Fudgsicles

Summer is approaching, and with it comes the season of ice cream! I have to admit that ice cream is one of my favourite treats, and I do make an exception to my mainly vegan diet by indulging in the full dairy experience once in a while.

That being said, there are many kinds of vegan ice cream out there. I have tried a few non-dairy ones. Just recently I tried “Screamin’ Brothers” brand, which was quite tasty. Making your own is less expensive, and I believe I have found a gem of a recipe.

I haven’t talked about Plant Powered Families yet on this blog, but rather have been exploring dozens of recipes from it over the last five months. I’ve mentioned Dreena Burton before, who is a Canadian vegan blogger/writer who offers some of the best plant-based recipes I have ever come across. Plant Powered Families is a cookbook directed towards families to help them thrive on plant power. And, holy moly are there lots of great recipes. I have tried several dips, muffins, main dishes, and desserts, and many recipes have become regular rotations in my diet. At least once a month I make Dreena’s banana bread muffins to pack in my lunches. Other favourites include her chickpea salad sandwich filling, and her sweet potato chocolate cake. She also has a lot of good advice for how to eat plant based on a busy schedule, and tips on how to raise your kids on a plant-based diet.

This recipe for Fudsicles is simple, easy to make, and extraordinarily delicious. I’ve had it as a snack coming home from work on a hot day, or as a refreshing dessert.

Here is what I did:

Ingredients
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup raw sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used coconut, but almond would be good too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen banana chunks (I used 3 bananas)

I made my own cashew butter by blending 1/2 cup raw cashews until they were smooth. I added all the rest of the ingredients to my high-speed blender and blended the mixture until very smooth. I made sure there were no chunks of banana hidden in the mixture. Then, I poured it into a popsicle mold, put the sticks in, and popped it all in the freezer.

When I wanted to eat a popsicle I ran the mould under the tap until I could wiggle out a popsicle. Putting the whole mixture into a freezer-safe container would also work well, as the ice cream is soft enough. You’d just need to let the ice cream sit out for about five minutes to scoop it nicely.

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Everything I remember about a fudgesicle, but way healthier!

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Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Halloween everyone! Here is a quick smoothie recipe I’ve been making with some leftover roasted pumpkin that I froze after Thanksgiving. I thawed it and have been making smoothies with it, and also added some to a batch of veggie chilli. This smoothie made a delicious and festive breakfast this morning.

Pumpkin is really good for you. According to The Everyday Squash Cook by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight, and Kerry Knight, pumpkin has vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, vitamin B5, phosphorous, and potassium.

Serves: 2

Ingredients
1 yellow banana
1 cup pumpkin meat (mine was roasted at 350*F for about 40 minutes, and cooled)
4 dates, plus extra dates, agave syrup, or maple syrup to taste
4 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

I prepped all the ingredients and blended them in my blender, enough to ensure that the dates were not chunky anymore.

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Voila!

Black Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to post about this delicious, protein-filled cookie recipe. My boyfriend showed it to me over a year ago, and whenever I make too many black beans, this is my go-to recipe. It has no flour in it and is easy to make. Just to clarify, I’m don’t abide by a wheat-free diet, but I try not to make all my meals and snacks centre around it. This is for the sake of variety, which is important for ensuring I am getting enough of everything else. It is super easy to reach the ideal carbohydrate limit for the day with cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, squash, etc. So, when I think of snacks, I’m thinking about veggies, fruits, fats (oils, nuts and avocado), and protein. I like to make sure I am eating protein whenever possible, especially in snacks, and I find protein-filled snacks are the most filling and satisfying (gluten is a protein, so I am not against that). Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups black beans, or one can (rinse them well to get excess salt off)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips

I preheated the oven to 375*F. In a small bowl I mixed together the maple syrup, vanilla, and chia seeds. Separately, in a food processor I blended the black beans, coconut oil, and salt until smooth (you could add 1/4 tsp cayenne powder, but I prefer not to). Then I added the wet ingredients to the food processor and blended the mixture some more. I placed the batter into a medium bowl and mixed in the chocolate chips. I then spooned the cookies on a cookie sheet that was lined with parchment paper and flattened them to the size I wanted them, as they do not rise. I prefer cookies on the smaller side, so each cookie was about 2 tbsp.  The cookies were baked for 15 minutes, and once cooled were kept in the fridge.

I remember that one batch made a pretty small amount: 8-10. So, I have doubled it before and froze the extra cookies.

No picture today, sorry folks.

Ginger Cookies and Hot Chocolate

Brrr it is cold out there! January weather came early to Ottawa, and the winter coat and boots have been deployed. I find the best way to cope with the early winter is by being as warm and cozy as possible. That is why I made ginger cookies and hot chocolate today. About a month ago I started to experiment with making my own nut milk. Along with getting some fresh-made milk, I use the leftover pulp to make flour, then use the flour in my baking. Kinda neat. I add vanilla protein powder to the milk when having it with cereal to add some protein, too. I have made almond milk/flour, but for this recipe I made used pecans.

