Instagram is Morsels Minus’ Future

13 Aug

In my busy little world, I have found of late that I have little time for massive blogging, but plenty of time for micro blogging! Instagram (www.instagram.com) has been a means for me to continue blogging with fervor!

I am happy to let my followers and those who stumble upon Morsels Minus know that you can follow my many posts (sometimes multiple posts in a day) on Instagram under @nothingrhymeswithandrea . I hope that you will continue to follow me there. It allows me to spend the most time with my family while accommodating my indulgence in writing about food.

See you on Instagram!

-Andrea

Meal Replacement Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

6 Mar

These cookies are to die for! They are big, filling and healthy! Wait, did I just say healthy? You bet I did! There is absolutely no junk in these cookies and they are so substantial that they could serve as a meal replacement alongside a green smoothie. Protein bars, be gone: this is a protein cookie!

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I have no apprehensions about giving these to my family to eat for breakfast or a supper on the road. They also make a nice, filling snack for school lunches, the gym, and hiking. I often keep one in my purse when I go to Costco so that I am not tempted to fill up on junky samples. Who needs them? These cookie are way better. Sometimes you just need something quick and portable. These cookies fit the bill! If you wrap them individually and store them in an airtight container they will keep for two weeks. They also freeze wonderfully for up to three months.

To satisfy the chocolate tooth in our house, I usually mix half chocolate chips and half raisins. To make these vegan, opt for maple syrup instead of honey. I have tried it and it works perfectly. This recipe is completely gluten free!

Ingredients
Makes 15 cookies

1 3/4 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
1 3/4 cups gluten free rolled oats (3/4 cup reserved)
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup date sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp coconut milk
3.5 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse just until they are finely ground.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, 1 cup oats, and date sugar. Add these ingredients to the food processor and process for about 20 seconds to incorporate.

3. In a pot on the stove, melt the coconut oil. Add the honey, coconut milk, and vanilla. Once it blends together easily, pour into the food processor and process until it is fully combined. The dough will be quite sticky. Remove the dough from the processor and put it back in the large bowl.

4. Knead in the 3/4 cup of reserved oats and raisins with your hands.

5. Take 4 tbsp of dough at a time and form it into a cookie with your hands. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat. You should get about 15 cookies.

6. Bake precisely 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes then gently use the tips of your fingers to reshape any cracked cookies while they are still warm and on the cookie sheet. Allow to cook completely before individually wrapping and storing in an airtight container.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

27 Feb

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Over the past seven days my life has been crazy! Two major appliances bit the dust and have been replaced and our extra curricular activities are keeping us out of the house. I felt the need to make a quick grab-and-go snack (besides what’s in my over-flowing fruit bowl) and made these muffins. They are fantastic and have the billowy muffin tips you see on store-bought competitors. Not only are they vegan, they are free of refined sugar with the exception of the chocolate chips.

To make them more healthful, I modified the original recipe and used coconut sugar instead of the plain old white stuff. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than sugar and works great in cookies and muffins. It dissolves nicely, but adds weight to your baked goods, similarly to brown sugar. I recently noticed that Costco in Calgary, Alberta Canada is selling coconut sugar, so check yours out too! You can also purchase it in health food and organic-type grocery stores.

Another quick and easy modification I made was using 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour instead of the 2 cups of all-purpose called for. Whole wheat flour adds fibre and I bet one could use oat flour in its place if increasing fibre further is important.

If you wanted to make these muffins completely free of refined sugar, cacao nibs, chopped dried dates, raisins, chopped nuts or seeds, etc. would make smart substitutions. This recipe great as is, but is also versatile enough to suit your needs: enjoy playing with it and let me know your results.

One tip: for maximum banana-y goodness, be sure to use ripe bananas. You know they are ripe enough when the peels are dotted with black spots and the insides are so soft you could mash them with a fork. I like to purée my bananas using an immersion blender, but fork mashing will do in a pinch.

Now get in the kitchen and make yourself some muffins!

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yield: 16 standard sized muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
4 ripe bananas, puréed
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegan semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl, mix the flours, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the coconut sugar and the melted coconut oil. Add the mashed banana to the sugar mixture, then add chocolate chips, water and vanilla.

Lastly, add the flour, and mix everything well.

Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full of batter and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Almond Coconut Bars

16 Feb

We’re taking it easy this weekend and I hope you are too. For us, weekends are generally hectic. There is shopping to do, activities to enjoy, household chores, church to prepare for and attend, and a few spontaneous twists. But not this time!

We are visiting Grandma for the long weekend. It feels great to relax. I enjoy watching my husband play with his old toys with the kids. I might even get to finish my book!

When I was catching up on Facebook this morning an intriguing recipe showed up in my news feed. Since I’m relaxing, I thought one of you might like to try it and review it for me! It looks quite promising. It is gluten-free and can easily be made vegan. Opt for unsulfured molasses and it is super clean! Due to nut allergies in our house, I will make it with sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter. As you can see, it looks highly adaptable!

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Almond Coconut Bars

2 cups whole raw almonds
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almond butter
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp molasses or honey
1 tbsp vanilla
3 oz. 70-85% dark chocolate

1. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan on the stove on low heat.

2. Line a 9″ x 9″ square pan with parchment paper.

3. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they resemble coarse sand (the goal is to make them a little coarser than almond meal).

4. Add the rest if the ingredients EXCEPT THE CHOCOLATE to the food processor and pulse until it forms a textured paste (the bits of almond and coconut shouldn’t be too small). Finish with a good stir by hand to make sure the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

5. Pour into the baking pan, press firmly to the corners and let set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

6. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Drizzle over coconut-almond mixture and spread evenly with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Put in the refrigerator for another 5 minutes until the chocolate is solid but still a little soft (for ease of cutting). Cut into bars and store in a container in the refrigerator.

So give it a whirl! I’ll post my comments when I make it and I look forward to hearing about your experiences with this recipe too!

Raw Vegan Brownies with Fudgy Frosting

15 Feb

Have things ever been a changin’ in the Morsels Minus kitchen. In the past year it has seen more changes than you can imagine! I have gone mostly vegan while the rest of my family remains omnivorous. A Vitamix came on the scene in the spring and has helped me incorporate so many more healthy fruits and veggies into our diets. I have also found a passion for raw baked goods.

Not only have things been changing in the kitchen, I have an entirely new kitchen. In the summer we packed up and moved from Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta. While I miss my friends in Meadow Lake, I must say that I am loving the city. Fresh, exciting new ingredients make regular appearances in my pantry and refrigerator and I am enjoying the abundant options I have for grocery shopping. Within a few blocks of my house I have access to your standard grocers as well as a couple of fantastic organic markets.

The bottom line is that I have a ton of new recipes on deck to share with you and I am back. What you can expect from Morsels Minus is a lot of healthy recipes with quality ingredients. You are going to love our new ways!

Here’s one of my favourite new recipes. It’s for Raw Vegan Brownies. I love so much about them. They are loaded with healthy seeds, quick to make, and absolutely delicious. If you make them once, you will never stop. They keep in the fridge for up to one week, but I’ll bet they won’t last that long! My kids, husband and I all go nuts over these. They make a great treat, but I sometimes eat them for breakfast! They are full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and fiber, so why not? You’ll feel like you’re indulging, but you are really nourishing your body. If you’re looking for a great gluten free dessert, this is perfect! Some of you may favor using nuts and if you do, I recommend omitting the coconut oil in the brownie dough and using cashews.
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Raw Vegan Brownies

Yield: 9-12 squares

In a food processor combine:

3/4 cup hemp hearts, raw shelled sunflower seeds, or raw shelled pumpkin seeds

12 pitted Medjool dates

1/4 cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

a pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

  1. Process until a smooth, chocolatey, dough ball forms.
  2. Remove from food processor and cut into squares. Place each square into its own mini muffin tin liner.

Fudgy Frosting

Makes 1/4 cup

In a food processor combine:

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

  1. Refrigerate for 10 minutes until it is soft and pliable. Kind of like Play-Doh!

Put it all together…

  1. Take a little ball of frosting, about 1/2 teaspoon, and use your fingers to spread it over a square. Repeat until each square is frosted.
  2. Optional toppings to decorate your brownies may include shredded coconut or chopped seeds/nuts.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Some of you might be curious about the differences between cocoa and cacao. Cacao is a raw superfood. It is loaded with fiber and anti-oxidants. Cocoa is basically cacao’s less nutritionally dense second cousin. So if it’s an option and it’s within your budget, choose cacao!

