Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sugar-free Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

These are seriously good. And seriously vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free (except for the tiny amount of sugar in the pumpkin puree). BAM. A tri-fecta of guilt-abolishing truths about desserts. I've made them a few times now, and while the texture isn't quite perfect, they stay together pretty well considering how many substitutions are in them. And everyone I've shared them with to (n=10) loved the flavor -- even though most don't follow a vegan, gluten-free, or sugar-free diet.

**These are loosely based on this recipe.

Sugar-free Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup Stevia in the Raw
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
4 - 5 tbsp. coconut oil, warmed to liquid
3 - 4 tsp. vanilla extract (to taste)
1/2 cup gluten-free oats OR quinoa flakes (I've tried both and either way, you'll eat every last one)
1/2 cup pecan pieces (either raw or roasted will work)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the almond flour, sorghum flour, baking powder, stevia, shredded coconut, salt, and cinnamon together. Add the pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract and mix well. Add in the oats or quinoa flakes and pecan pieces and mix well. It will be slightly crumbly, but it should still be stick enough to roll into little balls. If it's not, add a little more melted coconut oil and/or vanilla extract until it is.

Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and line up on a lined cookie sheet. These don't really spread much, so you can put them pretty close together. Bake for 7 - 11 minutes or just until light golden brown on top. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Eat as many as you want before storing in an airtight container (for best results so they don't crumble when they rub against each other, separate layers with waxed paper). 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut S'mores

This was kind of momentous. You know how the first bite of a food you haven't had in a loooooong time can either be really good or really bad?

Yes, that's a s'more. Yes, it was delicious and gooey. Yes, they only have three ingredients. And yes, I ate more than four (but fewer than six) of them.

Of course, the true test of how graham-cracker-like any food is can only be in the form of how well it performs in the s'more category. And these? These are pretty fabulous and graham cracker-like.


I'm not sure what you're waiting for. Here's what you'll need:

Gluten-free graham crackers of your choice
Chocolate hazelnut butter (I used Justin's)
Marshmallow fluff

Spread a dollop of marshmallow fluff onto one of the graham crackers. Microwave the fluff for 5 - 10 seconds so it's soft. Spread some chocolate hazelnut butter onto the other graham cracker. Slap the two pieces together. Eat greedily. Repeat as necessary. Sharing is optional.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

This was another variation on that original cake recipe I created last year when my cousin was visiting. You know. The cake that only knew the world for a short time before disappearing forever. I've been playing around with the crumble on this cake to make it crispier, and this time it was a success! The batter for this cake is very runny, and the trick for a crispy topping seems to be adding it to the cake halfway through the baking time (ever so gently, so you don't make it fall) so that it doesn't sink right into the batter before it's somewhat set. The result? Perfect, lovely, soft cake with a crunchy sweet topping. It's a beautiful thing. And it won't last long. I made this for a friend who is allergic to soy, and then shared the rest with my co-workers, and it was universally gobbled down by all.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Makes a 9" x 13" pan

4 eggs
8 oz white sugar (~1 cup)
3 oz. Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread
5 oz. plain or cinnamon smooth applesauce
3 tbsp vanilla
3 oz. tapioca starch
3 oz. brown rice flour
2 oz. sorghum flour
(OR 8 oz. of your favorite gluten-free flour blend)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 - 1 1/2 cups Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (soy-free)

For the crumble topping, mix together in a bowl:
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray (if it's soy-free) or grease with some of the soy-free margarine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the Earth Balance, applesauce, and vanilla and continue to beat until well-mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine the tapioca starch, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Add in batches to the wet ingredients and continue to mix. The batter will be fairly runny.

Pour the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips across the top and with a spoon, press them very lightly into the very top of the batter. Place in the oven and bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

About halfway through the baking, when the batter is fairly set, sprinkle the crumble topping evenly across the top of the cake. Doing this halfway through gives you that lovely crumble topping; if you add it too early, it sinks right down into the cake batter and disappears.

Remove from oven and let cool for at least 20 minutes before eating any of it; and it will taste even better if you let it cool completely before you eat it. (**That's just something I have to say. We all know you're going to have a piece as soon as it comes out of the oven.)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan and Whole-Grain)

Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that this is a chocolate cookie that is whole-grain, vegan, and still manages to be as chewy and delicious as the best chocolate chip cookies you've eaten.

The bad news is that this is a chocolate cookie that is whole-grain, vegan, and still manages to be as chewy and delicious as the best chocolate chip cookies you've eaten.

What this means for you is that you will want to eat ALL OF THE COOKIES because they will fool you into thinking that they're actually healthy. And granted - they are definitely healthier than other chocolate chip cookies. But yeah. Unfortunately, they're not actually all that healthy (no matter what I tell myself as I pop yet another one into my mouth).

