Banana bread (or muffins)

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A fruit bowl full of over ripe bananas can mean one thing and one thing only…banana bread. Or banana muffins in my case as I thought they would be a great snack to bring on the plane on Friday (yayyyyyy we’re coming home for Christmas!!!). Stay tuned for more plane snack food posts in the next couple of days; I’ve got a few yummy/portable things in mind.
This is my trusty recipe that I developed a few years ago and is adapted ever so slightly every time I make it. It is exceptionally healthier than traditional banana bread (white flour, butter, sugar yuck!!!) and is just as good, no wait, better. And I’m not just saying that. Everybody loves this banana bread, you will too!

Vegan/GF banana bread or muffins:

Wet ingredients:

2 TBS flax meal mixed with 2 TBS non-dairy milk or water ( this replaces the eggs as a binding agent whilst providing some omega’s and fibre)

1/4 cup coconut oil (or veg oil)
3 very ripe medium bananas
1/4 cup agave nectar (or brown rice syrup or honey-you might have to use a bit more though as agave is particularly sweet)

Dry ingredients:

1/3 cup teff flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 TBS corn starch
1/2 TBS baking soda
1 heaped tablespoon protein powder (optional)
Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste (I use lots!!)
Optional add ins: Walnuts, dark choc chips, pear chunks. I just added a handful of crushed walnuts.

*you can use any combo of flour you like. I used teff because it’s super high in iron and brown rice as it’s a light flour to balance out the heaviness of the teff. Amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa flour would also be good options.
*if you don’t have quinoa flakes just use more rolled oats
*I added some hemp protein powder to give them a little more staying power, obviously not essential to the recipe

Method:

Combine the flax and water and set aside.
Mash the Bananas in a medium sized bowl and add other wet ingredients and combine.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add the flax ‘gel’ to the wet ingredients and stir.
Add the wet bowl to the dry bowl and stir it up!!
Whack in a greased or lined loaf tin or muffin tin and bake in a moderate to low oven (I did about 180) for forty minutes to an hour. The muffins are a bit quicker…

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There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked banana bread!!

Some holiday baking

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There’s nothing like a bit of holiday baking to get you in the spirit!! Especially since we find it a bit hard to get in the spirit over here, what with the sub tropic temperatures and everything. Alas, only thirteen more days to bask in the sunshine before heading home sweet home for hopefully a white Christmas!

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Vegan, gluten free Ginger snaps:

Dry ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour (I used buckwheat and Amaranth, any would do though)
1/8 cup almond or hazelnut meal
1 1/2 TBS ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nut meg
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 TBS grated ginger
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil (room temp, not totally melted)
1 TBS brown sugar
1tsp vanilla
Dash salt

Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients and mix together until a firm-ish but sticky dough forms.

Roll into balls, press down with fork and sprinkle with a tiny bit of raw sugar and a teeny tiny bit of sea salt.

Bake in a moderate oven for about ten minutes.

Once cooled, Store in the fridge.

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Rice Krispy squares!!

I never actually ate these much as a kid but I know they were quite popular. I don’t know how similar they are to the real marshmallow/butter/white rice bubble version because as I said I never was a rice krispy expert but they taste good, they’re healthy and they satisfy a sweet craving!

Ingredients:
4 cups gluten-free brown rice cereal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup brown rice syrup or honey 1/3 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mix the cereal with the flax
Meal (what’s up sneaky omega and fibre!!) and set aside.
In a small saucepan heat the sweetener and nut butter until liquidy. Add the vanilla and pour over the cereal. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the cereal is coated. Press into a pan and chill for at least an hour.

To take them to the next yum factor level, drizzle with melted dark chocolate or caramel sauce.

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Happy Christmas Baking!!!

Vegan food staples

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I had been thinking of compiling a list of vegan staples for people who want to make more of the food on this blog or just more vegan food in general and the other day someone asked me to do just that, so I figured it was a good time to get compiling!

