For plant-based eaters who prefer a farmer’s market over an outdoor vegan fest, please know I get it. It’s not that vegan foods are bad, although there are certainly a lot of unhealthy ones out there, its that far too often these products contain oil, refined sugar, syrups, or other undesirable sweeteners, too much sodium, or ingredients that I can’t pronounce.
If most of your diet is whole food plant-based then very few commercially prepared foods are on your pantry’s shelf or in the refrigerator or freezer because finding really stellar products – foods made with top notch ingredients without all the additives, and that taste great – is tough (there is just no getting around being vigilant and reading labels).
Every once in a while, a truly great product is introduced (and it feels like a reward when you find it), which is the case with Granola Bites by the Organic Pantry Co. Granola Bites are tasty pieces of granola (almost like thin crunchy cookies) with mulberries (Cashew, Date & Mulberry) or coconut and raisins (Coconut, Cacao, and Raisin) : Read more
One of the challenges of eating a plant-based diet is finding ways to make desserts with little or no oil and no refined sugar. But, the challenge is deeper than that because a truly nutritious treat is also about what is included. Ideally, ingredients that stand alone as nutritious and delicious.
I started with a recipe called Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars by Dreena Burton and adapted the ingredients to come up with a recipe for Oat Bars that contain whole grain oats, whole grain oat flour, seeds, nuts, spices, date syrup, dark chocolate chips, and non-dairy milk. Basically, these bars are whole-grain and plant-based with no dairy, no oil, no refined sugar, and no eggs.
Oat Bars have a base of rolled oats and oat flour whose flavor is enhanced with what I call “the big 3” – pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips. The big 3 are simply three wholesome ingredients that are super tasty together. But, if you find raisins, walnuts, and sunflower seeds more to your liking, make a substitution. Read more
Making a moist and flavorful corn muffin without butter, oil, milk, refined sugar, or eggs used to be a challenge until I was inspired by a recipe for Double Corn Muffins in the Forks Over Knives Flavor cookbook by Darshana Thacker. Her recipe is excellent but I want a lighter muffin so I use whole grain spelt flour or Hayden Flour Mills all purpose flour (instead of whole wheat flour which is a heavier flour), medium grain cornmeal (instead of coarse) and add a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help leaven the muffins more than by using baking powder alone.
Whereas most corn muffins taste like corn but are often dry, these corn muffins are moist and delicious because fresh off-the-cob kernels are used along with medium coarse cornmeal and almond flour that provides just the right amount of granular texture. The result is best described as “the best ever corn muffins, period.” Read more
When I started making baked apples with a crumble made of oats, walnuts, dates, almond butter, and cinnamon, I often had leftover crumble that tasted delicious sprinkled over oatmeal, muesli, and cereal. Then I found myself making the crumble in bulk and keeping it in an airtight container in the refrigerator because I used it so often.
Realizing that I was on to something, I then made variations (i.e. omitted the cinnamon and add dark chocolate chips) and then found myself with two different types of crumble always in my refrigerator, one with a cinnamon emphasis and the other filled with dark chocolate chips. Read more
When I was young and first saw The Nutcracker, I was fascinated with the Sugar Plum Fairy who ruled over the Land of Sweets. I remember thinking she had the best job in the world (what could be better than ruling over a Candyland?). Forget about the Prince and Clara, I wanted the Sugar Plum Fairy’s job (until I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then I wanted Willy Wonka’s job but that’s another story).
Although I wasn’t a fan of sugarplums when I was a child (they reminded me of fruitcake), I grew to appreciate how sweet, delicate, and delicious a home-made sugarplum is, especially when I made them myself with the top quality ingredients. Read more
Ten years ago a black bean brownie wouldn’t have done it for me because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Back then my favorite brownie was made with a Ghiradelli boxed brownie mix blended with melted unsalted butter and eggs (yes, I am ashamed to admit this).
Fast forward a few years when I tasted a black bean brownie sold in a cafe called Fresh in Des Moines, Iowa. Moist and chewy with a deep dark chocolate flavor, the black bean brownie was simply delicious but I didn’t attempt to make my own until recently when I realized that it was time to figure out how to make a delicious but nutritious (key word) alternative to traditional brownies. Read more
My home was not the most popular house in the neighborhood last year on Halloween, for a variety of reasons. My next door neighbor went all out and gave full-sized name brand candy bars (i.e. Snickers, Hershey Bars, Milky Ways, etc) which gave them “most favored nation” status among trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood.
We gave out a variety of healthier treats several of which were sought after (i.e. Little Secrets, Nature’s Addict Fruit Sticks, Matt’s Munchies) and several which were not (anything that wasn’t sweet). One 4-year old summed it all up by saying “I want nothing” after surveying our Halloween treat basket full of packets of trail mix, pistachios, and crunchy dried fruit snacks. Read more
The granola market appears to be saturated with dozens of types of granola and, yet there’s always room for one or two more by Purely Elizabeth – a Boulder-based food company that makes the most popular granolas in the natural food market.
A label consumers can always trust, Purely Elizabeth recently introduced two Grain Free Superfood Granolas that are available only through Whole Foods Markets. Read more