Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ridiculously Simple Any-Fruit Oatmeal Bars

One packaged snack food that I do like to indulge in is Kashi TLC cereal bars. At $3-$4 a box, though, I really need to be making my own fruit and grain bars--plus then I can share them with the kids without food contamination worries. This recipe is based on my Grandma Langlois's fig neaton recipe, which calls for 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of butter.  Those were true dessert cookies, needless to say, but this updated version is breakfast- and snack-worthy as well.  And a cinch to make!  With two kids, it is way easier to make these at home than to take our traveling circus on the road to Target to buy pre-packaged breakfast bars.

1 1/4 cups oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup)
1/4 cup canola or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup jam of choice (I used Trader Joe's fig butter in the ones I made today.)

Oil a 9 inch square baking pan and preheat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. Add the sweetener and oil and mix together with a fork until crumbly and evenly moistened. Press roughly 1/2 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam evenly over the bottom crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust crumbs evenly over the jam and press them down a bit. Bake the bars in the preheated oven for  25-30 minutes, until just slightly golden on the top.  Let the bars cool completely before cutting, or else they will be messy.

This recipe is also posted on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, and Wellness Weekend. Check out all these great recipe collections!

On to the cute pictures! We had a blast being silly at the children's museum in Phoenix this weekend: 


High-Protein Hemp-Sunflower Seed Cream of Broccoli Soup

I used to make a creamy broccoli soup using soy creamer and Tofutti cream cheese before our soy allergy came into the picture.  I am glad that I was forced to switch up the ingredients so that I could come up with this version that is made creamy with more whole foods ingredients--which have the added advantage of giving the soup healthy fats and protein.  This is a really easy, tasty meal to whip up; tonight we are eating it as a side with our calzones, but it can also make a great main dish when paired with some hearty bread.  

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cups broccoli florets
3 cups non-dairy milk (I like homemade oat milk.)
2-3 cups water (enough so that all the broccoli is covered)
1 can chickpeas (a little more than a cup)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw, shelled hemp seeds
1 cup cooked quinoa or 1/2 cup dry
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
1 Tbsp. chickpea miso mixed with 2 Tbsp. water (or mellow soy-based miso if no soy allergy)

1.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, until golden and translucent. Stir in the broccoli florets, and saute for a few minutes. Then add the non-dairy milk, water to cover, chickpeas, pepper, thyme, salt, and hemp seeds.  If you do not have any leftover quinoa in the fridge, add the 1/2 cup dry quinoa at this point along with an additional cup of water.
2. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is very tender.  Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes. Then add the sunflower seed butter and chickpea miso mixture, and puree the soup in batches in the blender.  Return the soup to the pot and taste for salt and pepper and add additional, if desired, before serving.

This recipe is also posted on Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekend, and Sunday Night Soup Night Check out all these great recipe collections!

Abiline gets her picture on this one because she loves soup. Especially broccoli soup.  But not as much as she loves her cousin's "MI-neeeee" and "D'abby" dolls. She just couldn't stop taking them for walks while we were visiting with Anthony's family.  Now that we are home from our weekend in Arizona, she still calls out for her "babies" at random moments throughout the day. An Abby Cadabby and min-stroller purchase may not be too far in our future...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

I have fond memories as a kid of eating many a Good Humor bar, so I am certainly not the type to want to deny my children the precious childhood experience of eating frozen treats.  With Sawyer we could buy Trader Joe's soy-ice cream sandwiches, which don't have corn syrup like the Tofutti brand, and are reasonably priced.  Since Abiline can't do soy, we were looking at getting some of the So Delicious coconut milk ice cream sandwiches as a special treat, but they are almost $6 a box!  No way--I will make my own, thank you.  These homemade ice cream sandwiches were part of our St. Patrick's day celebration; sorry I didn't get the recipe on here in time for the big day.  Luckily, you don't really need a special occasion to make these.  The mint chip ice cream is a recipe I posted earlier for my ice cream pie, and it is probably Abiline's favorite: when I open the freezer door nowadays, she exclaims, "Geen peese!"(and that doesn't mean "green peas," although she does like those.)

This recipe is featured on Allergy-Free Wednesdays :o)

For the mint chip ice cream:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup Silk or So Delicious coconut milk beverage
1/2 cup sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice)
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 tsp. spirulina powder
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand) 

Blend the first 5 ingredients in a blender until fully combined, and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Once the ice cream is getting firm,  2 or 3 minutes before you would normally transfer it to the freezer, slowly add the chocolate chips to the ice cream maker. Once they're all mixed up, place the ice cream in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up. You don't want it too firm, so that you can spread it easily on the cookies--just a bit firmer than it is right after you get it out of the ice cream maker.

