Monday, February 19, 2007

Full Meal Muffins

When I was working on Vegan Lunch Box, I came up with the idea of including a "Full Meal Muffin" recipe that would serve as a convenient, portable, inconspicuous lunch for older kids and teens that included fruits and vegetables. At the time I also wanted to include protein powder for a protein boost, but I was never satisfied with the texture and taste of the muffins with added powder.

After several unsuccessful attempts I decided to bag the muffin idea, but several of you emailed asking what had happened to it. So this week I dusted off my notes, kicked out the protein powder, and here it is! Even without the extra protein this is a nutritious main course at lunchtime: each muffin is filled with whole grains, banana, zucchini, iron- and calcium-rich blackstrap molasses, and omega-3-rich walnuts. They also contain no added sugar, salt, oil, soy, or wheat.

makes 12 muffins

1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup barley flour (or use 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat flour in place of spelt and barley if you prefer)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, peeled
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
½ cup apple juice, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 zucchini, finely grated (about 1 ½ cups)
½ cup finely chopped or ground walnuts
½ cup currants or raisins (optional, they add a touch of sweetness)

Preheat the oven to 375º. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with nonstick spray.

Combine both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk together.

Place the bananas, blackstrap molasses, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar in a Vita-Mix or other blender and blend until smooth. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then fold in the zucchini, walnuts, and currants or raisins. Use a bit more apple juice if needed to wet all the flour.

Divide mixture evenly into the 12 lined muffin cups, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top springs back to the touch. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container or freeze in individual freezer bags to pull out and put into lunches as needed.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Vegan Goldfish Crackers

In some toddler circles, Goldfish Crackers are one of the four major food groups. Now vegan kids and those with dairy allergies can enjoy them, too! Nutritional yeast and spices add a cheesy taste without the cheese.

But how can we make the crackers orange without cheddar? Well, how about using the same thing real cheese crackers use: natural annatto food coloring. Annatto seed extract is used to color cheese and many other foods; of course, you can use any orange food coloring you wish or leave out the coloring for crackers that are white but just as tasty.

Before you begin, you'll need to purchase a tiny fish cookie cutter like this one.

makes several dozen

2 ¾ cups white flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup canola oil, chilled in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
½ cup ice water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Orange food coloring, as desired
Olive oil cooking spray
Fine sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Combine the flour, nutritional yeast, baking soda, salt, paprika, cayenne, and onion powder in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle in the cold canola oil and toss with your fingers until the oil is incorporated and the flour has formed small to medium-sized clumps. Add orange food coloring to the flour mixture, if desired.

Mix the ice water and apple cider vinegar together and drizzle it over the flour, stirring with your fingers until the dough holds together.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times, adding a bit more water if needed to form a cohesive dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.

Cut out fish shapes using a small cookie cutter. If you would like to make happy fishies, use the curved tip of a spoon to give them a smile and a toothpick to give them an eye.

Place the fish on the baking sheets, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with fine sea salt.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Slide the parchment paper covered with fish onto a wire rack to cool.

Continue rolling, cutting, and baking little fish until you just can't take it anymore.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Creamy Shallot Dijon Dressing

This is the perfect dressing for a vegan bacon spinach salad: toss it with baby spinach leaves, fresh sliced mushrooms, and crisp bites of smoky marinated tempeh, like Fakin' Bacon.

makes about ½ cup

1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/3 cup Vegenaise
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Combine the shallot, Vegenaise, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Oranges with Raspberry Sauce and Ginger

This is a nice way to add excitement to oranges in the middle of winter, when most other fruits are out of season. The pickled ginger adds just the right touch of zing.

serves 4

6 large oranges
One 10-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
Sugar, to taste (optional)
Finely sliced pickled ginger (I use Ginger People Grated Ginger)

Peel and segment the oranges and remove all the membrane (I cheat on this and cut my oranges in half, then score and scoop them out just like a grapefruit). Do this over a medium bowl, collecting all the extra juice and putting the orange segments into the bowl.

Use a strainer to get all the extra orange juice out of the bowl of oranges and place it in a Vita-Mix or other blender along with the raspberries. Blend until smooth. Taste and add a little sugar if desired.

To serve, divide the orange segments into dessert bowls and top with a generous amount of pickled ginger. Serve with raspberry sauce.