This weeks Meatless Monday post on Whole Living features farm fresh eggs whipped up and cooked into a dinner worthy omelet. Filled with arugula, fresh herbs, a bit of créme fraiche and topped with crispy shallots, it’s a light meal that requires minimal cooking, but lots of flavor. Find the full recipe here.
Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category
Raw Cocoa Bites, aka little energy nuggets. Seriously, pop a couple in your mouth before heading out for a hike, or any type of exercise you’re planning, and you’ll have a lot of energy, more than enough to get you to the top. Plus they’re lightweight and easy to pack. You’ve maybe seen something similar around the web or wrapped up in pretty packaging and sold at health food stores, either way, if you haven’t made or tired them yet, you’re missing out.
We’ve been working long weekends and traveling quite a bit for work this month and I always pack a batch of these. I’ve been playing around with different variations, but I always come back to the ones with cocoa in them, I just can’t break my chocolate habit! Plus now that summer is here, they’re a great alternative to cookies because you don’t have to heat up the oven. My tip for trying your hand at your own flavor combos would be to have an equal ratio of dried fruit to raw nuts. Then start with a tablespoon or two of added flavors, like coconut flakes, seeds, or cocoa, and season with a few extras like, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs, or even fresh herbs (mint perhaps?). Have fun with it!
Raw Cocoa Bites / makes 12-14 balls
1 cup pitted dates, soaked for 10 minutes and drained
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup cocoa or cocao powder
1 tablespoon flax seed
Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and blend until crumbly, just before it gets to almond butter stage. Add the walnuts, coconut, cocao powder, and flax seeds and blend until just incorporated.
Next add the dates. You can add them all at once or drop them one at a time through the feed tube, depending on how powerful your food processor is. Blend until the mixture starts holding together and becomes almost a whole mass. The flax seeds will still be whole, but the rest should be well mixed in.
Shape into about 1-inch balls (they may feel a little oily from the nut oils released, this is normal). Place on a plate and set in the fridge to chill, about 15 minutes. You can also place them in the freezer too, they don’t harden to much.
I usually keep things around here pretty light, but I’ve recently had a few conversations with friends about the state of our food system and the changes they want to make to their diets to get healthier. I jump for joy any time someone wants to talk to me about this, as it’s a topic that is close to my heart and one I could go on and on about when given the chance. I’ve never been a pusher of what I believe, but instead take a more relaxed approach and when asked for help or my opinion, I give it. I am not a nutritionist or claiming to be an expert, but when I became a vegetarian (now over 10 years ago), I felt a need to read up on what exactly I was supposed to eat and through the years this has probably lead me to learning more about food than the average person.
One friend stated how overwhelmed and bad she felt about the way she was feeding her family, after reading through another food blog and seeing that everything she thought she knew knew about food was wrong. This broke my heart and we talked about it for awhile, but I took a step back and reflected on this. realized that I would never want people to come to my blog and see all the healthy looking food and be turned off; either by the fact that they think they can’t afford or spend the time it takes to cook this way, or that it just doesn’t seem realistic to eat so healthy all the time.
Blogs in general, are really great at making things look perfect and easy all the time. The fact is, what I share on this blog is exactly how my husband and I eat when at home, but just like many of you are making a transition into cooking with more whole grains and fresh produce, it took us time as well. Really only in the past 3 years or so has my cooking and baking been solely based on this way of thinking. My idea for having a blog was to share recipes, not make people feel hopeless about their own diets. I hope to encourage and promote how tasty this way of cooking really can be and adjust, as we did, over time. In no way do we eat perfectly all the time, my mom keeps a stash of M&M’s for my dad, but every time we visit I head straight for them and I definitely do my fair share of over indulging at times, but it really all boils down to the food I feel good about eating the majority of the time.
I don’t believe there is a perfect way of eating that includes everyone. We each have different bodies that need different amounts of different nutrients, but I think we can all agree that ramping up on fresh produce and whole grains (or whole gluten free “grains”), while giving packaged food the boot is generally a good start.
