Tag Archives: #mint

Sugar-Free Made Simple: Spiced Pickled Peaches

196/365 no sugar was used in the making of these peaches...awesome sweet + tart #365project #seekarencook

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I’ve said it before, but I love me some pickles.  Unfortunately, most store-bought pickles have some form of sugar in them.  So do most of my homemade pickle recipes.  (I see a whole lotta recipe revamping comin’ on.)

This spiced peach recipe, however, is not one that I’ve made before now.  I found it while searching for new ways to use my fresh chocolate mint.  If you haven’t tried chocolate mint yet, I highly recommend it.  I steep it in warmed coconut milk in the evening, and I also used it to make this gluten-free chocolate mint snack cake.

My inspiration recipe started with canned peaches in syrup.  Looking for a healthier alternative, I chose to use fresh peaches.  Remember – I’m kicking my sugar addiction here.  I also made some substitutions with the spices to use what I had in my pantry.  One of the things I love about pickling is that you can customize it to suit  your taste.  You also know exactly what is going into the food that you eat, when you use whole, fresh ingredients.

195/365 pickled fresh peaches #365project #seekarencook

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Aren’t they gorgeous?  I almost couldn’t wait the 24 hours in the fridge before trying my first bite.  Patience is not my virtue.  But then I decided that eating a too-sour, too-unpickled slice too soon would be a waste of peach.  It’s all about choices.

If you don’t have chocolate mint, you can substitute regular fresh mint.  You could also double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, if you have a bounty of peaches while they are in season.  I think these would also do well, if you wanted to preserve them for a longer period of time through a sterile canning process.  Me?  Remember, I’m not patient.  A quick, refrigerator pickle is more my style.  But let me know how they turn out, and I will envy your canning prowess.  And admire your patience.

Spiced Pickled Peaches
Adapted from Skirt in the Kitchen

3 sprigs fresh chocolate mint
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 c. rice vinegar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. whole cloves
1/4 t. whole peppercorns
1/8 t. anise seed
1/2 t. sea salt

In the bottom of a pint jar, place the mint, cinnamon stick, and sliced ginger. Set aside.

Place enough water to cover the peaches when they are submerged in a medium saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut a small “X” at the bottom of each peach.  Place a medium-side bowl of ice water near the stove top.  When water is boiling, submerge the peaches for 30-40 seconds.  Remove the peaches from the boiling water and place in the ice water bowl for approximately a minute.  Remove the peaches from the ice water and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.  The skins should easily slip off, but use a paring knife for any spots that don’t easily peel.

Slice the peeled peaches in half and remove the pits.  Fill the prepared jar with the sliced peaches.  If they don’t all fit, set them aside.  You may be able to sneak more in once the liquid is poured over the peaches.

In a small saucepan, bring rice vinegar and the next 8 ingredients to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour the vinegar mixture over peaches in the prepared jar.  If you had any leftover peach slices, try to fit them in now.

Put the lid on the jar and allow the peaches to come to room temperature.  Place the cooled jar in the refrigerator and allow to “pickle” for at least 24 hours.  The peaches will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Mint Snack Cake (with a secret ingredient)

no-flour and nearly-no-sugar...it was the dark choc chips...I couldn't help myself #seekarencook

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When my friends ask what I’ve been up to lately, my answer is “chopping vegetables”.  Seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, I hinted about a major lifestyle change that I was about to make.  Well, you guys, I have completely changed the way eat.  No, not just the way I eat.  I have completely changed the way I think about food.

Last year, I gave up all gluten and refined sugar after suffering from three major allergic reactions between February and June.  I mean the kind that get you a quick trip to the emergency room.  Diagnosed with systemic candidiasis — that basically means that my body had grown a whole lot more candida albicans than the average person — I started taking medication and gave up the breads, pastas, and sweet treats that I loved.  Turns out candida loves them more.