For the ice cream sandwich cookies:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or barley flour (I used half and half)
2/3 cup sucanat, coconut sugar, or evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup canola or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For chocolate coating:
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. peppermint extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the non-dairy milk, oil, starch mixed with water, and the vanilla. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork or wooden spoon just until evenly combined and moistened. 
4. Form into disks with your hands and evenly space them on the cookie sheets. I got 20 cookies, 10 per pan.  Keep in mind that they spread out quite a bit; mine turned out more monster-cookie-sized, so if you want small sandwiches, you could probably get 3 dozen cookies out of this recipe.
5. Bake for 10 minutes for the larger cookies, turning the pans half-way through. I would do 7-8 minutes if you are doing smaller cookies.
6. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on wire racks and then transfer them to the freezer for about 20 minutes to cool completely. While they cool, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds so as to not burn them. Stir the mint extract into the melted chocolate.
7. Take the cookies out of the freezer along with the ice cream, and quickly spread a big gob of ice cream on half of the cookies and top with the other half.  Spread a layer of chocolate over the top of one of the cookies. Place the sandwiches in the freezer, chocolate-topping side up, for about an hour to harden up. If you are not eating them all right away, then be sure to place them in a  freezer bag for storage.

As for healthier green foods, we have replanted our little patio garden of basil and spinach. Please wish us luck!  Some sort of small animal ate all of the lettuce and kale out of our last garden attempt. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cinnamon Rolls

A while back I looked over The 30 Minute Vegan cookbook and was intrigued by the raw cinnamon roll recipe.  I finally made it a few weeks ago, and we loved it. How could we not?  Raw treats are basically healthy versions of the dough for cookies, cakes, etc. that my kids have always loved more than the final baked product anyways. Which got me thinking, "What about a chocolate chip cookie dough cinnamon roll?" I envisioned a deceptively healthy treat combining two of our favorite desserts. And here it is: sweet success.

Please note that if you don't have coconut butter, you can make your own! As long as you have a good food processor, that is. Fill the work bowl at least 1/3 full of flaked coconut and buzz it until totally smooth (takes about 10 minutes for me).

 For the dough:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (You could, of course, use GF oats.)
1/2 cup pitted dates, soaked for a few hours in enough water to cover to soften them up
2 Tbsp. coconut butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. agave nectar

For the filling:
1/3 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. grain-sweetened vegan chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. water

For the frosting:
3 Tbsp. coconut butter
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1.  Place all of the dough ingredients in the food processor and pulse until totally combined and a soft cookie-dough consistency has been reached.
2. Scrape the dough out onto a cookie-pan-sized sheet of parchment paper and using damp hands press the dough out into a roughly 8 inch by 4 inch rectangle.
3. Clean out the food processor bowl and add all of the filling ingredients except for the extra 2 Tbsp. chocolate chips. Puree until a uniform, thick paste forms. Spread the filling paste evenly over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips (chop them up if you would like a more even distribution). 
4. Roll up the dough, starting on one of the short sides. Pinch as you go to hold everything together. With a serrated bread knife, cut the log into about 10 pieces. Really, you can cut them as thick or as thin as you want, but I got about 10, 1/2 inch thick pieces.
5. At this point you can either enjoy the rolls as is, or you can frost them to up the chocolate factor. To make the frosting, just buzz the cocoa butter, agave, and cocoa powder in your food processor and slather it on top of your cut rolls.  

This recipe is featured in Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekend.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Updated Soy-Free Tofu and Sweet Potato Kale Frittata

The no-soy tofu has been working very well to make vegan french toast, vegan mayo, and creamy vegan pies, but I was thinking to myself the other morning that I wish I could get it firmer.  Then it occurred to me: just add some agar powder to the mix.  I tried out my idea this week with chickpea tofu and was very pleased with the resulting firmness.  I was able to successfully use it in place of soy tofu this evening in our sweet and sour sauce over vegetables and rice.  It also worked really well in this frittata-style dish I made a few nights ago, based off of a recipe in Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites.  To my complete surprise, Sawyer loved this; I did not hear one word of complaint about all the orange and green chunks as he chowed down.  He is becoming a more adventurous eater: today he ate broccoli-sweet potato soup and an enchilada 'quesadilla' I made.  Miracles certainly do happen.

