Homemade Almond Butter

DSC04587Apparently Trader Joe’s is in some sort of almond butter crisis shortage. This recent discovery doesn’t actually affect me too drastically (if it were peanut butter, different story entirely); however, my mother needs her almond butter like I need my peanut butter.DSC04572 Interestingly enough, bags of almonds are still just as plentiful as ever at Trader Joe’s, which led me to immediately jump at the opportunity to take matters into my own hands and try making homemade almond butter!DSC04574 DSC04575 DSC04577 DSC04579As long as you have a good food processor and some patience, this is too easy. Simply pulse about 1-cup batches of whole almonds (I used raw) in your food processor on high speed for 1-2 minute intervals, taking breaks in between to avoid over-heating. The almonds will first form a crumbly paste, then slowly will into a more smooth, buttery consistency. DSC04585Feel free to flavor your almond butter by adding salt, or vanilla, cinnamon, or a sweetener like maple syrup or brown sugar. Yum!DSC04586 DSC04588Question: What’s your favorite kind of nut butter? Have you ever made nut butter before?

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Crispy Apple Chips

DSC04556My mother made an apple crisp the other week, and peeled a whole bunch of apples, which made me sad. What’s an apple without the skin? A sad, naked apple.DSC04557 What’s the skin without the apple? Turns out it’s delicious!DSC04568Crispy Apple Chips vegan

  • peeled apple skins (I used about 1.5 cups– beware that they shrink a LOT)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • optional: sprinkling of sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Peel apples, and toss apple skins in a bowl generously with cinnamon (add sugar if you’d like to make it sweeter). Lay your peeled apple skins on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, and let sit in oven to crisp for 2 hours or more (until they become slightly brown and crispy). Let cool completely, and enjoy within 2 days.

The crispier the better! These are delicious eaten plain, or sprinkled over some yogurt for a bit of a light toasted crunch.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Oat Bars

DSC04564I had an overripe banana, I had an almost-finished jar of applesauce, and I had a neglected carrot that has been in my fridge for a few weeks. DSC04548 So after this sad shot was taken, I got right to work! DSC04549DSC04551These bars are made with all natural ingredients, and are perfect as a delicious and wholesome breakfast or snack. And they even got my mother’s seal of approval, who usually turns her nose at anything made with no animal products, refined sugar, or oil. Success!

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Oat Bars vegan

makes 6 large squares

  • 1 large, overripe banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or baking emulsion
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each of allspice/nutmeg/cloves
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • optional add-ins: raisins, walnuts

Mix first set of ingredients in one medium bowl. Mix second set in another bowl, except for the carrots. Stir in dry to wet. Stir in your grated carrots and raisins or walnuts (optional) at end. Distribute into 8×8 square pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 mins, or until cooked all the way through.DSC04561

Question: What’s your favorite way to use carrots in baking?

Roasted Pumpkin-Spice Chickpeas

Smells of warm cinnamon and pumpkin spice are wafting through my kitchen, and I am in heaven.DSC04539 Yes, it may be 90 degrees out today (which is oddly hot for early September in Boston), but I couldn’t be more OK with standing here next to my toaster oven, taking in the pumpkin-y scents and swooning over my little tray of spiced chickpeas.

Now that it’s September, it appears that the pumpkin spice obsession is returning this year in full force. HALLELUJAH! This recipe is incredibly easy, and also a much healthier way to fulfill your pumpkin cravings than with artificially-flavored and horrible-for-you pumpkin pies, muffins, bars, and even lattes. Let’s give chickpeas a chance. 🙂DSC04543

Roasted Pumpkin Spice Chickpeas

vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and dried
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1.5 tablespoons pumpkin butter (I used Trader Joe’s)

