Sweet Nutrition: True Blue Smoothie

Posted by on August 16, 2009 | 19 Comments

Thanks to this year’s bumper blueberry crop, our [tiny] freezer is quickly filling. But I must say, it is worth it; this year’s blueberries seem sweeter than ever. Plus, you can’t beat the prices. We have been getting loads of these delicious Oregon blueberries for just $1.00 to $2.00 per lb at our local grocery stores.

Though I offered to make some blueberry bars, my husband quickly declined with a, “Save them for the smoothies!” Considering how much he loves cookies and bars, this says a ton for his adoration of our homemade smoothies. In fact, there is one sweet blueberry smoothie, which  he not only enjoys immensely, but also brags to others about (in attempts to thwart his less than healthy childhood image).

You might be thinking, “Sure, fruit smoothies are healthy; what’s the big deal?” Well, for starters, I make them only with ripe fruit and unsweetened liquids, no added sugars; though you are welcome to sweeten to taste if your fruit is less than scrumptious. I also add in whatever I think we need at the time, such as some ground flaxseed, a little protein powder, etc. But what my husband got most excited about was what he didn’t know was in the smoothies for the first two months I was serving them too him.

Can you tell? (focus on the blue and please ignore the water spots!)

truebluesmoothie2

Do you see those wonderfully sweet blueberry flecks throughout? Those were my disguise. What you can’t taste, or see, is the spinach! You have probably seen claims on other blogs that you can’t taste spinach in smoothies. Years ago I put this theory to the test, and it was true, but because it turned the smoothie a less than attractive green, I couldn’t get my husband to go near it. However, when I snuck the spinach into this blueberry smoothie (blackberries work too), he was none the wiser, as he happily sipped away his new favorite breakfast.  

After I let him in on the secret, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I have overheard him many times boasting, “You can add spinach to smoothies and you can’t even taste it!” My job here is done …

 

True Blue Smoothie

This recipe is adapted from my book! – Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Depending on the milk alternative you use, this recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low Fat.

“This is my go-to smoothie, and trust me on this one … don’t omit the spinach. I don’t care who you are serving it to, they will never know it is in there. The blueberries mask the green color, resulting in a beautiful purple beverage. As for the flavor … even the most adamant non-believers come back to me with surprise comments of delight. I never add sweetener, but feel free to add a bit if your fruit isn’t very sweet.”

  •  1 Medium Very Ripe Banana, Broken into Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice [This summer I am using 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk]
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Ice

Toss the banana, blueberries, and 1/2 cup of the milk alternative into your blender, and process until smooth. Add the cinnamon (if using), flax seeds, and spinach, and blend until those little green specks vanish. Blend in more milk alternative until it reaches your desired consistency. If desired, blend in a handful of ice for a frostier treat.

Optional Add-ins:

  • Sweetener, to Taste (agave, sugar, or your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Flax Seeds (left whole or pre-ground in your spice grinder)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Protein Powder of Choice

Yields 1 to 2 Servings

 

Freezing Blueberries (or other summer berries) – As mentioned, blueberries freeze beautifully:

  1. As soon as you get home with your bounty, set aside some fresh ones to consume over the next few days.
  2. Take the remaining blueberries, rinse them well, and pat them dry.
  3. I usually leave them on the counter on a towel in a single layer, after I have patted them dry, for an hour or so to get rid of any excess moisture.
  4. Place the blueberries in large freezer bags (make sure they are freezer bags, not the regular ones), zip them closed, getting as much air out as possible, and freeze.
  5. I usually lay the bags flat in the freezer and stack one on top of the other.

Sweet Freedom: Fluffy Fruited Whole-Grain Pancakes

Posted by on July 23, 2009 | 12 Comments

When I asked my husband how the pancakes were, he said “Great! Can’t you tell?” As he handed me an empty plate just 5 minutes after I handed him a full one.

Could he tell that they were made with whole spelt flour? Nope. Did he detect anything missing from the lack of refined sugars? Not a chance. Did he notice the added dose of protein? He’s a man, it was surely welcomed if anything. But the texture, surely it wasn’t quite right without eggs? Slightly different perhaps, but fluffy and uber cake-like … just the way he likes them.

