Maple Blessing Cake with Pear, Cardamom & Anise (gluten & grain free, with sugar & dairy free options)

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Last Fall, my dear friend had a beautiful ceremony to celebrate her special pregnancy time, savored moments for nurturing and honoring the woman and mother in her as she prepared for the birth of her second child. In Navajo tradition this ceremony is known as a Blessingway. It was a lovely time with dear women friends gathered together to nurture and pamper the new mother-of-two-to be. We each created and
brought an image or artwork or piece of writing to share with her and set them together on her altar. We washed her feet in a bowl of warm flower-scented water with essential oils and fresh flower petals scattered over the surface, and we massaged her legs and arms. We hennaed her beautiful belly with spontaneous and meaningful designs as we spoke words of blessing and love to share with her.

And there were good things to eat… One of my gifts was a Blessing Cake, created just for her and to share with the women who came to honor and celebrate the occasion. It came out quite delicious, perhaps mostly because of the good feelings put into making it! Here it is, to share with all of you. (Only a year later…)

Maple Blessing Cake with Pear, Cardamom & Anise

Ingredients:

3 cups almond flour

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks) or coconut oil

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream, creme fraise, cultured coconut cream (see my recipe) or Greek style yogurt

1/2 cup maple syrup (for sugar-free version, use 3/4 cups birch xylitol or stevia to taste, plus 2 tsps natural maple flavoring)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

1 1/2 tsps cardamom

1 tsp ground anise seeds (can substitute fennel)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder (optional)
*(if not using, add in 2 tsps raw apple cider vinegar)

I ripe pear, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Cream the softened butter or coconut oil with maple syrup or other sweetener in a mixing bowl. Next, add in vanilla and eggs one at a time and blend until smooth. Then add the rest of the ingredients except pear and mix thoroughly. Gently fold in the pear pieces so they stay intact (don’t over mix!).

Alternately, put all the ingredients except pear into a food processor and blend until smooth. Gently fold in the pear pieces by hand at the end.

Pour into an oiled bundt pan set on a cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit for about 45-50 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Top with fresh maple whipped cream (add a dash of maple syrup–or natural maple flavoring plus stevia or birch xylitol to taste–to whipping cream, then whip!) or maple glaze, recipe to follow.

Coconut Maple Glaze

Ingredients:

1 can organic coconut milk, chilled in fridge for at least several hours

Pure maple syrup, 1-2 Tbsps
OR
Natural maple flavoring plus stevia or birch xylitol to taste

Instructions:

Use only the solid cream from the can of chilled coconut milk, saving the liquid for another use*.

Blend the cream with a dash of maple syrup to your liking (or maple flavoring plus other sweetener) in a stand mixer, food processor, with a hand-mixer or by hand.

Gently pour or scoop out over cooled blessing cake and decorate with edible flowers if you have them!

*Note: if you desire a thinner glaze, simply add in some of the coconut liquid left over from the can of coconut milk, 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.

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Vegetable Turkey Chili

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[Note: This post is now months old! My apologies. It has been sitting nearly-finished in that netherworld between done and unmanifested. So this was written in the Fall even before Thanksgiving. My, I am behind!]

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Sonoma County the nights and mornings have been very chilly and sometimes blustery (to borrow a word from Winnie the Pooh). It’s most definitely Fall and I love it! I also love warm, nourishing foods like soups and stews, crockpot meals and hot herbal teas with a dash of cream. This is the time for drawing inward and warming ourselves from the inside-out. I was craving chili, so I threw this together–I did not measure spices, nor even remember all that I added!, so please adjust seasonings to your taste, as I will give a framework here, a stew-pot, upon which you can build or make as-is. My “recipes” are usually quite flexible, so please bear with the loose parameters and enjoy the warmth of comforting foods in this chilly season….

Vegetable Turkey Chili for a Cold Day

1 large onion, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped small

1 large or two small bell peppers (any color), chopped

4 stems of kale or collard greens, chopped small (may also use Swiss chard, though the flavor will be slightly more acrid)

2 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped small

About 1 1/2 cups of yams or sweet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped small

4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 pound of natural ground turkey (can substitute ground beef, lamb, buffalo or chicken)

Optional: 1/4 cup minced or ground organic or grass fed chicken liver (if using beef, buffalo or lamb instead of turkey, can use organic or grass fed beef liver)

1 large can organic chopped tomatoes with liquid or several fresh chopped tomatoes

1 small (6 oz.) can organic tomato paste

1 can Eden organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (*I like Eden because they pre-soak their beans and then cook them with kombu, a type of seaweed, which not only helps to soften the beans quicker but also adds a huge mineral boost and helps make them more easily digested.)

Optional: 1 can Eden organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or other preferred Eden beans)

Spices:

1 tbsp basil flakes
1 tbsp oregano flakes
2 tsps thyme flakes
2 tsps marjoram flakes
1 tsp dried rosemary or 2 tsps fresh
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder (depending spice level preferred)
1/2 tsp turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste

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In a large soup pot set over a medium-high flame, sauté onions in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, ghee or coconut oil. After a minute or two, as onions begin to brown, add in the sweet potatoes or squash, then toss in the celery, bell peppers and garlic.

Cook for about five minutes, until veggies soften, then push veggies to one side and add in the ground meat and optional liver. Stir to cook the meat evenly, adding a bit more oil if needed.

Once meat is cooked, mix it together with the veggies in the pot and stir.

Next, add in your spices and stir again. Add in the garbanzo beans and optional kidney beans.

This is super yummy with some sliced avocado and a dollup of cultured sour cream!

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