Chickpea Blondies (GF)

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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.

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Chickpea Blondies

yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. 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.
  3. Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
  4. Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
  5. 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.

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Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce (Vegan)

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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!

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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

ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Remove from oven and let bell peppers cool for 5 min.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the skins from the bell peppers. They should come off very easily.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

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Honestly, I’m just drooling over here because I made brownies that ARE HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE??? How is that even possible? I mean fats and eggs make a brownie good; they give it texture. A plant based one honestly sounds unappealing. I honestly am very impressed with my experimentation because I have failed numerous times attempting to make healthy dessert. Somehow, this turned out to be a miracle and it somehow worked. My mind is blown and I want you all to try these brownies some time!!! I love chewy brownies, so I used my knowledge of food science to make the brownies quite chewy. The chewiness comes from the maple syrup used, and gives the brownies amazing texture.

 

The only downside to these brownies was that I did used granulated sugar. If I attempt making these with a non-refined sugar, I will post an updated recipe. I was hoping maybe dates could be use instead, but I have yet to test that out.


Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)

yield: 8 x 8 pan brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. oat flour (I used homemade; flour must be very fine)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp warm water mixed together
  • 2 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water mixed together
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds OR walnuts) OPTIONAL
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips OPTIONAL
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk until combined, and then add the coffee powder. Whisk to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, syrup and water mixture, flax and water mixture, and vanilla. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
  4. Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl in 2 or 3 batches. Whisk gently but do not overmix the batter. Toss in the nuts and chocolate chips, if applicable, and stir in. _DSC0275
  5. Pour batter into a 8 x 8 baking pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until baked completely.
  6. Take the brownies out and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with some espresso powder, sugar, or ganache and enjoy!

Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

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Experimentation comes with frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. When attempting to make non-conventional recipes, trial after trial is crucial to get the perfect amounts of ingredients since food is all about the science and measurements behind it. Vegan baking is particularly difficult since eggs aren’t allowed and the animal fats are not able to make the baked product moist. Instead, alternatives like plant oils are utilized, and plant based butter simply isn’t as fragrant as animal based butter. With that being said, I truly appreciate all the vegan bakers out there, in making delicious recipes that are harmless to animals and better for the body overall.

Today’s lemon poppyseed cake is a delicious dessert that typically would require eggs and loads of butter or oil, but not today. You have stumbled upon a much healthier recipe that you can indulge on day and night!


Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

yield: 1 loaf

ingredients:

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. vegan yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. vegan buttermilk (recipe HERE) OR 3 tbsp vegan yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c.  + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

For lemon frosting:

  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for a couple minutes.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet and whisk until fully incorporated. Do not overmix as this could result in a tough cake.
  5. Pour into a 8 x 4 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake for 25-30 min.
  6. Take the cake out of the pan and let it cool on a rack for about 30 min. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and spread the glaze onto the cooled cake. Optional: sprinkle some lemon zest on the glaze.

 

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The cake is best enjoyed after it is made, served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

In making healthier dessert options, I’m hoping that more people can stop giving dessert a negative connotation. Dessert doesn’t have to be overly sweet and fattening. I believe that any store bought dessert tends to be far too sweet for my liking, which is why I no longer purchase desserts. I simply make them at home, alter it to cater to my tastebuds, save money, and have fun. It’s a win-win for me and I hope you all attempt to bake more at home.

Happy baking!

Tri Color Egg (A Taiwanese Specialty)

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I could talk for hours after hours about my love for Taiwan; from its mountains and seas to its night market and decadent dishes, there is just something so impeccable about this island. Taiwanese snack foods have become a billion dollar industry all over the world, from bubble tea, to bubble waffles, from Asian bakery bread to braised pork rice… people of all colors love Taiwanese snack food. With that being said, there’s much more to Taiwanese food than bubble tea and bread. I’m ecstatic to share a Taiwanese specialty called “Tri Color Egg”. The three colors are black, yellow, and white. As you may have guessed, yellow and egg come from an egg (of course), but what about the color black? There’s a unique oriental egg called the “century egg” which CNN and many other news outlet report as one of the most disgusting foods ever. It’s such a wonder how tastebuds differ from people to people, because I think the century egg is delightful. Perhaps growing up with the egg in my cuisine has been an advantage, but it’s really not as foul as it sounds. It looks horrid, like something the devil would produce, with its translucent black outer skin and its gooey, vomit-like yolk, but I recommend everyone to be adventurous and try it!

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century eggs

Perhaps you’ve been grossed out and don’t want to read anymore….. but tricolor egg is a beautiful dish that will WOW your friends and family. Come on, give it a try 🙂


Tri Color Egg

yield: (9 x 9 x 2 in circle or square cake pan)

Special equipment: steamer OR a large wok-like pan to steam, steamable plastic wrap, cake pan or casserole pan

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • 3 century eggs
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp michiu (rice cooking wine)
  • 8 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Line the cake pan with steamable plastic to prevent the egg from sticking.
  2. Separate the 10 egg yolks from white. In the egg whites, combine 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Whisk until combined, but do not whisk until too frothy. egg3
  3. Pour the whites into the cake pan. Cut each century egg into 8-10 long slices and line them in horizontal lines in the egg whites. Steam the egg covered on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges have hardened and the middle is still jiggly.
  4. While the whites are steaming, whisk the egg yolks and add 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Take a chopstick or skewer and poke small holes on the edges all around the egg whites to release some steam and  so that the egg yolk does not separate from the egg whites when poured in. Pour the egg yolk onto the egg whites and then let the eggs steam covered, on low for an additional 10-15 minutes. egg6
  5. Once complete, remove the eggs from the steamer and let it cool for an hour before serving. when slicing the eggs, you want to slice vertically or against the way the century eggs were placed. Since the century eggs were placed horizontally, cut the eggs vertically to get the bejeweled effect from the century eggs.

