My Favorite Breakfast

I don’t know about you all, but, despite my desire for variety in my lunches and dinners, I tend to eat the same breakfast every day. I have high standards for breakfast: it must be filling; nutritious; fast; and sweet, without being loaded with refined sugar. Therefore, ever since I found my almost-perfect breakfast for this school year, it’s been almost a daily occurrence. This is it:

banana bread cereal

This is a recipe/recipe idea from Chocolate Covered Katie, and it is probably the recipe of hers that I’ve made most often! She has many variations. These are a few that I’ve personally tried:

  1. Banana Bread in a Bowl
  2. Gingerbread Breakfast Cereal
  3. Chocolate Banana Bread in a Bowl

However, out of all of those options, my favorite is the Chocolate Banana Bread in a Bowl. This is because the strong chocolate flavor masks many add-ins, especially those that are not quite so tasty! Because of that, I always add a handful of spinach, and often, a bit of turmeric. This is my basic recipe, adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s original version.

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup (maybe 1.25 cups) of your favorite hearty flake cereal. My favorite is Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise.

1 cup of plant milk

1 banana

2 small handfuls spinach

2-3 tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

a dash of salt

a dash of vanilla

4-5 drops of Now’s Better Stevia Liquid Sweetener, in Original

Process:

Throw everything into a food processor or blender and blend on high until smooth. Once smooth, pour into a bowl and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. I find that it has thickened by the time I put away my ingredients and top with ground flax. Serves one.

This is such an easy and fast breakfast. During the school week, I usually just top with a tablespoon of ground flax, and then have a snack of something else during school so I’m not starving when it’s finally lunch time. But, during the weekends, I often top my bowl with something more elaborate, such as designs of dried fruit and nuts. They’re nothing special compared to many others’ creations, like Heike at Haselnussblond (she’s seriously awesome!), but here are a few of my past bowls!

 

From left, the above bowls are: banana bread in a bowl, topped with walnuts, sliced dried figs, chia seeds, and a geranium bud (which I did not eat!); chocolate banana bread in a bowl, topped with vegan soy yogurt, raspberries, walnuts, and sliced fig; and sweet potato pie in a bowl (a different recipe of mine), topped with a chocolate swirl, walnuts, and raisins.

I’ve got to go and work on some homework now, but I hope you guys have a wonderful rest of the day. What’s your favorite breakfast?

Blueberry Apple Pie Bars

Hold the phone because guess what?

  1. I made blueberry apple pie bars. They are good. Trust me.
  2. I got Photoshop and actually edited a photo!! Go, me!

blueberry bars on birdbath

I’m really glad to have finally gotten that (buying Photoshop) out of the way. I am a big under-buyer, even when it comes to other people’s money. So, when my mom and dad gave me a card for Christmas saying that it was good for the purchase of Photoshop for my computer, I waited way too long to actually get it, even though I totally wanted it! It’s because downloading it involved decisions, such as choosing between packages and plans, and that just makes it hard. Does anybody else feel this way about buying things? I just seriously hate wasting money, especially when it’s not mine!

As far as these delicious blueberry and apple bars: consider them the cousins of these strawberry oat bars 😉 That’s because I used the recipe for the strawberry bars for reference, but adapted it according to which groceries we ran out of personal creative flair. It’s no longer free of refined sugar, but it does have an extra punch of protein thanks to the almond flour, and it tastes like a chewy, rich cookie. Also, blueberries are pretty and I love them. Here’s the recipe:

Apple Blueberry Pie Bars

adapted from the Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Filling Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 cup blueberries*

1 cup peeled and finely chopped apple (this was 1 small-ish apple for me)

2 tbsp. corn starch

2 tbsp. warm water

Crust/Crumble Ingredients:

1 cup plus 1/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup unblanched almond flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup of nut butter**

1/4 cup applesauce

a pinch of salt***

Filling Process:

Mix together the blueberries, sugar, chopped apple, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil  over medium heat, stirring consistently until the blueberries release their juice. You may want to smash a few to aid the process along. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and warm water until smooth. Once the blueberry mixture is boiling, remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Set aside.

Crust Process:

Preheat oven to 325º F. Then, dump everything in a pan and mix! Mix really, really well. It’s pretty thick and sticky, so just consider it your arm workout for the day. Line an 8-by-8 inch pan with parchment paper and press the dough (leaving behind about 1/2 cup for the crumble) into the pan. Press really firmly! Once it’s even, pour the filling on top, and crumble the rest of the dough on top with your fingers. Bake for 29 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Yield: 12-16 bars

Notes:

* I used frozen blueberries. I haven’t made these with fresh, but I’m pretty sure it would be fine.

