Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amazingly Addicting Vegan Carrot-Coconut Macaroons

First, a note:  I have been having issues transferring images from my camera to my computer.  This is whyI haven't posted in a while.  Until I figure out a new system, you'll just have to put your imagination hats to good use!

PSA over, now on to today's post: 

As many of you know, for quite some time I have been suffering from a mental block regarding fresh squeezed vegetable juice.  Yes, I know it's lower in sodium, artificial sugars, and preservatives than the V8/Tropicana Splash stuff, but I couldn't help myself.  Fruit juice, too--growing up my dad made us drink fresh-squeezed orange juice before we left for school, and I would make him strain all of the pulp out before I Needless to say, this deficiency has been an obstacle as I have attempted to maintain my cred as a hipster vegetarian over the years.  

But this summer I inherited an Omega Olympic Juicer from my parents while visiting Ohio.  There's something about having such a powerful piece of machinery (this thing is probably like 20 years old and in mint condition.  Nothing is built to last anymore...) that makes you want to put it to good use. 

After some successful forays into apple and pineapple juicing (trust me on this one:  it'll blow your mind), I finally decided I was ready for the main event.  One of the main excuses I always gave for not juicing was that, living alone (or at least shopping alone), I never bought vegetables in large enough quantities to justify using them all on juice.  My roommate, however, likes to grocery shop to feed small armies, so there's always an abundance of fresh veggies in the house.  

So one day, I finally took the plunge, juicing some fresh organic carrots one day when my immune system needed a boost.  And while my nose wrinkled at the first taste, I was delighted at how nourishing and rich flavor the bright orange elixir revealed.  Over the next few months I would continue my exploration--carrot/beet, apple/carrot--and have been delighted at the new world that has opened up for me.

Still, one element of fresh juicing has nagged me:  what to do with all of the pulp left over in the mesh strainer?  Sure, you can compost it--but that bright orange color seems a shame to waste.  As a leftover queen and hoarder of jewelry from 7th grade, I like to think there can be a use for everything.

So on a particularly angsty Tuesday evening, I went trolling the internet for carrot pulp uses.  While there were numerous recipes for carrot muffins, I was after something a little more exciting (plus my muffin track record has been somewhat off these past few months, and when I'm stress-baking I don't like to set myself up for disappointment). 

After a a few misses, I finally hit upon fascinating list of recipes on an message board,  What caught my eye about many recipes here is that they went beyond the obvious of simply baking them into bread or muffins and use carrots in a whole new way.  In particular, the carrot pulp marmalade recipe kind of blew my mind.  But since I lacked both pectin and fresh oranges, that would have to wait for another rainy day. 

Instead, I settled on the other recipe that caught my eye:  Golden Macaroons, made with fresh carrots and grated coconut.  While I always have some initial hesitation with vegan versions recipes for items that primarily rely on eggs as their base (and don't call for real sugar), my coconut obsession won the day.  

My first reaction upon tasting these was slight disappointment, first upon realizing I forgot to add the water recommended in the recipe.  Also, despite adding extra maple syrup and agave it seemed my initial instincts were correct about needing real sugar.  Also, it occurred to me how much the addition of either almond or coconut extract would have really kicked it up a notch.

But here's the funny thing:  despite my initial lack of enthusiasm, I found myself unable to stop eating them.  Whether it was needing a light midnight snack with my tea or an extra boost to make up for a missed breakfast, I found that one was simply not enough. Like carrot juice itself, the subtle balance of flavors sneaks up on you in a way that satisfies without giving your immune system sugary shock-treatment. 

Amazingly Addicting Vegan Carrot-Coconut Macaroons
1 cup carrot pulp (or grated carrot), packed
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sweetener, or to taste (I used maple syrup.)
1 1/2 cup grated coconut
1 cup oat flour (I substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of oats)
1/2 tsp salt (optional) 

1 tsp vanilla (I also think almond extract or coconut extract would be amazing in these.)
Blend dry, quick or rolled oats to make a flour. Mix well all ingredients. Let sit 10 min. firmly pack dough into a tablespoon then drop on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 30 min.