Christmas Recap

It is so hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or holidays) filled with family, friends, and lots of delicious vegan food!

With a Christmas tree upstairs, I don’t do a tree in my place, but I did do a bit of decorating for the first time. 

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So glad I remembered where I’d tucked away these snowflakes that my late Grandma made years ago! 🙂

I’m officially done one third of my Natural Nutrition program and enjoying a nice break from my studies. Which gave me time to sneak in a couple days of baking before Christmas Day. The week before, I’d made these Peppermint Bark Raw Brownies to share at work.

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Monday, Jem and I had our annual Christmas Baking Day. We like to turn on some Christmas music and make a few different goodies at once, mostly to share with family and friends over the holidays. Since I made the switch to vegan, Jem is lovely enough to let all our choices be vegan. This year we choose to make Thin Mint Cookies, Pumpkin Blondies,  Chocolate Chai Shortbread, and Coconut Sugar Cookies (from Vegan Food Gifts). (The links will take you to the original recipe, but I did make some changes, which I will share with you in later posts.)

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(Please ignore the non-vegan red sprinkles on Jem’s cookies.)

And Christmas Eve I baked a Cranberry Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (this one, but with fresh cranberries added), and Christmas morning I baked fresh Herb Drop Biscuits. These were my contribution to my family’s Christmas brunch.

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I’m feeling completely spoiled from Christmas! This is all the vegan/cooking/baking-related stuff I was lucky enough to receive.

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Can you detect any themes? Seems as though my family has figured out that if I get kitchen stuff and Lush stuff, I will be a super happy camper!

Not sure if I’ll have another post for you before the end of 2013, so just in case I miss it: have a very Happy New Year! See you in 2014!

P.S. – I am so excited about my new Crockpot, but have never used one before. Does anyone have any favourite or tried-and-true vegan slow-cooker recipes they’d like to share?

Also, I’d love to hear about your favourite moment or favourite gift from this year’s holidays!

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Pumpkin Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

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I am so excited to finally share these Pumpkin Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins with you! Two years ago when I first tried The Best Pumpkin Muffins from the Post Punk Kitchen they became an instant favourite. I made them constantly all of that fall and winter. Last winter I was so busy trying new recipes, that I only revisited these a couple times, and never took any photos. Now its pumpkin season once again and I have fallen in love with these muffins all over again.

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Through the many times I’ve made them, The Best Pumpkin Muffins has slowly morphed into something healthier and a little different: my Pumpkin Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins. I use whole grain flours, a lot less sugar and oil (and healthier versions of both), more molasses and pumpkin, and the cranberries are never optional. While the PPK’s pumpkin muffins lived up to their name, I have to say that I enjoy them even more with the changes I’ve made. I hope you do too!

Pumpkin Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins (Yields 12 Muffins)
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup chickpea flour (besan)
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup coconut sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp sea salt
1 ¼ cups pureed pumpkin
½ cup unsweetened nondairy milk or water
¼ cup molasses
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans (optional)

Notes:
– Please don’t be scared away by the somewhat lengthy ingredient list; one third of it is spices. The recipe is really simple and comes together quickly.
– If you don’t have chickpea or brown rice flour, you can use all whole wheat but your muffins will be a little denser and you may need a little bit of extra milk or water.
– For a special treat, I highly recommend trying these with a ½ cup of vegan dark chocolate chips instead of the nuts. You won’t be disappointed!
– For some an extra pop of ginger, toss in a couple tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger.

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
In a smaller bowl whisk together the pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses.
Stir the cranberries and nuts (if using) into the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.
Use a ¼ cup measuring scoop to scoop batter into a lined or lightly greased muffin tin.
Bake for 20-23 minutes.
Enjoy!

labels, pumpkin muffins

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In case you’re wondering, these muffins freeze amazingly well, though I usually have a hard  time having extras to put in the freezer.

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These little guys are so moist and flavourful they really don’t need anything else! (Though a little smear of Earth Balance probably wouldn’t hurt.) Yum!

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I’ve shared this post with Healthy Vegan Friday #70 and Wellness Weekends.

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Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5

Have you read about our Green Smoothie Challenge: Preparation?

Rather than fully start the Green Smoothie Challenge yesterday, we used the day to ease into it a bit. When choosing a start day, we didn’t realize that we would both end up with (non-challenge-approved) leftovers from a pre-planned dinner out on Saturday night, and Jem didn’t know that she had an impromptu late Thanksgiving dinner to go to on Sunday night.

So, yesterday, Jem had the Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie for breakfast, and then ate regularly for the rest of the day. She did include 30 minutes of elliptical in her day. I ended up having one and a half smoothies, a serving of soup, and some hummus and raw vegetables, and rounding it out with some non-challenge-approved foods. The photos below show what I ate for the day.

I started the day at 6:30am with a Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie. I choose to start with this one because it is very similar to my favourite smoothie of frozen blueberries, Chocolate Vega One, greens, and almond milk. I used only half a banana (because I really don’t like them), choose 1 tbsp of hemp protein powder for the flax/hemp/chia option, used 1/2 cup of my Greens Puree in place of the spinach, and didn’t add the water. The smoothie turned out the perfect texture for me, and I really enjoyed it, even though I was freezing!

Jem had the same smoothie for breakfast, except she used a full banana as the recipe states.