I’ve been a vegetarian for twelve years and vegan for just over four months! I made the change cold turkey, so to speak, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so much happier and I have never felt or looked healthier in my life. You can find out what prompted my sudden switch in this post here

So here is a sample of some good things to have on hand if you want to get some kick ass vegan cooking/baking on!!

-nutritional yeast (must have for vegans! Make ‘cheese’ sauces with or for adding a cheesy flavour to pretty much anything and high in vit B, a vitamin that vegans are often low in)
-Tamari (gluten free, low salt version of soy)
-miso paste check out this link for why I love miso so much! shit load of nutritional benefits and so good in dressings and of course, miso soup!
-Tahini (I use tahini all the time in dressings, often in raw desserts, I add a scoop to porridge sometimes and even smoothies, here is a link for awesome tahini cookies
-coconut oil (I love this oil so much that I not only bake, fry and cook with it, but I also put it all over my face and body! Check out this link for info on it and an amazing raw chocolate recipe.
-sesame oil
-Dijon mustard

-tempehcheck out some fun tempeh facts here. I friggen love this stuff!!
-tofu firm and silken (firm for slicing and frying/baking and silken for desserts/yogurts)
-beans (chickpea, kidney, canelli beans, black beans)

-most of the desserts I make are ‘raw desserts’ which mostly all involve nuts, seeds and dried fruit…and no, I don’t have trail mix for dessert, don’t worry!! The desserts I make are off the fricken charts good, I’m not even going to be modest about this one so check out this link for an out of this world slice recipe; my raw cheese cake is another favourite, and who doesn’t love chocolate pudding tarts ?! Check out my dessert section for more of where those came from and make sure, as well as coconut oil, cacao and a natural sweetener, you’ve got a good supply of the following to get you started:
-nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts etc)
-seeds (pumpkin/sunflower etc)
-dried fruit (dates, figs, apricots, raisins, prunes etc)

-quinoa (complete protein. Use as you would Cous Cous or rice. Add to smoothies, porridge etc) there are even lots of recipes out there for quinoa cakes, muffins and cookies!
-lentils (really high in iron)
-brown rice/wild rice (great source of fibre)

Obviously wheat is acceptable for vegans but I have a sensitivity to it so I do all gluten free. Either way, there are SO many flours out there and a lot of people eat a crazy amount of wheat flour without thinking about it. Before I stopped eating gluten I would easily consume it for breakfast, lunch and dinner…Wheat bix, sandwich, whole wheat pasta. Our bodies crave variety and there are many flours that are not only much easier to digest but full of protein, iron and other essential nutrients that you can’t get from wheat. So try switching it up with flours such as:
-buckwheat flour (complete protein contains all the essential amino acids, great for baking, pancakes, crepes etc)
-brown rice flour (the goodness of brown rice in flour form! A very light flour ideal for anything really, I find it to be the most versatile.
-teff flour (very annoying but this flour isn’t available in Australia, at least I haven’t been able to find it and when I ask at health food stores they give me a weird look. It’s definitely available in north America though and is awesome because it is very high in iron. One serving of it is nearly your whole days iron intake :O )
-oatmeal ( have this on hand for porridge obviously, but you can also blend it up quickly into a flour to use in baking etc)
-chick pea flour (really great for pizza crust and chick pea fries !! As well as Indian pakoras and adding to home made veggies burgers to make them stick together better.

-rice/almond/hemp/soy milk
-coconut milk

-cacao (like cocoa but raw which means it hasn’t been stripped of any nutrients. The flavour is much better then cocoa and it’s considered a super food!! I use it all the time for desserts and often add a scoop to porridge or smoothies for added nutrients and because it’s chocolate…and adding chocolate to things is generally a good plan.)
-honey (technically not vegan but I still use it) agave syrup, brown rice syrup, stevia
-spices (essential for taking your cooking from good to f&$@ing good. I stock tons of spices, my favs are paprika, tumeric, cinnamon and cumin though. Closely followed by ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, curry powder and dill.)

