Brown Bagging

My Inconvenient Truth: ELT (Eggplant, Tomato & Lettuce)

Egglant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

I think about the cost of convenience every day. Whether it’s preparing a healthy plant-based meal at home or eating at a vegan restaurant, the cost of convenience is apparent. I could use frozen vegetables to make meal preparation easier and less expensive, but I prefer to use fresh vegetables because they have a better taste and texture. While going out to eat is convenient, there is a price to pay in the form of limited choices and the presence of added oil and salt. I was reminded of this “inconvenient truth” last weekend as Bruce and I had lunch at a  “destination” vegan restaurant. (I use the term “destination” when we plan an entire outing around a restaurant.) Since we traveled about an hour to get there I wanted to make the most of our trip and decided to sample a few things on the menu. We ordered jackfruit stuffed mushrooms and oyster mushrooms in scampi sauce for appetizers. I had a French dip portobello mushroom sandwich and Bruce had an ELT (eggplant, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Each stuffed mushroom had a healthy dollop of vegan tartar sauce which I could tell contained oil. The scampi sauce was made with oil and/or vegan butter. The French dip had melted vegan mozzarella (oil), the ELT had fried eggplant and vegan mayo (more oil) and both sandwiches were served with a side of fries. The truth is we don’t eat oil anymore, and when we do it doesn’t sit right with us. I guess that’s the price we pay for the convenience of eating out. Anyway, the ELT was quite tasty and I was impelled to come up with an oil-free version at home. I made the eggplant by dipping the slices in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), coating them with bread crumbs, then baking in the oven. Instead of vegan mayonnaise I mashed up an avocado with some lemon juice and a pinch of black salt. Wanting to keep it as close to a traditional BLT, I built the sandwich by spreading a layer of avocado “mayo” on toasted white bread then loading it up with the breaded eggplant, juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce. The crispy coating on the eggplant gives the sandwich a crunchy mouth-feel that’s similar to bacon and the avocado lends a mayo-like creaminess — without the use of oil. (A few days later I re-crisped the left over eggplant in an air fryer which gave them more of a bacon mouth feel.) Well worth the effort. The truth is that, at times, it may be inconvenient to follow a plant-based diet, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for tasty food that’s wholesome and healthy. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

ELT (Eggplant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches)

Eggplant:

1 small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/4 inch slices
½ cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup or more of aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

To make eggplant in an air fryer:

Place about 8 slices of eggplant in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the slices and continue cooking until browned.
For the Avocado “Mayo”:

1 ripe avocado
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of black salt (or regular table salt)

For the Sandwiches:

Your favorite sandwich bread
Sliced tomatoes
Lettuce

Toast two slices of bread. Spread some avocado “mayo” on one slice, then arrange four slices of eggplant, two or three slices of tomatoes and some lettuce.

23 May 2017

Why Not?: Kookie Scones

Kookie Skone

Kookie Scone

I’ve been hankering for chocolate chip cookies lately, but just haven’t gotten around to making them. Why not? I really didn’t feel like dealing with the mixer. The bowls. The measuring cups and spoons. The baking sheets. The cooling racks. The clean-up. As I was thinking about what to have for breakfast this morning, I wondered if I could make a breakfast cookie that’s made using a minimal amount of ingredients, equipment and effort that would satisfy my chocolate chip cookie craving and still be considered “breakfast”. I was shooting for a cross between a cookie and a scone. I think I scored a bull’s eye. I ground whole oats, sugar and baking soda in a food processor, then added in the wet ingredients and folded in some chips and nuts before shaping and baking. What came out of the oven were two warm, chewy and slightly sweet Kookie Scones. And you know, I just couldn’t stop myself. Before I’d even gotten half way through one of these delights I was already thinking about some variations. What if . . . . I substituted the chocolate chips with raisins and added some cinnamon? And what about . . . nixing the chocolate chips for dried cranberries and using almonds, orange zest and ground nutmeg? What about . . .  Ripe Bananas? Applesauce? Pumpkin? Peanut Butter? Coconut? Why not, indeed! Well, I have a hobby for a few weeks. I enjoyed my Kookie Scone warm out of the oven, but these could be made ahead of time to add to a child’s, or your own, lunch box. Why not make a few Kookie Scones today? Why not? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Kookie Scones

1 Tablespoon flax meal
¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 cup whole oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 Tablespoons almond butter
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure non-dairy milk into liquid measuring cup. Add flax meal and set aside.