** I really like to use 1/2 cup almond butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter. It gives them a more complex flavor, and it keeps the peanut butter from being overwhelming.

***I actually did not use a pinch of salt in the dough, but my nut butters contained salt. Use according to your own preference.

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blueberry bars on plate

 

I love these bars, and my friends do, too. If you make these, please let me know what you think! Have an awesome Friday!

 

 

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Hey guys! How were your weekends? I don’t even know what’s going on with me right now to be honest. I’m trying to step up my Instagram game (I’m getting up 1 post per day if you want to check it out!) and also plan for 2 blog posts per week (Mondays and Fridays 🙂 yay for consistency!). Also, you know, Christmas is coming, and I’m planning a few presents for my family. All in all, it’s Christmas break, and I feel so busy. It’s mostly a fun kind of busy, though. Oh, and I’m getting together a Christmas cookie decorating party this week, so you might see a few photos! Exciting stuff, man.

Anyway- I made us some more soup! This is based on Minimalist Baker’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup. It’s essentially butternut squash, spices/seasonings, onions and garlic, and liquid, all blended up into creamy oblivion. I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, which I love because of its many layers of flavor and hint of spiciness. I also topped it off with some plain curry powder, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast for a little more savoriness.

This recipe makes a pretty small batch of soup – I’d say it only would serve four people – so go ahead and double it if you wish. It’s also highly adjustable, so if your butternut squash is absolutely gigantic, add extra liquid to thin it out, and if your squash is very small, decrease the water a little. And, if you decide the soup is too thin, just let it simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes, checking occasionally, until the texture is where you want it.

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

adapted from Minimalist Baker‘s Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion

1/2 or 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste)

a couple of dashes of curry powder

a couple of dashes of cinnamon

2 tablespoons maple syrup

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 small butternut squash

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

2 cups of water

a generous pour of coconut milk *

Process:

Dice the onion, and peel and dice the butternut squash. Heat up a large soup pot over medium heat (not hot enough to make the oil smoke, but fairly hot) and add the coconut oil. When the coconut oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the butternut squash, the curry paste, the cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well, cover, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Cover, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer covered for 15 minutes. Then, use a blender (I used an immersion blender) to blend until completely smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, and then add salt and curry powder to taste. Finally, if the soup is too thin for your preference, allow to simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes.

Notes:

* you may of course leave out the coconut milk if you want it to be lower in fat. Just replace with water or vegetable stock.

* I like to serve this with a drizzle of coconut milk on top. My dad would tell you to use some Louisiana hot sauce, too!

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Slice ‘n’ Bake Pecan Cookies

Hey guys! I have a really fun recipe to share with you today. How do chocolate-covered slice ‘n’ bake pecan cookies sound??

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Have you ever made slice ‘n’ bakes before? I hadn’t, but when I saw this post by Sally’s Baking Addiction, I knew I had to try it! However, Sally’s Baking Addiction isn’t a vegan blog at all. So, I used her recipe as a base and tweaked a few things, such as:

  1. Replacing the chicken’s egg with a flax egg
  2. Replacing the dairy butter with Earth Balance
  3. Replacing the hazelnuts with pecans

The pecans are toasted before making the cookie dough, which makes them so flavorful. I chopped mine medium-size before putting them in the oven. IMG_2764.JPG

Then, when I added the pecan pieces to the cookie dough, my Kitchen Aid mixer broke them up even more, so that in the end, you have pretty small pieces of pecan in the cookies.

When first mixed up, the dough is just like your average cookie dough. It’s sticky and soft and almost oily (and super yummy. Obviously). But, once I rolled up the two logs of dough in some plastic wrap and let it chill for four hours, it was perfectly manageable. It makes sense that the original recipe says chilling is mandatory!

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Then, I just sliced the cookie logs so that they were a size that made sense to me. I ended up with 30 fairly small cookies.

