Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bacon-ish Bits

For use as a salad or pasta topper, or as a snack

Equipment needed:
1/2 cup measuring cup, covered bowl, baking dish with sides (9"x13" or thereabouts), spatula or spoon, oven, optional strainer

In the bowl:

12 oz raw, shelled, unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1 cup low (or reduced) sodium Tamari
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Tamari is a wheat-free version of soy sauce. If you're avoiding soy but not sulfites, use 1 1/2 cups of balsamic vinegar as the liquid. Or use whatever marinade you like.

Either stir the contents of the bowl with a spoon or cover and shake them. Be sure no seeds are stuck above the liquid. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours - overnight might be best.

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees

Rough strain the liquid - this can be done by holding the lid against the top of the bowl but not quite sealed so the liquid can drain out or by using a strainer. You don't have to get it all, just most. Pour the remaining contents into the baking dish.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Almond Date Cookies - Part II

For those who wish to have different flavors and perhaps a bit less fiber in their cookies, this is a triple batch of the Almond Date Cookies recipe with some slight alterations.

In the Vita-Mix or blender:
15 pitted dates
3 cups water
1/4 cup chia seeds

Blend until well mixed. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (A departure from the original. This will keep the temperature constant throughout the baking process)

5-6 cups of almond meal (can be nut-free with something like quinoa flour)

Stir often and see if the batter is thick enough after 5 cups. If not, add the 6th.

Scoop 2 cups of the mixture into a second bowl and add 2 tsps of ground cinnamon. Stir well. Spread this out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake 25 minutes before flipping and baking another 25 minutes.

Scoop 2 cups of the mixture into a second bowl and add 1 1/2 tsps of ground ginger. Stir well. Spread this out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake 25 minutes before flipping and baking another 25 minutes.

The rest can be baked as is, or add your own desired flavor - like maybe 1/2 bag of chocolate chips.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Almond Date Cookies

A friend at work gave me some dates from his cousin's farm (, so I came home and made a quick batch of cookies.

Equipment needed:
Vita-Mix with the dry container, large bowl, 1 cup and 1/4 cup measuring cups, fork or spoon for stirring, spatula, cookie sheet, parchment paper, oven, and a knife for scoring (optional)

In the Vita-Mix:
5 pitted dates
1 cup water

Blend until the dates are liquified. Using a blender and having small chunks of dates is fine, too. Pour this into the bowl. Add:

2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup chia seeds

Stir until well mixed. Place in the refrigerator to allow the chia seeds to gel. I think I only gave it 15 minutes. I usually allow an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place parchment paper on the cookie sheet and empty the contents of the bowl in the middle. Spread into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Score with a knife to the desired size for each cookie.

Bake for 25 minutes. Flip and remove the parchment paper. If you're feeling lucky, use an oven glove, get under the cookies on the parchment paper and flip that onto the cookie sheet. If you're not feeling lucky, use a second cookie sheet. I did the oven glove trick and it went well. The rectangle is fairly small and that makes it easier to maneuver.

Separate along the score lines. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.

Your baking time may vary depending on your oven, the thickness of the cookies, etc. I apparently didn't get the thickness even throughout and some baked faster than others.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cherry Smoothie

There are ways to make delicious food and successfully hide the fact it contains vegetables. I like to use spinach because the taste is mild enough to hide easily. The color, on the other hand, is strong and needs another strong color to counter it. My two favorite color hiders are blueberries and dark sweet cherries.

For this recipe, a Vita-Mix is your best bet. If you don't have one, you might try soaking the cashews (or seeds) overnight to make them easier to blend.

Equipment needed: Vita-Mix with the liquid container

In the Vita-Mix:
1 pkg frozen dark sweet cherries (10 oz)
1/2 pkg frozen spinach (5 oz)
3 pitted dates
1/2 pkg cashews (6 oz)
[For a Nut-Free version, substitute 3 oz sunflower seeds and 3 oz pumpkin seeds for the cashews]

Add enough water to cover everything. For a thinner smoothie, add more water. If you like them thick, add less.

Blend on high until smooth.

Basically, this is a cashew milk smoothie base - cashews, dates, water. We're just skipping the part where we make it into milk.

