It is so crazy that food and health geeks have discovered that the use of legumes in desserts is a tasty and healthy replacement for flour and oils. While all-purpose flour has little nutrition value, beans pack protein, Vitamin B-6, and potassium, perfect for all types of people, especially. If you shop smart, chickpeas are actually ridiculously cheap. At my local grocery store, the chickpeas are $1 for a 15 oz. can or $1 for a 16 oz. bag of dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper for the amount you are getting so I do opt for the dried type. The recipe I made is not vegan, but I have included a substitution to where it can be made vegan.
The cons about dried chickpeas are that you must soak them and boil them, but with planning ahead, dried chickpeas have worked fine for me.
So how do I soak chickpeas? I have a water boiler that boils water in a mi. ute so I first wash the dried chickpeas under running water, then pour boiling water over the chickpeas and allow it to soak for at least 4 hours. The chickpeas are then good to go, so very little preparation is required. The longer you soak, the better, but do not soak past 24 hours otherwise the chickpeas will sprout.
yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)
- 1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
- 1/3 c. almond butter
- 1 large egg OR 1 flax egg for vegan option (flax egg= 1 tbsp. ground flax/chia + 3 tbsp. water)
- 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. liquid sweetener
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (optional)
- Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
- Using paper towels or a clean dishcloth, dry the chickpeas and place into a food processor along with all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
- Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
- Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes before cutting in and enjoying the goodness!
Bars are best when fresh out of the oven and served with a glass of cold milk. Store in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Please feel free to make the vegan option. I personally like the non-vegan version better because it was a bit fluffier, but the vegan one is delicious as well. It is more dense and more fudgy.
I am actually allergic to several foods, including tomatoes. Ugh!! I know!! How do I eat pasta, ketchup, or so many other savory dishes with tomato? Luckily my allergy is mild and I can enjoy tomatoes without too much suffering. The best thing for me is simply to avoid them as much as I can (which is almost impossible). However, I have realized that in this food era where people are making cauliflower lemon bars, chickpea brownies, and other unconventional foods, pasta sauce does not necessarily need to be made from tomatoes. When coming up with ideas, I realized that naturally red-ish vegetables are pretty much limited to carrots and red bell peppers. Some day I’ll experiment a carrot pasta sauce but I experimented with red bell peppers and the result was an absolute hit!
Extremely creamy, flavorful, and bright with colors. It’s salty with a slight hint of sweetness from the roasted bell pepper. I am in love with this sauce and I have already made it twice since last week. I made a simple pasta dish but will use it in a lasagna recipe in the future. I cannot wait for you all to try this! Because I am not vegan, I tested out a vegan and a non-vegan version and they taste quite similar so I will be posting the vegan version due to a now-high demand for vegan recipes.
Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
yield: 2 c. sauce
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 c. non-dairy unsweetened milk
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 475 F. Rub bell peppers with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until the outside is charred.
- Remove from oven and let bell peppers cool for 5 min.
- In a skillet, put 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes until transparent and lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Remove the skins from the bell peppers. They should come off very easily.
- In a food processor, place the bell peppers, garlic, onions, milk, salt, and nutrition yeast. Pulse until the sauce becomes incorporated and is a light red color.
- Remove from food processor and serve immediately with pasta OR cook for an additional 5 minutes on the stove top.
This sauce can be consumed straight from the food processor or can be cooked on the stove after. I have tried both and found that both taste great. I did like to cook mine additionally on the stove top to heat it up and slightly cook the garlic.
This sauce is a huge crowdpleaser and will satisfy all your pasta cravings! Impress your vegan friends and make this sauce right now!
As I continue with my journey to lower my gluten intake to ease GI discomfort, I find that my favorite carb alternative is oats. Many health gurus or bloggers utilize almond and coconut flour, but as a college student, I prefer to ball on a budget and almond and coconut flour do not come cheap! Oats on the other hand are extremely cheap whether you buy in bulk or pre-packaged, I can purchase rolled oats for about 80 cents to 1 dollar per pound.
