Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

It seems Portland has forgotten that it’s almost June. Mother Nature keeps teasing us with days of sunshine speckled here and there, but then it decides to rain for like 6 days straight. The first summer I was here for I remember summer coming quite quickly, but every year after that it takes longer and longer to get here… =(

So what do you do when it’s all gloomy outside? Create some sunshine! In the shape of a muffin, of course.

I really like muffins. It’s like eating a cupcake but without the guilt. But I don’t make them nearly as often as I should; I guess cupcakes are just so much more fun to make (oh well…).

These muffins are based off a recipe in Veganomicon, though I kind of turned it upside down and made it almost unrecognizable. That’s one thing I love about baking. There are sooooo many possibilities in every recipe that allow you to use your creative energies in any way you see fit. The only downside being, of course, that the finished product isn’t, well, edible, but you’ve got to learn somehow!

This photo reminds me of the Hawaiin Islands.

Strawberry Banana Muffins (vegan)

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, or don’t and just spray with non-stick spray.

  • 1 C bread flour (AP flour will work too)
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Sift together the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

  • 3 average size bananas (very ripe)
  • Strawberries

Peel the bananas and place them in a large mixing bowl. Mash them to smithereens. Hull and dice enough strawberries to make a cup, plus have a few extra pieces to put on top of the muffins. Set them aside for now.

  • 1/2 C soy yogurt, I used peach
  • 1/4 C agave
  • 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 2 T soy milk
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Extra sugar for sprinkling (raw, large granule preferably)

Add the wet ingredients to the smashed bananas and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Fold in the cup of strawberries.

Transfer the batter to the lined muffin pan. Top each cup of batter with a few of the strawberries pieces, and sprinkle some raw sugar over each cupcake. Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack about 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.

I think the combination of strawberry, banana and peach (from the yogurt) give these muffins an almost tropical-summery feel. Like you can imagine sitting on a beach with the sunshine gleaming down on you while drinking a Mai Tai and listening to the waves rolling in. Or maybe they just taste good and I’m really ready for summer (probably the latter).

I honestly wasn’t very impressed with these the moment they came out of the oven, I thought they needed more sugar or less salt. But the next day they were delicious – likely because all the flavors had time to meld. I think they’d also be good with a little pineapple and some orange zest.

Are you a muffin fan? What’s your favorite muffin recipe?

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Lately we’ve gotten into the habit of always having a little something sweet after a meal. I can blame part of it on the fact that I’m in culinary school – you need to do your own research right? I blame the other part of it on the fact that school is only 3 hours a day right now and I can’t find a job. Boredom = baked goods. So the other day after lunch, Gary turns and looks at the empty cookie jar and sort of gives off this sad little whimper. I smile. Then about an hour later I’m in the kitchen, baking.

Being that we’ve had so much sweet stuff lately I didn’t want to pour a whole bunch of sugar and fat into something else that I was inevitably going to be snacking on for the next few days. I guess I didn’t mind pouring a whole bunch of chocolate chips in it though (but it’s chocolate, really, who has he ever hurt?). Anyway, the vision of a cute little oatmeal cookie started dancing around in my head. Nothing says healthy like oats! Plus cranberries. And almonds. And chocolate chips, of course.

These were good, and dare I say wholesome. They were just sweet enough to satisfy the sugar fix but not too sweet to make you feel like you were eating junk food. There’s hardly any oil in them either and I bet you could probably take all the oil out and you wouldn’t really miss it, or even substitute applesauce. Applesauce tends to make cookies cakey so I don’t use it too often, but these had a nice chewy texture so it probably wouldn’t have been too bad. You could even make them gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mixture like this one and certified GF oats. Cherries instead of cranberries would have also been good. Maybe with some dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Almonds

yields about 12 cookies
  • 1/3 C whole wheat pastry flour, or GF flour mixture
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • About 1 C quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 C dairy free milk
  • 2 T agave
  • 2 T granulated sugar (or more agave)
  • 2 1/2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1 T canola oil (preferably organic)
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 C chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds

Preheat your oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, agave, sugars, flax, oil and extract and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, oats, choco chips, cranberries and almonds. Mix until everything is uniformly moistened. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a silpat lined (or parchment) cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

I tend to over-bake my cookies but these I took out before I thought they were totally done, which means they were just right. I don’t think they’ll be as good if they are too crunchy so don’t make them spend too much time in the oven.

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I’m back!!  Well, I’ve been back for awhile I just, um, haven’t gotten around to writing on this thing yet.  You know, you think that after you get the whole wedding thing done, get the family and friends out of town, and fly off to your honeymoon you can just relax… Wrong!  Once you get back to real life you remember all those things you’ve been putting off for the last month or two.  And then you have to write all those thank you notes and start culinary school.  Well, the latter is probably specific to me, but it still takes up a lot of your time.

A few days after we returned from our honeymoon in Dublin I started Oregon Culinary Institute in SW Portland.  I had thought that I was going to get to go right into the kitchen and start baking some tasty cakes, but they switched things around and didn’t tell me.  So, I don’t get to bake anything until like July, but the upside is I’m learning a lot about wine right now and that’s always very interesting.

Since I don’t get to use the handy dandy KitchenAid stand mixers at school, I’m finding reasons – making up excuses – to use one at home (that I was fortunate enough to receive as a wedding gift).  Things work a little bit different in a stand mixer though… so I’m glad I get to practice before using them at school for a grade.