But they are that delicious. I wasn't sure what to expect with these, as it was the first recipe I'd tried from the wonderful recipe archive Yum Universe. And me = blown away. Also, my friends = blown away. These are fabulous little treats!

I didn't really adapt the original recipe much at all. The only thing I did was use organic granulated cane sugar because I didn't have sucanat on hand. I also added more vanilla extract than what was called for because, well, I seem to always do that. If you're making these for someone with a soy allergy, double check all ingredients, especially the chocolate chips (which often have soy lecithin in them). Otherwise, just do what the nice lady tells you and you will not be sorry.

Click here to get this recipe. And you're welcome. You should also check out the rest of Yum Universe's plant-based recipes - they all look so delicious!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chai Latte Banana Muffincakes

Do you love chai lattes as much as I do? I guess you probably can't answer that without knowing the exact amount that I love chai lattes. The only way I can quantify it is to simply say that I love them a lot. As in...a LOT a lot.

So I decided to spice up (ha) my regular banana bread recipe and call them chai muffincakes instead, since they're based on a muffin recipe but iced like a cupcake. If you leave off the icing, they're really just muffins and can be eaten with relatively less guilt for breakfast. (Not that I'd judge ANYONE for eating the iced version at any time of day....just saying.) But it's always fun to dress up baked goods, and the chai icing rounds out the chai latte flavor so nicely.

I made these pretty potently chai-spice-filled, but of course everyone's palate is different - so feel free to adjust the spices to your own taste. And they were so divine. One of my friends joked after gobbling his down that he felt like unhinging his jaw so he could just eat it all in one huge chai-filled bite. In what was probably very lucky for his overall digestion, that did not happen. But that should speak for itself and should tell you how wonderful these were!

Chai Latte Banana Muffincakes
Makes 12

For muffincakes:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (make sure it's gluten-free!)
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup chestnut flour (can substitute sorghum flour if desired)
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground pepper (more or less to taste)
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 - 3 tbsp. non-dairy milk

For icing:
1 8-oz package non-dairy cream cheese substitute
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 cup powdered sugar (you can add more if need be)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom

**I recommend making the icing first so you can chill it in the fridge while you make the muffincakes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Combine the olive oil, applesauce, and sugar.  Beat in the eggs, and then the mashed bananas until the batter is fairly smooth (your odd chunk of banana or applesauce is fine).  Add the vanilla extract and stir to blend.  You can beat with a handmixer, but it works just fine if you mix by hand, too!

In a separate bowl, measure the gluten-free flours and mix them together with the baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and cardadmom until well-blended.  Add about one quarter of the flour mixture at a time to the wet ingredients, stirring well each time.  Finally, add 2 - 3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Almond Plus Milk) and mix well.

Pour the batter into the lined muffin pan and place in the oven immediately.  Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes. When a toothpick or knife comes out of the tallest part of the muffin clean, it's done! Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

When the cupcakes are completely cooled, slather them with Chai Latte "Cream Cheese" Icing (see below). Eat them! Store in the fridge (because of the icing) but let warm to room temperature before serving, if possible; they'll be much softer and enjoyable.

Chai Latte "Cream Cheese" Icing

Cream the faux cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Add the powdered sugar in small batches, mixing well. Finally, add the spices and adjust them to your own taste.

Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before using. Store any leftover icing in the fridge.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Date-Sweetened Chocolate Donuts by Hope for Healing (Vegan and Gluten-free)

I have a confession to make. I know the Northeast has been in a panic ever since we started hearing news reports earlier this week of the massive snowstorm coming our way (and just briefly: naming it "Nemo"? Really?). But me? I have been beside myself with excitement. First, I love snow. But more importantly, two or three days forced to be holed up in my apartment alone, with no option of going out? That might sound awful to some people, but to me, it sounded like the best gift I could have asked for right now. The last few weeks (and really, last several months) have felt like a whirlwind and a roller coaster. I've been too busy, too rushed, and over-committed. Dealing with some personal struggles (as I guess all of us are, all of the time.) I'm very social and love being with my friends, but as a natural introvert, that also tends to wear me down. And I have been doing a bad job of carving out regular time for myself to recuperate. This forced (and wonderful) solitude is a perfect reminder to be more mindful about taking better care of myself in this way. It shouldn't take a historic snowstorm for me to take the time I need!

So when I heard about Nemo and its up-to-3-feet of snow, I immediately started making plans. Creating a queue of shows to watch and books to read. Getting my cleaning supplies ready to give my apartment a good once-over. And of course, scouring food blogs to decide what I'd bake, and what I'd cook. And when I came across this recipe on the blog Hope for Healing, it shot to the top of my list.

