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

Tempting Fudge “Ice Cream” with Magical Peanut Butter Shell

Posted by on August 19, 2010 | 31 Comments

Ah, the things I do to taste the latest dairy-free foods. Cooler box packed into the car, we headed down to Reno, and the nearest Whole Foods. Of course, the trip to a town that is 45 minutes (and an “over-the-mountain” trip) away was about more than Whole Foods, we had errands to run. But I never pass up the chance to stop in to buy a few things since we visit less than once a month.

On this trip, I opted to pick up some hemp-based ice cream. I was leary when I first heard about it, but it seems to be getting rave reviews, even from dairy-consuming columnists. We decided to get two pints, and I let my husband pick. He chose Mint-Chip (yes!) and Chocolate Fudge (Really? Are you sure you don’t want the Vanilla Bean?).

Tempt Dairy-Free Hemp Ice Cream

After silently whining about his choice for a few minutes, I realized I could dress up the chocolate ice cream with … hmmm, some peanut butter perhaps?

As it turned out, this stuff tastes pretty awesome, so I really didn’t need a topping. It has a rich fudgsicle flavor with a pleasant chocolate fudge ribbon throughout. Ours did melt slightly in transit, so I think it was more hard packed than a freshly purchased pint. But even so, not the least bit of ice … this stuff was truly dense and rich!

Of course, a hard-shell topping of sweet peanut butter never hurts, and this combo was magically delicious …

Chocolate Fudge Temp Dairy-Free Hemp Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Magical Shell

Alisa’s Magical Peanut Butter Shell

Recipe adapted from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook.

This is a mini-version of a recipe in my book. I make little batches most of the time because I always forget about leftoveres like this. If you opt to make more, it should actually keep on the counter for a couple of days. If you store it in the fridge, simply reheat to melt when ready to use.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, optionally Peanut- and Nut-Free, and optionally Refined Sugar-Free.

  • 2 Teaspoons Creamy Peanut Butter or SunButter (for nut-free)
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar or Powdered Coconut Sugar (I ground coconut sugar in my spice grinder)
  • Few Drops of Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • Tiny pinch of salt (omit if using salted PB or SunButter)

In a small dish, melt together the peanut butter or SunButter and the coconut oil (I just place them in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds if needed). With a fork, whisk in the sugar, vanilla, and salt, if using.

Scoop ice cream, drizzle PB mixture overtop. Watch the magic happen.

Yields enough for 2 ice cream sundaes

Chocolate Fudge Temp Dairy-Free Hemp Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Magical Shell

Peanut Butter Truffles and Cheap PB Cup Molds

Posted by on August 6, 2010 | 35 Comments

This past week I was honored to do a guest post on Maggie’s blog, Say Yes to Salad, in honor of her much-anticipated marriage. I chose to write about the peanut butter truffles we made by hand (about 300 of them!) for the favor at a good friend’s wedding.

This post is related to that post, but there’s a little more to it. First, I wanted to add that recipe to my personal online blog collection (it is also in my book, Go Dairy Free, for those of you who have it). The recipe is below, Enjoy! Second, I wanted to share a new fun and “I don’t care what my husband says” cheap baking / un-baking item.

You see, I have wanted some little candy molds for a while, and was hoping to find some silicone ones because they are so darn easy. So when I spotted a dozen of these gems at Cost Plus World Market for just $2.49, I tossed them without hesitation into our basket …

candy molds

They are mini-muffin / cupcake cups. An application which I may use them for in the future, but they also make perfect candy molds, particularly for turning those peanut butter truffles into peanut butter cups …

PB Truffle Cups

As mentioned in Maggie’s post, my husband and I have been together for over 14 years now, and we grow closer each day. In fact, for almost all of those years, we have not only lived together, we also work together! Yes, we are rarely apart. He is actually just up the stairs typing away on his computer now. People often wonder how we do it. It’s easy … we still act like kids. We call each other names, joke around, play argue … keeping it light lets us vent while having fun. So I have a point with this.

When I put those little muffin cups into our basket, the following conversation ensued:

Husband – What are those?!!

Alisa – Muffin cups that I can use as candy molds. They’re only $2.49.

Husband – $2.49 for those? That’s ridiculous … way too much. Husband proceeds to remove molds from basket and put them back on the shelf. Snickering of course.

Alisa – But I need them!

We continue on through the store, and I sneak the molds back in the basket when he isn’t looking. We get up to the counter to checkout, and husband spots molds in the basket, removes them and hands them to the clerk …

Husband – We don’t need these, they are too expensive. You can put them back on the shelf.

Alisa – Agh … but! I want them.

Husband – laughs and purchases molds of course. I mean come on, they’re only $2.49!

A week later I made the peanut butter truffles in the candy molds, and of course, when he saw them in the fridge, my husband said, “I’m going to eat these since I had to pay dearly for the molds to make them!” Alisa calls husband “affectionate” name and both leave the room laughing. Husband happy with his reward …

PB Truffle Cups

 Yes, these types of conversations occur pretty much daily in our house.

 

Peanut Butter “Truffles”

This recipe is from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook

Casually elegant, these glorified peanut butter cups earned me rave reviews at a close friend’s wedding. For party favors, we wrapped a few little treats up in tulle and placed one on each guest’s plate. All night long, people I had never met approached me with recipe requests for “those incredible truffles.” While I would love to gloat on my innovation and labor, the recipe is embarrassingly easy …

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Powdered / Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Smooth All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine or Shortening, Softened
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Ounces Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Shortening

Method

Combine the sugar, peanut butter, margarine or shortening, vanilla, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and blend until smooth.