Anyway, I had this random idea pop into my head the other day about a cupcake.  I’d actually thought about it before but hadn’t ever gotten around to doing anything with it.  This time I happened to have one lonely parsnip sitting in my fridge.  Now don’t be skeptical.  They actually turned out pretty good.  I even made cream cheese frosting from scratch, including the powdered sugar because I ran out (oops).  And!!! they are fairly healthy, for a cupcake anyway.  There’s no oil in it.  The only straight fat actually comes from the butter in the frosting.  They are still very moist however, I don’t think you’ll miss the oil.

So, without further ado, meet…

The Parsnip

The prep work:

  • Chop up a medium size parsnip, toss it in a pan and cover with water.  I added some cinnamon to the mix – it may or may not have made a difference.
  • Boil until soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water and puree with an immersion blender (or blender or by hand if you must).
  • Scoop out 1/3 cup and set aside
  • Add a little salt to the rest and munch on it (pretty tasty).
  • While these are boiling, toast some pecans in a 350 degree oven.  I used a little soy milk and agave instead of butter.  They only take about 10 minutes so be careful and don’t burn them like I did.  Lightly salt them once they are done and chop them up into fairly small pieces.
  • Also, if mixing in dried cranberries, soak them in a liquor (I used vanilla vodka) for at least 30 minutes – I soaked them over night.  Drain before adding to cupcake batter.

For the cupcake:

  • In a small bowl whisk together:
    • 3/4 C soy milk
    • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • Sift the dry ingredients together:
    • 1/2 C wheat flour
    • 3/4 C unbleached AP flour
    • 2 T corn starch
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/4 t nutmeg
    • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • In a large mixing bowl combine:
    • milk mixture
    • 1/3 C vanilla soy yogurt
    • 1/3 C parsnip puree
    • 3/8 C agave
    • 3/8 C raw sugar
    • 2 & 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • Mix the wet ingredients well and then add the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix!
  • Fold in the cranberries (if using – I’m not sure they were necessary).
  • Scoop batter into a lined muffin pan.
  • Sprinkle the pecans and a little sugar on top of each future cupcake.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean of course.

Geez this post is getting long!  I’ve forgotten how long it takes to write these things out…

Now, for the Cream Cheese Frosting.

  • Cream together 1/3 C vegan cream cheese* and 1/4 C vegan stick margarine.
  • Mix in 1 t vanilla extract and 2 – 3 C of powdered sugar.
  • Add a little soy milk if it seems to thick.
  • Pipe or spoon onto cooled cupcakes.

*A note on the cream cheese.  Typically I use the non-hydrogenated Tofutti suff, but I really HATE buying it since it is so processed.  So I attempted to make my own this time.  It turned out better than my previous attempts but it still needs some finessing, and perhaps a little thickening.  Here’s what I did:

Vegan Cream Cheese

  • Half block Mori-Nu extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1/4 C whole cashews, ground
  • 1/2 – 1 T nutritional yeast (large flake)
  • 1/2 – 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 1 T agave
  • Scant 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t soy sauce
  • 2 T arrowroot starch

Add everything to a blender or small food processor and process until smooth – I actually used my immersion blender again (I love that thing). Refrigerate for a few hours to help it set.

You probably don’t need salt and soy sauce, but my brain skipped yesterday and I inadvertently put both in there.  It tasted ok though so whatever!  This was way better than what I’ve tried before, but it still needs to be thicker.  All the “1/2 – 1 T” measures up there are because I don’t remember exactly how much I put in, so experiment.  If you have a cream cheese recipe, please share it!!

Alrighty, I’m tired of typing. =)  Happy Sunday!!

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I’ve been playing around with some gluten-free flours lately, which doesn’t always end happily ever after for me.  Today, however, the flour gods were on my side.

About 6:36 this morning I awoke, laid there for a second, thought to myself, “I should make waffles,” and proceeded to hop out of bed and into the kitchen.  What resulted from my early morning breakfast epiphany was this yummy, gluten-free, low fat, blueberry smothered goodness in the form of waffles.


This is basically a gluten-free version of these waffles, but I couldn’t really taste the pumpkin for all the blueberries – which isn’t really a big deal.   I only made a half order but to make matters easier I’ll give it to you in full.

Gluten free pumpkin waffles with blueberry-maple syrup/ compote

For the waffles:

First whisk 2 tsp apple cider vinegar into 1 & ½ C non-dairy milk (I used hemp, soy or rice should work too).  Let it sit and curdle.

Mix the dry ingredients together (I like to use a fork) in a large bowl:

  • ¾ C buckwheat flour
  • ¾ C sorghum flour
  • 3/8 C millet flour
  • 3/8 C potato starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients:

  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • ¼ C brown sugar
  • ¼ C applesauce
  • Milk mixture from above
  • 2 T ground flaxseed pre-whisked with 6 T hot water (or Ener-G replacer for 2 eggs)

Add the wet to the dry and mix with a fork until not many lumps remain (if any).  Pour batter onto a preheated, greased (as in non-stick spray) waffle iron and cook as directed.

For the blueberry topping:

  • 2 overflowing cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ – 2/3 C or so of maple syrup
  • ¼ C water
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 2-3 T brown sugar
  • ¼ – 1/3 C sugar

Mix the above in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently until it thickens.  Serve immediately or warm it back up a little when you’re ready for it.

I also crumbled up some cinnamon graham crackers (which are NOT gluten-free btw) for a finishing touch because I like their texture.

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