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!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gorgeous Granola

I slightly modified this recipe in order to come up with the below granola recipe.  I substituted sunflower seeds for the almonds, removed the raisins, and added more wheat germ.  This granola is subtly sweet, so dried fruit (i.e. raisins, dates, etc.) could add some sweetness if you like your granola sweet.  I usually eat my granola with soy milk and fresh fruit (THIS adds some sweetness), so I do not think it is necessary.  If you were to add dried fruit, make sure you add it after the granola is baked and cooled.  Dried fruit would scorch in the oven, and blackened bits of raisins is definitely not something I would want in my granola. 

Next time I might use other seeds and nuts in place of the sunflower seeds, add some coconut flakes, shake in some sesame seeds, and possibly add orange or lemon zest.  Granola is extremely versatile--take advantage of this versatility, and get creative in the kitchen!


-2 1/2 cups rolled oats
-1/3 cup ground flax
-1/3 cup wheat germ
-1/3 cup sunflower seeds
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 cup agave nectar OR pure maple syrup OR honey

Preheat oven to 300F or preheat broiler to low.

Mix oats, flax, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon together on a large metal baking sheet.  Drizzle agave nectar over 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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creamy Garlic Hummus

I made vegetable hummus a long time ago, and I have not really made it since.  Commercially made hummus is nice, but it is often loaded with sodium and preservatives.  Even high quality commercial hummus lacks that really homemade, fresh taste.  Hummus-eaters know what I'm talking about.  This, and the fact that I am trying to up my protein intake, inspired me to make some hummus.  I browsed the Internet for hummus recipes to get some guidance, but I ended up just throwing it together on my own.  I allowed my taste buds to guide me.  The finished product was surprisingly delicious.  However, if I had to do it again, I might use another type of bean and some additional ingredients.  How about black bean hummus with roasted red peppers?  Azuki beans with sesame oil and ginger?  The options are endless!  The basic hummus recipe that I devised is below: 


-8 oz can chickpeas, rinsed well (freshly soaked and boiled chickpeas could be alternatively used)
-2 cloves of garlic, skin removed
-1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tablespoon tahini
-about 1/4 cup lemon juice, vinegar, or anything acidic (adjust quantity to taste)

Throw all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until smooth. 

Spread on pita bread, whole grain crackers, fresh veggies, etc.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Strawberry-Banana Oat Bran Muffins (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I found a really nice basic bran muffin recipe, and I decided to modify it.  I was very satisfied with the subtly sweet and banana-ish end product, but others may like stronger flavors.  For these people, I recommend adding more strawberry jam and bananas to replace the water.  Feel free to play around with it.


Yield-12 Muffins

-1 1/2 cups oat bran
-1 1/4 cups water or soy milk
-1/3 cup organic strawberry jam (agave nectar or pure maple syrup could also be used)
-1 medium banana, mashed
-1 cup whole grain flour (I mixed 1/2 cup millet flour and 1/2 cup brown rice flour)
-1 Tablespoon baking powder
-1 heaping teaspoon ground flax
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-about 1/4 cup oats for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 400 F, and prepare muffin tins (line with paper liners or lightly grease with oil).

In a large bowl, stir together mashed banana, water, jam, flax, and oat bran.  Let mixture sit for about 5 minutes.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a smaller separate bowl.  Once the oat bran mixture has noticeably thickened, stir in the flour mixture all at once, being careful not to over-mix.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, and sprinkle with oats.  Bake for 22 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with almond butter, additional jam, or a drizzle of agave nectar.  These muffins can be frozen and eaten at a later date.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brown Lentil Gravy (Vegan)

Gravy is a wonderful thing of my past. I've been on this non-meat Thanksgiving food craze lately (See my vegan "chicken" cutlets), and I decided meat-less gravy would be a wonderful addition. I choose brown lentils for the base of my gravy--mostly because they're brown and get mushy when cooked, but also because they're loaded with protein and iron. I suppose any bean could be used, but I must say that lentils tasted great in this recipe. This gravy could be used alternatively as a protein-rich pasta sauce, or if some veggies were added, it could become a stew. I served my gravy over mashed potatoes with a side of steamed veggies. This stuff is like liquid gold!