Last week I had lunch with my childhood piano teacher, whom I had not seen in about four years. It was lovely; we caught up over a delicious lunch that she made herself. For dessert she had a ginger-snap vanilla gelato from Stella Luna, a fantastic cafe in Old Ottawa South. Unfortunately, I could not eat it because they also make gelato with peanuts. Silly peanut allergy. Ever since that day I have been craving ginger cookies. So, I am kicking off the weekend with a cozy treat.

Here is the recipe for the ginger cookies, inspired by a recipe on food.com

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, 1/2 cup white)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk, but the pecan milk would have been delightful)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl I mixed together the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, and in a small bowl I mixed together the wet ingredients with a whisk. I used the spoon to stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mixed until combined. I then divided the dough into 12 balls, about 1 tbsp each, rolling them in my hands and placing them on a cookie sheet that was lined with parchment paper. I flattened the balls with my hand, then marked each cookie with a fork, in a criss-cross pattern. The cookies were baked at 350*F for 10 minutes. My cookies were soft, but for crispier ones, I could have flattened them even more, and used less dough for each cookie.

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Here is the recipe for the hot chocolate, inspired by a recipe for hot chocolate in The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook.

Ingredients for the pecan milk
2 cups pecans
4 cups water

Ingredients for the hot chocolate
2  heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 heaping tbsp white sugar (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup water
2 cups pecan milk
pinch salt

I combined the pecans and water in a bowl and let them soak for ten hours. This is to make the pecans really soft. I blended the mixture in a blender on high speed for about two minutes. Then, I drained the liquid with a cheese cloth, squeezing the contents until as much liquid as possible came out. I reserved the pecan pulp in a container for later*

To make the hot chocolate, I whisked the cocoa powder, salt, sugar, and water in a small sauce pan. I heated the mixture until it simmered, whisking constantly. I added the pecan milk and continued to whisk until the hot chocolate came to a boil. I served it immediately.

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The hot chocolate was quite chocolatey, and had a distinct flavour of pecan. I enjoyed a cup of it with the ginger cookies, and shared it all with my dad. I definitely would put a bit of maple syrup next time to make it just a hint sweeter.

*To make nut flour, all I do is lay the pulp left over from the nut milk on a baking tray, making sure the pulp is in a thin layer, and bake it until it is dry and powdery. I think I baked it at 200*F for about 45 minutes to an hour. I kept it in an air-tight container in the cupboard and have used it to make granola bars, muffins, and almond cream. Just be careful, as it does not substitute perfectly for flour. I would use only some of it to substitute all-purpose flour in a recipe.

Bean Burgers and Hemp Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, the vegan adventure has been going well; I am proud to say that in the three weeks that I have lived in Alberta, I have not bought any animal products from the grocery store, and have cooked all vegan meals at home. There have been a few exceptions, such as meals cooked by Tom’s parents when we visited them in Canmore, or accepting free food from my work (oh yeah, I now work at a bagel shop! I have access to free bagels, soups, cookies, and coffee. I try as hard as I can to make myself vegan lunches there), and overall my food choices are vegan. I think of myself as an opportunivore: if it is a total inconvenience for me to avoid animal products, or if the food is going to be thrown out anyway, I will eat it, but food that I buy myself is vegan. Consequently, I have been discovering a lot of new ways to make my favorite meals, and I could post about every dinner Tom and I have made in Calgary, but I have chosen to report about the bean burgers and the hemp chocolate chip cookies that I made.

Another reason for not posting more often this month is that I have been busy climbing in the Rockies. Check out this beautiful view from Echo Canyon, in Canmore, Alberta. After a seventy-minute hike up a steep trail, I got to spend all day with this view.

ImageAnyway, here is how I made the bean burgers

Ingredients
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cup quick oats
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
salt

I started by frying up the onion, carrot, and garlic. In a bowl I mashed together the beans (though next time I make these I will grind them in a food processor to break them down even more), then smushed all the other ingredients together in the bowl. I formed the mixture into patties, and fried them in a bit of oil. Presto!

I served the burgers on bagels from the bagel shop I work at, and made some yam fries in the oven (tossed with oil, cumin and garlic pepper, then baked at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes). Delish!

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I had the urge to bake something today, and my sweet-tooth was hankering for some chocolate, so I found a recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies, and added hemp seeds to them.

Ingredients
1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (not as hard to find as you might think)
1/2 cup hemp seeds

In a bowl I creamed together the oil and the brown sugar, then added the almond milk and vanilla. I added the dry ingredients and mixed until everything was incorporated. Then, I stirred in the hemp seeds and chocolate chips. The mixture was dry, but the recipe said that this was normal. I formed the cookies to be about 1 tbs round, pressed them down a little on the cookie sheet, then baked them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. They turned out really well, and hemp seeds are incredibly good for you! If you’re caught without eggs and butter, I suggest trying these and seeing how possible it is to make cookies without using animal products.
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