What I have learned over the last year is that I had been suffering symptoms from candidiasis well before February, but I always attributed my feeling bad to something else.  Within a month of not eating gluten and refined sugar, my weekly migraines stopped.  How do I know it wasn’t something else that changed?  Because I’m a cheater.  I would eat just one little brownie or a teensy slice of bread thinking “what could it hurt?”, and whammo, migraine headache.  No cheats; no headaches.

Yay!  Right?  Well, I never got completely well.  I was better, but I still had a ton of gastrointestinal issues.  And a battle with completely unexplained, stubborn weight gain around my belly.  And a bunch of other symptoms too boring to discuss in this forum.  Have you ever heard people say that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Sounds like a corny bumper sticker, right?  Except that’s me.  I finally reached my breaking point three weeks ago, and I decided that it was time to make a change.

If you are familiar with addiction treatment terminology, then some of the words I’m using may resonate.  That’s because I am addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Why else did I repeatedly eat things that I knew would make me sick later?  In an effort to explain my behavior to friends, I actually caught myself likening it to drinking too much while knowing that there would be a hangover to follow.  Truth is most of us are addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Um, the food manufacturers are more than well aware of this.

HungryForChange

I am not at a point where I am well enough to be the teacher about how we are hooked on food that hurts us.  If you want to know more, watch a documentary like Hungry for Change.  There are also tons of books, especially anything by Michael Pollan or Dr. Mark Hyman.  Or just look around at how — please excuse my frankness — fat we all are.  Even many thin people are fat when it comes to body composition.

Have I peaked your interest in my new journey?  Well, how about this: I lost 8 pounds in the last 10 days.  And I ate really awesome food 5-6 times a day.  Grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, avocados, every tree nut and just about every seed you can imagine, fresh herbs, and lovely, beautiful, in-season vegetables. 

Okay, now why in the heck am I showing you a recipe for cake after all of that?  Two reasons.  First, like any addict, I need to be able to manage my environment.  Having this cake, which has no flour, very little sugar, and tons of good-for-me ingredients helps ease my fears about NEVER BEING ABLE TO EAT SWEETS AGAIN.  My approach to wellness is more harm reduction than cold-turkey, for a lot of reasons that I hope to speak more eloquently about when I’m on the other side.  The second reason?  I baked this cake on Sunday.  Since then, I have only eaten a single 2-inch square of it.  Before I made the cake, I promised myself that if I started to obsess about the cake sitting on my kitchen counter, or if I felt out-of-control around it, then I would either throw it away or take it into work for my hungry friends.  But that hasn’t been an issue.  So the biggest reason to share about this cake is that I’m so proud of myself for conquering not only my cravings, but also my fear of them.

182/365 no-flour snack cake using fresh chocolate mint and a secret ingredient #365project #seekarencook

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I got the idea for this recipe while searching for a way to use up the rest of my locally-grown fresh chocolate mint.  Delighted Momma’s Flourless Zucchini Brownies got me straight up off the couch and into the kitchen to try my own version.  I had to find out how a vegetable, almond butter, and a single egg could result in a baked good worth eating.

Were they?  You betcha!  Zucchini is my new favorite secret ingredient.  I think the texture is more cake than brownies, though, so I switched up the name.  Next time, I will experiment with adding either almond or coconut flour for a more brownie-like texture.  If it works, I will definitely share. 

I had the chocolate liquid stevia on hand, but you could use regular or vanilla liquid stevia if you prefer.  Or powdered stevia.  When my system is more calibrated, I may use raw honey.  The point is to make this work for you and your health.  I also used the small amount of gluten-free dark chocolate chips that I still had on hand after my pantry purge.  Next time, I will probably use cacao nibs as a sugar-free alternative.  Also, allow this cake to cool completely, because it makes a huge improvement in the texture and flavor to let this baby come to room temperature.

no-flour and nearly-no-sugar...it was the dark choc chips...I couldn't help myself #seekarencook

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Chocolate Mint Snack Cake

2 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 c. almond butter
1 egg
1 t. liquid chocolate stevia, or sweetener of choice
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
approximately 20 fresh chocolate mint leaves
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with coconut oil spray and set aside. 

