Sunday, December 19, 2010

Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are some of our favorites!  They are a weekly staple in our house.  We eat them in our lunches and snack on them all the time.  Ok, so that probably doesn't sound very healthy, but check out the ingredients - they are vegan, whole grain and don't have any processed sugar in them. I haven't tried a gluten-free version yet, but I think it could work if you used a combo of brown rice flour and oat flour (brown rice flour is sticky and oat flour is a bit crumbly, so they tend to balance each other out). 

Part of eating healthy at our house is making sure that we have healthy choices that we can enjoy and these cookies definitely play the part!  We love them and feel good afterwards too.  I mean, who wouldn't want to eat chocolate chip cookies everyday?

One of my favorite things about baking vegan is that I get to taste what I'm making all throughout the process!  My one-year-old loves licking the bowl clean and I don't have to worry about raw eggs.  He's learned how to ask for a 'taste' and just keeps coming back for more until they're all in the oven.

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour or whole spelt flour
3/4 c. oat flour
1/4 c. brown rice flour
**if you don't have oat and brown rice flour on-hand, you can substitute more whole wheat flour**
1/4 c. almond meal (optional)
1/4 c. flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. rolled oats
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. canola oil
1/3 c. apple juice
1/3 c. applesauce (or more if you need it)
1 c. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. dairy free chocolate chips (I use Sunspire)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
**This recipe is really easy if you use a mixer with the paddle attachment.

1. Combine all dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) and mix well.

2. Add all wet ingredients to the dry mixture. Your cookie dough should be moist (see picture).  If it is not, you can add more applesauce.

3. Let the cookie dough sit in the mixer for around 5-10min.  This allows the flaxseed meal to set up (a great substitute for eggs!).

4. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet.  I like to use parchment paper (in which case you wouldn't need to grease).


5. Once you have a pan of cookies ready to go, press each down into a flatter shape using your fingers or a fork.  This can be a little time consuming, but is worth it.  If you choose not to flatten the cookies, they will most likely stay the shape that they were before going into the oven.  ...and when you're done, you get to lick your fingers!  Yum!


6. Bake cookies for 5min.  The cookies will look a little gooey when they first come out, but will quickly firm up.  Be careful not to leave them in the oven too long or they will be dry!

7. Cool cookies on a rack.  This recipe usually makes about three pans of cookies.

I hope you love these cookies as much as I do!  Let me know if you have any questions, ideas or comments!


Today's Ingredients:
Bob Mills Organic Whole Wheat Flour - Fred Meyer
Bob Mills Organic Flaxseed Meal - Fred Meyer
Bob Mills Oat Flour - Fred Meyer
Bob Mills Brown Rice Flour - Fred Meyer
Organic Whole Spelt Flour - Marlene's (or PCC or Whole Foods) in the bulk section
Sunspire Dairy Free, Grain Sweetened Chocolate Chips - Marlene's (or PCC or Whole Foods)
Almond Meal - Trader Joe's
Organic Rolled Oats - Trader Joe's
Pure Maple Syrup - Trader Joe's
Organic Apple Juice & Applesauce - Trader Joe's
Cinnamon & Vanilla - Costco

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coconut Prawn Pasta

This dinner is one of our favorites!  I created it when I was first looking for ways to cut dairy out.  At first, I was at a loss, like "Do I really know how to make anything without cheese or milk or butter?"  So it was a very slow process.  We just ate our usual meals and then I would throw in something new every couple of weeks (I think that's all my husband would have put up with anyways).  One day, I was inspired by a can of light coconut milk at Trader Joe's.  I brought it home and went to work on a new sauce.  We have never been particularly fond of alfredo or cream sauces around here, so I decided to mix it with some tomato sauce to see what would happen.  The result was delicious!!  We now eat this at least once a week - it's our 'fancy' dinner, for a night when we feel like we really need a boost.  To make it even fancier, add some fresh basil to the top before serving!

Just a side note on prawns: there have been recent new stories about farm-raised prawns and the likelihood of toxic chemicals, sewage and antibiotic residues.  This was one of the foods I was being 'laid back' about and have recently taken more interest.  We now use wild prawns and have simply cut back on the number we use to make up for the price difference - healthier all the way around!  For those of you who don't want to use prawns, I think this would be great with mushrooms or tofu as well.  Let me know how it goes if you try one of these!