Place nuts in food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop the nuts. Remove from food processor and set aside. Place oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt into the food processor. Process on high until oats are finely ground. Add flax mixture, almond butter and extract and pulse to combine. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Using wet hands, divide dough in half and shape into two mounds about 1” thick and 4” in diameter. Place on parchment paper, then place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Bottoms of cookies should be light brown. Remove and serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations:

1. Replace chocolate chips with raisins and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.

2. Replace chocolate chips with dried cranberries and add 1 tablespoon of orange zest and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

 

26 Nov 2016

Winterized Yogurt: Baked Apple Ala Mode

Baked Apple & Soy Yogurt

Baked Apple & Soy Yogurt

There’s a chill in the air which means I’m using my oven almost every day. If I turn on the oven to roast vegetables I’ll try to squeeze in some sweet potatoes or apples to get the most out of my energy consumption. When I was a child we always went apple picking with my grandparents, and I remember my grandmother making baked apples in the following weeks. Sometimes she would serve them warm with a scoop of ice cream, and that got me thinking about yogurt. We usually add fresh berries to yogurt. Even though we can get “fresh” berries any time of the year they are not in-season now, and frozen berries just don’t cut it for me. I need to figure out how to “winterize” my yogurt. While I was packing up Bruce’s lunch this morning, I remembered those left-over baked apples. (If you cook on a regular basis there’s always some hidden treasure in your fridge.) So I chopped up the apple, sprinkled on some cinnamon, and flavored the yogurt with a little sugar and vanilla. It looked so tasty that I had to have it for breakfast. I warmed the apple in the microwave before spooning on a healthy portion of yogurt. You can dress it up by adding granola, muesli or chopped nuts. With the holidays coming, this would make a nice addition to a weekend brunch. There’s no recipe for baking apples. You simply place cored, unpeeled apples in a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if desired, add a little water and bake at 350F until soft. Baking time depends on the size and variety of apple and how soft you like them. You can use your favorite store-bought yogurt or make your own following the guidelines in a previous post. There’s no time like the present to winterize your yogurt. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

03 Nov 2016

Channeling Grandma: Not Fried Peppers

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

Cubanelle & Tomato Sandwich

My grandmother used to fry peppers all the time. When she was shopping, she would look for “frying peppers.” Of course. (You may have seen them referred to as “Cubanelle peppers“.) They differ from bell peppers in that they are light green, long, skinny and thin skinned. Good for frying because they would cook fast in a skillet. Not good for baking because they are thin and would most likely fall apart before the stuffing is cooked. She might have served the peppers as a side to a pork roast or sausage. What I do remember most was that she loved to eat them with Italian bread, sopping up the oil and pepper juices that coated her plate. I was the lucky recipient of a few cubanelles in my CSA share this week and tried my hand at making them “unfried”. To do this, I removed the stem and seeds and kept the rest of the pepper in tact (i.e., whole). Next, I placed the peppers in a non-stick skillet, added a few tablespoons of water and covered the skillet with a glass Pyrex cover and steamed them until they were soft. At that point, I removed the cover and browned the peppers, turning them often being careful to not let them burn. As the peppers rest, their juices start flowing and create an “oily” coating. The sandwich that followed was so tasty — a few slices of toasted Italian bread, several slices of peppers, a few slices of garden tomatoes and a sprinkling of Italian fairy dust (oregano). How could something so simple taste so good? You just have to let the beauty of the food shine through. On days like today when I’m in the kitchen, I feel like I’m channeling my grandmother. It’s a good day! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Cubanelle

Cubanelle

 

 

02 Sep 2016

Vegi-curious Adventures: Plant-Based Guide to Quebec City

Berries at Marche Vieux-Port

Berries at Marche Vieux-Port

Bruce and I spent our honeymoon in Quebec City 15 years ago. We got married at the end of July and wanted to go someplace where we could hold hands without sticking to one another. I was thinking that a train ride across Canada would be romantically fun. Thankfully, our travel agent talked us into going to Quebec City. We loved it and have been back so many times that I lost count. This year is the first time we would travel to Quebec City as herbivores and were somewhat apprehensive about the food. Quebecois cuisine is very French and very meat-centric with elk, caribou, wapiti, fois gras, lobster, duck, cheese, cream and butter making regular appearances on the menus at our favorite restaurants. One interesting aspect about Quebec City is that there always seems to be an abundance of fresh produce at the Marche du Vieux-Port, so we figured we could rely on that if we got desperate. We decided to throw apprehension to the wind and made our reservations.

In preparation for the long drive, I packed up some oatmeal-apple muffins (recipe at the bottom of this post) and hummus with veggies and pita crisps. I figured it would be wise to eat as cleanly as possible to offset any lapses we might have once we set foot in Quebec. We were so exhausted and hungry by the time we arrived that we walked to the closest sushi bar for dinner. (You can always rely on vegetable sushi in a pinch just about anywhere you travel.)