I’ve baked several desserts and snacks using oat flour, but still struggle to process the oats into a fine flour, which is fine with me because I do enjoy the texture of the bigger oat granules in the desserts. However, I would like to make really fine oat flour so that I can experiment making yeast breads or other savory recipes. If anyone has tips on processing fine oat flour please let me know! It seems that no matter how long I process the oats, they do not turn into a fine flour.
Nonetheless, I am here today to introduce one of my new favorite recipes, Banana Bread Bars!! So healthy and delicious, and I could go on forever about how great these gems are. The best part is that these were made entirely in a food processor, but if you don’t have a food processor, feel free to do it by hand or use a blender. I did make them into bite size bars but feel free to bake it in a loaf pan… I just wanted to reduce the bake time from 55 minutes to 30.
Vegan Banana Bread Bars
yield: 12 bars
- 3 ripe medium bananas
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar (any sugar will work: granulated white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
- 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter and could not taste the peanut flavor at all)
- 2 tbsp. ground flax/chia seeds + 1/3 c. water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. lemon juice or other acidic
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips
- 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
- Combine flax/chia and water to make a vegan egg. Set aside for at least 2 min.
- Place 2 c. of rolled oats in the food process and process for 45 seconds, until the oat flour forms. It does not need to be finely ground. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Set aside the other 1/2 c. of oats for later use.
- Place the ripe bananas in the food processor and process until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nut butter, chia/flax mix, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Process mix until fully combined. Add in chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and 1/2 c. rolled oats and pulse for 5-10 seconds until mix is combined.
- Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Once removed from oven, cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before serving.
Note: I do not have a huge sweet tooth and prefer that my desserts are on the less sugary side. In the recipe, I use 1/4 c. sugar and felt that the chocolate chips would make up for the rest of the sugar. I tested this recipe using 1/3 c. of sugar and felt it was too sugary for me but please feel free to adjust your own sugar levels based on your liking! For reference, using 1/3 c. of sugar felt like eating a store-bought vanilla cupcake. There is so much sweetness from the bananas and chocolate chips that I felt 1/4 c. would suffice.
These bars are ideal for breakfast or as a snack! It is basically a banana oatmeal baked into a square and contains ingredients that help lower cholesterol, blood levels, and saturated fat intake. Bars can last up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.
Crab rangoons are my weakness…. There is nothing better than cheesy, ooey goodness inside a crispy fried dough. It is certainly a cheat food because all that saturated fat should only be consumed once in a while. I don’t typically make them at home because I don’t like to fry at home, so I decided to make a baked version of crab rangoons in not wonton wrappers, but in a flaky crescent dough. I experimented with biscuit dough, but preferred the texture of crescent dough.
BEWARE. These are extremely addicting and I could not stop eating these after I made them. Please have friends around so they can eat some before you eat them all!!
Crab Rangoon Bombs
yield: 10 bombs
- 1 can crescent dough
- 6 oz. chopped imitations crab meat
- 6 oz. softened full-fat cream cheese or neufchatel
- 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 tbsp. chopped green onions
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Furikake or Japanese rice seasoning for garnishing (optional, but highly recommend)
- 1 beaten egg or 1 tsp. melted butter for egg/butter wash (optional)
- In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, crab meat, mozzarella, green onions, 1 tbsp Furikake, and chopped green onions. Set the bowl aside.
- Roll out the crescent dough and press on the perforated lines so that the dough is one entire piece of dough. Cut the dough into 10 equal squares and set aside.
- Spoon 1 1/2-2 tbsp. of filling into the crescent dough and seal edges in the center so that you have a ball in your hand. Continue until all 10 are completely stuffed.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. and spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.
- Optional: Use a pastry brush and brush the egg wash or melted butter on the balls and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp. of Furikake seasoning.
- Place bombs onto the baking sheet, about 1 1/2 in. apart since they will expand. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before eating.