*Yields about 2 servings*

-1/4 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed
-1 small onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 cup water, plus additional if needed (I used about 2 1/2 additional cups of water)
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme, crushed in hands
-pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Heat a small pot on medium heat. Add oil, onions, garlic, and lentils. Mix it up! Cook until onions become translucent. Add tamari, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water. Cover pot with lid, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until lentils can be mushed with a wooden spoon, adding water along the way when needed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sesame Seed-Encrusted Croquettes With Black Beans, Quinoa, and Ginger

Quinoa is a great grain that not a lot of people know about. It was eaten by the ancient Incans, contains all eight essential amino acids (complete protein), cooks just like rice, and is extremely versatile. If I had a choice of eating quinoa or brown rice, I would choose the brown rice every time. Quinoa lacks the "beefiness" that other grains (i.e. rice, barley) seem to possess. For this reason, I usually use quinoa IN things (i.e. stuffed mushrooms or peppers, quiches, etc.). I had some left over quinoa, so I naturally decided to make croquettes. I was craving something ethnic and exciting. The below recipe is what I came up with. Feel free to tweak it, as always. I served mine with stir-fried vegetables, but the croquettes would be great in a pita with tahini dressing, or any other way that complements the natural flavors of the croquettes. I suppose bread crumbs could be used instead of the sesame seeds, but these the sesame seeds make the end product much more visually appealing. Have fun!


(Yield= 9 croquettes)

-1 cup cooked black beans, mashed with a fork
-1 cup cooked quinoa
-1 teaspoon sesame oil
-1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-about 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Preheat broiler to highest setting.

Mix mashed beans, oil, tamari, and ginger in a medium bowl. Stir in quinoa. Form mixture into flattened patties, and set aside. Pour sesame seeds into a shallow bowl, and roll previously formed patties into sesame seeds to coat. Place croquettes on a meatball pan OR a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cook croquettes under broiler until nicely browned, flipping once during the process to brown both sides. Let croquettes cool for a couple of minutes. Serve warm.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spicy Applesauce with Cardamom, Cloves, and Cinnamon

I eat an apple everyday. When I have too many apples in the refridgerator, or even have some that are not quite up to par (I am picky about my apples), making applesauce is a great option. I always keep the skin on my apples and refrain from adding sweeteners to my applesauce. I suppose the apples COULD be peeled and sugar COULD be added, but it really is not necessary. Apples are beautifully sweet on their own, and their skin adds fiber and a lovely texture to the finished product. Apples also have a lot of natural pectin, so applesauce never needs thickeners, like puddings or custards.

Applesauce is great as a fat substitute (i.e. oil) in muffin and quickbread recipes, or to just snack on before bedtime. Here is my "thrown-together" applesauce recipe. Alter it as you wish.


-3 unpeeled apples, diced
-1/4 cup lemon juice/vinegar/anything acidic
-3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/8 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Cover the pot with a lid and heat to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low. Stir the applesauce occassionally and cook until desired level of doneness. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Faux "Chicken" Cutlets (Vegan)

Chickpeas are by far my absolute favorite bean. I have not had potatoes, gravy, and chicken cutlets (obviously) in the longest time. I decided to replicate the Thanksgiving comfort-food eating experience with non-meat products. Gravy was not that hard to replicate, but chicken cutlets-that is a challenge! I thought about bean burgers and falafel; what composes these meat-like products? I looked at for inspiration. What I found was Isa Moskowitz's brilliant Chickpea Cutlet Recipe. Her recipe called for vital gluten flour as a binding agent, but I decided to keep it simple. I worked with what I know, and this is what I came up with:


Yield= 4 cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (I toasted 1 slice of whole wheat bread and pulverized it in the food processor)
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
about 1/4 cup water
about 1 tablespoon olive oil, for greasing

Heat a metal skillet on medium heat.

Dump all ingredients, except water, into a food processor. Pulse until combined. With the food processor running, stream in 1/4 cup water (add more or less, if needed) just until the ingredients aggregate into a doughy ball.

Divide the mixture into four equally-sized portions, and form each portion into an irregularly shaped cutlet. Lightly grease heated skillet with oil. Add cutlets to pan, flipping when nicely browned on each side. Drain browned cutlets on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Enjoy with meat-less gravy, smashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Feel free to add additional spices to my ingredients list.