We fueled up for our daily walking excursions at the hotel’s breakfast buffet. First, a plate of mixed greens, dried fruit, nuts and seeds; then on to fresh melon, pineapple, bananas and kiwis; followed by raisin or multi-grain toast with peanut butter or a variety of local berry preserves. Every other day they would put out tasty little almond bars. I resolved to make a plant-based version upon our return and will post that very soon.

Quebec City is the only walled city in North America. A typical day was to walk within the walls, then down to lower Quebec and along the water. Many of the stores sell products that are made in the Province of Quebec and it’s a great way to check out the menus for dinner. Some days we would walk around the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham or the Grand Allee. We made it to Quebec City just in time to catch the last day of the Plein Arts festival on the waterfront and the first day of the Fete de Biere (brew fest). We planned our walks so as to stop at the Marche du Vieux-Port to pick up lunch. The Marche du Vieux-Port is a farmers’ market near the Bassin Louise. All of the produce vendors sell berries from the I’le de Orleans. (I’ll write about this lovely island in a separate post.) I found tasty prepared food at La Tomaterie. Their quinoa, couscous and bean salads were a staple for our lunches and the Tarte Vegetarien was a special treat. Local vineyards offer tastings of their wines that are also available for purchase. With a shopping bag full of goodness, we’d head up the hill to our hotel for a well-deserved lunch and afternoon nap.

Bean Salad & Couscous Salad

Bean Salad & Couscous Salad

Tarte Vegetarien

Tarte Vegetarien

In  my next post, I will share our favorite restaurants and the most memorable meal of our Quebec City vacation. You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to check back. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Apple & Oatmeal Muffin

Apple & Oatmeal Muffin

Apple-Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Notes: the muffins are a little sweet, so you might want to adjust the amount of dates and/or maple syrup. If the apples have a lot of juice, you can either squeeze out the excess or reduce the amount of aquafaba or water.

1 cup whole oats
1 cup brown rice flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

¾ to1 cup dates
¼ cup almond butter
½ cup non-dairy milk
¼ to ½ cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons aquafaba or water
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups grated apples
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Place cupcake liners into muffin pan.

In a large bowl whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In food processor, combine dates, almond butter, milk, syrup, aquafaba, flax meal and vanilla. Add in apples and walnuts and stir to combine

Using a large ice cream scoop, fill liners ¾ the way full. Bake for 20 minutes.

23 Aug 2016

Built to Last: Powerhouse Salad

Power House Salad

Power House Salad

I’m always looking for new ways to serve up greens and since it’s summer I’m not looking for something steamy on my plate.  I wanted to make a cool, crisp salad that could be dressed and ready to go at the drop of a sun hat. Have you ever noticed that salads made with leafy lettuces wilt soon after the dressing is added? Have you also noticed that raw kale is built to last? With that thought in mind I remembered a super food salad that I tried on my visit to Wichita last fall. It was loaded with kale, cherry tomatoes, edamame, berries, seeds and nuts and it was cool, crisp and tasty. This salad is packed with so much protein, fiber, antioxidants and flavor that I decided to call it the Powerhouse Salad. The recipe is a guideline because, after all, it’s a salad . . . and anything goes when it comes to salad. The first time I made the salad I used a raspberry vinaigrette, which was tangy, yet tasty. The second time I made an orange-honey vinaigrette that I like even more. You can hand chop the kale and cabbage and grate the carrots on a box grater, but I’ve shredded them all separately right the the bowl of my food processor when pressed for time. You can have some fun with this salad by using different nuts or seeds, adding grated beets or kohlrabi, or creating your own dressing. The salad stays crisp for a few days and tastes even better as it transforms itself into a slaw by the end of the week. Perfect to bring to a summer barbeque that’s sure to be a hit with both herbivores and omnivores. Try this Powerhouse Salad and make something built to last. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Powerhouse Salad

Raspberry Dressing

¾ cup raspberry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave
1 garlic cloved, pressed (or garlic powder)

Orange Dressing (may need to double this dressing recipe)

¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, pressed (or garlic powder)
2 teaspoons honey, maple syrup or agave

Whisk ingredients together and let sit while preparing salad.

Salad

4 – 5 cups chopped kale
1/2 lb. frozen edamame beans, defrosted
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded green or red cabbage
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onion
1 kohlrabi or raw beet, grated (optional)
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl with your choice of dressing.