First of all, chocolate? Yes. Check. Second, no refined sugar needed? Double check! I love using dates as natural sweeteners for my chocolate chip cookie dough bites, and I was intrigued to see how they'd turned out in a baked good.

The answer? Beautifully. I adapted the recipe a bit (as I usually do), but stayed mostly true to the original. And these are simply fabulous. They are rich and chocolatey, and oh-so moist! Other donut recipes I've tried to convert from the regular gluten-ful versions have ended up being kind of dry, but not these. These are donuts, friends. I have been tasting them at regular intervals (of course, purely in the interest of quality control for you, dear readers), and I can attest to their shelf stability a day later - they are still as moist and delicious as they were yesterday.

I sprinkled mine with a combination of powdered sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, but you could definitely ice these as well. Maybe add some sprinkles, because sprinkles make people happy.

But whatever your plans are, no matter how busy you are, try to take some time to do something that replenishes your energy and makes you happy. For me, that was baking these donuts. Maybe for you, it would simply be eating these donuts. (Please email me if that is the case because good God, I should not eat 18 mini donuts by myself.)

Date-sweetened Chocolate Donuts (Adapted from this lovely recipe on Hope for Healing)
Makes 18 - 24 mini donuts

1/2 cup pitted and chopped dates
1/2 cup gluten-free chocolate chips
1/2 + tbsp. boiling water
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt (feel free to reduce this - I added extra because it pairs so nicely with chocolate)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp. chia seeds + 1 tbsp. water (mix together and let sit for 5 minutes until it's a gel)
2 1/2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 1/2 tbsp. So Delicious Almond Milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon to top

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray two mini donut pans with cooking spray (click to see which donut pan I have and love).

In a small bowl, combine the dates, chocolate chips, and boiling water and set aside for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until relatively cooled. Stir about halfway through to make sure the chocolate chips are fully melted. When it is cooled, blend very well in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients (tapioca starch, sorghum flour, almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and coconut sugar) in a medium mixing bowl. Be sure to sift them together - especially the coconut flour, which clumps easily. Add the processed chocolate-date mixture, chia seed gel, coconut oil, and almond milk and mix well together.

Place the batter in the mini donut pans, filling them about 3/4th of the way full. (If you fill them too much, they won't have a donut hole by the time they're finished! Just an aesthetic concern, really.) Place in the oven and bake for 13 - 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and they are slightly springy. Remove from oven and let sit in the donut pans for another 5 - 7 minutes before removing (or they will fall apart). When they're stable, remove with a knife and place on a cooling rack. When they are completely cooled, sprinkle with the mixture of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon, or add the topping of your choice.

Store in an airtight container if there are any left over.

*The original recipe called for 2 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder to be added to the batter; I forgot to add it and mine turned out great, but I can't imagine that more chocolate would be a bad thing! So go on and add it if you're so inclined.
**I think that adding some mini chocolate chips to the batter would also be pretty delightful, although I haven't tried it myself.
***I didn't try making these into donuts by frying them, but the batter consistency makes me unsure about whether it would work. So be forewarned if you decide to try that - but let me know how it turns out if you do!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sautéed Parmesan Kale

Stupidly good. And healthy to boot! This simple dish has become one of my go-to meals over the last few weeks. It's so easy to throw together, is quick, healthy, and can be eaten alone or with a grain mixed in (I've used brown rice and quinoa so far). It would also be delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich. I love it so much that I've eaten it for two meals in a row a few times. It is possible that not to long from now, I will have eaten my own weight in kale.

And I'm ok with that. See, kale has intimidated me for a long time. I just didn't know what to do with it. There it was, all....leafy. Leafy and expectant, as if I knew how to turn it into something delicious. Well, I didn't. So I avoided it. Even though I knew how healthy it is, and had heard all the promises about how kale is basically the answer to all life's problems. I still avoided it.

And then one day, at the grocery store, there it was again. This time, in the frozen aisle. And I picked up a bag and decided that I would make kale.

And I did! This recipe is so easy, and I especially love it for the fact that this Vegan Parmesan Cheese is the closest thing to real parmesan cheese I've tasted in a while. The best part is that it's foolproof! Everything can be adjusted to your own taste. This takes 6 - 9 minutes tops to make, and can be a side dish or a main dish - it just depends on how big a bucket of kale you're in the mood for.