Pinch off pieces of the peanut butter mixture and roll them into balls that are 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Since you won’t be baking them, the thickness of the filling is really up to you.

Place the peanut butter balls in a single layer on baking sheets lined with wax paper or non-stick baking mats (I flatten them slightly to keep them from rolling around), and freeze until they are firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While those are chilling, Place the chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon of shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH in 30 second intervals (just 2 to 3 should suffice), stirring vigorously between intervals, until the chocolate has just melted and is smooth. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, as it can scorch easily.

Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer, dunk them in the melted chocolate to coat, and return them to the baking sheets to dry.

Place the truffles in the refrigerator or freezer to chill for 1 hour, or until the chocolate coating is firm. The truffles should keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yields approximately 2 Dozen “Truffles”.

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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Chocolate Explosion Oatmeal Cookies

Posted by on July 23, 2010 | 23 Comments

I was in a baking mood and my husband was in a cookie eating mood, so I whipped out my copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for a little inspiration, and to give the book another go. So far, it has been a little hit and miss … the hits scoring big points, and the misses still tasting okay, but often a bit too sweet and lacking in the performance category.

Fortunately, the Chocolate Fudgey Oatmeal Cookies were a hit with the husband … and I liked them too! I omitted the fruit, and added in more chocolate. Craving perhaps? Anyway, these are the chocolatiest oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted … almost like an oatmeal-spiked brownie.

chocolate explosion oatmeal cookie

I made a few adjustments to the recipe including an ingredient swap or two, but stayed true to the concept. Here is my modified version …

 

Chocolate Explosion Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free.

  • 2 Cups Quick Oats (not instant)
  • 1-2/3 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1-1/2 Cups Sugar (I have to admit, plain white sugar (organic if you can) is a standout in chocolate cookies and brownies, but if you want a wholesome alternative, feel free to experiment here with evaporated cane juice or granulated palm sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 2/3 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used coconut milk beverage)
  • 2/3 Cup Olive Oil (extra-light or regular)
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips (I used the mini-chips from Enjoy Life Foods)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flax, milk alternative, oil, and vanilla. Stir or mix until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop the batter by the heaping spoonful (a couple tablespoons) onto your baking sheets (I lined mine with a silpat). Shape and flatten the cookies slightly, they only spread a wee bit.

Cook for 10 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny. I prefer them a little soft in the middle, and 10 minutes seemed to be spot on for this.

Yields 12-16 brownie-like pillows

choc explosion oat cookies

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.

Apricot-Raspberry Crumble Bars

Posted by on July 5, 2010 | 13 Comments

My home is still overflowing with apricots from our CSA, so I knew they would make their way into some sort of dish for our “neighborhood” 4th of July BBQ.

Last year we moved into a small group of tall condos that share a very nice common backyard. Since it is a tourist town, we only have a few permanent neighbors, while the rest are vacation homes. But almost everyone is in town for the 4th of July to enjoy the mountain air and the beaches … so it seems they have started an annual barbecue tradition as a way for everyone to meet up … even past owners of the condos! Yep, even those who have moved onto new places showed up to visit old friends and neighbors. We were honored to have been invited.

Perhaps we will receive a repeat invite next year, since these apricot-raspberry crumble bars seemed to go over quite well …

apricot-raspberry crumble bars

 

Fruity Crumble Bars

Feel free to use the fruit and/or berries of your choice (peaches, blueberries, cherries, apples, blackberries, etc.). You can vary the sugar in the fruit filling based on the fruit you use and how ripe it is. I only used 3/4 cup for the apricots and raspberries, but the filling came out a bit too tart – I would use a full 1 cup for those next time.

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free.

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice or Milk Alternative
  • 4 Cups Berries and/or Finely Diced Fruit (I used 3 cups diced apricots, very well packed and one 6-ounce pint of raspberries (about 1-1/3 cups))
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice or other Citrus Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest (optional)
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup White Sugar (see notes above)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 375ºF and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, or in your food processor, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt.

In a small dish, whip together the egg and vanilla.

Add the margarine and egg mixture to the flour mixture, and cut it in with a fork or pastry blender (this can also be done in a food processor). Thick crumbs should form.

Remove 2 full cups of the crumb mixture (about half) to another bowl and set aside.

Add the juice or milk alternative to the remaining crumbs and combine. It should make a thick dough. Press the dough evenly into your prepared baking dish.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the fruit, juice, zest (if using), sugar, and cornstarch. Spread the fruit mixture over top of the dough in your baking dish, and sprinkle it all with the reserved crumbles.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until it is slightly browned on top.

Optional: If you want to ensure the flavor of your fruit filling, go ahead and cook the fruit / berries over medium-low heat, along with the juice and zest, sweetening to taste. Thicken with the cornstarch. 

Yields dozens of cakey, crumble-topped bars

apricot-raspberry crumble bars

Blog Events:

I had (have) a tone of apricots, but I threw in the raspberries just so these bars would qualify for this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient (BSI) Event!

Economical Whole-Grain Spelt Tortillas

Posted by on June 24, 2010 | 13 Comments

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

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Submitted this recipe to Family Food Fridays

Soft Serve-Style Peanut Butter Cravings

Posted by on June 15, 2010 | 25 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

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