as good as the fresh ones.


Pumpkin Pie with Crunchy Crust (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, ACD)

 pie filling adapted from Myra Kornfield's Voluptuous Vegan
yields 1 9" pie

  • 3 cup pumpkin or squash puree (from a 2 1/2-3 lb squash, or canned) - I used Butternut squash
  • 1 cup SoDelicious Coconut Milk beverage, coconut milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 4 teaspoons melted coconut oil (or other light oil)
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon stevia extract powder or 30-40 drops tsp plain, vanilla, or English toffee flavor stevia liquid
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or arrowroot flour
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder (NOT agar agar flakes.  If you are not vegan, you can sub 1 teaspoon unflavored plain gelatin powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder OR 1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract or flavoring
  • 2 tablespoons mesquite flour, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom OR 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, yacon syrup, vegetable glycerin, coconut nectar, or brown rice syrup
  • 1 recipe for Crunchy Crust (recipe below), or other 9" pie crust

Heat oven to 400º F.

Prepare Crunchy Crust or another pie crust recipe, and put in prepared 9" pie pan.

Make puree by placing cooked squash/pumpkin in a food processor/blender, and pureeing until totally smooth.  
Add milk, oil, stevia, arrowroot, agar agar powder, salt, vanilla, liquid sweetener (if using) and spices to blender, and blend again until totally smooth and well incorporated.  Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared crust and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.


Gluten Free Crunchy Pie Crust

crust adapted from Jeanne Marie Martin's Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook

yield 1 9" crust

  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (or almonds or hazelnuts or other nut/seed)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup teff flour or amaranth flour
  • 1 tablespoon mesquite flour or 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Heat oven to 400* F and oil a 9" pie pan.

Grind nuts and seeds in a blender/food processer until finely ground (a few chunks are okay). Mix together ground nuts/seeds, arrowroot, teff, mesquite/cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.  Add coconut oil, and toss to evenly coat mixture with oil.  Add water bit by bit, until a coarse, dry dough forms.  If it seems really dry and won't stick together, add a little more cold water.

Pat into prepared pie tin into a crust about 1/4" thick, and then place in the oven for about 7-8 minutes.
Remove crust from the oven, and let cool slightly in pan on wire rack before filling with pumpkin mixture.


Dairy-free Cashew Whipped Cream (vegan, gluten free, ACD)

yield about 3/4 c

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup SoDelicious Coconut Milk beverage, or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon agar powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch stevia powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/16 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle agar agar powder over 1/2 c of non-dairy milk in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, whisking until powder is totally dissolved, about 5 minutes.   Add to blender with cashews, additional 1/4 c milk, vanilla, and salt.  Add water as needed to get things flowing! Once smooth, add stevia powder to taste.  

Chill in refrigerator for about 2 hours, mixture will firm up.   



Apple Cupcakes with Raisin Cashew Frosting (gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free)

This weekend is exciting. My brother and sister-in-law have come up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, my hometown, to celebrate their marriage. They were married in a small wedding in Orlando, Florida - their current home - back in April, with immediate family only in attendance. The plan was to have a party for the rest of the family and friends later, and this weekend is party for my brother's clan. So, on Saturday, my family is put on a shindig for about 60 family and friends. It was beautiful, full of great company, great food, and great conversation.

I took a long weekend, coming home on Thursday to help prepare for the party. The funny thing about it is that for Thursday and Friday, while I was back here in Oshkosh, my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law were Up North. From what I can tell, the phrase "Up North" is a particularly Midwestern concept. "Up North" can be 30 minutes away or it can be 5 hours away, as long as it is north of where you normally live, and involves nature. For us, Up North is located on the border of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, at my uncle's cabin in Land 'O Lakes. But really, Up North could be anywhere. In conversation, when someone says they are going Up North, it doesn't really matter where they are going exactly, because the general experience is simply understood: there will be lots of trees, lakes, probably a cabin or cottage or lake house of some kind, small funky towns with a bunch of churches and bars and tourist shops selling bad t-shirts and magnets, wild rice for sale along the highway, and bait shops selling worms, summer sausage, and cheese curds. Midwestern people go Up North in the summers, especially over long holiday weekends, and spend lots of time sitting around campfires, swimming in lakes, and eating bratwursts. In the fall, gun-toting Midwesterners go Up North to hunt deer and pheasant and grouse, and come home with dead animals tied to the roof of their car.