Most of what we eat comes from our csa box, the farmers market, our own garden, and the bulk bins. We eat really well and surprisingly to some, really cheaply. I used to be embarrassed that I made our bread from scratch, but when we first started our business we couldn’t exactly afford the good stuff at the rate we went through it. Not wanting to compromise, I set out to bake it myself. After all, most really good bread is only 3-4 ingredients and now I actually prefer the bread I make to what can be bought. It does take time on my part to plan ahead and prepare things, but when I way the pros and cons of whether I should place some dried beans in a bowl to soak overnight vs. scroll through facebook one more time, the beans always win. It also should be stated that we do not yet have kids, this may change our eating routine, I have no idea, I’ll work that out when the time comes.
This doesn’t mean if we go out to eat or eat at someone else’s place that we don’t eat! Eating with other people is something we love to do and I would never turn down a home cooked meal or make someone else feel uncomfortable. Obviously if there is meat at the table I pass, but other than that, I’m usually game. If it has mega cheese, which my tummy can rarely take much of, I still serve myself a small portion. I do this not because I’m feeling deprived (not by any means!), but because someone took the time to make this and invited us into their home and share what they love to cook. When we go out of town or on vacation of course our eating habits change a bit as well. We don’t stop at fast food restaurants though, when in a pinch or the middle of nowhere, we’ll stop at a grocery store for an apple and granola bar way before heading for the drive through.
We eat this way because it makes us feel really good. Both of us rarely get sick, its been well over a year now for each of us since we had so much as a small cold and that was through our most stressful and busy holiday season yet. We both sleep through the night and have lots of energy. I used to get really bad stomach aches, which I soon found out was due to dairy. This lead me to eating a mostly vegan diet the majority of the time and why every recipe on this blog uses non-dairy milks in place of cow’s milk. I do eat the occasional yogurt, which doesn’t seem to bother me too much, and when I really crave it or it’s served to me I will eat cheese and suffer the consequences later. It’s funny how many people say to me “but how can you go without cheese and ice cream!?” What’s funny is that we all have habits and after getting over that first initial hump, it gets easy. I never feel the need for either of those things and when Scott and I got married, one of the best gifts was our ice cream maker. Now we can have endless variations of dairy-free ice cream without dropping $5 on a small container that usually has ingredients I don’t want to ingest anyways. Even Scott notices that when he’s been served full cream ice cream, his stomach gets upset. Most people, myself included, don’t realize the pains their bodies are experiencing because they’re so used to it. I want only to encourage people to take their health seriously, while also eating deliciously; it can be done.
My body and taste buds have had time to develop to this way of eating. Whole wheat bread will always taste way better to me than the white stuff. Because we don’t eat a lot of packaged food my sense for salty and sweet things is way more heightened than it used to be, which is many times why I suggest “salting to taste” because it can really vary from one person to the next. Yes, baking with whole grain flours can produce more dense results then most are used to, but I’ll take that any day, not only for the extra nutritional value, but for the fact that with so many options out there, I’m able to experience so many new flavors.
In an effort to an even healthier way of baking, I’ve been thinking about and experimenting a lot lately with alternative sweeteners. Things like honey, maple syrup, dried and fresh fruit purees, and brown rice syrup. I’ve shared a few recipes on the blog already that use these ingredients, like my mint chip ice cream, lemon almond coconut ice cream sandwiches, and chocolate black bean truffles each turning out better than the last, but I really want to explore this avenue more. It’s like a mini challenge for me of sorts and one with tasty results.
So I thought about my never ending love for bran muffins (yes, I’ve always loved these, even if it seems to be the elderly ladies breakfast of choice. I love prunes too, if that says anything about me). Most of the ones I’ve had from local bakeries or coffee shops are way too sweet for me, like they’re trying to hide the perfect subtle nutty sweetness that the bran already gives the muffin. I thought about how dates would be the perfect companion to my bran muffin and decided to start there. Dates are super sweet and when pureed produce a really great wet sugar base. I’ve used chia seeds in place of eggs and yogurt and coconut oil provide the muffin with a little fat and a moist crumb. I’m playing with the idea that non-dairy milk mixed with a bit of apple cider vinegar could replace the yogurt for a vegan version and I’ll update this post if I try it. The muffins came out perfectly moist with a slightly crunchy exterior and sweetness just to my liking.
Bran Muffins / makes 9 muffins
I think fresh strawberries or raspberries would bake into these nicely. Chop them up and toss in about a cup if you have some.