These cutlets were so comforting!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spiced Flax Muffins (Vegan)

These muffins are so flavorful and moist; you would never guess that they are totally vegan and loaded with flaxseed! Flax is a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and free-radical fighting lignans (a class of antioxidants). I buy my flaxseed ground (I'm too lazy to buy whole flaxseed and grind it myself) and store it in the freezer (this helps prevent rancidity and preserve the integrity of beneficial fats). Ground flax can be sprinkled in oatmeal, yogurt, muesli, granola, quick breads, or muffins. It has a very earthy/bran-ish/granola-like taste, so don't go too flax crazy. You just have to be mindful of proportions. Ask yourself, how much flax is in this recipe compared to other ingredients (whole grain flours, nuts, etc.)? With that mentioned, the following muffin recipe has the perfect amount of flax. These muffins would be great slathered with organic almond or peanut butter, and can easily be frozen and thawed for future use.

I found this flax muffin recipe on the blog of "A Chef in Med School", and immediately fell in love. I thought it was rather odd that the creator of "A Chef in Med School" (Michelle Hauser) and the creator of my blog, "A Chef in College: Chronicles of a Pre-Med Student's Culinary Adventures", (me) had strikingly similar blog names. I guess we think similarly? Anyway, Michelle's recipes and educational videos are great, and I highly recommend that they are looked at by any aspiring chefs.

I took her awesome recipe and altered it a bit (I used many of her suggestions) to veganize it. Feel free to do the same. Other liquid sweeteners, like honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc. could be used instead of the agave nectar. Raisins, craisins, chopped dates, nuts, etc. could be thrown into the batter. Different spices, like ground ginger, cardamom, or nutmeg would be great substitutions for the spices my recipe requests. Have fun and enjoy!


Yield= 10-12 muffins, depending how generously you decide to fill your muffin tins.


1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1 cup wholewheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup millet flour)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1 cup veganized buttermilk (1 Tablespoon vinegar + enough non-dairy milk to yield 1 cup)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


3 Tablespoons oats

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups, and preheat oven to 400 F.

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate, larger bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients all at once and stir until just combined (lumps are okay). Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with oats. Bake until muffins spring back when touched and pass the toothpick test (about 15-18 minutes). Let muffins cool, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Japanese Soba Noodles with Veggies

Soba noodles are thin, buckwheat-based noodles that are popular in Japan. They can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature and can be served with virtually any sauce. The last time I remember having soba noodles was when I went to Japan (about a year ago), and this makes me sad. Lately I have been trying to experiment with grains I usually do not use. I do not recall ever cooking with buckwheat, so this gave me even more of an incentive to purchase a package of soba noodles. What did I do with these lovely noodles? Take a look:


-Roland© Organic Soba Noodles (enough for one person)

-1 Tablespoon sesame oil
-Several shakes of tamari, or soy sauce
-About 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
-Ground ginger, to taste

-1 small onion, cut into wedges
-1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin coins
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Small handful of baby spinach
-1/4 cup frozen green peas
-Crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds for topping, optional

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Toss in soba noodles, cook until tender, drain in a colander, and set aside. At the same time, heat a metal skillet or wok on medium heat. Add sesame oil, tamari, ginger, onion, and carrot. Mix constantly. Once the onions and carrot become crispy, add the mirin and garlic. Continue to stir constantly, occasionally adding water if the pan becomes too dry. Toss in the spinach and peas. Let all of the liquid evaporate and the spinach wilt. Stir in cooked soba noodles and remove from heat. Spoon noodles into a bowl and top with crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

Enjoy with chopsticks and a cup of hot green tea.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with a Caramel Glaze

The recipe for these cupcakes was taken directly from "Baking From The Heart"(2004), a collection of baking recipes complied by Michael J. Rosen. The actual cupcake recipe was provided by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, and more specifically, Lewis' mother. This gingerbread recipe was allegedly discovered inside of an old notebook, and is approximated to be about 100 years of age. How can somebody say that there is no historical aspect to cooking? Scott Peacock's quote about this recipe's lineage pretty much summarizes everything I believe about cooking:
"Cooking is a dialogue that takes place between a person and whatever he or she is making. Between the past and the present. Between one generation and another. So even is I make a dish that isn't exactly the way you remember it tasting in your family's version, tasting and smelling my version can reconnect you with those people and that special dish, because it turns out that what we're all looking for is not so much an ideal that's taste, but an ideal that's emotional: an echo of that time when you felt secure and loved and all things were still possible."

