Homemade Applesauce

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Look at those GoRgEoUs apples! Sometimes it’s nice to have a super simple, comforting recipe. Like now, with all of the craziness that comes with the holiday season! If you have never made homemade applesauce before, then I highly recommend it! It’s so simple, with just two ingredients and the flavor can’t be beat! I am always using applesauce in baked goods, breakfast cereals, and some savory soup dishes. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Plus, they are deliciously sweet! If you have a little one, this applesauce will be an instant favorite baby food! I used a few varieties of local apples in this recipe – honey crisp, gala, and macintosh. Feel free to use your favorites – any will taste delicious! You can also add in some spices with the apples as they cook down, if you like, such as: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves…adjust to your taste! This would be a wonderful holiday gift for friends and neighbors…Enjoy!

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Apples (Any variety)

Water

Rinse, peel, and chop the apples. Place them in a large pot. Add enough water to equal the level of the apples. Bring this mixture to a boil over high-heat. Place a lid over the apples. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer the apples until they are softened. Stir the apples occasionally to make sure they are cooking evenly. When the apples have cooked/softened sufficiently, remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the apples into a smooth sauce (alternatively, you can blend the apples in a blender). Allow the applesauce to cool. Place in jars and refrigerate. This applesauce will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Banana Coconut Macadamia Bread

Banana Coconut Macadamia Bread

I make A LOT of baked goods with bananas. I love the natural sweetness, texture, and moistness bananas give…not to mention the yummy flavor. This banana bread has all the right flavors and textures to make it a superstar banana bread! Coconut is used in 5 different applications here to make this bread a tropical dream – coconut milk, coconut vinegar, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and large flake coconut. The bread itself is moist with a light banana/coconut flavor and then the macadamia nuts and coconut flakes add just the right crunch and texture. This bread is DREAMY! I think this may be my new favorite banana bread recipe! Note: to take this banana bread to the next level of yummy, slather it with some dark chocolate spread…I dare you!

Banana Coconut Macadamia Bread 2

Banana Coconut Macadamia Bread 3

2 large ripe bananas

1 cup coconut milk

2 T coconut vinegar

2 cups gluten-free flour

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 T baking powder

2 T coconut oil, melted

2/3 cup large flake coconut or coconut “chips”

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment or grease with coconut oil. Whisk together mashed bananas, coconut milk, vinegar, and vanilla. Set aside for 10 minutes. In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the melted coconut oil with the dry ingredients. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients by folding them in with a spatula. Add the flaked coconut and macadamia nuts and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the top with more coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Place in the oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy! (Adapted slightly from Recipe Source: anettvelsberg)

Date Truffles

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If you’re like me, a quick snack is frequently on my mind. I graze throughout the day and need fuel! Dates are a perfect snack in so many ways. They are high in potassium, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals – a wonderful pre-workout snack! One of my favorite “treats” is to take a Medjool date, split in in half and remove the seed, slather it with nut butter, and sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips on top – a perfect little “candy bar” bite! One of my favorite combinations with dates is macadamia nuts. The combination is a slightly buttery, vanilla flavor that I am absolutely addicted to! So, I decided to combine these flavors into a yummy little truffle. These little bites are SO GOOD! A perfect little snack to pop in your mouth and fuel your day. YUM!

Date Truffles 3

Date Truffles 4

20 Medjool dates

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1/4 cup pecans

1/4 cup Brazil nuts

2 tablespoons date sugar

pinch of sea salt

1/2 – 1 tablespoon lemon juice

finely shredded coconut

Pit your dates and place in food processor. Add in nuts, date sugar, sea salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until all ingredients are incorporated. Process until fairly smooth. Place date mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight. Using a spoon, scoop out a tablespoon of date mixture and roll into a ball, then roll in shredded coconut. Continue until all the date mixture is rolled into lovely truffles. Store truffles in the refrigerator. Makes about 30 truffles.

 

Banana Quinoa Bread

Banana Quinoa Bread 2

Banana Bread. The sound of it just brings me comfort. What about you? This is another favorite treat I relished as a child. I remember the recipe my Mom would make started with butter and sugar of course, so this bread needed a makeover! You will love this recipe, which contains plenty of fiber, sweetness, and perfect banana flavor! I love the addition of the quinoa flakes, which adds a slight nuttiness to the taste and packs in some extra protein. I think this recipe wins over anything I ate growing up! Enjoy the goodness!

