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.