Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding

Now that it’s mid-September, it’s officially time to put pumpkin and pumpkin spice in everything you eat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – pumpkin is practically the best thing that’s every happened to the culinary world. I’m obsessed with it. I honestly will eat canned pumpkin with cinnamon and a spoon. People think this is weird. I know it’s delicious.

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But canned pumpkin – besides providing a delicious fall-like umami flavor – is also a great way to bump up the veggie content, fiber, potassium and beta-carotene of basically everything. I use it a lot for both sweet and savory dishes and can’t wait to share many of them right here on kbaked.com.

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But first – let’s talk breakfast. I love chia seed pudding. I also love pumpkin. Genius idea: put them together! Add pumpkin pie spice! Eat what tastes like pumpkin pie filling in a bowl for breakfast! Bonus: it’s healthy! Chia seeds are known power foods filled with healthy-fats, fiber and omega-3s, and make an excellent pudding if allowed to plump up in the presence of a little liquid. This works with almond or any other milk, and the pumpkin only makes it thicker, creamier, and more scrumptious. Add as much or as little sweetener as you like. Maple syrup keeps the fall flavor profile on point, but anything will do! Heck, I’d even eat it without any sweetener. I.love.pumpkin.

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Anyways, make this the night before. Prepping takes like 46 seconds, and when you wake up all you have to do is take it out of the fridge and eat it. It could not be easier. In fact, it may be the easiest recipe on kbaked.com to date. Enjoy this delicious, healthy treat as breakfast, dessert, or a snack. It will keep you full and happy for at least a few hours, as would pair nicely with a pumpkin spice beverage if you’re into excess like I am. Happy fall and happy eats! xoxo, kbakes.

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Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 0 minutes, but should be left to chill for at least 2-3 hours

Level: Could not be easier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (I suggest maple syrup or brown sugar; sugar, agave, or honey would also work quite well)

Directions:

1. Combine chia seeds, pumpkin, almond milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix well.

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2. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight until the pudding has firmed up and become pudding-y. That’s a real word I promise.

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3. Top with sweetener and any other toppings you may desire (shredded wheat, nuts, or whipped cream if you’re feelin’ naughty ;-)) and EAT.

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Homemade Vegan Cheetos

There are so many great things about being a pet owner. I’m sure many of you can relate. But there are also many stressful things about being a pet owner. For example, occasionally (read: today) you get awoken by the sound of your little chiweenie puking all over your bedroom floor. Instantly, depsite the fact that it’s 1:40am and you’ve only gotten 2 hours asleep, you are awake with adrenaline pumping, wondering what on earth is happening to your wee little nugget of joy!

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You stand up. And watch your dog (clearly embarrassed) try to hide under the bed to conceal the fact that she is, in fact, puking piles of foamy chunky goo onto your carpet. Isn’t this an appetizing intro to a food blog post? Thought so. Anyways, if you’re like me, your dog puking on your carpet (followed closely by stuff coming out the other end) results in staying up for the remainder of the night/morning carefully watching and overanalyzing every move of your pup.

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So yes, that was my morning. Dog poop and vomit on the floor. Fun stuff. The wee morning hours crept by, and around 5:15am, I made some peanut butter and banana oatmeal while watching the Duggars. I love the Duggars. Anyways, as I reached for my cinnamon shaker, I reached right past the nutritional yeast in the cabinet. I’ve always thought nutritional yeast to look like Cheetos Dust. I mean, doesn’t it? It totally does. So sometime between cinnamon shaking and JimBob fixing his combover, I decided I was going to make vegan Cheetos today.

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And so I did. Here’s the recipe. They don’t taste exactly like Cheetos, which in my opinion is a good thing. They do, however, taste like cheesy straw-like crackers with cheesy dust. And really, it’s all about the dust. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, well then I suggest you buy some. A ~*~complete*~* protein with all 18 amino acids and all the B vitamins including B12 which is hard for a lot of veggies to get, it’s probably one of the most nutritious things you can add to your diet. Also it tastes good. It’s nutty and cheesy and after a while you just sort of start to crave it and put it on errything. Like these Cheetos. Which are also much better for you than regular Cheetos. They have nothing fake in them (!!) at all. They’re also whole wheat. How do you like them apples, erm…or Cheetos.

