Virtual Vegan Potluck: Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple-Caramel Glaze

One of my favorite things to do these days is to spend an afternoon home alone baking, feed the finished product to Mr. Move Eat Create when he returns, and then ask, “Do you know what was in that???”

Whole on cake stand from above - edited

Of course, I know that its unlikely he’ll guess correctly, but I wait and anticipate his answer.  Then, I excitedly share what the secret ingredient actually was, basking in my sneakiness and healthy baking subterfuge.

I first discovered the odd fun of this little game when I made zucchini brownies.  I reached new levels of enjoyment with it after sharing my batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies, and totally had a blast with it after making this creation here.

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

This cake was a perfect opportunity for me to:  a) practice my gluten free baking skills, b) use nutritious ingredients (like vegetables) to make something traditionally lacking in health promoting properties, and c) eat chocolate.

As an added bonus, I was already in the process of fine-tuning this recipe when the Virtual Vegan Potluck sign-up and announcement came out, indicating they’d be featuring a key ingredient this time around and that the key ingredient was beets!

Perfect!  I had clearly earned some good food blogging karma somewhere.

slice on plate - edited

For this final version I added a maple-caramel frosting which was so good that I may have scooped up and eaten much of the excess drizzle with my fingertips.  And it may have made me so happy and weak in the knees that I had to sit down.

If all that extra sweet drizzle isn’t you’re thing, I also made a version that was topped with a simple dusting of vegan powdered sugar.  It, too, was wonderful.

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Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze

Makes one bundt cake

A Move Eat Create original recipe

(but inspired by various recipes throughout the Internet)
                                                      Sliced into on cake stand - edited

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 medium beets, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I like Pure Pantry for baking)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 ½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla (or plain) coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 small very ripe mashed bananas
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup vegan brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns coconut milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn maple extract (optional: If you don’t want the maple flavor, sub additional vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup vegan powdered sugar

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Place diced beets in a pot and fill with enough water to cover by an extra inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  Let beets boil for approximately 7-8 minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or oil your bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients.  Place flour, cocoa powder, flax seed, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place boiled, drained beets in a food processor or good blender.  Add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Pour beet mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla extract, turbinado sugar, and mashed bananas.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.  Mix well by hand to combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in your chocolate chips and stir a couple more times to distribute them throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt brown sugar, Earth Balance, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk/stir frequently during this process.  Once they melt, the mixture should turn a nice shade of brown.  This should only take 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and maple extract.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes.
  2. After the sauce has cooled for about 5 minutes, stir in the powdered sugar.  This will thicken the sauce, making it a more substantial frosting/glaze.  Stir/whisk well until all powdered sugar has been incorporated into the sauce.  Let cool completely before drizzling over cake.

And now, please check out other dishes in the potluck!

To visit the dish presented before mine click this link:  go_bck-300x257

To visit the dish next in the line up click through here:  go_forward-300x243

 

** I am also submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday, hosted over at The Veggie Nook.  A wonderful weekly gathering of delicious vegan recipes!

Recipe: My Victory Loaf

Do you know what victory looks like?  If you’re not sure, I’ll show you.

Meet my Victory Loaf.

with end cut off

Besides finishing my first marathon, I can’t think of another victory I’ve had anytime recently that has felt this sweet.

Prior to finding out that I’m gluten-sensitive/intolerant, I ate a lot of bread and bread products.  Granted, I was almost exclusively eating whole grain, healthier bread varieties, but bread was a staple in my dietary routine.  Since having to give up gluten that has obviously changed.  For those of you are about to say, “Wait!  There are several gluten-free options available these days – eat those!”, please allow me to remind you that I am also supposed to be avoiding yeast, eggs, and dairy.

That eliminates most all the prepared bread and bread dough products I have been able to find in stores or online.

