Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies with Orange Zest

Ben & I are entering into our first time counseling gig.  I humor myself calling it a gig.  We have the privilege of serving as a guiding couple to three non-married & non-engaged couples through our church's pre-engagement course.  
It's a 10 week class, where the couples answer lots of questions, fill out family history background & work through a lot the hidden dimensions of marriage.  They get to see whether this significant other is compatible for them to make the big step of engagement.  And I realize a "pre-engagement" class sounds rather odd compared to the widely known, "pre-marital."  
We went through the class ourselves back in 2000, and found out more about ourselves as individuals, as a couple and if our values & interests (and so much more) aligned with one another.  We love being able to speak into young people's lives, especially surrounding something as sacred as marriage.  Too often in our culture (regardless of Christian or not), entering into marriage without weathering the seasons of life together can bring more stress & turmoil than needed when making the covenant.  This is one primary reason we love being able to invest in the lives of individuals who are seeking out marriage with such intention.  
One other aspect of this 10 week period is each couple gets to work together to bring a dessert or appetizer for their designated night.  Most times, as you might have gathered, when bringing a dessert to a get together there is a bit of pressure.  Pressure to measure up & pressure by time pressing in.  I made these Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies with the essence of fresh orange zest a couple weeks back.  I was looking for something easy & relatively healthy to serve as a "treat" for my girls & their little friends.  These hit that spot.

Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies with Orange Zest (printable recipe)

I have used the word "raw" in the recipe title, but I didn't use raw cocoa for these cookies.  Thereby, they are not 100% raw.  However, if your diet is of such, then sub out the cocoa for raw cocoa.  

2 cups hazelnuts
1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened 
1/4 tsp sea salt
zest of one orange
18 dates, pitted medjool
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 cup maple syrup or raw honey
1 Tb. cocoa nibs

Place your hazelnuts into a food processor.  Process until resembling coarse hazelnut meal, basically you want to have the hazelnuts avoiding that hazelnut butter stage.
Add cocoa, salt, orange zest & medjool dates and process again.  The dates should start to bring the mixture together into a ball, but not quite.  You may want to hit pulse about 5-7 times to see how it looks.  
Add the coconut oil, maple syrup & cocoa nibs.  Pulse 5-7 times, until the mixture is holding together nicely. You may want to remove the lid to see how it sticks together.  If it's not quite forming a ball easily, pulse a couple more times until it does.  
Taking 2 Tb at a time, form them into balls & slightly flatten to place them on parchment or foil.  Top with orange zest & eat.  
These will keep at room temperature and/or the fridge.  

Blueberry Breakfast Crumb Cake



My mom would make those Jiffy Blueberry muffins for us kids growing up, and I counted it a Sunday morning treat.  The cake batter smell that could only come from a box has a special place in my heart.  Not because I like cake from a box, but because it's quintessential 80s childhood.  

The Jiffy blueberry muffins are no different with their dried "blueberries" (I should read the box ingredients someday) & sweet vanilla batter.  We subscribed to Country Crock spread on those fresh from the oven muffins & barely cooling them before we inhaled another.  

This Blueberry Breakfast Crumb Cake should be put down as my food memory I'm giving to my children.  Fresh local blueberries, moist cake with buttery cake (except no butter is used) & a sweet/salty crumb topping to tie it altogether.  Sunday morning should always greet a family with something warm from the oven, especially married with blueberries.  

Blueberry Breakfast Crumb Cake (printable recipe)

This cake is gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free & dairy free.  With all this "free" stuff going around, you might be wondering if you're simply being robbed of taste.  In one word, "No."  The mixture of coconut oil & salt creates a buttery taste without using butter.  And don't be afraid of coconut oil & the fat content, because it's one of the healthiest fats out there...much better than Country Crock.

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted but not hot

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp lemon zest, or zest of one lemon

1 cup blueberries, 1 1/2 cups if you want more blueberry goodness


Crumb Topping:

2 Tb coconut oil, not melted

2 Tb coconut sugar

3 Tb blanched almond flour

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon



Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8-inch cake pan with coconut oil & set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, almond flour, baking soda & salt.  Whisk to combine.  In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, eggs, coconut oil, & honey.  Add the lemon zest & whisk.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture.  Thoroughly combine with a wooden spoon.  

Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Take your blueberries and spread them over the batter.  Spread the remaining batter over the blueberries & make your crumb topping.

Combine all of the crumb topping ingredients together using a fork.  The topping is a bit thick, so do your best to spread it over the top of the cake.  It's okay if it doesn't cover the whole cake.  

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We just returned from a family getaway.  Ben had planned a surprise adventure for our family for the earlier part of January.  Unfortunately for us, we needed to reschedule to do a bit of a tornado hitting his work staff all at once, leaving Ben to tend to work.  We stayed on Discovery Bay between Sequim & Port Townsend.   The place we stayed had a kitchen, so it made meals so much easier and healthy.  There was also an indoor pool, which Tayers thought was the "big adventure," and whenever we drove somewhere she would cry out, "I want to go on the big adventure!"

Our family time was relaxed, filled with laughter, reflection, and many joyful moments.  It was the probably the best family vacation we've ever been on (and I hope many follow suit).  We also experienced some breathtaking sunrises (the kind you wake up just to make sure you don't miss it). 

I played my guitar, read, and wrote a personal mission statement, as well.  This little break helped clear my head, refocus and evaluate who I am and what I, Kamille, am called to do in this life.  It was good, so very good and yet so simple too.  It's kind of like these Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  They aren't fussy, pretty straightforward and simplistic.  Yet, sure to dance on your palate in such a way, which leaves you looking forward to the next time you get to eat them.  I have some great things in store for Evangitality Redeeming the Table this year and I hope you will continue to join me or better yet, add to the discussion:)

A Year Ago: Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes (printable recipe)

2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and put the sweet potatoes in an even layer on top. Add the coconut oil and thoroughly coat, using your hands, the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, combine lime juice, lime zest, additional 1/2 tsp salt & cilantro. Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a serving bowl and pour the lime/cilantro mixture over them while hot. Gently mix to combine and serve.