In a small bowl, gently toss the dry chickpeas with your spices (if you have pumpkin spice on hand, feel free to just use 2.5 teaspoons of that instead of the spice blend that I used). Once all have been evenly coated, place the chickpeas on a tray and toast in oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Once the 15 minutes is up, take the chickpeas out and return them to the small bowl. Add the pumpkin butter and again gently toss so that all are evenly coated and a bit sticky. The sugar from the pumpkin butter make these plenty sweet, but you could also add some sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup during this step as well to make them a bit more sweet. Return to the oven again for another 20 minutes (until crispy). Let cool before enjoying!  DSC04541

 

Whole Wheat Applesauce Rhubarb Bread

DSC04515Most of the times I bake, it’s usually some sort of muffin or quick-bread. Healthy, whole wheat breads are definitely a staple part of my diet at home, and I pretty much always have one of these baked goods sitting on my counter that I eat throughout the week as part of lunch or mid-afternoon snacks. We have TONS of rhubarb growing in the backyard this summer, so rhubarb has been in the spotlight for the past few weeks (the usual rotations of pumpkin, banana, and carrot breads have been taking a little much-needed summer vacation). 🙂DSC03443This recipe is not very sweet and definitely tastes whole wheat-y (you can certainly add more sweetener to it if you want) but I think it’s a perfect vehicle for nut butter or jam (or good old butter, according to my dear brother). DSC04514

Whole Wheat Applesauce Rhubarb Bread (makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins) vegan

  • 1 cup almond milk (or any milk of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar OR 3/4 tsp powdered stevia (2 stevia packets)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced fresh rhubarb

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease loaf tin or muffin tins with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar, and set aside.

In another medium/large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In the other bowl of almond milk and vinegar, stir in the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. Add rhubarb and stir until all rhubarb is coated.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Bake for ~20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

DSC04518Question: What the heck do you do with rhubarb?

Frozen Peach Sorbet

DSC04510There are few things that are more refreshing in life than cold, freshly swirled peach sorbet. And for a magical three days last week, my grocery store had Georgia peaches on sale for 77 cents a pound. You better believe I stocked up!DSC04508Honestly, I had never thought about freezing peaches before because I’ve really never had any problem eating them as they ripen! But due to my recent love affair with making banana soft-serve in my food processor, I thought it would be only fair to give peaches a chance (hehe). Also, soft, mushy peaches aren’t exactly my favorite, so into the freezer they went as soon as they ripened.

Frozen Peach Sorbet (serves 1) vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 LARGE frozen peach
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used plain almond milk)

First, dice your peach into small chunks (Note: this step may perhaps be best done before freezing the peach). Pulse in food processor until crumbles start to form as shown in the photo below. Once this occurs, slowly add the milk and blend until creamy consistency is reached. **This is ESPECIALLY important to wait until the peach is slightly processed, or else milk will splatter everywhere. Trust me. Enjoy!DSC04506DSC04511 I sat down with a big bowl of this for breakfast the other morning, but this can really be enjoyed whenever as part of a meal, a snack or light (yet impressive!) dessert.

Question: What’s your favorite way to eat peaches? Fresh? Frozen? Peach cobbler? Peach pie? I could REALLY go for some peach cobbler right about now….!

Chilled Pea & Mint Soup

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a seriously green soup.DSC04503Let me start first off by saying that I’m really not a big pea lover. Peas are boring. They taste fine, sure, and I usually take a small serving of them on Thanksgiving to feel somewhat healthier, but they are not something that I would ever crave. This soup, on the other hand, has been on my mind for quite a few weeks now.DSC04504Packed with avocado, spinach, and lots of freshly picked mint, I daresay that this soup is something that I actually began to crave! (Is that weird?)  It’s delightfully refreshing, light, ridiculously healthy, and perfect for an easy summer meal. And it’s also quite beautiful, if you like green.

Chilled Pea & Mint Soup (serves 4) vegan, gluten-free

  • 1.5-2 cups water, vegetable stock, or almond milk
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 16 oz. bag of frozen green peas (almost 3 cups)
  • 1-2 cups fresh or frozen chopped spinach (may omit; it doesn’t change taste much)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • salt/pepper to taste

Place the water, avocado, and garlic into blender and blend until smooth. Very gradually, add all other ingredients and blend. This works best by adding the peas in two or three bunches, especially if thawed beforehand. Puree until smooth, or until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled (by using frozen peas, this can be served and enjoyed immediately).