This has been one of the most discouraging parts of my gluten-sensitive diagnosis.  And, just to be clear, it’s not just about bread.  It’s really about having things that have traditionally brought me pleasure and comfort all of a sudden turn into things that harm me.  It’s about being excluded from social situations because I can no longer join in with the group in quite the same way.  It’s about feeling tense and afraid that I’m going to sick anytime I’m eating something I haven’t prepared with my own hands.  It’s about activities (baking/cooking) that I grew so used to turning to for relaxation and joy all of a sudden being fraught with stress and unease.  It’s about loss and grief and life changes that are at times complex, sad, empowering, challenging, freeing, and frustrating all at once.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a bigger picture here, People.  And all of this is why this bread, this Victory Loaf, left me standing over my kitchen counter shedding a few little tears of joy.

collage

I have tried gluten free, yeast free baking a few times since my diagnosis (most of what I baked before was vegan, so that part wasn’t so tricky to adapt to), and it never turned out very well.  Some items went straight into the garbage.  Others got nibbled at with desperate hopefulness and then found their way to the trash, too.  While a couple of items got eaten entirely, it was with some sense of disappointment because they still weren’t quite up to my standards.  All of this was done by strictly following recipes.  I had lost trust in myself.  Not yet feeling any level of confidence with the new flours and gums and grains that have taken over my pantry, I was hesitant to stray at all from recipes and followed them all to sub-par results.  I don’t know if I was just selecting bad recipes or if I was executing them poorly (maybe a combination of the two), but I was more than a little discouraged.

Until I decided to give myself a chance.

Drawing upon what I had learned about the new ingredients available to me and the kitchen skills I have gained over the last few years, I put together my own recipe.  I knew that it could fail miserably, but at least I was prepared to do so on my own terms.

But, it didn’t.

It didn’t!

with bowl of soup

In fact, it went better in so many ways than any gluten free baking I had done.  It was incredible.

I made bread that looked like bread, tasted like bread, and exuded nothing less than absolute delight when I took my first bite.

It was pure victory.

I ate my Victory Loaf dry, with Earth Balance*, with jam, with sunflower seed butter, with peanut butter, dipped into soup, and with edamame hummus.  I ate it every way that I could.  I ate it with joy, with pleasure, with feelings of empowerment, with smiles, with fervor, with delight, and with relief.

And every time it felt like a little victory all over again.

*This was my favorite pairing.

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Victory Loaf

A Move Eat Create original recipe

Makes 1 standard loaf

** Note:  You should note that this bread does taste of buckwheat and dark grains.  If you’re looking for a soft, white bread, this is nowhere near that.  But, if you like whole grains, dark breads, and buckwheat, then this just might work for you.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour torn slice
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 2 ¼ cups room temperature water
  • 1 tblspn molasses
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tblspns shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 tblspn millet

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan by coating with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flours and salt in large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Add water and molasses to the flour mixture and stir until just combined
  4. In a small bowl, combine baking soda with lemon juice and whisk together.  It will bubble/foam (this is the yeast replacement and will help create a similar rise effect).  Quickly pour into the rest of the batter and stir all ingredients until well incorporated.  There is no need to mix aggressively or to knead this dough.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and gently pick up the pan an inch or two and drop it on the counter in order to settle the dough and get it to level out.
  6. Lastly, combine the sunflower seeds and millet together and sprinkle on top of the batter for a seeded crust.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Savor every bite.

Recipe: Spelt Blueberry Scones (An Offering of Comfort)

I could write a typical narrative here – an introduction to this recipe or a recap of the process of making them.

But I don’t really have it in me right now.

Three on plate - edited

This week has been difficult.  For many, many people it has been devastating.

I have read dozens of thoughts across the web on the week’s events and I have appreciated each and every one of them.

But right now, I just need some:  Comfort.  Calm.  Serenity.

Three up close - edited

Scones do that for me.  Preparing them is soothing (the cutting of the butter or butter-like ingredients into the mixture; the folding in of berries) and eating them is even better.  A well made scone is one of my absolute most favorite things in the world.

So I present these scones to you today in a gesture of goodwill, because sometimes the simplest things can provide the comfort that we need most.  May they nourish your body and spirit.

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Spelt Blueberry Scones

Adapted Just A Tad From Alisa Cooks (and Babycakes)

Makes 8-12 scones

 

Ingredients:  Two on plate further away 2 - edited

  • 2 cups spelt flour + more for rolling the blueberries in
  • 1 tblspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn sea salt
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut oil (can sub canola oil or similar)
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tblspn vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries
  • Cinnamon for dusting (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment (or spray lightly with cooking spray).
  2. Prepare your blueberries by placing them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of additional flour.  Roll around until blueberries are lightly coated with the flour.  This will help keep them from ‘bleeding’ into the scones as they bake.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt.  When combined, add in the oil, agave and vanilla extract.  Stir together until just combined.
  4. Pour your hot water into the batter and stir again until batter is moistened.  Dump in the blueberries that have been rolled lightly in flour and fold them into the batter gently.
  5. To create similar-sized scones, use a measuring cup (I used a ¼ cup size) to scoop up batter and drop onto your prepared baking sheet.  If they are very tall, press down just slightly to even out.
  6. If you want the addition of an ever so slight cinnamon flavor (which is delicious), sprinkle cinnamon lightly over the top of each scone.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden and slightly firm to touch.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to let cool completely.  These can be stored at room temperature for 2-4 days (if they last that long!).

