Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Vegan Sugar Glaze

For New Years I wanted to make something round, because, when I looked up traditional new year’s foods, it said round things are traditional! I had bananas and chocolate chips, so I decided to make a round banana chocolate chip bread. But I wanted to try something new, which is a vegan glaze.

For the bread I used this recipe for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, but replaced the pumpkin with 3 bananas, added some vegan chocolate chips and cut the recipe overall by 2/3. Instead of eggs I used 2 tbsp cornstarch and 3 tbsp water. I also only used a bit of cinnamon instead of all the spices it suggested there.

Now for the glaze. I was imagining all sorts of weird sauce frying techniques to make a glaze, but it was actually really easy. I just followed this recipe for a vegan sugar glaze and made it all in the Vitamix. I did cut the recipe in half because I was pretty sure I didn’t need that much. I found that the recipe didn’t have enough liquid in it and ended up adding more coconut milk, which is what I used for the non-dairy milk. It came out great and was perfect for the bread which was not all that sweet.

Happy New Year!

Vegan Potato, Bean and Kale Soup

So. It is really cold here (yes, I know, I’m a baby, it’s like 50, and I’m from new England.) I’ve never made a soup before, but it seemed like a good time to try. When thinking about a soup, I envisioned this really good kale and white bean soup I had at whole foods. For some reason I’ve always thought soup making might be kind of complex. When I actually thought about making a soup, I was pretty sure that it would just involve boiling a bunch of stuff in water or broth, but I wasn’t sure, so I used this recipe from Tastes Lovely as a guide.

Now, when I went to the store to buy my broth, I didn’t know the difference between broth and stock. According to this recipe, from Oh My Veggies (which I plan to try for my next soup making endeavor), broth is seasoned while stock is not. I already had one carton of STOCK at home, but when I went to the store, I bought BROTH. It all worked out in the end, but I just didn’t end up seasoning the soup at all because the one carton of broth was more than enough salty seasoning.

Anyways, the soup came out really well and just perfect for this type of weather. I didn’t have any cannellini beans so I just used one can of black beans and one can of kidney beans. Other than that, I had everything else at home, except the extra carton of broth/stock. I didn’t make the crostinis that the recipe suggests but they do sound good! Now I’ve been happily eating soup for days.

I think next time I make it I will try to make some kind of breaded tofu to put in it for a crispy element.

Vegan Treats: Peppermint Black Bean Brownies

So with Christmas coming up, I knew I would be going to some Xmas parties on the day, even though I don’t really celebrate, so I thought I would whip up some fun peppermint treats. I googled “vegan peppermint desserts” to get some ideas and what I chose was this recipe for Vegan Peppermint Black Bean Brownies from Minimalist Baker. Like a lot of things I make, I loved this one because it was so easy. All I did was throw all the ingredients in my vitamix and then pour into a muffin tin. Instead of flax eggs as the recipe suggested I used my typical cornstarch eggs (2 tbsp cornstarch to 3 tbsp water) and I didn’t have any baking powder so I used .5 teaspoon baking soda instead. You can’t really interchange them exactly, according to science, but I figured it would do the job, and boy was I right!

I also made some whipped coconut cream and added a bit of peppermint extract to make the dessert extra pepperminty. For the candy canes on top I used chocolate mint candy canes to tie all the chocolate and mintiness together. They came out really well and were so delicious. Even I was surprised that they were both vegan and gluten free! Once again, completely shocked at how easy it is to make delicious, pretty healthy (ok, there is some sugar), vegan food and especially desserts! I don’t have a picture of the finished cupcakes, but they did look very festive!

 

Vegan Treats: Sweet Potato Pie

Recently I have been having a lot of fun making some vegan desserts and springing them on people who are *gasp* not vegan. A lot of my friends have marveled at the fact that some of these things are in fact vegan. The truth is, it is really easy these days to take any recipe and make substitutes for eggs, milk and butter with all of the faux dairy products and vegan butter substitutes. I think I am going to start gearing this blog more towards my vegan cooking & baking because it is so fun – and easy, and I hope to share it with other people who are either vegan, curious about being vegan or just wanting to reduce their intake of animal products.

For both Thanksgiving and another event, I made a sweet potato pie with coconut whipped cream, and my own crust. For the pie, I used this recipe from Connoiseurus Veg for a Chai Spice Sweet Potato Pie. The marvelous thing about this pie is that there is no added sugar in it. Just sweet potatoes and maple syrup (and some other non sweet stuff of course), but it tastes delicious. The first time I made it, I didn’t quite mix it up well enough so the spicy cardamom kind of came in bursts. The second time I left out the cardamom to make it a more traditional kind of pie and it came out great. When I do the spices for traditional pumpkin/sweet potato bread or pie, I don’t pay attention to the measurements (for the spices) and kind of just throw things together because I like it to have a strong flavor. Actually making the pie was super easy because I just threw all the ingredients in my Vitamix! My technique is to cook the sweet potatoes a few hours before I plan to make it so they don’t make my Vitamix overheat, which I did one time when I made sweet potato soup.

