Homemade Maple Oat Bread

I owe you all some winners from the last two giveaways, but today is recipe day, so that will have to wait.

Nothing fancy, just a good loaf of bread that I adapted from Kevin’s recipe over at Closet Cooking. He tops the loaf with maple sugar. I did sprinkle on a little coconut sugar one time that I made it, and it was tasty. It enhances the maple flavor and gives that nice sheen to the bread that you see in the picture below. Still, I did opt to omit the sugar topping in my second loaf so that it could be used either for breakfast toast or sandwich bread. It was still quite delicious, but the maple flavor was slightly more subtle.

maple oat bread

If you haven’t made bread from scratch, it’s time to get started …

Maple Oat Bread

This recipe is Vegan / Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Refined Sugar-Free.

  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • 2-1/4 Teaspoons (or one packet) Active Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Oil (I have used coconut oil and extra-light olive oil)
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1-1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1-1/2 Cups Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour
  • 1-1/4 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Maple Sugar or Coconut / Palm Sugar (optional)

Combine the warm water, yeast, and oats in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and cinnamon. Stir the oil and maple syrup into the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour (I do about 1/3 at a time), stirring after each addition. Once the dough starts to come together, continue adding the flour and knead it with your hands. If the dough is still too wet, add a little more white flour; if it is too dry, feel free to add a wee bit more warm water. This ratio actually came out just right for me, but I live in a dry climate.

Place the dough back in the large bowl, and cover, letting the dough rise for about an hour.

Note: I had a reader comment that I should add to the directions to grease the bowl before adding the dough to rise. You may want to do this. I actually let the dough rise in the bowl I make it in, which is a round glass pyrex bowl with a glass lid. I don’t bother greasing since there is residual flour from the dough, and have never had a problem with this.

Grease and flour (I usually flour just the bottom and corners) a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down, knead it a few times, and shape it into a loaf that will fit lengthwise in your loaf pan. Place the dough in the pan, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. If desired, brush the loaf lightly with water and sprinkle on the sugar. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes. If it is starting to brown quickly on top, tent it with foil. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more. Let the pan cool for 15 minutes (I usually place it on a wire rack to get the air circulating around it) before removing the loaf to cool completely.

Note: I have trialed a higher ratio of whole wheat flour, but this ratio was better. If you want to go 100% whole wheat, I recommend adding a little wheat gluten to the mix.

Makes 1 loaf

maple oat bread

Fresh and Nutty Maple Fig Spread

Today I am doing a guest post on The Whole Gang for a continuation of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. But, I also get to post it here. The idea is that I offer a tip for healthy living (whole foods and from scratch kind of stuff), and a recipe. So here you go …

Recipe: Fresh Maple-Fig Spread (recipe below)

fig spread

Tip: Treat yourself to a ‘new to you’ food at least once a month, and a healthy ‘splurge’ food at least once a week

I confess, even though I love whole foods and eating seasonally, I can easily get caught in an ordinary repetitive rut … banana smoothies for breakfast; homemade bread and nut butter for a snack; big salad with greens, carrots, and protein for lunch; an orange or apple for a snack; and a protein, grain, veggie dinner that usually contains broccoli, cauliflower, or a similar common veggie.

It wasn’t until I signed up for a CSA that I discovered the fun and excitement of trialing new-to-me foods. Sure, I still love my banana smoothies and an almost-daily heap of my still favorite veggie, broccoli, but throwing a new food in the mix on occasion really perks up my interest in from-scratch meals, and helps me to expand the variety in my diet.

I tried shooting for one new-to-me food per week, but the pressure was a little too much for me when I didn’t have a CSA for guidance. So I have changed up the program to something more manageable. Now I aim to trial one new-to-me food per month, BUT, each week I pick up at least one “splurge” food that is perhaps something that I have trialed before, but don’t indulge in very often. I guess you would call it re-introducing a food to increase the variety and pleasure in my diet. I often combine this concept with seasonality – a box of organic strawberries at their peak, some fresh ears of local corn mid-summer, or a kabocha squash when it makes its rare appearance at my small town grocer.