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Anyways, I now sit in my kitchen, delusional from lack of sleep, and I hereby present to you my recipe for homemade whole-grain vegan Cheetos. Eat on, homies! And have a nice weekend. #cheetodust

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Cheetos:

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 oz non-dairy cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Ingredients – Dust:

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • dash salt
  • dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.In a large bowl, mix together the corn meal, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and cream of tartar. If you’re using mustard powder toss it in here, too. Mix well.

3. Cube cheese and place in a food processor. Grind until a doughy cheesy paste forms. Add mustard. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the cheese blend, about 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing to combine after each addition. Add oil and continue to pulse until a cheesy putty dough forms. If it’s a bit dry, add a teaspoon or so more oil or water.

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4. Remove from food processor, and roll out dough into long tubes. Break apart with fingers in about 2-3 inch pieces, to resemble cheetos. They don’t have to look perfect, mind you, cheetos do not.

5. Place in the oven and bake on a lower rack for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms become a bit crispy and brown and the Cheetos are hollow sounding if you pick one up and tap it on the pan.

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6. Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk dust ingredients, and sprinkle all over your Cheetos. Cheeto Dust = lol. Link your phalanges. Eat Cheetos. Contemplate life. Eat more Cheetos.

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Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes [Vegan + Gluten-free]

This weekend I took a road trip to Minneapolis (that’s in Minnesota, for all you coasties) for my cousin’s wedding! It was such a beautiful wedding and the entire weekend was lovely. My sister (Jenn) and her husband (Tyler) and I drove from Milwaukee to the twin cities, where Tyler’s sister (Lauren) and her husband (John) live, so not only did we get to attend the wedding, we got to visit with/stay with Lauren and John! As they are two delightful people and wonderful hosts, this only made the weekend more exciting and enjoyable.

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On Saturday, Lauren and John took us to this adorable cafe called French Meadow Bakery & Cafe for an early celebratory birthday brunch for John. The menu offered a variety of fresh and appetizing selections, complete with plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Honestly I wanted to eat like 9 of them. But for some reason, my eyes were immediately drawn to the vegan/gluten-free Corn Blueberry Pancake. I rarely eat brunch out, and when I do for some reason I’m rarely in the mood for sweet, but I was at this exact moment, so I went with my eyes/gut, got this pancake (and a side of fresh fruit), and was probably the happiest camper and/or clam in all of the twin cities area.

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MmMmMmm. How was this pancake delightful? Let me count the ways…soft but had nice golden/crunch edges and top, bursting with blueberries, with a delicate corn flavor that wasn’t at all sweet, which made it pair perfectly with the real maple syrup it was served with. Lauren and John ensured me that it was good when I mentioned wanting it, and once it got to the table I was, for once, happy with my decision and had *zero* order envy (win!). Everyone at the table either tried it or had already tried it, and it is a unanimous winner.

Jenn had a bit, and said “Kath, can you make these?” To which of course, I was like “Consider it done,” and got all excited because I love a little culinary challenge/mission to have. So since then, I haven’t been able to get those dang corn pancakes off my mind. So today I set out to make some! Mine, like the ones from French Meadow, are delicate and perfectly fluffy without being too fluffy,  have a tender corn flavor without being very sweet, and are gluten and dairy-free. I twisted them a bit by using frozen blackberries instead of blueberries, which I ended up liking even better. The crumbly texture of the blackberries adds to the delicate corn crumb of the pancakes in a way that the blueberries didn’t.

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But they would be great with blueberries instead, or with nothing added at all. You could even eat them plain with a smudge of pb+j or use them (like I did for lunch) in place of a bun on a veggie burger. But please do make these. They are excellent; dare I say, these are better than the pancakes that inspired them. Even my mom gave them an “A+++” and she would never lie about a matter as serious as corncakes. Millie and Sash liked them too, in case you were curious ;-). So  congrats to David & Diana (the newlyweds), and thank you for inviting me to your gorgeous wedding. Additional thanks to Lauren and John for suggesting this particular spot for brunch, and thanks to Jenn and Tyler for covering the bill and for driving to Minnesota and being awesome in general. Now let’s get corny with some corncakes, y’all!