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes

The recipe I used is from Ricki Heller’s new cookbook, Sweet Freedom, and I cannot tell you how much I love her pancake recipes! They are actually made with whole spelt flour and use everyday pantry ingredients. In fact, all of the recipes in Sweet Freedom are wheat-free (many are also gluten-free), vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), and free from refined sugars.

Though I have enjoyed her Carob and Date Pancakes (they were the inspiration for the Pillowy Whole-Grain Pancakes in my book, Go Dairy Free!), these Fruited Pancakes were perfect for using seasonal summer produce. Okay, I lamed out and used diced bananas. What can I say, we were in a banana mood. But, you can use any fresh seasonal fruit you like. Blueberries, diced peaches, pitted cherries … just toss them in.

Yes, pancakes are no longer banished to the land of weekend indulgences. These babies are nutritious, and positively delicious …

Fluffy Fruited Spelt Pancakes

Adapted from Sweet Freedom, by Ricki Heller

Alisa’s Notes: These pancakes are very light in sweetness, perfect for dousing with maple syrup. You can increase the sweetness a bit by using a regular vanilla milk alternative if you desire. I went with an unsweetened one.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Wheat-Free (but not Gluten-Free), Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Whole-Grain, and Free from Refined Sugars.

  • 1-3/4 to 2 Cups Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Sunflower or Other Mild Tasting Oil (original recipe uses 3; your call, I was cutting the fat a bit, but more oil means more fluff!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Spelt Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unflavored Protein Powder (rice or soy are ideal) or Soy Flour or Chickpea Flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg or 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Cup Berries or Chopped Fruit (I used banana)

Measure 1-3/4 cups of the milk alternative into a measuring cup and add the flaxseeds, vinegar, oil, and agave, stirring well. Set aside while measuring remaining ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and spice (if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend (there should still be a few lumps here and there).  If the batter is too thick, gently fold in another 1/4 cup of milk alternative (I needed too since I was only using 2 T of oil). Gently fold in the fruit.  

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (spray the pan with olive oil spray if desired). Using an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, measure out about 3 to 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of batter for each pancake and spread slightly in the pan.  

Cook each pancake about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffed up.  Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for later use (may be defrosted in the toaster). 

Yields 15 to 20 pancakes (Ricki says 10 to 12, but I am not coordinated enough to make pancakes quite that big)

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes2

Sweet Strawberry-Watermelon Soul Smoothie

Posted by on July 1, 2009 | 33 Comments

I am not sure why I never thought of this deliciously simple combination before, but I must thank Bryant Terry for introducing me to it in his latest cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen.

In all honesty, I found this book a bit intimidating at first. It appeared far more culinary than my simple, whole food tastes. But once I took some time to really read through it, the magic was unleashed. While it won’t be my go-to book for easy comfort foods, Bryant introduces flavor concepts and pairings that had me down-right intrigued and itching to get into the kitchen. But it was hot, darn hot. So, instead of firing up the stove or oven, I decided to chill out with some inspiration from his Double Watermelon-Strawberry Slushee … and oh what a lovely beverage it was …

vegan soul strawberry watermelon smoothie

Really, for a sweet treat, you could stop at the first two ingredients, watermelon and strawberries. The two, when ripe, seem to pair perfectly. Again, make sure your fruits are ripe and sweet. The watermelon flesh should be a deep pinkish-red and the strawberries should be brilliant in color and delightful to the taste.

Sweet Strawberry-Watermelon Soul Smoothie

Recipe adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry

This recipe is Vegan (use agave), Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Fat-Free

  • 2 Cups (or about 12 ounces) Watermelon Balls (no seeds!)
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Strawberry Halves, frozen
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar, Honey, or Sugar (or to taste)
  • Ice (optional)

Place the watermelon in your blender, followed by the strawberries. Blend until smooth. You may need to push the watermelon down a bit to get it going, but once it starts to blend the juices will be released to keep it going. Blend in the lime juice, sweetener, and ice, if using. If you do choose honey, keep in mind that it doesn’t dissolve as well in cold liquids as agave and sugar. Give it a good blend to prevent any “chunks” of honey from remaining.