Slice ‘n’ Bake Pecan Cookies

adapted from Toasted Hazelnut Slice ‘n’ Bake Cookies with Milk Chocolate by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Earth Balance, cold

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal, 3 tablespoons warm water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup roughly chopped pecans, divided

1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate, if that’s what you have)

Process:

In an oven preheated to 300º F, toast the chopped pecans for 10 minutes. Mix together the flax meal and warm water for the flax egg and let stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Meanwhile, beat the Earth Balance for 1 minute in a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy and light, with no chunks of sugar or Earth Balance. Add the thickened flax egg and the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Then, add the dry ingredients in small increments to the Earth Balance mixture. Finally, add 3/4 cup of the toasted pecan chunks to the dough, reserving the last 1/4 cup of pecan chunks for later.

Scoop out the cookie dough onto a floured surface. If the dough seems too sticky, you may add a bit more flour. I added about 1/4 cup. Divide in half, and tightly roll into two logs of cookie dough. Mine were about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. They will seem really soft and sticky until the end of the refrigeration period, and then they will suddenly firm up and become much more manageable.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap one log of cookie dough and slice into 15 or so cookies. Bake for 16 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned. Take the tray out of the oven, allow to cool for five minutes, then place the cookies on a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the other log of cookie dough. You also may bake all of the cookie slices from both logs at once if you have two cookie sheets that fit in your oven at the same time.

Once all of the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate chips on the stove or in the microwave. I melted mine in the microwave by putting them in for 20 seconds, then stirring, then 20 more seconds, then stirring again, and so on until they were completely melted and smooth. Dip one end of each cookie in the chocolate – I think generally about 1/3 or 1/4 of each cookie getting dipped in the chocolate is good. Place the dipped cookies on a sheet of parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set, and use the last 1/4 cup of toasted pecan pieces to press into the melted chocolate on each cookie. Allow the chocolate to set for a few hours, and then they are ready to eat! All uneaten cookies should be stored in a airtight container.

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Mixed Bean and Butternut Soup

Hey, guys! Today I got home from church and immediately kicked into high cooking gear. The result? This awesome mixed bean and butternut squash soup.

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I’m really excited about this soup! I heavily adapted a recipe that my aunt gave me, and it turned out really, really well. It’s full of: sliced, sautéed onions and garlic; chickpeas, black beans, and pinto beans; flavorful chopped tomatoes; and a yummy, savory broth that takes a lot of its power from butternut squash purée.

For my own Sunday lunch, I had a bowl of this soup with a biscuit made from Minimalist Baker‘s Best Damn Vegan Biscuits. I’ve made the biscuits before with 100% all-purpose white flour, but today, for a slightly healthier twist, I used 75% all-purpose white flour and 25% whole wheat flour. I also made smaller biscuits than the recipe recommends; I ended up with 10 biscuits instead of 7. They turned out really well and were a great accompaniment to the soup.

Mixed Bean and Butternut Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup/ 1 can of cooked black beans *
  • 1.5 cup/ 1 can of cooked chickpeas *
  • 1.5 cup/ 1 can of cooked pinto beans *
  • 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes, juices included *
  • 15 oz can of butternut squash purée *
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • a pinch of ground pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used a vegetable bouillon cube + water for my broth)
  • salt to taste **

Process:

Wash, peel, and chop the onion. I chopped mine into medium-sized pieces. Heat up the coconut oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat, then add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions for about 6 minutes, or until they have softened and some are beginning to brown. They should look somewhat like the picture below.

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Once the onions have reached this point, add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the cumin and chili powder, and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the salt, stir well, cover, and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, uncover the pot, lower heat to medium, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Finally, taste the soup and add your preferred amount of salt. My vegetable broth wasn’t particularly salty, so I added about a teaspoon.

Notes:

* I generally use, and always recommend, organic beans and vegetables.

** I used one vegetable bouillon cube for my 4 cups of water, which was half the amount recommended on the package. This was to prevent over-salting and allow me a bit more control over the flavors.

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Vegan Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

Hi guys! I made some yummy chocolate-covered pretzels today and I wanted to share. They are easy and fast, and the recipe makes a small batch for portion control so you don’t have to spend an hour dipping individual pretzels into melted chocolate! 🙂

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I’m not about to pretend that these pretzels are an original idea; they aren’t! But, I made them myself, they’re delicious, and I’m excited to share the recipe with you. Also, they make a small batch, which I love, because although my family and I enjoy sweets, we don’t usually eat a ton of them. So a small batch is just right!