Keep in mind, the “new” or “reintroduced” food could be fruit, vegetables, whole grains, organic meats, wild seafood, a drink (think herbal or antioxidant tea, kefir, or kombucha), a wholesome baking ingredient, or even or even a fun “superfood” like maca, acai, or mulberries. The sky is the limit!

For some examples, here are a few creations I made with new-to-me and healthy splurge foods:

As it happened, this month the fruit CSA delivered an item that I couldn’t believe I had never tried before, fresh figs. The dried, wrinkly ones have entered my kitchen on several occasions, but this was my first taste of a fresh fig, and it was delicious! I had several, so I opted to make a spread that would replace my morning nut butter for a for a few days, and even used it to jazz up that banana smoothie …

Fresh Maple-Fig Spread

Feel free to add more fresh figs if you want to highlight the fruit even more. If you only have dried figs on hand, rehydrate them in warm water and puree away.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, and Refined Sugar-Free.

  • 1/4 Cup Cashews or Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts
  • 6 Medium-Sized Fresh Figs
  • 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (can sub honey or agave)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt

Grind the cashews or almonds somewhat into a powder (I use an electric spice/coffee grinder). Add all ingredients to your food processor, and pulse, chop, or blend to your desired consistency. I made mine fairly smooth, but with some walnut chunks. Feel free to adjust the sweetness, salt, and spices as desired.

Yields about 1 cup

Smoothie Option – The figs help to sweeten up smoothies, while the nuts add some creaminess, healthy fat, and protein. Here I simply blended about 1/3 cup of the spread with 1 frozen banana (and an extra dash of cinnamon) for a lightly sweet and tasty breakfast treat. Feel free to sweeten to taste if your fruit isn’t quite ripe and/or add some protein powder for a little more muscle in your beverage …

fig smoothie

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Spiced Apricot-Cashew Smoothie

Two days before we had scheduled for a week-long vacation, my CSA delivered with the motherload. Figures. Not that I am complaining, but finding ways to use up bags of fragile greens in two days is no easy feat. And then there were the apricots. 5 lbs of Blenheims and Pattersons quickly nearing their peak of perfection. And then, when we returned, they gave us 5 lbs more!

With dozens (and dozens) of these little gems on hand, I thought they must make their way into my breakfast (and snack, and dessert (see my last post for apricot crumble bars), and …), so of course, a smoothie it was.

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

Since I was having it for breakfast, I didn’t opt for a super-sweet treat, but feel free to up the sweetener or play around with one of the sub options listed. Also, I see no reason why you couldn’t sub in another stone fruit if you don’t have ripe apricots available. Try peaches, cherries, or even nectarines!

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

Spiced Apricot-Cashew Smoothie

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Sugar-Free.

  • 3 Ripe Apricots
  • 1 Small to Medium Frozen, Ripe Banana (see sub options below)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Milk Alternative (I used Silk Almond Original)
  • 1/2 Ounce Cashews, Ground in Spice Grinder
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Salt
  • Sweetener to Taste (see below)
  • Ice (optional)

Place the apricots through salt in your blender, give it a few pulses to break things up, and whiz away until smooth (start with just 1/2 cup of the milk alternative and add more if desired once the mixture is smooth). Taste test and blend in sweetener to taste. If a frostier treat is in order, blend in ice to desired consistency.

Sweetener – This really is a matter of taste and depends on how ripe / sweet your fruit is and if your milk alternative is sweet at all. I added 1 teaspoon of honey, because I love honey with stone fruit. You could add your sweetener of choice (perhaps 1 to 3 teaspoons) or for an all-fruit vibe, add a soft pitted date.

Tired of Bananas? – Try subbing the banana with your favorite dairy-free yogurt or two soft pitted dates. Or for a more indulgent shake, stick with just the apricots, double the cashews, add in ice, and extra sweetener to taste.

Go Green – Toss in one or two fistfuls of baby spinach. It changes the color, but not the taste.

