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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title, pumpkin cornbread waffles
Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles

Vegan Eats World: Classic Sesame Noodles

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Vegan MoFo 2013 – Post #5

Last night I finally made my first recipe from Vegan Eats World! Kind of. Jem and I used the sauce for the Classic Sesame Noodles (page 137), but swapped the marinated cucumbers and lettuce that are part of the dish, for some cooked snap peas, baby bok choy, and mushrooms.

The only minor changes I made to the sauce, were to use coconut sugar in place of the dark brown sugar, and ground ginger in place of fresh.

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We cooked some soba noodles according to the package, quickly sautéed them with  the veggies and a little sesame oil, then mixed in some sesame sauce. We also added some roasted sesame seeds and Sriracha to our bowls. So good! If there had been leftovers, I would happily eat the same thing again tonight. I’m such a sucker for a good Asian noodle dish! Luckily, there was quite a bit of sauce leftover (just no noodles or veggies). However, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. Stay tuned.

Have you tried any recipes from Vegan Eats World?
Please share.

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Easy Hot & Sour Refrigerator Pickles

Crunchy. Juicy. Sour. Sweet. Salty. Spicy. These Hot & Sour Refrigerator Pickles cover all the bases. I find these seriously addictive!

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I made these the first time when I bought a bunch of smallish local cucumbers from the market and was looking for a way to make sure none would go to waste. No problem, thanks to these delicious pickles! I took a whole 1/2 cup container full of these with me to work every day for a week and those cucumbers disappeared pretty darn fast!

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Hot & Sour Refrigerator Pickles
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium-large cucumber (or a couple small ones), sliced 1/4 inch thick

Place all ingredients except for the cucumbers into a medium-size jar or container (it must hold at least 2 cups). Stir together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Alternatively, if your jar has a tight fitting lid, you can put the lid on and shake it to mix the ingredients.
Add cucumber slices to the jar. You can stuff as many as you can into the container, as long as they are all mostly submerged into the liquid.
Close the jar and place in the fridge. The pickles will taste great even after 1 hour, and will continue to develop flavour the longer you leave them. I’d tell you how long they will last in the fridge, but mine disappeared within a week.
Enjoy!

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As you enjoy your pickles, you can keep adding more cucumber slices to the jar! And feel free to experiment with different vegetables. I tried carrots and they were also very tasty!

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These pickles pack a punch of flavour, so they are awesome on their own, but they are also a great addition to sandwiches, wraps, salads, and anywhere else you’d like a juicy spicy crunch!

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I’ve shared this with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (8/13/13), Health Vegan Friday #56, Wellness Weekends (Aug15-19), and Raw Foods Thursday (8/15/13).

Frosted Blueberry Cake: MMAZ #30

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For this week’s Meatless Monday from A-Z the mission is to cook a recipe that features blueberries. I haven’t made any of the recipes yet from last week’s Create with Blueberries linkup, but I did make this gorgeous Frosted Blueberry Cake from Healthy Happy Life.

For the past couple of years I’ve volunteered to make the birthday cakes (one for each sister) for my sisters’ birthday. Birthdays are a great excuse to try out a sweeter-than-usual dessert that I’ve been eyeing, and doing the baking, guarantees I’ll actually be able to eat something come dessert time. This year I couldn’t pass up Jem’s request for this Frosted Blueberry Cake.

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What I really love about this cake is that the actual cake is not too sweet, and pretty darn healthy. The flax, oats, applesauce, blueberries, and walnuts do the double duty of making the cake taste great, and providing some actual nutrients, instead of just empty calories. Without the frosting, this cake is more like a snack-cake than a true dessert, but as soon as you add the amazing coconut frosting, it is elevated to a beautiful dessert, perfect for any occasion. And the frosting really is amazing!

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I did make a couple of minor changes to the original recipe:
– I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I rarely even buy all purpose flour anymore, and I’m always pleased with the results I get using whole wheat flour. As usual, when substituting whole wheat flour, I just had to add an extra little splash of nondairy milk when mixing the wet and dry together.
– I used ground flaxseeds.
– I choose to use coconut sugar.
– I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk in place of the soy milk.
– I couldn’t find any fresh blueberries, so I used frozen blueberries in the cake, and fresh raspberries for decorating.

In regards to the options listed in the original recipe, I used almond extract, I didn’t use any cinnamon, and I used walnuts.

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We really enjoyed this cake, and I will absolutely be using both the cake recipe and the frosting recipe again!

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I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday 4/23/13.

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A Vegan Sushi Feast!

Jem and I tried our hands at making sushi for the first time ever, and we ended up with a sushi feast (and a lot of photos)!

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Can you tell Jem’s excited to make some vegan sushi!?

Apparently I was so excited about making vegan sushi that I forgot to record any amounts for our ingredients. Luckily, this wasn’t really intended to be a recipe, so I’ll just share with you what I do know. I cooked 2 cups of short grain brown rice, then added coconut sugar and rice wine vinegar according to someone’s directions.

For our fillings we used avocado, cucumber, asparagus, spicy smoked tofu, and portobello mushrooms. The avocado and cucumber were simply sliced into strips. The asparagus was steamed. For the tofu, we sliced up half a block of Soyganic Smoked Tofu into thin strips and quickly sautéed it with sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. The mushroom was actually a remainder from my portobello burger dinner the night before. It was grilled on the barbeque with just a little oil and black pepper, then thinly sliced for our sushi.

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How To Roll Sushi
I’m no expert, but I did find it to be surprisingly easy and quick once we got the hang of it. The process is difficult to explain, so I took some step-by-step photos for you. (Big thanks to my lovely hand-model/super-sister Jem!) As you can see, we used plastic wrap in between our sushi mat and the nori, but it probably isn’t necessary unless you want to make inside out rolls.

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Also, it really doesn’t hurt if you stop and take a photo like this. 🙂

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And don’t forget to have a little bowl of water and rice vinegar on hand to wet your fingers, otherwise they’ll look like this. 🙂

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As you can tell from the photos, we ended up with a tonne of sushi! (I ate it for lunch for the next two days.) Basically, we were quite unsure of how much rice or fillings we needed, so we made a lot, and kept making rolls until the rice was all gone. This was actually really nice, because it gave us a chance to do some experimenting with different filling combinations and different amounts of rice. Our package of nori said to use 1 cup of rice for each sheet so this is what we did for the first couple rolls, but they turned out larger than we like. We’ll be using 2/3 to 1/2 cup of rice from now on.

Here’s some of our combinations.

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Avocado/cucumber/asparagus. Tofu/mushroom/cucumber.

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Tofu/avocado/cucumber. Tofu/avocado/cucumber/mushroom/asparagus.

Last step: sit down and enjoy your delicious home-made vegan sushi!

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Making sushi at home can be really fun, and a lot easier than you may think. Also, because you choose the ingredients, it can be a lot healthier than restaurant sushi (especially if you use brown rice and no refined sugar). Plus, you can easily customize it to suit your specific dietary needs.
Gluten-free? Make sure your rice is gluten-free (I love Lundberg and it is) and use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
Soy-free? Just skip the tofu and soy sauce.
Oil-free? Just omit the sesame oil when sautéing the tofu

Enjoy!

I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday (4/9/13), and Allergy Free Wednesdays #62, Healthy Vegan Friday #38, and Gluten Free Fridays #35.

Crazy for Coconut: Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars

Blueberries are definitely one of my most used fruits. In the summer I like to buy large quantities of fresh local blueberries and freeze them for the fall and winter months. Having this supply has meant that I’ve learned to love blueberries in almost everything I bake: muffins, breads, cakes, and crisps. They almost always make an appearance in my smoothies as well.

The inspiration for these bars came when I saw this recipe for Blackberry Coconut Bars. I liked the idea of making fruit bars, which I’ve never actually done before, but I knew I wanted oats in my bars as well. After looking at a few different recipes I ended up using the base/topping from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Date Bars (page 128) in The Joy of Vegan Baking, adding coconut (shredded, sugar, and oil) and making other changes to make it healthier than the original. For the filling I tossed frozen blueberries with some cornstarch, agave, and vanilla, as I’d seen done in a few different recipes.

These bars are moist, crumbly, and only slightly sweet. They are quick and simple to make, and I really loved the combination of blueberries and coconut. The coconut craze seems to be in full swing and, as you can probably tell by the use of 3 forms of coconut in the following recipe, I have become a willing participant.

Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars
Base/Topping:
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
4 tsp ground flax
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C coconut sugar (sucanat or brown sugar would work)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4-1/2 cup water
Filling:
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 cup agave
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and lightly grease a 9-inch (23cm) square or 9×13-inch (23x33cm) pan. For the base/topping, in a large bowl thoroughly combine the oats, coconut, ground flax, salt, sugar, and flour. Heat the coconut oil (I use the microwave) until it is mostly liquid. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients, and add 1/4 cup of water. Stir together until totally combined. It should be moist but not wet, and will form little clumps. Add more water if needed. Press half of this mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. For the filling, combine the blueberries, vanilla, and agave in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch and stir until coated. Spread this mixture out on top of the base (it might not look like enough filling, but when cooked it will be). Crumble the remaining half of the base/topping mixture over top of the blueberries. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is slightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut into bars. Enjoy!

Sorry, for the bad picture, but you get the idea! I love that deep purple blueberry colour!

When you cut these bars you will probably end up with quite a bit of crumbles left in the dish. My suggestion: add them to your next bowl of oatmeal, cereal, or granola for a nice breakfast treat. That is if you can stop yourself from eating them right out of the pan!

Questions:
Have you joined the recent coconut craze? Do you have a favourite form of coconut to bake/cook with?
I’ve started baking with coconut oil and I really like the results so far. I love using coconut milk to make creamy sauces, and I really enjoy the brown sugar-like flavour of coconut sugar.

Do you have a favourite recipe that showcases coconut (in any form)? Please share.
I love this Pineapple Coconut Bread, but these bars are a close second.