maca energy bars

These are really Maca Energy Balls– but that title just might get my site shut down. This recipe was featured in a long-ago cooking class, but it’s one I make for other events, too, and folks always ask about the recipe. These are great snacks to keep in the car, or in your desk for a quick pick-me-up.

Dates are great sources of natural sugars, perfect for after a workout (or just a long day at work!). Maca- if you don’t know- is a teeny turnip-looking root native to South America. It is a delicious supplement that can help with energy, libido, and adrenal function. Most importantly, though, it tastes like caramel malty yumminess. If you are not interested in maca, substitute cacao/cocoa, or just leave it out entirely; nutty cinnamon date balls will still be delish.


Maca Energy Balls

½ cup almonds
½ cup walnuts
pinch salt
3 Tablespoons maca powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 Tablespoons water

  1. Add nuts and salt into food processor.  Blend until very fine- much like the texture of sand.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, starting with just one Tablespoon of the oil. Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside the processor.
  3. Check the texture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add 1 Tbsp more liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten). Place 1 almond in the center, and store in the fridge.

Yield: About 15, one inch energy balls

get ready for cozy: cauliflower & sweet potato soup

Today is the first day of the Vegan MoFo. Are you as excited as me? The first recipe I am sharing this month is a Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup, my favorite recipe from a recent cooking class focused on the humble and underrated cauliflower. The main ingredient of the soup is cauliflower, but it’s paired with sweet potatoes and lots of roasted onions and garlic for a nice layering of flavor.

Generally white foods are not too healthy (think white sugar, white bread) but cauliflower is actually quite powerful nutritionally. It’s crazy high in vitamin B5, B6, C, K, and folate, and it’s host to trace minerals like manganese and molybdenum (which is easier written than said aloud in class!). It’s great for aiding in the daily detoxification processes of our bodies, and cauliflower contains high amounts of glucosinolates, which aid in cancer prevention. All good stuff from this wholesome and versatile vegetable!

lots of cauliflower

Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup

4 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups chopped, peeled sweet potatoes
¼ cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup roughly chopped onions
4-6 cloves roughly chopped garlic
2-3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon each dried sage, dried basil, and dried rosemary
½ -1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large stockpot boil 6 cups water to a boil. Boil cauliflower and sweet potatoes until very soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in another stockpot, warm oil over medium low heat. Add onions and garlic and stir to coat. Cook until very brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add cooked cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onion mixture, and two cups broth to food processor and blend. Add herbs and coconut milk and continue blending until desired texture is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more broth or coconut milk as needed.
  4. Divide evenly between four bowls and garnish with a dollop of coconut milk. Enjoy!

Notes: This soup is a filling meal as is, but I liked it dressed up with some cooked grains (brown rice & quinoa), grilled veggies, and some mung beans for some added protein. You could also serve this as a creamy sauce for noodles.

Yield: approximately 6 cups soup, or four servings

creamy soups are not entirely photogenic, unfortunately.

VeganMoFo 2012

aloha friends! Please join me in celebrating the annual Vegan Month of Food, starting next Monday, October 1! VeganMoFo was started years ago by Isa at the Post Punk Kitchen, as the bloggers version of the National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The goal: writing about anything and everything vegan, EVERYDAY for the month. This gives participants a chance to buff up their writing skills, learn more about vegan food, talk about their favorite spices, or just stalk new blog friends on the blogroll. Find more information on the Vegan MoFo website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Along with many fun discoveries this month- new recipes, new blog friends, new cooking techniques- we are also celebrating the compassion and excitement inherent in vegan cuisine. As stated by the MoFo’ers themselves, “As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about!

This year Manis Kitchenworks will be focusing on student and staff favorites from my two years (!) of cooking classes! I’m going to conduct a poll in my next class about what the students have loved the most and just run with it. But sure to be on the list: Baked Tofu, Quinoa Fried Rice, Coconut Quinoa Risotto, Tomato Flatbreads, Carrot Cake, Black Bean Soup, and so much more.

an Arabic feast

During cooking class last month I shared recipes for my favorite Arabic-inspired dishes. The recipes we enjoyed were a roasted vegetable Hummus, an earthy-tangy Baba Gannoush, and a simple Fattoush Salad with Pita Wedges. And while the idea for this class was inspired by the baskets of pita and plates of hummus shared between my high school girlfriends in surburban Detroit, the recipes are all inspired by great bloggers listed below in the intro to each recipe.

