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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Thick Mexican Chocolate Smoothie

Do you ever associate things in your head that may or may not actually be related? I really have no idea what a classic “Mexican chocolate” type of recipe would entail, but when I think of cinnamon, almonds, and chocolate the label just fits. If your version of Mexican chocolate needs a kick, I suggest a little ginger (fresh, powdered, or crystalized), rather than cayenne, to keep with the sweet smoothie theme.

Dairy-Free Mexican Chocolate Smoothie / Shake

Since I make this beverage so thick, you could call it a shake. But for me, if it is virtuous enough to consume for breakfast, it gets a smoothie title. Shakes are dessert in that rule-oriented brain of mine. Regardless of how you classify it, this is my entry into this month’s …

 

Thick Mexican Chocolate Smoothie

Recipe adapted from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

This is a very flexible recipe and the results will vary depending on the amount of fruit you use, how ripe your fruit is, and how thick you want it. If it comes out too thin, add some more frozen banana, too thick … thin with more milk alternative. Also, for a sweeter option from the get-go and more of  a dessert shake, feel free to use a regular chocolate milk alternative rather than the unsweetened.

This recipe is Vegan / Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low in Fat.

  • 1 Very Large RIPE Banana (or 1.5 medium bananas), broken into chunks and frozen
  • 3/4 to 1-1/4 Cups Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Ounce “Raw” Almonds, ground in a spice grinder (if your blender is really powerful, you may be able to skip the pre-grind)
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Sweetener to taste (optional)

Combine the frozen banana and 3/4 cup of the almond milk in your blender, and pulse to combine. Add more milk alternative as needed to get the consistency you are looking for. I like mine really thick (and spoonable) so I use as little as I can get away with while still getting a smooth blend.

Blend in the ground almonds, cocoa powder to taste (I like just 1 teaspoon, but 2 will give it a richer flavor), and cinnamon.

Since I wait until my bananas are really ripe, I rarely need any added sweetener in this. But give it a taste test, and add in a little of the sweet stuff if desired. You can use stevia, maple syrup, agave nectar, brown sugar, white sugar, sucanat, palm sugar, etc. or for an all-fruit concoction, blend in a fresh date (pitted of course!).

Yields 1 cool and creamy serving

Dairy-Free Mexican Chocolate-Almond Shake