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Level: Easy

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond (or soy) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (any kind will work)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (if you don’t have these, 2 tablespoons flax, 2 tablespoons applesauce, or 1/2 a banana)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup oatflour (1/2 cup rolled oats processed into a flour in a food processor or blender)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blackberries (halved) or blueberries

Directions:

1.Preheat skillet to 225 degrees.

2.In a small bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar. This is going to create a psuedo-buttermilk of sorts. Trust me on this. Mix it a little, then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. You can also add chia seeds or flax to this mixture. These will help thicken it a little, but if you don’t have them, you can use applesauce or banana, but wait to add them until you mix the wet with dry. If you have none of these, 2 tablespoons of water will also do the trick.

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3.In a large bowl, mix cornmeal, oatflour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix.

4.Add the almond milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture. If you’re using apple sauce, banana, or water, instead of chia or flax, add that now.

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5.Cut blackberries in half if using blackberries.

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6.If not using a non-still skillet, lightly grease the skillet with vegetable oil.

7.Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop 1/4-1/3 cup batter and pour gently on the hot skillet. Once the batter has hit the skillet surface, add blackberry halves or blueberries and allow to cook until the edges are slightly pulling up and the center is bubbling. This will take about 1-2 minutes. You can peak with a pancake flipper too, if you’d like. Once you see golden brown, flip the pancake and cook the other side, another 1-2 minutes.

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8. Move to a plate. Admire colors and flavors of pancakes. Eat with maple syrup, jelly, nut butter, or melted coconut oil. Enjoy!

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5 Ingredient Banana Blender Muffins with Peanut Butter Crumb Topping [Vegan]

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Another easy-peasy recipe for your enjoyment! Allow me to introduce you to these lovely Banana Muffins with a Peanut Butter Crumb Topping! Kind of a fun spin on classic crumb muffins but super easy, quick and nutritious, all made with things you most likely have around your kitchen. I wrote this recipe for Spoon University in a partnership with JC Penny, to help demonstrate great ways to use this blender for college students. Thus, this recipe is minimal ingredients, minimal prep, and still super duper delicious. The muffins themselves have no added sugar or oil, as bananas and peanut butter add plenty of natural sweetness and tenderness. The crumb topping has a little bit of sugar, but that never hurt no body. Other than that these are 100% whole grain, vegan, and legitimately tasty.

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I actually totally did use the blender to make these muffins and I must say – that thing is nice! It can do anything a blender could ~ and more ! It could easily be used for smoothies and even has to-go cups/lids, and can also function as a food processor and slice, dice, and grind! It even came with shaker top lids for things like cheese and breadcrumbs. How nifty! Check out the original post here, and/or make the muffins from the recipe below.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 8 muffins

Ingredients – Muffins:
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
3/4 cup almond milk or milk
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash salt
optional: 1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips

Ingredients – Crumb Topping:
1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place 1 1/2  cups rolled oats into blender and blend on high until a fine powder forms. This is your oatflour. Place oatflour in a bowl and add remaining 1 cup rolled oats. Add baking soda and salt. Mix well with a spoon.

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3. Peel bananas, break into pieces, and place the pieces into blender, along with peanut butter and almond milk. Blend on high speed until liquified. Remove from blender, pour into bowl of dry ingredients, and mix gently. Add in nuts and/or chocolate if desired.

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4. Pour batter into a lined or lightly greased muffin tray, filling each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full.

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5. Assemble crumb topping in a small bowl by combining the 1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup peanut butter, and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix with a fork or form crumbs with fingers.

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6. Sprinkle crumb topping on top of each muffin and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin is clean upon removal. Enjoy!

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Whole-Wheat Rosemary Tomato Focaccia

Happy September AND happy Labor Day friends! Today marks the end of the summer and the end of tomato growing season – which means that you may, like me, be overwhelmed by the amount of tomatoes you have at your disposal for consumption.

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There is nothing more August-y or wonderful than legit homegrown tomatoes. They taste 190% different than the big crappy ones you get from the grocery store in the middle of winter. You know what I mean – the sweet baby ones that you can literally pop like candy. OoooOooo baby are they a treat. I can literally eat an entire bowl of them and think nothing of it.

