Thursday, August 29, 2013

Raw Fruit Tart (& MPPM goes GF)

Fair warning...this post is long and wordy, so feel free to skip to the bottom for the recipe if you're not interested in the update and I promise my feelings won't be hurt.  I'll add in pictures to break it up a little and here's one of what's to come. :)

It's been almost a year since my last post and while I'm sure no one really needs an explanation for my absence, I do want to explain which direction My Pretty Pink Mixer will be going.  Back in 2007, I was tested for Celiac Disease after becoming severely anemic and unable to absorb iron when taken orally.  While my antibody blood test was positive for Celiacs, my small intestinal biopsy did not show "enough" damage for my doctor to officially diagnose me with it.  However, he said it wouldn't hurt to try a gluten-free diet.  For me, it was difficult to stick with the diet knowing that it may or may not help, especially when I didn't have the immediate severe digestive symptoms most Celiacs had.  In order for me to see results, I needed to build back up my iron levels and that would take months---"trying the diet" wasn't good for me, I wanted a diagnosis to back it up.  After one blood transfusion and numerous iron infusions, I finally decided to give the gluten-free diet a shot.  I attempted to be gluten-free for almost year, but looking back now, I focused way too much on trying to replace familiar food staples with labeled "gluten-free" foods, such as bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, etc, and they just weren't that great.  Eventually, I felt remarkably better.  Though I wasn't sure whether to contribute that to the infusions, the diet, or both?  In the end, baking got the best of me and I decided to stop being gluten free.  Basically the next few years were a constant cycle of eat baked goods and bread, start to feel fatigued, cut them out and go gluten free for a while until I felt better, then add it back in.

Nothing to do with this post, but Nelly and I love hiking.
Fast forward to August of 2012, I had signed up to run the Houston Marathon in January of 2013.  This was my fourth marathon to run, fifth to train for (DNF one year when I tried to run with the flu, go figure).  I had been chasing a sub-4:00 and desperately wanted to do that in Houston, so I thoroughly evaluated everything I would need to do to get there.  First, I found a new training plan.  It had me logging way more miles than I had ever done before and incorporated track workouts, hill workouts, speed workouts (most of which I didn't end up doing).  Second,  I didn't tell anyone I was training. I told myself I would train and race as long as I was enjoying it and if at any point I wasn't, I could stop.  Took the pressure off.  Third, I canceled my gym membership.  I wanted to train solely outside.  I wanted to run in the heat, the rain, the cold, the humidity, the wind.  All conditions that would help me prepare for race day.  And fourth, I decided to go STRICTLY gluten-free.  I didn't focus on GF meal replacements, but tried to eat WHOLE foods---substituting zucchini for pasta in lasagna, lettuce-wrapping my burgers, and when I wanted a grain, I chose quinoa which is naturally GF.  Marathon training was four months, I started eliminating gluten about 6 months out to get it out of my system.  I shouldn't be surprised by the results, but I was.  I had way more energy, my training runs were better than they had ever been,  and I no longer had GI issues on runs (tmi).  In December, I caved and had a few cookies and cake every once in awhile, but now my body reacted to these things when I ate them---most often a stomach in turmoil.  

Ryan graduated from the Fire Academy in December.  And we celebrated my birthday AND two year anniversary.  So I ate cake...and cookies.
Now to the best part, bear with me. On January 14, 2013, race day,  I woke up in my hotel room in Houston with it pouring down rain and a nice warm 40 degrees.  Not ideal conditions, but refer back to point three, I had run in this weather before and I knew I could do it and I did.  I shaved off almost 17 minutes from my previous PR, completing the Houston Marathon with a 3:43.  I ran solo.  I ran with only my husband and my family knowing about it.  And I just ran.  I told myself not to look at my Garmin, to run comfortably, and to enjoy the race.  I never had an upset stomach, I never doubted myself, I never hit a wall, and I smiled the entire last mile to the finish line.  Looking back, I could have picked up my pace and challenged myself more, but that's not what I wanted it to be about.  I wanted to enjoy running again without pressure of beating a time (even though I desperately wanted to run sub-4:00, I didn't check my paces to make sure I was doing that).  Not by any means saying running 26.2 miles was a cake walk, my feet hurt like crazy and my legs were exhausted, but I never doubted I could finish.