The bombs taste best when fresh out of the oven; when the cheese is gooey and the crust is flaky and warm. Beware of burning your tongue though! I may or may not have waited long enough for them to slightly cool and may have regretted my decision….
Powdered peanut butter, or sometimes referred to by the common brand PB2, has gained widespread popularity within the last few years because of it’s crazy similarity to actual peanut butter while containing about only 12% of the fat. It sounds to good to be true, and in my opinion, it really was but it is true! PB2 is insanely tasty and while not as good as actual peanut butter, it is pretty much almost there. If I can get peanut nutrients without the oil.. count me in!
While playing around with a bottle of PB2 I purchased from TJ Maxx, I found that it works great in baking and making food items taste like peanut butter, but is actually not great for when you want to actually taste the texture of peanut butter. For example, I made a PBJ with peanut butter and was not a fan because it was too dry for my liking. However, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and baked goods are great ways to used PB2.
I’ve been trying to eat low-carb to hopefully improve GI comfort, so I experimented with a low-carbohydrate chocolate cake with the recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste.
Low Carb Chocolate Walnut Cake (Gluten-Free)
yield: 12 (4×3 bars)
- 1 c. powdered peanut butter
- 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 c. + 2 tbsp. honey or agave
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
- 1/3 c. chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Spray a 9×9 baking pan with non-stick spray or line the pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine peanut powder, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, water, vanilla, honey/agave, and water. Add dry to wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in dark chocolate chips and walnuts and pour into baking pan.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
- Cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes and then serve!
The cake is best served hot and is packed with protein! I take one or two bars to work to munch on when I am need of a snack.
Hotteok is pretty much what dreams are made of: yeast dough stuffed with sweet or savory filling. It is very similar to pastries of other cuisines such as xian bing’s in Chinese cooking or paratha in Indian cooking, and the list goes on. The traditional filling is brown sugar and walnuts, but I wanted to do something different and stuff it with ingredients that I have not seen anyone try before. In my version of hotteok, I stuffed them with a combination of chicken, corn, and mozzarella cheese. Corn and cheese are very common in Asian baking, so I wanted to incorporate that into the hotteok.
Tips for making hotteok:
- Stuff as much stuffing into the center without breaking the dough. 2-3 tbsp. of filling is best for the hotteok, but can be difficult to do without breaking the dough. To prevent this, roll the dough so that the edges are thinner than the center. Because the dough is stretchy, you can stretch the brim of the hotteok dough to the middle.
- Hotteok seal becoming undone when cooking. When making the dough, seal the dough tightly and let the formed hotteok set for 20 min. before cooking
- Burnt outside, raw dough inside. The flame of cooking must be in between low/middle with a lid on the pan. Flip the hotteok whenever a side has been browned. Do not walk away from pan!
Savory Hotteok (Korean Stuffed Pancake)
yield: 9 pancakes
Dough (from Houseofnasheats.com):
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 c. frozen corn
- 1 c. chopped cooked chicken meat (I used a rotisserie chicken)
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
- 4 1/2 tbsp. sticky soy sauce
- In a large bowl, stir together yeast, sugar, lukewarm water, and oil. Let the mixture sit for 8 min until yeast activates.
- Sift in the flour and salt and combine and mix. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until fully incorporated and cover the dough with a damp towel. Set the dough in a warm area around 75-80 degrees to let the dough double in size.
- In the meantime, lightly oil a pan with oil spray or vegetable oil and saute the frozen corn until thawed, add chicken and sticky soy sauce. Saute on medium heat for about 5 min. Set aside to cool in a bowl.
- Punch the risen dough, and then cover and let sit for another 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds and cut into 9 even pieces. Into the cooled corn and chicken mix, add mozzarella cheese and combine.
- Using hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out until about 3-4 in. in diameter with the outer edges thinner than the middle. Add in 3 tbsp. of filling (make sure to pack it in there otherwise pancakes will turn out to be mainly dough). This may be difficult without breaking the dough, but becomes easier with practice. Pull in the edges into the center and seal tightly. Flatten the dough into a pancake and set aside on a floured surface to allow to rise while you make the other pancakes.
