granola muffins

These little vegan muffins were part of a cooking class featuring my favorite homemade granola. This class featured one of the best flavor variations- maple, pecan, and cinnamon. I learned the original granola recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, but I’ve adapted it many times over. These muffins feature your own homemade granola, should you be so ambitious, but they work perfectly well with store-bought granola if that is what you have. These treats are another way to add some healthy, clean snacks to your day. These are very simple muffins; add nuts, raisins, cacao nibs, or other yummy mix-ins as you see fit!

granola muffins

Homemade Granola Muffins

1½ cups homemade granola, divided
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
¼ cup vanilla soy yogurt
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds
¾ cup vanilla flavored non-dairy milk
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a muffin pan with coconut oil, or use muffins liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ¾ cup granola with the Earth Balance. Gently press together using a fork, until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk yogurt and flax together. Let stand one minute, then stir in milk, oil, agave, vanilla, and almond extract. Whisk until smooth.
  4. In another bowl sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir gently until well combined. Gently stir in remaining ¾ cup granola.
  6. Fill muffin cups evenly, and top with a sprinkle of granola/Earth Balance mixture. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

cooking class: raw superfood snacks!

I am no raw foodie… but I dabble in raw food prep because it is fun, and a good challenge, and sometimes raw foods are just what you need.  When I am pinched for time, I love me some Larabars– the raw, minimalist granola bars made from almonds, dates, walnuts, and fruits in various flavor combinations.  These lovely little bars are delicious, whole-food, easy snacks- and you can find them at most food stores- and they are pretty inexpensive.  But of all ‘convenience’ foods these have got to be the easiest damned things to make.  And so we did!

maca energy ball

In last week’s cooking class we mixed up nuts, dates, dried fruits, and raw superfoods to make four different kinds of Larabar-like goodies.  With only a food processor and a few minutes you too can make delicious home-made Larabars, in whatever flavor combination you love!  We made Hemp-Chia Protein Balls, Banana & Greens Balls, Maca Energy balls, and my personal favorite- and winner in the staff taste-tasting- Cacao & Cherry bars! Simply blend the ingredients into a food processor and press into bars or balls- the yield will vary depending on what shape you choose.  Some of the mixtures have less ‘stick’ than others, so experiement to find the best portable shape for you.  Or just replace miscellaneous dried fruits with dates in any recipe to increase the stickiness.  enjoy!

 

Hemp & Chia Protein Bars

crunchy sweet hemp & chia balls

¼ cup almonds
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup hemp seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
pinch salt
¼ cup dried apples
½ cup dried apricots
2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 tbsp coconut oil

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the dried fruit and the liquid ingredients.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids 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).

Banana & Greens Bars

1 cup almonds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp hemp seeds
pinch salt
3 tbsp greens powder (such as Amazing Grass, usually two packets)
½ cup dates, chopped and packed
½ cup dried banana, chopped
¼ cup almond butter
1 tbsp honey

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the greens powder along with fruits, almond butter, and honey.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids 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).

Maca Energy Balls

(see photo above!)

½ cup almonds
½ cup cashews
pinch salt
3 tbsp maca powder
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup dried banana, chopped and packed
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water (more for texture if necessary)

1.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
2.   Add in the maca, cacao powder, and cinnamon along with the dried fruits and the liquid ingredients.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
3.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids 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). Top with a goji berry for cuteness.

Cacao & Cherry Bars

cacao & cherry bars with chocolate glaze... mmmmmm

1 cup almonds
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup raw cacao powder
pinch salt
½ cup dates
½ cup dried cherries
1 tsp cherry flavor (or vanilla extract)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

chocolate glaze (optional)

2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1.   First make the chocolate glaze: mix the liquid (melted) coconut oil with the maple syrup and the cacao until smooth.  Set aside in a warm place until ready to use.
2.   Add nuts, seeds, and salt into food processor.  Blend until very small chunks- much like the texture of sand.
3.   Add in the cacao, dried fruits, and the liquids.  Blend again, until mixture begins to thicken and stick together inside.
4.   Check the texture of the mixture by pinching a bit between your fingers; if it is slightly sticky and keeps its shape, it is ready! Add more liquids if mixture is too dry.
5.   Pour into a bowl and then shape with your hands into balls (or press into a pan to flatten).  Sprinkle or pour chocolate glaze onto bars. Refrigerate to set the glaze. Devour!

