Peanut butter protein brownie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownie of the Gods

What do you get when you cross a five pound tub of protein powder with an impending 36-hour house arrest due to black ice and subzero temperatures?

A chocolate peanut butter protein brownie of the gods.

BOOMsauce!™ Rob

When I started Crossfit, I switched to whey protein powder (from my usual hemp). I wanted to cut back on the large quantities of fruit I was putting into my morning smoothies, and whey has always been my favorite tasting powder. (I try to avoid dairy/casein because I love my cow friends and hate the factory farming that brings dairy to my door, but it’s doggone hard to get enough protein without it unless I’m dedicated to cooking at home – which right now, I don’t have time for). I ordered a 5# tub of chocolate whey protein powder, and yowza! That’s a big tub of protein powder.

After eating too much cheesecake last weekend (and in the cheesecake-hangover week that followed), I’ve had cake-like things on my mind. So at lunch today, I found myself googling around for protein brownie recipes. Somebody has got to have figured this out by now, right? Well, unsurprisingly, there are quite a few recipes out there in the wild – but none of them looked quite like the brownie of my dreams. Most looked a bit dry.

So I took it upon myself to mash up a few different recipes. I also used this opportunity to try something I’ve wanted to test out for some time now – black beans in baked goods. (So, no, this recipe isn’t Paleo-friendly if you’re avoiding beans. It could be gluten free if you use gluten free oat flour or make your own oat flour from gluten free oats).

I am definitely not a natural in the kitchen, so I was fully prepared for this recipe to flop. Imagine my surprise when I took this gooey, peanut buttery, chocolatey amazingness out of the oven. It smelled so good and tasted amazing! It is truly not far off from the insane, sugary dessert of your dreams – minus most of the sugar. The macro profile is, dare I say, fantastic for a brownie, and it rivals my typical breakfast protein smoothie.

Some details on my version:

  • I used Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard protein powder in Chocolate.
  • I used homemade almond milk, unstrained. (For a full batch: 1 cup raw almonds, 4 cups water, 2 minutes in the Vitamix on high. Enjoy!) You could swap any dairy or non-dairy milk. My version is a little more caloric than commercial almond milk, but has 5x the protein and all of the nutrition of the whole nuts, with no chemicals or other junk.
  • I used a whole cup of peanut butter chips, because I am obsessed with peanut butter. A normal person would probably use 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
  • I used 2 tbsp agave, because the batter after 1 tbsp was just a little too bitter from the cocoa. These are not super-sweet – just a little sweet. You could opt to sweeten them with honey or stevia or whatever else you like – just be sure to adjust the amounts. (Stevia, for example, is a bit sweeter than agave, so you’d want to use less).
  • 1 cup of black beans is about 2/3 of a standard can (about 200g). I was tempted to use the whole can for convenience’s sake, but I was winging it as it was, so I didn’t want to get too frisky.
  • The coconut oil can probably be eliminated, but I wanted it in there, because – coconut oil. Don’t hate.
  • Most people could probably cut the pan into 12-15 smaller brownies, but I am not most people. Big honkin brownie get in mah belleh! I cut the pan into 9 good-sized brownies – big enough to be a quick breakfast or lunch (as opposed to snack-sized). (Besides, cutting an uneven balance of rows and columns into a square pan would not sit well with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies).
  • The can of black beans I used that expired 3 months ago tasted fine and hasn’t killed me yet.

Here are the nutrition facts, based on my version described above:

  • 20g protein, 29g carb (14g sugar, 4g fiber),  13g fat

Peanut butter protein brownie nutrition

 

Most similar recipes recommended storing these in the fridge, so I’ve put mine into an airtight container in the refrigerator – but they were definitely tasty warm and fresh from the oven.

The aftermath:

Empty plate

He gone!

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownies

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 9-12)

    Dry Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • 1/4 cup oat flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 cup whey protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
    • 1 cup peanut butter chips (or less, if you’re less obsessed with pb)

    Wet Ingredients

    • 1 cup black beans (cooked and drained)
    • 1/3 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
    • 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
    • 2 tbsp agave nectar (or other sweetener, to taste)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp coconut oil

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Whisk together all dry ingredients except for the peanut butter chips. Set aside.
    3. Melt coconut oil (about 30 seconds in the microwave).
    4. In a food processor or blender, mix the wet ingredients (including the melted coconut oil) until smooth, about 1 minute.
    5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
    6. Stir until well combined.
    7. Fold in peanut butter chips.
    8. Pour batter into baking pan.
    9. Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until top has set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    10. Cool completely, then cut into 9-12 squares.