I hope my readers will forgive me for my long absence from the virtual stage. If you are interested in following my recipes on Instagram, search me out @nothingrhymeswithandrea

Looking forward to getting reacquainted!

Dairy and Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Yogurt

23 Apr

Oi. I have no excuse for not blogging in so long. Actually I have lots of excuses. Family life, winter activities winding down, spring cleaning, Easter holidays, and my new vegan cupcake business have filled my empty time slots. Rest assured that I have made lots of great new recipes during that time and I am ready to share them with you. Stay tuned for a great hot rice salad, and a HEALTHY (for real) and YUMMY (for real) and VEGAN (of course) brownie recipe.

Now back to this post…

A couple of days ago I made it to the city, and by city, I mean an oversized town with a Nutters. For those of you who haven’t been to a Nutters, it’s a Canadian bulk and natural food store chain. Product selection varies greatly by store, but I found one with this exciting new product I heard about via Jillian Michaels:

So Delicious cocoyo (an affectionate turn for coconut yogurt) is, in fact, delicious. The available flavors were strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, and plain. I opted for the strawberry and my kids really liked it. Because they are allergic to dairy products, they have never tasted yogurt… until now. Sure, you say it’s not made of milk, how much like yogurt is it? Quite a bit actually! Yes, it tastes coconut-y, but the texture is thick and creamy like Greek yogurt. You can tell that a thickener (guar gum) has been added to it as it is “not the same kind of thick” as Greek yogurt. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all dairy products have a natural, inherent thickness. Believe it or not, yogurt’s texture is not a God-given benefit of mammalian sourcing. Greek yogurt is one of the few varieties that doesn’t use gelatin or other ingredients to thicken it. If you eat dairy products, try Greek sometime. It really is a cut above.

Back to cocoyo. It’s expensive. A pint typically costs between $6.00 – $7.00. Ouch. Yeah, it’s good, but I’ll never be able to buy it in the abundance I would like to. I quickly decided that I would try to make my own. I was looking at a vegetarian cooking site with lots of great recipes called Happy Herbivore. On it, there was a recipe for soy yogurt. I followed her recipe with exactness, but found that it wasn’t thick enough for me. I added 1/2 cup of frozen berries and blended. Still not thick enough. I blended in 1/2 tsp of guar gum (also available at Nutters) and the texture was perfect, BUT it still tasted distinctively tofu-y, SO I added a tbsp of real vanilla extract, and…

it was okay. I would give it a 5 out of 10. The kids still ate-it-up. While banana and berries are the most prominent flavours, I could still taste tofu.

SO…

(This is the good part:)

the next time I made homemade vegan yogurt with a 400 mL can of regular coconut milk (not the low-fat stuff). Move  out of the way soygurt, and So Delicious cocoyo, because my homemade cocoyo is a superstar. This stuff rocks! The kids, my carnivorous husband, and I ALL L-O-V-E-D it. If you are familiar with the Yoptimal Immuni+ store brand dairy yogurt, that is what my recipe most closely resembles in appearance and taste. In EVERY way it has the So Delicious cocoyo beat. My cocoyo’s flavour and texture was much better and exactly what you would expect from yogurt. There was no weird, dough-y texture. Yes, there is more fat in it, but using a whole food like coconut milk instead of tofu makes it much healthier. Now I don’t have to waste time hunting for vegan yogurt.

My most important tip with this recipe is to be very careful with guar gum. It has 8 times the thickening power of cornstarch, which make it a magnificent thickener for this recipe, so long as you measure carefully and follow the directions very closely. You may choose to add more or less guar gum than the recipe calls for so that you achieve your favourite thickness. Since I mentioned it, don’t get any ideas about using cornstarch. I can guarantee that it will make your yogurt dough-y.

My second most important tip is to refrigerate the banana. Do not skip this step. This is a recipe that will always be thicker when cold, so to avoid a tragic overuse of guar gum, it must be prepared at the consistency you would eat it at, i.e. COLD.