Baba Gannoush (Smokey Eggplant Dip)

This delicious and creamy dip can be thought of as the cousin to hummus- made with creamy eggplants and a little smoke and spice. Recipe adapted from David Ledbovitz. He roasts the eggplants over an open flame, which completely terrifies me. I sneak in some liquid smoke instead! 

3 medium-sized eggplants
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch chile powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Split eggplants lengthwise and lay flat on baking sheet. Add garlic to baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until eggplants are soft. Check by using a sharp knife through the middle. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Scrape out the pulp from eggplants (which just might be the wackiest food goo EVER), and add to processor with garlic and all other ingredients. Blend until very smooth, scraping the sides if needed.
  4. Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving.

Yield: about 4 cups dip

Roasted Vegetable Hummus

Traditional hummus is lightened up with fresh vegetables and some hempseeds. This was inspired by Gena of Choosing Raw, and her raw zucchini hummus.

2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 (fifteen ounce) can chickpeas, drained (or two cups home-cooked)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
½ cup tahini
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup hempseeds

  1. Add chopped zucchini and peppers to a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 450º, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Blend vegetables and all remaining ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Add water if necessary.
  3. Serve with pita or fresh vegetables.

Yield: 3 cups hummus

Fattoush Salad and Crispy Pita Wedges

A light salad dressed with simple vinaigrette and toasted pita chips- which go perfectly with the two fabulous dips above! This recipe was adapted from A Taste of Beirut. Her version features sumac, which I couldn’t find here, so I skipped it… hopefully she will forgive me! Don’t skimp on the pita chippies, these are the best part of this salad!

4 slices pita bread
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon each dried basil and black pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste
1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, sliced
½ cup shredded carrots

  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Slice pita bread into strips and line on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  3. Add oil, juice, zest and spices to a small jar. Shake until emulsified.
  4. Brush pita bread generously with olive oil dressing, and bake for 15 minutes, or until very browned and crispy.
  5. When bread is finished baking, break each strip into dime-sized pieces.
  6. Meanwhile, add lettuce, vegetables, and herbs to a large mixing bowl and toss gently. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat.
  7. Toss in cooled pita chips, and then serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings






cookies of christmas past

It is no secret that I am not terribly festive, but I can get excited about the holiday thing when it comes to food. I am totally enchanted with the Christmas deliciousness of my favorite chocolate peppermint cookies. This recipe, among two other holiday-themed cookies, were on the menu for last nights vegan cookie cooking class. During our second class I made a happy mistake while making the chocolate cookie recipe, using just half the amount of sugar called for; then my lovely coworker decided to make ball cookies instead of drop cookies (like the recipe actually says to do- following recipes is not really my thing, either!)- and they rocked! Less sugar and just as much holiday spirit as the originals!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

The following recipe is the adapted version. It’s not healthy by any means, but for those times (of the month, of the year) that you really need to indulge your darkest chocolate cookie fantasies, these are the ones. Originally adapted from the PPK’s chewy chocolate cookies. Makes about 30 cookies.

5 tsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup soymilk (or other non-dairy)
3/4 cup organic canola oil
1 cup fine turbinado sugar
2 tsp peppermint extract (alternatively, 10-20 drops peppermint essential oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the soymilk and flaxseeds in a small bowl and whisk well; set aside.
  3. Warm up the coconut oil to a liquid before measuring, and then mix in a large bowl with the sugar. Whisk until well combined, add the vanilla and peppermint. Add to flax mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl sift together the flours, cocoa, soda, salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, and mix until mostly combined, then add in the chocolate chips (I often have to mix with my hands because the dough gets very stiff).
  5. Roll into 1-inch balls, and flatten on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes, and let cool on the sheet for another five minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.   These will firm up significantly after a few hours.