Easy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Once upon a time I decided to try a 10 day vegan challenge. Although I’ve always hated the taste of milk, in some ways pre-experiment I considered myself  a Dairy Queen. I was a full fledged Greek yogurt and ice cream addict; I entered the challenge afraid I would be miserable without these foods.

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After a few days of adjusting and realizing there are delicious non-dairy versions of yogurt and ice cream and even cool-whip, I was fine. And as a result of this experiment, something miraculous happened: I gradually craved dairy products less and less. In fact, after a while, they tasted kind of funky to me.

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Another miracle came out of my dabbling with veganism: the IBS that has ailed me for years disappeared. Poof. Gone. Like magic. A thousand trips to GI doctors couldn’t tell me what this experiment did: my body is no good at processing dairy. I don’t know why I didn’t try this earlier, as when I was a kid I couldn’t digest it either and was raised on soymilk and was the weird kid that brought Gen Soy pudding packs to school instead of snack packs. Speaking of those, I need to get back on em. That cute lil panda guy makes the best darn packaged chocolate pudding I’ve ever laid my lips on.

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For a few months I had gradually reduced my dairy intake more and more, simply because I wasn’t craving it. Then, when I realized every time I did occasionally eat dairy, my IBS came back in full force, I had even less desire to eat it. eliminate dairy as an experiment.

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Additionally, I can honestly say, since switching to a primary vegan diet, I have not once felt sick or tired or gross or like I need to take a nap after eating, no matter what or how much I eat. I am full and satisfied, but also energized; I never get that “omg I need to lay down/why did I eat that” feeling ever anymore. And I can honestly say I don’t miss a darn thing. The whole vegan thing is easier and more accessible than ever and has forced me out of cooking ruts and turned me onto new flavors and products. I’m in a happy place.

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Along with vegan cooking and lifestyle came vegan baking. And I must say, every vegan baked good I make or eat isn’t sub-par to any non-vegan dessert. [Also if you live in NYC go check out the vegan desserts at Peacefood O.M.G] It’s been a fun challenge for me adapting recipes and coming up with new ideas. And no more IBS is truly the biggest blessing I’ve ever experienced after years of constant pain and suffering. This is what works for me, so if you want to think I’m weird for it that’s fine. I believe everyone should do what works best for their body and right now, this is what works for me.

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You know what else works for me? Cookies for breakfast. Like these Easy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They’re vegan and they’re healthy: free of refined flour, sugar, and anything artificial. In fact, they’re only 7 ingredients and are made from whole grains and fruits. A perfect breakfast or snack cookie, they’re sweet but not overly so, and are a good energy boost when you’re on the go or need a study snack. Speaking of study, I should be doing that right now. Sigh.

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Chewy, sweet, feel-good cookies that take less than a half hour from start to finish. What could be better? Nothing. Except maybe figuring out my current mess of a life. If anyone has any tips on figuring out adulthood, HMU. Make these cookies today and have sweet nibbles for the next week. You can add whatever other dried fruits you have on hand, and/or nuts. Obviously I added nuts because I’m a nut.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Level: Easy

makes 20-24 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup oatflour (made from pulsing one cup rolled oats in food processor or blender; can also be substituted for whole-wheat flour, regular flour, or additional cup of rolled oats)
  • 1 cup pitted dates, soaked in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins (more if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash salt

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a small bowl, soak dates in water until soft, at least 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats and oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. If making oat flour, pulse 1 cup oats in food processor or blender until a fine powder forms.
4. Place dates in a food processor or blender with water. Grind until a smooth paste forms. Add to bowl with oat mixture.
5. Mash banana and add to bowl. Add almond milk and raisins and nuts if desired. Mix well until a cookie dough forms. Scoop 1-tablespoon balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet spaced at least one inch apart.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden, fragrant, and hollow if tapped. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
7. Enjoy as a delightful breakfast, snack, or quick energy boost. I really like these as study snacks. :-). ENJOY!

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Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

I have a granola bar addiction. There’s something so wonderful about these tiny squares of oats loaded with other goodies that I can never get enough of.

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I think my granola bar obsession peaked in college because granola bars became “special treats.” Let’s face it: groceries in New York can be expensive. As in a box of 5 Kashi bars is literally $7.99 at Duane Reade. Unless I bought granola bars at Trader Joe’s which I find a leeetle bit too sweet sometimes, granola bars became occasional treats I would buy only when they were on sale or when I was home on breaks. And then on breaks I’d go to Target and buy like 10 boxes of granola bars and pack them all in my suitcase and bring them back to school with me. I’m sure if my luggage ever got searched it was a lol to TSA.

