Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oil-Free Creamy Cilantro Pesto

We are gearing up for spring around here, with the bunnies coming out in full force.  I am excited to plant my spring garden, and this year we will definitely be doing a bunch of herbs, as they are easy to grow and quite expensive at the store. So, to celebrate the coming of spring and maybe to liven up your St. Patty's day meal, here is a nice green sauce to dress potatoes, rice, burritos, tacos, even pasta!

Makes about 2 cups
2/3 cup white beans, rinsed and drained, if canned
1/3 cup raw, shelled hemp seeds
1/2 medium, ripe avocado
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4-1/3 cup plain non-dairy milk (I usually use rice milk. For an extra creamy texture, use coconut.)

Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender, starting with 1/4 cup non-dairy milk and adding more as necessary to get a smooth consistency.

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday Gluten-Free Wednesdays Wellness Weekend  Healthy Vegan Fridays

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Naturally Sweet & GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Clouds

Apparently, our dining table is a jungle gym. No matter how many times I say "bum down!" the kids are climbing under it, lying down on the benches, falling off and hitting various body parts. What would a meal be without a new bruise and some tears? Don't ask me. I wish each child had a seatbelt to keep them from crashing, but apparently they only make those for high chairs.  Here is snapshot of a typical seating configuration:

Snack time seems to be the most tame time at the table, probably because it seems like more of a privilege and less of a chore than dinner. Also, I don't notice anyone lying down for a snooze during dessert...

Which is yet another reason to love treats! These cookie clouds came about as I was simultaneously trying to change the banana millet muffins from Peas and Thank You to my liking (less sugar and oil) and to make a gluten-free version of the white bean chocolate chip cookies from Happy Herbivore, which my now gluten-free friend adores.  I just love the texture of these cookies, which is why I call them clouds: they are moist, but not heavy. This is one recipe that all three of my kids seem to equally love.  I give them out as snacks, treats--I would even give them for breakfast if anyone dared to ask.  To me, they do not have a strong banana flavor, but if you are adverse to any hints of banana, you could try subbing more sweet potato or applesauce for the mashed banana.  The millet gives them a nice crunch that we miss around here in our nut-free cookies, but you could omit that as well if you prefer.

Makes one dozen cookie clouds
1/3 cup dry millet
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch
3 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. guar gum
3 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar
1/2 cup roasted sweet potato (white or orange-fleshed)*
1/2 cup mashed, ripe banana (not overly ripe, just yellow with not too many brown spots)
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup white beans, drained and rinsed, if canned
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
4 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1/3 -1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all of the dry ingredients (millet through coconut sugar) in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a food processor combine the sweet potato flesh, banana, vanilla, beans, melted coconut oil, and non-dairy milk and puree until smooth.
3.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips and drop large spoonfuls onto your prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, staggering the pans in the oven and turning them halfway through the baking time. For ultimate cloud texture, the cookies should be just barely brown on the bottom when you remove them to place on wire racks to cool.

*To roast a sweet potato, preheat your oven to 400, line a baking pan with parchment paper, scrub the potato, and place it on the pan in the oven for about an hour. The cooked potato will be very soft and easily pierced with a fork and have golden juices bubbling from it. Do not try to steam or microwave your potato instead; to bring out the sweetness, it must be roasted.

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday Gluten-Free Wednesdays
 Wellness Weekend  Healthy Vegan Fridays

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Green Smoothie Pudding

This recipe is basically baby food grown up. Anyone who has made their own baby food knows that mashing banana and avocado together is an easy and almost foolproof baby pleaser.  And whenever it hasn't been, I have been happy to eat the leftovers--which led me to conclude that this winning combo must just not be for babies. And, indeed, the banana and avocado mash-up has grown with my kids. Whenever I make yogurt nowadays, Abiline always wants either purple (whipped with frozen blueberries) or green, which is how this pudding version of a green smoothie has developed over time. This pudding is great in a parfait with banana and granola, or you can go all out with the baby food idea and eat it with baby "puff" cereal on top, like Abbie likes it. Go ahead--regress! We do it all the time around here...

This recipe makes two generous or four dainty servings.

3/4 cup white beans, rinsed and drained, if canned
1 small, ripe avocado
1 medium, ripe banana
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I use homemade.)
1/4 tsp. stevia powder (I use Trader Joe's organic.)
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar or 2-3 pitted medjool dates, to taste
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. spirulina powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. hemps seeds
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1-3 Tbsp. rice or coconut milk

Combine all the ingredients (starting with 1 Tbsp. non-dairy milk) in a high-powdered blender or food processor and blend until totally smooth, adding additional milk if necessary to get the mixture moving enough to blend up. I have used both a blender and food processor successfully, but if you are using a food processor, I have had better results with using the coconut sugar over the dates.  If you want a n utterly smooth consistency, you've got to use the blender.

