Friday, June 24, 2011

Raw Carob-Almond Truffles (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I have so much carob powder in my pantry!  I came across this super quick, no-bake, three-ingredient recipe, and I was immediately captivated.  The three main ingredients recommended by the recipe are: walnuts, raisins, and carob powder.  I decided to use almonds and dates instead, and I am pleased with the results. 

These cookie-truffles are so adorable and totally versatile.  Next time I make these, I am considering using other ingredients.  Salted pistachios?  Sunflower seeds?  Unsweetened coconuts flakes? Dried blueberries?  I am so excited!


Yield=about 13 truffles
-1 cup pitted dates (another type of dried fruit can be substituted, is desired)
-3/4 cup raw almonds (another type of nut or seed can substituted, if desired)
-1/4 cup carob powder (unsweetened cocoa powder could alternatively be used)
-1 Tablespoon water, optional

Throw the first three ingredients into a food processor and grind until a cohesive ball is formed (about 5 minutes).  Add the optional tablespoon of water if the mixture is a bit dry and is not sticking together.

Using your hands, form the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls.  Slightly flatten each ball with your palms, and place an almond in the center of each ball.  That's it!

Enjoy immediately.  Refrigerate the truffles if they will be out for over a day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cinnamon Graham Crackers (Vegan)

I do not think I know anyone who dislikes graham crackers.  They are delicious.  Unfortunately, many commercially-made graham crackers contain high fructose corn syrup, refined flours, and are rarely 100% whole-wheat.  The man who invented the graham cracker, Reverend Sylvester Graham, intended it to be a healthy treat.  Our society has morphed the graham cracker into a sweet cookie that is frequently eaten with chocolate and marshmallows.  There's nothing wholesome about that!  What a shame! 

When I came across Isa's beautiful and wholesome recipe for graham crackers I was so happy.  Graham would be proud to eat these crackers.

I pretty much adhered to Isa's recipe.  All I did differently was reduce the sugar from 1/3 to 1/4 cup, reduce the salt from a scant 1/2 teaspoon to  a full 1/4 teaspoon, and increase the cinnamon from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.  The result is a less sweet more cinnamon-ish cracker.  The crackers are only subtly sweet, but still taste great--especially with a glass of cold soy milk.  Below is Isa's recipe with my slight alterations. Enjoy!

Yield= approximately 12 crackers

-1 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
-1/4 cup sugar or sucanat
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon salt

WET INGREDIENTS-1/4 cup canola oil
-2 tablespoons molasses
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1/4 cup soy milk OR water (add more if needed)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a fork.  Make a well in the center, and add all of the wet ingredients to the well.  Briefly whisk together all of the wet ingredients (in the well), then incorporate all of the ingredients together.  The dough is ready when it forms a cohesive ball.  It may be easier to mix everything with your hands towards the end.

Knead the dough several times on a clean, floured work surface.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8" with a rolling pin.  Trim the edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.  Cut the dough into small rectangles (about 2" x 3").  Gently transfer the crackers to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet with your hands.  Combine dough scraps, roll out, trim ends, cut crackers, and transfer to baking sheet.

*At this point, all of your dough should be used, and all of the crackers should be on the baking sheet.*

Prick each cracker several times with the tines of a fork.  The tines do not have to be pushed all the way through the crackers to the baking sheet.  The crackers only have to be pricked half-way.

Bake graham crackers 12-14 minutes.  The longer you bake the crackers the crispier they will be.  I baked mine for 14 minutes and I am very satisfied with their level of crispiness.
Let the crackers cool to room temperature on the baking sheet.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oat-Banana-Flax Muffins Spiked with an Indian Spice Blend (Vegan)

I bought a small jar of cardamom pods a while ago for a Moraccan spice blend recipe.  I only used a small amount of cardamom, so I have been trying to incorporate this aromatic Indian spice into some of my recipes.  Ground cardamom can be quite expensive, but whole cardamom pods are not too harsh on your wallet.  Cardamom seeds can be isolated from their pods and ground to give a delicious cardamom powder.  Cardamom powder, or ground cardamom, is what I have used in the below muffin recipe.  I suppose additional cinnamom or ginger could be substituted for the cardamom, but the taste of the muffins will be totally different.  Cardamom is unlike any other spice.