1 medium onion - sweet, yellow or red will all taste great
1 can light coconut milk (15oz)
2/3 can tomato sauce (around 10oz)
3-4 cloves garlic
some basil - dried or fresh (or both)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil or Canola Oil for the pan
12 wild prawns
whole wheat spaghetti

1. Boil water in a pot for the spaghetti.
2. Cut the onion in half and then into long strips.
3. Heat oil (I use Canola Oil) in a pan on medium-high heat and add the onions.  Sautee onions until they are very soft and brown.  I cook them until they are well-carmelized, which brings out the sweetness and adds to the flavor of the sauce.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2min.
4. Add coconut milk and cook with the onions for 3min. 
5. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and basil. 
**This would be a good time to put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to the package directions (be careful not to overcook!).
6. Add prawns.  Cook until the prawns are curled up and opaque.
7. Put the pasta into a bowl and spoon/pour the sauce over the top. 
8. Enjoy!

We usually serve this dinner with a salad, some whole grain garlic bread and a glass of red wine.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Today's Ingredients:
Light Coconut Milk - Trader Joe's
Organic Tomato Sauce - Trader Joe's
Peeled Garlic - Trader Joe's
Wild Prawns - Trader Joe's
Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti - Costco

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today's Lunch

Personally, lunch is one of those meals that has to be healthy and give me energy to get through the afternoon.  This salad could easily have been wrapped into a tortilla with some hummus and avocados, but I guess I just felt like salad today.  My one-year-old had brown rice, black beans and cucumbers (his new favorite food) for lunch, so I decided to put that on a bowl of baby spinach along with some shredded carrots, tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil.  Quick, easy, healthy, delicious!

After our run this morning, that wasn't quite enough, so I finished off with a couple of my favorite whole-grain chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon)...yum!

**I was recently asked where I buy some of the more unique ingredients in my recipes, so I thought I'd start posting an ingredients list.  Let me know what you think!

Today's Ingredients:
Organic Baby Spinach - Trader Joe's
Organic Cherry Tomatoes - Trader Joe's
Organic Cucumbers - Trader Joe's
Organic Brown Rice Bowl - Trader Joe's (Easy and quick!  I also buy bags of Organic Short Grain Brown Rice at Costco)
Organic 'Bunny Love' Shredded Carrots - Fred Meyer
Organic Canned Black Beans - Fred Meyer (I love Freddy's organic beans, they are best I have found!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Costco

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Tis the season for Pumpkin Bread!

This Pumpkin Bread recipe has been in my family for several generations.  Not a year of my life has gone by without it. At our house, we often make it into muffins for breakfast - a great way to start the morning! 

I remember the feeling of disappointment when I discovered that pumpkin wasn't yet in the stores this October!  Surely Costco would have it, or Trader Joe's...  I had to wait a few weeks, but once it was officially in season, I went to work adapting this recipe to it's healthiest (yet still delicious) version yet.  I did my best to replace and reduce any refined flour and sugar.  I think the molasses adds an extra kick!

Pumpkin Bread Recipe:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.) Combine in mixer:
30 oz. organic canned pumpkin
3/4c. oil (I use Safflower oil)
1 1/2c. Organic Sugar (aka Evaporated Cane Juice)
1/2c. pure maple syrup
2T molasses
2T flaxseed meal

3.) Mix in a separate bowl:
2c. whole wheat flour
1c. brown rice flour
3t. baking soda
2t. sea salt
2 1/4t. cinnamon
1t. cloves

4.) Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

**Optional: add 1cup organic raisins or dairy-free chocolate chips (despite the fact that I am a huge chocolate fan, I always add raisins to this recipe)

5.) Pour the batter into pans.  At this point, you can choose to make 2 medium loaves or 1 loaf and 1 pan of large muffins (or any other combination that you come up with)

6.) Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean.  This is about 35min for the large muffins and 75min for the loaf.

7.) Let it cool completely before slicing

I hope you enjoy the first recipe on Almost Vegan!  I would love to hear about any results or changes you make!