Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

Thanks to everyone who commented for a chance to win the free download for the Vegan Delish app! The winner was LV, who said…

I’m always on the lookout for inspiration in cooking! Sometimes I’m just not very creative.

Congrats! Be on the lookout for more give-a-ways! (There are at least two book reviews/give-a-ways coming, and maybe more!)

Today, I’m sharing another recipe to help use up the never ending supply of almond pulp you probably have hogging valuable space in your freezer. No? Well, I do! I need to dehydrate some SOOOOO bad! That’s a weekend plan 😉 And, bonus, it uses my favorite nut butter…cashew!

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

1/4-1/2 c cashew butter, softened

2 TBSP date paste

1/4 c almond meal/flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla powder (optional)

Stevia or other additional sweetener (optional)

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Scoop into balls and sprinkle with vanilla powder. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes:

Cashew Butter: If you’re cashew butter is stiff and/or dry, heat it up. It heats up beautifully and will be nice and creamy again in no time. [Of course, if you can’t eat cashews, don’t have/like cashew butter, use something else :-)]

Vanilla powder: What’s vanilla powder? It’s just just ground vanilla bean and/or pod. It’s a lot stronger than extract, so be cautious before you dump it into something if you’re new to the product.

Optional Sweetener: I gave my mix a little squirt of liquid stevia, but it didn’t make much difference in the sweetness. You might want to try some maple syrup (You may need to increase you almond meal due to the extra liquid.) or some coconut sugar (You might have to loosen the mixture with a tiny splash of non-dairy milk or water to counteract the extra dry ingredient.) I can see these rolled in sugar, too. Yum!

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Sharing is caring…Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Raw Food Thursdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten Free Fridays, Wellness Weekends

 

On the Lighter Side: Pumpkin Pudding

I’ve been struggling with my diet lately. Not with what I’m eating, but with how much I’m eating. Apparently. I say apparently because I’ve gained a few pounds since October. I think I never got out of vacation mode from our road trip to PA. I tried not to get into vacation mode in the first place, but with so many Whole Foods everywhere we went, I couldn’t help myself! Well, that and the car-sickness that required pretzels. Lots and lots of pretzels. Regardless of the cause, here I am. And the only way I know to rectify the situation is to track my caloric intake for a while. I have a range of calories I try to stay between, and for months and months, I was naturally doing that. (I know because I was spot checking my intake.) So, for the next few weeks (or maybe even months), I’ll be tracking calories…again. And part of that includes lightening up some of my new favorite dishes – and reducing my fat intake. (I added some oils into my diet a while ago and increased my nut and seed butter intake.) I’m also considering adding in some beans and legumes and maybe a few gluten-free grains like quinoa (really a seed) and wild rice (really a grass). [I’ll have a post soon on the current state of my diet: raw, high-fat raw, low-fat raw, cooked, grain-free, bean-free, etc.]

To restart the lighter side of my diet, I lightened up one of my new favorite breakfasts. This recipe is full of vitamin A and beta carotene from the pumpkin (and absorbed nicely thanks to the fat in the chia seeds and almonds); gives you a nice dose of protein and EFA’s from the chia seeds (Can you say Omega 3’s?); and selenium from the almonds (in the almond milk – a mineral that can be hard to get in a primarily raw or grain-free-vegan diet). This powerhouse breakfast can be made the night before and comes in at around 200 calories for a giant bowl of goodness.

Lightened Up Pumpkin Pudding

2 TBSP chia seeds (I like to use white, but brown are fine)

1/2 c almond milk (plain or vanilla, unsweetened)

1 tsp vanilla

1 c (not packed) pumpkin puree

1 TBSP maple syrup (optional) or 1 pkt (about 1/4 tsp) stevia

Combine the almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla, and sweetener. Allow to sit for about a half hour (or longer) for the seeds to gel/thicken. Stir in pumpkin before eating. (Or, make everything ahead and eat when you’re ready.)

Notes:

Keepin’ it Raw: To make this dish completely raw, make your own almond milk from raw almonds (It only takes 5 minutes; try it!); peel, seed, grate and process the raw pumpkin into a puree; use a raw sweetener such as date paste; and sprinkle in a little vanilla powder or raw vanilla extract.

Alcohol-free Vanilla: I’ve been using TJ’s brand alcohol-free vanilla for about a year, and I love it! I’ve yet to find a cheaper source for it, either. If anyone knows of  one, please share! It’s still pretty expensive (but worth it…so far – ha!)

Chia seeds and almond milk

Sweetener

Canned Pumpkin

Ready to go!

