Top 7 Posts of 2012

Ok. It’s January 13, and I have yet to post anything this year. That’s bad. Bad, bad, bad! I’ve been a bad blogger, and for that I apologize. Sincerely.

One of my goals for 2013 is to blog more often. I’m off to a very good start. Bad blogger!

I could list all of the reasons I haven’t been blogging, but all you have to do is go back a few months and you’ll see all of the reasons. Sometimes my real life gets in the way of blog life. And sometimes they cross paths. Right now, they are on separate paths, and my real life is winning. I’m teaching 10 classes this semester between two schools, both of which are about an hour away from home. (But only about 30 minutes away from each other, which is nice.) And, since school just started last week, I haven’t gotten used to my new schedule yet. But, as soon as I do, I’ll have some time to create new recipes and share all of my veggie adventures with you 🙂

To get the ball rolling on 2013, though, let’s take a look at 2012 one more time. Here are the top posts from 2012…

#1: Cookie Dough Balls: This was by far the most viewed post last year, and rightfully so! These are delicious! I still make them often, switching up the ingredients.

#2: Butter Pecan Balls: Again, super delicious! I just made a batch of these over the holidays, and they were gobbled right up. So good! And so easy 🙂

#3: Super Simple Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls: These dessert balls really are super simple. The simplest! Just throw some PNB, cacao (or coco) powered and your favorite sweetener in a bowel, vanilla if you want, mix to combine, and roll into a ball. You can make a batch of these in a few minutes and be on your way to dessert heaven. They also freeze well, but there probably won’t be any left to freeze 🙂

#4 Raw Zucchini Bread: This was one of my first attempts at raw bread, and one of my early uses of the dehydrator. Great way to use up all of that summer zucchini!

#5 Brownie Dough Bites (plus Cake Batter Balls): Who doesn’t love brownies? And, who doesn’t love easy to eat and travel with brownies? And cake batter, well, ’nuff said.

#6 Peanut Butter Banana Muffins: I ate some many of these last fall that I should be sick of them. But I’m not. I haven’t made any in a while, but I’m pretty sure there will be peanut butter banana muffins in the oven this week. Oh yah!

#7 Grain Free Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies: I just made these two days ago. I was craving cookies and had all of the ingredients in the house. Too good to pass up! And too good not to eat up 😉

Grain Free Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies

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Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Balls

I had a hard time deciding if I should call these Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Balls or Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fudge. But, since I automatically shape the majority of my desserts into balls, I guess crunch balls it is. But, you could easily spread this out into a small container and cut it into a few bites of fudge, if you’re so inclined.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Balls

1/4 c (heaping) raw cacao (or unsweetened coco) or carob

2 TBSP cacao nibs, crushed

1 TBSP coconut oil, melted (could sub nut or seed butter or even non-dairy milk (won’t be as rich and fudgy))

1 TBSP nutritive liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave, date paste, etc) or stevia (start w/ one pkt – about 1/4 tsp)

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp peppermint extract (or more if you REALLY like peppermint)

Optional: Liquid (non-dairy milk, water, coffee, chai tea, etc) to moisten fudge mixture if needed

Combine nibs, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Set aside to soak while mixing other ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix  cacao, sweetener, and coconut oil. Stir to combine. Add additional liquid if necessary. Mixture should be rich and fudgy. Stir nibs mix into fudgy mix. Scoop mix by cookie scooper into a container and store in the fridge or freezer. (Or spread into container and cut into squares.)

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Sharing is caring: Raw Food Thursdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Wellness Weekends

Raw Coconut Caramel Dippers & a Raw Foods DVD Contest

I’ve been obsessed with raw caramel dipping sauces lately. Seriously. Check out these awesome, easy recipes!

Raw Caramel Sauce

5 jumbo medjool dates (or 8 regular size fruits)

1-3 tsp vanilla extract (I use alcohol free)

splash water

Blend dates, water, and vanilla in a small, bullet style blender until smooth. Drizzle over or apples or other tart fruits.