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Today not only marks the end of August, it apparently “officially” marks the end of summer. Sigh. And today, it was as if mother nature wanted to make sure we really knew this, so we had some morning thunder storms and cool, fall breezes to remind us of what lies ahead. Although I am sad to bid farewell to berries by the bucket-load and oodles of sunshine, I’m not totally opposed to fall. It’s my favorite flavor season (FALL VEGETABLES FTW!) and I am comfortable with the idea of big sweaters, racking leaves, apple pickin’ and pumpin’ cravin’. As the weather cools, I am only further enticed to warm up by the oven. Meaning more reasons to bake! #party.

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So on this awkward summer-meets-fall day, I decided to make a summer-meets-fall dish: focaccia with late summery tomatoes and fresh rosemary. I love fresh baked bread, especially on a windy cool day. And I’ve had a hankerin’ to make focaccia for a while now. I love its springy bouncy texture. Also today I learned it’s incredibly difficult to spell. So that initially make me like it slightly less, but also made more determined to master not only its spelling but also its taste. And then I forgave its difficulty to spell and accepted that I’m a terrible speller and moved on with life. With a pan of freshly baked focaccia to guide me to more important things.

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So give this stuff a whirl. It’s yummy plain, with soup, or for as an extra tasty addition to a sandwich. It’s highly customizable to your personal tastes, but the rosemary truly adds wonderful notes of pine and spice and the fresh tomatoes ended up as a gooey sweet caramelized topping. Ugh. Yum. #carbs5ever. So happy late-summer and happy early fall. See you in squash and apple season, babay.

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Prep Time: 4-8 hours

Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • one packet (1/4 oz) dry active yeast
  • one cup warm water (about 120 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or molasses (food for the yeast to eat and grow!)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all purpose or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large sprig rosemary, or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 5-10 cherry tomatoes

Directions:

1. Warm the water and pour into a large bowl or stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Add maple syrup and mix gently. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until the yeast looks foamy at the top of the water.

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2. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to water mixture, and olive oil, about 2 tablespoons of rosemary, and using the dough hook, mix dough well until a large dough ball forms, roughly 7 minutes.

3. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and store in a cool, dry, dark place for 2-8 hours until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough, knead for a few minutes, and transfer to a small, oiled baking pan. I used a random 6×10 inch pan.

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4. Poke holes all over the dough and allow it to do a second proof (rising) for about an hour. This proof is more important than the first rising. Don’t skip it!

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5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, brush a little more olive oil on the bread surface, and slice tomatoes thinly and gently press them into dough surface. Sprinkle a little more rosemary and sea salt on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean upon removal.

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6. Cool. Eat. Make a sandwich. Dip in bread. Eat more. Enjoy.

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Soft Baked Breakfast Bars with Date-Raisin Filling

The other day I did something I haven’t done in quite a while: in a moment of desperation and due to lack of other snacks, I purchased an overpriced Nutrigrain Bar to hold off my hunger pangs until my next meal. My options were few, and for some reason something soft with sweet chewiness in it sounded perfect.

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Next thing that happened: me inhaling and being like “omg yum why did I forget about these for like 8 years?” followed by obsessive craving for something so sweet and soft for days. 

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Fast forward a week, post-crazy travels, and I am in my kitchen, bored, craving these again, and without much in my pantry. Determined,  I bake a soft, oatmeal filled breakfast bake of sorts. To satisfy my desire for the something sweet’n’gooey, I puréed some dates’n’raisins together to make a paste. Jam would also work for these, I simply had none and had roughly a cup of dates and a fresh bag of raisins in the pantry.

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Speaking of raisins, I’m into them lately. When I was in New York this week, they popped up in a lot of unexpected meals, like the protein-packed kale salad from Peacefood, on tartines from LPQ, and in savory pasta dishes. I really enjoyed them. Raisins deserve more street cred. plan to give them some soon in future posts. 

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Back to the bars, I decided that the date-raisin layer was sort of ugly and should be covered. I made the bottom layer of these a bit too thick to add a top layer, so I quickly made a crumb topping, which ended up adding a nice textural contrast to the muffin-like bottom layer and ooey gooey date layer. If you know me, you know I’m really into textural contrasts (which is why if I ever get regular ice cream or froyo I simply must add chocolate and/or nuts as toppings #princessproblems), so this ended up delighting my mouth with an assortment of mouthfeels.