07 Jun 2016

Odd Couple: Gigante Beans & Potatoes with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Gigante Beans & Potatoes

Gigante Beans & Potatoes

Prior to adopting a plant-based diet, there were some foods I would NEVER combine in one meal let alone in the same recipe. For instance, I would never have rice and potatoes my plate at the same time. Maybe at a barbeque or buffet I’d have potato salad and macaroni salad together, but that was more an exception than a rule. I would make beans with pasta or rice, but I never thought to pair beans with potatoes. Hmmmm . . . beans and potatoes . . .  they seem like an odd couple. But sometimes necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed to use up some Yukon potatoes and dried lima beans that have been lurking in the pantry. I remembered the Gigante Bean Salad from last year and figured that since I like bean salads and potato salads, this combination might actually work. So I soaked and cooked up large lima beans, steamed the potatoes and roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic for the vinaigarette. I seasoned it with the “tre fratelli” — oregano, marjoram and thyme — but you can use any herbs that tickle your fancy. I bet it would be nice with fava beans or whatever potatoes you have on hand.This dish came out surprisingly tasty and the layer of fresh arugula underneath added a nice contrast to the delicate texture and sweet-tangy flavors of the salad. Since you can serve the salad at room temperature it’s a nice dish to bring to a summer barbeque or for lunch the next day. Just another example of how opposites attract. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Gigante Bean & Potato Salad with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
½ pound dried Gigante beans (large lima beans)
2 cloves of garlic, left whole
1 bay leaf

1 pound Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
Fresh thyme sprigs
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
Salt (optional) and pepper

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
Oregano, marjoram, black pepper and salt (optional) to taste

Soak beans overnight by placing beans in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse beans, then cover with more water. Add whole garlic cloves and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil then simmer for about 30 minutes until beans are soft, but not mushy. (Depending on the beans and how long you soak them, this could take longer. You could also make them in a pressure cooker.) When done, drain well and set aside.

While beans are cooking, steam potatoes in a double boiler or steamer basket set in a large pot until tender enough to pierce with a fork yet firm enough not to break apart. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

In a large, shallow serving bowl, add balsamic and sherry vinegars, oregano and marjoram. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a glass baking dish very lightly with olive oil (you can opt to omit the oil). Place the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and season, salt and pepper in a small baking pan and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until tomatoes soften up. Remove foil and smash tomatoes so juice comes out. Return to oven and cook, uncovered, until tomatoes and garlic start to caramelize. Remove tomatoes from oven and add to bowl with vinegar. Add beans and potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

23 May 2016

March Muffin Madness: Sweet Potato-Apple Muffins with Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato-Apple Muffins

Sweet Potato-Apple Muffins

Only three  days left in March and I have a few more Mad Muffin recipes waiting to get into the game. I came up with this recipe after overcooking some sweet potatoes and apples in my Instant Pot. (Remember, there are no mistakes in the kitchen; only new recipes to be discovered.) The taste was good, but the texture was too mushy. I use pumpkin puree in a lot of my baked goods and thought this might put an interesting spin on muffins. Since this sweet potato recipe also contains onion, my goal was to create a sweet and savory muffin that could be enjoyed at breakfast, snack time, brunch or even dinner. Instead of folding chopped pecans into the batter, I candied them with maple syrup in a non-stick skillet and sprinkled them on top of the muffins. I used the sweet potato-apple recipe from from Vegan Under Pressure cookbook, but you can simply boil or pressure cook a large sweet potato and a small apple (and some onion if you like) until mushy. Since I had a large portion, I portioned the puree into one-cup containers and placed them in the freezer for future use. You can play around with the spices, even add a little thyme or marjoram for a more savory touch. These muffins are good on their own and even nicer with a smear of cashew cream cheese. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sweet Potato-Apple Muffins

1 cup whole wheat all purpose or pastry flour
½ cup oat flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup sweet potato-apple puree*
½ cup + 2 tablespoons soy or almond milk
¼ cup almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 2 tsp. bourbon)
½ cup chopped pecans (see notes for praline topping)
Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together sweet potato puree, milk, almond butter and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just until blended.

Divide batter among muffin cups, then place a spoonful of filling onto top of batter. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until tops spring up when touched lightly.

*Pressure cook sweet potatoes, apples and onions for about 3 minutes. Let cool, then puree in blender or food processor.

**Pecan Praline topping: Place pecans and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in non-stick skillet. Heat over medium heat until maple syrup coats the pecans. Let cool, then remove to cutting board to chop. Sprinkle on top of muffins before baking.