For the tofu:
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour or white bean flour
1 1/2 tsp. agar powder
5 cups water

Oil a bread loaf pan. Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed pan.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, place the flour in a medium bowl and mix in the agar powder. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of water to make a thick, goopy paste. Once the water is boiling, start whisking in the bean flour paste, a little bit at a time (about 1/4 cup) so as to avoid lumps. (Another easy way to do this is to mix the flour, agar, and water in a blender and just use the blender pitcher to gradually add the mixture to the boiling water.) Once all of the bean paste is whisked into the water, keep stirring continuously until the mixture reaches a really thick, glutinous consistency--to the point that you can barely stir it any more. This should take only about 10 minutes with the agar powder in there.  Pour the mixture into the oiled loaf pan and smooth out the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate for a few hours before slicing. I needed mine for a recipe I was making in about an hour, so I stuck it in the freezer, and it firmed up super-quick!

For the frittata base:
1 1/2 cups no-soy tofiu
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup kamut, millet, or barley flour
1/4 cup arrowroot or tapoica starch
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

For the veggies:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 bunch lacinto/black kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. vegan worcestershire sauce (I made mine soy-free by following this recipe and subbing coconut aminos for the soy sauce.)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
3/4 cup diced seitan sausage, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and oil a 9 inch pie pan. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato, stir to coat with the oil, and saute for 5 mins. Then add the kale, worcestershire sauce, and agave, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft and starting to brown.  Remove from the heat and add the diced seitan, if using.
2.  In a food processor, puree the no-soy tofu, nutritional yeast, flour, arrowroot, olive oil, onion powder, salt, turmeric, and mustard.  Stir the tofu mixture into the vegetables in the pan and then scrape all of the filling into the prepared pie pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15-20 mins. before slicing and serving.

 For more delicious vegan recipes, check out Whole Foods Wednesdays and Wellness Weekend!  And, indeed, we are well this weekend. Sawyer and Abiline are so thrilled about their new shoes. Sawyer's light up every time he stomps--and so does his face.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Soy-Free Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping

This week is national pie week! Cheesecake is pie, right? When I posted my first recipe for soy-free vegan cheesecake, I mentioned that I had a friend who hated cheesecake. Well, he came over for dinner this weekend and happily ate some of this new chocolate version I had made. I guess he decided that since my 'cake' didn't really have cheese in it, he would reconsider.  I got the cheesecake texture pretty spot-on this time, I think.  We are so depraved around here: we have been eating this cheesecake with caramel coconut ice cream on the side. Yummmmmm.....

For other yummy allergy-friendly recipes, check out Allergy Free Wednesdays!

For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves graham crackers (or sub your favorite gluten free cookies, if you want this gluten-free)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup

For the filling
2 cups no-soy tofu
1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips 
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. canola or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. tapioca starch (You could sub arrowroot, or cornstarch if you don't have a corn allergy.)
2 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp. agar powder

For the strawberry topping:
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 tsp. agar powder

1. Mix sliced strawberries and sugar in a large bowl and place in the fridge for a few hours, preferably overnight, so that they get all juicy.  Transfer the strawberries and juice to a medium pot and stir in the agar powder.  Heat on medium-high heat on the stove-top until the agar is dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 
2. Crush your graham crackers in a food processor, then add the oil and agave and pulse to evenly moisten all the crumbs. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan and then evenly press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
3. Preheat the oven to 350.  In a small bowl, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds and stirring so that you are careful to catch them when they are just melty and not burned. Clean out your food processor bowl and then add all of the filling ingredients. Puree until totally smooth; this took 3 or 4 minutes in my processor.
4. Pour the filling evenly into the prepared crust and bake in the preheated oven for 30 mins. Let cool completely on a wire rack before topping with strawberries. Chill the pie in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

I know, what mother allows this? Sometimes I am just powerless to stop Daddy from being so fun... 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Secret Ingredient Almost Sugar-Free Cut-Out Cookies

I think the story of these cookies begins with the secret ingredient: sprouted wheat berries. I like to make manna bread from sprouted grains; it makes a wonderfully filling snack between meals. However, I found that if you let the wheat berries sprout for too long, then the bread becomes mushy.  Last week I had started to sprout some wheat berries, and then we went out of town to Utah for my niece's baptism before I could use them. I placed the berries in the fridge while we were gone in order to slow their growth, but by the time we came back, they had sprouted so much that I knew they would make for soggy bread. What to do with them?  Then I had an idea: perhaps the extra moisture of the overly sprouted berries would work well in cookies, providing the moist texture that would normally come from oil or margarine/butter.  It worked!  Sweetened with dates, moistened with the wheat berries, these are apologetically healthy cookies.  And my kids love them. We made them into question mark shapes because in Joy School this week Sawyer and the other kids in our class are learning about curiosity. These coolies can be made totally sugar-free, but I couldn't resist a little sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar on top.