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Besides delicious and soft, these are cinnamony, slightly sweet, and perfect for breakfast or snacks. I dig them. I hope you do too. 

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Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes.

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Soft Baked Layer:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce (or 2 mashed ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates (soaked for 10 minutes in water, then drained)
  • 1 cup raisins

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond butter, coconut oil, or non-dairy butter at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dates in a small bowl of water and allow to soften, about 10 minutes.

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2.Meanwhile, place rolled oats into a food processor or blender and grind into a powder. This is your oat flour. I like mine less-fine than flour, because I enjoy the oaty texture. Makes it muffin-y. Return to your soaking dates and drain them. Place these aside.

3. Place the oat flour in a bowl with whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Whisk until combined. Then add applesauce, almond milk, and vanilla and stir until combined.

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4. In a food processor, grind softened dates and raisins until a thick paste. It will be a bit thicker than jelly. 

5. In a small bowl, combine rolled oats, sugar, and almond butter/coconut oil/non-dairy butter. Using your handles or the back of a fork, mix well and try to evenly disperse fat and sugar throughout the oats. Honestly this works best with your hands. Form crumbs between your thumb and index and middle fingers.  

6. Using a spatula, spread the soft baked layer batter into a well-oiled 9×9 or 8×10 baking pan. Spoon the date-raisin spread in small, tablespoon sized globes all over soft baked layer. Then use a spatula or the back of a knife to spread the date-raisin layer evenly over the soft baked layer. Finally, sprinkle crumb layer all over the date-raisin layer.

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7. Place pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until fragrant and a toothpick or fork stuck into the middle of the bar comes out cleanly upon removal. 

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8. Take the bars out of the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy for breakfast every day this week. To preserve freshness, cut into individual bars and store in an airtight container. 

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Salted Maple Vanilla Cashew Coconut Butter

….the name says it all. Basically everything luscious and wonderful all in one glorious place: a homemade jar of nut butter and very soon your mouth.

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Cashews have been my thing lately. Well, truly, they’ve always been up there on my top 5 fav nuts (along with walnut, pecans, pistachios, almonds, peanuts) for snacking and as a flavoring agent, but lately I’ve recently discovered just how ridiculously versatile they are from a culinary prospective. I’m very excited to start using them in new ways ~ ! Unfortunately for me, my pantry/fridge are almond empty and so I couldn’t make several of the things I’ve been itchin’ to try. So I took what I had once again, and created this concoction.

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The name makes it sound all fancy-smancy because I used the word “salted” but really this is a pretty basic nut butter. I made cashew butter, and instead of adding vegetable oil for viscosity the way many peanut butter recipes call for, I added coconut oil for smoothness, and for the additional flavor and nutritional boost. I thought vanilla would compliment the *~*tropical*~* flavors nicely, and decided to go with maple syrup for a touch of sweetness instead of sugar, and added salt because I really love a good sea salt. (I’m all about the pink Himalayan, hbu?). All of these flavors together was like a really great group bonding session. Everyone brought out the best in one another, and the result was a mild, smooth, sweet-salty, rich nutty delight, with a coconut after-kick.

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Homemade nut butters are fun and truly not very complicated to make. I like them because you can personalize them to your own tastes (I like things crunchy and a little bit salty, and not too sweet) but you can tweak them however you please and see exactly what goes in them (no hydrogenated palm kernel oil for me plz!). All you need is a few basic ingredients, a food processor or blender, and like 10 minutes. 60-80 if you’re highly distractible and have needy dogs and want to take photos for your blog and are having hopeful breakthroughs in what you should do with your life, like I did. Hello friends, I’m crazy.

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Anyways, I’d like to warn you: this stuff is addictive. I made it a lil crunchy because that’s my style. If you ask me, when it comes to nut butters once you go crunchy you never go back. This particular nut butt is absolutely magnificent on top of toast and bananas and on toast between bananas and smeared on chunks of chocolate or with pretzels or crackers or straight from the jar on a spoon or on my fingers (let’s be honest). No matter how you consume it, it’s pretty wonderful. It shall take you from the humid tropics of your backyard in Wisconsin or your tiny studio East Village apartment to a warm yet breezy climate controlled beach in the middle of paradise. Get out the drink umbrellas for your smoothies, children, today’s gonna be a good day 8-).