So, while I was here on cooking duty, my family was frolicking in the Northwoods at my uncle's cabin, trying introduce my sister-in-law to all of my brother's favorite Up North memories in a mere 36 hours. While I was preparing veggies for a platters of raw and roasted vegetables, my aunt made 4 batches of frosting for the 6 different cupcakes that my mom made for the party.

It was strange being here without my parents around. This house no longer has a space that is mine, all the space has finally been reclaimed by my parents. So, it is their presence here that connects me to this place in an intimate way, not the house itself. I feel somewhat out of place in this town; I haven't lived here since the summer after my freshman year of college, roughly 9 years ago, and I have grown and changed so much since then. That last summer I lived here, I worked at an animal shelter and a restaurant, went cold turkey off anti-depressants, and removed the nappy, hemp-covered, pseudo-dreadlocks from my hair. Upon returning to school that fall for my sophomore year, I never came back. The summer after sophomore year I worked in Hawaii at a music camp and in Decorah, Iowa on an off-the-grid, organic farm. I ate like a vegan, grew out my leg and armpit hair, had the worst seasonal allergies and darkest tan of my life, taught children to play violin, picked strawberries topless, swam with sea turtles, jumped down waterfalls, and was thrown into the world of whole foods, farm-to-table living. I was introduced to activism. I worked with a Norwegian girl name Elizabath who was gluten intolerant, and I remember thinking to myself at the time how AWFUL her life must be with such a restriction (hmn, turns out it isn't so awful after all). After junior year, I spent a financially destitute summer living in in LaCrosse, Wisconsin with my ex and our good friend, where I worked as a telemarketer, took trips to the co-op as a special treat, watched every episode of Sex and the City, battled the raccoon living in our dumpster, ripped up carpet and painted in the apartment to avoid paying rent money, and watched our crazy landlord get arrested. Then, after graduation, I moved immediately (literally, on graduation day) to Minneapolis, with enough money to pay for 1 month's rent and absolutely no plan.

I've been in Minneapolis ever since, experiencing 5 years of growth and development beyond what I could have imagined in such a short time. Minnesota has become a place dear to my heart, but honestly, I never thought I'd be there so long; my heart is that of a gypsy, I suffer an insatiable wanderlust. The fire of exploration is a constant flame deep inside my chest. But its burn has been balanced by practicality and a need for stability: life happened, things got hard, and I needed something I could count on. I needed to keep my job, I needed to keep my health insurance, I needed to keep my support network of dear friends and family. As I've gotten healthier, what had reduced to a flicker is now once again a full blown fire. I can't quell the burn, I need to let it go wild. So, I have a plan to leave; I am plotting my escape from the Midwest, and will be fleeing to the West coast next summer to pursue a new profession and new adventures. Portland, here I come, and I want you to blow my mind.

I tend to make home wherever I go, a new city, someone else's home, a hotel, or my childhood home that no longer feels like my own. I find the things that are familiar, and imbue the place with my energy. I make it mine. So when I got here on Thursday night, arriving to an empty house, I did what I do. I got comfortable. I unpacked my traveling pantry. I started preparing food.

One of the things on my food preparation to-do list was making cupcakes. Since my mom had opted to make cupcakes instead of a wedding cake, I wanted to make some tasty morsels I could eat. Plus, my childhood friend Emily would also be at the party, and she was diagnosed with Celiac disease a few years ago. I knew I'd have someone else as excited about GF dinner and dessert options as I was, so I wanted to bring something awesome. I had been kicking around an apple cupcake idea for a while, inspired by the bounty of autumn's harvest. So I dug in. I made the cupcakes. I decided on grated apple and plump currants for natural sweetness, and anise seeds and cardamom for a spicy twist, and just a little maple syrup. I tried one fresh from the oven, and was way impressed. They were STELLAR. The crumb was light, the flavor was fantastic, and my baking aficionado grandma gave it a big thumbs up.

Then there was the issue of the frosting. Vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, corn-free frosting is tricky - there aren't a ton of options out there for a creamy frosting base. I've come up with a few good options in the past, and decided to make a frosting using soaked cashews, coconut oil, and little maple syrup this time around. It tasted amazing, but was too thin. Two attempts at thickening this frosting resulted in something about the consistency of gooey caulk. It was probably the most horrific vegan frosting disaster on the face of the planet. Intrigued, I decided to play with the substance formerly known as frosting, and found it to be a bit like Gak, the nasty goo marketed to children by Nickelodean back in the early 1990s. It was horrifying! Seriously, this stuff wouldn't even wash off my hands or out of the bowl. Totally not edible. Humbling.