1 cup packed dates, pitted
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup wheat bran
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375F and line 9 muffin cups with paper muffin cups.
Place the dates and about half the water in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the dates start to form a puree and all the big pieces have broken down. Add the rest of the water, chia seeds, yogurt, and oil and blend until a smooth puree. Don’t worry too much if it’s not super smooth.
In a large bowl combine the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the date mixture into the dry and stir just until everything is wet. Fill each muffin cup to the top of the liner and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Store tightly covered for several days or wrap well and freeze.
Thank you to everyone for leaving such nice compliments, you guys are amazing and I’m so glad you love the new site! I’ve gotten quite a few emails from some of you wanting a way to follow me by email, so I’ll be working on that shortly.
In other exciting news, along with 5 other food bloggers, I was asked to enter a recipe contest using Peanut Butter & Co. and Bob’s Red Mill products. Oats and nut butters are two things that get there fair share of time in my kitchen, so I jumped at the chance to share a special recipe based loosely on a coffee cake recipe my grandmother used to make when we’d spend the night. My version has quite a lot less sugar and gets it’s incredible moist crumb texture from peanut butter instead of oil or butter. And its topped with a perfectly spiced oat crumble topping. This makes a perfect brunch or snack, but you could even serve it for dessert, maybe with a scoop of coconut ice cream, just sayin’.
To get the full recipe head over to the Nuts About Oats page. Check out all the other entries too, there’s some tasty stuff going on over there. When you enter to vote you may also be eligible for a special $100 prize pack and coupons off Bob’s Red Mill and Peanut Butter & Co. products. A special thanks to Bob’s Red Mill and Peanut Butter & Co. for asking me to participate and thank you to all of you if you vote for me too!
I realized the other day that I have so many recipes either bookmarked from online or tagged in my cookbooks and magazines, that have been sitting there, waiting for me to get to it, for way too long. Many times they’re a seasonal recipe I discover at the end of it’s prime season, so it gets saved until the next spring, or summer, or fall arrives in the hopes that I remember to come back and rediscover the recipe I found the year before.
So I found myself going through them, editing down my long list to what is relevant to me in this moment now. I felt quite organized after doing this and ready to start fresh and tackle the recipes I had long been waiting to try. The first was a millet muffin from Heidi’s book. I remember when I first came across her recipe and how intrigued I was by the idea of crunchy little millet seeds in a muffin. So I whipped up a batch for the weekend. They were delicious. Slightly sweet from the honey with a bit of tang from the yogurt, and of course, the crunch of millet that I was anticipating.
Her muffins were what lead my brain to these little gingered carrot and millet muffins. I craved adding some shredded carrots to the recipe. Then I gave myself the challenge of making them vegan so I could share a batch with our weekly Monday night potluck friends and everyone could enjoy. That meant no yogurt, honey, or eggs. Those got replaced with coconut oil, natural cane sugar, and flax meal. I thought about how ginger would make a great flavor profile alongside the carrots, so I added fresh and ground to the batter too. By that point they were a whole new muffin, but they came out as perfectly as I had envisioned. I knew there was a reason I had tagged that page. They inspired me to a new delicious recipe and hopefully one for you too.
Did you know millet is actually a small seed from the grass family and not a grain. Awesome right! I’ve been cooking millet for awhile now and love it combined with quinoa or bulgar for a slightly different texture. This was my first time baking with it and using it in it’s uncooked form, but I can’t wait to try it baked into more things. Have any of you experimented with millet in other baked goods?
This recipe yielded an awkward 15 muffins for me. I think next time I’m going to fill them as high as possible in the paper cups to get 12, as well as a slightly higher dome on top.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup raw millet
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax meal + 6 tablespoon water combined
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 cups grated carrots, about 3 large carrots
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, millet, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the flax meal mixture, almond milk, coconut oil and fresh ginger. Stir in the carrots, then pour all the wet mixture into the dry. Fold the wet into the dry just until combined. This may take a few strokes as the batter is very thick.
Scoop out batter into prepared muffin tins, filling roughly level with the top of the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool slightly. Serve warm or room temperature. Store covered for about 2-3 days or freeze for a month.