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

Directions:

1. Place raw cashews in a food processor or blender. Grind until a fine powder forms.

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2. Add coconut oil at room temperature (semi-solid) into the food processor. Continue blending until contents reach a nut-butter consistency. If you want thicker butter, add less coconut oil; if you want it runnier, add more. I stopped the grinding when it was chunky because I like chunky nut butters, but if you like it smooth, keep blendin’ til you get the smooth butter you desire.

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3. Add vanilla, sea salt, and maple syrup (optional) into the nut butter and stir gently with a spoon or spatula.

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4. Place nut butter into an airtight container or lidded jar and store at room temperature up to a few weeks. You can also put it in fridge but please be aware that it will cause it to harden a little bit (it will soften as it warms again to room temp).

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5. Enjoy on anything and everything! #healthyfats #PUFAs #MUFAs #yummys

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Report: NYU RANKS #1 AS BEST CAMPUS FOR LATE-NIGHT EATERS

As you may or may not know, NYU Spoon, a branch of Spoon University was what kick-started me into the food writing/blogging/journalism world, and for that I am ever thankful. [Thanks for taking a chance and believing in me guys! You've forever changed my life!] Spoon University is the world’s first and only online food website for college students, teaching them how to eat and cook smarter. It’s a SUPER awesome concept that has really taken off and is now doing all sorts of cool things that warm my heart to watch. YOU GUY GUYS! ILY SPOON!

Anyways, I wrote this piece based on some GrubHub stats on behalf of NYU Spoon/Spoon University. It’s a data-driven more reporting-style article, which I’ve never done before, but ended up really enjoying! I’m going to post a excerpt here, and a link to the full piece. Go check it out and follow Spoon while you’re at it ;-).

*~* there’s even a link to win a full year of food from GrubHub at the bottom of the piece so it’s def worth checking out!*~*:

New York is known as the city that never sleeps, and NYU’s campus is located the heart of one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city, Greenwich Village, where many of us work and play until the early morning hours. With many local bars open until 4am or later, it’s no surprise that nearby restaurants also keep their doors open into the wee hours to cater to, you know, Drunchies. So whether NYU students are trekking home from clubbin’ in Meatpacking or the ever-popping Club Bobst, we’re surrounded by everything from desserts to drunk munchies to fine-dining, no matter the hour.

We’re all familiar with late-night favs like Artichoke, S’mac, Two Bros,Mamoun’s, and ever-popular halal trucks, but we have plenty of chic dessert options like 16 Handles, Big Gay Ice Cream, Spot Dessert Bar, andMomofuku nearby, all of which keep doors open late. For those looking for a sit-down meal experience, Veselka and Kat’s are among numerous 24-hour diners, all within walking distance. We even have tons of grocery stores and delis catering to late-nighters (M2M, anyone?)

But how lucky are we, really? A study by Grubhub recently ranked NYU as #1 Best Campus for Late Night Eaters, showing that we Fighting Violets have the greatest number of restaurant orders received between 10pm-2am locally. Late night orders are 2x (more than 100%) more common for college students than non-college students, and with 239 late night restaurants locally located around campus, it seems NYU students have it made.

Best Campuses for Late Night Eaters:

……see the list, and the full article here!

5 Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter + Chocolate Teddy Bear Cheesecake Bites [Vegan]

I blog to you from my ginormous studio apartment in Manhattan. That is a joke. This place, though it feels more spacious than any other place I’ve lived in NYC, is tiny. Like, my closet at home in Wisconsin (almost) is larger. But Manhattan being Manhattan, for some reason many of us endure crammed living environments, pests, no cars, carrying groceries up a million stairs to our 5th floor walk-ups, no washing machines, and garbage on the sidewalks all for astronomical monthly rents just to live here. Sometimes I wonder why anyone is here. Other times I wonder why anyone would want to be anywhere else.