Raw Caramel Sauce

5 jumbo medjool dates (or 8 regular sized fruits)

1-3 tsp vanilla extract (I use alcohol free)

1 TBSP raw cacao powder (or carob powder for a chocolate-free sauce)

splash water (start with 1 tbsp)

Add all ingredients to a bullet style blender cup and blend until smooth. Dip apple slices into caramel or drizzle over your favorite fruit, pancakes, toast, etc.

Raw Coconut Caramel Dippers

5 jumbo medjool dates (or 8 regular size fruits)

1-3 tsp vanilla extract (I use alcohol free)

1-2 TBSP shredded coconut (super fine shred works best)

splash water (about 1 TBSP)

Add all ingredients to bullet style blender cup and blend until incorporated. Coconut will not blend until smooth, but will blend enough to create an awesome dipping sauce for apples, banana skewers, strawberries, or even stuffed into whole, pitted dates.

Are you familiar with the works of Jennifer Cornbleet? I have two of her books and absolutely love them! Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People and Raw for Dessert: Easy Delights for Everyone are both amazing, and I have been drooling over Jennifer’s videos on her YouTube channel for months.  Guess what…Jennifer has a new DVD that’s releasing next month, but you can enter to win a free copy! She’s giving away one DVD each week, so even if you don’t win this week, you still have another chance 🙂 Enter to win today; I did!

Jennifer Cornbleet has just released an excellent new DVD that’s loaded with
tips and recipes to make eating well a breeze no matter how busy you are.
It’s full of time-saving techniques and dishes that taste great and will
keep your body energized.
Throughout the month of November, you can enter to win a copy for free! For
more information, and to enter to win, click here

Chocolate Craving

Apparently I’ve been craving chocolate lately. How do I know? I’ve been making chocolate treats left and right!

If you follow me on Facebook, I shared these recipes last week. But, just in case you missed them, or if you want them in a more printer-friendly format, here they are again 🙂

Chocolate Ice Cream

1 cup dates, pitted

2 tbsp raw cacao (could sub carob)

1/2 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

1 tbsp water (adjust to desired thickness)

1 tsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp raw slivered almonds

Blend dates, cacao, vanilla and water until smooth. Stir in cacao nibs and 1 tbsp almonds. Top with remaining almonds and freeze until firm. Store in freezer.

Chocolate Banana Breakfast Smoothie

4 chilled bananas

1 heaping tbsp of raw cacao

1 heaping tbsp of roasted carob

1 tbsp alcohol free vanilla

1/4 cup nut butter and/or protein powder

1/4 c water

8 ice cubes

Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth. 

Brownie Dough Bites Plus Bonus Recipe

I ran out of raw freezer treats. That’s unacceptable.

Brownie Batter Bites

1/4 c almond butter

1/4 c date paste

4-6 drops liquid stevia

1 TBSP vanilla

2 TBSP raw cacao powder

1 TBSP cacao nibs

Dash salt

Combine everything in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Use a cookie scoop to make bite-sized treats and freeze until firm. Store in freezer for optimal desserty goodness.

Notes:

Almond dry? Try warming it (microwave or water bath). Don’t like almond butter, allergic or don’t have any? Use a different nut or seed butter.

Dough too dry? Add some coconut oil. Start with 1TBSP.

Not sure how to make date paste? It’s easy! Soak a few pitted dates in just enough water to cover them for a few hours. Once softened, blend or process dates and soaking water until smooth. You can use the same process to turn any dried fruit into paste. (Try prunes, raisins, dried figs, dried apricots, etc.) Just remember, each fruit will change the flavor of the dough a little.

Don’t want to use date paste? Substitute with your favorite liquid sweetener OR use stevia entirely to sweeten. (Or try xylitol)

Don’t have stevia or don’t want to use it? Use more date paste, or add 1TBSP of your favorite liquid sweetener. (If you want to use a dry sweetener, it may make the batter a little dryer. No problem – just increase the nut/seed butter and/or coconut oil.)

Don’t care if your dessert is raw? Use regular cocoa powder (not processed with alkali) and/or chocolate chips.

