Healthy Habits: Pumpkin Oat Bundt Cake

“Have you ever tried….?”

I am continually amazed by just how many items there are on the market these days for folks trying to eat healthier and/or allergy friendly. Just a decade ago, I was driving distances to little, out of the way, specialty stores to try to find this or that. Now, I walk into the grocery store, ten minutes down the road, and every week, something new is on the shelf.

Recently, a friend asked me if I had ever tried monk fruit sweeteners since she knew I didn’t bake with sugar. Since I had not actually tried it, I thought I’d research it and give it a try.

Some things for you to know about monk fruit sweeteners:

  1. Research seems to indicate that monk fruit as a fruit does not increase blood sugar levels in diabetics, but always check the sweetener blends to make sure there are not other added sugars which may increase blood sugar levels.
  2. As a substitute for sugar, monk fruit and monk fruit sweetener blends are more expensive than even other substitutes on the market (like agave or coconut sugar or truvia). So, if finances are tight, it may not be your first option.
  3. Also, as a substitute, monk fruit sugar blends are not as easy to find in your local supermarkets as other options. I could only find it at one grocery store a couple of towns over.
  4. Monk fruit sweeteners can have a bit of an after taste, which some folks may like but some really don’t.
  5. Monk fruit sweeteners come in “classic” and “golden”. Classic is supposed to be similar to white sugar. Golden mimics brown sugar.
  6. The monk fruit sweetener packages say, “1 to 1,” for use. I would strongly discourage folks from doing so. It is really, really sweet. In the recipes I tried, using half or less worked just fine.
  7. I also discovered that, despite instructions, the monk fruit sweetener blend tended to work better in baked goods if you mixed them with the wet ingredients instead of the dry. The monk fruit sweetener mixed with the dry ingredients in brownies rose to the top during cooking, mottling the appearance and affecting the brownie texture. Dissolving the sweetener with the wet ingredients, however, alleviated both issues.

In the midst of my experiments with the monk fruit sweeteners, I needed to make a cake for a friend with diabetes who also needs to add more fiber into his diet. I decided to create an oat-filled pumpkin bundt cake, using the monk fruit sweetener. The result was a moist, tasty cake.

Pumpkin Oat Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

For the pan and streusel:

vegan soy free butter

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup quick cooking gluten free rolled oats

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp golden monk fruit sweetener

1/4 cup quick cooking gluten free rolled oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp monk fruit sweetener

1 tbsp melted vegan soy free butter

For the batter:

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

1 tbsp minced ginger/ginger paste

1 cup extra light olive oil

1 cup golden monk fruit sweetener

3/4 liquid egg whites

2 cups gluten free high fiber/high protein flour blend (I used Bob’s garbanzo bean blend)

1 cup gluten free brown rice flour blend

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

2 tbsp vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a bundt pan by greasing it with vegan soy free butter.
  3. Then, mix the ground flax seed, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and monk fruit sweetener. Carefully coat the inside of the bundt pan with the mixture. At least a quarter of the mixture should be left over when you are done.
  4. To the leftover mixture add the additional oats, cinnamon, and monk fruit sweetener. Combine and then mix in the melted butter. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside.
  5. Combine together the pumpkin, ginger, oil oil, monk fruit sweetener, and egg whites. Set aside.
  6. Mix together the garbanzo bean flour blend, the brown rice flour blend, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well, adding the vinegar.
  8. Carefully spoon about 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan.
  9. Sprinkle the oat mixture over the batter.
  10. Then, carefully spoon the remaining 2/3 of the batter over the oat mixture.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is puffed, golden, and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.
  12. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at a minimum of 15 to 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Enjoy!
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Healthy Habits: Baked Pears

“He has to be careful about his levels….”

Every summer, we head to the Adirondack mountains to work at the family forest my husband’s family has run for over 60 years. Since I am allergic to everything God has created in nature, I act as the chief cook as opposed to wandering around in the woods, measuring and counting trees. As the chef, I am often cooking meals for anywhere between eight to 20 people for any given meal. This means often taking into account not just my own food allergies but other people’s food restrictions as well.