Some after dinner smiles from this evening. Happy tummies, happy kids...

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesdays Wellness Weekend Healthy Vegan Fridays

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sugar and Oil-Free Chewy Granola Bars

Every time I have tried to make homemade granola bars--which has been quite a few times, actually--they crumble. I just cannot get them out of the pan without the bars disintegrating into plain old granola cereal. I had pretty much given up, but then I got the idea from my cookie dough bliss balls that maybe beans and dates would make better binders then the oil and maple or brown rice syrup that are often used in vegan granola bars. Success! These came out of the pan easily in bar form and are portable if tightly wrapped and not placed where they will be smooshed. They have a crunch and toothsome texture from the steel cut oats and seeds, but they are chewy, not crispy. Perhaps, if you subbed in some brown rice cereal, you would get more of that light-airy Quaker crispiness, if that is what you want. I prefer the denser texture, though. My son ate these happily in his snack at school, and I even made some into a granola pie crust for my dairy and soy-free cheesecake by processing about half a pan with a bit of rice milk and then pressing the mixture into the pie pan.

1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame, hemp, or sunflower seeds, or a combination thereof
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 scoops stevia powder (I use Trader Joe's organic)
2 Tbsp. chia seed meal, coconut flour, or vegan protein powder
3/4 cup prunes, dates, or raisins, or a combination thereof
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened rice milk
1 Tbsp. molasses

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and toast the oats and seeds for 5 minutes. Add the coconut and toast for 5 mins more.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the salt, cinnamon, stevia, and chia seed meal or alternative.
 2. Place the dried fruit, chickpeas, vanilla, molasses, and 1/4 cup rice milk in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If necessary, add more rice milk a Tbsp. at a time to get a smooth consistency.
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until uniformly moistened. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the granola bar mixture into the pan, and then lay another piece of parchment paper on top and press the mixture down as firmly as you can. Refrigerate for about an hour before cutting. I store mine in the fridge until I am ready to pack or eat them.    

Dress up time. Seems that no matter how much they dress up, they all still look very much alike...

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday Wellness Weekend Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Better Than Chocolate Cake" Ultimate Rice Bowl

I'm sure you've all heard of that infamous chocolate cake with the caramel, whipped cream, and toffee that is so gooey, rich, and delicious. Well, this rice bowl is the dinner version of that over-the-top dessert. It has all of my favorites mingled together: guacamole rice on the bottom, topped with tahini pumpkin butter barbecue sauce, black beans, chili-maple roasted sweet potatoes, steamed greens,  "bacon" bits, and a hemp-seed ranch drizzle.  These are the kind of inspirations that strike when I am nursing my baby in the middle of the night. See what you are missing out on by sleeping all night?

Don't shy away from trying this because of all the parts; it comes together pretty quickly. I managed to get it all together between bath time and My Little Pony, with minimal crying (on my part, I mean. Emie cried almost the whole time, I think because she wanted to eat what I was making. Alas, this is a little complex for baby food. )

For the rice:
1/12 cups brown rice, I used short, but long-grain would work
3 cups water
1/2 cup guacamole

For the Chili-Maple Sweet Potatoes:
4 cups cubed sweet potato (about 2 medium)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp salt

For the Tahini-Pumpkin Butter BBQ Sauce:
1 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. pumpkin butter
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
dash of pepper

For the Hemp Seed Ranch Drizzle:
1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
scant 1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried dill
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. maple syrup
2-4 Tbsp. plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk, to thin it out

To assemble:
Protein of choice: tofu, tempeh, a cup or two of black beans
Steamed greens of choice
1 recipe of my sunflower seed bacon bits

1. Cook your rice by bringing the water to a boil, adding the rice, and cooking on low for about 35 mins., until all the water is absorbed. When the rice is done, stir in the guacamole and set aside.
2. While the rice cooks, preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, maple syrup, chili powder, and salt. Roast them in the pre-heated oven for about 15-20 mins., until easily pierced with a fork and caramelized.
3. Meanwhile, prep the sauces. Mix all of the barbecue sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Toss your steamed greens and protein with the barbecue sauce. Combine all of the ranch drizzle ingredients in the food processor and buzz until smooth, adding more non-dairy milk as necessary to get a drizzle-able consistency.
4. Finally, prep your sunflower seed "bacon" bits. At this point, the rice and sweet potatoes will be done, and you can layer up your bowl: guacamole rice on the bottom, then the barbecue mixture, sweet potatoes,  ranch drizzle, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Enjoy the bliss.

This recipe is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday Gluten-Free Wednesdays Healthy Vegan Fridays Wellness Weekend