Yields 1 summer smoothie

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

If you like this one, you might also like these recipes:

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I submitted this recipe / post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays on Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.

Soft Serve-Style Peanut Butter Cravings

I just noticed that most of the smoothies on my blog include banana. Believe it or not, I do take the occasional banana break using mango, avocado, or other fruits for thickening power, but I am not going to apologize for my love of this sweet and highly accessible fruit. In fact, I am going to share my current favorite breakfast today that features, you guessed it, one big, sweet banana.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

Why the obsession with bananas? Of course, the taste is awesome … and nothing naturally thickens and sweetens a healthy dairy-free smoothie/shake like frozen, ripe banana chunks. But my love runs deeper than mere aesthetics.

My whole life I have had a problem with severe calf cramps. Mid-stride during soccer matches (as a child and adult) they would suddenly seize leaving me frozen and writhing in pain. I frequently awoke in the middle of the night with extreme cramping (yes, my poor husband has been startled awake by my sudden outbursts on many occasions). But about five years ago I started my smoothie habit, eating at least one large banana every day. And what do you know, those calf cramps vanished. I mean *poof* – for good. The only time they have returned is mid-winter one year when I took a banana hiatus. Never again.

Many people argue that bananas aren’t actually the best source of potassium (a known cramp fighter). They are a “good” source, though in reality not a true top contender. But perhaps it is something more than just potassium … perhaps it is the whole nutrient banana package that somehow works.

Though one might think consistent change would be needed to keep things interesting with the old banana, to me it is a comfort food and I have comfort smoothies. I used to be completely loyal to the True Blue Smoothie, but the past year has brought on an intense love of peanut butter. You may have spotted my addiction via the Uber-Rich Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Chunks (definitely a good recipe for this time of year), my PB & J Thumbprints (yes, no bake!), or the Nutty Oatmeal Blender Waffles (I couldn’t resist tossing PB in my favorite waffles).

These are all nice treats, but on a daily basis, my cravings are quite simple. Very simple in fact. Below is my favorite smoothie “recipe” for the past year (and we are talking the whole year – notice the snow in the background of the photo below – that was actually May though). I hesitated on posting it because it is so basic and so loose, but I love it, I CRAVE it. I usually go for max PB and make the smoothie super-thick (almost soft-serve style), with as little milk alternative as possible.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

 

Peanut Butter and Banana Cravings Smoothie
This really isn’t a recipe in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a simple idea. I always vary the amount of banana and pb depending on my cravings, and sometimes a dash of stevia is in order. If I think I need something nutrition-wise, one or more of the add-ins listed may make their way in.

  • Frozen Ripe Banana Chunks (I use about two handfuls – at least one large banana, maybe a bit more sometimes)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (I use unsalted and sometimes add a tiny, tiny pinch of salt, but salted could be good too)
  • 3/4 Cup to 1-1/2 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla or Plain Almond Milk or Coconut Milk Beverage (feel free to use your favorite milk alternative – regular sweetened versions will of course up the indulgence factor nicely and you can even use chocolate!)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Sweetener to taste (optional – I use a dash of stevia or a little maple or honey if the banana is under-ripe, but otherwise, I go without)

Place the frozen banana, pb, and 3/4 cup of milk alternative in your blender. If you have a powerful blender, whiz away. Less powerful like mine? Pulse to break up the ingredients, and then blend. If it is too thick, add milk alternative a little at a time until it blends well and reaches your desired consistency.

If you have a wimpy blender, avoid the temptation to throw a bunch of liquid in too soon. Too much and the blades won’t catch all of the chunks – they will simply whiz around. You can always add more liquid once it is smooth. I prefer my smoothies spoonable, so I add as little as possible.

Blend in the cinnamon, sweetener if using, and any other add-ins you desire (see some of my suggestions below).