In a food processor, chop the zucchini until finely minced.  Add the next eight ingredients and pulse until well combined.  Remove the bowl from the food processor and stir in dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs. 

Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Slice, serve, and enjoy.

Indi-Mexi-Italian Fusion: Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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I have yet to meet a chutney that I didn’t love, but mint chutney is on my must-have list.  Like ketchup is a must with hot, crispy crinkle-cut French fries.  So one would think that when I had both mint and cilantro in my fridge, whipping up a mint chutney would be a no-brainer.  Right?

Right.  Except that I was craving pesto with lots of olive oil and served up with a gluten-free crostini.  Especially after I found this  pumpkin seed pesto recipe from Flourishing Foodie.  My idea was to replace the fresh sage with cilantro to up the Mexi-flavor.

farmer's cheese crumbles over mint pumpkin seed pesto with sesame blues chips | annumography.wordpress.com

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And then I did what I do and married all of these ethnic flavors into one kick-butt fusion pesto.  I crumbled farmer’s cheese over the top and served it up with Sesame Blues.  You could also stir this pesto into cooked pasta or rice, spread it on a sandwich, whisk it with vinegar for a salad dressing, or mix it into a compound butter.  The fusion flavors just make it that much more versatile.

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

3/4 c. pepitas
1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
kosher salt, to taste

Toast pepitas in a skillet on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on the edges.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the cilantro, mint, garlic, and ginger into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped.  Add the pumpkin seeds and process until combined.  Leaving the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  Add lime juice and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Store unused pesto in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Makes about 2 cups.

Linking to the awesome parties listed here.

The Blarney Stone Kiss Martini

74/365 Blarney Stone Kiss; today begins the St. Patty's Day@ pre-party #365project

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Recently I gave a sneak peek of the mint liqueur that I used to make this ode to St. Patrick’s Day cocktail.  I basically modified the Martha Stewart limoncello recipe that has become my stand-by for every Christmas gift-giving season.

69/365 liqueur made with fresh mint (and a little shout-out to green food coloring) #365project #seekarendrink

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The malty swirl of Tullamore Dew that is used to “kiss” the martini glass in this cocktail balances out the sweetness of the mint liqueur.  Not that the liqueur is as sweet as your typical commercially prepared creme de menthe.  If you like it on the sweeter side, you could play with adding more simple syrup to the mix before shaking.  Or you could rim the glass with green sugar…ooh, I’m excited about that idea!

These babies pack a punch; you may feel like you’ve kissed the blarney stone if you consume more than your limit.  Annumography “invites you to please drink responsibly” (said in my best commercial announcer voice).  Éirinn go Brách.

69/365 liqueur made with fresh mint (and a little shout-out to green food coloring) #365project #seekarendrink

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Fresh Mint Liqueur

2 c. mint leaves, stems removed
2 c. vodka
2 c. sugar
2 c. water
green food coloring

Wash mint leaves and pat dry with paper towels.  Place mint in a glass container (I used a mason jar) with vodka.  Store the jar in a dark, cool place for 3-4 weeks, giving the jar a shake about once a week to mix.

After 3-4 weeks, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce heat and add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in green food coloring, about 5 drops of liquid food coloring or equivalent gel food coloring.  Allow sugar syrup to cool completely.  While syrup is cooling, strain the mint-infused vodka using a fine mesh sieve.  Add the cooled sugar syrup to the strained mint-vodka and stir.  Pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

74/365 Blarney Stone Kiss; today begins the St. Patty's Day@ pre-party #365project

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Blarney Stone Kiss

Splash of Irish whiskey
1 part Fresh Mint Liqueur, or any creme de menthe liqueur
1 part vodka
ice

Pour the Irish whiskey into a martini glass and swirl to coat.  Discard any excess whiskey.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice.  Add Fresh Mint Liqueur or creme de menthe and vodka, cover, and shake.  Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass.