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

title, pumpkin muffins

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.

You May Also Enjoy:
title, pumpkin cornbread waffles
Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles

Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles

I recently came up with these Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles, after a failed search for a pumpkin waffle recipe that suited my tastes, my pantry, and my love of whole grains. I stumbled upon a recipe for similar waffles, and was really disappointed to see that it used cornbread mix (which I’ve never bought and didn’t have). So, I adapted a tried and true waffle recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking into these gems. I couldn’t have been happier with how these turned out!

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Pumpkin and warm spices is always a perfect match. What really makes these is the amazing texture (or ‘mouthfeel’ if you don’t dislike that word as much as I do) that the cornmeal gives!

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Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles (Yields 6 small waffles, using ½ cup of batter each.)
3 tbsp ground flax seeds
½ cup warm water
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
¼ cup coconut oil, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk the ground flax and water together.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and spice.
Add the pumpkin, milk, and coconut oil to the flax/water mixture and whisk to combine.
Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined.
Cook in a waffle maker, according to its directions.
Top with maple syrup or your favourite toppings, and enjoy!

Collage, pumpkin cornbread waffles

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I hope you enjoy my new favourite waffles as much as I am!

I’ve shared this post with Allergy-Free Wednesday #93, Healthy Vegan Friday #69, and Wellness Weekends (Nov14-18/2013).

You May Also Enjoy:
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Blueberry Corn Pancakes, Apple Cinnamon Ginger Waffles, Chickpea Flour Omelette

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 5

Green Smoothie Challenge: Prep
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 3
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 4

My Day 5 Eats:
For breakfast I made a Blueberry Peach Smoothie. I drank about half of it right away, followed by a cup of hot herbal chai tea with vanilla stevia.

After a 30 minute walk to work I had the other half of my smoothie.

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At 11:30 I had a salad of Lemon Pepper Coleslaw, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and Balsamic Vinaigrette, alongside some warm Lentil Taco Filling. I also had a cup of herbal tea.

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Around 3pm I had some hummus with cucumber and orange pepper, as well as some steamed green beans with Bragg’s and black pepper.

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At 5pm I walked for another 30 minutes.

Once I was home, I enjoyed a big bowl of Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.

Around 9pm I tried my hand at making a pumpkin pie smoothie. I didn’t quite get it right, but I drank it anyway.

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My water intake for the day: 9 cups.

Jem’s Day 5 Eats:
For breakfast Jem had a smoothie made of 1 cup frozen mixed berries, ½ cup greens puree, ½ cup frozen peaches, ½ a banana, 1 tbsp hemp protein powder, 4 drops vanilla stevia, 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk, and ½ cup water.
At 12 she had 1 cup of Lentil Taco Filling.
At 2 she had some Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.
For dinner she had a stir fry of cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.
In the evening she had a Chocolate Covered Blues Smoothie.

Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups with Pecans and Crystallized Ginger

Not tired of pumpkin yet? (Never.)

Got any cans of pumpkin lurking in your cupboards from the holiday season? (Sure do.)

Then you should make these Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups with Pecans and Crystallized Ginger. They are quick and simple to make, and then you’ll have something delicious, healthy, and super portable on hand for quick breakfasts and snacks. You’re welcome!

Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups

These are a spin on Katie’s Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go. I instantly loved the idea of portable baked oatmeal cups, but I can’t stand bananas, so I’ve used pumpkin puree instead, which in turn inspired some other changes. If you do like bananas, you should definitely check out Katie’s recipe at the above link. And if you like pumpkin, my recipe is below

Pumpkin Spice Oat Cups with Pecans and Crystallized Ginger (Yields 24 Cups)
5 cups rolled oats*
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
5 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)*
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
*For a sugar-free version Katie suggested 5 NuNaturals Stevia packets and an extra 1/3 cup water. I haven’t personally tried this option.

Preheat oven to 375°F and line muffin tins. (You will need 24 cups.)
In a large bowl combine the oats and pecans.
In a separate bowl combine the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture, along with the crystallized ginger and stir until all the oats are coated.
Divide between lined muffin tins and bake for 20-23 minutes.

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These oat cups can be eaten right away, or will store well in the fridge or freezer, ready to be eaten anytime. I’ve enjoyed these cold and at room temperature, but they are best when warmed up. Enjoy!

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These oat cups have a fantastic chewy texture, a slightly sweet pumpkin flavour, with little bits of crunch from the pecans and sweet spiciness from the ginger. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Stay tuned. I’ve also created a tropical twist on these Oat Cups, which I will be sharing with you soon!

healthy vegan friday button

This post has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #32.

You May Also Enjoy:
100_2909 Chai Spiced Zucchini Bread
100_3525 Ginger Snap Oatmeal with Instant Cranberry Sauce
Title, Blueberry Oat Scones Blueberry Oatmeal Scones

Smoothies of 2013: Part 1

Thanks to my new (to me) KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender that I bought off a friend right around Christmas, and some awesome inspiration in the form of Somer’s Green Smoothie Challenge I’ve managed to restart my smoothie habit after many cold months of going without.

While I haven’t been having a smoothie every day, like I originally planned to do, I think I’ve been doing quite well. Having all of the following smoothies in roughly the past two weeks, is a huge improvement over not having any at all for months! At the moment, mostly due to the cold weather, I haven’t had any interest in having smoothies for breakfast (I simply don’t want anything cold to make my morning colder) but I have found ways of fitting them in during the rest of my day. Smoothies make a great meal when I start work at odd times, and would be starving on my first break if I don’t eat quite close to my start time. On these occasions I like to make my smoothie right before I leave the house and take it with me on my way to work. I’ve also had them a couple of times for lunch while I’m at home, sipping on it while I continue to get things done around the house.

