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Another baked good that I brought on our trip to the woods. I was in search of something that represented fall, and what better than warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice. For a subtle kick and mild heat, I added ground cayenne pepper, though for this round I substituted with freshly ground black pepper.

1 cup / 141 g whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup / 73 g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 55 g ground flax meal
1 tsp / 4 g baking soda
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cardamom
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 1 g ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper or 15 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp / 2 g kosher salt
4 / 520 g over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup / 80 g low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 g canola oil
2 large / 100 g eggs
1/2 cup / 90 g brown sugar
1 teaspoon / 5 g vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, flax meal, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, bananas, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
4. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, turning halfway, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Notes: This is the third time I’ve tested this recipe, and though I make minor changes each time, it winds up being a success. (The weight measurements, however, were only done once, so they should be re-tested.) I started with a base recipe and do not know where I found it, but I made so many changes that I can safely say this is an original recipe.

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Here’s a spin on these Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Muffins, sans cranberries. I doubled the recipe and froze half to send to my brother, who is serving in Afghanistan in the USAF; the other half I froze and will send with my boyfriend, who will be away in DC for a month of lectures.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, which will boost the fiber and nutrient content, but still yield a tender crumb. I also used less honey than the previous recipe. Note: I didn’t have buttermilk, so I combined skim milk with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spice, and salt and whisk.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (standard 12).
6. Bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Notes: Unfortunately, the sides and bottoms got too brown. Next time: reduce heat to 350 F. Also, increase honey back to 1/2 cup. Though I don’t want an overly sweet muffin (nice excuse to have it for breakfast), I feel like it needed a boost. Maybe not. Needs more work!

I first encountered this raw dessert at my last job. Completely enamored with the idea, and in love with the gelling little chia seeds, I am now noticing it popping up in my current job. Here is my take on this simple, healthy dessert.

75 grams chia seeds
475 grams almond milk
75 grams honey (or coconut nectar, to make it vegan), divided
pinch of salt
frozen peaches, thawed

1. Combine the chia sees, almond milk, and 50 grams of the honey in a container and whisk (or cover and shake) to combine.
2. Allow to sit for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, to thicken.
3. Combine the peaches with the remaining 25 grams honey and puree or mash.

And without further ado, the hideous photo:

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My S.S. is traveling for some very important business across the country, and I wanted him to have a piece of home to fuel him throughout the mornings.

The challenge?
1. Make it healthy
2. Use only the ingredients available in my pantry.
3. Finally use up the blueberries that I forgot about.

Blueberry carrot muffins filled these requirements. I used this recipe and made a few changes. Here we go:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1 pint blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom of muffin tins with canola oil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, agave and vanilla.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix–a few lumps are fine.
5. Fold in the carrots and blueberries until just incorporated.
6. Divide among a 12-cup muffin tin (for some reason I only have a 6-cup tin, which worked beautifully).
7. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

So basically, if he has a good trip, it’ll mostly be because of me 😉

So now that we’ve made homemade vegan refried beans, it’s time to eat.

The first two times I made this healthy condiment, I slathered it between tortillas with shredded cheese and made quesadillas. The first time I even topped it with a fried egg and fresh picked cilantro. These are excellent vegetarian entrees that leave you full but not, ya know, fuuuuuuull.

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The third and most recent time I made the refried black beans, it was for a vegan breakfast. Toast a whole wheat English muffin (or any kind of whole grain bread–there are more wholesome options available, but I was in the mood for the nooks ‘n’ crannies) and top with a healthy smear of refried beans. Garnish with a few slices of avocado and a sprinkle of salt (flaked sea salt is ideal, but I used kosher because it was all I had on hand).

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Now that you have all that leftover pesto, try blending it in the food processor with a can of rinsed white beans. Use it as a dip for crusty bread, crackers, or fresh veggies. Or, of course, you could serve it over pasta, sneaking in loads of extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Now that’s a reason to strut around in your underwear. And, let’s face it–after hibernating during that lame excuse for a winter that we just had, you probably wanna get that rear back in shape. This will help.