Marvelous Maple Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free & Vegan!)

Unfortunately, an onslaught of review requests these past few months kept me from getting to one of my newest gems, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. But ever since I finally cracked it open, I haven’t put it down. It is dusted with flours and splattered with oil, and already deemed a staple in my kitchen.

Since this is a recipe blog, not a review blog, I only share those cookbooks here that inspire some delicious recipes, and this one certainly has. Beyond helping me with my new CSA load with a recipe for Balsamic Roasted Beets and another for Collard Wraps, I quickly gained appreciation for the healthified desserts in this cookbook .. and in typical Alisa-fashion, I jumped straight to the cookies!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Maple Cashew Cookies

The Cashew Coconut Cookies were the first to catch my eye. My husband isn’t a big fan of coconut, but I knew an easy swap for chocolate chips would win him over. And as I taste-tested the dough (come on – you always have to taste test the dough, right?!), I thought it was very good, but perhaps just a touch too healthy for our current cravings. The dough had a mild shortbread sweetness, while we were both craving a sweeter treat. So I made a few adjustments and additions, and viola! My slightly less healthy, but still quite virtuous Maple Cashew Chocolate Chip version.

Just so you know – I did try to “gluten” these cookies in a second batch, since I know that many of you don’t have a problem with wheat (all of the recipes in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook are gluten-free), and may not have the flours and xanthan gum on hand. I replaced the brown rice flour with whole wheat pastry flour and removed the xanthan gum. I kept the starch since these are egg-free. The cookies worked, but just weren’t as good in my opinion; they were a wee bit too sweet and spread a bit more. I actually really like them the gluten-free way. But, if I were to trial them again with wheat, I would probably switch to cornstarch or arrowroot for the tapioca (it seems those starches yield a softer product) and would reduce the maple syrup by a tablespoon or two. It was a bit overpowering with the wheat, but a nice contrast with the brown rice flour. Just wanted to give you a heads up on that, in case you feel like experimenting!

Here is a pic of my wheaty results – I split the wheat batch, trialing some with raisins (pictured), some with cranberries, and some with chocolate chips – the chocolate chips won hands down.

cashew wheat maple cookies

And yes, even though there are no known problems with wheat/gluten in my household, I always keep various gluten-free flours and starches on hand. It started several years back with some recipe-testing for a few gluten-free / casein-free companies … but I quickly learned that the different flours offer new textures and flavors that are yummy in their own right. So, I just sort of kept stocking them. Fortunately, brown rice flour, tapioca starch (see my sub note above) and xanthan gum can now be found in most major grocers with ease.

 

Maple Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies

I adapted this recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. These cookies have a unique but addictive flavor that is maple-rich. Once allowed too cool, they are very cohesive, particularly for gluten-free gems, yet they still have a nice cookie dough-esque texture that I simply adored.

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

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Place the nuts in your spice grinder (or food processor) and pulse until you get a powdery /coarse flour-like consistency. It is okay if a few little cashew bits remain, but if you go too far with the grinding, the cashews will turn into a nut butter.

In a mediume bowl, combine the cashew flour, brown rice flour, tapioca, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Briefly set aside.

In a mixing bowl, blend the oil, maple syrup, sugar, and water. Blend in the flour mixture until you get a nice dough. Stir in the chocolate chips.

The dough may seem a bit sticky / greasy, but I still found it fairly easy to loosely shape into balls and place on the cookie sheet (I line mine with a silicone baking mat). If the dough is just too much to handle, pop it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes, it will firm up quickly. Flatten the dough balls a bit – these cookies don’t spread much as they cook, so what you see is what you get.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. Remove them to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. If your husband’s greedy hands try to pop them off the baking sheet while hot, they will be crumbly, but they do firm up quite a bit as they cool.

Yields 18 to 20 cookies

gluten-free vegan maple cashew cookies

Don’t Pinch My Blog, I’ve Got a Green Recipe!

As mentioned in my last post, we are on week one of our first CSA. It was like Christmas pulling out one surprise veggie after another … until I got to the final item, the lump of coal at the bottom. “What’s this?” I said. It didn’t quite look like kale or chard, but similar. I went to the inventory sheet and my fears were realized – collard greens.

My first and only experience with collard greens was purchasing them in a bag on sale at a mega-grocer about seven years ago. Terrible, terrible, terrible. But determined to polish off that entire CSA box and give every veggie a fair trial, I headed to one of my favorite healthy cookbooks, Whole Life Nutrition. I was confident that Alissa (gotta love her name) would have a recipe to turn those greens into something good. In fact, she had two. One was for Apple-Spiced Collard Greens, which sounded rather tasty, but I didn’t have any apple juice on hand. The second was for Collard Green and Hummus Roll-ups. Now hummus, that is something I almost always have on hand!