Want a warm cookie but want to keep it raw? Try dehydrating or baking on the lowest temp your oven will go. To dehydrate: start cookies on paraflex sheets an dehydrate for a couple of hours at 115F or until firm enough to flip onto mesh screen. Continue to dehydrate until no longer tacky to the touch. (TIP: Begin dehydrating at at higher temp – 145 –  for an hour or so. This temp won’t increase the internal temp of the cookies past 118, so they’ll still be raw, but it will help form a nice crunchy crust on the outside of the cookies.

BONUS RECIPE

I lost the photo for this recipe, so I’m including as a bonus. Bonus!

Vanilla Cake Batter Balls

1/2 c soaked Brazil nuts

2 T vanilla

1 T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

2 T coconut flour (this is the key to the cake batter – try not to sub)

1 T vanilla protein powder (optional)

Blend Brazil nuts, vanilla, and maple syrup until smooth. (I used my Magic Bullet.) Scoop the Brazil nut cream into a medium sized bowl and add the coconut flour and protein powder (if using). Stir to combine. Dough should be thick and soft – like soft play dough. Use a cookie scooper to make the dessert balls and freeze to firm. Store in the freezer to retain freshness.

Important Note: If you decide to use the protein powder, the flavor will be come very evident as the dessert balls age – even in the freezer. If eaten within a day or two, the flavor blends nicely, however.

Notes:

Don’t like Brazil nuts? Try something else! Cashews would work wonderfully in this recipe, as would macadamia nuts or even pine nuts.

Want to keep it sugar free? Use stevia. Start with one dropper full, or about 10 drops or liquid or 1 pkt (about 1/4 tsp) of powdered stevia. (You may need to add a splash of liquid – water or nut milk – if using powdered sweetener.)

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Check out

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ SSGF

Allergy Free Wednesdays @ Laura’s Gluten Free Pantry

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert & Dogs

Allergy Friendly Fridays @ Cybele Pascal: The Allergy-Friendly Cook

Fancy Fun with Hazelnuts

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m not a big fan of the hazelnut. (Add that to my growing list…). I try to like them. Really. I do! But they always kind of taste rancid. And no, they weren’t. (I had Mr M taste one just to be sure.) But, in my vein effort to convince my taste buds that hazelnuts are, indeed, the fancy culinary delight I keep reading so much about, I made a couple of recipes out of the bag that has been inhabiting my freezer for a few weeks. (There’s another bag in the pantry. Any takers?)

To begin, I soaked 1 c of the hazelnuts overnight in enough water to cover them. I like to store mine in the fridge in a covered container, but I’ve read that’s not necessary – soaking on a counter is fine.

First up, my very first attempt at making nut milk.

Spiced Hazelnut Milk

1/2 c soaked hazelnuts

2 c water

1T vanilla

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Clove – to taste

Blend everything together in a high speed blender. (I used my Vitamix). Strain through a nut-milk bag for silky smooth milk, or don’t strain if you don’t mind the floating nut-pulp. (I didn’t strain because I knew I was going to use the milk in recipes as opposed to drinking).

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Use within three days – give or take. (Most info I’ve found on the web says to use within three days.)

Optional Add: sweetener of choice

The hazelnut milk wasn’t too bad. The water diluted the nut flavor, and the spices really kicked it up. If you’re going to drink it alone or add it to something like cereal or oatmeal, I’d add some sweetener.

Next, I used the reaming soaked nuts to make a fancy pants dessert.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Vanilla Hazelnut Cashew Cream

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart Crust

1/2 c hazelnuts (soaked)

1 T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener/stevia of your choice)

2 T raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder, carob powder, or a mi)

Combine everything in a food processor (I used my mini chopper) and blend until comes together in a ball. Remove dough and press into two mini tart pans. If your crust is too dry, add a tiny dribble of hazelnut milk at a time until it stick together.

Store in the fridge or freezer while making filling.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cashew Cream

1/2 c cashews (soaked)

1 T hazelnut milk (or regular nut/seed milk)

1 T vanilla

1 T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener/stevia of your choice)

Add everything to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

I used my Magic Bullet.

You want the cream to be thick – like pudding. (I had to force myself not to eat all of the filling before it went into the tart shells. I love this stuff!)

