The Sweet Memories of Strawberry Shortcake

I get a little wistful when June rolls around because it’s a month that marks both my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day. It’s during the sixth month of the year that I remember my father more than I usually do: the outdoor birthday parties we’d have on my parents’ deck, the way he wore Naval binoculars slung around his neck while watching sailboats race on Lake George, and the fact that, like the rest of the world, he wasn’t all that into chocolate cake. But dad was wild about strawberry shortcake. Like a lot of Americans with roots in the south, biscuits were a cherished carb of choice. And who doesn’t adore whipped cream? The strawberries in our region are usually reaching a juicy, red crescendo as his birthday arrives, so it must have been a confluence of coincidence and logic that cemented this as his all-time favorite dessert.

When I went gluten and cow-dairy-free five years ago, I unconsciously sequestered Strawberry Shortcake to the underground recesses of my memory. No point in dwelling on it since two of the three ingredients involve white flour and heavy cream. Since writing a cookbook on clean eating, I’ve become much more creative in my endeavors to enjoy comfort food while remaining clean. A few weeks ago I realized I could indeed eat Strawberry Shortcake again. The procedure would be the same as with any other recipe I’ve made over: tastes and textures are mimicked and approximated, ingredients are swapped, and because I want to maintain a 180-pound weight loss more than I want the taste of X,Y, or Z, I agree to eat something that is hardly an exact replica of the original, but is close enough. If that’s my cross to bear in life, I got off easy.

The biscuits in this recipe are made from garbanzo beans; the whipped cream from coconut milk; the strawberries are the real and original deal. No need to alter anything there. And why would I? They’re ruby-red, sweet, and straight off the fields at Buhrmaster Farms on Route 50 in Scotia.

Sure, I could make a pan of biscuits out of gluten-free flour. I’m simply determined to squeeze as much nutrition out of food as I can. And beans have a lower glycemic index than flour, they’re ounce-for-ounce less expensive than flour, and lentils are a fiber magnet so there’s no contest for me.

My Dad: On the deck where we had his birthday parties.

My Dad: On the deck where we had his birthday parties.

For the first time ever, I was able to remember my dad through his favorite dessert on Father’s Day. It was delicious. It brought back sweet memories of him. And if he were here, he’d be elated that I invented such a nourishing version of his favorite dessert.

Clean Strawberry Shortcake

Serves four

2-3 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

For the biscuits:

1 can Garbanzo beans, drained

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar or 20 drops of Stevia

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Almond milk or coconut milk as needed for thinning

For whipped cream:

1 can coconut milk, chilled in the refrigerator several hours or overnight


With a fork or potato masher, mascerate the strawberries until they’re chunky and a little liquidy. Set aside

Preheat oven to 350

Combine all biscuit ingredients in a food processor or Vita-Mix and blend until smooth. The consistency should be slightly thinner than cake batter, so add almond milk if needed. Spray a square brownie pan with cooking spray and pour batter into pan. Bake 25 minutes and do a toothpick test in the center. If it comes out clean, remove from oven. Otherwise bake another five to 10 minutes.

While biscuits are cooling, open coconut milk. The fat will have risen to the top. Scoop it out into a small mixing bowl and set water aside. Whip with an electric beater until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Cut biscuits into squares and top with strawberries and cream.

Bon Appetit!

Pure Delight - No Damage!

Pure Delight – No Damage!

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