Recipe: Carrot-Raisin Cupcakes (or Muffins, If You Like)

Do you ever get a craving you can’t shake?  I don’t mean a craving that last for a few hours, but I mean for days on end.

Usually, my cravings come and go.  I’ll want something for an afternoon and by the next morning, my mind (and belly) have moved on to something else.  I’m fairly fickle that way.  I want all sorts of things all the time and it can change from one minute to the next.  But, every so often, I get stuck on something and can’t let go of it.

Four on a plate - Close Up 2 - edited

Such was the case with carrot cake.  I’m not even sure what triggered this desire, but once it set in it wouldn’t be put off.  The first day, I simply wanted carrot cake.  It sounded good and it was on my mind. The second day, I REALLY wanted carrot cake.  I was disappointed I hadn’t had some the day before and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  By the third, fourth, and fifth days, I was consumed with an unquenchable desire to shove carrot cake in my face.  It kept running through my mind.  My stomach churned at the thought.  I fought hard to shake the impulse to schlep out to some mysterious all night bakery that didn’t exist and find a slice in the middle of the night.  It’s true.  Please try not to judge me.

Clearly, something had to be done.

So, baking happened.

raw 2 - edited

Instead of making a traditional cake, I decided to make cupcakes.  I appreciate cupcakes for their self-contained, individually portioned ease and neatness.  When there is a whole cake in front me, it’s too easy to just keep moving my knife to the right when I cut a slice, resulting in a portion that would feed a small family of four.  With a cupcake, though, knife creep is not an issue.

These are some of my favorite cupcakes I’ve made in long while.  Truly tasty and sweetened largely with the banana, raisins, spices, and carrot, with a small amount of brown sugar for richness.  You can eat them with the glaze, like I did, or leave it off and call them muffins.  Regardless of which way you go, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Carrot-Raisin Cupcakes Four on a plate 3 - edited

Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

Makes 12 cupcakes

 

Ingredients:

For cupcakes

  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tspns baking powder
  • ½ tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn cinnamon
  • ¼ tspn ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tspn finely ground sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tblspn coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrot (about 2 large carrots)

For glaze

  • 1 – 1 ½ cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 1 – 1 ½ tblspn unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Place raisins in a bowl of hot water and let soak while you prepare other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and salt.
  4. Once whisked, add your liquid ingredients: almond milk, coconut oil, mashed banana, and vanilla extract.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.
  5. Drain raisins.  Add them, along with the grated carrot, to the bowl. Gently fold them into the batter so that they are well distributed.
  6. In ¼ cup batches, scoop batter into muffin tins.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes in tins, then remove and place on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath.
  7. To prepare the glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon almond milk, and the vanilla extract in a medium bowl.  Beat together well.  Add in additional powdered sugar and milk if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Note that the glaze will thicken after sitting for a few minutes.
  8. When the cupcakes are nearly cool, drizzle glaze over the top.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Foodie Firsts: My First Vegan ‘Cheesecake’

wooden spoons-001

Foodie Firsts is a Move Eat Create weekly feature focusing on my adventures in the world of food.  Over the course of a few short years, I have transformed from a picky, fearful eater to a curious and open-minded foodie.  In a commitment to continue to expand my culinary experiences, I have started Foodie Firsts.  Each week I will commit to trying something new and sharing that experience with you.  My endeavors may include experimenting with cooking techniques I’ve never tried before, testing a single new ingredient, or drawing upon my creativity to combine foods in ways I never imagined.  Whatever it is, I will eat (or maybe drink) it and share it all with you.  You can decide for yourself whether you, too, would like to try!  Let’s be bold and eat good food!

