Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins are grain free, sugar free, soy free, oil free, and they can be nut free if you’d like them to be. But, most importantly, they’re not free of flavor; they’re delicious!

Strawberry Banana Muffins

2 c almond meal*

2 medium bananas (very ripe), blended until liquified

1/2 c strawberries, chopped (frozen/thawed is fine)

2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 heaping tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp warm water)

1 TBSP chia seeds (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp baking soda (This might not be necessary; I added it to neutralize the acid.)

Optional: Stevia or other sweetener to taste

Thoroughly combine dry ingredients. Add wet. Stir to combine. Fold in strawberries. Spoon into muffin tins (or cupcake holders) and bake 12-15 minutes at 350F.

Notes:

Almond Meal: I use almond meal that I create from left-over almond milk pulp. I freeze it until the bags start sliding out of the freezer when I open the door (ha!); then I thaw and dehydrate it. After that, I process it in the food processor until it’s a fine grind. It stores very well in a glass container forever – as far as I know. I’m guessing you could use fresh almond milk pulp for these, too. You might need less flax if your meal is wetter/heavier. Since mine was so dry, I added the extra flax for it’s gelling power.

Almond Fee/Seed Options: If you can’t or don’t want to use almond meal, I’m sure a different nut or seed meal would work; make your own by grinding your favorite nut or seed until forms a fine powder, or use left-over nut or seed pulp from any nut or seed.

Grain Option: Don’t care if your muffins are grain free? Sub out the almond meal for oat flour. Equal parts should work. I would reduce the flax egg down to one, however. And, you may need to adjust (lessen) the cooking time.

Flax Eggs: If you don’t have flax, or don’t want to use flax, I’m sure a chia egg would work well here (or whatever egg substitute you prefer).

Chia Seeds: I like to add chia seeds to my muffins for extra Omega 3’s, especially if I use something high in Omega 6’s (like peanut butter). I also like that they’re high in protein, calcium, iron, fiber and tons of other stuff. Well, high for their size. They’re little powerhouses!

Sweetener: I didn’t add any sweetener, but if your strawberries aren’t sweet enough (of if your bananas aren’t super ripe and sugary sweet), you might want to add a little stevia or your favorite nutritive sweetener. I think coconut sugar would work great in these!

Cooking Time: Don’t be afraid to bake these for a while. The almond meal is pretty wet, so it might take a while to cook. Our oven runs a little cool, so mine took a full 15 minutes (plus). You don’t want there to be much give in the middle if you push on one while it’s in the oven.

Keepin’ it raw? I think these would be great as muffin tops in the dehydrator. On their own, all of the ingredients are considered raw 🙂 If you choose to try this, place a large scoop of mixture on a paraflexx sheet and dehydrate for one hour at 145F, then lower the temp to 115-110F until the muffin tops are firm to the touch. I don’t know how long this will take, but most things I dehydrate take at least 12 hours. Try leaving them in over night and go from there 🙂

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Carmely Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a follow-up to my Carmely Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls (almost raw/no-bake), I made a few alterations and baked off a batch. They’re still grain free and naturally gluten-free, oil free, and the only sugar comes from the chocolate chips.

Carmely Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c almond meal

1/2 c date paste

1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax + 2-3 TBSP water)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

dash salt

1/4 – 1/2 c chocolate chips

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly scoop onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (I used my new cookie scoop.) Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

These cookies took quite a while to firm up. I think is the first time I’ve tried to bake with almond meal. The flavor was excellent, so don’t be put-off by the longer cook time.

Recipe Review: Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I thought I already posted this. I can’t believe I didn’t. I’ve made this recipe three times. Yes. Three times. I hardly ever make desserts more than once let alone three times. So yes, they are that good!

I found this recipe through Pinterest.  I love Pinterest, by the way. Love, love, love it! I keep finding all of these wonderful recipes. (Along with fitness, fashion and decoration inspiration.) The original recipe isn’t vegan, but it easily converted to vegan. All I had to do was sub out the egg for a flax egg. I used golden flax so it matched the peanut butter, and it was totally undetectable. Plus, without the egg, you can worrilessly lick the spoon and bowl 🙂

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip CookiesAside from replacing the egg with a flax egg, I also reduced the liquid sugar to 1/4 cup of maple syrup. With the chocolate chips, the cookies are plenty sweet enough.

The first time I made these cookies, my batch only made nine cookies. The recipe says it makes 24, which I thought was weird. Until I pulled the cookies out of the oven. Surprisingly, they expand! The cookies from my first batch were total peanut butter fest. Wowza! Talk about rich. So, the second time I made them, I used my cookie scoop (love my Christmas gift from Mr. M!) for the first time and made 20 much smaller cookies. Ah…much better. I also shared some of this batch with a friend, who raved about them!