My Favorite PB & B Add-ins:

  • A Scoop of Chocolate Superfood Mix (Kidz or Adult) from Amazing Grass
  • A Big Fistful of Spinach
  • Some Ground Flaxseed
  • Cocoa or Carob Powder  (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon)
  • Protein Powder (we like pure egg white protein powder or vanilla hemp protein powder, but your favorite will do)

Yields 1 nutty serving

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

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Sweet Simplicity: Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes

With mother’s day on the horizon, and many pancake Sundays to come, I just had to share this delightful yet oh-so-basic breakfast / brunch recipe. These pancakes have a very pleasant flavor that is not too sweet (just right for your favorite toppings), and a perfectly fluffy texture.

whole wheat vegan pancakes

I frequently keep our toppings quite hearty. When I make waffles, I often top them with homemade nut butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a light drizzle of honey. But for these, I decided a little maple was in order. I made two separate toppings: mine was outright hearty, while my husband’s had some added nutrition snuck in (no complaints, his plate was licked clean with a very big thank you). I have included our toppings after the pancake recipe.

Wholesome Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes or Waffles

After scanning various pancake recipes, I combined the different ratios, ingredients, and ideas to develop this very simple, but delicious, recipe. I guess you would say it was inspired by many, but created in my kitchen.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Refined Sugar-Free. You could probably make them gluten-free with your favorite All-purpose gluten-free flour blend and a touch of xanthan gum (1/2 to 1 teaspoon I am guestimating).

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder (Note: I made these pancakes at high altitude (6500ft), where everything gets a little extra “lift.” If you are at 3000 ft to sea level, I recommend increasing the baking powder to 1-1/2 Tablespoons. Yes, it may seem like a bit, but it helps to replace the lift that usually comes from eggs!)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweetener (I used Palm Sugar, but you can use Sucanat, Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, etc.)
  • 1 to 1-1/4 Cups Milk Alternative (I used Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Oil (I used melted coconut oil*, but extra-light olive oil, grapeseed oil, or your favorite baking oil will do)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine the sweetener, 1 cup of the milk alternative, and the oil. Whisk in the reserved flour mixture.

 dairy-free pancake batter

If the batter is too thick or becomes too thick as it sits, add up to 1/4 cup of additional milk alternative (I live at high altitude, where things rise more, so I used the full 1 and 1/4 cups for the pancakes, but you may not need that much).

Prepare your skillet with some cooking spray, and preheat it over medium heat.

Pour the batter into the skillet to create your desired size of pancakes (I make dollar-sized ones because I am so bad at flipping the bigger ones!). Cook over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low if the skillet gets too hot (I have this problem with our electric stove).

The pancakes will bubble as soon as the batter hits the pan, ignore those bubbles. The batter will smooth out after 30 seconds. Wait until you see bubbles break at the surface again, then flip. Cook for about about 1 minute on the other side. Remove from the pan, and pour in the next batch of batter.

Repeat until all the batter is used up, and you have a few plates of scrumptious pancakes!

Top as desired – we like maple syrup, flaxseed, and sauteed apples.

For Waffles: Everything is the same, but I used only 1 cup of milk alternative, even at high altitude. The thicker batter works better on waffle irons. Simply prepare the batter and follow the directions for your waffle iron. They freeze and re-toast beautifully!

whole wheat vegan waffles

* If using coconut or palm oil, make sure all of your ingredients are brought to room temperature to avoid solidifying the oil as you stir it in.

Yields about 16 dollar pancakes or 3 servings

Alisa’s WW Pancake Topping: I sautéed 1 small apple in 1 teaspoon of earth balanace dairy-free / soy-free margarine, and added 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (could use just 1/4 t). I kept half of this apple mixture for myself, and added just 1 teaspoon of maple syrup for a sweet and moist touch. I placed the apples on my pancake stack, and sprinkled it all with some ground flaxseed.

whole wheat vegan pancakes

Tony’s WW Pancake Topping: To the other half of the cooked apples, I added 1-1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup and 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed. It was still a nice pourable maple syrupy topping with big, soft apple chunks. The flax went pretty well un-noticed by my husband.

Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes

For more of my recipes see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook and my new blog, Dairy-Free & Fit.