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

My version is more of a guide / idea than a recipe, but let me tell you, it really worked to turn those nice big collard leaves (perfectly flat and excellent to work with, unlike kale or stiff chard leaves) into a tasty large snack or small meal – however you view it. And I realize Collard Greens don’t exactly shout “St. Patrick’s Day,” but hey, they are GREEN!

Now it is quite possible that there will be more of these collard greens in today’s CSA box, so please do tell … Do you have any ideas or favorite recipes for using Collard Greens?

 

Collard Green and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Adapted from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • Collard Green Leaves, nice full healthy ones
  • Hummus, your flavor of choice
  • Carrots, for shredding
  • Avocado, sliced (optional – I didn’t have any)
  • Leftover Chicken (optional – omit for a vegan option)
  • Olives (optional – my hummus was kalamata olive hummus so I could resist)
  • Other Veggie Toppings of Choice (go wild!)

Lay the leaves flat, and cut them in half, carefully cutting out that thick stem. Spread each leaf half with your favorite hummus (I was using an olive hummus, hence the darker color), and sprinkle with grated or shredded carrot.

Okay, get ready, this is my first ever step by step photo – except it is just one step …

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Now, simply roll them up tight for a very light snack (I did this once, and they were tasty just like this!), or top them with your choice of toppings. The second time I made them I had some leftover chicken and olives, so I went with this, which made thicker rolls.

Yields as many as you like

Collard Greens and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Jam-Filled Snackin’ Muffins (or Soda Rolls)

I swear, sometimes I feel like Celine reads my mind when it comes to trialing out baked goodie recipes. I purchased some all-fruit spread solely for the purpose of coming up with some jam-filled muffins and PB&J granola for my husband’s morning snack … when low and behold, I opened her new book 500 Vegan Recipes (co-written with Joni Marie Newman) to discover recipes for both!

Vegan Jam-Filled Soda Rolls

She calls these muffins “rolls,” which I suppose is fair since they really aren’t very sweet, save for the jam surprise in the middle. Nonetheless, they are perfectly yummy and satisfying for breakfast. I had to modify the recipe a wee bit, based on what I had on hand. I did use honey (sorry, I know it isn’t strict vegan practice, and have no fear, 500 Vegan Recipes is honey-free!), but you can stick with their suggested sweetener or agave as I have noted.

 

Jam-Filled Snackin’ Muffins (or Soda Rolls)

Recipe adapted from 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

They do specifically recommend soymilk for this recipe since it curdles best; though you may have success with other milk alternatives. Though we don’t typically stock soy in our house, I was reviewing this soymilk for Go Dairy Free, so I decided to use it here. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, and optionally Soy-Free and Refined Sugar-Free.

  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-1/4 Cups Plain Soymilk (see above note for other soy-free milk alternatives)
  • 1-1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole or White Spelt Flour (I used whole spelt)
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey, Raw Sugar or Agave Nectar (I used un-vegan honey)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil (I used extra-light olive, but you could use grapeseed, canola, or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  •  1/4 Cup Jam or All-Fruit Spread
  • Melted non-dairy margarine (optional)

 Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

Combine the vinegar and soymilk in a medium-sized bowl or glass measuring cup, and allow it to sit as the vinegar “curdles” the soymilk.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the sweetener, oil, and applesauce to the now curdled soymilk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture in your large bowl, and gently stir until just combined. No over-mixing!

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter in each muffin cup. Top each mound of batter with 1 teaspoon of jam. Top the jam with the remaining batter (another heaping tablespoon per cup).

Bake for 15 minutes. As soon as you remove the rolls from the oven, brush the tops with non-dairy margarine if desired. Personally, I would skip this step next time, as I wasn’t a big fan of the salty margarine topping … but I am sure many people would love it. Pop the muffins out (they seemed to come out of the cups nicely, even while still quite hot) and indulge.

Yields a dozen sweet and savory muffins

Vegan Jam-Filled Soda Rolls

Sweet Strawberry-Watermelon Soul Smoothie

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!

From Tender Squash Rolls to Perfect Potato Bread

Sarena of the Non-Dairy Queen is one of my favorite dairy-free divas. So I was completely honored when she used one of my recipes to create her family’s favorite new everyday bread. My original recipe is called Tender Squash Dinner Rolls, and it can be found in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. I love serving these buttery soft and lightly sweet rolls (just like they are from the bakery!) at family get togethers; they literally disappear …

Tender Squash Dinner Rolls from Go Dairy Free

For more of a savory product, Sarena replaced the squash with potato, and reduced the fat and sweetener a bit to create this delicious dairy-free and vegan Potato Roll Recipe that her family enjoyed with veggie burgers …

sarena's potato rolls

Unable to stop there, she tweaked it just a bit more, and made a Potato Bread Recipe that was equally successful. I will definitely be trialing these recipes out, and I hope that you get the chance to enjoy them too. Thanks Sarena!