Yields 1 cool and refreshing serving

 

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5 Good Things Since My Last Post

(I love reading the daily positive notes shared by others, and thought it was about time I started logging my own happy times for some good energy)

  1. My husband and I took a wonderful long weekend in Bend, Oregon, and had fun hiking Smith Rock and around the lava fields.
  2. Lots of cuddle time with my loving cat after we returned home.
  3. We also came home to loads of book orders to keep us busy shipping this week.
  4. We found a dozen 10 oz packages of flash-frozen wild alaskan salmon and wild mahi mahi on clearance for $2.50 a piece.
  5. I had the opportunity to learn from a wonderful gluten-free group I spoke with on the East Coast. Thanks Shirley!

Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage – Quick & Lean

Posted by on May 14, 2009 | 33 Comments

One of the biggest challenges with our new fitness regimen has been getting in enough lean protein. I think I mentioned before that it includes a diet plan which is very lean, and starts out low in carbs, higher in protein (gradually tapering off to a very sustainable and carb-rich diet for energy). Since we don’t consume dairy or soy, this means protein powders, eggs, fish, and meat.

I must confess, I am not a big egg fan, and I have never been a big meat consumer either … even dabbling in vegan cooking regularly. However, I have found some ways to sneak in some of that lean protein in an enjoyable way. One of them is breakfast sausage! Of course, pork would be a wee bit too fatty, so we opted for a nice, homemade turkey sausage. 

Extra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

I went ultra-lean on this sausage, but for a juicier end product I have included recipes for “leaner” and “lean” turkey sausage. All are low-carb (obviously!) but lean will have the best texture while maintainig some virtue, and ultra-lean will suit super low-fat dieters.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage (Lean to Ultra-Lean)

Starting with the Spices … Combine all of the following spices, either leaving them whole, giving them a five or six pulses together in your spice grinder (my preferred method), or whizzing them to a powder in your spice grinder.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt (I like 3/4 – but it will still be good with 1/2)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper, White and/or Black (I use a mix of white and black freshly ground peppercorns)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper

Choose your meat …mix your spices into 1 lb of Ground Turkey, choosing ONE of the folllowing …

  • Lean – Use 1 lb of 93% Fat-Free Ground Turkey (best for egg-free)
  • Leaner – Use 1 lb of 97% Fat-Free Ground Turkey
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 1 lb of 99% Fat-Free Ground White Turkey Meat

Let it Rest … If time permits, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight) to allow the flavors to meld. If you are in a hurry, skip this step and move ahead to the next one.

Add Some Moisture … Combine ONE of the following egg options into the meat to add a little moisture into that turkey meat …

  • Lean – Use 1 Large Egg (optional)
  • Leaner – Use 1 Large Egg or 1 to 2 Large Egg Whites
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 2 Large Egg Whites (about 6T pasteurized egg white)
  • Time to Cook … Spray a skillet with cooking spray (or use 1 teaspoon of oil) and heat it over medium heat. Scoop the ground turkey (it will be very moist if you added egg, I use an ice cream scoop) into your skillet and flatten it with the back of a spatula. Cover and allow the patties to cook for 3 minutes. Flip, cover again, and allow them to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through. Don’t cook them too long, as the meat will dry out, but make sure there is no pink left in the middle. And serve.

    Yields 4 servings (about 8 2-ounce patties)

    Ultra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

    Blog Events:

    The Guilt-Free Banana Bread Recipe You Have All Been Waiting For …

    Posted by on May 11, 2009 | 70 Comments

    Okay, maybe not ALL of  you, but ever since I posted about the Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread from my book, Go Dairy Free, I have been flooded with requests for the recipe. It is in the book (along with tons of dairy-free living info and many other awesome recipes, if I do say so myself), which can be ordered on Amazon for an insanely good price … but enough with the sales pitches … I am more than happy to share that recipe with you here!

