Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maple Walnut Butternut Squash Bread

I love pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash etc. All squash, pretty much. Of all the squashes, I find that butternut is one of the most versatile (a close runner-up to pumpkin). I love pretty much anything butternut squash (except this soup I had the other day, note to self: don't mix vanilla with butternut squash, it tastes strange!)

Anyway, I found this recipe through the website Tastespotting (one of my favorite sites because of all the gorgeous food pictures) and HAD to try it. It combines a lot of my favorite ingredients, plus it's pretty healthy (especially the way I made it). You can find the original recipe here and look below for my take! It's not a savory bread, but more of a sweet bread. However, it isn't TOO sweet, and doesn't use any refined sugar! It would make a nice breakfast bread, or a healthy dessert.

Vegan Maple Walnut Butternut Squash Bread
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran (instead of flax, since I don't use flax)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
A few pinches of sea salt
1 heaping tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground, if you must)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Ener-G egg substitute mix for 2 eggs (or 2 [hopefully organic & free-range] eggs if you aren't vegan)
1 cup butternut squash puree (I used canned organic)
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted (I don't have walnut oil, so I used this instead)
3/4 cup maple syrup (I had to augment a bit with some agave because I ran out of maple syrup)
1 tsp good vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped freshly toasted walnuts (I toast them in a cast iron pan for a few minutes on med-high)

Mix all the dry ingredients (minus the walnuts) together with a whisk in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate larger bowl, add all the wet ingredients and mix well (I whisked them for about 2 minutes fairly vigorously). When the wet ingredients are well incorporated, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts, and pour the mix into a lightly greased loaf pan (I just used evoo spray to grease the pan). Bake at 325 degrees for about 65 minutes (it took me almost that long, I kept checking because I don't trust our oven at all), then let cool in the pan a bit before turning on to a rack to cool.

Changes I'd make next time? Definitely MORE nutmeg. I often will add a lot of extra spice to baked goods because I rarely find them spicy enough. I didn't use enough nutmeg, and I will next time. Nutmeg is perfect with butternut squash (ever had butternut squash ravioli with nutmeg and sage? Pretty incredible stuff...) and it really needed more in the bread. However, it still tastes great, and reminds me a lot of the taste of pumpkin pie.

What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast bread recipes? I love making baked goods for in the morning that are super healthy and delicious, and I'd love to hear your ideas! :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Granola, the quintessential hippie food

I had never made granola before tonight, which might be surprising to some of you (I know it was to me!) Now, I can't believe I ever pay for the stuff! It's super easy to make, and you can combine some of the most awesome ingredients. I went pretty tame with my first batch, and I used, to some extent, this recipe. It turned out delicious. It's also super healthy, and vegan! Here's how I tweaked the recipe:

Organic Vegan Cinnamon Maple Pear Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup rolled kamut (has more protein than oats, and is crunchier)
1 cup raw almonds
A few pinches of sea salt
1 tbsp chia seeds (high in omega 3s & no phytoestrogen weirdness, hooray!)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dry shredded coconut (NOT sweetened!)
1/2 tbsp ceylon "true" cinnamon (I love cinnamon, so I use a lot, adjust as you like it)

Mix the above together, then (in a separate bowl) mix together 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or you could use brown rice syrup, agave or honey), and 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (warmed if solid). Pour the wet mixture over the dry, and stir it all up.

Spread onto one fairly large baking sheet (12x17 is what I used) and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven & stir the granola well, then bake another 10ish minutes. Be sure to watch the granola during the last 10 minutes as it can burn easily! Mine "toasted" a bit, and while it's still tasty, I'm sure it could have used slightly less time in the oven.

Once the granola is out of the oven, carefully remove from pan and place into a pyrex (or similar) container for storage, then stir in 2/3 cup chopped dried bartlett pears (chop them to small bits).

I think my next granola might be a coconut, mango and cashew granola sweetened with agave. I also have plans for a fig, sesame and pistachio granola sweetened with honey. Yum! I'll post those recipes once I've worked them through. :)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A way-too-late post + delicious dinner

Hi, everyone!

So sorry I haven't blogged in FOREVER. Things have been pretty crazy around here... We went out of town at the end of October, and spent a week in Rhode Island and New York City. We got to eat at some delicious vegan and vegetarian restaurants, though, and it was such a great experience to go to as many neat sites as possible in RI and NYC while we were there. Check out my Yelp reviews for details on where and what we ate, and what we did on our trip. :)

However, this post would not be complete without some recipes of what I made tonight! Unfortunately there aren't any pictures, I haven't been quite "in it" enough lately to cook, much less take pictures. Sorry! The next time I make something fabulous I'll be sure to document it in pictures.

Anyway, for dinner tonight, I'd been really wanting to try this lentil soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks that I've had bookmarked for some time. That site is very inspirational to me, and I'm grateful that my mom's friend Pam introduced me to the site awhile ago. The recipe was for "Lively Up Yourself" lentil soup, and I honestly had no idea what to expect when I made it. The end result was delicious, warming, and perfect for a "chilly" fall evening in San Diego.

Here's the link to the recipe: Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup
It's great on its own, however the saffron yogurt REALLY adds a nice touch. I was very pleased with how it all turned out. I followed the recipe to a t, except for using non-fat Greek yogurt instead of 2% (higher protein in the non-fat, it turns out, so I opted for that).

This soup was great with stoned wheat crackers from Trader Joe's, but would also be great just on its own or with whole wheat toast of some kind (or nice crusty bread, yum!)

Dessert was a total spur of the moment decision. I wasn't even going to make anything, but Jon was complaining about the apartment being cold, so I figured if I turned on the oven to bake, that would warm it up a bit (and it did!) I decided to use this recipe: Pumpkin Apple Strudel Muffins that I've actually made before, but I tweaked it SO much, that I'm going to post my new "original" recipe on this page. Basically, I veganized it, made it healthier, and didn't add the strudel on top. The end result was really tasty, lightly sweet, and fairly dense (which I really like). These will make excellent breakfast muffins, too.

Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Apple Muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups whole spelt flour
(you could also just do 2.5 cups of ww pastry flour if you don't have spelt flour)
1 cup of maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or just ground nutmeg if you don't grate your own)
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh puree, but I'm not that ambitious)
Ener-G Egg replacer [soy free!] (follow the directions on the package) or 2 eggs
2 cups finely chopped, peeled apple chunks

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and all the spices. Whisk together until well incorporated. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the prepared egg replacer (or two eggs), 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or canola oil if you don't have coconut), maple syrup and pumpkin puree. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the apple chunks.

In a 350 degree oven, bake the muffins in a lightly greased (or lined with muffin cups) muffin tin for 25-35 minutes, testing for doneness (it took my oven 25 minutes, and the recipe says 30-35... our oven is wonky). Let the muffins cool a bit before trying to get them out of the pan... Mine slid right out without any hassle after 10 minutes or so. :) Enjoy!

Let me know if you try either of these recipes, and how you like them!