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Posts Tagged ‘vegan baking’

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I am fearful that my previous post may have sent some of you into diabetic shock and that my reliability ratings took a nosedive amongst those who turn to me for healthful recipe inspiration. But, I return today to redeem myself in the form of a Martha Stoever-ized dessert recipe. Honestly, can you think of any peace offering more genuine a bean based cookie?! I think not.

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I would not classify myself as having a sweet tooth and my food cravings border on bizarre. During a recent visit, my sister, who prefers her fruit in the form of “leather” and her veggies dressed in cheese, gave me the most vehement,  “Are you ****’in  serious?” glare when I proclaimed that I was just “dying for a bowl of oatmeal!” My inclination to not order dessert or politely decline a piece of cake is not indicative of ironclad willpower, but rather of the way that my taste buds have evolved over time. I can honestly say that overly processed, refined sugar laden baked goods just do not hold the same “yum factor” that they once had for my chubby, little kid self.

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But, when a colleague recently offered me a homemade cookie whose ingredient list included black beans, chia seeds, coconut oil, and intense dark chocolate my interest (and salivary glands!) were immediately peaked! As I sunk my teeth into the little pillow of delight I had a total “Now that’s what I’m talking about it!” moment. The flavors in the cookie played perfectly off one another and, though moist, they were so chock full of bits of goodness that they had a chunky, dense texture. I would even dare to go so far as to say that they were decadent!

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While I previously dabbled a bit in the bean based dessert arena (having experimented with black bean brownies on several occasions) the black bean cookie nirvana that I had experienced inspired me to concoct some of my own. While I was lucky enough to get my hands on my colleague’s recipe I aimed for something a bit more “pantry staple” friendly and happened to have a bookmarked recipe that fit the bill. The first go around I followed the recipe exactly as posted on A Couple Cooks.  After scraping the bowl I coyly offered Nick a large spoonful of batter and held my breath several moments before asking “You can’t taste the black beans at all right?” to which he replied “Seriously? There is beans in this?!” Success…the recipe had passed the secret ingredient taste test with flying colors! The second time I made a few ingredient swaps/tweaks/additions to suit my personal preferences. Like a little black dress the coconut oil enhanced the chocolate flavors in all the right ways while the oat flour created a delicate, cake-like texture. As for the addition of the chocolate chips…who doesn’t love the added excitement of finding a hidden morsel of chocolatey goodness in every bite?!

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Overall, these cookies get two enthusiastic thumbs up from my semi-sweet tooth. True, they may not make the cut for next year’s Christmas cookie line-up as I fear that my “consumers” prefer the typical two sticks of butter and pound of sugar cookie profile. But, who said I was looking to share anyway?!

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Double Chocolate Black Bean Cookies

adapted from  A Couple Cooks

yield: 18 cookies

ingredients

  • 15-ounce can cooked black beans (approximately 1½ cups cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup maple syrup (I used only 1/4 cup as I prefer moderate sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons oat flour (can sub whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (mine were Whole Food’s 365 Brand)

directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Rinse and drain the beans.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, blend the black beans coconut oil, almond butter, almond milk, and maple syrups. Blend until smooth.
  • Add cocoa powder, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and sea salt to the bean mixture. Blend until smooth (the mixture will resemble the consistency of thick brownie batter).
  • Remove bowl from food processor and using a spatula or spoon gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake one sheet a time for approximately 10 minutes. The cookies will still feel a bit soft when you remove them, but harden as they cool.
  • Cool slightly and then transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Store cookies in the refrigerator (I have also had success with freezing them).

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Chapter 4 – Going the Distance