This year, I needed to be careful about foods which would spike glucose levels for diabetics, so I was trying to avoid making a lot of cakes and cookies, and I opted instead for fruit desserts like a blueberry cobbler which I made with oat biscuits which used no sugar for either the blueberries or the biscuits.

This morning, however, I needed a dessert for a brunch and wanted something healthy but not necessarily a lot of work. At the store, I noticed that they had ripe Bartlett pears on sale, so I purchased those and set about making something for the brunch. As I googled, I noticed that the most common pear dessert is to poach them, but that required watching them on the stove and thickening syrups and such, all of which was too much work.

So, I decided that I’d simply bake them with a little bit of cinnamon and honey and whole rolled oats.  The result was a nice, light dessert, which was perfect for the brunch and well received. One person said that she didn’t usually like pears but liked the dessert. So, I call that a success.

Baked Pears

Ingredients:

8 ripe Bartlett pears

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp hot water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp very finely chopped ginger, almost like a paste

1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tbsp vegan soy free butter, melted

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut pears in half, remove stems by pulling them down the middle to remove the hard core, and then core out the center seeds. (I just use a small spoon.)
  3. Lay the pears in one or two pans, which are large enough to hold them.
  4. Mix together the honey, hot water, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until well blended. Drizzle over the pears.
  5. Combine the oats with the cinnamon, cloves and melted vegan butter. Spoon them evenly into the holes left by coring out the seeds.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 30 minutes (will depend on the ripeness of your pears) until the pears are golden and warm.
  7. You can eat them as is or serve them with ice cream or whipped cream.

Healthy Habits: Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

“It’s been soooo long….”

If you were to peruse the recipes on this site, you would notice that the cake recipes far outnumber cookie recipes. There are several reasons for that. The first is that cookies require so much more time than cakes. When one is pressed for time to make a dessert, cookies are not the most efficient to make.

The second is that “healthy” cookies are trickier to make. Adding fruits and vegetables to cakes is easy. Using them in cookies usually just means a really soft cookie which won’t keep for more than a couple of days. Swapping whole grain flours adds some protein and fiber but if you want a cookie which isn’t dry and crumbly, you still need a substantial amount of fat because cookies don’t usually require much in the way of liquid ingredients, which precludes using liquid plant oils, which affects the taste and texture of cookies anyway. And while there are many options on the market to substitute for the sugar, the fact is that they do affect the texture and taste of cookies.

The third is that I find that folks have a way of eating a whole lot of cookies in a sitting because their size and lack of filling makes eating many easy to do. This, of course, is not healthy eating, so it is easier to make cakes and control the portions.

This week, however, my son asked if I would make cookies. As he reminded me, I haven’t made any since Christmas which is when I usually spend weeks making many different type of holiday cookies for the season.

I wanted to make a cookie which I would feel good about my son eating, and of course, I also wanted it to taste good, because it’s not worth eating something that doesn’t, in my opinion. And I wanted it to be a cookie where one would fill him and not make him want a second or third or more in one sitting.

After some thinking I decided that I’d make an oatmeal cookie because oats have protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I also decided I’d make them with chocolate chips so I could use the sugar from the chips as opposed to adding sugar, and I would use dark chocolate chips because dark chocolate chips would have less sugar and more beneficial flavonoids. I also opted to make them vegan so that I could make them in the future for the vegan side of the family. Finally I added some chopped non-crystalized, candied ginger for a special flavor.

The cookies came out great and fit all my parameters. They had healthy oats, less sugar, a great taste, and eating just one was satisfying.

Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, processed into oat flour

1 1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, as is

1 1/2 cup whole grain gluten free flour blend

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

2 to 4 tbsp non-crystalized, candied ginger (use less if you just want a hint; more if you want a more pronounced ginger taste)

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

3/4 cup vegan, soy free butter

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

Baking Instructions:

  1. You will wait to preheat the oven because the dough needs to be refrigerated first.
  2. In a food processor, process the one cup of oats until you have something resembling flour. To the oat “flour” add the whole rolled oats, gluten free flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the one cup of dark chocolate chips with the candied ginger until you have small, fine pieces. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Stir in the remaining one cup of dark chocolate chips.
  5. In a mixer, cream the vegan butter. Add the applesauce and honey and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the dough is well blended.
  7. Cover the bowl and put the dough into the fridge for at least one hour and no more than 24.
  8. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Using a quarter cup scoop, place level, quarter cup portions of the dough onto the cookies sheets with space in between to spread. Use a fork to crisscross the dough into a slightly flatter circle.
  10. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies are browned, larger, and slightly stiff to the touch.
  11. Put the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the cookies to the wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
  12. They can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

NOTE: These are large cookies because I always keep in mind that summer is a good time to make ice cream cookie sandwiches. *grin*  You can halve the size by using 2 level tablespoons instead and reducing the cooking time.

 

Summer Delights: Lemon Raspberry Cake

“I want it to taste like summer….”

I’m sure folks will understand when I say that certain items trigger memories for me. For example, whenever I see marbles at a store, visions of lying on my stomach in the dirt, shooting marbles with friends in the summertime immediately come to mind.  The smell of ginger always makes me think of my mother and all the wonderful gingery Korean foods she cooks. Hearing bells reminds me of the first time I went to a Christmas service at a church.

When it comes to food, I tend to have associations, too. For example, anything with lemons and berries conjures images of summer for me, and recently I wanted to make a cake for dessert which tasted like summer. By that, I meant a dessert which was light in both taste and texture, a cake which wouldn’t weigh heavily in the stomach after eating it on a hot day. A lemony cake with berries was the perfect choice.

I found a cake recipe online but, of course, it needed to be revamped to fit my allergy needs as well as needing to be altered to reduce all the sugar and fat.

The original recipe called for 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp of baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/4 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup buttermilk, and 1/3 cup lemon juice. I swapped in a whole grain gluten free flour blend for the flour; reduced the salt by 1/2, adding 1 tsp of lemon peel instead; cut the butter in half and used a vegan butter in its place; reduced the sweetener by 1/2 and substituted 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup truvia; used 1/4 egg whites plus 2 eggs instead of the original 4; and made my own “buttermilk” with 1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of flax milk.

The result was a tasty, lemony cake which I just needed to “dress up”.

Raspberries are a wonderful complement to lemon, so I decided I would use Polaner’s Raspberry All-Fruit in the middle of the cake layers and put fresh raspberries on top. I just needed a frosting. Since I was feeling a bit lazy, as well as not wanting to wait, I didn’t want to take the time to make an ermine frosting which is the lightest frosting I know to make.  So, I opted to create an ermine-like frosting with store-bought items. I used Simple Mills vanilla frosting and mixed it with some tofu cream cheese and lemon juice, and I was delighted to discover that the texture was exactly like ermine frosting.

To complete the cake, I sprinkled chopped, fresh mint from my husband’s garden.  The cake was a hit.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Cake Batter Ingredients:

3 cups favorite gluten free wholegrain flour blend

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup truvia

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup liquid egg white

2 eggs

1 cup flax milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice (to make “buttermilk”)

1/3 cup lemon juice

Frosting Ingredients:

10 oz tub of Simple Mills Frosting

4 oz Toffuti cream cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

Additions Ingredients:

Polaner Raspberry All Fruit

Fresh raspberries

Fresh mint leaves

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon peel. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth, scraping down from the sides as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the truvia and honey until well blended.
  5. Add the egg whites and eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
  6. Alternate adding and mixing the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Blend in the lemon juice.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake layers cool in the pan on wire cooling racks.
  10. Make the frosting by mixing together the tub of frosting with the cream cheese and lemon juice until the frosting is light and airy.
  11. When the cake layers are cool enough, place one layer on your cake plate and frost it with a layer of the frosting.
  12. Using a spoon, drop small spoonfuls of the raspberry all fruit and carefully spread it over the frosting.
  13. Place the second cake layer on top of the all fruit layer, and use the remaining frosting to completely cover the sides and top of the cake.
  14. Arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake, and chop and sprinkle the fresh mint leaves around the raspberries.

Healthy Habits: Make Your Own Pizzas

Crusts from cauliflower?