Banana Quinoa Bread 3

Banana Quinoa Bread

2 medium ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted or applesauce
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup date sugar
2-3 tablespoons honey, depending on ripeness of bananas (or sub maple syrup)
3 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1 cup almond meal or hazelnut meal
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add all ingredients through coconut milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Last add almond meal, gluten-free flour and quinoa flakes and stir. Bake for 1 hour. The bread should feel firm and look golden brown on top. Let cool completely before cutting or it will break apart and not hold together – trust me on this one! Serve with Earth Balance and honey or slather with some nut butter or eat plain – all ways are delicious!

Farmhouse Bread

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I am always on the lookout for great gluten-free bread recipes. I cannot even begin to tell you how many recipes I have tried and tweaked and fumbled with over the years. I also cannot begin to tell you how many loaves of gluten-free bread I have made and dumped right in the trash! Lots of learning experiences have been had in my kitchen! Gluten-free baking is a science to be sure. I think I have grasped a few bread making techniques that have worked – thank goodness! This bread recipe is one that I have modified a bit through the years and I really like it. One of the reasons I like making this bread is that I get to knead it! Gluten-free bread that you can knead is SO COOL! The chia and psyllium are kind of magic and give just the right textural element. This bread reminds me of a hearty wheat artisan loaf, but without the wheat – obviously. The texture is slightly moist and chewy on the inside with a nice crust on the outside. I love to eat this bread with a hearty soup, or piled high with hummus and veggies, or spread with avocado and sea salt, or toasted with some nut butter and jam…so many possibilities! YUM!

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Wet Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons grape seed oil or applesauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup chia seed meal
1/3 cup psyllium husk powder

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend of choice
½ cup millet grits
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

Instructions:
Place the warm water in a 4-cup glass measuring bowl. (I like to heat my water over the stove in my kettle). Add the yeast and teaspoon of honey, whisk together. Let rest for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The yeast mixture should get foamy and bubbly. If it doesn’t activate, you need to start over with this step. While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. After the yeast is activated whisk in the grape seed oil or applesauce, maple syrup, chia seed meal, and psyllium husk powder into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for about 3 minutes to let the chia and psyllium release their gelatinous “magic”. Whisk again and pour the wet ingredients (it really looks like a giant blob of gelatinous substance rather than liquid) into the dry and mix together with a spoon until nice and thick. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for a few minutes. Then pour the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. Add in some more flour (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) until the dough holds together and isn’t super sticky. You do want the dough slightly sticky though!
Form the dough into a ball, place into a large clean bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm spot to rise (I like to put the bowl over a pot of warm water and let it rise – see picture below) Let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size. Rising time will depend on the temperature around the dough.

Farmhouse Bread Rise
After the dough has risen, place a pizza stone in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven, below the pizza stone. (I usually use a 9 x 13-inch pan filled 1/2 of the way full with water).
Punch down the dough and pour onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about a minute. Then form into a round ball. Place on a square of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut a shallow “tic-tac-toe” pattern on the top. Drizzle with a little grape seed oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place while the oven and stone are preheating.

Farmhouse Bread
Using a large wooden board or metal spatula, carefully lift the parchment paper with the risen loaf and place it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 60 minutes before cutting into it. This is very important! The bread is VERY gummy hot out of the oven. Believe me – don’t make the mistake I have made several times wanting a hot piece of bread, only to have a gummy mess on my hands! Once the bread has fully cooled, it is perfect!

(Inspired by: The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen)

Homemade Peanut Butter

I always call myself a ‘peanut butter SNOB‘! What does that mean exactly? Well, simply put, I refuse to eat preservative-laden peanut butter. I choose to make my own peanut butter, which is so fun! There are different varieties of peanuts and I personally like Virginia peanuts or Jungle peanuts. I have used raw peanuts, roasted, salted, and unsalted varieties – the roasted and salted have more flavor and I don’t have to add anything. If using raw peanuts, you will need to add in some sweetener and some salt, but that is entirely up to you and your taste buds. Now, you can use this peanut butter formula with ANY nut or seed – such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. How exciting! Make your own unique nut butter combinations! The key in making your own nut butter is to let it process long enough – 6 minutes is the key. I have taken step by step pictures so you can see the evolution of perfectly smooth nut butter. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Begin by placing your peanuts in the bowl of a good food processor. I like to make big batches, so I use about 6 cups of peanuts, but you can use any amount you like.

Peanuts

Step 2: Place the lid on the food processor and press start. This is what the peanuts look like after 1 minute. This is a good ‘meal’ consistency to use for crusts, etc.

Peanut Butter 1

Step 3: Continue to process the peanuts for another minute. This is what the peanuts look like after 2 minutes.

Peanut Butter 2

Step 4: Continue to process the peanuts for another minute. This is what the peanuts look like after 3 minutes. Notice the peanuts have started to break down and become a coarse paste.

