Dark Chocolate Maple-Almond Granola

I discovered that if I eat peanut butter too often, puffiness occurs. While I am not allergic to peanuts, apparently, they do bother me some. I decided that my chocolate-pb granola was out, sadly. With a few modifications to that recipe, however, I quickly fell even more in love with this one instead.

When I first created it, I didn’t add the coconut oil, but something was definitely missing. I accidentally left it out in my last batch, and I will try never to do that again. It just isn’t as good. I realize I gave a wide option for how much oil to add, but measuring it accurately before you melt it can be a lazy woman’s challenge. I mean, who wants another measuring cup to wash? I happen to love my glass Pyrex liquid measuring cups and I use them carefully for everything, even dry items, but it does keep you from having that even measure in the smaller plastic ones that you scrape off the excess with a knife edge. So, don’t fret it too much and see how much you get after you melt it in the microwave in a glass measuring cup. Use what you have as long as it is at least 2 tablespoons. I’ve used as much as 1/3 c. before and still had excellent results.

This is wonderful with chopped berries or banana slices, walnut pieces, cacao nibs, or mini chocolate chips.  It also is good on non-dairy yogurt or smoothies, or just by the handful as a snack. 

Dark Chocolate Maple-Almond Granola

  • 6 c. organic rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. organic almond butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 2-6 T. melted organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp stevia extract powder (with no other additives)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. organic, unsweetened cocoa powder (the better the brand, the tastier the end product)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cover a large 17” cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.  (If you don’t have one this large, maybe spread it between 2 smaller ones and bake it for less time – 10 minutes each round in the oven – and see how that works.  I used an enormous pan one time, which spread the mix thin, and baked it for the two 15-minute rounds and it burned the edge pieces despite stirring, so it definitely needed less time when spread thin.)

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, stevia, and vanilla.  Sift the cocoa powder through a wire mesh strainer into the almond butter mixture and whisk.  With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the oats, making sure they are thoroughly mixed.

Spread the oat mixture evenly on the cookie sheet, making sure to not leave the ends thinner than the middle, or they will burn. 

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir the granola (I use a metal spatula/pancake turner, flipping it over so that what was against the bottom of the pan isn’t anymore.)  Evenly distribute on the pan again, and bake for another 15 minutes.

At this point, if you prefer chewy granola, place the pan on a cooling rack to completely come to room temperature.  If you prefer crispier granola, turn the oven off, stir the granola one last time, and return the pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes.  (You can test the texture of the granola after the second 15-minute bake by taking a piece and setting it on the counter while you are stirring the rest of it.  Taste it and see if you like the texture.)

Place in a glass jar, crock, or other non-plastic container with an air-tight lid to keep moisture out.  This will make around half a gallon or so. 

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

I have another sugar cookie recipe on my blog that uses far less fat in it with a cakey texture if that is what you are looking to make. However, if you want a bakery-style, old-fashioned sugar cookie with full flavor and great texture, you simply must try these. I decided to pull out my mom’s recipe and back-track to keep the old richness with the new veganism.

Since we’re all busy this time of the year, I’m going to keep this short and just get you the recipe. Have a wonderful, merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and anything else you celebrate. If you want a frosting recipe, click here.

My new experiment with a cookie stamp.

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 c. Earth Balance buttery sticks, softened
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, softened
  • 2 T. soy sour cream (or more coconut oil)
  • 2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar) plus more for top of cookies
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
  • 4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 c. King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour, or w.w. pastry flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Thoroughly cream margarine, evaporated cane juice, and vanilla.  Add egg replacer powder, stirring thoroughly.  Gradually beat in the milk by hand, or use a mixer and do it all at once.  Continue beating until fluffy and no separation remains.  Stir in salt and baking powder well, then flour immediately afterwards.  Stir until no dry spots remain.  If necessary, add another T. or so of milk.

Roll dough into balls, place on cookie sheets, and flatten with a glass dipped into more of the evaporated cane juice crystals, or a cookie stamp.  (After you have rolled the cookie dough into balls, you may need to rub your hand on the bottom of the glass the first time so that the sugar will stick to it.)  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Cool slightly and remove to cooling rack.

If you wish to roll cookies out for cut-outs, chill the dough for an hour or more.  Use a metal spatula or dough scraper to gently lift the cookies from the countertop so they keep their shapes.  If you do this, you will not need to flour the countertop at all, which makes a tastier cookie.

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola

A while ago, Costco carried a delicious, dessert-like chocolate-peanut-butter granola with little pieces of dark chocolate in it. My hubby was a big fan, and I was buying it often. Then they stopped carrying it to bring out the summery chocolate-berry version. Hubby was not happy. He prefers the other kind. The grocery store carries it, but if you think it was a high-end bag of cereal at a warehouse, let me tell you, the price was worse at the grocery store! I told him that I would see if I couldn’t make a version at home instead.