For my pie crust I used this recipe from Vegan Baking. For the “regular vegan butter” I used Earth Balance sticks. For the “vegan shortening” I just used vegetable oil. The first time I made the pie, I didn’t cook the crust a bit before hand, so it was a little too moist. The second time I did for about 10 minutes, and it came out a bit more crisp and flaky.

For the coconut whipped cream, I used this recipe from Lunch Box Bunch. The first time I did it all by hand…it was hard but the results were delicious and very worth it. The second time my lovely roommate had just got a hand mixer…much easier! The coconut whipped cream does have a bit of sugar, but compared to your traditional dessert, the amount of refined sugar is very low.

I didn’t get to take a picture of either time I made the pies but they looked very good and tasted great.

We Made Our Own “Clif” Bars

So, someone gave me a dehydrator because they got a fancy new Excalibur. It’s a Nesco FD-37, which is just a “snack maker” but I’ve been having a blast with it! I dehydrated a lot of my fruits and veggies, especially ones  that were about to go bad. The thing that is surprising about homemade dehydrated food compared to store bought is that it is so much more flavorful! The main experiment is to make snack bars. I tried to look up some recipes online but they all seemed too complex for what we needed, and so I just made one up with what we had. Here’s what I made:

1 Cup Dates (pitted)

1 Cup Raisins

1 Cup Cashews

1 apple

1 Cup Water

I blended it all in the Vitamix up to variable speed 4 because I still wanted it to be chunky like a Clif bar. Then I just poured it into this plastic tray we got for the dehydrator. We did have to dehydrate it for about 24 hours but they came out so delicious!! Given that dates and cashews are so expensive, and that Clif bars only cost $1 in Oakland because they are made in Emeryville, it’s actually not too much cheaper to make your own. I also calculated that it costs approximately $1 to run the dehydrator for 24 hours, estimating on the high side. I’m thinking we probably used:

Medjool Dates: $4 – 66 calories/date * 10 (or so)= 660 calories

Raisins: $1.50 – 1 cup =434 calories

Cashews: $5.00 – 157 calories/1oz * 8 = 1256

Apple: $.50? – 95 calories

Dehydrating: $1

So $12.50 for 2445 calories, or $1 for 195 calories which is about the same price as Clif Bars, which are $1 for 200 calories. We will have to figure out ways to add other caloric and cost effective foods to make making our own bars worth it! I see a bulk date purchase in my future…Costco anyone?

The chunky snack bar mixture in the dehydrator.
The chunky snack bar mixture in the dehydrator before dehydration.
Homemade snack bars with Vitamix and Dehydrator
This homemade “Clif” bar is as big as my head!!!

Edit: I forgot! I also added 1 tbsp of peanut butter to them so that adds 94 calories and $.07…so total 2539 calories for $12.57, making it still about equal to the price of a Clif bar, but way better and cooler than a Clif bar!

The Weirdest Smoothie Ever

I was making a smoothie today and as usual just put in some things i had laying around. It is still delicious but, an unlikely combination of fruits and vegetables! It looks like most smoothies – vaguely greenish brown, due to its combination of greens and fruit. Here is what is in it:

1 banana

1 date

1 pear

1/2 orange (with peel)

3 leaves chard

frozen pineapple

1 carrot

5 ice cubes

Try it! It’s pretty good!

The Weirdest Vitamix Smoothie Ever

 

Vegan Thanksgiving, 2014

Here are the vegan treats I made (with some help from my boyfriend) for a small Thanksgiving gathering we had this year. The holidays can feel like a lonely time for vegans who are often at family celebrations, surrounded by meat eaters who don’t comprehend their dietary choices, but there are lots of ways to make delicious vegan treats that most people wouldn’t even notice are actually vegan!

Sweet Potato Soup (in the Vitamix!)

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup
Vegan Sweet Potato Soup – pic from Vitamix.com

I used the Vitamix to make this amazing soup recipe. We did double the recipe so there would be enough for 5 people but it was so easy. I loved it because it has the same consistency of those soups that you buy from the store in a carton, but I knew exactly what was in it and had made it myself! After, I used the exact same recipe but used the leftover roasted pumpkin from the pumpkin bread recipe below, instead of sweet potatoes, for dinner that evening.

Down East Maine Pumpkin Bread (Vegan Version)

I have used this recipe from Allrecipes.com for years and years, but this is the first time I made a vegan version. Instead of eggs I used 2 tablespoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon canola oil for every egg required. I also used a mixture of white and brown sugar, and a mixture of whole wheat and rice flour. For the pumpkin bread, I used a pie pumpkin. It is actually easier than you think, and much more delicious to use a real pumpkin than a canned pumpkin. Pie pumpkins are smaller than jack o’lantern pumpkins, and can be found in grocery stores around the holidays. Here are the easy steps to get the pumpkin ready for any pumpkin recipe:

1. Cut the pumpkin in half.

2. Scoop out the seeds and all the goopy stuff in the middle.

3. Cut each half in half again.

4. Microwave in a dish with some water for about 25 minutes. You can also steam it if you have a steamer basket for about 30-35 minutes, or roast it in the oven for an hour. You will know it’s ready when the whole pumkin is soft and the “meat” can easily separate from the skin.

