Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fig Newtons

Growing up I LOVED fig newtons... but Mama Wendy never bought them. They were on her list of junk food. There were a lot of foods on this list now that I come to think of it; no pop, no fruit rollups, no sugar cereal, no white bread, not even chocolate milk. But, now that I'm older, I thank her for raising us kids like this. If we're being completely honest, I will do the same with my kids. 

Lately, I've also been kind of fig obsessed. I'm not sure why I didn't discover them earlier in life. So once I found this recipe, I decided I had to make it. It fulfills my childhood craving, and my current love. As with all my recipes, I did not come up with it on my own, I found this one on My New Roots. Sarah, the author, has become someone I admire and would love to meet someday. Her recipes are always delicious, good for you, and never cease to amaze me.

These are best eaten straight from the oven, Lauren and I may or may not have eaten the whole pan the first time we made them (oops). They are the perfect cookie to satisfy that cookie craving too!

Makes 20-24 newtons



1 cup dried figs (any variety will work)
½ - ¾ cup strong-brewed rooibos tea
½ vanilla bean, scraped
2 tsp. lemon juice
pinch sea salt


1 cup rolled oats (try half as almond flour to boost the protein)
¼ cup coconut sugar
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 ½ Tbsp. chia seeds
3 Tbsp. strong-brewed rooibos tea
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Brew the tea. Use two bags to make the tea very strong. Boil ¾ cup water and pour over the tea. Let steep for 15-20 minutes, then remove the bags or strain. Take out three tablespoons and stir in 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, set aside to gel.

2. To make the dough, blend 1 cup of rolled oats in a food processor to make a rough flour. Add coconut sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and pulse to mix. Next add the coconut oil, chia-rooibos gel, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Pulse to mix until the mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, cover tightly and place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour (this can be done a day ahead if desired).

3. To make filling, roughly chop figs and place them in a small saucepan with ½ cup brewed tea, lemon juice, salt and scraped vanilla seeds, including the pod.  Cook over low-medium heat until the figs start to break down and the mixture thickens (about 10-15 minutes). Add more tea or water if necessary. Let cool slightly, remove vanilla pod, then blend in a food processor. You can make the filling as smooth or chunky as you like. The filling can also be made in advance, if desired.

4. Remove dough from fridge, place on a piece of parchment paper and lay another sheet on top. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until the dough is a little larger than 4.5” x 20” To make a rectangle trim off any excess dough around the sides. Spoon fig filling along the center, then fold in both sides and press lightly to seal. Cut 20-24 pieces out and place each one, seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Bake cookies in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roasting Almonds + Almond Butter

There is something about homemade almond butter. It is just so good. I made my first batch of almond butter this past fall before college and haven't turned back since. I honestly can't even eat almond butter from the store anymore because the taste just can't compare to when I make it on my own.  This recipe is so simple, everyone is surprised when they find out that the only ingredient is almonds!

Before the almond butter can be made, the almonds must be roasted. These too are delicious and I end up eating a good portion of them before they even make it in the blender. Roasting them beforehand gives the almond butter a whole new taste, maybe that's why store-bought just can't compete. Also, by roasting them many more nutrients are released! Since almonds are technically seeds, they have enzyme inhibitors on them that keep them from sprouting as they sit on the shelf. The only way to get rid of these is to soak them or roast them. Since I'm all about the nutrition aspect, this fascinates me- but not everyone... so if you want to read more Sarah Britton writes more about it here

Makes 1 cup of almond butter


2 cups raw almonds


1. Roast almonds by heating oven 300 F and spreading in a single layer on a metal baking sheet.

2. Roast for 18-25 minutes. Almonds will be a golden caramel color on the inside when done, test by biting in half. They can burn easily if left in for too long, so keep a careful eye.

3. Let almonds cool completely then put in a food processor (I use our Vitamix). Blend on highest speed until smooth and creamy, scraping as you go.
4. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 1 month

*If you want to make chunky almond butter remove 1/4 cup of almonds from the blender once almonds have been broken up a bit but before they become a powder. Stir back in when butter is finished.

**Tips for cleaning the Vitamix: Rinse with water and get big chunks out with fingers. Fill with warm, soapy water and blend on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Rinse. Repeat if necessary.