Homemade Maple Oat Bread

Posted by on August 27, 2010 | 16 Comments

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

Posted by on July 27, 2010 | 18 Comments

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

Posted by on July 9, 2010 | 20 Comments

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

Posted by on June 15, 2010 | 24 Comments

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

Posted by on May 25, 2010 | 16 Comments

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

Sweet Simplicity: Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes

Posted by on May 6, 2010 | 38 Comments

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.

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.

Crumbly Apple Crisp with a Maple Finish

Posted by on July 5, 2009 | 21 Comments

As I looked around for ideas to use up some organic apples that I found in the discount bin (still nice and firm, but begging to be turned into a baked goodie!), I came across oodles of recipes for one of our favorite desserts, Apple Crisp, or is it an Apple Crumble? Really, what is the difference? My mother-in-law calls it a crumble, but I have always called it a crisp, and they both seem pretty much the same. So what is a baffled baker to do? I googled.

From Emme on the CHOW boards “apple crumble in the UK is apples baked with a topping of flour, butter and sugar. In N. America, it’s basically the same thing, but the topping is made primarily with rolled oats rather than flour. It’s almost always made with cinnamon and sometimes nuts are added to it as well.”

Another site simply noted that the topping of a Crisp was like a streusel, while the topping of a Crumble is more like a crumbly pastry.

Based on these two definitions, I decided that the recipe I ended up creating (none of the ones I found on the net sounded just right!) was indeed a Crumbly Apple Crisp rather than a Crispy Apple Crumble.

crumblyapplecrisp

My entire family loves any dessert with apples, so for my grandma’s birthday, I made this delicious crisp. Everyone loved it. It is high on the streusel to apple ratio (can you ever have enough streusel topping?), and the light drizzling of maple seals the deal, quite literally. Not only does it add a heavenly flavor, it also binds the streusel to form a crust that crumbles beautifully when you dig your fork into it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any dished up photos since we devoured it too quickly! But, I have to give you a close-up of the yummy topping …

crumblyapplecrispcloseup

Crumbly M-Apple Crisp

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free. I haven’t tested it, but you could probably swap your favorite gluten-free flour blend and certified gluten-free oats to make a tasty gluten-free crisp.

  • 4 medium to large apples (I don’t peel them)
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine (I used the new Earth Balance Soy-Free, perfect!)
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Cup Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats (not instant; can reduce and use part nuts, if desired)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup (mine was spiked with vanilla! – stir ¼ t vanilla into the maple if desired)

 Preheat your oven to 350º.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Add the margarine and combine with a fork until the mixture looks like big, coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Core the apples, and thinly slice them (about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness). Toss them with the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and place them in an 8 x8 inch baking dish. Top the apples with the oat mixture. Drizzle the maple syrup over everything. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the apples are soft and tender and the crumble is as crispy as you like it.

Baking Note: If you are like me, then you probably made sure the topping was very evenly distributed, and covered all of those apples. The maple drizzled over top almost creates a seal then. So even when you remove the dish from the oven, the apples will keep cooking a bit under the crumbly crust. For that reason, I wouldn’t cook this for too long. Depending on your apples, you may even be able to get away with 25 or 30 minutes of baking time, but 35 minutes worked well for us.

Yields 6 to 8 crumbly crispy servings

 

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5 Good Things Since My Last Post

  1. Enjoyed a leisurely lunch with my dad at Whole Foods. Their sushi rolls are actually a decent value overall, and of course, the company was excellent.
  2. I can finally do chin-ups! – Successfully finished week 10 of a fitness program we are trialing … and still going strong. What program? More on that later.
  3. Had delicious pancakes two mornings in a row. Yum! Just a few tweeks to test in one of the recipes before I can share. 
  4. My husband mopped all the floors and vacuumed AND cleaned the carpets in the whole house voluntarily!
  5. We literally made it just in time for the fireworks show (stopped the car and the first one went up) and had a great view.

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!

 

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