- After all pancakes have been formed, let them sit for 10 min. for a last rising.
- On low-medium heat, lightly grease a pan and wait until pan is completely hot. Add in the pancakes (about 3 at a time) and cover with a lid. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side or until golden brown, and then flip over to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove pancakes and repeat for all others.
- Eat hotteok fresh out the pan when cheese is nice and gooey.
Note: the Pancakes freeze extremely well. I recommend cooking them and then freezing some if you cannot finish them within the next 5 days. You can microwave, pan fry, toast, or bake them out of the freezer.
This is an easy recipe that requires a bit more time from dough making. I highly recommend making them on a weekend as a stress reliever!
A light and fluffy cake so tangy and zesty that you’ll want to eat all the time. The great thing about this recipe is that you can utilize all parts of the orange: juice, zest, and pulp, although I barely used any of the pulp. However, after I extracted some of the mandarin juice, I ended up eating the remains of the orange since food waste is not an option!
I used mandarin oranges for this recipe but feel free to use any other oranges such as navel, cara cara oranges, etc.
Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake
yield: 1 (9 x 5) loaf
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. whole milk yogurt + 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tsp. mandarin orange zest
- 2 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/3 c. chopped walnuts
For the glaze:
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
- Grease loaf pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg. Add in sugar and poppy seeds and combine well. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
- Add the dry mixture into the wet in 3 batches and combine well. Add in the chopped walnuts and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick comes out of the batter clean.
- Let loaf cool on a cooling rack for approx. 30 min before putting the glaze on + top with additional zest. Or you can be like me- I skipped the glaze because I could not wait and I went ahead and ate the loaf fresh out of the oven.
The bread lasts in the fridge up to 2 weeks and freezes extremely well. Feel free to make smaller servings such as muffins. I haven’t tried it yet but am certain they will turn out delicious as well.
One of my favorite things to make for parties or hang-outs are pinwheels, made from canned biscuit or croissant dough. I prefer croissant dough because it is more flaky, but both are great options. You can put anything into your pinwheels, from cheese, meats, to nutella and nut spreads… it’s one of those recipes where you can’t go wrong. For a movie night with my friends, I decided to make a cream and onion filling since I really need to grocery shop and some of my friends are vegetarian. As always, the recipe was divine and I am excited to share it with you all!
Cheesy Cream & Onion Pinwheels
yield: 10-12 pinwheels
- 1 can croissant dough
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese (1/2 of a whole bar)
- 1/3 c. shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella)
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 3 slices turkey/ham
- 1/4 c. chopped caramelized or browned onions
- chopped green onions for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
- Open the can or croissant dough and unroll the entire dough without breaking off at any of the perforated points. Seal the perforated lines together so that the dough is one complete sheet.
- In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except turkey/ham and use a spoon to spread onto the entire dough.
- Lay the deli meat on top of the spread.
- Roll up the dough tightly and slice into 1 cm. thick pieces.
- Place onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Once done baking, let it cool for 5 minutes and serve immediately. I served them with a side of honey dijon mustard but the pinwheel have tons of flavor on its own.
These are beyond delicious and so simple to make. I can honestly eat them all in one sitting as I watch Netflix, but this is a very decadent treat that should be eaten on special occasions only! Feel free to double or triple the recipe for mass production.
I am constant on the run, and I typically snack on banana chips, dark chocolate covered nuts, granola, or pretzel chips. I chose these snacks because they’re “healthier” than potato chips, crackers, or other processed bars, but I realized I was actually gaining weight and not feeling satiety at all. When looking at the nutrition labels, I realized I was duped by words like “banana” and “dark chocolate”, because banana chips are seriously no better than potato chips, and that dark chocolate used on nuts includes a lot of oil and sugar. I should have known better, which teaches the important lesson that when you make your own food, you know what ingredients go into it, which is why I made my own on-the-go snacks which allowed me to customize the recipe to my liking. The protein bites were somewhat inspired by aussie bites, commercial protein bites most commonly sold in Costco. They’re very tasty but include some unfavorable ingredients like canola oil, butter, and refined sugar, and is low in all vitamins.