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Welcome to the inaugural entry in my new weekly series.  I’m excited to continue to push my boundaries with food and cooking and share it all here.  I commit to sharing each adventure, whether it is successful or, well, disastrous.

It pleases me to no end, however, to say that this first post is one of success!  I decided to start off this column big.  I feel like I really went for it this week.

Homemade.  Vegan.  Cheesecake.

partial whole cake pic 2 - edited

I went into this little experiment totally prepared for it to fail.  Not expecting it to, but prepared for the possibility.  Let me give you some history.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Move Eat Create for introducing me to cheesecake to begin with.  I had never tried it until well into my twenties.  Blasphemy, I know!  Here I was, going through my life, thinking that cheesecake was absurd.  Why on earth would anyone make a cake out of cheese??  What was this horrid concept???  Were people mad????  Mr. Move Eat Create was, because he was a fan.  A big fan.  So he had some; I tried it, and my world was never the same again.

Now, you may think I’m being dramatic (and maybe I am), but it blew me away.  I had never tasted anything like it.  I wanted to devour it all the time.  I tried to restrain myself, but cheesecake was always a wonderful treat.  A rich, decadent reminder of how many things I had yet to taste in my life.

Whole with slice cut out - edited

These days, as you may know, I eat a mostly clean, healthy and plant-based diet, so cheesecake is a very rare item on my plate.  For a while, I’d been tossing around the idea of trying a vegan cheesecake.  I’ve seen several versions featuring vegan cream cheese (which I’m sure are delicious and I WILL try sometime), but, I was feeling sort of . . . ballsy.  I decided to go all out when I came across this recipe for a raw strawberry cream cake at The Veggie Nook.  A soft, creamy cake that mimics the experience of a cheesecake, but totally vegan?  I was in.  No questions asked.

So, as I stated, I was prepared for this to be a fail simply because I’ve never, ever eaten or made anything like it before.  Plus, the crust (which is yummy) is made solely out of almonds, dates, and salt.  The last time I tried to puree dates, I had a bit of a disastrous gooey mess that went quickly to the garbage can.   The recipe indicated a strong food processor would be needed and ours is a fairly small, simple model.  Would it do the job?  And, would my cheesecake-loving boyfriend enjoy this for what it was or would I be eating it all by my lonesome?

Single slice with coulis 5 - edited

I officially declare this foodie first a success!  While this is certainly not going to pass for a traditional cheesecake, it doesn’t need to.  It is delicious in its own right and it does provide a similar experience to feasting on cheesecake.  It’s soft, cool, and creamy.  It strikes a chord between sour/tart (from the lemon juice – a very important element) and sweet (strawberries, dates, vanilla and agave) and the strawberry coulis drizzled on top is fresh and bright.  The process of making this was a breeze, really.  I had to puree in batches (so as to not overwhelm my food processor), but the steps were straightforward and unfussy.  Plus, the possibilities with this are limitless.  Chocolate drizzled on top would be amazing.  I can imagine any berry subbing for the strawberries with success.  Vanilla bean mixed in would be rich and luscious.  Skip the berry layer altogether and do a caramel cream with chopped nuts on top.  Endless possibilities.

Notes & Final Thoughts:

The recipe can be found here:  Raw Strawberry Cream Cake  Whole with side of pan off - edited

Modifications:  The only thing I did differently was to use agave and additional vanilla extract instead of stevia.  I didn’t have any stevia on hand and decided to sub instead of purchasing some.  I doubled the vanilla extract and added agave in 1 tablespoon at a time, tasting as I went.  I found that about ¼ cup was the right amount for me.

Lessons Learned:  Simply because something doesn’t taste just like its inspiration, does not make it a lesser product.  Do I still think traditional cheesecake is delicious?  Of course I do.  But this option is so good and so satisfying that it is more than just a substitute.  Plus, the nutritional components mean a lot to me these days and knowing I can feel really good about the ingredients in this dessert is pretty fantastic.

Plus, I am constantly amazed by the humble cashew.  What can’t this little nut do?  Cashews = food chameleons.

Finally, making this taught me a bit about patience.  I don’t have much of it and when I cook, I like to keep things moving, see results, work on the next component.  The fact that my food processor is small made me have to work cautiously and in small batches.  I was forced to slow down instead of tossing everything in at once.  It actually was quite good for me to experience.  To have it pay off in the end was highly rewarding.