I don’t know if it was the prolonged pain, the fear of being wheeled down the aisle on my wedding day, or the icy demand of my mother that I “better not dare go running” but following my hip stress fracture in February, I quit running for 4 months. During that time I satiated my exercise pangs with low impact cardio (elliptical, spinning) and resistance training which helped to maintain the cardiovascular gains I had made prior to my injury. Our impending nuptials and the culmination of the school year kept me more than occupied and the itch to train for a half marathon subsided once again. By the time we returned from honeymoon in early July I was completely pain free, well rested and recuperated, and in the throes of summer vacation… the ideal conditions for the running bug to rear its head yet again. My premature registration for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Philly left me with a monetary commitment and the perfect excuse to broach the topic of training with Nick. True to his level-headed, unconditionally supportive ways he agreed to help me train for the race in September. But in return I had to promise to adhere to the strict provisions of this individualized training plan. These stipulations included tracking the distance and pace of all runs, giving a “pain report” following said runs, keeping my pace at 12 minutes miles, and only running on designated days for the prescribed distance. The overachiever in me cringed at these provisions. 12 minute miles?! Could that even be considered a jog?! Not pushing my distance goals that extra half mile or so… even if I was feeling great?! But, just as my scheming for how to find the loopholes in this agreement began, the rational side of me finally took a stand. If I had any hope of making it across that finish line I had better listen to someone beside my own ego.

And so my training started with a 1 mile “run” and slowly (emphasis on the s-l-o-w) ramped up from there. My “Nicky P.’s Coming Back from Injury Plan” had a prominent place on our refrigerator and the bright pink highlighter marks were proof of my progress and promise. I stuck to running only 3 days a week and locked the treadmill in at 5.0 MPH. The only exceptions to my rule abiding ways were my long runs which I did on the road. There were times when I fell into a comfortable stride that was a bit faster or I added a couple tenths of a mile in order to make my way back home, but all in all my deviations were minimal and limited. I would be lying if I said that my ego didn’t make a valiant attempt at veering me off course. At times I found my finger twitching above the speed button on the treadmill and the thought of turning off my Nike+ app and doing an unaccounted for extra lap around the neighborhood crossed my mind a time or two, but luckily rational me stood firm and had my sense of guilt as support. Two weeks before race day I completed my longest run yet, 12 miles, and upon finishing I had my first firm proclamation that I really was going to do this. One week out I cheered Nick on as he completed his first marathon and as I watched in admiration as the expressions on the racers’ faces turned from grit to glory I was filled with the final bit of motivation I needed.

Our journey began on a picture perfect Saturday afternoon in mid-September. In tow were my parents trekking to Philadelphia from their home in NY in order to round out my support crew. Upon arrival, I did all the requisite pre-race rituals…. packet pick-up, healthful meal, course review, gear preparation… and hit the hotel hay. I’m not sure what reached a higher decibel… the fluttering of my nerves or the rumbling of my dad’s snores… but either way I had a restless night. Luckily, my adrenaline was in full force by the time Nick and I made our early morning exit to the starting line. We were met by a few other members of the Pacer team and the small talk and spectacles (these events are notorious for “costuming”) helped pass the time until I had to head to my corral where Nick left with me with some final reassuring words and a kiss. The first few miles of the race flew by, partly because I was being carried by the roar of the spectators, partly because of the jolts of energy sparked by seeing my proud family at miles 1 and 3, partly because I was only a 1/3 of the way in. At mile 5, I swapped water bottles and big smiles with Nick, and headed out on the long stretch of course that follows the banks of the Schuylkill River. By mile 8, I was still feeling strong physically, but my mental toughness had started to wane. Runners who were far older than me, far larger than me… seemingly far less conditioned than me… were continuously passing me by. My only goal had been to complete the race and I was well on my way to doing so, but I couldn’t quiet the nagging sound of inferiority and humility resounding within. This particular stretch of the course was dotted by few spectators (read as “distractions”) and so I tried my best to put on my blinders and focus solely on the passing scenery and sound of my own sneakers ticking away the miles. At mile 10, I had a much needed reunion with Nick who had agreed to run the final stretch alongside me. His company alone was a morale boost and his words of encouragement were more precious than any Gu pack or Gatorade (which at that point in the race are like gold!) The distraction carried me through the last 5k and when he left me at the chute his cheerful “You got this!”, coupled with a final sighting of my family cheering me on, propelled me across the finish line. I caught my breath, hung my medal around my neck, grabbed a water, and started weaving my through the crowd of sweaty, exacerbated runners towards the family meeting area. In the midst of the chaos and celebration I managed to find Nick who immediately reached out for a hug. As we closed in on one another my heart swelled to capacity with overwhelming…

DISAPPOINTMENT.

To be continued…

To ensure you don’t feel the same way about today’s recipe I had to stick with a tried and true favorite.