So, I rethought the frosting and decided on soaked raisins with unsoaked cashews. It was a mighty victory. Thick and rich, smooth and glossy, spicy and flavorful, this frosting received a big thumbs up from my entire family. I wanted to eat it straight off the spoon. Yum. It spread on my cooled cupcakes like a dream, and looked wonderful. I had just enough frosting leftover for a little treat later on.
I put my platter of cupcakes out on the table amongst the other cupcakes, labeling them as gluten free, vegan, sugar free. As the night went on, my cupcakes slowly started disappearing off the platter. I finished my dinner, and went over to grab a cupcake off the plate. I sat down, and unwrapped the muffin paper. It peeled away easily, leaving a perfectly intact cupcake. I dug in with my fork, impressed with the texture. Even after sitting for day, it was still moist, not at all dry or crumbly. Then I tasted it.
I felt my eyes widen. The combination of frosting and cake was amazing. This cupcake was like a real cupcake.

People raved about them, surprised at what WASN'T in them and how good they were. I was honestly shocked at how good they were - I expected them to be good, but they were WAY better than I ever imagined. I think this recipe would make an amazing layer cake, something I plan to try for the next party I attend. And not only is this recipe super delicious, and really easy, it is also lower in sugar and fat than many cupcake recipes out there. Grated apple lends amazing sweetness and moisture to the cupcakes, which use only 1/4 c maple syrup and 1/3 cup oil for the batch. And the frosting contains no added sugar, sweetened only with raisins, and tastes amazing.

Most importantly, my celiac friend Emily was ecstatic. She had left her house for the first time in a few years without food in her purse. We were both able to enjoy a dinner of hot shredded beef, roasted vegetables with pesto, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, Chex mix with chocolate, cashews, raisins, and coconut (another one of yesterday's inventions - have you seen the GF rice Chex?!?!?!?), and an awesome cupcake for dessert. We both had fun at the party, were able to take part in the food, and know that we were both safe from the danger of having a reaction.

It was amazing to celebrate my brother's marriage, and at the end of the night, I felt so fortunate to have spent the day with so many people I love: my family, old friends, beloved teachers from high school, family friends, and extended family members I don't see very often. I hadn't seen some of these people in over 5 years, and it was such a blessing to reconnect with them. It is these people that truly make this place my home - not the house that I my parents live in, not the streets I used to walk, or the places I used to hang out. In a place that sometimes feels so foreign to me, I found familiarity in the love of those I hold dear to my heart, and was thrilled to be able share in friendship, fun, and food with them.

I went a little overboard on the food and fun, actually, and ate A LOT of the raisin-laden frosting, two cupcakes, probably half the batch of my chocolate Chex mix, an apple, and now I'm on a crazy sugar cocoa buzz. While it may not be a lot of sugar for an average person, it was a lot of sugar for me, who normally lives in a very limited sugar world. I haven't been this hyper in about a year and a half, and my body is freaking out from all the sugar as I write. I feel hot, my heart is racing, and I can't relax enough to sleep. Oops. I think my liver is seriously going to rebel for the next few days. So, the next week or two I think I need to slip back into a cleansing, anti-Candida diet so I don't relapse into all those yeasty symptoms. Oh well, c'est la vie, a cleanse is always a good idea anyway, right? 
So, go forth and make cupcakes. Share them with those you love, and find home in laughter, memories, and friendship.


yield: 12 cupcakes and 1 1/2 c frosting

Apple Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 c shredded, peeled apples
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 c sorghum flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca flour
  • 1/4 c quinoa flour or amaranth flour (sorghum flour could probably be substituted, but I haven't tried this)
  • 2 T arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp anise seeds
  • 2 Tbsp flaxmeal + 6 T hot water
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/3 c melted coconut oil, light olive oil, or other light tasting oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare muffin tin with cupcake papers.
  2. Mix together flax meal and hot water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Sift together flours in a medium bowl, then add baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and spices, and briskly whisk until well combined.
  4. Beat flax mixture until light. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
  5. Peel and shred apple, and measure currants. Set aside.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring gently to moisten. Stir in shredded apple and currants, and mix only until combined.
  7. Transfer batter to muffin tin and into muffin papers. Place in oven immediately and bake 22-25 minutes until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Store in the refrigerator up to one day before frosting/serving.
  9. Frost with Raisin Cashew Frosting (recipe below), garnishing each with a raisin. Serve immediately.
Raisin Cashew Frosting:
  • 3/4 c raisins + water for soaking (for a boozy twist, try using a little spiced rum instead...)
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Place raisins in bowl and just barely cover with water. Let soak 1-2 hours.
  2. Put cashews in blender and blitz until they have turned into a fine powder. Add raisins, salt, cardamom, and just a little bit of the soaking water, and blitz to mix.
  3. Add the melted coconut oil bit by bit, and blend on high until mixture is smooth and thick, adding additional soaking water as necessary.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, and chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge before using.