Pumpkin Pudding (Lite)

This recipe is a lot lighter than the pumpkin pudding I was eating a couple of weeks ago – the filling for my Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake, which is great for a treat, but probably not the best idea for a daily breakfast. (But boy oh boy, cashew cream makes everything so delicious!)

Left over pumpkin? No worries. It keeps well in the fridge, OR use some of the left-over in a Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Sharing the love at Raw Food Thursdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness Weekends.

Chai Spiced Holiday Nog

I have yet to embrace the holiday season this year. I haven’t bought a single gift (not that I have many to purchase since it’s just Mr M and me). I haven’t even bought myself anything, which is usually how it begins. (Hey. Somebody has to do it – ha!) Maybe it’s because we don’t have the tree up yet. Or maybe it’s because I work through next week and have enough work to do over break that I doubt I’ll even notice I’m not “working” for a few weeks. But, most likely, it’s because of the wacky weather here in Ohio. Last weekend, the temperature was over 60F! That’s crazy for early December. Even today, the temperature is in the 40’s and raining. Supposedly, snow and colder temps are on the way, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Maybe I should clarify. I love winter. It’s my second favorite time of year. Fall is my first favorite time of year, but only because it means winter is coming. I love, love, love the colder temperatures of winter. And, I love me some snow! But, I HATE ice. I’ve had too many car accidents to mention due to ice, and that’s just the tip of the slippery ice-berg when it comes to the frozen wet stuff: downed power-lines, cancelled classes, falling down – ugh. Now, on the other hand, is awesome! It makes everything – even the ugliest of trash piles – look beautiful. And the way lights twinkle through the snow really sets the holiday mood. The mood of which I am lacking. Sigh.

To help get me in the spirit, I’ve been indulging in some holiday cheer in the form of chai tea. Traditionally, I haven’t been a fan of chai spice, but I found this tea recently, and I’m hooked!

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I cannot have caffeine, and I’m not a big fan of “decaffeinated” products, so any time I can find an herbal tea that makes me happy, I’m all over it. And, considering how much I love rooibos, and how much I love Numi brand teas, I figured this would be a hit. It is!  Who wouldn’t love naturally caffeine free ro0ibos chai tea?!

Combined with some vanilla almond milk and a couple of dates and/or bananas and protein powder, this holiday drink is a pure delight 🙂

Chai Spiced Holiday Nog

2 c Rooibos Chai Tea (or your favorite chai tea)

1 c vanilla almond or other non-dairy milk (or add 1 tsp of vanilla for plain milk)

1 heaping scoop of vanilla protein powder (I love Sun Warrior Blend Vanilla)

2 jumbo dates, pitted (or 4 regular size) – or another sweetener of your choice

Optional: 1 TBSP chia seeds (for thickness and a healthy dose of EFA’s)

Optional: 1 super ripe banana (fresh or frozen) for a thicker nog

Lots of ice

Add everything to blender and blend away. Garnish with cinnamon.

Notes: This amount of ingredients makes two nice servings at just over 100 calories each (with the chia seeds). Not bad for an indulgent holiday drink – with an added protein boost! If you choose to use the banana, you might want to omit the dates. I tried it with both, and it was WAY too sweet. But, if you’re making this for children or non-vegan guests,  the extra sweetness might be nice. Admittedly, the banana does add a nice touch. Additionally, if you want a thicker drink, try using a thicker non-dairy milk such as hemp or soy. I also find my homemade cashew milk is quite thick.

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Sharing the holiday love at….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

Carmel Apple Cheese Cake Smoothie

My friend Wendy needs to gain weight. Don’t hate. The dietician gave her a stern talking to before she left the hospital after a recent back surgery. She tried to convince herself everyone gets that talk, but after a reality check, she conceded to trying to suck down more calories. Again, don’t hate.

The good thing about Wendy is that she’ll eat anything – as long as someone else makes it for her. She says she’s all cooked out after three kids. OK, I’ll give her a little credit for that. One of the three is practically a giant; he definitely got enough to eat!

Doing my part to add calories, I made a giant smoothie today and took it to work for Wendy. It was delicious! And at about 2000 calories for a half gallon, it should help put on a pound or two!

Carmel Apple Cheese Cake Smoothie

2 c almond milk

1 T vanilla

1/2 c cashews

1/4 c maple syrup

1/4 c coconut oil

1 heaping TBSP chia seeds

1 heaping scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Sun Warrior)

6-10 dates, pitted

4 lg apples, cored

Lots of ice!