    Enjoy!

    Store covered in the refrigerator.

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    The Super Bowl – Remember That?

    This is a recipe I made for the Super Bowl party I hosted this year.

    Yes, I realize the Super Bowl was 2 months ago.

    It’s a recipe for a hot artichoke and goat cheese dip.

    Yes, I realize it is not vegan. Allow me to digress a bit to explain why you’ll be seeing some vegetarian (but not vegan) recipes for a little bit here.

    The Super Bowl kicked off not long after a harsh diagnosis of cancer for my best kitty buddy, Goose. He’d been sick for a couple months at that point, and would die 6 weeks later. (Sorry to harsh your mellow… it definitely harshed mine). The daily medical care and feeding (and eventually, the loss of my buddy) have taken their toll on me emotionally. Dairy (and believe it or not, eggs) have found their way back into my diet… for now. I’m sorry, my cow and hen friends. I can only take so much. So things will be vegetarian around here for a little while, at least.

    Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

    Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

    This dip is an attempt at a recreation of a fantastic rendition from Mas Tapas restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s not spot-on; I suspect theirs might actually be healthier than this one. But I won’t lie – I ate the leftovers of this dip every day for a week!

    If you’d have told me I’d like goat cheese, I’d have told you you’re crazy. Turns out, it’s pretty darn tasty.

    Hot Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip

    by Shelly

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Keywords: bake appetizer vegetarian artichoke goat cheese

    Ingredients (12 servings)

    • 1 can artichoke hearts
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayo
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
    • 6 ounces goat cheese, softened

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.

    2. In food processor, combine onions, garlic, mayo, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and goat cheese.

    3. Blend, and slowly add in the artichoke hearts (to leave some texture).

    4. Spoon into a casserole dish.

    5. Bake dip uncovered for 30 minutes.

    6. Serve hot with bread, crackers, bruschetta, tortilla chips, or veggies.

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    Chocolate Chip Cookies Gone Wild

    Chocolate chip cookies + peanut butter + pretzels.

    Salty, sweet goodness.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest (where I lose way too many hours of my life).

    Chocolate Chip Cookies Gone Wild

    by Shelly Hokanson

    Prep Time: 10

    Cook Time: 12

    Keywords: bake dessert snack sweets vegan vegetarian pretzels chocolate chips peanut butter chips cookie

    Ingredients (18 cookies)

    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • scant 2/3 cup canola oil
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
    • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
    • 1/2 cup crushed pretzels (about 1 large handful)

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Combine brown sugar, white sugar, oil, soy milk, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until a syrupy consistency is reached.

    Mix in vanilla.

    Add baking soda, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix until well combined.

    Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and mix.

    Fold in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pretzels.

    Roll the dough into balls (a large cookie scoop works well). Flatten and place on cookie sheet.

    Bake for 12-13 minutes until edges start to brown.

    Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

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    Concord grape jam, 1/2 hour later

    Epic Concord Grape Freezer Jam

    Last week, I promised you my recipe for (epic) Concord grape freezer jam, and I am a girl of my word!

    But first, some backstory.

    A couple weeks ago, I went shopping at the new Friendly City Food Co-Op here in downtown H’burg. (They’re open to the public – go there now!). I was out of grapes – the seedless kind that I can eat mindlessly while moseying to work. At the checkout counter, the clerk asked if I’d ever eaten Concord grapes.

    Nope.

    He excitedly ran around the counter, plucked a bunch off of the grape stand, and handed them to me. “They have seeds, and some people don’t like to eat the skins, but I just eat the whole thing. They’re so good!” he said. I pondered how I was going to gracefully eat a grape with seeds and inedible skins while standing in line at the grocery store. Whatevs! I ate a grape.

    Holy $%&!! It tasted like grape jelly!

    All these years, I thought that grape jelly was just some sort of frankenfood, because it never tasted like grapes. I figured it must have been a made-up flavor, just called “grape” for some weird reason. It never struck me that I was eating the “wrong” kind of grapes, or that grape jelly was made from grapes other than the red and green seedless ones I was used to eating. Duh. So, I’m a little slow. My Food IQ has been traditionally very low!