Sunflower Butter Cookies (gluten free, vegan, nut free, low carb)

I'm back!

My technological delay is over. While my stolen, new computer is still MIA, I now have my old computer back, newly repaired and faster than ever. So, I am ready and rarin' to be back in the blogosphere! I have some recipe catch up work to do, starting with this awesome sunflower butter coconut flour cookie recipe I made a couple weeks back.

I desperately wanted to make cookies a couple weekends ago. I was going to the first rehearsal for the orchestra I'm playing in for the annual Barebones Halloween show here in Minneapolis. This Halloween show is spectacular - it is a big, radical theater production that takes place down in Hidden Falls Regional Park, put on through the Bedlam Theater. The performance is outside in the park at night, always involves crazy life-size puppets and awesome music, and everyone attending sits on long rows of hay bales. After seeing last year's performance, I knew I had to play in the orchestra this year.

So, of course, meant I wanted to bring food to our first rehearsal, and I wanted it to be something good. What I really wanted was the peanut butter cookies from my childhood. I wanted the cookies to be soft and dense and rich. But I wanted them low carb. And I wanted them low in sugar. And most importantly, I wanted them peanut free. So, I searched around online, and found a great recipe for agave-sweetened, low-carb peanut butter cookies on the blog Cookies and Candids: Vegan Baking. Switch out the peanut butter with Sunbutter, change a couple other things, and - voila! - amazing cookies! These were great, everyone loved them. They are super moist and dense, but not too heavy, and taste just like peanut butter cookies. They are wildly high in fiber, pretty high in protein, and surprisingly low carb. Hurrah!

The two bummer things about these cookies?
  1. These are expensive cookies. Coconut flour and Sunbutter are on the pricy side. But, they make a ton.
  2. They turned totally moldy in about 24 hours. I left them out unrefrigerated, and between the summer heat and the cookies' moist texture, what appeared to me mold formed before I knew it and I had to throw away a good portion of the batch. Thankfully, they were still okay to take to the rehearsal, but shortly thereafter, they were kind of green (update on 3/7/10 - SEE FOLLOW UP AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST FOR AN EXPLANATION, it wasn't mold at all, just clorophyll!). So keep these refrigerated until ready to serve (let warm to room temperature though before serving). Then freeze whatever doesn't get eaten right away. I did put some in the freezer, and they thawed well.

SUNFLOWER BUTTER COOKIES (gluten free, nut free, vegan, low carb)
yields around 45 cookies

1 1/3 c coconut flour
3/4 c quinoa flour
1 c tapioca flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c applesauce
1 c Sunbutter (or other nut/seed butter of choice)
10 prunes
1 + 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 c agave nectar
2 T softened coconut oil
handful toasted whole sunflower seeds
handful whole flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350* and line baking sheets with parchment.

Place prunes in a saucepan or microwaveable bowl, and add 1 c water. Heat until prunes have softened, then remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.  Blend prunes with soaking water until totally smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine prune puree, applesauce, sunbutter, vanilla, agave, and coconut oil, and mix until smooth.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, adding additional 1/2 c of warm water as needed. When almost completely mixed, add sunflower seeds and flax seeds, and stir a few more times.

Form into a 1 1/2 ball, place on baking sheet, then flatten slightly with a fork. These cookies will not spread.
Bake at 350º for about 15 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZE ANY LEFTOVERS.


Rhubarb Cashew Cookies (gluten free, vegan)

I wanted to take a tasty treat along to the radio station for my big guest appearance on The Fresh & Local Show this morning. So, I decided to make a cookie using one of summer's best treats: rhubarb. My freezer is bursting with bags of chopped rhubarb I harvested from my parent's house earlier this summer. Their rhubarb is the stuff that dreams are made of. Seriously. I grows all summer long, and is the heartiest, healthiest rhubarb I've ever seen. The stalks are large, but still remarkably tender and crisp. And the leaves grow to be HUGE! This stuff looks like it was removed from prehistoric times. So, when I was home back in May, I harvested a ton to bring back to Minneapolis with me. I cleaned it up, chopped it all, and froze it in measured quantities for later. Later like NOW.