Add the cream to the tart shells and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

Optional Adds: Make your tarts super fancy by adding some raw cacao nibs and/or crushed hazelnuts as a topper before serving.

I used my left-over hazelnut milk to make a  smoothie. Everything tastes good blended with some fruit!

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I’m sharing this recipe…

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert and Dogs

Allergy Free Fridays @ Cybele Pascal (not vegan)

Fresh Bites Friday @ Real Food Whole Health (not vegan)

Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade (not vegan)

Foodie Friday @ Simple Living w/ Diane Balch (not vegan)

Foodie Friday: Summer Lunch @ Rattlebridge Farms (not vegan)

Friday Favorite Finds @ The Atwoods (not vegan)

Delicious Dishes @ It’s a Blog Party (not vegan)

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil Product Review

As you know, I don’t use much oil in my cooking (or un-cooking), but when I do, it’s often coconut oil. And Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil works perfectly for all of my cooking and beauty needs.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.  But, I liked the Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil so much, I made dessert with it. Enjoy!

ChocoNutCrunch Butter

1/4 c nut butter

1 TBSP cocoa powder

1 TBSP maple syrup

2 TBSP Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, melted

1 TBSP cocoa nibs

Warm oil until it becomes a clear liquid. Add to bowl with other ingredients. Stir to combine.

Uses:

As is: Use as is for a spread on bread, wraps, fruit, etc.

ChocoNutCrunch Sauce: Add an additional 1 TBSP melted coconut oil to original recipe. Stir to combine. Warm resulting sauce and poor over your favorite non-dairy ice cream (banana soft-serve anyone?!), swirl into your amazing oats, add to your morning smoothie, use as a dip for fruits or cookies, use as a g’nosh for cakes and cookies, etc.

ChocoNutCrunch Bar: Reduce the coconut oil by 1/2  TBSP. Mixture will be thicker than the buttery spread. Poor into candy molds or onto parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment, flatten into a bar, and freeze.

ChocoNutCrunch Balls

1/2 c nut butter

1/4 c cocoa powder

2 T Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, melted

2 T (heaping) cocoa nibs

2 T maple syrup

Combine ingredients. Scoop by tablespoon full and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Shape into rounds. Freeze rounds until solid. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in freezer.

Options:

Sugar Free: Use liquid or powdered stevia instead of maple syrup (or your favorite liquid sweetener). Or use a combination of the two. If using liquid stevia alone, I’d start with one dropper full, or about 10 drops. If using powered alone, I’d start with two packets (about 1 scooper of uncut product). If combining with liquid sweetener, I’d half each of the suggested amounts and work my way up to desired sweetness.

Nut butter choices: I used peanut butter for the butter, sauce, and bar. I used almond butter for the balls. Both were delicious. I’m sure any nut or seed butter you like would work wonderfully.

Measuring Coconut Oil: I measured my oil in it’s in liquid state by first warming it in the microwave for about 10 seconds. A warm water bath works just as well. Or, you can try sitting the jar in a gas oven while your prepping your other ingredients (or a little before that). I’ve read the heat is enough to liquify the oil. (I’ve never tried this; we have an electric stove/oven.)

Check out these links to learn more about Tropical Traditions and/or Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil on YouTube

Tropical Traditions Homepage

Virgin Coconut Oil: America’s First Traditional Handcrafted Virgin Coconut Oil

How to Use Coconut oil: There are hundreds of uses for coconut oil!

Tropical Traditions YouTube channel

Super Simple Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I’m almost embarrassed to post this as a recipe – it’s that simple!

Super Simple Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 c White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter (or any other nut butter of your choice)

2-3 TBSP (heaping) cocoa powder (I used raw cocoa powder)

2 TBSP maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

dash salt

Combine everything in a small bowl. Mixture should be crumbly. If it’s not dry enough, add more cocoa powder. Form mixture into small balls and store in the freezer. My batch made 8 medium sized balls.

The flavor is a very dark chocolate, but neither the chocolate nor the peanut butter overpowers the other.