    I was immediately determined to make my own Concord grape freezer jam.

    After much Googling, it became clear to me that nobody on the planet had recorded a simple account of their Concord grape freezer jam making experience. I found hodge-podge mash-ups of partial methods, tons of half-arsed instructions, and many traditional jam methods (with the whole boil-your-jars and all that jazz) – but no true freezer jam methods.

    Fear not, my friends. I made freezer jam from Concord grapes, and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it. The results are divinely delicious – dare I say, epic.

    Unlike most freezer jam, Concord grape jam does require a little cooking – but don’t worry. It’s nothing hardcore (though you can call it hardcore if you’re going for a more bad-ass jar of jam. The whole grape peeling part surely earns you some bad-ass kitchen cred).

    You’ll need a food processor (or immersion blender or something of that nature), a fine sieve/strainer, a potato masher, a medium sized sauce pan, a medium bowl, a small bowl, 3 8-oz jam jars/lids, 2/3 cup sugar or other sweetener by equivalent sweetness, not volume (separated 1/3 and 1/3), and 2 Tbsp no-cook instant pectin. You can use less sugar if you’d like a less sweet jam.

    Let’s rock it:

    1. Buy some Concord grapes. A small batch of jam is three 8-oz jars. To make that, you’ll need just under 2 cups of prepared grapes (about 1 2/3 cups, in my case), and for me, that required 3 containers of grapes. The container said 1 liter, but that made no sense. My containers were the ones that measure about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. 3 of those.

    2. Peel those grapes. Pull a grape off the stem, then squeeze the end between your thumb and forefinger. The guts of the grape will slide out easily. Put the guts into a saucepan, and the peel into your food processor. It took me a little over an hour to peel all those grapes. Employing child labor here might be wise.

    Peeled Concord grapes

    Grape guts: peeled Concord grapes

    3. Once all of your grape guts are in the sauce pan, add a little bit of water (no more than 1/3 cup) and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Why? Because this is the easiest way to separate the seeds.

    Concord grape skins

    Concord grape skins

    4. In the meantime, your skins should now be collected in the food processor. Add 1/3 cup sugar and process until smooth. Be careful – this is where things have the potential to get REALLY messy. The skins don’t make much of a mess themselves, but once you puree them, the purple will stain anything and everything. (I am the Voice of Experience).

    Blending Concord grape skins with sugar

    Blending Concord grape skins with sugar

    5. Turn the heat off the grape guts (OK fine… pulp… the grape pulp…). Grab your sieve, and position it over a bowl. Pour the grape pulp into the sieve and mash the pulp through the sieve with a potato masher. Your goal here is to remove all of the seeds but get as much pulp through as possible.

    Mash the grape guts to separate seeds

    Mash the grape guts to separate seeds

    6. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with 2 Tbsp instant pectin.

    7. Pour the pureed grape skin mixture into the sauce pan with the grape pulp. Add the sugar/pectin mixture. Stir for 3 minutes.

    Add the pureed skins to the grape guts

    Add the pureed skins to the grape guts

    8. Ladle the grape mixture into jam jars. Make sure to leave 1/2 inch of head space at the top of each jar so that there’s room for expansion during freezing. You don’t want grape jam exploding all over your freezer.

    9. Let the jars sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

    Concord grape jam, 1/2 hour later

    Concord grape jam, 1/2 hour later

    10. Refrigerate jars that will be eaten within 3 weeks. Freeze the rest. Done!

    The jam will thicken over time, though it’s perfectly spreadable right away.

    Concord grape jam, 1 day later

    Concord grape jam, 1 day later

    While Concord grape jam is a little more labor intensive than other freezer jams due to the peeling and de-seeding process, what I appreciate most (besides the simple, pure deliciousness of unadulterated jam) is that I know exactly what’s in my jam. By that, I mean – I know for a fact there are no chemicals, no genetically modified sweeteners, no junk. My jars of jam contain organic Concord grapes, pectin, and vegan cane sugar. End of story. My jam is cheaper than buying pre-made organic stuff, and tastes so much better!

    As a result of making this wonderful jam, I’ve been eating way too many PB&J’s. This picture was taken a few days after making the jam. It’s even thicker now.

    Concord grape jam

    Concord grape jam

    So, there you have it! Epic Concord grape freezer jam in 10 easy steps!

    Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

    A Base Hit

    So, my first attempt at recreating the apple quinoa salad I had at the Whole Foods bar last month wasn’t exactly a knock-it-outta-the-park home run, but I’d call it a base hit.

    After some recipe hounding and some creative guessing, I came up with the first draft of the recipe:

    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 2 cups apple juice
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 2 apples, diced
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

    Toast the quinoa dry, in a saucepan, for 3 minutes while dicing the apples. Add OJ and apple juice to the quinoa, along with all the spices. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, and maple syrup, and simmer 10 more minutes. Stir in almonds and serve.

    It smelled wonderful and looked wonderful….

    Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

    Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

    … but alas, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste.

    That said, I have a *very* low sweetness threshold these days, as I don’t really eat anything sweetened anymore. My sweets come from fresh fruit. So this may be spot-on for somebody with a “normal” sweet tooth. I mean, there’s not even any added sugar, unless you count the maple syrup.

    Next time I make this (and it’s definitely good enough to try again), these are my planned modifications:

    • Prep the quinoa with water instead of the apple juice/OJ combo.
    • Use 1 apple instead of 2. (This is just a preference thing – I was hoping the quinoa would be the star, but with so much apple, the apple was the star – which is fine if that’s what you’re going for!)
    • Cut the maple syrup back to 1 tbsp.

    I’d say this recipe made 8 small servings. I enjoyed it warm last night and chilled this morning, and it works well either way. It reminds me of the flavors of apple pie – a nice twist on an American classic for this Independence Day weekend!

    Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

    Lies of Omission

    So, I’ve been keeping something from you.

    It’s a sandwich – one that I’ve now eaten 3 days in a row.

    I didn’t mean to. I thought about sharing. The first time, I was just too hungry to stop and grab the camera.

    The second time, I started to prep the sammy for picture time, but it just wasn’t photogenic enough to bother.

    Well, the sandwich still isn’t very photogenic, but it’s so darn tasty that I was overcome with guilt today as I made it for, yes, a third time.

    So here you go – my current crush of a sandwich:

    Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

    Avocado Spinach Panini and Asparagus

    It’s the Avocado Spinach Panini [recipe], inspired by the recipe in the July/Aug 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times.

    My version is a slight modification on the original. It’s essentially (for one sandwich):

    • half an avocado, mashed
    • 1/8 of an onion, diced
    • a generous smear of garlic hummus
    • a small handful of baby spinach
    • some sundried tomatoes
    • smashed between two slices of bread and pressed for 4 minutes on the panini press

    I’m currently enjoying the High Five Fiber loaf from Great Harvest Bread Company in Palos Heights, IL. If you’ve never had Great Harvest bread, you MUST check to see if there’s a GH near you. Their breads use simple, real food ingredients and fresh whole grain flours – ground daily! The flavor is incredible, and I’m so glad that I found GH at my local farmer’s market. I’ve been looking forward to shopping at GH Charlottesville once I get to Virginia, but it has been so delicious enjoying it here in the meantime!

    Of course, I still suck at cutting bread loaves, so my slices are WAY huge. So, people, do not take these photos as an example of how much in grains you should eat at a meal. Leave that to MyPlate! My slices probably end up being 2.5 servings, at least!

    But just look at this hot, gooey mess…

    Avocado Spinach Panini

    Avocado Spinach Panini

    Oh, it is so good.

    Mashing the avocado is definitely key. I had trouble in my first two attempts with the avocado slices falling out on the panini press or when I tried to eat the sandwich. The mashing also adds to the gooey-factor.

    Side note: I’m eating asparagus like french fries now. Loooooove asparagus!

    Fave way to prep asparagus: trim off the rough stems. Spray with a little olive oil spray. Sprinkle with veggie seasoning (I’m currently in love with McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Vegetable Seasoning. Yeah, the ingredient list is less than whole-foods-stellar, but it is mighty tasty). Then grill for 3 minutes. (Ahh, this is where having the Griddler is awesome sauce!)

    So, as we embark upon this holiday weekend, I urge you to enjoy a tasty sandwich, grill up some veggies, and share some good times with the ones you love. 🙂

    Raspberry Freezer Jam

    First Shot at Freezer Jam

    Freezer jam, baby!