29 Mar 2016

The Incredible, Edible, Bean: Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

Black Bean Spread

Black Bean Spread

The American Egg Board has been using their slogan, “the incredible, edible egg”  since 1977. They wanted us to think that eggs were a healthy food choice that could be used in a variety of ways. Like so many unsuspecting Americans, I bought into that concept for many years. What’s so incredible about raising chickens in crowded conditions so that we could eat a food that’s high in cholesterol? Too bad that incredible slogan is already taken because I think beans are pretty incredible on so many levels. They’re high in fiber, protein, vitamins and they’re versatile. I just finished making a pot of black beans, you know, just because . . . just because I made a batch of recaito yesterday and decided to use it to make black beans. After quick-soaking the beans, I sauteed the recaito right in my instant pot, added the beans, water, liquid smoke and Sazon seasoning; pressure cooked on high for 6 minutes and was done. And while I was waiting for the pressure to come down, I thought about how this pot of beans fits in with my “one mess, many meals” habit. So, here I go. A bowl of black beans with brown, white or Spanish rice. Soft corn tacos stuffed with black beans, rice, avocado and salsa. Black bean spread with tortilla chips. Black beans smashed onto a tortilla, layered with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Strangely, I even made a sandwich of black beans, sauerkraut and mustard on rye that reminded me of corned beef. Wow! That’s a stretch, but something in those beans did that for me. It’s easy to see that you can make several different, healthy meals with just one pot of beans. Now that’s incredible!

I happened to have two cups of dried beans on hand which made a little over a quart of cooked beans. If you want to make more, here’s how it breaks down: for every cup of dried beans, use 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of recaito, 1/2 teaspoon of Sazon and 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke. The great thing about making recaito and freezing it in small portions is that all of the flavor is in there — peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, culantro. You can find my recaito recipe here. (You can purchase recaito in the Spanish food aisle or freezer section, but home-made is much more flavorful.) The beans came out on the dry side, but that’s what I was after. You can adjust the amount of liquid and cooking time depending on your preference and experience with pressure cooking beans. Make a pot of black beans and make something incredible. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Tacos

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean Wrap

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

Black Bean & Sauerkraut Sandwich

 

Smoky Black Beans in an Instant Pot

  • 2 cups black beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked
  • ½ cup recaito
  • 1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Salt (optional)

Set instant pot to saute setting. When hot, add recaito and cook until it starts to brown and its liquid evaporates. Add beans, recaito, Sazon and water. Secure lid and cook from 4 to 6 minutes, depending on your pressure cooker. Release when pressure has come down naturally.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can use canned beans and simmer on the stove top for about 30 minutes, adding water as needed, until the flavors mingle and the beans thicken.

 

28 Mar 2016

March Muffin Madness: Muesli Muffins

Muesli Muffin & Apple Butter

Muesli Muffin & Apple Butter

Muesli Muffin

Muesli Muffin

Mmmmm . . . March Muffin Madness . . . Mad Muesli Muffins.

Bruce and I honeymooned in Quebec City and have spent many vacations in Canada since then. During one of our trips, the hotel served Muesli for breakfast. I don’t know if it was the “everything-tastes-better-on-vacation” effect, but Muesli never tasted that good here in the states. According to Wikipedia, Muesli was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. With a cereal consisting of rolled oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, Dr. Bircher-Benner was doing something right. One of my aims when I develop muffin recipes is to come up with something that is filling enough for breakfast or can be enjoyed as a snack, so it made sense to incorporate the ingredients from Muesli into a muffin. I started by making a puree of dates, applesauce, almond butter, maple syrup and milk for sweeteners and moisture. For structure, I mixed together old-fashioned oats and whole wheat pastry flour. I included raisins and dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds as the textural add-ins, but here’s where you can get creative and use any combination of dried fruits, seeds and nuts. Well, I couldn’t wait until breakfast to unwrap one of these and when I did it was bursting with a delightful aroma and a handful of goodness. These muffins can be enjoyed at the breakfast table or on the go. I actually made these a few weeks ago and stored them in the freezer. I defrosted the last ones for Bruce’s lunch, so I’m off to the kitchen to make another batch. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Muesli Muffins

makes 12 muffins

  • 1/2 cup chopped dried pitted dates
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 Tbsp. finely ground flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 cup plain non-dairy milk (soy, almond, cashew)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole oats (not instant)
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 6 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • 6 tbsp. raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the applesauce, dates, almond butter, flax, maple syrup, apple butter and milk and process until smooth. (The dates can be chunky.)  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Add the oats, seeds, raisins and cranberries and stir to mix. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture in the bowl and stir just to combine.

Using a scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Cool about 10 minutes before removing to a rack.

21 Mar 2016

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