To help warm me up, I had a hot cup of orange pekoe tea with vanilla creme stevia right after I finished my smoothie. Yes, this tea has caffeine in it, but a lot less than the coffee I usually have every morning. I figured it would be a good stepping stone to the next week without any caffeine. And I didn’t have any coffee for the whole day!

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After a 30 minute walk to work, I had a few almonds and one piece of the fig date bread pictured below.

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At noon I had 1 1/2 cups of the Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup and a piece of toast. I really love the taste of this soup, but just like last time I made it, I’m not really a fan of the texture. Right now it is about half pureed, but I may try fully pureeing it before I have any today.

We did make some changes to the soup, so I’m going to write our version below.

Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Black Bean Soup 
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely diced and seeds removed
2 carrots, diced
1/2 large zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp liquid smoke
4 cups water
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup nutritional yeast

In a large pot over medium heat, water sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, chipotle pepper, and spices and cooking stirring for a couple of minutes. Add black beans, liquid smoke, and water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 10 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast and tahini. Pulse a few times with a stick blender to desired consistency.

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Around 4pm, I had another small meal of hummus with raw cucumber, carrot, and yellow bell pepper. I also had the other piece of my fig date bread and some green tea.

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At 5pm, I had another 30 minute walk from work.

For dinner, around 6:30pm, I had a small bowl of leftover pasta from the night before.

Around 7:30pm I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes of yoga stretches.

After my workout, I made an Apple Pie Green Smoothie, and drank about half of it. Then I had some lemon ginger herbal tea with stevia to warm me up. I liked the taste of the Apple Pie Smoothie, but didn’t like the texture. My blender probably just isn’t powerful enough to blend the apples smoothly. It was drinkable, once I blended it with ice, but next time I think I’d use applesauce in place of the full apples.

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I was also drinking water throughout the day, and made it to a grand total of 11 cups! This includes herbal tea, but doesn’t include the water in the smoothies and other food I ate.

Looking forward to starting the challenge off for real today!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Vegan Mofo 2013 – Post #11

What could be better than combining all your favourite cookies into one? When they are also super easy to make and pretty darn healthy as far as treats go! And they taste amazing!

Sound good? Check out these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Oatmeal With A Fork!

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I actually used the last bits of my almond butter and peanut butter up to make these, so it ended up about half and half. Also, I just realized that I never added the stevia, but I really didn’t feel like I was missing any sweetness, so I’ll probably just leave it out next time.

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Veggie Burgers Every Which Way: Baked Falafel Burgers

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Post #9

In my quest to stop buying processed veggie burgers (and other faux meats), I’ve been trying a lot of different veggie burger recipes from the web and different cookbooks. I love having a batch, or two, of veggie burgers in the freezer for those times when I am in need of a quick meal. Put them in a bun or wrap along with some fresh vegetables, or crumble on a salad and you’ve got a near-instant meal! If you follow my What I Ate Wednesday posts you’ve probably seen a lot of different veggie burgers popping up in these ways, including these Baked Falafel Burgers from Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.

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I’ve always loved falafel, but this was actually the first time I’ve made them from scratch. And they were really easy! This is probably the simplest veggie burger recipe I’ve tried so far (everything goes right into the food processor) and one of the best. The hardest part of the recipe is remembering to get the chickpeas soaking the night or morning before.

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I did make a few minor changes to the recipe, just based on what I had on hand. Even with these changes, the recipe still worked perfectly.
– I doubled the recipe, but didn’t double the amount of onion or lemon zest.
– I neglected to measure the chickpeas before I set them soaking, so I just used about 2 cups of soaked chickpeas.
– I forgot to add parsley to my grocery list, so I added spinach for some green. Parsley is a pretty essential ingredient in most falafel and I would definitely add it next time, but the burgers still tasted great without it.
– I didn’t need to add the optional water or chickpea flour.

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I noticed in this recipe that the yield says 4 patties, but in the recipe it says to shape it into 6 patties. I doubled the recipe and ended up with 9 patties.

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Fresh from the oven, with some roasted red pepper hummus and cucumber.

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Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

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Vegan Mofo 2013 – Post #8 – Now only 2 posts behind, and almost halfway through. I may actually make it!

I don’t know if you remember, but awhile back I posted about the amazing Lower-fat Banana Bread recipe from Veganomicon. Well, I recently stumbled upon this variation on that recipe, and it was a definite must-try! I usually add chocolate chips to my banana bread, but Herbivore Triathlete had the genius thought of also adding raspberries!

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Banana bread + dark chocolate + tart berry goodness = love!

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When making this Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread, I made the same minor changes that I mentioned in my previous post, except that this time I replaced the all purpose flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup brown rice flour, and 1/4 cup chickpea flour.

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You should give this a try!

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Title, Cranberry Orange Cardamom MuffinsCranberry Orange Cardamom Muffins

 

Classic Sesame Sauce, Take Two

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Post #7

Wondering what happened to the leftover Classic Sesame Sauce from the other day?

This did.

IMG_3664And it was amazing! Maybe even better than the sesame noodle dish the night before. Jem and I were raving about it all evening!

IMG_3658Quinoa. Roasted yams. Sautéed kale, with just a bit of rice wine vinegar. Classic sesame sauce. Sriracha. Yum!

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Can you tell I’m ready for fall?

 

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Also, the next day for lunch I turned all the leftovers into a big salad.

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Romaine lettuce, cucumber, and orange pepper. Warmed leftover quinoa, roasted yams, and kale. Sesame sauce thinned with a bit of water. More yums!