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

Blog Events:

Economical Whole-Grain Spelt Tortillas

Usually, I only post recipes that are “my own” in the sense that I made them up in my little head (not to say someone else out there couldn’t have made up a similar one in their own head – really, how many original recipe ideas are truly left?!) or I have significantly altered a recipe. Seriously, I have a hard time leaving those ingredients and directions alone. But once in a while I find a simple gem … one that I just know I shouldn’t mess with … at least not right away.

I actually made this tortilla recipe for the first time last year, and have made it twice since. The first time I did the sandwich roll-ups you see below with some homemade slaw, the second time we used them for fajitas, and the third time I used them for making roll-up snacks, vegan/vegetarian style (sweet and savory). Sorry no pics on the last two, but they were equally good … better even, since my rolling skills improved.

Whole Grain Spelt Tortillas - Vegan

True, I will be fooling around with this wholesome tortilla recipe in the future, it just seems to have so much potential. But, it is also awesome as is, so I really wanted to share it with you here. Plus, I love, love, love that they use so few ingredients (no additives!), are totally whole grain, and quite economical (have you seen the price of good tortillas these days?). Oh yes, and they are tasty too … husband approved.

 

Whole Grain Spelt Tortilla

Rolling out the tortilla dough is more of an art than I expected, and does take some practice. If you happen to have a tortilla press, this recipe will be insanely fast. If not, allow a little extra time for rolling and cooking … you will speed up with practice. Also, I like my tortillas burrito-sized, so I just make 6. Eight makes them a generous taco-size in my opinion.

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

  • 2 Cups Spelt Flour (whole grain)
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Salt (I like to use half the amount, but your call)
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Hot Water

In a bowl, mix all ingredients well. Cover and let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Divide into 8 equal parts [6 for larger tortillas] and let sit, covered, another 20 minutes.

Roll each ball out to a 6- or 7-inch circle shape. I’ve found it helps to flatten each ball with your hand. Then take the rolling pin and roll from the center outwards, back and forth a few times as you go around the circle. When it starts to get thinner, take your left hand (if you’re right handed) and turn the tortilla a couple inches. Use your right hand to use the rolling pin (holding in the middle) and roll from the center outwards. Keep turning and rolling until it is paper thin.

Preheat a skillet on medium high heat. Place a tortilla into the skillet and watch until bubbles form. This won’t take long [about 30 to 60 seconds].

After bubbles form, and the bottom is lightly brown (or there are darker spots), flip over, press down once or twice [I prefer not to press down, this is an option], and cook for about 30-45 seconds, or if smoke appears.

Cook remaining tortillas, watching carefully, and place in a plastic bag, with wet paper towels in between them (or at least on top and bottom of stack) to keep them soft and moist.

These are best if used fresh, but you can refrigerate them if needed [careful as they can dry out], or remove the paper towels and freeze. 

Yields 6 to 8 whole grain tortillas

Whole Grain Spelt Tortillas - Vegan

Blog Events:

Submitted this recipe to Family Food Fridays

Famous Flax ‘n Oat Bar Recipe

Okay, we all have a different definition of famous – but the wonderful folks at Enjoy Life Foods have featured this recipe on their blog. You can view the full post here on the ELF blog.

Chocolate Chip Flax 'n Oat Bars

I know, I know, it isn’t exactly Martha Stewart, but this company is fairly big, and one of my favorites. They use a dedicated allergen-free and gluten-free facility, which is hard to find these days. And, some of their products are surprisingly awesome. I love, love, love their mini chocolate chips (yes, they are even soy-lecithin-free), and their soft cookies. They are gluten-free, which I am not, but still awesome all around. I enjoy their granola too, but I am mostly a bake-at-home granola eater.

Anyway, I really wanted to have the recipe here for you all to access on my blog too, so here you go …

Chocolate Chip Flax 'n Oat Bars

 

No Bake Chocolate Chip Flax ‘n Oat Bars

Recipe adapted from my No Bake Granola Bar recipe in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

Since I often make mini-batches of no bake snacks, but I don’t have an assortment of mini-pans, I typically make “rounds” instead of bars using silicon muffin pans. No cutting or greasing required, and anytime we need a snack, we just pop one out! This recipe is dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and optionally gluten-free, nut-free, and/or vegan.

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

  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup, Honey, Corn Syrup, or Agave Nectar (your choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar or Evaporated Cane Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut or Palm Oil (not shortening)
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter, SunButter, or Your Favorite Nut or Seed Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Generous Pinch or Two of Salt (omit if using salted nut or seed butter)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 1 Cup Quick or Rolled Oats (use certified gluten-free oats or give quinoa flakes a go for gluten-free)
  • 1 Cup Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal (can sub their rice cereal or crispy rice cereal)
  • 1/2 Cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips

In a medium-sized saucepan or skillet, combine the two sweeteners and the oil, and gently warm over low heat while stirring until the sugar crystals have dissolved. This should just take a couple of minutes.

Stir in the nut or seed butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the flaxseed, followed by the oats and cereal.

Now you have two choices here. If you want the chocolate chips to stay intact, let the mixture cool for few more minutes, and then stir in the chocolate chips. Or, if you are antsy like me, stir in the chocolate chips right away. They may melt a little against the warm pan, but I like them that way.

The mixture will be crumbly, but that is okay. Press it firmly into an 8 x 8 pan (use saran wrap or wax paper over your hand if it threatens to stick while pressing) or into 10 to 12 muffin tins. Make sure it is packed in there nicely, then place the bars into the freezer to chill for 30 minutes to an hour.

Cut into bars or pop them out and eat. I store them in the refrigerator, this keeps them fresh and from getting too soft.

Yields 10 to 12 snack bars

Chocolate Chip Flax 'n Oat Bars - Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

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