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My dream granola bar is chewy, full of big chunks of nuts and lots of textures, and loaded with dried fruit, and a healthy dose of chocolate. Most of the time. Other times I want something a little simpler and more like a not-sweet snack that will keep me going in the afternoon. That’s right folks – sometimes I want things that aren’t too sweet. Gasp. I know. The nice thing about cooking/baking is that if you want these babies sweeter, you can add as much sugar as you like and make ’em to your liking. Making things from scratch is great, isn’t it? Thought so.

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These bars have a nice, deep earthy flavor thanks to the pumpkin + sunflower combo. Grinding up the nuts into a nut butter not only binds the oats together, but gives them a hearty texture and some staying power thanks to all the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats they have to offer.

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I honestly liked these more than I expected to. They’re chewy but hearty. And they have this distinct deep savory-sweet flavor that keeps you wanting to nibble. They’ll grow on you with every bite. Prep time is minimal, and one batch gives you a whole pan / week’s worth of snackies. I suggest you mix up your usual granola bar routine and give these a whirl. Make your days be full of peace, love, and excessive amounts of granola goodness. 🙂

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds [or, if you have it, 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter + 1/2 cup sunflowers]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup – 3/4 cup brown sugar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but recommended)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place 1/2 cup sunflower seeds in a food processor and puree until the seeds reach a smooth nut butter paste. Add canned pumpkin and continue to puree until well mixed.

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3. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Mix well.

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4. Add pumpkin/sunflower seed butter mixture to the oat mixture. Mix until well combined and all oats are moist. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and mix again. The mixture will be thick and cookie-dough like.

5. Line a 9×9 baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well. Pour dough into pan and press down using a spatula or your hands.

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6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and fragrant and edges begin to pull away from the sides slightly. They make seem a little gooey when you take them out of the oven but they will continue to set as they cool.

7. Cool completely and cut into whatever sized bars you want. Store in an airtight container or bag for up to a week.

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{Healthier, Vegan} Pumpkin Muffies

I love Panera. “Meet me at Panera Bread” is one of my favorite phrases to hear. Perhaps it’s a nostoglia thing (I ate a lot of Panera growing up) but p-bread forever has a soft spot in my heart. Those sourdough rolls. The baguettes. Their Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Dat soup. The bread bowls. The bagels. The Med Veg sandwich with the cilantro-jalepeño hummus. The fact that my bestie Sarah Cath worked there. The unlimited in-house coffee refills. I could go on forever.

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When it comes to the baked goods Panera has to offer, Pumpkin Muffies also have a special place in my heart. To me, pumpkin muffies represent surprises my dad would bring me if he had grabbed lunch there during work, a (welcomed) treat on rare school mornings, or special weekend breakfast noms. I remember the excitement I’d feel every time I’d get that signature brown paper bag with that Panera criss-cross pattern and could see the bottom had a slight greasy oil circle at the bottom. At that moment, I knew: it was a Pumpkin Muffie, just waiting to give me a powder sugar mustache.

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Fluffy, sweet, pumpkin-y, and with those strange powder sugar balls, these babies are incredible and I love them unconditionally. I don’t quite know why I’ve never tried to make them at home before, but yesterday morning for whatever reason I just needed to do so. And that’s just what I did.

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I made mine with oat flour because it results in super soft baked goods, which is exactly what I was aiming for, and they’re whole grain, so they feel less junk-y than the original ones. The muffins themselves are super fluffy, almost bouncy, cinnamon-y, and are a bit less sweet than the Panera version.

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I used chia seeds + water as an egg substitute/nutritional booster, but you can also use flax, applesauce, or an egg if that’s more your style. The topping? That’s still pure sugary goodness. And that is totally fine.

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How do you make them muffies you ask? I placed a biscuit cutter on my baking sheet, put two generous spoonfuls of batter into it, allowed to batter to kind of adhere to its shape for a hot second, then lifted the biscuit cutter and repeated this 12 times until I had 12 muffies. You could also use a circular cookie cutter, pipe in a circle using a wide-tipped pastry bag or plastic bag with a large corner end snipped off, or do your best and try to spoon the batter into circular shapes. It’s up to you. Even if you bake them in a muffin tin as regular muffins, they will still taste delicious, don’t you worry. 😉

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Muffies:

  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour (all purpose would also work)
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seed + 2 tablespoons water (can also use 3 tablespoons apple sauce)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond or soy milk and vinegar. Set aside and allow to curdle for at least 10 minutes. In another small bowl, combine chia seeds + flax seeds and water and set that aside too.

3. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined.