Blend everything in a high powered blender until smooth and creamy. Drink with a giant straw. Mmmm…!

Tips: I blended the cashews with the almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup first, then added the dates and blended a bit. Then I added the rest of the ingredients. Everything blended very nicely.

The flavor of the smoothie is creamy and apple-y and carmel-y. Soooo good!

I suggested Wendy suck this down throughout the day AND eat her regular food, but if you’re calorie conscious, you might want to stick to a cup for so instead of a normal quart sized meal replacement. (I can’t be the only person who drinks a quart of smoothie at a time!)

Sorry for the bad and limited photo. I was in a hurry this morning, and we couldn’t find any cups at work, so the jar served as storage and serving device.

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

Cookie Dough Balls

I don’t know why I was so slow to warm up to cashew cream. It’s so versatile! Add some lemon juice and a pinch of salt and voila — sour cream. Add some vanilla and a little sweetener and voila — vanilla cream (the filling for my Hazelnut Tarts)! Mmmm….vanilla cream….

While indulging in my new-found love for cashew cream, I accidentally created cookie dough dip. Then I scooped it into balls, froze it, and created cookie dough balls. I love happy accidents!

It seems like all the blogs I read have at least one recipe for cookie dough dip, and I’m always drawn to it because it looks and sounds delicious. But, then I think, “What will I dip in it?” So, I’ve never made any. Until I accidentally did. Ha!

My goal was to create some kind of non-chocolate dessert. My parameters were pretty wide: raw (or as raw as possible considering I can’t consume agave) and vanilla flavored. Pretty easy, right? Right.

Cookie Dough Balls

1/2 c cashews, soaked

1T vanilla

1T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

1T almond milk (or water)

1/4 c almond meal

pinch salt

1T Sun Warrior vanilla protein powder (optional)

1/4 c cacao nibs (optional)

Blend cashews, vanilla, maple syrup, and almond milk/water until smooth and creamy. (I used a Magic Bullet for this because the batch of cashew cream was too small to make the Vitamix happy.) Scoop cashew cream into medium bowl and add almond meal and protein powder (if using). Stir to combine. Fold in cacao nibs (if using). Dough should be thick and tacky. Scoop mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheet with a cookie scoop or melon baller and freeze until firm. Store in an airtight container in the freezer and enjoy!

Notes

If your cashew cream isn’t as creamy as it should be, add additional almond milk/water by the teaspoon until thick and creamy.

If you’d like a sweeter cashew cream, add additional sweetener: 1T maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener), or 1/4 tsp stevia powder.

For a sugar free option, start with 10 drops of liquid stevia and increase as necessary. You may also need to increase almond milk/water.

If your cookie dough dip is too thin to form into balls, add additional almond meal.

Make your own almond meal by grinding frozen almonds into dust in a food processor (stop before it turns into butter – frozen almonds will help). Or, dehydrate left-over almond pulp (from homemade almond milk), dehydrate, and grind for a finer texture.

If you choose to use the protein powder, the flavor will become more apparent as the balls age. It may also affect the texture/mouth feel of the cookie dough balls. I didn’t mind the flavor change, but if you think it will be a problem, don’t include the protein powder.

If you want chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough balls, add 1T raw cacao powder to the dough before rolling and freezing.

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I’m sharing this recipe with the readers of…

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Allergy Free Wednesdays @ Gluten Free Pantry

Wellness Weekends @ Diet Dessert & Dogs

Allergy Friendly Fridays @ Cybele Pascal

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)

Back-to-School Breakfasts!

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s back-to-school time in most of the United States, which means a lot less time for the luxuries of summer – like laying by the pool, late nights on the computer, and sleeping in. (Or, if you’re a foodie like me, less time research and try new recipes, less time to blog, and less time to work off all those yummy calories!) Breakfast doesn’t – and shouldn’t – be a luxury that goes by the wayside when school starts again.

I work as an adjunct college instructor (that’s part-time for all you non-academics) and a tutor at a local community college. I’ve been blessed with an awesome schedule this semester, teaching 4 of my 5 classes online and being able to fit in my tutoring hours in three days, which gives me a four-day weekend every week. Woo hoo! I can only hope this happens again (insert big, relaxed-from-sleeping-in-the-last-two-days-even-though-it’s-the-first-week-of-class smile here). But, the days I do have to go to campus involve early mornings and a fairly long commute. Throw in daily workouts, and I’m up WAY before the sun. So, what’s a vegan to do about breakfast on a crazy busy morning? Slurp down a smoothie on the way out the door. Duh.

