Saturday, May 4, 2013

April Memories and Gluten-Free Coconut-Banana-Ginger Petite Cakes

April was a special month… It was full of lovely memories and the promise of a new beginning. However, it was also a month of paperwork, applications, government office visits, and a few ailments. The work part is over with and I can finally welcome May with a sense of freedom, however the illnesses are still here to stay. Thank goodness for a sweet husband who treats me like a princess.   

DFJ and I got married on April 6th and it was the sweetest moment in my life. When the going gets tough, all I need to do is close my eyes and go back to that moment in time. It will remind me that life is wonderful and everything will be just fine. So far, we are definitely soaking up the newlywed life… I am just so happy to know that I get to spend the rest of my life with DFJ by my side!   

The weeks that followed after our wedding were busy. I didn’t know that name changing requires several stops, here’s the list for those who might need it someday:
1.      First stop: Social Security Office
2.      Department of Licensing
3.      Employer (in my case, my employer changed my name for my insurance too)
4.      Insurance companies
5.      Bank(s)
6.      Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV to change the name on your title)
7.      Passport
8.      I might have missed a few or many more, but this is a good list to start with.

Applying for a Greencard was equally busy. Oh my goodness! Mountains of paperwork, collecting documents (birth certificate, passport, H1B paperwork, proof of employment, bank statements, pay stubs, photocopies of tax forms, etc.), photos for the application, blood work, TB skin test, a physical, and the double checking of everything. However, all that work is done and over with and my application is ready to be sent to USCIS! Woohoo!

There was also some fun that happened after a few weeks of running errands. I had a belated bachelorette party courtesy of my wonderful girlfriends, Elissa and Melissa. It was so much fun and I didn’t realize how long it has been since I had some girly time with my friends. We drank some key lime margaritas, ate some fabulous Mexican fare, and a delicious carrot cake. 

Yes, all of that happened in April, plus more… There were some days of yoga, weights, running, walking, and hiking. During one or a succession of these activities, I strained my right hamstring and hip flexor. It’s very minor but since I have been ignoring my condition for 2 weeks, it has taken longer to heal. If I just listened to my body when it first told me to slow down, I would have been good as new today. So, lesson learned: take it easy when your body tells you too, be patient and rest as needed, and do not rush recovery. The only upside to this injury is my husband’s loving massages.

My body is also doing something to me that is even more annoying than my hamstring injury. I have been feeling this weird lump in the back of my throat for around two weeks now. It feels like a glob of phlegm (excuse the grossness) that I can cough up but can’t because it’s not. The doctor said it might be acid reflux and I should avoid spicy, greasy, and high fat content foods, chocolate, coffee, wine, and not eat or drink liquids at least two hours before bed time. Soooooooo sad! On the bright side, I could use this time to really rethink our eating habits. DFJ and I eat dinner pretty late and go to bed late. Also, even though we don’t eat too much chocolate, we definitely do not need so much sweet stuff all the time. Now might be a good time for a diet tune-up.   

I have very recently experimented with vegan, gluten-free baking using teff flour and coconut oil, so after I saw Cookie and Kate’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, I knew I had to try it. Oh my goodness, they were sooooo good! However, I must not have used enough almond meal and coconut flour because they didn’t turn out all pretty and puffed up like hers did. Mine spread out too much but I didn’t care… they tasted so good, I ate four cookies hot off the pan! I even brought some to an 8-mile day hike at Eagle Creek, OR with DFJ and friends and the cookies were a hit.

That was the first time I used coconut flour ever. What a revelation! Coconut flour is like heaven… it smells so sweet and nutty and just amazing. Almond meal is just ground up almonds. I love them in baked goods as they make them more filling and nutritious with a nice chew factor.

What I initially wanted to do was remake Kathryne’s cookies, but since chocolate is not an option for me these days, I had to skip on that. Also, I didn’t want to use too much honey and coconut oil because we are running out of those (both of which are kinda expensive), so I cut those ingredients by half and substituted the wet ingredients with overripe bananas instead. And since bananas are in there, why not throw in crystallized ginger in the mix?  

Our apartment smelled so lovely while these lovely little things were baking. Since it was late and my eating hours were over, I had to be patient and wait until the morning to enjoy them. These petite cakes are incredibly delightful! I call them cakes because the texture is just like cake. Soft, billowy, sweet, crunchy-chewy banana bites with hints of ginger here and there. It is possible to achieve such loveliness even without regular flours, butter, sugar, and eggs!  

These petite cakes are lovely with creamy plain yogurt for breakfast, perfect for pre and post workout snacking (or just snacking), and also makes for a delicious dessert!     

Gluten-Free Coconut-Banana-Ginger Petite Cakes (Yields 34 cookies)
Inspired from Cookie and Kate’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup almond meal, 110 g (from raw slivered almonds ground in a blender)
1/3 cup coconut flour, 50 g
1 tsp baking soda, 5 g
1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 g
1/2 tsp fleur de sel, 2 g
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced, 40 g

1/4 cup honey, 105 g
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 50 g
1 tsp vanilla extract, 5 g
2 small very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork or potato masher, 198-200 g

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and fleur de sel in a large mixing bowl. Whisk everything very well together. Toss in the minced crystallized ginger and once again, whisk well together. The ginger pieces tend to clump together, so use your fingertips to separate them.  

In a medium size mixing bowl, stir well together the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed bananas and mix until everything is well-combined.

Slowly pour in the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Using a flexible spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure that no dry ingredients are left.

Let the batter sit for 5 minutes to allow more moisture to soak into the dry ingredients. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop the batter one spoonful at a time onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space around each mound. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes until the top turns a nice golden brown.    

Cool the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Allow the petites to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. These are great eaten right away or even when they are a few days old as the banana flavor intensifies!


1 comment:

  1. You had such a crazy april but such an awesome one as well! I hope the acid reflux goes away as does your injury! It's taken me a long time to learn to listen to my body but it is always better to take a bit of time off at the start of an injury than a LOT of time once it gets worse!


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