Peanut Butter 3

Step 5: Continue to process for another minute. This is what the peanuts look like after 4 minutes – this is the consistency that some store-bought natural peanut butters have. It is thick and the oil separates from the peanut mixture. I hate having to mix in the oil!

Peanut Butter 4

Step 6: Continue to process for another minute. This is what the peanuts look like after 5 minutes. Now we’re getting somewhere! There is still a little bit of texture in the peanut butter, but do you notice the nice ‘sheen’ that is developing?

Peanut Butter 5

Step 7: Continue to process for a final minute. This is what peanut butter should look like – smooth and velvety with a beautiful sheen from the peanut oil. Place this in a glass jar and refrigerate. The oil will not separate. Delicious!

Peanut Butter 6

 

 

 

 

Pear Oat and Walnut Muffins

Oat Pear Walnut Muffins

Let me introduce you to this delicious fall muffin. This muffin recipe is a result of over-buying pears on my part! I love pears, but when they all ripen at the same rate I get scrambling in the kitchen to use them up before they go bad! I decided that pears, oats, and walnuts were a great combination and guess what? I was right! These muffins are moist, sweet, and have just the right texture from the oats and walnuts. These muffins are a perfect snack or quick breakfast on the go (we all need serious Christmas shopping fuel this time of year!)

Oat Pear Walnut Muffins 2

Oat Pear Walnut Muffins 3

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup gluten-free oats

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large pears, pureed

2 tablespoons Earth Balance spread, melted

Mix-ins:

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Puree pears in a food processor or blender. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in walnuts. Fill cups just over half full. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Banana, Cranberry, Pecan Muffins

Banana Cranberry Pecan Muffins

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I really love muffins. I really do. I eat muffins almost daily as a snack or with a cup of tea or slathered with some sort of nut butter or fruit spread. There are so many options with muffins…that’s probably why I like them so much – never the same muffin. This recipe began with over-ripe bananas (I always have bananas!) and then I decided to add a touch of fall with the cranberries and pecans. The result? Pure deliciousness. I slathered these muffins with some Earth Balance spread and enjoyed every bite! I think I need to go eat another one of these just to make sure they turned out o.k….;o)

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Banana Cranberry Pecan Muffins 4

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large bananas, mashed

Mix-ins:

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in cranberries and pecans. Fill cups just over half full. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I enjoy hosting a dinner party. I think the best part is introducing people to my plant-based world. I eat a lot of food. I eat a lot of DELICIOUS food. It’s fun to serve some of this delicious food to family and friends. I love to serve an appetizer at dinner parties. It gets the palate ready for the ‘main event’ and helps stave off the hunger pangs while I finish dinner. Typically, a spinach artichoke dip is full of dairy and fat – enough calories for a whole day! This dip is super flavorful and yummy without the dairy PLUS it is loaded with fiber and nutrients. It is creamy, slightly tangy, slightly spicy, and simply delicious! I like to serve this with baguettes, or crackers, or chips, or even fresh veggies. Your guests will love this dip and so will you!

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Spinach Artichoke Dip 3

1 tablespoon grape seed oil

1/2 sweet onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14-ounces) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped

5-ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 can (15-ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (reserve liquid)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons reserved bean liquid

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, add beans, lemon juice, bean liquid, nutritional yeast, thyme, salt. pepper, and red pepper flakes. Process until creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed to incorporate all of the ingredients. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Salute the onions for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add in artichoke hearts and spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts. Add the bean puree to the skillet and mix well. Place mixture into a small baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let the dip cool for a bit before serving. (Adapted slightly from Recipe Source: TSV)

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

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It’s time for another pumpkin recipe! This beautiful fall weather is inspiring me to get creative and bake warm and yummy food. These muffins. Oh these muffins. I think you will want to make these. Like right now. As these were baking, my house was filled with delicious smells of warm spices. So comforting. These pumpkin muffins have fiber and beta-carotene, but aside from being healthy, they taste divine! These muffins are tender, moist, and spiced just right. These would be delicious with a cup of afternoon tea. I think these might be my new favorite! I’m savoring each bite. Swoon…

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins 3

2 cups gluten-free flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon guar gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

good pinch of ground cloves

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup pure pumpkin

1/4 cup coconut oil (or applesauce)

2 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Combine gluten-free flour, sugar, guar gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl, gently whisking to sift ingredients. In another large mixing bowl, add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar, stir and allow to rest for 2 minutes. Next, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin to the coconut milk mixture. Whisk together until well combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the bowl and gently stir just until combined. Distribute batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.