Back in the day, I used to make a very tasty rhubarb cookie, but had not tried to reproduce it under my current dietary circumstances. Melding that recipe and this recipe, and making a few adaptations, I came up with something new and fantastic. They are soft and moist, dotted with soft, sweet tart chunks of rhubarb. I made them last night and kept them in the fridge overnight, and this morning they were fantastic. The cookies were met with rave reviews, which I saw as a great honor! The Fresh & Local Show hosts - Susan Berkson, local food advocate, and Bonnie Dehn, the Minnesota herb lady - really know their food. And they loved my cookies! Bonnie suggested substituting the rhubarb with blueberries or raspberries, which I think is a great idea. I used a mix of brown rice flour and sorghum flour; if you try other flours, let me know how they work for you! Free of eggs, dairy, gluten, and refined sugars, these cookies are a hit!

Rhubarb Cashew Cookies

yield: 2 dozen 3" cookies

1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sorghum flour
3/4 c quinoa flakes
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice or cinnamon
1/2 c Spectrum shortening, or tolerated margarine product, or softened butter (I used shortening)
1/2 c raw cashew butter
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c finely chopped rhubarb

Heat oven to 350º F and prepare baking sheets with parchment.

Combine flour, quinoa flakes, salt, baking soda, and spices in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, mix together shortening, cashew butter, agave, water, and vanilla until totally smooth. I used a hand mixer and thought it worked perfectly!  Bit by bit, add dry ingredients to wet, and stir until just combined. Add rhubarb, and stir again until combined.

Spoon onto baking sheets and bake for 14-18 minutes until dark golden brown and firmed up and slightly crisp on the edges.

Remove from oven, and let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Then gently transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling. Store cooled cookies in the refrigerator.



PLUM APRICOT TART (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)