1/2 cup dry wheat berries
2/3 cup pitted dates
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
1/3 cup dried, flaked coconut
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2-1 cup barley flour (could sub whole wheat pastry flour)

1 Tbsp. coconut oil +1 Tbsp evaporated cane juice + 1 tsp cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Place the wheat berries in a glass jar with a lid, and add enough water to cover them plus fill the jar a few inches above the berries. Place the lid on, but do not screw it on. Soak the berries overnight, then drain them in the morning in a fine mesh sieve and rinse them with you faucet turned all the way up, to really blast those berries with the water. Shake them around to get the excess water off and then put the wheat berries back in the jar with the lid placed on top. Rinse them again at night, about 12 hours later. Continue to rinse them morning and night until they are sprouted and their tails are 2-3xs as long as the wheat berries. Be careful to catch them before they sprout leaves, as then it is too late to use them for baking.
2. Once your wheat berries are sprouted, place them in your food processor along with the dates, sunflower seed butter, coconut, salt, and cinnamon and pulse until you've made a uniform, thick paste.  If your dates are not very soft, cover them with water and microwave them for 2 minutes and then drain them before processing. Alternatively, you can just soak them in water overnight.
3.  On a clean work surface, sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour. Turn out the dough from the food processor and knead in the flour.  Add more flour a tablespoon at a time until your dough loses most of its stickiness and is firm enough to be rolled out.   
4. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out your dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes as desired. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. (The question marks took 9 mins; if you opt for a bigger shape, you may need longer.)
5. If you would like them a bit sweeter, then melt the coconut oil and brush the cookies with it. In a small bowl, mix the evaporated cane juice and cinnamon, and then sprinkle it on the tops of the cookies. I recommend storing these in the fridge because they are so moist and probably would not keep well if left out on the counter.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fish Sticks (Minus the Fish)

When I was in second grade, my mom went back to college, and suddenly we were eating a lot of fish sticks and french fries--Dad's specialty. I wasn't complaining; I had no problem with deep-fried food as a child.  However, I think I had my fill at the time, as it has been many years since I even thought about fish and chips. But when I saw a recipe for "Fish-y Sticks" in The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, I just had to try it. After all, eating fish sticks is an essential part of childhood, right?  I don't want my kids to feel jipped.  I had to change the original recipe around so much because of all the allergens in it (TVP, cashews, flax seed) that I think it's safe to say that what I made was a new recipe all together. The original recipe called for battering the fish-y sticks in full-fat coconut milk and then deep frying them, which just sounded disgustingly greasy to me.  So instead I baked them and subbed a mixture of ketchup and hemp milk for making the crispy coating stick, as my son likes the taste of ketchup when I don't tell him it's there, but refuses it when seen. I know, a bit odd, but we work with what we've got.
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2/3 cup pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame, or chia seeds (I like to use 2-3 different ones for variety.)
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup chia seed meal
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. non-dairy milk
1/4 cup nori flakes (You could just grind up those popular nori strip snacks.)
1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Old bay Seasoning
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Cooking spray or additional olive oil for coating

1. Bring broth or water to a boil in a medium pot, add quinoa, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 13-15 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.
2. While the quinoa cooks, toast the seeds in small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and looking a bit toasty.
3. In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas so that they are in chunky little bits.
4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, the toasted seeds, the ground chickpeas, along with the oat bran, wheat gluten, chia seed meal, olive oil, 2 Tbsp. non-dairy milk, nori flakes, onion powder, Old Bay Seasoning, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Add the additional tablespoon of milk if the mixture is not holding together well when pressed together in your hand. Taste and add additional salt if desired. The ketchup will add a bit of salt, too, so keep that in mind.
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
5. In a shallow cereal bowl, mix the ketchup with the remaining 1/2 cup non-dairy milk. In a separate shallow cereal bowl, add the panko bread crumbs. You can form the mixture into sticks, or you can make nuggets like I did. (Actually, I used truck and snowman cookie cutters to form the shapes, but they ended up just looking like nuggets after they were breaded.)  Take each fish-less stick/nugget and coat it in the ketchup mixture and then roll it in the panko bread crumbs to coat.  Place them on the prepared baking tray, and either spray them with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, until crispy.  Serve them with your favorite fries!   

 Do you love pink? Abiline sure does. Look at those pink dancin' legs!