5. Simply scoop out the meaty part of the pumpkin and either mash it up with a fork or put it in a blender. I put the cooked pumpkin in the vitamix for a few seconds and it was perfect.

Sweet Potato Pie (Vegan Version)

Vegan Sweet Potato Pie
Vegan Sweet Potato Pie – Pic from recipe on vegetariantimes.com

 

I made this recipe using the same egg substitution I did for the pumpkin bread (2 tablespoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon canola oil for every egg). I did buy a pre-made graham cracker crust from whole foods that was vegan. Next time I make such a pie I would like to try and make the crust myself.

THE VERDICT

Everything was delicious. The egg substitution worked really well in the sweet potato pie. In the bread, on the first day, you could kind of taste the baking powder, which has a bit of a metallic taste, and the bread was falling apart when you tried to remove a piece. However, on the second day, the bread was delicious and the texture became perfect. Next time I would like to try this vegan egg substitution: 2 tablespoons corn starch and 3 tablespoons water for each egg. Happy vegan holidays!

2 New Autumn Vegan Recipes: Butternut Squash Mash & Tomato Sauce

Hello! I’ve been neglecting this site because I was off on some amazing adventures in Europe and the midwest, and then more recently just life/work/busy stuff too. But I was so excited when I made two new super simple and pretty fast recipes tonight that I just concocted in my head! Well, ok. One was an idea strictly from me, but the other is based off of a Vitamix recipe from the Vitamix Cook Book that comes with the awesome blender (yes, I got one a few months ago!)

Butternut Squash Mash

You will need:

1 large butternut squash or 2 small ones

3/4 cup of rice

1/2 onion

Some olive oil

Black Pepper

Here’s what you do. It’s super simple. First you need to roast the squash. Preheat your oven to 450. Cut it in half (it’s hard so be careful!) Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and save them for some roasting. Evenly spread a little bit of olive oil on each face, and place them face down on a roasting sheet or some aluminum foil. Then just put them in the oven for 45min to an hour. If they’re on the bigger side, it will take longer.

While your squash is cooking, make the rice. Remember, rice usually has a 2:1 rice to water ratio. This recipe works best with white or brown rice, not wild rice or any husked rice.

While the squash and rice are cooking, chop the onion and throw it into a pan with some olive oil. Sautee the onion until it’s a bit brown and pretty soft.

When everything is ready, just mix it all together in a big bowl and put some black pepper on it, to taste. It’s a great fall vegan dish to make on a Sunday and eat at work throughout the week, saving some time for R&R during the busy weeknights.

Vitamix Fresh Tomato Sauce Redux

The Vitamix Cook Book has a recipe for fresh tomato sauce that calls for tomato paste and sugar, which I don’t like to cook with, especially not when I have amazing fresh tomatoes that were grown right in front of my house, and wonderful whole food sweeteners like dates and raisins. In my rendition, I use cashews as a bit of a thickener as well. This is my version of the Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe from the Vitamix Book.

You will need:

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

8-9 tomatoes (smallish & cut into quarters)

1/2 of a large onion (cut it in half)

1 garlic clove (peeled)

1 date (take the pit out!)

A small handful of raisins

A small handful of Cashews

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Put all of this stuff in the Vitamix (or whatever other blender you have, I guess) and start it on variable 1 (if you have a variable speed one) and then ramp it up to 10, then high. After it’s blended, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, pour it into a sauce pan and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. That’s it! Super simple & vegan tomato sauce. This is another one that I love to do on a Sunday and eat with pasta during the week.

A Delicious Treat You Will Not Regret

Ok so. When you’re trying to be super healthy how do you satisfy your sweet tooth?

There are actually quite a few healthy ways, but I’ve just discovered a new one that is my current favorite.

Step one: Pour yourself a bowl of your favorite granola. I usually get a maple/vanilla nutty one from the bulk foods section at Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl.

Step two: Put in 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter. So far I’ve only done it with regular peanut butter, not any of my favorite delicious flavored ones.

Step three: Pour in a little of your favorite chocolate or vanilla milk substitute. So far I’ve done this with chocolate coconut milk and vanilla rice milk (but not at the same time!) Don’t put as much as you would for a bowl of cereal. I would say put about 1/4 the normal amount.

Step four: Mix it all up until the milk and peanut butter blend a little bit. The granola should be kind of sticking together.

Step five: EAT IT UP YUM.

My Beautiful Salad

Today I made a beautiful salad for lunch. It is so beautiful that I wanted to share it with you.

Here’s what is in it:

A bunch of kale

A bunch of arugula (my fave)

Chopped up green onion (they are kind of like chives)

Chopped up raw garlic

Some frozen corn

Some frozen peas

Chopped up carrots

Chopped up zucchini

Broccoli

and my own simple homemade dressing made from a little olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and italian seasoning.

So good!