Here’s my super easy recipe, which makes 1 pint. Why not get the kids involved? Mine had a blast making it!:

Ingredients:

1-400 mL can of full fat coconut milk (I used the Aroy-D brand), refrigerated until firm

1 cold banana, cut into 1 inch slices

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)

1/2 cup frozen berries, peaches, and/or mangoes

1 tsp guar gum (I used the Bob’s Red Mill brand)

Directions

  1. Put all of the ingredients except for the guar gum in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add 1/2 of the specified amount of guar gum. Blend. Check the consistency. If you like it, stop here. If it’s too runny, add the remaining guar gum. Blend. Check the consistency again. If you need, add more gum a pinch at a time, blending after each addition.
  3. Refrigerate and enjoy.
Don’t write off this recipe because it includes guar gum. Just go to the health food store and pick some up; it is well worth your while.

Variations: Substitute the frozen berries for frozen banana to make “plain” yogurt. You could use agave nectar (vegan), sucanat (vegan, sugar cane natural sugar), or honey (not vegan) to sweeten it instead of maple syrup.

Trivia: What exactly is guar gum? It is the endosperm of guar beans, cultivated as a seed crop in India. Guar gum is gluten-free. 

Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

10 Feb

Life is complicated enough and when a special holiday rolls around I get roped into so much baking that I crave simplicity more than sweets. I was considering baking sugar cookies for the kids (which we all love) as a pre-Valentine’s treat, but stumbled on this recipe for Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies on Oh She Glows. Yes, I have been pillaging OSG for recipes lately. The thing about my life in the kitchen is that I can never just make a recipe as-is. Allergies require modification of nearly every good thing I find. Sometimes my recipes turn out, sometimes they don’t, and increasingly I am finding big-time winners. The winners make it here on my blog after we are done eating them.

So back to the sugar cookies… Sugar cookies just didn’t seem like the right thing to make right now. We are going to overdose on chocolate and cupcakes over the next few days and I know it, so I wanted to make something that was still a treat without  turning our family into sugar-reliant monsters. Sugar cookies are also a lot of work. You’ve got to mix the batter, chill the dough, roll them out, bake them, cool them, make a boat load of icing, figure out decorations, and then make them pretty. When I found this recipe I was ecstatic. All that is involved is dumping all of the ingredients into a food processor, mixing it all up, flattening it, and cutting it into shapes. It’s literally as easy as making and playing with Play-Doh, but that’s a recipe for another day. It took 10 minutes to make from start to finish (minus refrigeration time at the end).

The verdict? Rich, filling, and delicious. My kids ate 2 each and proclaimed that they were stuffed; stuffed full of the goodness of healthy fats, whole grains, and a little chocolate!

Another cool thing is that the OSG recipe has a method for making your own vegan chocolate chips and although I didn’t give them a try for this recipe, the method is mind-blowingly simple. If you try them, let me know how they worked out for you. I am keeping that recipe in my back pocket since there is only one store in The Middle of Nowhere, Saskatchewan that sells my chips and they are frequently out of them.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of dough (which made a 9 x12 sheet of those cute heart-shaped cookies).

I know a friend of mine is waiting for this post, so without prolonging the agony further, here it is:

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup of agave nectar (I am positive that you could use honey if true vegan-ness isn’t a concern)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil (this has a big influence on the flavor, but in all honesty, the recipe will likely still work if you use any fat that is solid at room temperature. Don’t choose something like  vegan margarine because it has too much water content, but vegetable shortening could be a good replacement. Please comment if you try this.)

1/2 cup Vegan chocolate chips (like PC The Decadent Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips)

Directions

Toss everything except for the chocolate chips in a food processor and grind up until the dough forms a large ball. It it seems dry, add a little extra agave. If it seems wet, toss in some extra oats. The fats and sweeteners you choose to use could cause slight variations in the amount of moisture in the recipe. When you get a kneadable ball, you’re golden.

Once the dough ball is formed, add the chocolate chips and pulse the processor a few times until they are combined. If you don’t want your chips broken up, you can always knead them in by hand.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. You can either flatten the dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters or form it into balls.* If you want you could squish the balls to make them look like regular cookies. Place shapes on cookie sheet and freeze 30 minutes. Serve chilled or frozen.

*If the dough melts in your hands, refrigerate it for 30 minutes prior to shaping it.

 

You could easily make this recipe gluten free by using gluten-free rolled oats. This recipe is also soy free!