Brownie Energy Balls

IMG_4443

Every Friday this summer, Jack and I will be leading a hike with Hike It Baby. Since toddlers (and mamas) get hungry when working up a sweat, I decided to make treats to take with us. This week I made a variation of the recipe I came across called Five Ingredient Ginger Brownies.  I changed the recipe based on what I had in the house and what Jack likes. The peanut butter and almonds are great protein and energy. The ginger gives it a little zing for a pick-me-up. And who doesn’t love a bit of good dark chocolate!

Brownie Energy BallsIMG_4445

7 ounces of pitted dates
2 tbs almond flour
2 tbs smooth peanut butter
1 tps minced ginger
2 tbs cocoa powder
Unsweetened shredded coconut 

Blend everything but the coconut in a food processor until it comes together. It will make loose dough ball when ready.

Roll into any size ball you desire. I went with bite size.

Sprinkle as much shredded as you like onto a plate. Roll the balls in the coconut to coat.

Eat them now or place in fridge for a hour if you want them firmer.

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Pop them in a bag and enjoy them out on the trail! Or your couch….no one will know 🙂

Chocolate Pie

Last year I did a post in honor of my grandmother’s passing. Sadly, this post is for my grandpa. A few week ago he had a two strokes that he could not recover from and passed on. So needless to say these past few weeks have been very emotional. I am so happy to be bonding with my newborn son, but sad to lose my grandfather.

Like I said with my grandma’s passing, the best way I can honor his memory is to live a long healthy life. And now I need to teach Jack how to live a long life too. I need to teach him about food and cooking so he can have every advantage for his health.

My grandpa loved chocolate pie. The kind you make with Jell-O pudding. When I was little I made him one, but I accidently burnt the milk. It tasted awful, no one else wanted to eat it. However, he happily ate it. Claimed it tasted like coffee. I don’t know if it was his love for chocolate pie or his love for me, but it made me happy to see him eat it. I think that was how I discovered my love for cooking for others.

So in honor of my him, I decided to make a healthier vegan version of his favorite dessert.While the pudding mix itself is vegan, it requires milk–and it will not firm up with soymilk. So I had to go a different route. I essentially made my Chocolate Mousse recipe into a pie. Pretty easy, no baking required. And tons of protein and antioxidants.

 Chocolate Pie
1 block silken tofu
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 graham cracker crust (find one without honey)

Drain the tofu, but do not squeeze or blot totally dry.

I used my NutriBullet, but a blender or food processor works. Blend the tofu until smooth.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well. Repeat at 5 second intervals until it is all melted and smooth.

Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar to the tofu. Blend until all combined.

Pour the tofu mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to firm up.

My mom bought this stuff called PB2, which if you like peanut butter, tastes great on sprinkled on top. I have to admit, it took me a few days to want to eat the pie because it made me sad to realize my grandpa is really gone. But once I did, it made me smile. He would have loved it—very chocolatey and smooth. Once Jack can have solid food, I will make this for him and tell him all about his great grandparents.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Finally, my last Thanksgiving 2012 recipe: chocolate pumpkin pie. This was actually a big hit with all the non-vegans on Thanksgiving too. It’s got more protein from the tofu. Plus it has less fat and no cholesterol.

And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the whole pie. I remembered half way through eating my piece. When I went back to take some, it was already half gone.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1/2 block of silken tofu, drained
2 tbs of coco powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of soy milk
2 tbs of maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade is fine)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is firm.

Top with some vegan whip cream or my favorite, coconut cream.

Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that effects the small intestine’s ability to process gluten protein. Common side effects are fatigue, severe digestive problems, and even growth problems in children.

Although I do not have a gluten allergy, I have several friends who do and I am always more than happy to post recipes they can eat too. If you do not have Celiac Disease or another type of gluten allergy, than there is no reason for you to cut all gluten out of your diet. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a gluten-free meal every once and awhile, give your body a break from processing the same gluten-heavy stuff over and over again. Like corn, it’s pretty much in every processed food today.

Gluten is a protein that comes from the wheat family, which include rye, barley, and oat. It is a great binder and leavener, which is wheat-flour breads are so common. It’s also used as a thickener, so it is used in a wide array of processed foods.  Because of it’s chewy texture, it is also used in many meat alternatives so gluten-free vegans and vegetarians need to read labels carefully.

My gluten-free friend Michelle asked for a chocolaty dessert, and I instantly thought of this Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse recipe my mom found on VegWeb awhile ago. Remember in the movie Chocolat when Vianne said that chili enhances the flavor of chocolate? She wasn’t kidding. It doesn’t overpower the dish at all, just gives it that perfect little kick. Try chocolate with other spices too, like a cup of Mexican Hot Coco with a dash of cinnamon. Chocolate and spices are loaded with antioxidants.

The only change I made to the recipe was I used grade B maple syrup instead of agave because that is what I have on hand. In the American  maple syrup grading system, grade B just means it is darker and less sweet than grade A.

Chocolate Chili Pepper Mousse
1 package of silk tofu, drained
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tps peanut butter
1/4 tps chili pepper flakes
Berries, fresh or frozen

Throw everything into a blender, except the berries and blend until smooth. I was going to take photos, but this dessert is so simple there really is no need for visual aide. You may want to mix with a spoon after blending to make sure everything is incorporated.

Pour into bowls or decorative glasses. I used martini glasses.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. The flavors develop more the longer it sits.

Top with the berries or any desired fruit. Also good with vegan whip cream or some crushed nuts. Sprinkle a bit more chili flakes if you like an extra kick.

Topped with sugar-covered frozen strawberries.