Now what about this recipe? What did I think? The cupcakes were very moist and had a robust molasses flavor. They were definitely not what I was expecting. These cupcakes were not airy and fluffy; dense and powerful would be better words to describe the consistency. They were more spicy and gingerbready than sweet. The caramel glaze is a must because it adds an unexpected sweetness and beauty to the finished piece. I really liked these cupcakes and had a lot of fun putting them together (the caramel glaze was especially exciting to prepare). However, I would not say that everyone at the party would love these cakes. I feel like they are a product of the Great Depression, or some time in history that only relied upon the necessities. The recipe is simple, but the end product makes a resonating culinary statement. You have to be ready for these cupcakes because they do not joke around.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dark Chocolate Soufflé

I made dark chocolate soufflés several weeks ago with one of my close baking buddies. I realize that I am uploading these pictures rather late, but better late than never! Follow me through my baking journey:



The recipe I used was directly from "Chocolate", a 2002 confection-filled cookbook by Linda Collister. Collister has written other chocolate-praising cookbooks ("Chocolate Temptations" and "Heavenly Chocolate"), both of which are internationally regarded as bestsellers. The book that I own, "Chocolate", contains absolutely gorgeous photography, easy-to-follow instructions, and a huge variety of recipes using chocolate as the star ingredient. I would consider every recipe in the book sophisticated and gourmet, but not to an extreme level. Everything can be easily replicated, assuming that you have basic baking skills, of course. This being said, the chocolate soufflé recipe from the book was not all that difficult to execute. I have always connoted soufflés with top star bakers and French cuisine. Still, I have always wanted to bake a soufflé. Soufflés have a reputation for having an unbelievably light consistency, almost like angel food cake, and a stunning appearance. Collister's soufflé recipe made French cuisine seem as easy as pie. I had a wonderful baking experience! Thanks Linda for your insight!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lentil-Barley Soup with a Seaweed Surprise

It's winter, and my body is craving hearty soups. I decided to make some thick lentil soup loaded with barley, veggies, and believe it or not, wakame seaweed. The seaweed adds tons of nutrition to the soup, and you would never guess it was there. I swear. Once the soup has been simmering for a while, the seaweed kind of breaks up and dissolves into the soup. It disappears, so nobody has to know your secret. Kombu seaweed could be substituted for the wakame, brown rice could be substituted for the barley, and other veggies and herbs can be thrown into the stew. I just used what I had available, but please alter the recipe to your liking.


-6 cups water
-1 1/4 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed
-1 1/2 cups pearled barley, cooked
-1 large carrot, diced
-1 large onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 teaspoons dried wakame flakes
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 teaspoon dried thyme
-1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT BARLEY in a large pot. Cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil. Lower soup to a gentle boil, cover with a lid, and stir occasionally. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until soup thickens and lentils are tender. Add cooked barley. Ladle about half of the soup into a food processor and puree. Pour pureed soup back into the pot and mix with non-pureed soup. You can puree as much or as little soup as you want. Your decision dictates how chunky the end product will be.

Ladle soup into an over-sized mug and top with crumbled crackers. I used multi grain pita chips. The soup was delicious!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Super Duper Vegan Cookies with Agave, Oats, and Flax

Vegan means no animal products. No eggs, no butter, and no milk is often associated with no taste, especially in baked goods. This misconception is so wrong, and this vegan cookie recipe clearly proves it.

What's special about vegan baking? Vegan sweets are usually more wholesome than non-vegan ones. Another benefit is that the baker can safely taste "raw" batter, since vegan batter will never contain raw eggs. What a concept!