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Eat . . . Some of My Favorite Foods #8

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on food, cooking, and eating.

 

I get really excited about food . . . and about eating . . . and about cooking.  Food, when you remove social stigma and guilt and all that other gross stuff that can be attached to it, is so much fun.

photo credit: funadium via photopin cc

photo credit: funadium via photopin cc

As a pretty unadventurous person (I am NOT going to be skydiving anytime soon), food is a way in which I actually get to take chances and try new things pretty much anytime that I want to.  As much as I like this variety, I am also a loyal person and I am very loyal to certain foods.  Certain foods (both singular ingredients, as well as fully formed dishes) are featured heavily in my dining rotation.  I may go even so far as to call them my favorite foods.  Though, please don’t think that because something isn’t on this list, I don’t love it.  I fully reserve the right to add to this list at any time and please realize it’s not entirely comprehensive, but it is a start.  I wanted to share a list such as this because I believe that learning what and how people eat can offer a unique insight into someone and I hope this gives you a bit more of a picture of who I am.  Plus, maybe you’ll be inspired to partake in some of these items, too, and I’m all about spreading the foodie love.

So without further adieu, here are (in no particular order) some of my favorite foods – those that make their presence in my life time and time again – along with a reason or two about why I love them so.

(Also, I’d love to hear what would make your list.  What am I missing that you would recommend?)

Love Crunch Granola

Granola – I love granola.  Correction: I am madly in love with granola.  I could eat it every single day.  I eat granola alone, with yogurt, and sometimes in bar form.  But, my absolutely favorite way to eat granola is in a bowl with non-dairy milk.  This makes me unbelievably happy.  I have tried many kinds, but some of my favorites are Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Carrot Cake and Kind Cinnamon Oat with Flax Seeds.  Plus, locally, the granola at Compote is OUT OF THIS FLIPPING WORLD.  Healthy, hearty, delicious.

Mr. Move Eat Create’s chowders.  He makes both a broccoli chowder and a potato-corn chowder that are the food equivalent of cuddling up in a cozy, warm blanket.  Serve them up with his from-scratch whole wheat biscuits and I am a happy woman, indeed.

Onions and garlic.  Any meal that starts by sautéing onion and garlic is a meal that I can support.  Period.

photo credit: Esteban Cavrico via photopin cc

photo credit: Esteban Cavrico via photopin cc

Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with almond butter.  I eat this all the time.  It’s breakfast, it’s a snack, its lunch alongside fruit.  It is one of the simplest, most satisfying food experiences I have ever known.  Thanks, Dave.

My friend and roommate’s spinach and pepper lasagna.  Serious comfort food, but made seriously healthy.  Lasagna used to be on the bottom of my list when it came to Italian food, but not anymore.  I request this dish over and over again and am never, ever disappointed.  Some day I will take pictures for you and you will want it, too.

Cauliflower – A vegetable so often shrugged off for being bland or unexciting, but that’s part of what makes it great.  The versatility is incredible.  You can do so much with it!  Plus, it’s loaded with vitamins C and K, giving it super anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Woo!

Non-dairy ice cream.  More specifically, So Delicious Almond, Coconut, and Soy Milk ice creams.  I just have no words.  The name is totally deserved.  I am rarely without some in my freezer.

Berries – All types of them.  I add them to my granola.  I eat them straight from the carton.  I use them in desserts.  There is really no better grab and eat snack.

strawberries

Beans – If you can believe it, I didn’t think I liked beans until a couple of years ago.  These days, I am happy to eat them.  Full of protein and fiber, beans are not only delicious but adaptable to whatever cuisine I’m in the mood for.  Black bean burritos.  Kidney bean curry.  White bean cassoulet.  The list could go on and on and on.  I’ll happily take ’em canned or dry!

Vanilla & Cinnamon – I really don’t care what baked good you’re feeding me if it has these flavors.  Just hand it over.  I will eat it and be delighted by my two favorite baking spices.  Just talking about it makes me want a muffin.  Or a scone.  Or a cookie.  Or pancakes.

Blueberry Scone from Sweetpea

Lemons – A go-to for me recently for it’s alkalizing properties in the body, I’ve been adding it to a glass of water in the morning to start my day.  But long before that habit, I’ve known it’s wonderful to dress up just about any sauteed or steamed vegetable, as well as salads, baked treats and any other number of dishes (squeeze some on those beans I mentioned earlier and all of a sudden you’ve got a bright, savory main course ingredient).

I could ramble on for quite some time, but I really should get going.

Plus, this is making me hungry.

Happy Eating!

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Previous Entries in This Series:

#7 – Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself

#6 – Why I Eat . . . Local

#5 – Why I Eat . . . To Heal and To Fuel

#4 – Why I Eat . . . Food From My Own Kitchen

#3 – Why I Eat . . . Plants!

#2 – Why I Eat . . . With Reverence

#1 –  Why I Eat . . . Thoughtfully

Recipe: Apricot Muffins (Not, I Repeat NOT Grape Leaves)

I was going to present to you photos and writings about beautiful grape leaves.  Bright, flavorful grape leaves that had been lovingly stuffed, rolled, and cooked over low heat in a slow cooker for several hours before being presented and served as part of a delicious Mediterranean dinner.

Instead you’re getting muffins.

Apricot Muffin trio 5

You shouldn’t be disappointed because these are really good muffins.  I, however, am slightly disappointed because I was really excited about grape leaves.

But I suppose sometimes we all fall prey to kitchen disasters and my grape leaves were a casualty.  I started making them on a day that had been a bit rough for me.  I was feeling frustrated and cranky and worn out.  It happens.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the meditative act of cooking and set to it.  In my funky state, however, I got so caught up in rinsing, patting dry, and de-stemming each individual grape leaf that I didn’t pay proper attention to the filling mixture that was cooking away on the stove-top.  Needless to say when I checked on it, it was too late.  Burnt rice is nobody’s friend.

Thanks to Trader Joe’s being about a minute away from my apartment, I managed to still serve a full dinner by adding on some pre-made TJ’s appetizers to the rest of the food that I was making (my fattoosh salad, homemade paprika-spiced hummus, and pita bread), but my cooking pride took a hit nonetheless.

Apricot Muffin with jam

The next day, I needed to redeem myself, so muffins happened.  This muffin recipe is adapted from a cookbook that I borrowed from my local library.  Loads of tasty looking things live in this cookbook, by the way, and I was certainly pleased about how these turned out.  I am a huge fan of the texture of these muffins, as well as the minimal sugar content.  If you like them sweeter, you can certainly add additional agave or a bit of sugar (I would recommend turbinado or light brown sugar), but I also found that spreading a bit of apricot preserves on them before eating finished them off nicely.

Enjoy them for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  Or, as the cookbook originally suggested, with a cup of tea.  Just please make sure you are feeling quite proper and sophisticated if you enjoy them with tea.  Tea tastes best that way.

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Apricot Muffins

Adapted from The Karma Chow Cookbook

Makes 12 muffins

 

Ingredients: Apricot Muffin with knife 3

1 ½ cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 ½ tspn baking powder

1 tspn baking soda

½ tspn salt (kosher or sea salt)

1 ½ tspn ground cinnamon

½ tspn ground nutmeg

3 tblspns coconut oil, melted

3 tblspns unsweetened apple sauce

½ cup apricot preserves, jam, or spread (sweetened or unsweetened, per your preference    – I used sweetened because it’s what I had on hand)

¼ cup agave nectar (if you used unsweetened preserves, you may want to add a bit more)

½ cup milk of your choice (I used non-dairy milk – Pacific 7-Grain)

2 tspns vanilla extract

2 tblspns egg replacer + 6 tblspns water, mixed (or 2 eggs if you prefer)

½ cup dried apricots, chopped into bits

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin tins (you will need 12 muffin cups) with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil, applesauce, apricot spread, agave nectar, milk, vanilla, and egg replacer or eggs.  Whisk together until ingredients are incorporated.  (Tip: melt, measure and add in your coconut oil last to prevent it from hardening while you prepare the other ingredients) 
  4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir together to combine all ingredients.  Stir until smooth.  Then, pour in chopped apricots and stir together just a few more times to distribute apricot chunks.
  5. Distribute your batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups (approximately ¼ cup of batter per muffin).  Bake 16-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.
  6. Place muffin tins on a wire rack to begin to cool for 3-5 minutes.  Then, remove muffins and let cool completely on a wire rack.

These muffins can be enjoyed just as they are, drizzled with agave or honey, or topped with additional fruit preserves (I tried them all the ways!).