This is also great as a refreshing topping for grilled fish or tofu, served with a sliver of lemon!

Question: Thoughts on peas: yay or nay? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Roasted Kabocha Squash

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Kabocha squash, also known as the Japanese pumpkin, is one of the most under-appreciated vegetables out there, and also happens to be my very favorite.

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Basic roasted kabocha squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse your kabocha squash, cut in and half and remove all seeds. Cut into wedges, leaving the skin intact — it’s perfectly edible. Cover baking sheet with coconut oil spray (or olive oil spray), add your kabocha, and then give another quick spray for the top layer. Bake for 30-45 minutes (until completely cooked through), flipping at halfway point.

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Before and after. May be a bit less pretty after roasting, but certainly tastes way better. Enjoy with a sprinkling of sea salt, or cinnamon, or dipped in maple syrup, or even eat it like fries with ketchup/barbecue sauce. Or try my favorite way: spread some peanut butter on it. Yum!

 Question: Ever tried kabocha squash? Favorite way to eat it?

2-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Soft-Serve

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I have a love affair with my food processor, and I’m not afraid to admit it. And now that the weather has been consistently hot and humid, I’ve been making little batches of banana ice cream a few times a week. I can’t stop!

To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of ice cream in general. It tastes delicious — don’t get me wrong — but I’ve never been one to crave ice cream for dessert, and almost always prefer other desserts when given the choice. But this is absolutely perfect for me: not only does it taste incredible, but it’s 100% all natural, vegan, not too sweet nor heavy, and way easier and faster than making any sort of dairy-based ice cream at home.

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2-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Soft Serve: (for 1 serving) vegan

  • 1 large, ripe, frozen banana
  • 1 Tb. natural 100% cocoa powder
  • optional add-ins: splash of milk of choice (for a creamier consistency), sweetener (I used dark chocolate-flavored liquid stevia drops, which is a find that I highly recommend!), chocolate chips, coconut flakes, peanut butter, etc.

In a food processor (or good blender), pulse frozen banana until creamy consistency is reached. Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and optional sweetener and blend until incorporated and preferred texture is reached.

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I ate mine (for breakfast) alongside a scoop of Greek yogurt, which brought the cool creaminess to a whole new level. A super chocolatey, banana-y, and healthy bowl of goodness. 🙂

Question: Have you ever tried to make your own ice cream or any sort of fruit-based soft-serve?

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl: A New Friend

For the past few months, I’ve had something stored on my bedroom dresser that I haven’t really told people about.

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Peanut Butter & Co’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter. Now, let me get this straight– I’ve been wanting to open this jar for months now. But being the [slightly] obsessive person that I am, I made it my priority to finish at least one of the three nut butters I had open before I could start the next one. Logical, right?

Yesterday afternoon, friends, my Trader Joe’s salted almond butter came to an end. This long-awaited event brought a mix of emotions. It’s always a bit saddening to see the bottom of a jar of nut butter reveal itself, but on the other hand, it also allows for new doors to be opened.

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This stuff is very cinnamon-y, sweet, and absolutely delicious. There was no pool of oil sitting at the top when I opened it, which gave me the green light to just stick my spoon in and go. After a few mini spoonfuls of utter bliss, I decided to be more civil and spread it on some celery for a little twist on one of my very favorite food pairings!

celery on celery

Surprisingly, I thought it tasted a little lighter than normal natural peanut butter, and this is curiously holds true in the nutrition facts (somehow a normal 2 Tb. serving size is a bit less calories and fat than normal peanut butter? Interesting, especially since there’s added palm fruit oil in the ingredient list).

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Regardless of its label, PB & Co has, once again, outdone itself.

Question: Have you tried any of the PB & Co peanut butters? This one and the dark chocolate dreams are both amazing in my opinion!