The below muffin recipe is derived from my whole wheat gingerbread flax muffin recipe.  I guess I bake a lot of muffins.  Several alterations were made, and I am very happy with the results.  Have fun and enjoy!


Yield= 6-8 Muffins, depending on how generously you fill your muffin tins.


-1/3 cup soymilk
-1 teaspoon vinegar
-2 Tablespoons ground flax
-2 medium bananas, mashed
-1/4 cup agave nectar


-1/2 cup white whole wheat flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
-1/2 cup oat flour (I made my own oat flour by grinding 1/2 cup of oats in the food processor)
-1/4 cup oats
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-3 teaspoons indian spice blend (1 teaspoon ground cardamom + 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ginger)

-3 Tablespoons oats

Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a muffin tin with paper liners. I always use a non-stick silicon muffin tin, so I avoid this step.

Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together soymilk, ground flax, and vinegar until thick and curdlely. Add mashed bananas, and agave nectar to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once, mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 22 minutes).

Cool muffins slightly in muffin tins, and transfer to a cooling rack when cool enough to handle.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coconut-Almond-Flax Power Bars with Dark Chocolate Chunks (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I have been trying to make more nutrient-dense choices in my diet.  This is especially important because I am not home much during the school year.  If I want to have a steady level of energy throughout the day, I need to eat a high-protein, high-fiber, high-complex carbohydrate breakfast (see my peanut butter-banana granola, strawberry-banana oatmeal muffins, and whole wheat gingerbread-flax muffins).  I usually have a light lunch, a larger dinner, and several high energy snacks scattered in between. 

I found Elena Amsterdam's gluten-free almond power bar recipe on her amazing gluten-free blog.  I have never encountered such a nutrient-packed recipe.  I have made some modifications to her recipe.  These include:  substituting brown rice syrup for the coconut oil, eliminating the agave nectar and stevia, reducing the amount of vanilla extract from one tablespoon to one teaspoon, reducing the amount of salt from 1/2 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon, and reducing the amount of dark chocolate from 1 cup to 1/3 cup.  I also refrained from adding the chocolate in its melted form (by spreading it on top).  I decided the bars would be more texturally complex if I roughly chopped the chocolate and pressed it into the bars.  I am very satisfied with the end product.  They taste so yummy!


Yield= 12 Bars

-2 cups raw almonds
-1/2 cup ground flax seed
-1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
-1/2 cup roasted almond butter, unsalted
-1/2 cup brown rice syrup
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup high quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used one 1.65 oz. bar of "72% Cacao Belgian Dark Chocolate" from Trader Joe's ©)

Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper.  I used a non-stick silicon 8" x 8" pan, so I skipped this step.

Add all ingredients, except chocolate, into a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined.  The mixture will start to stick together when it is ready.  Pour mixture into the prepared 8" x 8" pan.  Toss in the chopped dark chocolate, and firmly press the mixture into the pan. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour.

Cut into 12 bars, and individually wrap each in plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Banana Brownie Cake (Vegan)

I bought a container of roasted carob powder about a month ago, and I have been trying to incorporate it into baking recipes.  For anyone who is already lost, carob powder is a caffeine-free, lower-fat version of cocoa powder that is frequently seen in vegan baking recipes.  Carob powder is sometimes substituted for cocoa powder in vegan recipes (both pure cocoa and carob powder are 100% vegan).  Everyone knows that chocolate goes so well with bananas, so I figured carob and bananas would mesh well together also.  This recipe from "Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen" inspired my recipe below.  All I changed was the amount of bananas in the batter (I added in one more in place of the applesauce), the type of flour used (I used white whole wheat flour in place of the brown rice flour), and the type of baking pan used (I used an 8" springform pan in place of the 8x8"  square pan).  I also decided to bake my cake with banana slices on top.  They become kind of funky looking after they are baked, but I think the banana embellishment adds a lot of visual interest.

Enjoy and feel free to modify my recipe!