Whether you are an athlete, busy mom, student – or anyone who spends the majority of their day on the go – energy bars are the ideal option for a quick source of protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins & minerals. They are easy to throw in your trusty bag (or bags if you’re like me and carry a purse, canvas tote, lunchbox, and gym bag) and are a quick source of energy (and often a solution for sweet tooth cravings). While store bought bars certainly fit the bill, homemade energy bars have the added bonus of being cost efficient, free of preservatives, added sweeteners, and other unpronounceable ingredients, and they can be tailored to fit your personal taste preferences. I’ve experimented with many a bar recipe and have rarely met one I didn’t like, but this recipe for quinoa energy bars is a reliable favorite.

The “run” down on quinoa energy bars:

  • Quinoa is not only packed with carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, but it is rich in protein needed for muscle growth and repair.
  • Nuts and seeds are nutrient powerhouses that provide heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds in particular provide the essential omega-3 fatty acids that are needed to properly metabolize fat and proteins.
  • Chia seeds became a superfood trend after being toted as the “Aztec running food” that fueled the Tarahumara barefoot runners featured in the bestselling book, Born to Run. In addition to the typical benefits of nuts and seeds, chia seeds are also a good source of calcium. For those who exercise a lot (and are prone to stress fractures!) maintaining strong bones with proper calcium intake is a must. Chia seeds also contain boron, a nutrient necessary for the body to absorb and make use of calcium.

Quinoa Energy Bars

adapted from Get Off Your Tush and Cook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups oats, rolled, quick cooking
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup raw nuts of choice: I used almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice: I used a mixed dried berry blend
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 TBSP agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Grease a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

Cook dry quinoa according to directions. While quinoa is cooking, combine the next 10 ingredients (through coconut) in a large bowl.

Once quinoa is cooked, add to the pan the applesauce, agave nectar, vanilla, and water. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Transfer quinoa bar mixture into prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the pan so it is spread evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350ºF. Cool completely and cut into pieces.

Store in refrigerator.

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When I sat down to write this post I knew exactly which recipe I wanted to share with you all. It’s a Martha original and one that invokes a sense of pride being that I have only recently started to dabble with whipping up recipes of my own. However, my inspiration behind the recipe was far more scattered (ranging from vegan baking to food waste to eating at an actual table). And so after much floundering I decided to take a totally different route that comes in the form of a top 10 list. David Letterman I am not, but we all love a good “Top 10” so sit back and enjoy the countdown of the….

Top 10 Reasons Martha Loves Muffins

10. Banana Burden – Nick is a “banana a day” kinda guy so we always have a stocked supply of these potassium-powered fruits. Unfortunately, as any banana consumer has undoubtedly learned, selecting bananas at the appropriate ripeness is an art. When you grocery shop once a week like I do you there is no avoiding the brown spotted, pathetic looking one or two left in the fruit basket by the end of the week. In the past I would toss the overripe bananas into the trash, silently scolding myself for wasting food. That was until I discovered that overripe bananas are a hidden treasure for baking…. they are easier to mash, sweeter, and more intense in flavor. And the even more exciting discovery was that they could be cut and frozen in all their overripe splendor until needed. Not only do a plethora of muffin recipes call for ripe bananas, but they can also be used as a substitute for oils. So gone are the days of banished bananas… embrace them in all their spotty, squishy glory!

9. Love of Liners – Confession…I cannot go to a Michael’s Arts and Crafts store and walk out without having purchased at least one package of baking cups. For years, I thought they only existed in dull pastels or even worse… foil! That was until I discovered Mary Engelbreit baking cups in Michael’s $1 section and baking instantly became exponentially more exciting (and cute!) Needless to say I have hoarded a stash of liners in a variety of colors, patterns, and seasonal designs. I rarely make cupcakes so whenever I am looking to bake something with a visually appealing flair I always turn to muffins. Adorable and delicious… what more could one ask for?!

8. Make it Mini – Everything tastes better when it’s bite sized! The beauty of muffins is that with the wave of a mini-muffin pan any recipe can be magically turned miniature. Having the option of poppable portions is ideal when serving a large group, making them as part of a spread, or creating healthy snacks. It is tradition at my school to have payday breakfasts (grade levels rotate hosting a “potluck” style breakfast). Mini muffins are my go-to contribution for these events because when placed aside an array of bagels, quiches, fruit salads, and countless other baked goods full-sized muffins are too hefty and cannot be easily doled out into smaller portions. However, their tiny counterparts allow everyone to have a taste without skimping on taste!