Because I had such success with the first two batches, I tried this recipe again, but switched up the nut butter and added some walnuts (because the friend I made them for loves walnuts in chocolate chip cookies). I had a jar of TJ’s sunflower seed butter hanging out in the fridge annoying me (I didn’t care for it – weird), and there was about a cup left, which was prefect. Again, I used golden flax for a flax egg and 1/4 c maple syrup, which was plenty sweet. I ended up using about 1/2 c of toasted walnuts (I spread them out on the parchment paper covered cookie sheet and toasted them while the oven was warming – worked perfectly) and a heaping 1/2 c of chocolate chips since this batch was going to someone used to SAD cookies. The resulting cookies was delicious!

I didn’t think I’d like these cookies because I hate nuts in cookies, and I wasn’t a big fan of the sunflower seed butter in its natural state. But I thought wrong. I had to taste at least a bite of one to make sure they were edible, and I ended up eating two. Ha ha!

Another surprise about these cookies (besides their deliciousness) was the inside – it’s black! Apparently sunflower seed butter turns black when it’s heated?! Or maybe it was from some sort of reaction to the flax?? Whatever the reason, it was a little weird-looking, but it didn’t deter my friend from digging into the cookies, so no biggie.

The thing I love the most about these cookies is that they’re grain free. I’ve been trying more grain-free recipes, and I’m really enjoying them. And, being grain free, these cookies are also naturally gluten-free (if your flax isn’t cross-contaminated). Perfect!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Cups

I made these chocolate peanut butter cups a couple of  weeks ago and never got around to posting the recipe. That turned out to be a good thing, because with the leftovers, I made chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream! That’s right, folks. This is a two-for-one post 🙂

Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Cup

Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Cups

1/2 c cashews

1/2 c Brazil nuts

1/4 – 1/2 c water

1/4 – 1/2 c cocoa powder

1/4 c maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c natural peanut butter (organic preferred)

Dash salt if peanut butter isn’t salted

Blend nuts, water, sweetener, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a bullet style blender. Put container in the freezer for a few minutes while you assemble the bottom of the peanut butter cups.

In a mini muffin tin or mini cupcake silicone molds, add a dollop of peanut butter. Once all cups are filled, remove chocolate mixture from freezer and top each cup with desired amount of chocolate goodness. Decorate cups as desired.

I added some mini chips to a few of peanut butter cups and some sliced almonds to a few others. I think some shredded coconut would be a nice topper too.

Freeze cups until firm and store in the freezer to maintain desired consistency.

And if, like me, you need the freezer space for more goodies, turn your chocolate peanut butter freezer cups into chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

4 frozen bananas, chunked

6 or more Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Cups

Splash of non-dairy milk

Combine everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Eat immediately or store in the freezer.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

I used my new Vitamix to make this ice cream, and I found the Vitamix’s nemesis – frozen peanut butter! You may want to let your Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Cups warm up a little bit before you try to blend them. I stalled out the motor on my new toy…twice!

Grain-Free Veggie Lasagna

I came across this lasagna recipe by Mama Pea a few weeks ago and knew I had to make it – or something like it. It had been forever since I’d made a lasagna; as a rule, I try to avoid pasta, and I made zucchini noodles this summer with great success, so I knew they’d work in a lasagna. Actually, I may have already tried something like this, but this time, I had a much  better game plan.

Grain-Free Veggie Lasagna

4 small zucchini/summer squash

1 bunch kale

16 oz mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 med onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 box silken tofu (firm or extra firm), boiled to remove bean flavor

1 can (about 1.5 c) white beans

1 c nutritional yeast, divided

Splash lemon juice (about 1 tsp)

1 can (about 1 c) diced tomatoes

1 can (about 1.5 c) tomato sauce

Seasonings to taste

Slice zucchini lengthwise. Roast until tender (at 425F for 30-45 mins)

Meanwhile, saute garlic, onions, mushrooms and kale until veggies are tender and greens are wilted. (Use a little veggie broth or water to saute – no need for oil.)

Blend beans and tofu in food processor until smooth. Add 1/2 c nutritional yeast, a splash of lemon juice, and a little salt. Stir to combine.

To make sauce, combine diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in a bowl. Add Italian seasonings to taste (dried parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc).

To assemble lasagna, spray a large, rectangular or oblong glass dish with no-stick cooking spray. Then spoon in a thin layer or tomato sauce. Top it with enough slices of roasted zucchini to cover the dish. Add a layer of satueed veggie and top with dollops of bean/tofu mix. Top that layer with more zucchini slices, and top them with tomato sauce. Add remaining sauteed veggies, bean/tofu mix and tomato sauce. Top lasagna with remaining 1/2 c of nutritional yeast.

Bake at 350F for about an hour, or until sauce is bubbly and nutritional yeast has browned.

Makes 6 large servings.

Grain-Free Vegetable Lasagna

Check out those layers!