The texture is so smooth and creamy, it’s hard to believe it’s not dairy—or gluten. It also makes a great pie filling and comes out kinda torte-like if you freeze it. Hope this is chocolaty enough for you Michelle!

P.S. My next two posts will also be gluten-free. Check out the Cinco de Mayo one tomorrow.

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes

My mom bought me a cupcake tin last week, and although I used it to make Yorkshire Pudding, I thought it was time to make some cupcakes. When I was looking for a can of black beans yesterday, I found a random can of mandarin oranges and suddenly imagined orange cupcakes with chocolate icing. The battery was dead on my laptop so I decided to make a recipe up rather than try to look for one my phone.

Thanks mom!

Mandarin Orange Cupcakes
1 tbs flax seeds
1/2 cup HOT water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tps baking soda
1/2 tps baking powder
1/4 tps salt
1/2 tps ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbs soy milk
1/2 tps vanilla extract
1 can sliced mandarin oranges, drained but reserve 1/4 of the juice
1/2 vegan dark chocolate bar

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

Add the flax seeds to the hot water, stir lightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes. It should make a syrupy liquid.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, flax seed mixture, soy milk, and vanilla extract until slightly frothy.

Pieces of oranges and flax seed for color and texture.

Next add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Then add the oranges and the reserved juice. If mixing by hand, whisk everything very thoroughly. If you are using a mixer, mix on high for 3-5 minutes. This will break-up the orange pieces and brings air into the batter so the cupcakes are light and fluffy. 

3/4 of the way filled is perfect.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tin, filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly golden. You can insert a toothpick into the middle of one, if it comes out fairly clean, they are done.

All cooled. You can smell the oranges.

Let them rest in the tin for a few minutes, then remove them carefully and allow them to cool completely before you ice them. The chocolate will just melt off if they are still warm.

If it’s too runny, it won’t stay on the cupcakes

Once cooled, break-up the dark chocolate a bit and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It will vary based on the amount and type of chocolate you use. I did 3 squares for 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be totally liquid, but it should be very loose. Stir a bit with a fork to break up any remaining solid pieces.

The fun part! I let mine sit in the chocolate for a second.

Next dip the tops of each cupcake in the chocolate, coating it to your liking (I slathered mine pretty good). Let them sit afterward for a bit for the chocolate to set.

 

A nice twist on normal white cupcakes. The ginger gives it a little bite. And chocolate and orange is always a good combination. They went great with a glass of iced citrus green tea.

They came out just as I imagined!

Galletas con Chispas de Chocolate…or so Google Translator Says….

Photo from Veg Web user buttercup954

Cookies are one of the best things in the world. And you can still enjoy them as a vegan or even if you are gluten-free like my friend Leslie. She asked me for a gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe at Thanksgiving and I forgot to send her one. To make up for it, I promised to post a recipe for something she misses: chocolate chip cookies.

Unless you are allergic to gluten, there is no reason for you to cut gluten totally out of your diet.  This recipe calls for rice flour, which is gluten free. You can totally use white or wheat flour instead if you do not have a gluten allergy.

Most grocery stores carry rice flour (I bought mine at Safeway), and if not your local health food store will. If you are in Hawaii, Down to Earth sells it in bulk and in bags. Whole food and Trader Joe’s should have it too.

If you can’t find it or just want to make your own, it’s pretty easy. Put dry rice into a food processor and grind into a fine powder.

I, as a broke college kid, do not have a food processor, so if I need to make rice flour, I use my blender. It gets the job done but it takes a lot longer and does not get the flour super fine.

Get it as powdery as you can

Whether you use a food processor or a blender, it’s best to work in small batches, 1 to 3 cups at a time depending on your machine. This ensures all the rice is powdered evenly, because the last thing you want when you bite into a soft chocolate chip cookie is a big rice grain.

I adapted a recipe from Veg Web called Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you read the comments on the post, the most common complaint is that the dough is either too crumbly or will not come together at all. The first time I ever made it, the dough held together but turned into a crumby mess when I baked it. The users who had the most success are the ones who made a few alterations to the recipe, so I caution you about following the exact recipe listed.

As for the “vegan” ingredients, you can find them in most normal grocery stores just like the rice flour.  Vegan butters, or “buttery spreads” as they are sometimes called, are made from oil or soy and will do just as good a job as milk butter. I like Earth Balance, which most stores carry. You probably won’t need to go to another store for the vegan chocolate chips either. Just read the labels. Find a package that has no milk or milk products–which includes whey and casein. Usually darker chocolates are the dairy free, and have more antioxidants in them too. 

Galletas con Chispas de Chocolate (Leslie’s Bolivian, hence the Spanish) 

Happy Vegan Indeed

2 cups rice flour
1 tps baking powder
1/2 tps salt
1/4 tps cinnamon (Optional, I don’t taste the difference but cinnamon is great for your metabolism so why not) 
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup raw sugar or 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (Or, use plain plus some vanilla extract)
2 tbs flax speeds (Optional, it doesn’t change the taste but adds fiber)
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, soy milk, and flax seed.

Add the wet to the dry mixture, and add the chocolate chips. Mix until it forms a ball. It may be crumbly, but add a little more milk if it just a big crumbly mess. It should be able to hold a shape.

Spoon tablespoon-sized rounds onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Or,  if you prefer bars like me, spread the dough evenly in a baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. The cookies, or bars, will be slightly golden, and soft—softer than you think they should be. Let the cookies rest for a few minutes before removing them from the sheet or pan, they stiffen up as they cool.

Mine came out chewy and soft, just how I like them. A nice break from my math homework. Hope you like them Leslie!