    But first, a little background on the recipe …

    An important part of going dairy-free for me was turning to home-baked bread. At the time, every last loaf at my local grocer contained milk in some form (milk powder, cheese, whey, caseinate, etc.). Even when a couple specialty vegan/dairy-free brands appeared, they were way too costly to warrant regular purchase.

    While I learned to enjoy pounding on dough for a good homemade yeast bread once in a while (excellent stress reliever), I don’t always have time or the patience for the process. So I set out to create a quick bread that was nutritious enough to use for my morning toast. With that in mind, this bread is completely sugar-free, using just the bananas for a hint of sweetness. I find it perfect as a base for nut butter, jam, or honey, each of which adds their own dose of flavor, wouldn’t you agree Ricki? [Ricki has a new cookbook out called Sweet Freedom – desserts without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar – so I consider her the ultimate expert on sugar-free baked goodies]

    If you want a little of the sweet stuff, feel free to add around 1/4 cup of your favorite sugar (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, sugar straight up, etc.) to the recipe. But, if you want a loaf of sugar-loaded, dessert banana bread, I suggest you look elsewhere.

    Healthy foodies who know how to savor the flavor … read on, and fire up that oven!

    Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

    Unsweetened Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread
    Recipe from “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” by Alisa Fleming (yours truly!)

    This Recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free and Optional Nut-Free

    “Going out on a limb, I created a banana bread recipe that is completely void of added sugar of any kind, relying solely on the extra-ripe bananas for their natural sweetness. What resulted was a mildly sweet loaf of bread that my entire family adores. It is perfect for breakfast, and won’t leave you face down on your keyboard by 10am. Feel free to make this bread the night before, allowing the banana flavor to infuse and giving the bread time to take on some moisture. If you do prefer a bit of a sweeter loaf, add a bit of sweetener with the wet ingredients.” – [Yes, I just quoted myself]

    1/2 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative of Choice
    2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
    2 Cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
    1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
    1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Coconut Oil
    1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    3 to 4 Medium-Sized, Very (Very) Ripe Bananas, Mashed (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed)*
    1/2 Cup Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Other Add-ins (optional)

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk alternative and flaxseed and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Returning to your mixing bowl, blend in the oil, vanilla, and bananas until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay. Gently fold in the nuts, fruit, or any other add-ins, if using. Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Mini-Loaf Option: The loaf pictured above is actually a mini-loaf. This recipe will make four mini loaves, baked at 350º for about 22 to 25 minutes. I topped the loaves with some sliced almonds just before popping them in the oven and subbed the vanilla extract with 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for a slightly almond vibe.

    * I prefer to use a full 2 cups of banana for the deepest flavor and a very moist bread, but using 1/2 cup less will allow the bread to rise a bit more.

    Yields 10 to 12 servings

    Homemade Strawberry Julius … The Ultimate Workout Reward!

    Posted by on May 1, 2009 | 16 Comments

     

    Whew! 5 days into the new fitness program and it is definitelly kicking our butts. Thank you all for your inspiring comments the other day, we are keeping motivated!

    Thus far my husband and I have done three days of 90-minute cardio-type weight and muscle training (can we say torture?), an hour of some serious cardio, and 90 minutes of the hardest yoga I have ever done. I am trying to add in some walking along with that to keep these stiff muscles moving! Did I mention we signed up for two-hour long tennis lessons. Call us insane, but we are actually enjoying it … that is, now that the initial bout of cripling pain is wearing off.

    So, with this new fitness routine comes an amped up diet. More calories (yes, I said more!), more protein, less sugar, and less fat. The two aspects that are hardest for us are the protein load (to be addressed in another post) and the less sugar. We are sugar addicts around here. Pretty much the only sugar found in the meal plans is slated for post-workout.

    Okay, I must admit, that part is genious. Think about it, you can have that wonderfully sweet and thirst-quenching drink and delicious bar … AFTER you finish your workout. Can we say motivation?

    strawberryjulius2

    The recommended post-workout drinks contain milk in some form or another, so I have had to invent my own. Needless to say, I have spent all week perfecting this post-workout beverage to get the biggest enjoyment bang for my buck. The most important aspect is that the drink have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Surprisingly, that means a lot of wonderful sugars in the form of fresh fruit and sweetener.