Words can't describe how happy I was.
So long story short, whether or not I truly have Celiacs (though some doctors don't even do the biopsy anymore and rely solely on the blood test), I do know that gluten is no good for me and seen how my body reacts when I eliminate it.  Hence the reason, I haven't been baking.  I've tried my hand at making a few recipes gluten-free, but like an amateur, I subbed GF flour for AP flour 1:1 and that does not work out well, so I just didn't bake.  Well, not entirely true, I did bake these cakes for other people that I was proud of.

Cars themed smash cake.

Pirate themed first birthday!
But I miss it.  So I rid my kitchen of all the gluten-filled flour I kept handy "just in case", and I'm going to fill it with all sorts of flours that I really have no idea what I'm doing with but that won't make me feel terrible.  I've been doing my research and learning how to mix said flours, which ones work best for which baked goods, etc. and my goal is to make GF goods that rival my gluten-filled baked goods and that anyone would enjoy eating.  Also, at the request of my lovely coworkers,  I'll be posting some dinner ideas, as well, even though they don't require my mixer.  

I hope you'll continue to follow me even though I may not be posting regular gluten-filled goodies.  My intention is to de-glutenize many of my current recipes, so I'll probably post a GF version and the non-GF version.  

For my first post, I'm making this easy.  No flour whatsoever and happens to be Paleo compliant if that's your style.  This idea came from the Engine 2 Diet, I just spruced it up.

I used my brand new food processor, which happens to be my new best friend. How did I not own one of these before?? This, my friends, is a "chocolate-chip cookie dough" crust, layered with sliced fresh strawberries, strawberry puree, blueberries, and raspberries, then topped with homemade coconut whipped cream and toasted unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled with cinnamon and sea salt.  So good. And so good for you.

Even my gluten-loving husband devoured this.

Did not intend for it to be red, white, and blue, I just like berries.  A lot.  Choose whatever toppings you like---oranges, cherries, bananas?

Hope you enjoy and welcome back.

Raw Fruit Tart
(printable recipe)

For the crust:
1 cup unsalted, raw almonds
24 dates (the ones I used are slightly smaller than medjool dates, they were from Costco)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
dash of sea salt

1 lb strawberries, save 5-6 to puree and slice the rest
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries

1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled 4-6 hours in refrigerator so the cream separates from the water
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend ingredients for crust together in food processor until finely chopped, about 3-5 minutes.  Press evenly into bottom of pie plate and place in fridge to chill.

You can follow instructions here for the coconut flakes or wing it.  I mixed together cinnamon and salt (no measurements) then placed some coconut in a large skillet over medium heat.  Watch it like a hawk because it browns quickly.  Continue to stir as it browns then immediately remove from heat when 2/3 of the pieces are lightly browned.  Immediately toss with salt and cinnamon then transfer to baking sheet to cool.

Clean fruit and let dry.  Slice strawberries, leaving 5-6 to puree with blender or food processor.  

Grab crust out of fridge and line bottom with sliced strawberries.  Pour pureed strawberries over the sliced and spread evenly.  Line raspberries around edge and place blueberries in the center.  

After the coconut milk has chilled thoroughly, carefully remove it from fridge (do not shake!) and open it.  Scrape the cream off of the top until you reach the water at the bottom.  Try not to collect too much of the water.  I whipped the coconut cream in a chilled metal bowl with chilled metal whisk (pink mixer style), but not necessary.  Whip coconut cream 5-6 minutes or until desired thickness.  Dollop on fruit tart and sprinkle with coconut flakes.  Serve immediately or cover and keep in refrigerator.