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I almost started this post “I blog to you from my Manhattan kitchen…” and then I almost started it “I blog to you from my Manhattan bed…” but like, truly I guess being in my bed is also sort of being in my kitchen because there is *zero* separation so I went with the general word “apartment.” I can even see my toilet from here. That said, I will never be sadder to leave a space than this studio apartment. It is magical, quite, and on the most enchanting street surrounded by all of my favorite desserts. I’m really going to miss this space and this neighborhood. So is Millie btw.

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As I’m in the middle of a move, and have very minimal counter space and pantry access, as well as cooking equipment that isn’t packed already or covered in goo, I wanted something fast, simple, with few ingredients that didn’t require much prep work or clean up. No dishwasher really does that to a girl.

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At the same time, I really really wanted TEDDY GRAHAMS. I kid you not for days and days I was having an overwhelming desire to put semi-sweet bears into my mouth and all over my body [not really for all over my body but I'm hyperbolizing to make my point so go with it]. Specifically, I wanted Chocolate Teddy Grahams. To dip in peanut butter. I went to Key Foods. I went to bodega after bodega (does anyone know how to pronounce that word btw? tbh I’ve never really known so I just call them all “delis”). I went to Walgreens. Duane Reade. Food Emporium. Cinnamon and chocolate chip bears smiled back at me from the shelves, teasing me with their sweet smiles, but no where could I find chocolate.

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Then my friend Shawn (hi Shawn, if you’re reading) reminded me about the Whole Foods 365 brand. And I was like omg duh. So I went to Whole Foods the next morning and bought a bag. And at that moment also wanted chocolate chip and cinnamon so I left with like 8 bags of animal shaped cracker things.

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Anyways, I really wanted something cool and creamy and no-bake because I’ve had lots of problems with my NYC oven leaking gas (#nycproblems) so I decided to go the cheesecake route. Lately my body is truly not handling dairy well, so I opted for Vegan Cream Cheese from my good bro friend Trader Joe. TBH it’s freakin’ delicious. Honestly better than the herbed tofu cream cheese that went on my bagel at Black Seed (although overall that sandwich was DANK and somehow got posted on Infatuation #instafame). I’ve been eating it nonstop on toasted English Muffins and/or plain. And also in these little dudes. If you are not vegan feel free to use regular cream cheese. That will work too.

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All you need for these is either a food processor or blender or a large bowl and spoon and a little ambition. There are 5 ingredients, no bake, minimal mess, maximum yum. Cool, creamy, crunchy and fun. They will make you feel like a wee one again. Which is a feeling I personally, am always after. The combine the *~*classic*~* pb + chocolate combo, both in the crust and in the filling.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes (but need a few hours in the fridge or freezer to set)

Level: Easy

 

Ingredients – Crust:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate graham crackers or Teddy Grahams (yes, they are non-dairy) or 365 Whole Foods Brand Chocolate Bear cookies or Annie’s. just something chocolatey and graham-y !
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar

Ingredients – Filling:

  • 6 oz cream cheese or non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powder sugar or granulated sugar first run through a food processor to make finer

Directions:

1. Whirl the little teddy cookies, peanut butter, and sugar in a food processor or blender until fine or crumbly. If you don’t have this equipment, place the cookies in a bag and smash with the back of a spoon until crumbly, then transfer to a bowl and mix with peanut butter and sugar until sticky.

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2. Pack crust into 6 lined muffin tins or a lightly greased muffin tray.

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3. In a food processor, blender, or bowl using a large spoon and some ambition, mix cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until combined and fluffy.

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4. Spoon filling on top of crust in muffin tins. In some of the bites, I added an additional layer of teddy grahams for extra crunch and an almost ice-boxy affect. This is totally up to you. But I like texture and layer so I did it. I also gently pushed some teddies into the tops of the bites b/c why wouldn’t you.

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5. Please in fridge and allow to set overnight or at least 3 hours. You can also do this in your freezer. Or, in your Manhattan mini-fridge, the tiny ice box that isn’t really a freezer but you pretend is.

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6. Remove from tins and eat. Allow pup to taste filling, but not crust. No chocolate for nuggets, silly girl.

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7. Go eat all the desserts in your neighborhood after, justifying this because you have limited time left here. YOLO.

