Tag Archives: bananas

Leftover Almond Butter Shake

I presume you are all familiar with “oats in a jar” (if not, see the bottom of this post). The idea is to use your steaming hot oats as a convenient means of melting and absorbing the hard-to-get nut butter at the bottom of the jar.

Well, what about when you make homemade nut butter – in this case, roasted almond butter? Perhaps the only thing more frustrating than nut butter stuck at the bottom of a jar is nut butter stuck at the bottom of a blender, cached on the bottom of the blades. And if you didn’t want to waste the dregs of your store-bought nut butter, you sure as hell don’t want to waste your homemade dregs!

Spare your rubber spatula a blade-induced beating and let your trusty blender do the hard work! You just sit back, relax, and work on that cushion you’ve been embroidering. Or if you don’t live in an Austen novel, you can just stop at relax.

“Bottom of the Barrel” Nut Butter Shake

Frozen banana
Cinnamon
Non-dairy milk/water
A few ice cubes
Nut butter-coated blender or food processor bowl

Just throw your ingredients in and blend away. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a template for a fun way to save your precious nut butter, so throw in whatever (and as much) you want. Berries, pumpkin, coconut, chocolate, whatever! The important part is that you’re being resourceful.

Note: drinking your leftover nut butter shake from a glass dharma straw makes it taste better. Just like eating oats out of a jar makes them taste better. Trust me.


Testing in the Raw

It’s not as intense as it sounds, I swear – actually, it’s pretty warm and fuzzy.

I’m lucky enough to be testing recipes for my favorite cookbook author (and friend), Dreena Burton! (You’ve seen me rave about her soups here…) Well, it turns out, she makes pretty darn good raw desserts too.

I’ve tested two of these delectable delicacies thus far. Chocolate Avocado Mousse, because you’re worth it. Oh wait, is that slogan taken?

I’ve had variations on chocolate avocado pudding before, but I’ve never made it myself; my Vitamix inspires me to reach new heights, what can I say?

I’m not at liberty to disclose the ingredients of this dreamy whipped mousse, but let’s just say it’s simple and healthy! Plus, the mousse is thick enough that it could even work as a frosting, methinks.

If veggies in pudding frighten you – they shouldn’t, but I’m not judging! – fear not. Dreena’s upcoming book will still satisfy your raw taste buds. Only Dreena Burton could create raw, non-dairy cream cheese frosting. Genius.

Raw Banana Nut Squares with Coconut “Cream Cheese” Frosting. These “buttery” bars – on a base reminiscent of graham crackers – are loaded with healthy fats and homestyle taste. With flavors much more complex and familiar than your run-of-the-mill raw dessert, these babies were a hit at the party my mom brought them to. Even skeptical omnis couldn’t resist.

More Dreena testers to come!

Babycakes NYC in…LA?!

My friends and I have been making as many vegan field trips into LA as possible the past few weeks because we figure, the deeper into the semester we get, the less feasible such trips will be. And, c’mon, second to New York City, LA definitely has the most vegan restaurants of any US city! (Obviously not talking about the number of vegan restaurants per capita…I think Portland would win that.)

First on our list was Babycakes NYC, which just opened their LA location a few weeks ago!

We went late in the day, so about half of their displays were empty. :( Even so, we didn’t exactly go hungry.

I got a vanilla spelt cupcake with chocolate frosting, but my first bite was a little unnerving. The frosting was sort of salty, and the cupcake was dry with a weird aftertaste. The staff at Babycakes was super sweet though, and immediately allowed me to replace it. I must have gotten a dud. Either way, I don’t mean this to be a negative review because they were so great about getting me a new one as soon as I expressed my discontent.

My second (and much more delicious!) cupcake was a gluten-free banana cupcake.

Although I generally prefer less sweet banana baked goods, like banana bread, this cupcake was still extremely yummy. The cupcake was moist and flavorful, and the frosting was perfect as well–just a little bit tart and cream cheese-y, but still sweet enough to qualify as a cupcake topper.

Still, not even my banana cupcake was as good as the gluten-free chocolate brownie cupcakes that my three friends got. I would definitely opt for that one next time!

Naturally, we had to take a bunch of baked goodies to go–who knows when we’ll be back next? I picked up a cinnamon bun and a chipwich.

Did I say cinnamon bun? I meant Skinny Bun! At least, that’s what Babycakes calls ‘em! All I have to say about this spelt bun was that it rocked my breakfast world. A bit crumbly on the inside, but, hey–this was the next day, reheated in a microwave! It wasn’t overly sweet, the raisins were a nice touch, and I loved the buttery mouthfeel provided by the coconut oil!