My favorite smoothie is a simple one. It doesn’t have a fancy name or taste like a pie or a cookie. It’s just a nice, fruity smoothie that fills me up and gets me out the door. You can, of course, jazz it up however you’d like, but if you’re wondering where to start, START HERE.

Veggie V’s Start Here Smoothie

1 c non-dairy milk

1 frozen banana, chunked

1/2 c frozen fruit

1 scoop protein powder

1 TBSP chia seeds

Put everything in a high-powered blender and whiz, whirl, and whip away!

TIP: Put the light, fly-away stuff in first (like the protein powder and chia seeds) so it gets weighed down by the heavier stuff (like the frozen fruit). Totally delicious and refreshing. Ah…what a way to break the fast.

My favorite combo of non-dairy milk and fruit is unsweetened vanilla hemp milk and blueberries, followed closely by unsweetened chocolate almond milk and pitted cherries. I’ve found  I don’t need sweetened non-dairy milks because of the sweetness of the banana and the other fruit.

I’m currently using a brown rice protein powder, but I have some hemp powder to try when I’m out of my current flavor. I used to be a soy protein all the way kinda girl, but after reading a bunch of research on soy isoflavones, I decided to go a different way. That’s not to say you should use soy protein, I still eat tofu and miso and other soy products, but the I’ve found other protein powders work just as well for me – and they’re a little bit cheaper. Big bonus! Of course, you don’t have to use protein powder at all. The smoothie will never know 😉

As for chia seeds, if you’re not familiar with them, be ready for a little gooyness. They gel up (which explains why they’re often used as an egg replacer in baked goods) and become almost like tiny tapioca balls. I love that they add some bulk to the smoothie and provide a little crunch. The Omega 3’s aren’t  a bad bonus either 😉 Of course, you don’t have to add the chia seeds. You could try some flax, or nothing at all. Your smoothie won’t be offended.

Last fall I became addicted to a pumpkin spice recipe I found at My Vegan Weight Loss Journey. I made a few modifications to Katy’s recipe, and the resulting Pumpkin Craisin Muffins became my goto, on-the-run breakfast. They freeze beautifully and heat up in the microwave just as well. If I’m eating one as a snack, a little Earth Balance is a tasty add-on. Yum!

A few weeks ago I discovered a new goto quickie breakfast – Angela’s Blueberry Almond Chia Squares from Oh She Glows. These also freeze and heat-up well, but I usually end up just letting the square thaw out in my bag at work; that way, it’s ready when I am (for breakfast 2.0, or second breakfast). I just ate my last square this week, so I’ll be making a new batch this weekend. I’m thinking of some alterations, which I’ll share later (with a photo – taken before I eat the last one!)

My last back-to-school breakfast is an internet favorite. Almost every vegan food blogger has a version of soaked oats in their recipe repertoire. Sometimes they’re called vegan oats, or overnight oats, or raw oats, or uncooked oats, or…the list is as endless and the awesome combinations of flavors. I just call mine DELICIOUS. (I’m one funny, breakfast-lovin’ vegan!)

Veggie V’s Awesome Oats

1 c oats

2 c non-dairy milk

1/4 c chia seeds

1-2 tsp vanilla

2 TBSP maple syrup

Optional: frozen or fresh fruit of your choice, diced (something firm like berries, raisins, apples, pineapples, or mangos work best).

Combine everything in a bowl so it has enough room to grown, stir, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or over night.

This amount makes 2 normal servings or one giant serving for a breakfast lover like me (I love, love, love oatmeal! Always have). I have a hot version of Awesome Oats (inspired by Hungry Girl) that I’ll share with your when I get excited for fall.

If you like your oatmeal a little looser, don’t use the chia seeds. Contrarily, if you like it a little firmer, use less non-dairy milk and/or more chia seeds. But remember, the chia seeds add a little gelliness to the mix.

I love taking a big bowl of awesome oats to work for a late breakfast or even for lunch. I’m sure you could even eat this during a long commute (provided you’re not driving!) because it really gels up and isn’t sloppy at all.

With all these tasty, back-to-school breakfast ideas, there’s no excuse to skip. Just grab and go!

That’s Bananas, Yo

I don’t love bananas. I know. You’re wondering how any self-proclaimed vegan can’t be in love with the banana. It’s not that I hate them; I just don’t love them. I like them. I’m in like with bananas. We’re friends with benefits. We live our separate lives, but we occasionally hook up. And when we do, it’s amazing.