I don’t know how many folks have eaten artichokes, but growing up in Korea and Japan, artichokes were not a food I had known even existed until my in-laws served it to me when I was dating my husband. The idea of using one’s teeth to scrape off tiny bits from the leaves and working your way down to the small “heart” in the center was strange to me. But then, to my husband, being served sauteed octopus for dinner by his future in-laws was a bit disturbing, to say the least.

Because we grow up in different parts of the world where certain foods are prevalent or because our family ethnicity favors specific types of food, often the variety of foods we choose to eat are limited. In this day and age, though, where food is shipped from everywhere and where companies are creating almost anything they can imagine, we can expand our food options in ways we could not before.

For folks with food allergies, this is a great thing, and an item I have come to appreciate recently is the cauliflower crust for pizzas. In the beginning, most contained cheese which was sad for someone with dairy allergies, but now companies are making them without the cheese, so folks who have gluten, dairy, and nut allergies are able to partake.

This has opened up wonderful possibilities for homemade pizza making. While companies are making gluten free pizza crusts, most of them are made with rice flour which has no nutritional value. The cauliflower crusts offer some value, and they are tasty if you prefer a thinner, crispier crust for your pizzas. By making pizza homemade, you control how healthy the pizza is. You can eliminate items like sugar (which is often in the sauces), reduce sodium and fat (which are often in the toppings), and increase the nutrients by adding vegetables other than just peppers and broccoli (which are the usual offerings from delivery places).

Here are some ideas if you want to make homemade pizzas:

The Crust:

  1. You can buy both regular and gluten free pizza crust in box versions where you add the necessary ingredients and make the crust yourself.
  2. You can go to the cold section of your grocery store and by pre-made regular and gluten free pizza dough which you just spread onto your pan.
  3. You can purchase already made, formed, partially cooked regular and gluten free pizza crusts. These usually are in the pasta-sauce-pizza sections of the grocery store and come wrapped in plastic. You just open the package and put the crust on your pan.
  4. You can find frozen regular and gluten free crusts in the freezer section of your grocery store. This is where I get the cauliflower crusts which I prefer to use.

Sauces:

  1. Traditionally folks use a pizza sauce made from tomatoes. You can find many on the market. Choose ones which have no sugar and are made with olive oil. You don’t necessarily need to use “pizza” sauce, though. You can use a marinara or spaghetti sauce which you like as well. I like Victoria’s brand which is made just with tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs. You just spread the amount you prefer on the crust. You can also make your own by cooking down tomatoes with herbs until the sauce is nice and thick.
  2. If you prefer a white sauce, you can make your own in a couple of different ways: One is to heat over medium/low heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan with garlic, onion and your favorite dried herbs. Then add two tbsp of a gluten free flour like oat or sorghum flour to the oil and stir until completely mixed. Add one cup of a favorite dairy free milk like oat or flax milk and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened.  Add fresh, chopped herbs of your choosing and spread it over the pizza crust. A second way is to cook over medium/low heat a cup of coconut cream in a pan with garlic, onions and dried herbs of your choosing, simmering until the cream thickens, and then adding a couple of tsp of nutritional yeast and fresh, chopped herbs before spreading it over your crust.
  3. If you prefer a non-saucy alternative for your pizza, you can simply slice ripe tomatoes, drain the juice in a colander, and then layer the tomato slices over the pizza crust. As well, if you have no nut allergies, you can consider putting a cashew nut cheese spread over the crust.

Topping Ideas:

  1. One type of pizza we like is to saute mushrooms, spinach, and butternut squash, diced into small pieces, with garlic, onions and herbs spread them onto the pizza.
  2. Another option is to saute diced zucchini with garlic, onions, and herbs, and mix it with diced pieces of a favorite turkey or vegan sausage and sprinkling them onto the pizza.
  3. A third way we like to eat our pizza is to saute broccoli, cut into small pieces, with garlic, onions and herbs, and mix it with small, leftover pieces of cooked chicken and spreading that onto the pizza.
  4. A fourth suggestion is simply using whatever vegetables and meats you have in the fridge and coming up with your own combinations.