The following smoothies all either yield 2 or 4 cups. For me, 2 cups seems to be the perfect meal size, no matter what kind of smoothie it is (keep in mind I almost always have Vega or hemp protein powder in mine). The 4 cup smoothies can be shared with someone (as I did for the Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie) or can be split between two meals/snacks (as I did for the Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie and the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie). And of course, if you want to drink all 4 cups at once, go ahead!

1) Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
I basically followed the recipe, but switched spinach for kale and used 1 scoop of hemp protein powder in place of the choice of flax, hemp, or chia seeds. I used mostly raspberries, with some blueberries for the frozen berries. Despite my blender having some trouble with the lemon (I think next time I would use the lemon zest and pulp, without the rind) this smoothie was awesome! The addition of lemon made this very different from any of my usual smoothies, and I mean different in a good way.
Collage, Raz Lemon Smoothie

2) Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [Recipe from Oh She Glows]
I followed Angela’s recipe, except replaced the almond milk with soy milk (just because that’s what I had) and reduced down to 1/2 a frozen banana. I also added 1/2 a serving (1 scoop) of Vega Vanilla Chai Whole Food Health Optimizer for some extra nutrients because I knew the flavours would fit perfectly in with the pumpkin pie flavours.
This smoothie tastes great and is super rich and creamy. It does not taste like it could be a meal, though it easily could be (especially with the addition of Vega), and half of it was a filling meal for me.
This was the first time I’ve tried putting oats in a smoothie, and I’m not so sure whether or not I like the result. I’m sure they contributed to the thick creamy texture, but the smoothie felt a bit too heavy for me (at least compared to my usual smoothies). I don’t think that adding oats to my smoothies is going to become a regular thing.
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3) Blueberry Matcha Green Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen banana slices
1/2 cup packed spinach
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp matcha powder
1/3 serving Natural Vega One
1/2 cup unsweetened dairy milk (I used soy)
1.5 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups cold water
If you like matcha than you will like this one! Tastes mostly like matcha, though its not overpowering: you can still taste the blueberries and the vanilla.

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4) Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie (Yields 4 cups)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup spinach
1 scoop (1 serving Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
2 cups cold water
This one is definitely a keeper! If you like vanilla and almonds (does any one not?) then you will love this! I actually meant to put some banana (maybe 1/2 of one) in this as well, but I forgot.
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5) Vanilla Almond Matcha Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen mango
1 scoop Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups cold water
(optional) Sweetener to taste
This one is a mix between the previous two. This one tastes more like the vanilla and almond than the matcha, but it is still detectable (and delicious).

6) Tropical Colada Vega Smoothie (Yields 2 cups) [based on the Tropical Colada recipe from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
1 cup packed spinach
Zest and flesh from 1/2 orange
1/2 banana
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 scoop (1 serving) Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
This is similar to smoothies I’ve made in the past using the Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie, but this one just seems to be on a whole different level. So good! I also love the beautiful green colour of this smoothie! I love green smoothies, but as soon as you add something like berries or chocolate (or berry or chocolate Vega) they can turn some pretty strange and not so pleasant colours. This one is just a pure vibrant green!
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You might have noticed I’ve mentioned Vedged Out‘s Green Smoothie Challenge a lot in this post. I did because I think it is pretty darn awesome! While I haven’t yet followed the actual challenge, I have tried two of the smoothie recipes and one of the salad dressing recipes, and following Somer’s daily posts throughout her week of the challenge provided some serious inspiration to do some healthier eating. The basic recipes and all the information can be found by clicking the 2013 Green Smoothie Challenge link on this page. There are also other recipes and lots of photos in Somer’s 7 daily posts about the challenge.

healthy vegan friday button This post has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #31. If you haven’t checked out Healthy Vegan Friday yet, you really should!

Questions
Like smoothies? What is in your favourite one? 

Are you trying to make any positive changes to your eating habits this year?

Pumpkin Spice Waffles via Healthy Happy Life

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When asked the question, “Pancakes or waffles?” my answer is always WAFFLES! I absolutely love them so was obviously super excited to find this cute little waffle maker amongst my Christmas gifts this year (or last year I suppose, since it is now 2013 and I’m talking Christmas 2012).

I’ve seen a lot of huge waffle makers around lately and I’m sure they’re great but I do not have enough space for one of those gigantic flip ones. I really love how small this Cuisinart Waffle Maker is. Small enough to tuck away, but always there when I’m in need of waffles!

First up, I made these Pumpkin Spice Waffles from Healthy Happy Life! I’ve had my eye on Kathy’s waffle post for awhile. She also has recipes in the same post for Ginger Matcha Waffles and Apple Cinnamon Candied Ginger Waffles and they all look amazing!

Collage, Pumpkin Waffles

I followed Kathy’s recipe, except that I left out the matcha powder (on purpose) and the lemon juice (by accident). I wasn’t sure how I felt about matcha in pumpkin spice waffles and didn’t want to waste it when I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to taste it. I actually just realized while looking at the recipe that I left out the lemon juice, but my waffles turned out great without it.

I topped my waffles with a little Earth Balance and some Instant Cranberry Sauce I made while the waffles were cooking. So good!

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I sure have missed waffles! Now my only problem is deciding what kind to try next.

Questions:
Pancakes or waffles?

Do you have any great vegan waffle recipes I should put on my to-try list?