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

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Nyan Cat Birthday Cake and Other Vegan Party Snacks

My son Catboy turned 11 recently. He wanted a Nyan Cat cake. I don’t know what Nyan Cat is all about but you are welcome to google it.  I chose fruit kabobs as the rainbow trail behind the cat, and The Everything Vegan Cookbook has a simple vegan cake recipe I decided to make for the body.

On the day of the party, I followed the recipe for the Pineapple Cherry “Dump” Cake with my beautiful new extra-large rectangle cake pan. As I poured everything in, I had a sneaking suspicion it would not be the kind of cake I could frost, especially spread out in my stupid huge pan. I was right. Fortunately, it was delicious, so I decided to call it a cobbler and stick it in the fridge. Also fortunately, I had time to find a box of accidentally vegan cake mix and just follow directions. I actually got 2 so they’d fit and be big enough for Nyan’s pop-tart body.

I also made Chocolate Obsession Cake from Chocolate Covered Katie (already vegan, I used steamed carrots pureed with water instead of carrot juice) as the cat head, cupcakes tail, and cupcakes legs. The gray fur frosting was hand-crushed Oreos mixed into simple icing (powdered sugar + a little milk and vanilla extract). I smoothed it onto the cooled cakes right away, and it hardened quickly into a perfect fur effect.

The pop-tart body cake ended up being a “butter” cake. Vegan margarine stood in for the butter, and the “egg” was half pumpkin, half Ener-G. On top I did peanut butter frosting that I mixed in my stand mixer with paddles instead of in a blender. I just made sure to blend it for plenty of time and it got very smooth! I spread that on the sides and the edges of the top of the cake. The “pop tart’s strawberry icing” was accidentally vegan store-bought white frosting + ground freeze-dried strawberries. This gave the frosting a wonderfully strong strawberry flavor and bright pink hue. Fresh slivered strawberries acted as the “sprinkles”.

My mom offered to bring some food, so I suggested chips and salsa. I figured even without Mom making any effort whatsoever, they’d end up being vegan. My plan worked! Bwahahahah. I had carbonated water (cheap) and juice to mix instead of pop, plus homemade stevia-sweetened lemonade. There were also plenty of fruits leftover, even after I made plenty of kabobs. In rainbow order, I used: strawberry, orange, banana, kiwi, blueberry, grape.

All the cakes tasted moist and tender. The frostings were great, the fruit was fresh, the cobbler was sweet and buttery, and the salsa was slightly spicy (and provided a much-needed relief from all the sweets!). None of the partygoers were vegan or vegetarian, but no one had any complaints about the food and I got plenty of compliments.

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Do your prefer baking birthday cakes for your loved ones from scratch, from a box, or buying ready-made?

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?

PB&J wrap

Once upon a time, I went to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. We didn’t have my favorite low-calorie bread, but we did have my favorite low-calorie tortillas. I compared labels, and realized the tortilla was a better option than the bread. I still made my kids the sandwiches, and instead of making mine “quesadilla-style”, I decided to be adventurous and throw some baby spinach in there, then eat it like a wrap. Adding fruit bulks it up, too, and it travels well–I like to wrap it in foil and keep it in the fridge at work until I’m ready to eat. I think my favorite way to go is plenty of almond butter (just almonds or almonds + coconut oil), blueberries, strawberry preserves, and baby spinach. For low-calorie, try using PB2 and skipping the fruit spread. All ingredients can easily be substituted, so play around with it!

1 tortilla

2-3 tablespoons nut butter

1-2 tablespoons fruit spread (optional)

handful/about an ounce or two berries or chopped fruit such as grapes, oranges, pear, nectarine, kiwi, etc.

20-30 grams fresh spinach or kale

Spread nut butter on tortilla, then fruit spread. Add greens and fruit. Wrap it up. Eat!

Ok, so it’s not technically PB if you use almond butter. And if I use fruit spread, it’s 100% fruit preserves, not jelly. So more like a ABF&G (almond butter, fruit, and greens) wrap…but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

Let me know in the comments if you make this, and what you used!

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?

Simple Cornbread (from 31 Meals)

I don’t have a dishwasher. If I dirty up dishes cooking something, I have to spend time washing that individual dish. So I look for shortcuts where I can: I purchased an inexpensive food scale, so I can just measure by weight into one bowl, resetting to zero whenever I need to. I also look out for recipes that don’t instruct me to get out 5 different bowls just to mix (aren’t I using enough with the measuring and the baking and the serving???).

Minimalist Baker understands. Their blog has a whole category for recipes using only one bowl! They also have a cookbook filled with recipes that are one bowl, 7 ingredients or less, or 30 minutes or less. I haven’t tried very many of their recipes, but the chili and cornbread was sooo good. I made the cornbread a second time a few days ago, and I think it’s going to be the kind of recipe I make in small batches, because otherwise I just keep eating it until it’s gone!

I didn’t stray from the recipe, just left out the optional corn. It’s important to note that it rises a lot (like double) so keep that in mind if you are baking it in a pyrex dish to store with a lid for later, like I did. It kept in the fridge well for a few days, but we finished it before trying to store it any longer that that!

It has a very moist, creamy texture that is different from the more cake-like, slightly crumbly homemade cornbread I’ve had before. I didn’t add more calories with the suggested butter and syrup, just sprinkled cinnamon over mine. Hunny Bunny loved her “cake”. Catboy went back for seconds, then snacked on more later, then had more cornbread for a later snack.  I’d say my family approved it!

Chocolate Applesauce

I crave chocolate regularly. I could probably eat it with every meal and not get sick of it. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, but I have no desire to reduce chocolate nor the accompanying antioxidants, fiber, or iron. Sometimes I go with stevia, but I really like fruit, too!

I’ve found that unsweetened applesauce is plenty sweet. Even if I want it chocolate flavored! Before I paid much attention to labels and calorie counts, I would sometimes make a “sundae” featuring applesauce and Milky Way hot fudge-type topping. These days, I always have plain cocoa powder on hand (my favorite is Hershey’s Special Dark), and I add in about a tablespoon per cup of applesauce. If I really want to indulge, I might throw in some peanut butter, too. If I can wait, sometimes I’ll throw it in the freezer for up to an hour so it gets a bit of a slush-y texture. I’ve also successfully added blueberries to chocolate applesauce for some extra flavor, texture, and vitamins.

What do you like in applesauce? Cinnamon? Strawberries? Nuts?

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!

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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).