Don’t Be Cruel Mini Muffins

Vegan, sugar-free, oil-free, dairy-free, egg-free!

Banana and peanut butter were Elvis’s favorite toasted sandwich fillings for a reason–they just go together! The recipe is without any animal products for a cruelty-free breakfast experience. These muffins are filled with whole foods instead of sugar or oil…but do NOT taste like it. The ripe bananas provide just the right amount of sweetness for breakfast (rather than tasting like a sugary dessert). They are made with whole grains and don’t have the gummy texture most oil-free baked goods take on, thanks to the peanut butter! Continue reading

Zucchini muffins–no sugar, no grating

It’s August, and zucchini is quite prevalent this time of year. I can find a variety at almost every stand at my local farmer’s markets for pretty cheap. I love squashes prepared a variety of ways, but lately I have been on a quest for a good healthy breakfast muffin. I used to make these, then started replacing ingredients when I went vegan, but now I’m interested in less oil and sugar and more whole ingredients (like whole grain flour and fruit). I also always pureed the zucchini, rather than grating. I heard pureeing will change the texture, so I decided if I was going to find new recipes, I’d start with as few changes as possible (replacing oil and sugar).

I picked out some zucchinis that didn’t look too fat (and full of bitter seeds), and brought them home to my hand grater. It wasn’t really working for me. I could have gotten out my food processor and used the grating attachment, but it doesn’t work that well and I did not feel like washing all those dishes. So I got out my knife and minced. I had done so before, years ago, to make zucchini bread, and I felt like it did well. Fingers crossed, I put the minced squash into the fridge for the next morning’s baking experimentation.

Chocolate Covered Katie’s pancakes:

I went with the pinch stevia and the spelt flour options, and I added a few tablespoons extra milk; maybe even 1/4 cup. I skipped the chocolate chips on all these today–in the interest of a conservative food budget and phasing out sugar, they stay at the store these days. The pancakes were great dipped in sugar-free pancake syrup (I know it’s best to avoid the sweetener, but if I add a little on the side instead of mixing it in, it tastes so much sweeter, so I can use a lot less). The whole batch made 6 pancakes, although I could have easily made 7. I ate all of them, so no word on how they freeze.

Savory, gluten-free Zucchini Muffins:

I used flax not chia, and pureed avocado replaced half the coconut oil. I did need the almond milk. I made a half batch and due to the next batch of muffins, I turned the oven down to 350 degrees after they baked awhile (maybe 15 minutes). These were good dipped in syrup, too. They might have been a little underdone, but I had no problem eating one. Perhaps adding less almond milk would have been prudent. I froze the rest and Hunny Bunny and I ate one the next day. I think they are more at home alongside soup rather than breakfast, but they also work as a syrup-topped breakfast. The reheated one got homemade raisin syrup (raisins soaked in unsweetened almond milk, then pureed).

Vegan Zucchini Bread:

I initially made a half batch of these too. I used a combination of applesauce, coconut oil, and pureed avocado instead of the same amount of applesauce and coconut oil. No walnuts. I used the raw cacao nibs I had instead of roasted and a little extra milk in half of the batch. The half recipe filled 6 regular size muffin cups. I just skipped the sugar altogether and hoped it wouldn’t affect the texture or anything, as there were no instructions to cream the fat and sugar together. The muffins with added milk took longer to cook, although I forgot to time it.

I still had more zucchini and cacao nibs I wanted to use up, so I made it again to use the rest, this time pureeing the zucchini and cacao nibs (probably and extra tablespoon or two cacao) with the wet ingredients, and added raisins. I used homemade nut butter (just peanuts and almonds) rather than avocado. I made a full recipe and filled 10 regular size muffin cups. This batch was actually good enough to eat without syrup–the raisins added just enough sweetness to get by. I did not add any extra milk; just kept the batter really thick. I found they cooked very evenly this way and the texture was perfect. I couldn’t taste much chocolate, but maybe that’s due to lack of sweetener.