-3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur's Flour is my favorite brand)
-3/4 cup carob powder OR cocoa powder
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (I used 2 large bananas + 1 small banana)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/4 cup canola oil
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-2 small bananas, sliced into coins

Preheat oven to 350F, and lightly grease an 8" springform pan with oil.

Combine all of the dry ingredients with a whisk in a medium bowl.  In a separate, larger bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingrtedients a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Spread the batter into the prepared springform pan with a spatula.  Place the sliced banana coins on top of the batter in any configuration you wish.  Lightly press each slice into the batter.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack, remove from springform pan, and serve.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Peanut Butter-Banana Granola (Vegan)

Ever since I developed this granola recipe, I have been experimenting with it.  I love the robust flavor of all-natural roasted peanut butter--the real kind of peanut butter, not the synthetic, hydrogenated peanut butter America wants you to eat.  I'm so biased, I know.  A good quality nut butter should only contain one ingredient, nuts.  Why should a peanut butter ingredient label list five ingredients?  Does the name of the product, "peanut butter", inform you of this? If processed peanut butter manufacturers were honest to their clientele, I am sure their sales would be reduced.  The same principle goes for a lot of other food products.  You have to be your own advocate.  It's cheaper for a company to manufacture a product that is full of low-quality fluff and more expensive for a company to manufacture a product chock full of high-quality real ingredients.  Buying real food does not necessarily mean buying 100% organic.  It just means being informed and educated about what you purchase.  How can you do this? Educate yourself about ingredients, look for sales, only buy what is in season, buy in bulk, and most of all, read food labels.

Back to my granola recipe! So what did I actually change about my previous granola recipe?  I used a mixture of mashed banana, agave nectar, and peanut butter in place of the 1/2 cup liquid sweetener. To compensate for the additional wet ingredients, I upped the oats by 1/2 cup.  I also added in 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.  I am very satisfied with the end product.  Enjoy!


-3 cups oats
-1/3 cup sunflower seeds
-1/3 cup ground flax seed
-1/3 cup wheat germ
-2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 small banana, mashed
-1/4 cup agave nectar
-1/4 cup all-natural roasted peanut butter, unsalted (I used Trader Joe's ©)

Preheat oven to 300F or preheat broiler to low.

Mix oats, flax, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg together on a large metal baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the agave nectar, mashed banana, and peanut butter.  Drizzle the banana mixture over the granola, and mix well to coat. Place granola in preheated oven and bake. Be sure to stir the granola every five minutes or so to prevent burning. Your granola is ready when it is lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature.

Store in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Flax Muffins (Vegan)

My gingerbread cupcakes with a caramel glaze and gingerbread cheesecake should confirm that fact that I love gingerbread.  It's true---I love gingerbread.  Unfortunately, gingerbread-type recipes seem to be reserved for only Christmas time, which is an absolute shame.  Making gingerbread-inspired recipes NOT during Christmas  is a choice that only you, the chef, can make.  I decided to make Isa Moskowitz's gingerbread flax muffins with some slight variations.  I used 100% whole wheat flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour, blackstrap molasses instead of light molasses, and mashed banana instead of applesauce.  I also eliminated the recommended sugar and salt.  I think gingerbread is more of a savory experience than a sweet one; this is why I let blackstrap molasses be the only sweetener.  That's about all I changed.  Isa did a wonderful job creating this recipe, so feel free to view her original version.

Here is my recipe:


Yield= 6-8 Muffins, depending on how generously you fill your muffin tins.

-1/3 cup soymilk
-1 teaspoon vinegar
-2 Tablespoons ground flax
-1 medium banana, mashed
-1/4 cup canola oil (or an additional mashed banana)
-1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

-1 1/4 cups 100% whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 Tablespoon ground ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a muffin tin with paper liners.  I always use a non-stick silicon muffin tin, so I avoid this step.

Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together soymilk, ground flax, and vinegar until thick and curdlely.  Add oil, mashed banana, and blackstrap molasses to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once, mixing until just combined.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 22 minutes).

Cool muffins slightly in muffin tins, and transfer to a coooling rack when cool enough to handle.

These muffins can be frozen and eaten at a later date.  That's what I did!