Sautéed Parmesan Kale
Makes 1 serving

Cooking spray
1 cup frozen kale
2 - 3 tbsp. minced onion (to your own taste)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (to your own taste)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or substitute another chili powder or red pepper flakes)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 - 4 tbsp. Vegan Parmesan Topping

Coat a skillet well with cooking spray. Combine the kale, onion, garlic powder, and chipotle powder, spray well with cooking spray, and sautee over medium heat until the minced onion is slightly browned. Continue cooking for another few minutes and then salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the vegan parmesan topping and serve immediately.

**Ideas for other ways to use this recipe:

  • Combine the sauteed kale and parmesan with cooked quinoa for a lovely pilaf.
  • Add a layer of this to a grilled cheese sandwich (using Daiya cheese wedges).
  • Serve as a side dish with scrambled eggs and toast.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These were so good that I had to give most of them away immediately or risk eating the entire pan myself within a stupidly short span of time. They are no-bake and the hardest part is waiting until they're cooled to start eating them. In fact, I did a terrible job of that and ate quite a lot of it while it was still warm and gooey. And as long as you don't care about it being in the shape of a granola bar, you should definitely do the same thing. Shapes are overrated. They taste awesome - that's what matters.

These are just delightful. And very hard to stop eating. And super easy to make. And that, friends, is a dangerous trifecta - but one that I can only recommend.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes one 8" x 8" pan of bars

1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (I used this kind)
1/2 cup crushed cashews
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup Honey Nut Chex crumbs (I started with about 1 1/2 cups whole Honey Nut Chex and ground them in a food processor)
3 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper.

Combine the agave nectar, honey, and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Melt together over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or just until it starts to simmer.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the cashews, oats, Honey Nut Chex crumbs, flaxseed meal, and salt. Pour the hot liquid mixture in and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and stir again.

Pour the entire mixture into the pan and press down firmly. Let cool completely, then slice into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweet Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins

Sweet, crumbly, and moist - that's how these turned out. They are absolutely wonderful. So good that I scarfed down two whole ones within 7 minutes of their coming out of the oven. So yeah. That happened.

But I didn't feel too guilty because I eliminated most of the oil in these. So on top of their being vegan, they're also low-fat and use banana and applesauce to bind them together. So your internal narrative can center around all the wonderful potassium and doctor-sending-away-ness of the muffins instead of those piddly 2 tablespoons of oil. At least, that's what happens in my head when I eat them. Everyone I gave them to thought they were just as fabulous as I did - vegans and non-vegans, gluten-free and gluten-ful alike. The only thing I'll recommend is that you store them in the fridge, as they became a bit TOO moist sitting out on the counter at room temperature (even in my chilly basement apartment).

Sweet Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup gluten-free cornmeal
1/2 sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 soft ripe banana, mashed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. smooth applesauce
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. So Delicious Almond Milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 tbsp. gluten-free vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups wild Maine blueberries
Raw sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (everything up to and including the brown sugar) and mix well. In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the banana, olive oil, applesauce, soy milk, and vanilla extract). Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. Add the blueberries and stir them in gently.

Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or just until they are slightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean. About halfway through the baking, when they have started to set, sprinkle each one with a little raw sugar (quickly, and without moving them too much!).

Serve warm from the oven, or store in the fridge and eat cold. They are delicious no matter how you eat them!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes. Maple syrup. Balsamic vinegar.

There was no way this wasn't going to be awesome. I found this recipe on the Food Network and adapted it a bit to make it lower in fat (as I almost always do). And holy crap - they are so freaking amazingly good.

You can serve these as a side dish with dinner, but I have also used them as a filling for quesadillas and also in a roasted chicken wrap I made. They are packed with flavor - sweet and salty, with the caramelized onions to add a little extra kick. And they are very, very easy to make. If you're feeling especially pinched for time (or in my case, lazy), you can even buy pre-chopped sweet potatoes and literally just throw all of this together in a bowl and put it in the oven. It's about 2 minutes of prep time if you do that, or about 10 minutes of prep time if you don't. But totally worth it either way.

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes 4 - 6 side servings

4 - 6 sweet potatoes, diced into small cubes
1/4 maple syrup, divided
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 a white onion, cut into thin slivers
2 - 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking dishes with foil (this will make clean-up a breeze and will protect your dishes from the caramelized sauce).

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp. maple syrup, the 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper until they are evenly coated. Spread the sweet potatoes in the two baking dishes so they are in a single layer. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes, or until they are caramelized and soft. Start checking them after 15 minutes to stir for even baking.

About 10 minutes before they are done roasting, coast a nonstick pan with cooking spray and saute the slivered onions until they are translucent. Add the other 2 tbsp. maple syrup, 2 - 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (according to your own taste), and about 1/4 cup water and simmer until the sauce becomes thick and caramelized (but not too thick - you want this to coat all of the potatoes). If the pan becomes dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and combine again into a large bowl. Add the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Season as necessary with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.