    Since I am using Egg White Protein Powder (but you can use another type if you wish), the famous “Julius” immediately came to mind, and since it is officially strawberry season … well, need I say more? Of course, this is a versatile, easy little recipe that you can use as a recovery drink, for added protein (say for those little ones), or as a dessert … just see my notes below. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

    Rewarding Strawberry “Julius”

    This recipe is optional vegan, optional egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free

    • 2 Cups Strawberry Halves
    • ½ Cup Water
    • 3 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar or 1/4 Cup White Sugar (I use honey)
    • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • Pinch Salt (optional)
    • 2 Cups Ice
    • 1.5 Tablespoons Egg Protein Powder (or enough of your favorite protein powder to equal roughly 16 to 18 grams of protein OR if you aren’t seeking a big protein boost, use 1 large egg white)

    Combine the strawberries, water, honey, vanilla, ice, and salt (if using)  in your blender and blend it to a nice smoothie consistency. Add more water or ice as you see fit. Add in the protein powder and just give it a few quick pulses to blend it in.

    A Few Quick Notes:

    • If using egg protein powder, it will nicely foam up like a Julius very quickly. I can’t say for other protein powders since I haven’t tried them, but the taste should still be excellent. If not using this for a protein drink, you can also use 1 large egg white (3 T pasteurized egg whites) in place of protein powder.
    • If you aren’t looking for a 4:1 ratio in particular, feel free to reduce the sweetener to your taste. 
    • If you want lower calories, reduce both the sweetener and the protein powder in half (but for optimum indulgence, I don’t recommend it!).
    • If you just want a dessert, go ahead with the protein powder or sub in a pasteurized egg white, or unsweetened milk alternative in place of the water for more of a strawberry smoothie.
    • As is, each serving has about 10g of protein, just under 40g of carbs, and is so incredibly yummy!

    Yields 2 yumilicious servings

    strawberryjulius

    Blog Events: This recipe was submitted to the Strawberry Feast at My Kitchen Treasures.

    Sinful Cinnamon-Apple Sauté (Breakfast or Dessert?)

    Posted by on April 22, 2009 | 25 Comments

    Actually, this little dish isn’t sinful at all, but that title just sounds so good doesn’t it? Well, this saute does produce tender, juicy apples with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and cinnamon-y syrup, rendering it indulgent enough for a healthy dessert.

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

    However, I had it for breakfast. I ate it on its own as a part of my multi-course Sunday grazing. But, this simple recipe (just 10 minutes!) is incredibly flexible when it comes to serving options. You can:

    • Serve the apples with your favorite yogurt (mine being this one), stirring a bit of the resultant cinnamon apple syrup into the yogurt if desired.
    • Top waffles with the apples and resultant cinnamon-apple syrup.
    • Spread nut butter on a bagel, toast, or rice cakes, and top with slices of cinnamon apples (one of my faves).
    • Serve over rice or other grain (I don’t know why I just thought of this one, but it really sounds good).
    • Sprinkle the apples with ground flaxseed or your favorite granola (homemade if you can!).
    • Top the apples with a scoop of ice cream (this one and this one being my picks), drizzling some of the resultant syrup over top of everything for a sundae flare. Oh what the heck, sprinkle on some granola too!
    • You say you’ve finished the apples, but have a little bit of leftover syrup? Use it to sweeten your favorite tea! Problem solved.

    Okay, now that you are brimming with ideas, lets get to the kitchen …

     

    Simply Scrumptious Cinnamon-Apple Sauté
    Recipe adapted from the October 2007 issue of Natural Health Magazine

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

    • 2 Medium Apples (around 3/4 to 1 lb), sliced 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel!)
    • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if you have it)
    • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
    • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup (I used honey, but I think maple syrup may be even better)
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    • Generous Pinch of Salt (especially if using oil rather than margarine)

    In a medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and briefly set aside.