There isn’t too much to these protein bites except getting the proper consistency, reaching your desired sweetness, and adding your own desired ingredients. Personally, I like it to be less sweet and on the harder side, though some people enjoy a softer consistency. For recipe adjustments, I have included some suggestions:
||Add 2-4 more dates OR add 1-2 tsp. more water OR add 3-4 tbsp. more date water
||Add 2-4 more dates OR Add ¼ c. chocolate chips OR Add vegan sweetener
No Bake Protein Bites
yield: approx 16 squares (1.5″ x 1.5″ x 0.5″) OR 35 balls
- 12 pitted dates soaked in hot water (any kind works; I used Deglet Noor Dates because they’re cheaper)
- 2 tbsp. hot date water
- 1 1/4 c. uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/4 c. chia seeds
- 1/4 c. flax seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. nut butter or nut-free butter (I used a combination of almond and peanut butter)
- Microwave 1 c. of water until boiling in a bowl and soak all the dates in for 5 min.
- In a food processor, put in all the ingredients except the hot date water and pulse for about 15 seconds. The mixture should come together and resemble very fine cookie crumbs. Add in the date water slowly, as needed, and pulse about 5 times until the mixture comes together.
- Form the mixture into bars or balls, and refrigerate. Refrigerating will help the bars/balls become more compact.
- Customize with dried fruits, chocolate chips, or nuts if desired.
Bars last in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. I have included the nutrition facts below. I recommend eating bars as a snack or as a part of breakfast, but never as a whole meal. Bars are high in fiber, protein, and omega-3s.
Today, the sun made a rare occurrence in Turkey’s skies as it peeped behind grey, stratus clouds. Understandably, people set foot outside of their rooms, cameras around their necks and phones in one hand, eager to snap photos of the sun and sky, which resembled an orb against a painted sky. I happened to be staying at the Pine Bay Resort which was one of many resorts in the area on the coast of the Aegean Sea, decorated with swimming pools, beach chairs, cabanas, and bars next to its backyard beach area. Due to off-season, Pine Bay’s beach resembled a ghost town with sand covered in thick sheets of dried sea grass, trashed with plastic products, and home to stray cats and dogs who scoured through the bits and pieces on the beach to make a living. The scene was no paradise to the public, but it was paradise to me. I get to enjoy a private beach without paying thousands of dollars? Call it a dream.
watching the sunset
6:01, my watch read. Approximately 25 more minutes until sunset as the sky made its way through the left side of the color spectrum and the thick, dark, yet clean waves washed up against the sand. The sounds of nothing but water traveled to my ears and I called out to the two stray dogs who were joyously chasing each other along the coastline. They were clearly best friends as they refused to leave each other’s side, and thankfully they accepted me as they elegantly sat next to me. One looked like a mixed golden retriever and the other was likely part-cocker spaniel along with many other breeds. They could have been dangerous, but I immediately gained their trust as they took me on an unforgettable adventure along the Aegean Sea which included climbing up an incompletely-built dock, finding unique items hidden in the beds of sea grass, and using wood bark as chew toys. Amongst the conglomeration of items on the beach, I found a message in a bottle, conch shells, and washed up jelly fish. At the moment, I wished to read the message in the bottle, but figured I would leave it for the next person who finds it. I was in too good of a mood to read a message that possibly could have been despondent. Besides, there was a big chance that I wouldn’t even be able to read the message.
The minutes were passing by as the sky transformed from shades of pink, purple, and blue ’til nothing but city lights miles away could not be seen anymore. When the daily evening prayer rang across the sea and cities, I knew it was time to head home. With the two dogs leading, I ran quickly, splashing sand onto my legs and allowing the sea’s wind to blow through my hair….