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat my Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich for breakfast (even I have some discipline). But I did eat it as a snack!

Made with two gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and a gob of vanilla frosting, this guy was even better than its ice cream counterpart that I’ve had in the past. First of all, you don’t have to worry about meltage. Second, this chipwich was just plain good–no explanation needed. Super sweet frosting, check. Crunchy cookies with a bit of salt to complement sweet frosting, check.

Finally, I had a slice of GF Lemon Poppyseed bread that my friend James gave to me. I slathered it with some TJ’s Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam, and called it a morning.

Who knew lemon and strawberry went so well together? (Well, obviously I did, but whatever.)

Whether you’re in NYC or LA, I definitely recommend hitting up your local Babycakes. The worst that can happen is that you get a mediocre cupcake that you’re more than welcome to exchange for another (though I don’t think that’s likely), and the best that can happen is that you’re admitted into wheat-free dessert heaven. Your choice.

Next time, I’m going bright ‘n early though, so I can take my pick from a fully stocked display. I have a hankering for on of their “toasties,” and maybe that GF brownie cupcake. ;)

Cookies for Breakfast

Well, not just cookies (though i don’t have a problem with that either). I’m talking about incorporating cookies into an otherwise balanced breakfast!

I had some Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies from my package swap with Lindsay at Cooking for a Vegan Lover, and decided that their best use would be to add a little sweetness to my mornings.

I give you: Sweet Potato Smoothie with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

I just blended up a frozen banana, sweet potato purée, soy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, a dollop of maple syrup, and some ice cubes, then crumbled half a cookie on top (these are BIG cookies).

I liked the sweet potato/ginger/molasses combination, so I stuck with the same theme for a bowl of oat bran the next day.

Sweet Potato Oat Bran with Ginger Cookie Crumbles!

What a carb fest. In a good way.

What random toppings to you all use for smoothies, oats, and/or soy yogurt? I still have to try the ice cream-topped oat bran that was floating around the blog world a few months ago…

Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Thanks for all the good luck wishes, everyone! Apparently, they were effective because I ran my half marathon in 1:57:21, a full 13.26 minutes faster than my first one in September. That’s basically a minute less per mile!

It was an awesome experience running a race in my hometown (well it started in Phoenix, but ended in my hometown, Tempe). Fun fact: the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in Phoenix is the largest same day marathon/half marathon in the United States! This year, there were over 30,000 runners!

This race was also special because I was running for Team Tempe to help raise money for local charities. Of course running is highly personal and when it came down to it, I ran for me; but it was nice to help others in the process!

I’m really proud of my time since I was only able to train intensively for two and a half weeks. Out of the 1,144 in my division (F 18-24), I came in 154th!

I loved running the Disney one with my good friend, Chelsea, but it was also really nice having my parents there to greet me at the end (my dad took the photo).

Wonder what the perfect post-race vegan meal is?

Oats in a jar, of course! Well banana-vanilla-cinnamon-date oat bran in a PB jar to be exact. Normally, I can’t eat this much, but I was really hungry for obvious reasons. :) This baby really hit the spot.

Hot, gooey, lovely mess. Taken with my new Canon 60mm macro lens!

Is running 13.1 miles really that hard when you have this breakfast waiting for you at home?

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

Oldie, But Goodie

Okay, so I know every vegan worth his or her coarse sea salt has made banana bread–and probably even this very recipe for banana bread–countless times, but the Vcon Lower-Fat Banana Bread just doesn’t get old!

I’ve made this bread more times than I’ve been asked where I get my protein from. ;)
In fact, given that I bake this bread (along with some other goodies) weekly for the Motley Coffeehouse here at the Claremont Colleges, I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore! Plus, if I did mess up–which, um, would never happen–the recipe’s so forgiving, it wouldn’t matter.

This loaf was made, as I always do, with whole wheat pastry flour, half a package of chocolate chips (TJ’s brand, baby!), and, the one new thing I tried, banana slices on top! I just sliced half a banana really thin, laid them on top, and slightly pressed them down into the batter. It made a really cool pattern when the bread rose around them too, as you can see in the first photo!

I know this is kind of nerdy, but I love that this bread slices so beautifully. It also helps that I use more bananas than called for (I do 3 large or 4 small instead of 2 large or 3 small), so there’s no crumbly dryness to deal with, and that I let it set overnight before cutting into it. Still, lovely.