What’s your favorite way to bake with zucchini?

Muffins!

I had a collection of muffin recipes before I went vegan. They were pretty traditional, with all-purpose (AP) flour (which I’d haphazardly exchange for whole wheat as I felt like it/had it available), egg, and sometimes milk. I did like to use pumpkin puree or unsweetened applesauce, but they always included sugar and CHOCOLATE CHIPS. We lloooovvve chocolate chips!

More recently my baking efforts have been a little more sophisticated, in that I want to use a recipe that is specifically designed for the particular flour that I use. But I don’t like the idea of using AP flour–I seek out whole wheat recipes. I have found some good ones:

Dark chocolate banana bread: I’ve never been a fan of bananas. This includes smoothies that include bananas, banana flavored candies, and banana bread. But, I’m a vegan now, I eat plants, so I think I should try to get on board the banana train if I want to eat muffins. I made this quickbread as muffins, so it counts. I decided to try it because my kids like bananas and muffins, I had new star-shaped muffin molds, and chocolate (it can’t be that bad with all that chocolate, right?). It was ok. The kids liked them, but I had a hard time with the banana. The second time I made it, I had a cold and a stuffy nose, and couldn’t taste the banana. I loved them that day.

Sugar-free banana muffins: I used molasses instead of honey, vegan margarine as the butter, and some sort of egg replacer (I don’t remember–either pumpkin puree, aquafaba, or Ener-G, I’m guessing). I also left out the walnuts. These were super delicious, but unnecessarily sweet. Also, I get her point, but it irks me when people say “sugar free” when you just sub a liquid sweetener or xylitol for the sugar. Really, with overripe bananas, you can get by with very little sweetener.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from Chocolate Covered Katie: This recipe was already vegan, so I didn’t make changes, other that omitting the additional sweetener. I went with canned pumpkin puree, sugar over xylitol, spelt flour over AP, and my milk of choice was unsweetened almond. I don’t have pumpkin pie spice; I just used a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves (in ascending order) to make up the 1/2 teaspoon called for. I had to bake it for a little longer that the recipe specified. This doesn’t have any fat like butter or oil, but it was still pretty good for me and the kids. And chocolate chips are in it, so ya know…:-D

Those chocolate chips got me thinking…they are sweet enough that whatever I throw them into doesn’t need to be so sweet. Maybe I could find an “unsweetened” muffin recipe rather than “sugar free”. More on that later!

What attributes do you look for in a muffin recipe?

Chocolate Sweet Potato dip

I’ve always thought sweet potatoes were a little too sweet for a savory lunch or dinner dish, but I don’t hear about many sweet potato-based desserts. So I decided to experiment and lean on this potato’s natural sweetness–and I came up with chocolate (of course) dip! Good as a snack or dessert, or might as well eat it for breakfast!

Rinse sweet potatoes (you can roast more than one at a time, then keep in the fridge for a few days), pierce a few times, and wrap in foil (otherwise it’ll start leaking syrupy goodness onto the bottom of your oven!). Place in 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes (maybe a little longer if you don’t preheat first), until very soft. Eat the skin (it’ll be syrupy from the potato), then mash with about a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder per medium sized potato (I like Hershey’s Special Dark).

Sometimes I add a pinch of salt or some pure vanilla extract. I bet you could add chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder for more of a dessert experience–it really doesn’t need added sweetner, though. Alternatively, just do coconut oil with the cocoa powder (I haven’t tried this yet), for a smoother, richer texture. I have enjoyed dipping raw carrots, raw zucchini, apple slices (granny smith is good). I’d like to try pretzels, bread, chips (I might need to add milk to the dip to thin it out).

Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

So far I’ve made Chocolate Covered Katie‘s Cookie Dough Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal in a pan (like the recipe calls for) and muffin-style. In an effort to cut down on calories, at least from sugar, I skip the maple syrup and use sugar-free Torani syrup (hazelnut or caramel) instead, and just use a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips on top before baking.

For the oatmeal cups, I doubled the recipe and got about 17 muffins out of it. I freeze them while they are spread out on the baking sheet, then zip them together in a bag after they’re individually frozen, and microwave a few when I’m ready to serve them.

They are healthy and fun to eat, and all 4 kids (or at least all 3 that are able to speak well) request them! The breakfasts right out of the freezer are the best because it only takes seconds to heat them. You could even stick them in the fridge overnight and eat them cold the next morning if you want it instantly. They can also be eaten on the go!

What do you eat when you need something portable?

Vegan Overnight French Toast Bake

I like to eat breakfast as soon as I wake up. I am hungry before my eyes open, and breakfast is what drags me out of bed! Vegan Overnight French Toast Bake takes awhile to bake, but it is quite delicious fresh.

I used only a small amount of maple syrup, the almond flour rather than wheat, whole wheat mini bagels (left out for several hours) as the bread, and almond for the milk. It fit well into a 9×13 Pyrex dish, which was nice, because I have a lid for that pan for the overnight portion in the fridge. Catboy didn’t like the “mushy” parts, but the 3 little ones ate it up with some sugar free pancake syrup. I liked the bread pudding theme, crispy on top and a little gooey on bottom, and had some syrup on top too.

If you are like me, and like your breakfasts quick, this also kept well in the fridge for about 4 days, before I heated the leftovers in the microwave. I am tempted to try it in a crockpot, but I think the bread may fall apart that way.

Do you eat breakfast right away, or do you have to make an effort to eat breakfast at all?

Pumpkin pie frosting-topped oatmeal cups

My kids get bored with bowls of oatmeal for breakfast. I get bored with cooking it. So sometimes I’ll use Chocolate Covered Katie‘s recipe for baked oatmeal, and make a huge batch for the freezer. To make it a little more fun for the kids, I decided to top it with “frosting” (inspired by Katie’s whipped cream trick) and sprinkles!

image

I am not a food photographer 😉

 

I mixed:

210g pure pumpkin

15g powdered sugar

5 drops english toffee flavor liquid stevia

several drops pure vanilla extract

~1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

6g cornstarch

in a bowl. I wasn’t ready to use it yet, so I put a lid on in and kept in in the fridge a few days. When I was ready to serve, I heated the oatmeal cups in a microwave until just barely warm and completely thawed, and piped the pumpkin through a frosting bag with a star tip. Then I topped with some mini chocolate chips–Ghiradelli is delicious, vegan, and available at my local Walmart.

I enjoyed them, especially when I sprinkled some dark cocoa powder onto it. Catboy disliked the difference in temperature (warm muffin and cold frosting), but delivered slightly positive reviews otherwise and said “yes” to me making it again. Hunny Bunny asked for seconds and wanted to eat lots of chocolate chips. I got the stamp of approval from the 2 little ones as well. I’ll be making this again!

Dark Chocolate Triticale Chia porridge

I have oatmeal most mornings for breakfast. I usually add Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder (1 T) and sweetener, like hazelnut or caramel Torani sugar-free syrup. I don’t care for the texture of oatmeal so I usually add plenty of water and cook til the oats fall apart.

Today I went with rolled triticale instead of oats. I cooked them the same way, just boiled in water. I did add a tablespoon of chia seeds and did not cook as long as I would for oats, and I really liked the texture–kind of chewy. I’m not sure whether that was due to the chia or the triticale. I added hazelnut syrup and cocoa like usual, plus a tiny pinch of salt.

Both the triticale and chia seeds have plenty of fiber, protein, and some iron. This would also be good with some fruit mixed in–a very ripe banana instead of sweetener, slightly mashed raspberries, or blueberries (frozen would be great to cool it down; fresh has a great texture).