My sister-in-law, Melanie, gave me a recipe a couple of years ago for addictive peanut butter granola. (I don’t know the source of it, so I cannot give credit for it, unfortunately.) Hubby didn’t care all that much for it. I figured it wouldn’t take too much to turn that recipe into a chocolate variation that he would like. Some tweaking and we have a winner! It isn’t as sweet as the packaged version, but I prefer that. If you want, you can add mini chocolate chips, or break up some chocolate bark into your bowl to make it as dessert-y as the bagged version. Or cut up some fresh strawberries into it for decadence that is healthier….or do both! HA! Yum!

As you can see from the picture, it makes nearly a gallon. Believe me, it won’t last long once somebody discovers it can replace dessert!

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola
(Please note that I use as many organic ingredients as possible)

  • 6 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
  • mini chocolate chips or broken squares of chocolate bark, optional
  • fresh berries, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Measure the oats into a large mixing bowl. Put the peanut butter, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, and salt in a 1 quart mixing bowl, whisking until well blended. Carefully stir the sifted cocoa powder to the peanut butter mixture until evenly distributed. (If you add the cocoa before this step, it becomes a thick mess that requires water to be added just to get things to smooth out. Then it takes longer to bake and is a bit rubbery.) Mix the chocolate mixture into the oats, stirring thoroughly, making sure that all of the oats are coated. I found that a long-tined fork works really well for this.

Spread the coated oats evenly onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir carefully, trying to get the granola from the ends of the cookie sheet into the middle and vice versa. Place back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes, paying close attention to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. (If you place a small piece of the granola from the middle of the cookie sheet on a plate or the countertop and it hardens, then the rest of the granola is done.) Cool cookie sheet on a baking rack until granola is cooled thoroughly. Store in an airtight glass container.

Serve with mini chocolate chips, or chocolate bark, and/or fresh berries and non-dairy milk.

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

February 14 (aka: Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day)

So, have you been to the store to find a chocolatey treat for your Valentine yet?  Have you dared to look at the ingredients lists on those beautiful heart-shaped boxes that appeal so much to a woman’s heart for some reason?  (Image courtesy of pamsclipart.com.)  Um-hmmm…depressing, isn’t it?  I have yet to discover one that I can eat (dairy and corn syrup allergies.)  Sure, the health food store might have something passable, but it’s not in one of those cute little boxes, now is it?  And if I can’t have the box, don’t bother with only passable candy.  I want the good stuff!

Aaaaaannnd, how do I get the good stuff then?  Well, of course, I have to make it myself.  Not as romantic as a heart-shaped box, but, hey, it still is good chocolate.  😉  If you don’t happen to have a Valentine, or are clear across the country from him/her, you get to eat it all yourself.  (My now-single eldest son says Valentine’s Day is actually Single Awareness Day – S.A.D.)

This year I am clear across the country from my adorable and adoring hubby.  How did this happen, you ask?  Well, I came to visit my oldest son and take care of my precious granddaughter while she’s with her dad this month.  I figure it is my “job” to make their Valentine’s Day special since we’re all on our own tomorrow.  The best thing I know to give my loved ones (since I can’t get any of those blasted unhealthy heart-shaped boxes!) is Chocolate FudgeChocolate (Nut) Fudge.  Now, I’ve posted this recipe before, but I learned something new making it in my son’s kitchen.  (I’ve posted about trying to cook in his kitchen before here.)  You do not need a double boiler (or a facsimile thereof.)  It is now easier than ever to whip up a batch of fudge.

So, grab your measuring cups and get busy making a wonderful gift for your favorite person!

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins)

Breakfast.  It can be so boring ~ so unhealthy ~ and so expensive.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Are you tired of paying an arm and a leg for boxed cereal that has little staying power and often little true nutrition?  I am going to start a series on make-ahead breakfast recipes to take the ho-hum out of mornings.  You’ll find yourself looking forward to breakfast!  You might even want to take a look at some of your current recipes and rethink the possibility of using them for a morning meal.  Of course, I always add some fresh fruit to the meal to round it out nutritionally.

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins) 001Whether you have to eat gluten-free, or not, this breakfast cake will please you!  It was so exciting to put the first forkful into my mouth and taste how delicious it was.  The texture is moist and heavy like some decadent muffin that you might buy.  Mmmm.  In fact, Continue reading

Coconut Cream Topping

Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Cream 005If you are not happy with the vegan options for a whipped-type topping (cashew creme, tofu-based items, etc.) because they add a funny taste or texture, then this is the recipe for you!  As long as you like coconut flavor, that is.  🙂  I find it accompanies just about any dessert well, with the mild coconut flavor melding seamlessly.