4. Add canned pumpkin, sugar, almond milk + vinegar mixture, and chia seeds + water into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

5. Place a silicone baking pad or sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place a biscuit cutter or circular cookie cutter down on the sheet. Place two generous spoonfuls of batter into the biscuit cutter. Allow the batter to form to the shape of the circle. Lift the biscuit cutter, and repeat 12 times until you’ve made 12 circular muffies.

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6. Place muffies in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until puffy, fragrant, bouncy upon touch, and a toothpick placed in the center of the muffies comes out clean.

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7. Place muffies on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine powder sugar and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix together.

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8. Once muffies have cooled, sprinkle topping all over them. I recommend doing this right once muffies are COMPLETELY cool, and/or preferably right before eating, otherwise the powder sugar may absorb into the muffies and they’ll look shiny and weird. Store in plastic baggies or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. These also freeze and reheat well. Especially in the toaster. Yummies = when you have toaster muffies. Hooray! Muffies all week long. Happy Monday everyone :)!

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Apple Cinnamon Duffins

Duffins. If you don’t know what a Duffin is, allow me to change your life: a Duffin is a hybrid muffin-doughnut. This is like the old-school Cronut before Cronuts were a thing. The OG hybrid, complete with a hybrid name. It’s basically a muffin doused in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Does any of that NOT sound appealing??? Exactly. They’re wonderful.

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Duffins emerged as “the new Cronut” about 6 months ago in the media at a few bakeries and at Starbucks. This confused me greatly, because these are totally old school. My mom used to make Duffins from a recipe in a Wisconsin Magazine from like the 1950s.  According to Pita (my mom) it’s an old Amish thing. And in high school my friend Josh and I would use his a cookbook his mom (Gretchen, who is a culinary/general icon of my world) got on her wedding day. We’d crack open the yellowing pages and hit up the Duffin recipe and/or the Blueberry Boy Bait. Yum.

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I’m not sure the exact origin of the Duffin, but I know it’s older than both the Cronut and I, and I also am certain that it is a wondrous joy that you should make and eat. I have a lot of apples on hand from attending apple fest this weekend, so I decided to incorporate some into the Duffins, because who doesn’t love soft cooked apple chunks in muffins with cinnamon and nutmeg. 🙂

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MmmMmM. Nutmeg is certainly a key player for these babies; don’t skip it.  I also made them a bit healthier and vegan to make them more breakfast appropriate for my personal taste buds. But if you want more dessert-y Duffins, add 1/4 cup more sugar, and use all-purpose flour instead of whole-wheat. It’s all up to you. Recipes are just guidelines, after all, and as I’ve said before my main goal in blogging is simply to inspire.

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Eat a Duffin. Watch Duff Goldman on Ace of Cakes. Or pretend you’re eating a Cronut. Sing the lyrics to Lady Gaga “Poker Face” replacing “bluffin’ with my muffin” with “bluffin’ with my Duffin.” Or just simply eat it with some tea and let its cinnamon sugar coating coat you with spice and sweetness for your day ahead. Duff on, friends!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Level: Easy

Yield: 8-12 Duffins

Ingredients – Duffins:

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, vegetable oil, Earth Balance nondairy spread, or butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)
  • 1 cup oat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • dash more cinnamon + 1 tablespoon sugar to coat apples

Ingredients – Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tray with disposable muffin cups or grease well.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond or soy milk and vinegar and allow to curdle.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes. This will form a pseduo-buttermilk. Meanwhile…

3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil or butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar and brown sugar. Add vanilla and applesauce and stir.

4. In a large bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.

5. Pour oil/sugar/applesauce mix into the dry ingredients and mix gently with a spatula. When fully combined, add the pseudo 1/4 cup at a time, mixing gently until a loose batter forms.

6. Peel and chop apple into small cubes and place in a bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of granulated sugar and a generous dash of cinnamon to the apples. Toss well with a spoon until all the apple chunks are coated. You can add the apples to the batter in two ways: either stir them directly in, or scoop enough batter into a muffin tin to cover the bottom, spoon a little apple mixture (to form middle apple center) and cover apples with more batter. If you just stirred them straight in, fill each muffin tin about 3/4 way full with batter. If you layered, nice work. Still aim to have each cup 3/4 full.

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7. Pop muffin tray full of Duffins into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until browned, hollow to a finger tap, and/or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean upon removal.

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8. Allow muffins to cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with a fork.

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9. Using the microwave in 30 second increments, melt butter or coconut oil in a small microwave-friendly bowl. Take each muffin and roll it gently into the melted butter. Use you fingers to spread a light coat gently all over the muffin.

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10. Take the butter-kissed muffin and roll it in the cinnamon sugar mixture until it gets a lovely coat of delicious goodness.

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11.Place on a cooling wrack until cooled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (longer might get soggy) or put them straight to the face. Enjoy! #apples

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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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