-nori sheets/dulce flakes (seaweed is really good for you, particularly the iodine in it is great for vegans)
-flax meal (full of omegas and mixed with water creates a binding mixture that you can use in baking instead of eggs)
-chia seeds (omegas/protein/fibre. Add it to smoothies, porridge, cereal or make chia seed pudding by adding about 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk to 1/4 cup of chia seeds, let it sit for about ten minutes, add some fruit, cinnamon, cacao etc and ta-da, chia pudding!
-corn starch (thickening agent, great for vegan gravies and making vegan mac n cheese which you can find a recipe for here

-last but not least, your going to want to have some fruit and vegetables on hand!! Lots of them! Every colour of the rainbow!!

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Happy healthy cooking!!

Ooey gooey cinnamon buns

20121204-111415.jpgOoey gooey satisfying warm aromatic cinnamon buns; and unlike their sugar, butter, white flour laden cousin, the traditional cinnamon bun; these bad boys are high in protein, fibre and low in fat with no added sugar. The winner is clear, in my books at least!
I found the recipe here and just adapted it slightly. I’ve been searching for a healthy cinnamon bun recipe for ages and wasn’t ballsy enough to try and make one up so I was stoked when I stumbled upon the great recipe!

Combine the dry ingredients:

1 cup almond flour or hazelnut meal (or combo)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp soy lecithin granules

Combine wet ingredients:

1/4 cup room temperature coconut oil (not melted our the dough will be too wet)
1/4 cup apple sauce (I simple blended one large apple in my food processor)
2 TBS maple syrup
1/2 TBS vanilla extract

Filling: blend in food processor until combined but slightly chunky still:

2/3 cup mix of dates and raisins
1/4 cup mix of honey and maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 TBS cinnamon

Method:

Add the combined wet ingredients to the combined dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough ball forms. Place the dough in your fridge while you are Preparing the filling.

Roll your dough out into a square-ish shape onto baking paper. Cover with your date/raisin filling and a handful of walnuts and slivered almonds, if you wish.

20121204-111515.jpgCarefully roll up. I had trouble with this as it was a really hot day which makes the dough hard to work with but I just kinda rolled and ‘mooshed’ it together with my hands and they turned out great despite a few cracks in the dough. I ended up placing mine in the freezer for a few minutes halfway through rolling and then finnished with the colder dough which helped.

With a sharp knife slice the dough, about an inch and a half each roll. Place in a baking tray and bake in a moderate oven for about fifteen minutes or until turning golden. Check at the ten minute mark for sure! Mine baked surprisingly quickly.

20121204-111621.jpgThey are delicious straight out of the oven but if you want to take them to the next level here are some rad frostings options:

Caramel frosting (the one I used, inspired by the This Rawesome Vegan Life blog, makes a lot but it’s so good just as a spread on its own that you won’t mind having too much!!):

2 heaped tablespoons of honey
1 tsp of vanilla
Handful of brazil or cashew nuts
10 soaked dates
1 heaped tablespoon tahini
1 heaped tablespoon almond butter
1 1/2 TBS coconut oil

Blend until creamy

Cashew cream frosting, this frosting I made to go with my raw cinnamon buns which are also to die for.

Blend until smooth:

1 cup soaked cashews (I had mine soaking while I was making the buns)
1 TBS coconut oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Dash of cinnamon
1 TBS toasted coconut (I had this leftover from the creamy coconut rice I made the night before, not essential but recommended for sure!)
Dash of stevia or other sweetener
About 1/8 cup water to thin

20121204-111712.jpgAlso, they are great leftover. We have been eating them for three days now! Just store in the fridge and heat up under the griller for a couple minutes! Perfect, healthy quick breakfast or snack!

*A note about baking with gluten free flours:

The gluten in regular flour is what acts as such a great binding agent, unfortunately though gluten is really hard to digest which is why lots of people have allergies to it. This is what makes gluten free baking a bit more of a challenge. The xanthan gum and soy lechithin in the recipe act as the binding agent, holding everything together nicely. The soy lechithin also softens the bread a bit. The buns will probably still work if you leave it out, but will be more crumbly.

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Enjoy!