7. Ease of Execution – There are certainly recipes out there that appease the one or two of us crazies who enjoy the challenge of infusing as much sifting, beating, folding, and toasting as possible into the baking process. However, there are even more that recipes that appeal to those who are looking for a quick, minimally messy baking experience. Many recipes require only a single bowl and spoon for prep and an ingredient list that consists of pantry staples.

6. Timelessly Tempting –  The enjoyment of muffins is not constrained by the boundaries of mealtimes. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or snack time… given the endless varieties, muffins can be seamlessly adapted to complement any meal. Muffins for dinner you ask?! How about a savory corn muffin aside a piping bowl of chili?! Did I just make your dinner plans for you?!

5. Vast Variety – Sweet or savory, indulgent or nutritious, the myriad of muffins is endless. No matter what your preference or craving may be there is undoubtedly a muffin to match it. Feeling fruity?! There’s Lemon Blueberry. Craving chocolate?! There’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip. Needing nourishment?! There’s Bran Flax. Pining for piquant? There’s Cheddar and Sage.

4. Very Vegan-izable – When I began my vegan “experimentation” one of my biggest concerns was baked goods.. specifically muffins and quick breads. All of my favorite recipes contained some form of dairy; be it eggs, yogurt, milk, etc. Luckily, with minimal research, coupled with trial and error, I was able to find substitutions that did not significantly compromise flavor and/or texture. I also was pleasantly surprised to learn of substitutions that could be made with ingredients I already had on hand(no need to splurge on pricey “replacements”). The best discovery of them all was the “flax egg.” Combine one TBSP flax meal with three TBSP water.. stir… refrigerate for 15 minutes… and voila! You’ve got yourself the structure and tenderness of an egg, without the egg!

3. Freezability Factor – Most recipes yield a dozen to a dozen and a half muffins. Between the two of us we would be eating a muffin at every meal in order to get through a batch while they were still fresh. I realize I could half the recipes, but if I’m going to go through the whole process of mixing, pouring, and baking then I want to maximize the yield. Fortunately, there is a perfect solution to this conundrum… freeze the extras! After baking let the muffins cool completely then place in individual bags or in a large freezer bag (squeezing out all excess air before sealing). The muffins will keep in the freezer for a couple of months. When ready to enjoy thaw completely (to revive that fresh from the oven goodness stick them in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes after thawing!)

2. Portable Portions – Nick and I both spend approximately 2 hours a day commuting. Add to that a typical 9 hour work day and the result is that we spend the majority of our waking hours away from home. Each of us leaves the house in the morning with a cooler bag packed with our breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the day. This means that our meals need to be compact, eaten cold, and on occasion consumed in the car (Michael Pollan would surely cringe at this last point, but at least we’re avoiding the drive-thru!) Muffins are a great option for grab-and-go meals because when done right you can pack quite a bit of nutrition into those dense little packages and they can be consumed sans utensils with minimal mess.

And the #1 reason that Martha loves muffins is…… *drumroll please*…..

They’re delicious… duh!

I know you are craving a warm, moist, delectable muffin now (or is only my stomach growling?!) So in order to get that muffin into your mouth as quick as possible I’ll take care of the “find a recipe” step for you!

We all know that bananas and peanut butter, and peanut butter and chocolate, are undeniably dynamic duos. Pack them all into a muffin, with a healthy dose of oats and flax meal, and you’ve got yourself a trifecta of tastiness that will satisfy your sweet tooth and conscience alike!

Peanut Butter Banana Mocha Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP flax meal + 6 TBSP water
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP instant espresso power
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mashed banana (approximately 3 ripe bananas)
  • 2 TBSP applesauce
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (dairy-free if making vegan)
  • 2 TBSP flax seeds (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place 18 muffin cup liners in muffin pans and coat liners with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, add flax meal followed by water (not water followed by flax), stirring as you go. Place the bowl of “eggs” in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will allow your egg to “set”.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (the flour through the sugar) and mix well.
  4. In a separate large bowl, stir applesauce and peanut butter until smooth. Then add the mashed banana, flax egg mixture, 1 cup water and mix well.
  5. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle evenly with flax meal.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven a for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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