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I’m sharing this recipe with the readers of…

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free

Allergy Free Wednesdays @ Real Food, Allergy Free

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert and Dogs

Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love @ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery

Allergy Friendly Fridays @ Cybele Pascal – The Allergy-Friendly Cook

Recipe Review: Gluten-Free Brownies

In addition donating to my Peanut Butter Eggs to a recent work bake sale held to collect funds for a group of coworkers participating in a local Walk for the Cure, I also made Angela’s Gluten-Free Brownies from Oh She Glows.

Later last year, I made the glutenized version, and they were a huge hit! So, since I’m trying to be gluten-free, and I know some of my coworkers are too, I thought I’d try the gluten-free version of everyone’s favorite treat.

In her post, Angela said she liked the gluten-free version better than the glutenized recipe, but I’m not so sure. I did REALLY like the gluten-free brownies, and they were all gone by the second day, but I think the texture of the glutenized recipe was better. But, keep in mind, I’m still getting used to the drier texture of the gluten-free flours. I’ve been working with almond meal and oat flour for a while, but that’s about it (except for the garbanzo/fava bean flour mix used in my amazing coating in my Awesome Onion Rings). Regardless, I’d definitely make these again. I might consider frosting them, though. Mmmm….frosting….

Peanut Butter Eggs

Mr. M and I just had a conversation about Easter egg hunts. Neither of us can remember participating in Easter egg hunts as children. I think we were deprived! But, you don’t have to be 🙂

Just in time for the Easter bunny…

Peanut Butter Eggs

I used to love peanut butter eggs. The super sweet peanut butter. The melty chocolate. Big or small, I liked them all. But whole food vegans don’t eat that stuff, right? Wrong!

I made my own peanut butter eggs. And, I donated them to a bake sale at work to support a group of my co-workers who are participating in the  Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure this summer. Their team name is We Pink We Can. Too cute! Anyway, my PNB Eggs were a hit – at least with the three people who reported eating them 😉

Peanut Butter Eggs

Peanut Butter Filling

1/2 c peanut butter

2 TBSP maple syrup

1 tsp psyllium powder

dash salt

Combine peanut butter, maple syrup and psyllium in a small bowl. Add dash salt if your PNB doesn’t contain salt (this will help bring out the sweetness of the peanuts and maple syrup). You want the mix to be dry and crumbly. Refrigerate the peanut butter filling for a few hours.

After thoroughly chilled, remove peanut butter filling from fridge and scoop mixture by the tablespoon full. Form into egg shapes and flatten slightly. (Reese’s PNB Eggs are flat-ish.) Place eggs on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for a few hours.

Chocolate Coating

4 squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate or about 1/2 c vegan chocolate chips

2 TBSP coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave 30-45 seconds until chocolate is melted and easily combines with oil to form  smooth, liquid chocolate goodness.

Remove peanut butter eggs from freezer and quickly dip into melted chocolate. Return coated eggs to the parchment covered cookie sheet and refreeze for a few hours. Store in the freezer or refrigerator.

Notes——-

Nut-free Option: Replace peanut butter with sunflower seed butter or pumpkin seed butter (or another nut butter if you don’t have an issue with tree nuts)

Sugar-free Option: Replace the maple syrup with liquid stevia to taste or powdered stevia to taste. With either, you may need to add a little liquid to the peanut butter mixture. I added a little water to one batch, and it didn’t affect the taste at all. I think a few drops of non-dairy milk would also work.

Refined Sugar-free Option: Make your own chocolate coating. Equal parts cocoa powder, liquified coconut oil, and liquid sweetener. Combine and warm to create smooth, liquid, chocolatey goodness. Remember, however, coconut oil liquifies at about 74 degrees, so keep your eggs chilled. (Freezing is best.)

Love Coconut? Try replacing the peanut butter with coconut butter!

Love Chocolate? Try replacing the peanut butter with chocolate peanut butter or white chocolate peanut butter. Or, make your own chocolate peanut butter by adding cocoa powder to the mixture. (You probably won’t need the psyllium…)

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I’m sharing this recipe with the readers of…

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free

Allergy Free Wednesdays @ The Tasty Alternative

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert and Dogs

Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love @ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery

Allergy Friendly Fridays @ Cybele Pascal – The Allergy-Friendly Cook