This cookie recipe was adapted from a Agave and Honey Oatmeal M&M Cookie Recipe from ( The recipe is super versatile and can be changed to yield completely different cookies. Additional spices can be added to the recipe (i.e. nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, all spice, etc.), other liquid sweeteners can be fully or partially substituted for the agave (i.e. molasses, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.), the oats can be ground in a food processor for a "lighter" cookie, and mixtures of whole-grain flours can be used for more whole grain variety (i.e. buckwheat flour, millet flour, or brown rice flour can be mixed with the whole wheat flour).

Just as a side note, I used chocolate chips in my cookies (they're not 100% vegan). Carob chips are usually used as a vegan chocolate substitute, but I have never tried them. Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, chopped dates, crystallized ginger, and other tasty add-ins could alternatively be used. Another exciting point about this recipe is that it only yields about 8 cookies. This is great for people who live alone and have nobody with which they can share their cookies. The 8 cookie yield can be beneficial towards people who are dieting and do not want too many sweets hanging around the house. For those people who want more cookies to snack on, this recipe can very easily be doubled or tripled.

Have fun and do not be afraid to alter the recipe to your liking!


-2 Tablespoons warm water + 1 Tablespoon ground flax
-4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) agave nectar
-2 Tablespoons canola oil
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
-3/4 cup oats
-1/8 teaspoon baking soda
-1/8 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-about 1/4 cup chocolate chips,carob chips, raisins, or whatever is available

Preheat oven to 375 F, and line a metal cookie sheet with non-stick parchment paper.

Agressively whisk together flax and water in a small bowl for about 1 minute (this process brings out the healthy fats in the flax seed). Set aside to thicken.

In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Whisk agave, oil, and vanilla into flax mixture. Slowly stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until combined. Drop Tablespoon-sized dollops of batter onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Slightly flatten dollops.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and beautiful! Cool cookies on a wire rack and enjoy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Super Healthy Green Protein Smoothie

I just came back from a run this morning, and I needed some fuel. I threw together a smoothie that is chock full of protein, carbohydrates, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and other vital nutrients. The smoothie is green in color because it contains baby spinach. I know that may sound a little scary (and probably disgusting), but the sweet fruits in the recipe block out the veggie flavor of the spinach. Plus, baby spinach has a very mild flavor, unlike that of bitter greens (i.e. collard greens). I pretty much used whatever I had on hand, but the recipe can certainly be tweaked to your liking.


-6 oz. container of PLAIN 2% greek yogurt (Oikos or Chobani brands are great)
-medium handful of pineapple chunks
-medium handful of blueberries
-huge handful of baby spinach (you can use less if you are afraid)
-juice of 1 orange, freshly squeezed
-heaping Tablespoon of almond butter

Pour all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse on high until smooth and luscious. Pour into a tall chilled glass and enjoy. The smoothie tastes best cold.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Black Bean Asian Salad with Pineapples and Sesame-Ginger Dressing

I think sweet and savory flavors mingle so well with each other, yet it's sometimes scary for me to mix sweet and savory flavors together in a culinary arena. I love to eat it, but I am afraid to replicate it. In the past, I remember making a Moroccan dinner with turmeric, cinnamon, chickpeas, spinach, brown rice, and raisins. The sweet raisins tasted so yummy with the peppery turmeric! I wanted to relive the same experience.

I had pineapple chunks hanging out in my refrigerator today, and I decided to pair the sweet flavor of pineapple with the savory/spicy flavors of ginger and sesame. I love salads, so I decided to throw one together. The end product was a success! Below is the recipe for my Black Bean Asian Salad with Pineapples. Alter it to your liking.

Note: I rarely use measuring instruments when cooking (I definitely do when baking). Remember, cooking is an art!

-large handful of organic baby spinach, washed and roughly chopped
-about 1/2 cup fresh pineapples, diced
-about 1/3 cup cooked brown rice
-about 1/3 cup cooked black beans

-about 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
-several shakes of low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
-a splash of pineapple juice (I used the juice the pineapple chunks were sitting in)
-several shakes of ground ginger
-about 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place baby spinach on a large plate or a shallow bowl. Top with brown rice, black beans, and pineapples.

In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, tamari, and pineapple juice. Whisk in ginger and sesame seeds. See photograph of finished dressing below.

Pour dressing over salad and enjoy!