My friend Lauren is getting married in August, and I am in the bridal party. My good friend Becky (another bridesmaid) and I threw Lauren a bridal shower yesterday. About 15 people attended, and we threw it a local park. Becky and I had a lot of fun planning our lunch menu for the party, since we are both total food nerds and love cooking and baking. The food table was bursting with fresh fruit salad, roasted vegetables with fresh pesto (recipe to come!), millet tabbouli (ditto!), sandwiches (not for me!), and dilly smoked salmon triangles (for me!).
For dessert, Becky baked beautiful lemon blackberry cupcakes. When Becky bakes, she doesn't mess around. She made a lemon cake batter from scratch, filled it with fresh blackberry puree, and finished it off with a homemade lemon buttercream, a crystallized pansy, and a mint leaf. I think she should make cupcakes and cakes as a side business.
I wanted to contribute a dessert as well (something I could eat!), and decided to make a tart for the event. I love tarts! One reason is because I'm a total Francophile and tarts make me think of all things Frenchie. I get all caught up in the romance of the French when I think of tarts. My French obsession aside, there are many other reasons to love tarts, from their endless versatility to their undying beauty. Plus, tarts have crust, which in my opinion, is basically the best part of any crust-dwelling baked confection. Seriously, I like crust almost more than the filling itself. I was always the one that ate off all the crust from leftover pie, leaving the filling aside for someone else.
Despite my love for tarts, however, I'd never actually made one. I obsessed about this tart all week, looking for an adequate crust recipe, and thinking non-stop about fillings. Inspired by the abundance of fresh plums and apricots available, I decided to go with a stone fruit filling spiced with cardamom and coriander, with a hint of maple syrup. I found the most amazing apricots at the co-op, a variety called Robada. These are the most amazing apricots I've ever eaten - plump, fragrant, juicy, and perfect. For the plums, used a mix of Red plums and Red Raven plums, a plum with deep purple skin and flesh (gorgeous). For the crust, I used a recipe from Bea at La Tartine Gourmande. She is a French food stylist and writer who makes the most AMAZING food and works for the Boston Globe. Check out her blog - her photos are stellar, she often bakes gluten free, and uses the most fresh and wholesome ingredients, so it is great inspiration!
The tart turned out marvelously. My mom is in town for the bridal shower, and helped in the tart process, so I'm going to have her write up a review of how this tart turned out. Bring it on Mom Shar! Here she is, in her blogging debut! >>>
Well, this was a new experience for both of us. I have made pies and quiche but never owned a tart pan. This was going to be fun! The new pan with its smooth dark finish and scalloped edge just called for a tasty delicacy for its virgin run. Kim found a crust recipe to tweak and increase the measurements by half in hopes of having enough for an 11 inch pan. Then after guessing at proportions of coconut oil to butter and making notes along the way, a crust dough appeared in the food processor. The consistency was better than expected and we formed it into a flattened circular blob, wrapped it in plastic wrap and tossed it in the fridge. The next day we let it sit out for 90 minutes before trying to roll it out between layers of plastic. Again, we were not sure if this crust would perform as we'd hoped being gluten free, especially since it had a tendency to crack on the edges as she rolled it out. We juggled the dough awkwardly trying to determine the best way to get it in the pan. So a few maneuvers later involving cookie sheets and flips, it was in the pan. This will get easier as we become more tart smart. Next the prepping of the plums and apricots. They were pristine and perfect fruits. Not mushy at all and we got 16 slices out of each plum. I let the artist design her creation of these vibrant colored half moons. Not all of the slices made it to the tart and we had sweet sticky juice everywhere. They were splendid! A watchful eye through the oven door revealed juicy and glistening fruit and a golden crust. But then the questions of "is it done?" "Is it tender?" "Do you think the bottom got done?" " Is it going to fall apart when we take the outer ring off the pan?" Well, we trusted that with perfect ingredients, how could it be bad... And we were right! On location, we clumsily cut the tart while the rim was still on the pan because we didn't want to impair the visual by having it fall apart. Then, when the first unsuspecting guest lifted her piece from the pan successfully, we quietly squealed with delight and zoomed in to remove the rim and served the tart as it should be, with its little crusty edge just as study as it could be! So, not only did it look like a food stylists creation, it tasted fabulous! The fruit was tart, the crust crisp and the dollop of thickened coconut cream (which we invented late the night before) on top wasn't bad either. We were thrilled. Compliments flowed. And once again, communing with friends and being filled with the love filled creations that feed more than the stomach, makes for a good day. Hugs from Shar, Kim's Mom.
GLUTEN FREE PLUM APRICOT TART (gluten free, egg free, low sugar, vegan option)
yield: 1 11" tart (12-16 slices)

CRUST (crust adapted from La Tartine Gourmande)

3/4 c sweet rice flour
1/3 c + 3 Tbsp cup quinoa flour
1/3 c + 3 Tbsp cup quinoa flakes
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp cup amaranth flour
10 1/2 T cold coconut oil or cold butter/ghee (I used a half and half mix of butter and coconut oil)
3/4 tsp salt
7-9 Tbsp cold water

3-4 thinly sliced large apricots
8 thinly sliced plums (I used a mix of red raven and red plums)
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp coriander
1 T maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sweet rice flour
pinch salt

Make the Crust
  1. With a standing mixer, mix flours, flakes, salt, and cold coconut oil/butter until crumbly.
  2. Add cold water by the tablespoon gradually, mixing constantly, until dough reaches a good consistency and starts to pull away from the bowl. Roll into ball, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill for 1-2 hours.
  3. Remove from fridge and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Pat between two layers of saran wrap, and roll out to fit an 11" tart pan, turning every few to ensure it is rolled evenly. Crust should be about 1-1 1/2 larger than pan. Gently transfer to 11" tart pan. Gently press dough into pan and up the sides, trimming even with the top edge of the pan.
  5. Place pan in fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

Assemble the Tart
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash plums and apricots, pit, and thinly slice.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together maple syrup, vanilla, spices, sweet rice flour, and a pinch of salt. Remove crust from refrigerator, and gently brush mixture onto surface.
  4. Then, arrange slices of fruit in crust in concentric circles, packing in as many slices as you can, and alternating colors.

Bake and Serve the Tart
  1. Place tart in pre-heated oven, and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F.
  2. After 10 minutes, turn down heat to 350 F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes until crust is golden and fruit has softened. It will smell GOOD.
  3. Remove tart from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. If not eating immediately, cover cooled tart and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Remove outer tart pan ring and slice tart with a large sharp knife. If desired, serve with a dollop of something creamy (yogurt, coconut milk cream, whipped cream, etc). Enjoy!


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