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Recap: The Seed Experience NYC – Cooking Demo with Guy Vaknin of Beyond Sushi

This weekend I was fortunate enough to win tickets to The Seed Experience courtesy of Beyond Sushi. They had a giveaway and I entered and somehow won! Whoohoo. So on Saturday and Sunday I trekked myself down to Soho and ate a lot of samples and talked to a lot of cool inspiring people and ate a lot more samples and had me a good time.

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The Seed Experience was a collection of plant-based speakers, demonstrations, films, samples, more samples, and what I was most interested in: COOKING DEMOS.

vegan goat cheese for days!

vegan goat cheese for days!

And yes! There was a cooking demo by the owner/executive chef of  my ALL time favorite restaurant Beyond Sushi. You better believe I went in squealing.

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fooooooood

So on Saturday afternoon after I drowned myself in new products like aloe water, maple water, tons and tons of vegan cheese and ice cream (which were all very delicious!) I watched Guy Vaknin (owner/executive chef of Beyond Sushi) make some rolls, speak about how he got where he was, and wow the crowd with incredible avocado filleting skills (seriously, you should have seen it).

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I’m planning to soon post a recipe with a how-to for making black rice sushi but I thought I’d dedicate a little time/space to speaking about Guy:

Turns out Guy started as a chef and did a lot of catering for kosher crowds. Kosher people have lots of dietary guidelines that do not allow them to eat certain things at certain times. I’m not going to pretend I understand the rules well, but Guy mentioned there was rule about not preparing and consuming fish and meat together. But Guy wanted to make a sushi roll appetizer for the crowds. So he started making vegetarian rolls. Though he’s a trained chef, he was not a sushi chef, nor even a vegetarian when he started this concept. He sort of learned it form another caterer, and when he was off duty had no other option other than to master the art.

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Guy, a culinary creative genius, used black rice in his sushi instead of white rice. He said he “saw the reaction,” and knew there was something special about this concept. He started bringing his black rice/vegetarian sushi to vegetarian food festivals, and got lots of positive crowd reactions, inquires, and press, he was inspired to go back to the kitchen and keep working. After a second year vegetarian food festivals, he decided to take a big risk, poured everything he had into one business concept, and started Beyond Sushi. He built the original location on 14th street (between 2nd & 3rd – see my original rave review here) and started by serving vegetarian sushi.

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For a few weeks, customers came in and Guy noticed that some were confused by the different vegetarian vs. vegan options, as some of his original menu items contained eggs and dairy in their rolls and/or sauces. Guy made a lot of personal reflections and seriously considered desires of customers, and decided to turn the restaurant completely vegan, and made the switch to a vegan lifestyle himself. He says he can now “not even picture” life any other way.

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The tiny sushi shop quickly exploded in popularity and has received endless rave reviews and press features for its creative and delicious approach to vegan dining and sushi. Guy still works there 7 days a week, usually in the downstairs kitchen area.

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He puts a phenomenal amount of thought and effort into every roll and every piece of sushi that beyond sushi produces. I was shocked at the time and effort the prep work behind each item on their menu. All the regular rolls have such depth and preparation – including marinating and fermenting of vegetables (often overnight) to get the flavors exactly where he wants them. The rolls of the month are all produced using local, seasonal produce from the Union Square Green Market, which although are more expensive, truly reflect the flavors of the season and the responsible sustainable drive behind the Beyond Sushi concept. It was humbling to see such a successful man so deeply passionate about his craft. He also addressed the possibility of expansion – turns out he has been approached for franchise opportunities, but wants to stay small so the quality of each roll can be carefully controlled. People are hard at work, Guy insists, every morning at 5am, julienning and prepping vegetables and sauces to stuff the rolls with flavor. This care and attention to detail are part of the reason Guy won’t go big (yet). “You can’t mass-produce this,” he said, looking down at his just-crafted roll.

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And as a huge fan having had almost every roll and wrap on the menu, I must agree with him. There is nothing like it. That’s why it’s my favorite restaurant and why I can’t even go to another sushi place since trying Beyond Sushi.

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So thank you, Guy, for the inspiration. And thank you Beyond Sushi for the tickets to The Seed, the inspiration, and for continuously delighting my taste buds. I will forever be a loyal fan and customer – wishing you all the success in the world !