gourmet camping

last weekend my farmer man and i headed upcountry for some camping.  we picked polipoli state park in kula, situated above the cloudline at about 6000 feet.  we are accustomed to shoreline living and consistently hot weather, and it must be said that 6000 feet is a very different world indeed.  basically, we froze our skinny butts off.  it was about 60 degrees when we arrived in late afternoon, and about 40 degrees at night; couple that with the sound of falling branches and gusty wind from the top of haleakala, and it’s pretty obvious why we didn’t sleep very much that night.

most people think of maui as a tropical, beachy paradise, and… well, it is!  romantic (expensive) seaside hotels, fancy waterfront dining, lots of pretty white sand beaches, and *great* surf breaks make for an islandgrrly’s dream.  but because of our 10,000 ft volcanic mountain haleakala (house of the sun) we also have a huge variation in climate.  this allows things like strawberries, figs, and stonefruits to be grown in the cooler temperatures on the mountain slopes, while papaya, pineapples, coconuts and bananas grow at sea level.  i took these photos this weekend to show that maui is more than beaches…

we had heaps of fun: a long country drive with lots of coffee and good music, a beautifully cool evening, a five-mile morning hike, and stocking up at mana foods on the way home.

but, more importantly, we ate a bunch of good food while we were away.  like the title of this post, we joked that it was gourmet camping.  on saturday the boyfriend cooked up some mean eats for the camping dinner, and later in the fading mountain twilight we enjoyed lentil & shitake pilaf in kabocha pumpkin and sweet potato, garlic and sage ‘packets.’  for the morning i prepared organic green tea and organic peruvian coffee for our caffeine-addicted selves, as well as maple spelt muffins, local apple bananas, and more coffee.  not so bad for ‘camping food!’  we did have some technical difficulties because the boyfriend forgot the pan to heat our food in, so we improvised, using lava rocks on the camping stove to heat the potatoes and the liquids.  we did not have a real fire because all of maui is in suffering from dangerous drought conditions and much of the forest is charred as it is… sad but true.  so we used a little gas stove balanced on the cooler.

lentil & carrot pilaf in kabocha pumpkin

trying to cook outside

1 kabocha pumpkin, halved and baked
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves of garlic
4-6 shitake mushrooms, fresh or soaked for 20 minutes in hot water
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked lentils
2 carrots, sliced thinly
2 tbsp earth balance or olive oil
handful of crushed, toasted nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts)

halve and scrape the seeds from the kabocha.  bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, checking with a fork for doneness (fork should pass right through the skin and flesh).  set aside and let it cool.

in a large saute pan cook the onions in the earth balance or oil, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until everything is soft.  add the carrots and cook for one minute, until just softening.  add the cooked lentils and brown rice and stir to combine.  turn off the heat, sprinkle with the crushed nuts, and let it cool for about 15 minutes.  when the rice is cool, fill the halves of the kabocha and wrap in foil until ready to eat (outside or in!)

potato packets on the stove

sweet potato, garlic and sage ‘packets

1 large sweet potato or yam
handful of fresh sage leaves
4 cloves of garlic
3-4  tbsp of earth balance

slice the potato into 1/2 inch thick slices and set aside.  chop the garlic and the sage.  heat the earth balance in a pan and add the garlic, cooking until soft.  add the sage leaves at the last minute and cook until just wilted.  dredge the potato slices in the garlic mixture, then bake for 15-20 minutes in your oven.  or, simply wrap them up and cook them in the firepit or barbecue.

get out of the kitchen and get outside!

totally easy seitan

now that i’ve had many months to practice makin’ seitan, i have streamlined the recipe to make the whole process even easier. seriously, with only four ingredients and with 1 hour + 10 minutes you can have fresh seitan to impress your loved ones. how cool is that…?

very easy homemade seitan
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cups nutritional yeast flakes
(optional) 1 tbsp total herbs/spices such as smoked paprika, pepper, garlic flakes, thyme, etc.
1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup soy sauce or braggs (to make it soy-free substitute coconut aminos!)