    I’d never heard of freezer jam before Lifehacker mentioned it last week, but now that I’ve been enlightened, I can’t believe I’ve spent my life in the dark! Here’s the article linked from Lifehacker on How to Make No-Cook Freezer Jam.

    Since I started the whole organic/whole-foods thing last year, I’ve tried a lot of new things in the kitchen (like, turning on the oven). I’ve always loved the idea of making cute little jars of stuff to give as gifts – jams, nut butters, etc. I’ve had grand intentions to try making some of these things.

    This afternoon, when I realized the farmer’s market would be open for a mere 30 minutes more, I jumped in the Jeep and flew over there hoping to restock my fruit supplies. I made it – and one of my favorite dear farmers had some terribly beat up raspberries. “They were just picked this morning, but they didn’t survive the ride up here very well.” (He comes up from central Illinois). No worries, sir! I’ll take some of those raspberries off your hands.

    What’s the time….? It’s jam time!

    So what the heck is freezer jam? It’s an easy-to-make, no-cook jam that can be stored in the fridge for 2-4 weeks, or in the freezer up to a year. It’s not shelf-stable, so it has to be kept frozen for long-term storage, but hey. That’s no problem! Just don’t ever leave freezer jam out at room temperature. It will spoil.

    The basic instructions: get yourself some Ball canning jars (I went with the small 8 oz. ones). The ones with straight sides are least likely to crack in the freezer, though they do make (ugly) plastic freezer-safe ones. I’ll take my chances! Grab a box of instant pectin (Ball also makes this – and I was able to buy both at Walmart). There are several varieties of pectin, but some require cooking/boiling. The instant kind doesn’t require cooking. Get yourself some fruit and your sweetener of choice, and have at it!

    There’s an awesome recipe calculator (they call it a “pectin calculator”) on the web site listed on the Ball package – FreshPreserving.com. For most cases, it goes something like this:

    • 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit
    • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
    • 2/3 cup sugar (or equivalent other sweetener by sweetness, not by volume)

    Now, I had a heck of a hard time figuring out how much un-crushed fruit equaled 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit. Plus, I was pureeing my fruit, so I’m sure the 1 2/3 recommendation was too much for pureed fruit. I went with 2 cups un-crushed fruit. Some tips I found: A quart of strawberries makes approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups of crushed strawberries. 1 pound of fruit without pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit, or 1 1/2 pounds of fruit with pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit.

    Here’s the recipe I used:

    • 2 cups un-crushed fruit
    • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
    • 1/3 cup agave nectar

    It made two 8-oz jars per recipe. (So, I ended up with 2 jars of raspberry jam and 2 jars of strawberry jam).

    Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

    Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

    Mix the agave and pectin in a bowl and stir well. Be sure to dissolve any clumps.

    Pectin and agave nectar

    Pectin and agave nectar

    For round 1, I used raspberries.

    Raspberries in the food processor

    Raspberries in the food processor

    For round 2, I used strawberries.

    Strawberries in the food processor

    Strawberries in the food processor

    Pour 2 cups of fruit into the food processor and process until smooth.

    Pureed Raspberries

    Pureed Raspberries

    Add the pectin/agave mixture to the food processor and whir for 30 seconds or so until everything is well combined.

    Pour the mixture into Ball jars. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to firm up.

    Raspberry Freezer Jam

    Raspberry Freezer Jam

    Store in the fridge for 2-4 weeks if you’ll be enjoying your jam immediately, or in the freezer for storage up to a year.

    Jar of freezer jam

    Jar of freezer jam

    I sampled a spoonful of each and I gotta say – it was mighty tasty! Kind of like eating a spoonful of fresh fruit!

    Now, I don’t like chunky jams, so that’s why I went the food processor route. You could just as easily crush the fruit with a potato masher and have a more chunky jam. Whatever blows your hair back. I also don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I cut back the sweetener a little bit. Feel free to use more, to taste. I will report back on how well my fruit and sweetener ratios held up when I eat more of this.

    This was so easy and fun to make that I feel like I’ll never go through another long, cold winter without the taste of peak-season ripe fruit! So exciting!

    double decker french toast

    Double Decker French Toast

    This, my friends, is a vegan recipe that I declare is better than the “original” – and this is no April Fool’s joke!

    Double Decker French Toast Plate

    Double Decker French Toast Plate

    The Magic Brown Truck Fairy stopped by yesterday and dropped off a new cookbook – Vegan Yum Yum. I’m a fan of the blog, and finally decided to break down and get the book. As I poured through it last night before bed, I had visions of wonderful breakfasts dancing in my head.