For the “Cheese”:

  1. If you don’t have a dairy allergy, then using any combinations of mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, or romano cheeses works.
  2. For folks with dairy allergies, one option is to use dairy free cheeses like Daiya mozzarella. I find that flavoring the vegan cheeses with garlic, herbs and onions goes a long way to intensifying the taste, and I will add a tsp of olive oil and a couple of tsp of nutritional yeast to help the cheese melt better.
  3. Another option is to just dust the toppings with a vegan parmesan like Follow Your Heart parmesan.
  4. If you don’t want “cheese” altogether, you can drizzle the toppings with a glaze like a balsamic vinegar reduction where you simmer 1/4 to 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar until its reduced and thickened.
  5. You can also simply cover the toppings with freshly chopped herbs like basil or mint.

Cooking:

  1. For the best results you should always cook pizzas at a high heat. I use 500 degrees, but if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t go lower than 425.
  2. If you are using any type of pizza dough, you should oil the pan and sprinkle it with cornmeal or flour so it won’t stick. You should also cook the dough just as it is first until it’s almost done.  At 500 degrees, that’s just five to ten minutes. Then you add the sauce, toppings, and cheese and finish cooking the dough for another five minutes until the cheese is melted or the toppings are heated through.
  3. If you are using a pre-made crust, whether from the aisle or frozen section, you add the sauce, toppings, and “cheese” options and then cook the pizza for about ten minutes (if cooking at 500 degrees). Pre-made crusts usually don’t need you to do anything to the pan like oiling because they’re already mostly cooked and won’t stick.

Recipe Revamping: Coffee Cake Muffins

“Be prepared….”

Being of a certain age and generation, I always had a bag in the car which contained a blanket, a flashlight with extra batteries, water, and extra socks, and I had been taught by my dad how to change a flat tire. Now, with the prevalence of cell phones, folks believe they are just a phone call away from help. That is, until we read the news story like the one about the couple who broke down in the middle of a snowstorm with stalled cell coverage and died from exposure.

So, being a bit OCD, I tend to err on the side of preparation rather than not, when I am travelling, and I acted no differently when I recently attended a college reunion. My husband chuckled at one of my bags. It was a large bag of allergy friendly snack items, filled completely to the top. “You do know they’re feeding you, right?” he said.

“Yes,” but I don’t know if I will be able to eat any of it,” I replied.

As it turned out, I was able to eat, but as expected, my choices were limited. One buffet of a dozen items had three side dishes which I could eat but no main entree, and at another meal, even the salad had cheese, nuts and croutons already on it, though this time I had a nicely grilled piece of chicken to make up for the missing entree the night before.

Though I didn’t need all that I had packed to eat, my daughter and I did gratefully dig into the dairy, nut, and wheat free package of double chocolate cookies I had thought to throw into the bag and which called to us after we spent two meals watching others eat decadent desserts which would kill us.

So, when I had to attend a brunch this past week, I thought it best to go ahead and bring something to contribute to the food options. I wanted to make muffins because they’d go with anything else that was offered but I wanted something “breakfasty”. In my search I discovered coffee cake muffins, but of course, the recipes were not allergy friendly and had more butter and sugar than I cared to use.

The original recipe for just a dozen muffins called for 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, and 2 eggs for the batter. Then it called for 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour for the streusel, as well as 1/4 cup powdered sugar with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp of milk for a drizzle.

The first thing I decided was that all that sugar and butter had to be dealt with. I switched the melted butter in the batter to extra light olive oil, and I decided to omit sugar altogether from the batter. For the milk, I used a gluten free oat milk, and for the flour, I chose a whole grain gluten free blend. I omitted the salt and added nutmeg to complement the cinnamon. For the streusel, I reduced the sweetener to 1/2 cup and used coconut sugar instead, and I cut the butter to 1/4 cup, using a vegan soy free butter in its place. I omitted the salt from the streusel, too, adding in nutmeg to the streusel as well, and I used a gluten free oat flour for the flour to add protein and fiber, reducing the amount to 1 cup. The drizzle, I omitted altogether.

Since I have no issues with eggs, I didn’t make any substitutions but folks can always use all egg whites or flaxseed mixed with water or aquafaba or egg replacer, if need be. Also, because I switched to gluten free flour, I increased the baking soda by 1/4 tsp to help the batter rise.