broth: 10 cups of water homemade broth + 1/4 cup soy sauce/coconut aminos + some ice cubes to keep it very cold

make the broth first: fill up your biggest pot with the water and soysauce and add some ice cubes to keep it very cold.  don’t worry about the exact measurements.

mix the gluten and nutritional flakes in a dry bowl, add herbs if you are using, then add the very cold water and soy sauce.  mix well (first with a spatula, then with your hands works best for me), until it is very spongy and one big doughy mass; there may be some liquid that does not bind with the seitan- don’t worry about it.   let the dough sit for a few minutes, then tear or slice into three equal sized pieces and drop into your broth.  bring the broth to a boil, then simmer at medium/low heat for 1 hour.  stir the pieces halfway through (using tongs or a wooden spoon) so they don’t stick.  let it cool completely in the broth; store in the broth in the fridge for up to a week.

the best way to cook this here fresh seitan:

cut into 1/2 thick slices and grill until browned in a cast iron pan or a nice non-stick pan, for about 10 minutes each side.

i like using peanut oil, but organic canola also works well to brown it nicely.

a note for soy-free seitan:

i made this for a cooking class, and it turned out better than ever!  the coconut aminos adds a nice sweetness, and while it is quite salty, it’s not nearly as salty as braggs or soy sauce.  also, using the homemade broth adds a deep rich flavor to the seitan that makes it work the extra time on the stove!

so much mana!

three of my favorite things about moving to maui:

i got this photo from their site!

1. stunning wild open scenery, viewing molokai and lanai from my windows and doin a little bit of country livin (for now).
2. the abundance and variation of locally grown organics (sprouts! kales! squashes! salad greens! coffee! honey! eggs! pineapples!
3. mana foods! check out their blog here!

mana foods is, seriously, the best health food store on the planet.  somehow this relatively small and totally independent grocery store (with (raw) bakery, (raw) deli, bulk, and wicked good produce section) manages to have to best prices, the best selection, and best produce on the island… or anywhere.  really, ANYWHERE!

i wonder how long it will last....

for example, when i first arrived here, knowing that i would be settling in for awhile on the valley isle, i asked the friendly guy who was stocking groceries about purchasing coconut oil in bulk.  i was not directed to the manager or to the baking department, nor was it necessary to fill out myriad of forms to acquire my product.  it was literally right on the shelf.  one gallon of nutiva coconut oil! and it was on sale for $53! it is nearly the same price on the nutiva website, but shipping to hawaii is surely more than three dollars…

now really, have you ever been to a health food store, especially a teeny one on a supposedly small island, and found a gallon of coconut oil? not even whole foods can do that.  a note: it took me four months to empty this gallon of coconut oil.  the recipes including dozens of scones, muffins, cakes, dressings, and cooking adventures.  soon i will have to get another gallon!

i’ve been using coconut oil in almost everything now: cooking, baking, greasing baking pans, seasoning my cast iron pan (i’ve  switched to peanut oil for my cast iron pan because it can withstand higher heat than the coconut oil, which smokes easily).

i also use coconut oil for body stuff.  i use a mix of aloe vera gel and coconut oil as a face & body lotion, and a few times a week i use this nice little face or body scrub. i made this recipe after reading labels for those one-ounce containers of $30 scrubs which are made of just sugar and coconut oil.  this scrub is so easy, functional, and inexpensive!

i love the way it makes my skin look and feel!

warming face + body scrub

3 tbsp fine turbinado sugar
3 tbsp brown rice flour
2 tbsp coconut oil (solid or liquid)
1 tsp each warm spices (i used nutmeg + cinnamon + a pinch of cloves)

mix up the brown rice flour, sugar and spices, then add the coconut oil and mix. it will be crumbly at first, but the solid oil will disperse evenly within the dry ingredients. mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed, and keep in a cute little glass jar beside your sink; my last batch lasted a month. i use this on my face in the morning with some warm water, and then rinse with dr bronners soap.  the sugar and the flour maintain their ‘crunch’ for months, whether the oil is solid or liquid.