    In a large skillet, melt heat the oil or margarine over medium heat. Add the honey or maple syrup and the vanilla extract, giving everything a quick stir. Add the apples, and stir to coat them with the sweet sauce. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and once again, stir to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

    Cover, and allow the apples to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until desired tenderness) checking in to stir once or twice.

    They are ready! Enjoy them as is, or see the beginning of this post for some serving options.

    Cinnamon Pears Option: Use 2 medium pears instead of the apples. Pears are generally softer than apples, so you will only need 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time once covered.

    Yields 2 Yummy Servings of Apples

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

     

    My Earth Day Note: One of my Earth Day resolutions is to try to eat more seasonally. While I was sure that apples were a fall fruit, it seems the crops are brimming right now. I purchase organic apples, since they are a top “pesticide crop.” An abundance of northwest apples (as local as it gets for this area) allowed me to purchase a bag of these beauties (Fuji I believe) for less than a dollar a pound.

    Virtuous Whole Grain Banana Muffins

    Posted by on March 22, 2009 | 19 Comments

    In case you haven’t noticed from my past recipes, I am always looking for ways to use up those leftover bananas. For some odd reason, I purchase the same amount of bananas year round, regardless of our internal demand. In the summers, morning smoothies ensure that we go through at least one or two bananas per day, but in the winter and early spring, the last thing on my mind is a monstrously chilly beverage. So here I sit, once again, with a bunch of quickly ripening bananas, simply begging to lend their sweetness to a baked goodie.

    Trying desperately to keep it healthy, I was elated when I found a whole wheat banana muffin recipe on Recipezaar that numerous people swore rose beautifully. They did not lie. I altered the recipe in several ways (reducing the fat a touch, adding some flavors, etc.), but still used their moisture ratio as my guide. These muffins turned out, dare I say about a whole grain muffin, relatively light and fluffy! Keep in mind; these are muffins, not cupcakes. They aren’t overly sweet, yet they are perfect (in my opinion) for early morning taste buds or with afternoon tea. I added raisins for an extra jolt of natural sugar, but you can swap them out for nuts, chocolate chips (I can’t stand chocolate in muffins/bread, just me though), blueberries, or other add-ins. You will still need some of that hot water in the ingredient list though (see the recipe to know what I am talking about).

    banana-nut frosted banana muffins

    I “frosted” one fresh out of the oven with a quick mixture of some leftover mashed banana, nut butter, ground flaxseeds, and some flavors to taste (molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg). For a sweeter added touch, “frost” them with your favorite jam.

    Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Banana Muffins

    This Recipe is Milk-Free, Soy-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Peanut-Free

    • 1/2 Cup Raisins (or more if you like)
    • Boiling Water (about 1 cup should do)
    • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
    • 2 Tablespoons Wheat Germ
    • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
    • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana
    • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil
    • 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

    Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover them with the hot/boiling water.

    Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease 12 muffin cups.

    In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, blend the banana, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Add 5 tablespoon s (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) of the hot raisin water to your mixing bowl.

    Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in your large mixing bowl, stirring just to combine. Do not over mix. The baking soda begins to react as soon as it hits the liquid, so over mixing will cause the muffins to loose some of their fluffiness … a few lumps are okay.

    Stir in the plumped raisins, and divide the batter evenly between your 12 muffin cups.

    Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they just begin to take on a golden hue, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin, comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin cups, then remove to a wire rack.

    Yields 1 Dozen Muffins

    dairy-free banana wheat muffins

    Wheat-Free Option:
    Use spelt or oat flour in place of the wheat flour, and substitute ground flax for the wheat germ.  I would guess that you could also use your favorite gluten-free flour blend (with xanthan gum as directed) to make them gluten-free / casein-free too if you wished).

    Tips:
    Be sure the bananas are quite ripe; this will add sweetness to the muffins.
    Measure the oil in a ¼ cup, then use the same cup to measure the honey. The oil coating on the measuring cup will help keep the honey from sticking.

    Happy Baking!

    What Does a Vegan Donut Look Like?

    Posted by on March 19, 2009 | 19 Comments

     Like this …

    Vegan Apple Fritter:

    Vegan Apple Fritter

    Fritter Close Up:

    Vegan Apple Fritter

    Vegan Donut Twisted with Chocolate:

    Vegan Twist Donut

    Twist Close-up:

    Vegan Yeasted Donut

    I have my weaknesses too you know! Come on, who could resist?