    I had some surprise good news on the scale this morning – I’ve officially lost 100 pounds since December 2009 – so I had even more reason to make a special breakfast today!

    It was a bit of an adventure making this French toast; it was my first time cooking with a cast iron skillet. Needless to say, my first few pieces weren’t pretty! (That won’t stop me from eating them!) I got better at the timing and the flipping as I went along, but it’s still probably a good thing that the French toast is mostly hidden by fruit.

    My only complaint about Vegan Yum Yum is that some of the recipes have a lot of things that I try to eat only in moderation – margarine (i.e. Earth Balance), all-purpose flour, etc. So I decided to try to health-up the Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast recipe, and dare I say, it turned out wonderfully!

    My modifications from the original recipe were to use almond milk instead of soy milk, agave instead of sugar, half whole wheat flour/half all-purpose flour instead of all all-purpose flour, and to add some ground flax seed. I also used nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine to grease the skillet.

    It rolls in around 427 calories (you could lay off the fruit some to drop that number, but this is pretty much my standard breakfast, in the 400-600 calorie range).

    One last note: if you’re still soaking your pancakes, waffles, and French toast in fake maple syrup (I’m lookin’ at you, Aunt Jemima!), for the love of whatever you love, stop it! Get yourself a bottle of real, 100% pure maple syrup. It tastes ridiculously better, and is – must I say it – real food, instead of a bottle full of chemicals. And you won’t need to drown your poor breakfast to enjoy it. Just a drizzle will do, because it’s so naturally sweet!

    Double Decker French Toast Nutrition

    [recipe-show recipe=”double-decker-french-toast”]

    Too Good Not to Share

    This whole wheat pizza crust recipe is too good not to share! Those that know me know that I’ve eaten a lot of pizza in my day. It’s still one of my favorite foods – just that these days, I make my own healthier version. Believe me, though – it’s just as decadent, if not more so! And at just 64 calories per slice (plus your toppings, of course), you can have a few pieces 🙂

    [recipe-show recipe=”whole-wheat-pizza-crust”]

    New Obsessions

    It’s no secret that I’m a little bit obsessive-compulsive. Poor asparagus was the most recent victim of my OC ways. (I ate more asparagus soup in late 2010 than I care to recall. Hopefully I will recover by spring when those gorgeous little stalks poke out from the earth anew). This year, I’m off to a bang of a start, with two new food obsessions: kiwi and crumbled tempeh.

    Let’s start with my new friend, the kiwi fruit. I’d never eaten kiwi before because – well, it’s furry. Furry food? Ew. But if I learned anything last year, it’s that you can’t judge a food by its cover. So I consulted the premier source for culinary training (YouTube), and investigated how to peel a kiwi. Enter: Pimp That Food.

    Gordon taught me how to peel a perfect kiwi fruit. It’s actually very easy – and so pretty! I’ve had a kiwi a day ever since.

    Here’s my new friend kiwi hanging out in a bowl of Fancy Oatmeal.

    Fancy Oatmeal with Kiwi

    And then, there’s tempeh. I like tempeh. I learned about tempeh when I first started cooking vegetarian and vegan dishes. It’s a soy based food, but a lot different from tofu. It has a substantial texture to it – almost meaty, like a veggie burger. It also has its own flavor, unlike tofu. It tastes a bit nutty. It’s high in protein, iron, and calcium. What I’ve had a shortage of is ideas on what to do with tempeh.

    Enter: crispy crumbled tempeh. My new obsession. Suddenly, my salads become dinner salads! My wraps become meals! So simple, and so yummy. Make up a batch of crispy crumbled tempeh and toss it on top of everything!

    My latest salad/wrap combo: mixed greens, diced roasted red pepper, julienne-cut sundried tomatoes, pickles, some homemade cucumber dill dressing, and the now-infamous crispy crumbled tempeh. Sometimes, I cannot resist adding a drizzle of ranch; it goes so well with the tempeh!

    (Does anybody else put pickles in salad? It’s so freakin’ good! But I feel like a weirdo).

    Salad with crispy crumbled tempeh

    Don’t forget to have a big bowl of greens every day!

    [recipe-show recipe=”crispy-crumbled-tempeh”]