These days I couldn’t be happier about eating coconut in any way possible with all the health benefits of coconut being touted.  My two favorite coconutty things to consume are Continue reading

Gluten-free Pie Crust

I have been very lazy where pie crusts are concerned.  In the past, I have resorted to press-in types, because I didn’t like fussing with rolling them out.  For health’s sake, I also tried whole wheat versions with oil rather than shortening.  No one gave rave reviews over those.  Then during the low-fat craze, my crusts became even less tasty and harder to get out of the pie plate.  Rarely were there pies coming out of my kitchen.  Then I had to give up wheat and figured that completed the demise of pies for me.

Gluten-free Pie Crust 005If any of this sounds familiar, I want to jump up and down and shout that it doesn’t have to end this way for you!  I have found the solutions to my problems.

First of all, let me just say that organic virgin coconut oil is the biggest answer to all of your crust problems, whether wheat or gluten-free.  This stuff is amazing and has many health benefits.  Even though you start with solid coconut oil, as you work the crust you do not have to worry about the warming from your hands melting it and causing it to destroy the crust.  It actually makes it easier to work with the crust!

The second answer to crust problems for those with gluten-free needs is a product called Orgran gluten substitute.  This is made in Australia, but is available through Amazon I am told.  A friend shared a box with me and I was hooked.  PLEASE note, that you do not have to use this in this recipe, as I’ve given another option, but it is the easiest to make when you do.  It is primarily starch-based with some “-oses” and guar gum.  If you do not like to use those things, I’ll tell you how to skip it.

When I used the Orgran product, I both pressed in a crust and rolled out a crust.  (Pictured above are both – the press-in in the foreground with no edging and the rolled out in the background with a crinkled edge.)  The crust was so pliable and workable, that rolling it out was easy!  If I tore the crust, it easily patched with a little pressing and rolling.  Warming the ball of dough and kneading it a bit allowed for the best workability.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it was flaky, tender, and the best crust I had tasted in a long time!  Everyone liked it.  Success!  And it popped out of the pie plate without sticking, making for a pretty piece of pie on each plate.

The next time I did not use the Orgran and substituted more oat flour.  The crust still worked, but it was not as pliable and tended to want to stick to my rolling pin.  With some Pumpkin Pie Crust viewpatience and extra warmth/kneading, it still worked well.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it came out of the pan easily and was tasty, but it wasn’t as flaky and tender.  It had a tendency to crumb a little more.  The crust in this picture of pie is using the extra oat flour, as is the whole pie pictured below.  You can see that it doesn’t fall apart.  I think it is a viable option, and definitely a cheaper one.  I am wondering as I write this if I used melted coconut oil whisked with the water if that wouldn’t help even more with the texture of the finished product and the pliability of the dough.  I will have to continue experimenting.

Another great thing about this crust is that if you want a fancy edge, it will handle the extra grief needed to produce one.  On the other hand, if you want to just bring the crust up even to the edge of your pie plate and hack it off there, smoothing the edge, it works, too!  How can you not love such a versatile crust?  🙂

I have only worked this into a single crust pie.  I do not know how the more fragile no-Orgran crust will behave in a top-crust situation, but the one with the Orgran should be fine.

This makes 3, 9″ deep-dish single crusts with a little left over when you trim the crusts.  (If you saw my pumpkin pie recipe, you know that I have 3 pie plates to accommodate that recipe.  Thus the strange number of crusts.)  You can decrease the recipe to make a smaller amount if you have smaller pans or want fewer pies.

Pumpkin Pie-Whole

Gluten-free Pie Crust

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c. arrowroot
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 c. Orgran gluten substitute or oat flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (with a sweet pie the 2 tsp. seemed a little too much)
  • 1 c. solid coconut oil (measure and refrigerate if necessary during the summer heat)
  • 10 T. cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil until it is well mixed into the flour.  There should be smaller-than-pea-sized pieces formed when you are done.  Quickly stir in the cold water and knead/squeeze until the dough becomes well formed.  Divide into 3 equal balls of dough.  Onto waxed paper, roll out each circle of dough*.  If using the oat-flour-only option and it sticks to the rolling pin, use a lighter touch and be patient.  Transfer the crust to each pie pan by inverting the waxed paper over the pan.  Carefully peel off the waxed paper and fit the crust into the pan.  If there are splits or tears, just press the crust together.  Trim the top edge, finishing it as you would like.  Fill and bake according to pie’s directions.

*Another option would be to press the dough into each pan evenly and proceed with filling.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie SliceYes, I may indeed be a few months late posting this recipe compared to the rest of the recipe-blogging world.  Pumpkin everything is supposed to be served in the fall, right?  During the holidays, however, I was much too hurried to spend time taking photos before the pies were devoured and life rushed on.  Now, though, with winter swirling mightily around the corners of my home, pumpkin pie seemed like the kind of hearty dessert breakfast that my family needed.

*whispered*  “Did she just say pie for breakfast??”  Yes!  Yes, I did!  When you eat a Continue reading

Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.