Vegan Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

Ingredients:

1 tbsp almonds (raw or roasted)

1 tbsp hemp hearts

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand and Ghiradelli semi-sweet)

1 tsp coconut oil

3/4 cup pretzels

Process:

Chop up the almonds into pieces as small as you can make them. For me, that wasn’t very small. Set them into a small dish. Put the hemp hearts into another small dish. Put your chocolate into a double boiler and set heat on medium-low. You don’t want the heat too high, because that will burn your chocolate. Stir occasionally as it melts. When it is melted and smooth, use a fork to drop a pretzel into the chocolate and thoroughly coat. Pick the pretzel up again, tap it against the rim of the double boiler to shake off excess chocolate, and lay it on a sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle lightly with almonds, hemp hearts, or both, or leave it plain! Repeat until all the pretzels and chocolate have been used. This recipe should pretty well use up both. Pop the chocolate-covered pretzels on the wax paper into the freezer and let set for 20-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and enjoy!

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Notes:

  • I recommend coating your pretzels in chocolate, setting them onto a sheet of wax paper, and then sprinkling them in your topping. I do not recommend dropping the whole chocolate-covered pretzel in the topping to coat it, because that will overload the pretzel, and the topping in the container will become messy and lumpy!
  • Don’t worry about the pretzels freezing when they are in the freezer; that time only allows the chocolate to set, and the pretzels themselves don’t even come close to freezing.
  • I loved the hemp seeds in this! They don’t add too much flavor… rather, they just make the pretzels more substantial and chewy, as well as adding some protein and healthy fats.
  • Of course, feel free to use whatever toppings you desire! I’m kicking myself for not using coconut. Some possibilities are chopped candied ginger, more chocolate chips, sprinkles, chopped peanuts or any other nut, chia seeds, flaxmeal, rice crispies… the list goes on!

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Isn’t that pink beautiful? My mom knit that washcloth a long time ago, and it’s been used for many, many dish-washing sessions… though I don’t think it’s been used for too many chocolate-covered pretzel photoshoots! And do you see our dog in the chair in this photo?

Smokey Sweet Potato Hummus + Hummus Tips

Hello! I’m so happy to be writing another blog post, especially one about my favorite food to make and eat: HUMMUS!

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I make a lot of hummus (and eat a lot of hummus… like, in every meal #noshame), and over time, I’ve picked up a few tricks on how to make my ideal hummus. Of course, this is my favorite hummus; it may not be your favorite hummus, though I am inclined to think you’ll like it! Also, it’s not exactly traditional. But, tradition aside, I seriously adore this hummus! And so, here is a quick run-down of the little things that make awesome homemade hummus:

  1. Heat up your chickpeas and the liquid from the can together before processing your hummus. This softens the canned chickpeas, making a smoother finished product.
  2. If you don’t want to use oil in your hummus, and for what it’s worth, I never do, reserve the liquid from the can. Then, when the rest of your ingredients are blended, add the liquid as you wish to thin out the hummus. The liquid from the can loosens up the hummus in a pleasing way without making it watery. However, I only do this when I’m using organic canned chickpeas.
  3. Make your hummus a bit looser than you would like it to be! This is because once you refrigerate your hummus, it will thicken up. So, to prevent  pasty hummus (unless you want that… you do you), make it a little looser at the start.
  4. Cooked vegetables can be great in hummus. However, in my experience, it’s way more worthwhile to actually bake them than to microwave them. I’ve made sweet potato hummus with microwaved sweet potato before, and it had next to no flavor! Since then, I’ve made a point of baking my sweet potatoes. Trust me, it’s so much better!

Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus

inspired by Choosing Raw’s Sweet Potato Hummus

Ingredients:

1 can organic chickpeas, un-rinsed, with can liquid reserved

1/4 cup roasted tahini

juice of one medium lemon

flesh of 1 baked sweet potato of average size

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 cup reserved can liquid

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Method:

Place chickpeas and can liquid into a small pot and heat over medium-low. Allow to simmer for at least five minutes. I usually let it simmer while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. Juice the lemon and put into a food processor. Add the tahini, sweet potato flesh, salt, smoked paprika, and chickpeas. Process until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides as needed. Add the hot can liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, and blend until the consistency is smooth and just looser than desired. Taste at this point; it’s absolutely dreamy when it’s warm! And adjust seasonings as necessary, though I found it to be just perfect.

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 IMG_1643[1]And there you have it: my favorite hummus. If you make this recipe or use my suggestions, it would make me so happy to hear from you! Talk to you later 🙂