I accidentally bought roasted and unsalted cashews recently. I usually get raw. The roasted cashews add an interesting depth of flavor to this smoothie. I'm a fan of strong flavors and like odd combinations, so I suggest you use raw, unsalted cashews.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

No-Bake Chocolate Banana Pudding

For this recipe, I went without the usual Vita-Mix/Food Processor component though they can definitely be used to get a smoother consistency.

Equipment Needed:
1 Large Bowl, 1/3 Measuring Cup, 1/4 Tsp, Large Fork or Potato Masher, Whisk, Knife, and Cutting Board

Mash together in the large bowl:

1 avocado
2 very ripe bananas
1 single serving applesauce (4 oz)

It helps to start with the fork or potato masher and then move to the whisk to try and get it smoother. Doing this by hand will probably mean having small chunks of avocado. They will turn color before this is ready to eat.

Gently whisk in:

1/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsps baking chocolate powder
1/2 pkg sweetened dark chocolate chips (~5 oz)

The 1/4 tsp can be used for both the salt and the powdered chocolate. It means 16 dips into the powdered chocolate though, so feel free to add a 1 tsp measure to the list of equipment needed.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

The start of this recipe came from a no-bake chia pudding recipe found online. If I can find it again, I will add the link.

The chocolate powder is helpful in changing the color of this recipe to something that actually looks edible. :-)

Another option is to go with a strong colored fruit instead of the powdered chocolate and chocolate chips - like blueberry.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sea'd Cakes

I had this idea to do a fish stick or fish cake using seeds as the base and seaweed for that fish flavor. I'd made a mock clam chowder many years ago with hijiki (aka hiziki) so I knew that could do the trick.

It's funny what goes on the labels of foods. After we got home from the grocery store, I read the directions on the hijiki to see if I needed to marinate it to get the best flavor. Well, yes, however the arsenic warning really caught my eye.

After a bit more research into what might be in packaged seaweeds, I decided against the fish cake idea no matter how clever I thought using "sea'd" in the name might be.

So now my savory seed base is sitting in the fridge waiting for inspiration to strike. I'll think of something tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Nut-Free Dark Chocolate Holiday Brownies

Equipment needed:
Stove, Oven, 2 Cookie Sheets, 1 Large Bowl with Lid, 1 Large Sauce Pot, Parchment Paper, 1 Large Stirring Spoon, Two 1 cup Measuring Cups, 1/2 tsp Measuring Spoon, Knife or Pizza Cutter (optional)

Initial prep: This prep is for two recipes - 1 savory and 1 sweet

Put the following into a large bowl (like a 7 cup pyrex):
2 cups raw, shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
3 cups water

Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Let sit for 4 hours or so. Hang on to the 1 cup measure as it will come in handy for each of the next 2 parts.

2nd prep: Place the mixture in the Vita-Mix or Food Processor, add 3 cups of water, and blend. This will be thick and may require tamping in the Vita-Mix. I used the liquid container because the dry one we have is too small for this much mixture. Chunky results are preferred.

Half of this is the base "milk" for the sweet recipe.
I used the 1 cup measure from the initial prep to scoop this into the Vita-Mix and add the water.

Turn oven on to 350 degrees to pre-heat.

On the stove, on low heat, in the sauce pot:

4 cups of the above mixture (still the same 1 cup measure)
1 package vegan, gluten-free dark chocolate chips
     (This one is Pascha 100% cacao - another allergy sensitive chocolate brand)
1 cup sugar of your choice (here's where the second 1 cup measure comes into play)
     (I like coconut sugar for it's lower glycemic value, but I haven't checked if that's considered nut free - I have my doubts on that score)

Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the stovetop. Add to the sauce pot:

1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (A "seasonal" item in our local stores so we bought it online)
1 cup quinoa flour (or other gluten-free, nut-free flour)

Stir until well mixed. The peppermint flavor was light. Waiting to see if it gets stronger in the baking.
[Decided twice the peppermint would be better - so 1 Tbl peppermint extract - Edited to add that others felt the amount of peppermint was just fine as is]

Cut a piece of parchment paper about the size of the cookie sheet. Empty the sauce pot contents onto the middle of the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Spread to about 1/4 to 1/2" thickness. Score lines about the size you want your brownies to be (optional).

Baking times vary, but here are the basics.
Check the brownies after the first 30 minutes and then every 5-15 minutes depending on how close to done they are. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven. Place the other cookie sheet on top and flip them together so the brownies are now upside down on the second cookie sheet. Remove the first cookie sheet and the parchment paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes.