Blueberry Coffee Cake from “Super Seeds” cookbook (+giveaway)

Today I have a feature recipe from Super Seeds by Kim Lutz. I met Kim at VVC almost two years ago. In a conference filled with excitable energy, I was struck by Kim’s calm, modest and beautifully gentle spirit. Kim is also a mother of two, and blogs at Welcoming Kitchen, which is the title of her first cookbook. Kim has also co-authored The Everything Organic Cooking for Baby and Toddler Book and The Everything Guide to Cooking for Children with Autism.

Super Seeds Cookbook by Kim Lutz

Kim’s recipes are entirely vegan, and are also allergen-friendly. Welcoming Kitchen was a collection of plant-based, allergy-free recipes, and Kim’s second book, Super Seeds, follows this theme but with a focus on nutrient-dense seeds! Kim utilizes 5 main seeds in this cookbook, including hemp, chia, flax, amaranth, and quinoa.

Kim opens the book by introducing us to the nutrient profiles and benefits of super seeds, and then follows with some basic super seed recipes and simple tools needed to use these seeds in different forms (ex: whole seeds, seed flour, seed butter, and milks). Then, Kim brings us to the best part – the recipes! Super Seeds contains 75 recipes, from muffins and breads to salads, soups, and desserts.

I love the theme of this book. Regardless of your specific whole-foods or plant-based diet, most everyone is hip to using hemp, quinoa, amaranth, chia, and flax. Why? Because they are so incredibly nutrient-dense, allergen-friendly, and versatile. Kim makes it easy for us to incorporate these powerfully nutritious foods in our daily meals. I also love how welcoming the recipes are in this cookbook. Beyond being a successful author, Kim is also a busy mom of two active kiddos – so you know that she has designed these recipes with flavor, nutrition, and ease of preparation in mind!

Blueberry Coffee Cake #vegan from Super Seeds cookbook by Kim Lutz

Reviewing Kim’s book, I was immediately drawn to her Blueberry Coffee Cake! It’s the kind of recipe I imagined I might bake regularly for my family. After baking it up this weekend, this is definitely the kind of recipe I will regularly make for my family! I love it. It’s simple to make, utilizes whole foods, isn’t overly sweet, and has a beautiful, moist texture.

Kim has generously offered this recipe for reprint for us all to enjoy, plus a giveaway of her Super Seeds cookbook. You can enter below, but first, you must try this recipe! (If you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, this would be lovely for brunch or tea.)

Blueberry Coffee Cake from "Super Seeds" by Kim Lutz

Photo credit: Bill Milne

Blueberry Coffee Cake

link to print/share recipe

Inspired by a traditional Italian almond cornmeal coffee cake, this version, with fresh (or frozen) blueberries, is elevated to “super coffee cake” with the addition of hemp seeds and hemp milk. This cake is truly delicious. Makes 8 servings

1 cup white whole-wheat flour, spelt flour, or (gluten-free) oat flour
1 cup cornmeal, plus extra for dusting the pan
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup plus two teaspoons granulated sweetener (coconut palm sugar or evaporated cane juice), divided
1 cup Hemp Milk (page 21) (or other nondairy milk)
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (or omit for a nut-free cake)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon slivered almonds (or shelled pumpkin seeds, pepitas, for a nut-free cake)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hulled hemp seeds

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Grease a 9-inch-round cake pan with coconut oil and dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, and ¾ cup sweetener.
4. In a large bowl, combine hemp milk, apple- sauce, vanilla, and almond extract, if using.
5. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
6. Add blueberries.
7. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
8. In a small bowl, combine almonds or pepitas, hemp seeds, 2 teaspoons sweetener, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
9. Sprinkle nut-and-seed mixture over the top of the cake batter.
10. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tooth-pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
11. Let cake cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate and flip right side up. Serve warm.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Super Seeds, copyright 2014 by Kim Lutz, Sterling Publishing Co. 

Blueberry Coffee Cake from Super Seeds by Kim Lutz #vegan

Some of my blogging colleagues have also reviewed Super Seeds, with other featured recipes. Looky-loo!…

Amaranth-stuffed acorn squash (review on Spabettie)
Creamy golden corn soup (review on Go Dairy Free)
Hemp seed hummus (Review on Recipe Renovator)
Lemon-basil quinoa salad (review on The Blender Girl)
Massaged kale salad (review on Mama Balance)
Quinoa lentil soup (review on Ricki Heller)

And here’s YOUR chance to snag a copy of Super Seeds! Enter below, telling us YOUR favorite super seed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!
x
Dreena

Momo Granola Bars: Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

In the last few years, there has been quite a spotlight on plant-based fitness. When I first became vegan, there was little talk of vegan athletes. Now, it’s very different. A plant-based diet is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the arena of fitness and athletic pursuits – as being the optimal diet to achieve optimal performance.

Matt Frazier is one of the people making great strides (literally!) to help educate people about plant-based nutrition as an athlete. I first discovered Matt’s very popular blog, No Meat Athlete, through Gena Hamshaw. Matt brings well-researched and referenced posts to his readers, with a balanced and approachable voice. His posts are educational and inspiring, often dispelling myths about the plant-based diet and also how it relates to athletic performance. Plus, Matt manages to sneak in the occasional entertaining post (that one’s a personal favorite).

No Meat Athlete

Matt has just published his first book, No Meat Athlete. As an ultramarathoner that “runs on plants”, Matt shares tips, recipes, motivational stories, and insights from his years of training and also transitioning to eating plant-based. This perspective will benefit vegetarians and vegans working towards fitness goals, and also athletes looking to clean their diets with a plant-based foundation.

No Meat Athlete is divided into two main sections:

Plant-Based Nutrition For Athletes – this section covers food and nutrition philosophy, how to get started on a plant-based diet, plant-based nutrition for sports, some tips for getting started in the kitchen, and recipes to fuel athletes and their families.

Running On Plants – this section focuses in on the aspect of running and training, how to begin to run, how to make it a habit, then moving into more advanced training tips, and finally Matt’s insights for training for racing.

While I’ve always valued exercising, I’ve never been a runner. You may not be either. But, you can reference this book for more than just how to train for races. If you are at all interested in maintaining a fitness routine on a plant-based diet, then I think you will find Matt’s wisdom and tips helpful – as well as motivational. I’ve always maintained a personal exercise routine and fitness (my fitness post is coming), and we have very active girls. Our two older daughters play rep hockey, so they are on the ice or training or most days of the week. This resource will be helpful for me not just in my own athletic commitments, but also for our girls.

Matt is also a parent, and notes in this book that his recipes are family-friendly and “workable in the real world”. I appreciate this, because most of us are not endurance athletes, and most of us are living busy lives with families and work commitments. Still, we can benefit from some of the knowledge gained by athletes like Matt, to improve our own levels of personal fitness, and to fuel ourselves – and our children. (This topic is particularly important to me, one day I will write about child athletics – how as a society we are merely ‘feeding’ our kids rather than ‘fueling’ them, and yet our nutrient-rich plant diet is often challenged.) Right now, time for a recipe!

When our girls are on those long jaunts for hockey games, I love to pack them a really nutrient-dense snack. When I saw these Momo Granola Bars, I knew I’d be trying them. Matt was kind enough to allow me to reprint this recipe for you to enjoy as well!

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

MOMO GRANOLA BARS Link to RECIpage to print/share

This is a DIY energy bar with whole ingredients at its base. It has enough carbs for a pre-workout pick-me-up, enough protein for a post-workout recovery, and enough great flavors for a dessert or snack anytime. —Mo Ferris, Johnson & Wales–trained chef and vegetarian marathoner

2 cups (160 g) rolled oats

*1⁄2 cup (50 g) rough chopped roasted and salted almonds

1⁄4 cup (55 g) rough chopped pecans

*1⁄2 cup (84 g) flaxseed

1⁄4 cup (16 g) raw pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons (23 g) hemp seeds

*1⁄2 cup (80 g) chopped dried cherries

2 small pinches kosher salt

1⁄3 cup (89 g) peanut butter

1⁄2 cup (172 g) brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spread oats, almonds, pecans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown. Remove the mixture from oven and add to a large bowl, along with the cher- ries and salt. decrease oven temperature to 300 ̊F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. mix thoroughly. In a separate small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup. over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. When the bubbles that form get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat, pour over the oat mixture, and thoroughly mix. While still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick (no gaps!). note: The mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet. bake for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Flip the rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3 x 5 inch (7.5 x 13 cm) bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large plastic bag. Yield: About 12 bars.

*My personal notes: I used raw almonds, and as I was out of flax seed, I replaced it with 1/3 cup of flax meal, and substituted a combination of raisins and dried cranberries for the dried cherries (though I think the dried cherries would be amazing)! Also, I cut some of these bars while cool and others after refrigerating. I got a much cleaner cut after refrigerating, just fyi.

These bars are really tasty. Not overly sweet, and very satisfying with a crunchy, chewy texture. Our whole family loved them!

Our eldest helped me with this photo, and while we were taking the pictures, a ladybug stopped by for a visit. We love ladybugs. They know a good thing in these bars. 😉

momogranolabarsladybug

Thanks Matt for sharing this recipe with us, and for writing this book. I wish you much success with it!

Are you a runner or involved in other athletic pursuits? Has a whole-food plant-powered diet helped your athleticism? 

p.s. I’ve just added a new feature to my site. On the sidebar there is a spot for you to sign-up for my (NEW!) newsletter. I will be delivering special promotions and goodies in this newsletter. Go ahead and sign up already! Also be sure to join my plant-powered community on facebook – I share all kinds of wonderful there! 😀

Let Them Eat GREENS! Leafy Greens 101: How To Buy, Prepare, Store, and Cook with Leafy Greens

 

It’s easier than you might think to eat nutrient-dense leafy greens. I understand how intimidating bunches of kale, chard, and collards can look on those grocery shelves. Hey, I grew up eating iceberg lettuce – correction, I grew up eating a lot of junk – and the ONLY lettuce I ate was some iceberg drowned in “Thousand Island Dressing”!  So, I get it. I was also initially daunted about buying, cleaning, prepping, eating, and cooking greens. But now I love them, and buy heaps of kale and collards every week – and grow chard and kale in my garden in the summer. So I’m here to tell you—it’s doable.

There are VERY good reasons to include more leafy greens in your diet.  They are packed with vitamins, minerals like iron and calcium, antoxidants, fibre, phytonutrients and chlorophyll.  They are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, have anti-inflammatory properties, and help the body detoxify!  This “Leafy Greens – Ranked and Rated” article from Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, details quite a lot of nutritional highlights and health-protective qualities of leafy greens.

Admittedly, it does take some time to get used to using and working with greens, familiarizing your palate with their flavors, and making them an everyday part of your diet if you are unaccustomed to them. Children especially notice the bitter notes of dark greens, so it is more challenging for them. But, like introducing other foods to children, repetition is key to acceptance. And for the adults, before long you’ll find yourself looking to eat more greens, actually loving them and wanting to have them at more than one meal. At least, I have.  And, you might not love them all… but I hope to help you find at least a few new varieties to enjoy!

So today, I want to help give you that “leafy-green-vibe”!  I will outline tips for buying, prepping, and cooking/eating different varieties of leafy greens.  I won’t touch on ALL the types of leafy green goodness available to you… but you’ll have enough not to make ANY excuses! 😉

Selecting and Buying Greens

First, when buying greens, make sure they are very fresh. Look for vibrant dark green leafies that are crisp and full, not wilted or yellowish.  And, go organic when possible. Non-organic spinach, kale, and collards are high in pesticides. Certain vegetables are worth buying organic, and greens are one of them.

In general, lettuces (romaine, red leaf, green leaf, butter, etc) and considered milder and sweeter tasting.  Spinach is a step up in bitterness from lettuces, with what some might describe as a ‘mineral’ flavor, but still less bitter and pungent than many leafy greens so easier for children (and many adults!) to eat.  Swiss chard (all colors) and beet greens taste a little more “assertive” with a slight ‘salty’ undertone.  While some like to eat them raw, you may prefer to cook them very lightly to balance that salty flavor and slightly chewy texture.  Collards and kale having a stronger ‘cabbage’ flavor as part of the cruciferous family, but also have more absorbable iron and calcium than chard, spinach, and beet greens – so they are excellent greens to include in your plant-powered diet. There are also quite a few varieties of kale with different taste profiles.  Curly (sometimes called green) kale is most common, and some think it has the mildest, most easily accepted flavor.  Then there is lacinato (or dinosaur or black) kale, and while it has a stronger flavor, I quite like the texture and look of dino kale!  Purple or ‘red russian’ kale is also available, and it has a slight floral undertone.   Kale works well raw in smoothies and salads (as we will discuss), but also lightly cooked in different entrees.  Then there are other “spicy” greens such as arugula, and mustard, and dandelion greens, which I like to say are more aggressive than assertive. 😉  Their flavors are strong and peppery, with some heat or bite, and so they aren’t always accepted by younger eaters – or adults.  Finally, we have the fresh leafy-green herbs, which are often forgotten when discussing leafy greens.  Fresh parsley (flat-leaf or curly), cilantro, and basil are also bursting with nutrition… and also flavor!  I eat fresh parsley daily, adding it to smoothies or wraps or salads – I’ve come to love it.  And, it’s one of the most nutritious greens, as Heather Nauta explains in this post and video.  Find that parsley love!

Younger, more tender leaves from all greens are typically a little sweeter than more mature, robust leaves. I prefer to use mostly spinach, chard, collards, and kale, as they are best accepted by my whole family, but if you like those peppery greens, by all means, rotate them as much as the others. Kale and collards are also hardier greens, so I find that they are often fresher in the store, and refrigerate better. But some days the chard is the freshest at the store—or the spinach… so shop with freshest in mind. After buying your greens, keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag (unless already packaged). If they aren’t in a plastic bag, they will dehydrate quickly and become limp.

 

Preparing and Storing Greens

When you are ready to use your greens, give them a good wash! Get them submerged in a sinkful of cool water (unless you’ve bought triple-washed spinach, which just needs a quick rinse and salad-spin). Separate the leaves, and agitate a little with your hands to remove any soil and debris, and any bugga-buggas!  Kale especially can house little critters, so get a good wash through those leaves. Then shake off the water and transfer the greens to a salad spinner. You can use other methods to wick away the water, but I find a salad spinner most effective. Spin until mostly dry, then you’re ready to use them.  If not using right away, whisk away as much moisture as possible, then refrigerate.  I keep lettuces/spinach in my salad spinner.  For hardier greens like kale and collards, I lightly wrap in a clean tea towel and then pop in a ziploc bag, leaving it open.  This helps keep the leaves from drying out but also not getting wilted from excess moisture.  If you want to freeze greens like kale and collards for smoothies, you can do so (I prefer them fresh, but it’s up to you).  Remove the leaves from the stems (as described coming up), tear in pieces, and store in ziploc bags to freeze.

oh-so-cozy kale, ready for a ziploc bag to chill out!

For sturdy greens with tough stalks (e.g., kale, collards), you will want to remove the leaves from the fibrous stalk. You may even want to remove some of the lower portion of stalks from chard and larger spinach leaves (not from baby spinach), where it becomes thicker and more fibrous. You can do so by “stripping” the leaves. Hold the base of the leaf at the stalk in one hand, and then using your other hand, run your fingers from the base of the stalk to the tip to strip off the leafy portion. You can then discard the stalks—or use them in stock bases, if you make homemade vegetable stock. Now that you have the leafy portion, you can use them whole for smoothies or sandwiches, or chop some more to use in salads or soups, for instance. I like to julienne leafies for salads, and roughly chop them for soups or sautés. You’ll get the feel once you get going, based on how you want to use the greens, how large the leaves are, how tender, how bitter, and so on (applications follow!).

Cooking Methods For Greens and Recipe Ideas

There are many ways to eat greens—raw or cooked—and I’ll cover many of them here. My first tip though is to start simple. Simple is best, and not intimidating. After you do simple, then you can get more creative with greens and schmancy up some recipes. But here are some simple ways to eat them daily:

Green Smoothie. The almighty green smoothies—they have changed my life, and my morning routine. I swear they are the most efficient, easiest way to eat greens– and probably the most delicious way to eat them raw. In Let Them Eat Vegan I have an entire green smoothies tutorial – with tips to help you make them taste delicious, and to balance the components so they aren’t too fruit-heavy (but also not too bitter).  Check it out, it’s ‘Go Green’ with Smoothies,” starting on p.26 of LTEV.  You can get started with my “Apple-A-Day” Green Smoothie!  And, you can read more about the goodness of green smoothies in this post from Julieanna Hever, MS, RD.

Apple-A-Day Green Smoothie from Dreena Burton

Salads. I know salads seem obvious, but some tweaking might be needed here. See, some greens such as spinach and chard are milder in flavor. Many of us have had a spinach salad, for instance; no big deal. But have you ever had a kale salad? That’s a different story. Some greens are bitterer than others. Kale is one of those greens, and chard to a lesser extent. So, when adding rich, dark leafy greens to a salad, chop them finely and mix with other greens or lettuces. I prefer to julienne such greens as lettuce and chard. Once you become adjusted to the flavor of bitterer greens, use them as a base for a lunch salad. Tip: Take a nutritious, thick, and flavorful dressing that will coat and and add substance and heft to these tougher greens.  Some ideas include Raw-nch Dressing, Citrus Tahini Dressing, Creamy Cumin-Spiced Dressing (all in LTEV).  Think of kale as your new romaine, and these thick, flavorful dressings as your new Caesar!

Kale-Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing

Try Kale-slaw with Curried Almond Dressing, this Spring Kale with Sweet Mustard-Miso Dressing from Christy Morgan.  Also, ever try a dandelion greens salad?  Now’s your chance, this Bittersweet Salad with Apples and Dandelion Greens from Ricki Heller looks incredible!

Pestos. Pesto is one of my very favorite recipes to make, basil pesto in particular, and usually with cashews, Brazil nuts, and/or walnuts. When basil isn’t as abundant but still available in grocery stores, you can modify your pesto recipes by substituting spinach, or even Swiss chard, for some of the basil. While I’m not generally a fan of a pesto made entirely with spinach, some partial substitutions work beautifully, along with earthy nuts such as walnuts or pecans. My Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto (also in LTEV) has become one of my favorite pesto creations.

Brief Cooking Methods. Most greens benefit from only very brief cooking. Overcooking turns their vibrant green to a murky green-gray color, and also changes the flavor. I prefer the color and flavor of greens when they’re cooked quickly, just to wilt and warm through the greens. Greens also lose some of their nutritional value with prolonged cooking, so brief is best, especially for more tender greens such as Swiss chard and spinach, and the leafy portions of such greens as bok choy or beet greens. Sturdier, hardier greens such as collard greens and kale usually take a little longer to become tender and pick up a brighter green color. Here are some ways to quickly warm or heat through greens—remember, cook until the color has just perked up and the leaves have softened; this is when the flavor is best.

Chips.  Is it possible to talk about kale without talking about kale chips?  I don’t think so. If you have a dehydrator, you have many recipes to choose from.  These Sun-Dried Tomato Cheezy Chips from Oh She Glows look crazy-good.  Don’t have a dehydrator?  Try my “Oven-Dehyrated Kale Chips“!

“Oven-Dehydrated” Kale Chips

• Sautés and Stir-Fries. Adding some chopped, torn, or julienned greens to a lightly oiled pan (or with smidgen of water), with a touch of salt, pepper, and a little grated or minced fresh garlic, shallot, and/or ginger, if you like. Let the greens soften into the oil over medium heat for a few minutes (just a minute or two for delicate greens such as spinach, longer for tougher greens such as kale). The leaves wilt down considerably, so you may want to use far more than you think!  Note that if your greens are still a little damp, you will not need to add much/any water.  And, keep in mind that the greens will also release some water as they wilt.  Other seasonings you can add: splash of tamari or coconut aminos, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, zest of lemon or orange, tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup (just a 1/2 – 1 tsp to finish greens, if they taste slightly bitter to you), drizzle of toasted sesame oil, few drops vegan worcestershire sauce, etc.  Try this beautiful African Collard Stir-Fry for an exciting flavor twist!

“Simple Swiss Chard” along with “Orange Sesame Tofu” and “Coconut-Lime Rice” from eat, drink & be vegan

Soups and stews. Many soups offer the perfect opportunity to get greens into your meal. Consider the stew you are having, and whether the flavors or ingredients would suit adding something like Swiss chard or collard greens. If so, add them just before serving, letting them wilt ever so slightly into the hot soup, and then serve immediately. As mentioned, brief cooking can improve the flavor and texture of greens – overcooking can ruin flavor. Try Beans ’n’ Greens Soup from LTEV and also many other soups and stews recipes.  Try this Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Chili from JL goes Vegan!

Pasta. Much like soups, pasta can be even more delicious with the addition of some greens—especially if the pasta has a generous sauce just looking for something to cling to! Again, add close to serving, tossing the greens through the finished pasta and sauce to warm through. Try the wilted greens option in Tomato Artichoke Pasta in LTEV, for instance, or with other pasta sauces that you love.  Even a simple marinara or jarred tomato sauce can be tossed through hot pasta with julienned greens to wilt pasta down before serving (and I must mention that Brazil Nut Parm would top the dish off splendidly)!  And, how about lasagna with greens?  Look at this magnificent Vegetable Lasagna with Kale from Manifest Vegan.

Grains and Beans.  Whole grains and beans offer endless possibilities to incorporate greens.  When hot, you can easily mix in chopped greens and they will almost instantly wilt from the heat of the grains or beans.  Add a punchy sauce or gravy, and dinner is ready!  And, you can make beautiful and impressive grain and bean dishes utilizing greens, like this Lentil-Kale Risotto, these White Bean, Spinach and Walnut Phyllo Rolls, or these Dolmades, Deconstructed (such an inventive lady, that Ricki Heller)!

Steam. Greens can be steamed in just a matter of minutes, and then are particularly delicious topped with some kind of sauce, such as a tahini sauce, Moroccan Carrot Dip or “Raw-nch Dressing” (from LTEV), or Creamy Curried Almond Dressing.

Wraps! Sturdy leaves like kale and collard leaves make beautiful and nutritious ‘wrappers’ for all sorts of fillings, like these Chickpea Salad Rolls.  I like to use them raw, but you can also very lightly blanch them – just for a few seconds – and then shock them in cold water to stop the cooking.  And, crispy, smaller lettuce leaves (including endive) also make great “boats” for fillings.  You don’t have to wrap the leaves around the fillings, simply add spoonfuls of fillings and pick up to eat!

How To Make a Collard Wrap by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen, #vegan #glutenfree

 

Keep Trying

Maybe you’ve tried a few ideas, but are still not convinced. Try again. I know it took a little time for me to get used to working with greens and eating them daily. So, keep at it, and try another technique or another recipe. Think outside the greens box!  For instance, would you have ever thought to put collard greens on a pizza? Or, how about chard or dandelion greens in a quiche?

As I always say about eating new healthy foods… keep on keeping on!  You will get the leafy-green-vibe, sooner or later!

What are your favorite leafy greens, and favorite ways to eat them.  If you have an all-time fave recipe link, please share!

Apple Hemp Muffins (vegan, wheat-free, and oil-free)

If you eat vegan or raw, you know that hemp is hot!  I’ve been using hemp seeds in my recipes for years (before it was um, ‘hip to eat hemp’).  When I started using hemp seeds and talking about them in my recipes, I got that “ohhhh, you are hippity dippity!” sort of reaction. People didn’t know that hemp seeds were a highly nutritious food – a ‘superfood’ if you will. No, instead they thought they’d get high from my brownies. Of course they wouldn’t! Because I saved it all for muffins. 😉

Jokes aside, it took a few years for the worth of hemp – high in protein, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants – to be recognized in the world of healthy eating.  Thank goodness it has, because it has made these virtuous bitty seeds widely available (and accepted)!

These Apple-Hemp Muffins I first created for my second cookbook, Vive le Vegan!.  That book came out in ’04… told you I’ve been a hempster for a while!  They are tender, moist, just-sweet-enough, and fragrant.

Recently I switched up the recipe to make them wheat-free and also oil-free.  These are recipe requests I am receiving so frequently that I want to oblige.  Wheat-free modifications are usually pretty easy, adjusting with spelt and oat flour (and usually needing slightly more).  Oil-free can be a little more challenging, because we want to keep those muffins MOIST and tender.  These muffins are still beautifully moist and tender – not to worry!  The other tricky thing with oil-free muffins is not having them stick to the muffin liners.  You can do a couple of things.  First, you can use silicone muffin pans.  I do not use them myself, but know they are particularly useful for oil-free baking.  If, like me, you don’t have silicone bakeware, the best thing to do is to let the muffin cool.  Completely.  If it is still somewhat warm, the liner is harder to peel away from the muffin.  And, if you are okay with using just a smidgen of oil – I mean just a little – you can add say 2 teaspoons to this batter.  That amount is pretty insignificant overall for 12 large muffins, and will help with that ‘sticky’ situation!

I make these muffins often for school lunches, because they are substantial, healthy, and of course nut-free.  If you want to perk them up for the kiddos, try adding… what else?… sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.  (Do I add this to every recipe?  Well, not to hummus – yet.)  😀

Enough of my rambling, right?  Here are the muffins!

Apple Hemp Muffins wheat-free, oil-free, soy-free

RECIpage link to print/share

Moist, lightly spiced muffins with the added nutrition of hemp seed nuts. These are easy and quick, and sure to please both kids and adults!

1 1⁄2 cups whole-grain spelt flour

1 cup oat flour

2/3 – 3/4 cup hemp seeds

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1⁄4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 tsp cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom (can substitute freshly grated nutmeg)

1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce

1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup

3⁄4 cup plain or vanilla non-dairy milk

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup raisins or chopped raw banana spears (use kitchen shears or knife to cut in small pieces about size of raisins)

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Stir through until well combined. In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and mix together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and gently fold and mix through, until just combined (do not overmix). Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (this will fill 12 muffins quite full).  Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (See notes above about cooling to help remove from liner.) Makes 12 large muffins.  Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!  Enjoy, friends! 😀

Are hemp seeds new to you, or do you use them often?  What is your favorite way to eat them?

Pumpkin Chia Pudding and Raw Chocolate Pudding Parfait Cups

Halloween is fast-approaching, and I thought I’d bring you a sweet treat to please kids and adults alike.  Double-duty: This would also make a beautiful holiday dessert for those of you now looking forward to Thanksgiving.  With how much our family loves my Chocolate Coconut Chia Pudding (and how well received it was by all of you), I decided to create a Pumpkin Chia Pudding.

This parfait is a combination of the Pumpkin Chia Pudding and a Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse from Let Them Eat Vegan. This mousse is actually the pie filling for a full chocolate raw pie (page 245, LTEV)  Have any of you made this pie, as a side note?

These puddings are spectacular all on their own – our whole family loves them. Put them together… outstanding! Layer one pudding on top of the other, and finish with some chocolate shavings – so simple.

Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse (recipe from LTEV)

 LINK for RECIpage to print/share

Creamy, chocolaty, luscious. Yet no sugar, no flour, no oil. Yes, chocolate dreams do come true. This mousse is adaptable and can be accented with other flavors, such as orange zest (or orange oil), almond extract, or mint (leaves or extract).

1 cup avocado flesh (cut in chunks or slices, roughly 1 large or 1 – 1/2 medium avocados; be sure they are soft and ripe, not hard)

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews

1/2 cup nut milk (or other non-dairy milk if non-raw)

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup raw cocoa powder

1/2 -1 tsp pure vanilla extract (see note)

1/8 tsp sea salt

Place all the filling ingredients in a high-powered blender and puree for a minute or so on at medium-high speed, until completely smooth and no texture of the cashews re- mains. Stop to scrape down the blender and redistribute the ingredients. Puree again until very, very smooth – like a velvety pudding. This will take a few starts and stops for scraping down, even with a high-powered blender. Once the mixture is readily churning and smooth, it’s ready.

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d prefer not to use vanilla extract, use the seeds from one vanilla bean.

Note: For a nut-free pudding, I’d suggest using the “Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding” recipe from LTEV, page. 237.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

 LINK to RECIpage to print/share

Easy to make, healthy, and scrumptious… you just might find yourself making this pumpkin pudding year-round!

3/4 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, see note)

3/4 cup plain or vanilla unsweetenednon-dairy milk (see note)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1-2 tbsp coconut sugar (or pinch stevia, see note)

3 tbsp white chia seeds (black will discolor pudding some)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp allspice

pinch ground ginger (optional, I omit it when making for the kiddos)

1/8 tsp sea salt (slightly rounded)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla seeds from one bean)

Optional toppings: shaving of dark chocolate, vegan cookie crumbles (see note), and the Coconut Whipped Cream from LTEV would be a phenomenal topping!

In a blender, add all ingredients. Blend for a minute or more (depending on blender, my Blendtec pulverizes the seeds quickly), until the seeds are fully pulverized and the pudding begins to thicken (it will thicken more as it refrigerates). Taste, and if you’d like it sweeter, add a teaspoon or two more of coconut sugar or maple syrup (not too much maple syrup or it will become loose). Transfer mixture to a large bowl/dish, and refrigerate until chilled, about 1/2 hour or more (it will thicken more with chilling, but really can be eaten straight away.). Serve, sprinnkling with optional toppings if desired.

Milk Note:  I typically use unsweetened almond milk (either plain or vanilla) when I make this pudding.  If you are using a sweetened vanilla milk, reduce the sweetener to taste.

Pumpkin note: Canned pumpkin can really vary in consistency.  Some are thinner, others a little more loose.  I use Farmers Market brand which is very thick and dense, and bonus – organic.

Sweetener Note: I love coconut sugar, and I think it adds a buttery-sweet note to recipes.  You may not need/want it in this pudding, the maple syrup may add enough sweetness for your taste (and the type of milk used will also affect sweetness).  If you’d rather use stevia, add just a pinch or two and test along the way, as too must stevia can ruin the flavor.  You can also add a little extra maple syrup, but no more than about a tablespoon or two, as the pudding can become a little loose.

Idea: Serve paired with crumbled ‘Gingery Cookies’ from LTEV, or ‘Snifferdoodles’, or a vegan graham-type cookie.  It will taste like pumpkin pie in a bowl!

 

You should know that I used some pretty large cups for these parfaits – one of these cups would be enough for two people.  I’d say that the two of these puddings together would serve 4-5 for dessert.  

And, here’s what typically happens before, during, or after a food photo in my house… curious fingers…

and now check this out…

Poking at the chia seeds is one thing, but hands off mama’s chocolate! 😀

 

Will you be making healthy Halloween treats?  Do tell!

Product Review: YogaEarth’s Keen-Wah Decadence Bars

Once in a while a new food find is particularly exciting.  No surprise this particular find is chocolate-related. 😉

These new line of superfood “Keen-Wah Decadence” bars by YogaEarth.com are crazy-good!  Made with high-quality, whole-food ingredients, you will be surprised that they do taste decadent as promised!

There are three flavors of these vegan, organic, gluten-free bars: Chocolate Chia, Coconut Almond, and Cayenne Cinnamon.  The ingredients include quinoa, almond butter, dark chocolate, and coconut nectar.  Each bar has a dark chocolate coating… which for me, takes a snack bar from “tasty” to “treat”!

 

YogaEarth stands by their product with other admirable corporate initiatives, including using eco-friendly packaging, and donating 1% of all product sales to women micro-entrepreneurs in countries where YogaEarth sources its ingredient (ex: quinoa from Peru).  And, all ingredients in their bars are selected to ensure 100% organic, sustainable, and fair-trade practices.

I know many of my Canadian readers will want to know if these bars are available in stores here.  Currently they are not.  But, you can order online.  (I will be – I received six sample bars, and after trying them I have to order more!)  Also, YogaEarth offer a ‘Subscribe and Save” program where you can sign up to get regular delivery of the bars (once a month, once every two months or once every three months) and save 15%, 10%, or 5% respectively. So, maybe get a sample pack first, see if you like love them, and go from there!  And, for US readers, you can find local retailers here.

And, today my plant-powered buddies, you have the chance to win a BOX of Keen-Wah Decadence bars all to yourself! (Or, try to share them with your family.) 😉

The winner can choose the 12 bars of the same flavor – or a mixed box of 4 bars of each flavor.  To enter, visit YogaEarth’s site and come back to comment on this post – tell us what other YogaEarth product you would love to try, and which flavor of Keen-Wah bar is most exciting to you!  One comment per person, contest open only to residents of the US and Canada.  Contest closes 12 pm PST, Friday August 17.  I will announce the winner on my facebook page.

Good luck! 😀

“Oven Dehydrated” Kale Chips (no dehydrator needed!)

 

I’ve had a problem.  A kale chip problem.  I have been buying too many packages of dehydrator-made-deliciously-expensive kale chips.

Why not make them myself?  Well, I don’t have a dehydrator, which truly makes the best kale chips.  I’ve made them in the oven before, but guess what?  They lose that gorgeous vibrant green color and get grayish, or burn in spots and taste bitter.  The taste is just not the same.  It’s not fresh and clean, but rather bitter and sulphurous.

Here’s why: most recipes for kale chips in an oven have the setting WAY too high, usually around 400 degrees.  But even recipes that bake chips at a lower oven temp for longer (ex: 300 degrees for 30+ minutes), your kale chips will “cook” rather than “dry”.  A dehydrator is so effective because it dries the foods, it doesn’t cook them.  That’s why the chips taste so fresh and the greens taste more sweet than bitter.

As I’ve said, I don’ t have a dehydrator (hint, hint Excalibur). 😉  But, that didn’t stop me here, because I’m stubborn passionate and persistent. :) I started experimenting, to get these crunchy-munchy bites of deliciousness.  And this is what I discovered…

The trick is to mimic dehydrating in your oven.  To do that, you need to use the lowest temperature setting possible for your oven, and then alternative turning the oven off and on.  For my trials, this took about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  The result?  Crispy, yummy kale chips!

Wait!  Before I give you the recipe, we haven’t talked about seasonings.  Many kale chip recipes either use oil and simply salt to season… or they are heavily overseasoned. My recipe gives you an oil-free ‘dressing’ for the chips.  And, it is flavorful, but not spicy.  I have bought too many varieties of kale chips that are so darn spicy I could not eat them.  Disappointing (particularly at $8 or more a pop).  I give you flavor in these seasonings, but not heat – and also not too much salt.  Remember that the kale becomes smaller, more concentrated with this drying.  So, use a conservative touch with salt.  You can always taste test when they are almost ready and add a touch more if you think they need it.  Try the recipe as-is first, then add your spices to personalize the next time round (see note about seasoning).

And finally, this ‘dressing’ uses some nooch (nutritional yeast).  I promise it tastes good.  It’s the combination of the ingredients together.  So, give it a try, even start with a touch less at first to get the idea.

Oven-dehydrated kale chips using dino kale!

“Oven Dehydrated” Kale Chips gluten-free, oil-free soy-free option (RECIpage link to print/share)

Kale is quite the buzz word in healthy eating, and kale chips have become incredibly trendy.  The best kale chips are made with a dehydrator, since it slowly dries the leaves – as opposed to an oven which can cook the leaves and make them taste burned and bitter.  Yet, most home cooks do not have these large and expensive dehydrating machines.  I don’t myself!  And, after spending far too much money on premade kale chips (which were delicious but breaking my bank!), I decided to create this unique recipe.  See, here, the kale chips are placed in the oven on the lowest setting possible – which for most ovens is 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then, the oven is turned off to let the chips continue to dry without any oven heat, alternated with one shorter last period with some oven heat.  The result is fantastic!  The chips slowly dry and become crunchy and tasty, without getting browned or burned.  And, the marinade for these chips is tangy and cheesy – and made without oil – delicious!

1 bunch fresh kale (curly or dinosaur/lacinato kale; I used dino kale in these photos)

2 tsp tahini

2  tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp tamari (or coconut aminos for soy-free version)

1/2 tsp pure maple syrup

2 1/2 – 3 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp (scant) sea salt

First prepare kale.  Fully wash kale leaves by submerging bunch of kale in a sink of cold water.  Agitate to release any debris (and bugga-buggas)!  Strip the leaves from the stems and place leaves in a salad spinner.  Spin several times to remove AS MUCH water as possible.  If leaves are still a little damp, then use a kitchen towel to blot and dry kale leaves.  You want the leaves AS DRY as possible before using. Then, turn oven to lowest setting possible.  For most ovens this is 170 degrees (it won’t take long to preheat, see note).  Get two large baking sheets ready, by lining with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, tamari, and mape syrup.  Stir or whisk through until fully smooth in the bottom of the bowl.  Add kale leaves and toss through with your hands, gently incorporating all of the tahini sauce, and working it gently through all the leaves.  Add the nutritional yeast, and continue to work through the kale leaves.  Transfer the kale to your two baking sheets, spreading them out to give the leaves space to dry – the more space you give them, the better.  Sprinkle the leaves with the salt.

Place baking sheets in oven on two racks.  Bake at 170 for an 45-60 minutes (rotate trays once during baking).  Then, turn off oven, rotate trays again, and then let the trays sit in the oven for another 30-40 minutes.  After this time, turn oven on again at 170, and let bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Check kale, if it is completely dry and cripsy, remove from oven.  If not, turn off heat and let sit in the warm (but turned offf) oven for another 30-40 minutes (or longer – can vary with the volume of kale in your bunch and thereby how much marinade on the leaves).  By then, the kale should be crispy, and also still fairly vibrant green!  If not fully crips, continue to let sit in the oven.  (See note to “recrisp” leftover chips.)  Munch ‘n crunch and enjoy!

Oven Note: If your oven can go lower than this setting – do so!  It will take longer, but you’ll get there.

Seasoning Note:  If you like heat, feel free to add a few pinches of chili powder or other seasonings you like.  Note not to add much extra wet seasonings or it will make the leaves soggy.  Stick with dry seasonings, and also remember that the flavor intensifies once the leaves are dried – so go easy to start!  It’s best to make this recipe first as is, then adjust the next time with seasonings you like, just to get the idea of how the leaves transform into chips.

Recrisping Note:  IF you have kale chips leftover, store in a paper bag or a container with a lid.  They may lose some of their crispness within a day or two (especially if you live in a damp/humid climate).  To recrisp, simply place back in oven at 170 degrees (or turned off after slightly warming) for about 15-20 minutes until nice and freshly crisp again!

Enjoy, and remember to subscribe to my posts for more crazy-good plant-powered recipes!  I’ll be returning with the Plant-Powered Kids Series soon.

Have you made kale chips?  What was your experience?  Are you going to give these a try?! 

Thanks to Ricki Heller for including this recipe in her Weekend Wellness round-up!

NEW! Cinnamon Cookie Dough Bars (and photos of LTEV signing at Chapters)

I have a new recipe for you today, these yumbo bumbo Cinnamon Cookie Dough Bars

But first, thought I’d show a few pictures from my book signing at Chapters this past weekend.  My girlfriend Vicki was good enough to snap some pics – thanks my dear friend! 

First up, the table shot – the flowers in the background are also from Vicki.  She’s the best.  The samples to the right (you can’t see them all) were: my Award-Winning Frosted B-raw-nies, Monsta! Cookies, BF Blueberry Muffins, Artichoke and White Bean Dip (served with mini-breads) and cucumber slices topped with Truffled Cashew Cheese.

The signing “action shot” (thanks again to my bud Vicki)!  If you look closely, you’ll see I’m signing a copy of ed&bv here! (one gal bought LTEV then came back with ed&bv)!

Another good friend, Nicole. We met through our children’s school.  She’s a cool lady, and I really admire her.  She is strong and passionate, yet has this calm energy and a good sense of humor.  And she is gorgeous with her big smile and beautiful eyes.  Nicole brought her three kiddos and hubby to the signing – PLUS all four books for me to sign!  Every book I opened, she had little notes written inside the cover for recipes she wanted to make, and extra notes tucked inside for grocery lists – I loved that!  :)

I met one of my readers, Rachel, who is fairly new to eating vegan.  She has a young family, and was a sweetheart to speak with.  I met her cutie-pants little boy too!  I also reconnected with one of my darling recipe testers, Angie – but, darn, missed the Kodak moment with her!

And this is our eldest daughter in the orange shirt, I think she is, um “helping” with the food samples…?  (She scarfed down a LOT of the artichoke/white bean dip!)  Hubby had the other two girls in the kids’ section.  Fun times for him, lol!

Now to the FOOD!

These bars are a combination of raw-meets-vegan.  A sequel to my “Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls” perhaps, or maybe my “Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites“.  And, they started as balls.  But, our wee girl keeps calling them “Sticky Balls”.  Sorry, but, I just couldn’t get past Pete Schweddy.  Too many balls.  So, I made bars.  But, if you want sticky balls… by all means.  Shall we move on? 😉

These include hemp seeds, and I add a good dose of cinnamon because it plays nicely with hemp seeds.  (Unlike our two eldest, who rarely play nicely, but I’m getting off-topic.)  And, because many of you need nut-free versions for allergies – or because of school policies, I have created TWO versions for you: one with cashews and hemp, they other without any tree nuts.

Cinnamon Cookie Dough Bars soy-free, nut-free option, gluten-free option

Print and share right here!

A cousin to my “Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls”, these cinnamony-sweet treats are a perfect treat anytime of the day, and can be made nut-free for school lunches!

1 cup raw cashews (see note for nut-free version)

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/4 tsp sea salt (scant)

1 1/2 – 2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup rolled oats (touch generous)

2 cups pitted dates (I use honey dates)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2-4 tbsp miniature non-dairy chocolate chips (optional, see note in directions if using larger chips)

In a food processor, add the cashews, hemp seeds, salt, cinnamon, and oats and whiz until crumbly.  Add the dates and vanilla, and whiz again for a minute or more. It will appear as if nothing is happening at first, that the mixture is just whirring around in crumbs, but soon it will start to become sticky.  When you see it start to become a little sticky, add the coconut and chocolate chips and process again (if you have larger chocolate chips, add them a little earlier, to help break them up).  Continue to process until it forms a ball on the blade.  Stop the machine and remove the dough.  If making bars:  Line a loaf dish with parchment paper along the bottom and up the sides.  Press the mixture into the pan, to even and smooth out (using a piece of parchment helps to press the mixture).  Refrigerate for an hour or more to chill and set, and then cut into squares/bars.  If forming in balls: Take small coops of the dough (a couple teaspoons in size, and roll in your hand.  Repeat until you have rolled all of the dough.  Refrigerate for an hour or more until chilled.

Nut-free adaptation: 

1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/4 tsp (scant) sea salt

2 tsp cinnamon (use full teaspoon for this version)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 cups pitted dates (I use honey dates)

1 tsp vanilla

2-4 tbsp miniature non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)

Follow same directions as above, except adding coconut earlier, before adding the dates.

If you make these, I’d love to know how you like them!  Are these the kinds of quick snacks you are looking for?  Or tell me what you’d like in a healthy snack!

Ch-Ch Chocolate Coconut Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding!

 

I know.  The “ch-ch-ch-CHIA” thing has gotten old.  But, it’s so hard to resist using it!  So I use it here – just the once. :)

If you aren’t familiar with chia seeds, they are itty bitty seeds that pack a nutritional punch!  Reported to have the richest and most stable source of omega 3’s, chia contains more of these essential fatty acids than flax seed.  And, unlike flax seed, you do NOT need to grind them to absorb their nutritional perks.  They are also high in protein, containing ALL essential amino acids, are rich in vitamin A, C, folate, calcium and iron, are high in antioxidants, and are an excellent source of fibre.  All that in these tiny seeds!  Mama nature, you rule!

Whole White Chia Seeds

The flavor of chia is fairly neutral, with just a mild nuttiness.  The texture is more noticeable than the taste.  The whole seeds are crunchy but soften (slightly) and plump if soaked in liquid.  The ground seed is much like flax meal in that is absorbs liquid, and becomes gelatinous. Unlike flax meal, it doesn’t have that bitter aftertaste.  Chia seeds are widely available in stores now, in both white and black colors.  I prefer the white seeds most often for culinary use, because they can more easily be camouflaged in cooking and baking.  But, black and white seeds can often be interchanged.

I use them daily in our green smoothies, and also often add ground and whole seeds to recipes like muffins, quick breads, pancakes, and even savory recipes like veggie burgers and loaves.  They also give a slick nutritional bump to oatmeal, non-dairy yogurts, and whole-grain cereals.

In this yummalicious pudding (Dreena vocab), you can use either black or white chia seeds.  And, the pudding is sweetened very simply and purely with dates, though I also give you the option to use coconut sugar and/or pure maple syrup if you prefer.  My tests for this recipe began with those sweeteners, but when I swapped in pitted dates, I fell in love with the new texture and flavor.  Plus, I add just a touch of shredded unsweetened coconut for texture, and also a few miniature chocolate chips (a little goes a long way). :)

And, this recipe delivers “instant” pudding.  Because the seeds are blended, the chia sets up almost straight away… so no need to chill, no need to wait.  (Even though slight chilling is optimal for serving.)

Our girls LOVE this pudding.  I’m talking L-O-V-E.  One of our daughters doesn’t like puddings in general, but will ask for this one.  They get giddy when I tell them I have chia pudding in the fridge.  This folks, is a very good thing.

“Instant” Chocolate Chia Pudding gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free  (Here is RECIpage link to print/share)

This chia pudding sets quicker than other versions, since the seeds are blended first.  It sets up almost instantly, and is fudgy, coconutty, and yummalicious!

1 cup plain or chocolate non-dairy milk (see note)

1/2 cup (packed) pitted dates, plus another 1-3 dates to taste (or 2 tbsp pure maple syrup plus 2 -3 tbsp coconut sugar or more maple syrup, adjust sweetness to taste, see note)

3 tbsp chia seeds (black or white)

1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or can use the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean)

2 – 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbsp mini non-dairy chocolate chips (optional for sugar-free option – but SO fab, even a tbsp!)

In a blender, add milk, dates (or coconut sugar/maple syrup), chia seeds, cocoa, salt, and vanilla.  Blend (starting on low speed and then working up to high speed) for a minute or more (depending on blender), until the seeds are fully pulverized.  Taste, and if you’d like it sweeter, add another few dates or another tablespoon of maple syrup (or coconut sugar).  If you’d like a thinner pudding, add another drop of milk and blend again (it will thicken a little more as it chills). Transfer mixture to a large bowl/dish, stir in coconut and chocolate chips, and refrigerate until chilled, about 1/2 hour or more (it will thicken more with chilling, but really can be eaten straight away – especially if using the dates as they also thicken the mixture).  Serve, sprinkling with more coconut, and topping with fresh berries or other fruit if desired.  Serves 3.

Milk Note:  I typically use unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk when I make this pudding.  If you are using a sweetened vanilla or chocolate milk, you may want to reduce the sweetener.

Sweetener Note: Dates are terrific in this pudding!  I wasn’t sure I’d like it as much as using maple syrup or coconut sugar – but I like it as much, or more!  If you’d prefer to use all maple syrup, it will thin the mixture slightly more than if using a combination of coconut sugar and maple syrup.  So, reduce the milk measure just slightly under 1 cup.

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to my posts to get every bit of plant-powered goodness delivered to your inbox!  And, thanks to Ricki Heller for featuring this recipe in her Wellness Weekend!

Have you ever made chia pudding?  How do you regularly use chia seeds?

Plant-Powered Food Spotlight: Goji Berries!

A few years ago, goji berries were pretty ‘fringe’.  Now, we are seeing them in recipes and food products, as they truly are a very nutrient-dense “super food”!

How are they so special?  To start, gogi berries are very high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants are measured by a scale called the ORACtest.  The ORAC value for gogi berries is usually over 20,000 (depending on variety) – compared to 2,400 for blueberries (which are well known for their high antioxidant level)!

Next, these little berries are protein-rich.  They offer 18 amino acids, including the 8 essential amino acids that make up a complete protein.  Yup, folks, gojis will ‘pump you up’!

Goji berries are also quite rich in Vitamin A (which, among other things, is good for fighting viral infections).   In fact, just 1 ounce of these berries (that’s about 2 1/2 – 3 tbsp) will give you 140% of the RDA for Vitamin A!

And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you of goji’s star power, they are also a better source of vitamin C than oranges, and deliver trace minerals including iron and zinc.

These berries resemble raisins in size, but with a flattened shape and dusty pink-red color.  Their texture is chewy and slightly soft (though some brands may be softer and fresher than others).  Goji berries may be somewhat of an acquired taste for some – they were for me.  They aren’t as sweet as other dried fruit like raisins, or other dried berries like blueberries.  At first, I was underwhelmed with their flavor, and wasn’t sure if I would use them much.  I still don’t always eat them straight up, but do enjoy working them into snacks and recipes.  Here are some ideas to include goji berries in your daily diet, starting with…

Strawberry Goji Smoothie Photo credit: tahinitoo.wordpress.com

  • blend into smoothies, especially delicious in my Strawberry Goji Smoothie (get recipe)!
  • add to cold and hot cereals
  • mix into non-dairy yogurt
  • sprinkle in green salads (in place of dried cranberries)
  • add to homemade jams and also chutneys
  • use in place of raisins and dried cranberries in sweet recipes like muffins, scones, quick breads, granola bars, and cookies and in savory dishes like pilafs, and rice, grain, and bean salads (try substituting just partially at first). Also try my Strawberry-Goji Muffins recipe in LTEV!
  • add to your favorite trail mix (or buy trail mixes including goji berries)
  • use in your granola recipe in place of raisins or other dried fruit (add right at end of baking, else they will burn).
  • Try this Cocoa-Goji Granola recipe, also from Let Them Eat Vegan:

Cocoa Goji Granola (photo credit: tahinitoo.wordpress.com)

Do you like goji berries?  How do you eat/prepare them?