Because I knew the batter wouldn’t be sweet, I poured half the batter into the muffin tins and layered a streusel topping in the middle of the muffin as well as on top. The result was a tasty, healthier version, which the folks at the brunch enjoyed as much as my family.

Coffee Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

Batter:

1 1/2 cups whole grain gluten free flour blend of choice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup favorite plant based milk (I used a gluten free oat milk)

1/3 cup extra light olive oil

2 eggs

Streusel:

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup vegan soy free butter

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda for the batter. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the “milk”, oil, and eggs. Add to the dry ingredients and blend well until smooth. Let it sit while you make the streusel.
  4. Mix together the coconut sugar, oat flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using clean hands, mix in the vegan butter until you have large crumbs and no leftover dry ingredients.
  5. Divide half the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the batter with half of the streusel topping.
  6. Top off the muffin cups with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle the remaining streusel topping on all the muffins.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The muffins will have puffed, be golden and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
  8. Let the muffins cool for at least a few moments before digging in.

 

Recipe Revamping: Lemon Berry Tart

“It’s for Mothers’ Day….”

I confess: I’m not fond of Mothers’ Day. Not because I don’t believe mothers should be appreciated, but because the way it’s celebrated in the U.S., Mothers’ Day seems to be about getting my children to take me out to a restaurant where I can’t eat the food, buy me flowers and chocolate which I’m allergic to, and/or make one more thing for me in school for me to find someplace to put and then dust for years to come.

It’s true that it’s nice to receive a card in which each of my children have written in their own hand how much they appreciate me, but even that, I also confess, is a bit tainted because I’ve caught them too many times hastily writing the script the morning of Mothers’ Day on a card which one of them quickly made because they forgot to do anything ahead of time.

To be completely honest, the best gift I could receive on Mothers’ Day is that the family would resolve to clean up after themselves the other 364 days of the year.

Since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, though, instead, I’ve made Mothers’ Day a time when the family has to what I’d like, whether they like it or not. So, one year I dragged them to an art museum. Another time, we saw a “mama” movie. This year, I decided it would about food I enjoy, so I spent the day making a number of items the family doesn’t consider a “favorite” – foods like grilled eggplant and roasted asparagus and baked tofu in white wine sauce.

Since I spend the other 364 days of the year catering to the family’s food tastes, I figure the Mothers’ Day meal can be about me for a change. So, for dessert, I made a lemon berry tart instead of what the children wanted, which was cake, which frankly I’m quite tired of eating. I wanted something that tasted like Spring.

Most of the recipes I found, though, seemed to use a lot of sugar and heavy cream, and of course, the tart crust was all white flour with lots of butter. So, I did a little bit of revamping. Instead of white flour, I mixed gluten free oat flour with whole rolled oats, added orange peel and nutmeg, and used just a bit of honey and vegan butter for a nice whole grain, protein filled crust. Then for the filling, I combined some tofu cream cheese with freshly squeezed lemon juice and again, a bit of honey. I arranged fresh berries in a pretty arrangement and topped it with sliced mint leaves.

It is everything I could wish for Mothers’ Day this year.

Lemon Berry Tart

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free whole rolled oats

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp vegan butter

1/4 cup honey

one 8 oz tofu cream cheese

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

blueberries

raspberries

blackberries

mint leaves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp Polaner Raspberry All-Fruit

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 9.5 inch pie pan with your preferred method.
  2. In a food processor, combine the oats, oat flour, orange peel and nutmeg and zoop until crumbly.
  3. Add the vegan butter and zoop until well combined.
  4. Add the honey and zoop until a small dough ball forms.
  5. Using your clean hands, shape the dough to match the shape of the pie pan.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the crust and let it cool completely.
  7. In a mixer, whip the tofu cream cheese until it is smooth.
  8. Add the honey and lemon juice and mix until everything is well combined.
  9. Spread the filling into the prepared crust and top with the berries.
  10. Sprinkle the top with the sliced mint leaves.
  11. Melt the Polaner All Fruit and drizzle over the leaves and berries.
  12. Refrigerate the tart until you are ready to eat it.