    We finally made our way to Ronald’s Donuts in Las Vegas, and were greatly rewarded. Both my husband and I were in donut heaven. Trust me, these aren’t just good vegan/dairy-free/egg-free donuts these are some of the best donuts either of us has ever had! We actually planned a grocery shopping trip 10 miles out of the way just so we could go back the next week and get some more donuts. I found out later that they have been voted best donuts in Vegas several years running.

    Believe it or not, they offer two entire shelves (more than half of the varieties) of vegan donuts … including soy-cream filled donuts, twists, apple fritters, maple bars, etc.  When I asked the owner why they churn out so many vegan donuts, she said at first it was because they were cheaper to make! But then, customers liked the switch because the donuts were lighter and more flavorful, so they stuck with it. Whatever the reason … I am grateful!

    Did I mention these gems are affordably priced. Their donuts are HUGE! See the pic(s) above … that is the donut next to a grapefruit, not a wee orange, a grapefruit.  And the cost, just $.75 to $1.25 per donut. Trust me, it is a value.

    Ronald’s Donuts is just a couple of miles from the Las Vegas strip (head west on Spring Mountain Road when you reach the Fashion Show Mall), in the “China Town” region. Don’t expect San Francisco-style glory here. This is the lamest China Town you have ever seen (hence the quotes). But ignore the lack of interesting surroundings and enjoy the donuts!

    Ronald’s Donuts
    4600 Spring Mountain Rd
    Las Vegas, NV
    (702) 873-1032

    Wheat-Free Apple Cinnamon Dutch Babies

    Posted by on March 8, 2009 | 15 Comments

    I am lucky; I get my share of fun foods to trial. But, when I spotted the giveaway on Say Yes to Salad for the most adorable handmade earrings, well, let’s just say this is something new and fun that I must do my best to win! I have officially racked up two entries by commenting on her giveaway post, and now mentioning it here … but, I am going the extra mile for three extra entries. I trialed one of Maggie’s recipes, and am posting about it here …

    Honestly, this was my first discovery of Say Yes to Salad, but I was glad I found it; I LOVE the sound of her recipes! Dutch Babies were a new concept to me, so I thought I would give them a go for my initial sampling of her offerings. Since the recipe looked so easy to work with, I tweeked it a bit to taste and to my own healthy cravings, but stayed true to the ratios.

    Wheat-Free Apple Cinnamon Oat Dutch Baby

    Like Maggie, I halved the recipe and made a single serving, but I am listing the recipe for 2 here …

    Wheat-Free Apple Cinnamon Dutch Babies

    This recipe is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Sugar-Free, and Wheat-Free. You can make it Nut-Free by using a different milk alternative (rice, hemp, soy, or coconut!) and Gluten-Free by using those trusty Gluten-Free Oats, if they work for you.

    Adapted from the Dutch Babies on Say Yes to Salad

    • 2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
    • 3 Eggs, brought to room temperature (when I halved the recipe, I used 1 jumbo egg … it was really big)
    • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk, warmed (I used unsweetened, but plain or vanilla would be nice too)
    • 1/2 Cup Oat Flour (I processed about 1/3 cup of rolled oats in my spice/coffee grinder for 30 seconds (until it turned into a nice flour), sifted, and measured out the 1/2 cup; feel free to sub a different flour if you prefer)
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon + additional for sprinkling
    • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
    • 1 Small Apple, finely diced

    Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Place an empty glass pie plate or baking dish in the oven to preheat. If you want, you can make individual dutch babies and use regular-size, oven-safe bowls.

    Mix the eggs, almond milk, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, until well combined.

    Remove the dish from the oven, and melt the margarine or oil right into it. Sprinkle with the diced apple, and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon for good measure. Pour the batter over all.

    Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until set. Cut into wedges and serve immediately with syrup, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a pat of margarine and more cinnamon, jam, berries, or however you like!

    Yields 2 Yummy Servings

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