Lately, we’ve been hooking up a lot. In the last two weeks, I’ve made four recipes that either highlight or feature the banana. I finally broke down and made banana “ice-cream,” and I tried two awesome desserts from two of my favorite blogs.

My first banana fling was last week when I had a frigid encounter with two frozen bananas. And some vanilla. The cinnamon just watched at first, but then it got involved, and it really became a party.

Vanilla Banana "Ice Cream"

Vanilla Banana “Ice Cream”

2 frozen bananas (remove the peel and break banana into pieces before freezing)

1/8 c French vanilla soy creamer (or non-dairy creamer or milk of your choice)

1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon to taste

 Throw everything into a super, powerful blender (I think a food processor might work) and whiz, whirl, and whip away until a smooth, creamy mixture forms. (It will resemble soft-serve ice cream.)

 *Tip: Let the banana pieces thaw a few minutes before using. They’ll blend up quicker.

 Blender note: I have a Ninja 900 and a Magic Bullet blender. Because of the amount of time needed to make the “ice cream” soft-serve-like, I use the Ninja. It took me three stopping-to-scrape-the-sides interventions to get the mixture to move around and start blending. Don’t give up on it! It will eventually turn creamy and delicious.

The taste of the banana is obviously pronounced in this “ice cream” (a.k.a. banana soft-serve), but I didn’t mind it at all. The vanilla and cinnamon are a nice compliment to the creamy, frozen banana. Not bad. Not bad at all.

 A few days later I was craving ice cream again, which is weird because ice cream has never been one of my favorite treats. Back-in-the-day, when I ate dairy (so just over a year ago – ha ha) and when Mr. M could convince me a trip to our local ice cream stand was a good idea, I’d order ice cream blended with candy. Lots of candy. Lots and lots of candy. Basically, I ordered candy with a little ice cream. Mmmmm….candy (insert Homer Simpson gurgle here).

Sorry. Where was I? Oh ya, my second banana party. This time I decided to try chocolate flavored banana “ice cream.”

Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream"

 Oh ya. Right there. That’s the stuff. Chocolate is definitely my favorite.

 Chocolate Banana “Ice Cream”

2 frozen bananas

1/8 c French vanilla soy creamer

2 TBSP (or more) cocoa powder

Throw everything into a super, powerful blender (I think a food processor might work) and whiz, whirl, and whip away until a smooth, creamy mixture forms. (It will resemble soft-serve ice cream.)

*Tip: Let the banana pieces thaw a few minutes before using. They’ll blend up quicker.

Easy peasy chocolate banana ice creamsy. (Ha ha ha! I crack myself up.)

I didn’t add any vanilla to this batch, but I bet it would be good. I just didn’t think about. But it was still delicious and a definite remake!

After my banana big chill, I moved on to some more substantial desserts. Earlier this week I made Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from the Happy Herbivore and Flax Glowballs from Oh She Glows. HH and OSG are two of my favorite blogs. I’ve been following HH for years; and, although I just found OSG a few months ago, it’s quickly become my favorite blog to read.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

 Those are ice crystals on the Chocolate Zucchini Muffin, not sugar crystals. So obviously, they freeze very well (30 seconds in the microwave bring them back to fresh-from-the-oven status). I thought the muffins were sweet enough with just a 1/2 c sugar. Actually, because of the sweetness of the ripe banana, I’m going to try to omit the sugar next time. (My taste buds have become accustomed to not eating sweets, so you may want to try the full sugar version first!)  I also added a little more zucchini (because I didn’t want to freeze it). These muffins are crazy moist. They could easily be frosted or glazed and called cupcakes.

Flax Glowball sans bite

The Flax Glowballs are my first dessert ball. That’s right, I am no longer a  dessert ball virgin 😉

I made a few substitutes with this recipe because I was missing or low on a few ingredients (but they looked so good I had to try them that night!). Instead of 1 c mashed banana, I only had about 1/4 c (I used my other banana to make the muffins). Instead, I soaked 3 big dates for about a half hour then blended them with the banana. Plenty of sweetness! But, not quite enough moisture because I was still missing about half the liquid from the banana. To fix that, I added 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce and it got the balls rolling. (Is it just me, or is this post filled with hilarity?!)

I’m keeping my balls in the freezer, along with my left over muffins. I individually page each treat so I’m not tempted by their friends when I grab one from the bag.

I have some ideas for my own ball recipes that I’ll be sharing in the near future!

I hope you’ve been saving your over-ripe bananas in the freezer because the recipes I’ve tired lately are definitely worth breaking into your stash. Let me know how you like them!