Tri color eggs are best eaten with rice or noodles, accompanied by vegetables and other dishes!

Vegan Queso (No Cashews!)

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When Vegans say nutritional yeast “really does taste like cheese!” I always mutter mmhmm under my breath and roll my eyes a bit. Cheese is cheese. I may be the biggest cheese lover in the world, so I WILL know if I am eating fake cheese. So the thought of some orange flaky bits being able to replace the gooey goodness of cheese seems too good to be true, but was it too good to be true?

…………………

OK. Yes. It was too good to be true and the nutritional yeast vegan queso was simply not up to par as the traditional non-vegan queso, but I do have to say it comes in a close second and serves as a wonderful guilt-free snack. I’ll still relish on my favorite Torchy’s show-stopping queso here and there, but nutritional yeast queso is something I’m going to eat pretty regularly since it actually contains the good stuff. The good stuff, you know? The B-vitamins, folate, zinc, and all other immune-boosting nutrients that trump all the saturated fat in real cheese.


Vegan Cheese (No Cashews)

yield: approx. 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. potatoes diced
  • 1 c. carrots diced
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (opt.)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (opt.)
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes

Instructions:

  1. Boil the potatoes and carrots together until soft and tender. I like to boil on high, turn the water off and let the remaining heat soften the vegetables to save energy!
  2. Drain the vegetables and let them cool a bit but not completely.
  3. Place the vegetables in a high-speed blender along with all other ingredients and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
  4. The texture should greatly resemble queso. It should be gooey and melty.
vegan cheese

look at that queso!

I’m not a food chemist so I don’t understand how this vegan queso gets its gooey consistency, but the resemblance with traditional queso is uncanny. Also, if you’d like to spice up your queso, by all means you may add a roasted pepper!! Now the holidays have rolled around, this is a great dip for parties so go ahead and deceive your friends!

Microwave English Muffin (Vegan + GF)

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This is a recipe taken from Big Man’s World that is absolutely simple, foolproof, and healthy! I have made these for breakfast multiple times and they never disappoint. The great thing about this recipe is that it is low-cost, vegan, and gluten-free so it’s an ideal bread alternative for someone with Celiac’s disease. All the ingredients used are natural and are a great source of fiber from rolled oats and alpha-linoleic acid from the chia seeds. I ended up making an eggs benedict-type of breakfast with the English muffin, it goes great with almond butter (check out how to make homemade almond butter!), jam (check out how to make homemade chia jam!), honey, ricotta… really whatever you have on hand would serve as a great topping for the muffins.


Microwave English Muffin (Vegan + GF)

yield: 1 large English muffin

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (gluten free, if necessary)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or flax meal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (I used a quick homemade apple sauce where I microwaved apple slices and placed in a food processor)
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy milk

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, process the oats, chia/flax seeds, and baking powder until a fine and evenly mixed powder forms
  2. Transfer to a small cup, bowl, or ramekin, and add the applesauce and nondairy milk, and mix until dough forms. Flatten the top of the dough.
  3. Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  4. Let it cool for 2 minutes and then slice, toast (optional), and enjoy with your toppings of choice!

On a side note, I made my English muffin breakfast a tad crazy as I loaded on the toppings, but I am all for creativity so top as you please! I included caramelized onions, tomatoes, goat cheese, cucumber slices, and turkey bacon.

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pre-microwave

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post-microwave

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a close up on the goodness

-Jamie

Strawberry Chia Jam

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Chia jam used on my nut and seeds bread

Jam and peanut butter make the quintessential combination, and although peanut butter provides health benefits such as protein and Vitamin E, jam is often straight up added sugars, packed with preservatives. Thus, I wasn’t too big of a fan of jam ever because the flavors felt all too sweet and artificial for me.

Luckily, health enthusiasts have been genius enough to conceive up a recipe called “Chia Jam” which I think is pure genius. By using chia’s nature to form a gel to make the jam without having to use any added corn syrup or sticky starches cuts calories drastically and actually makes the jam healthy! I attempted a strawberry chia jam recipe and it was an absolute success, and better yet, you are able to control the sweetness of your jam. Since I don’t have too big of a sweet tooth, I think that mine was perfectly sweet enough to my liking.

Strawberry Chia Jam


 

Ingredients:

yield: 1/2 c. jam

  • 9 medium-sized strawberries
  • 1 tsp. honey (use agave or maple syrup if vegan); this part is totally up to your tastebuds, so keep adding sweetener to your liking
  • 4 tbsp. chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Place the strawberries and sweetener in a food processor and pulse for about 20 seconds, or until the jam has become a puree.
  2. Place the puree in an airtight container and add the chia seeds. Combine the mixture and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  3. The jam should be a thick, spreadable texture.

I am still extremely amazed at how genius this recipe is and I enjoyed it on toast, in a peanut butter sandwich, and even made thumbprint cookies using the jam!

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pulse the strawberries in a food processor

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Chia seed and fruit puree

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chia and puree before the fridge

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chia jam

-Jamie

Healthy Lunch Idea #13: 3-Ingredient Vegan Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

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So, sweet potato pizza crust doesn’t really taste like your typical pizza crust, but if you like sweet potatoes, you will fall in love with this recipe. It’s extremely filling and guilt-free, and for all you vegans out there… this recipe is completely animal friendly. For this simple recipe, you only need one large sweet potato, oats, and flax seed. Chances are if you are vegan or health-conscious, you probably have these ingredients in your kitchen right now. And if you do not have flax seeds, you could bind your dough together with other vegan options such as hummus or any vegan dairy product such as vegan cream cheese. If you are not vegan, you could use an egg or dairy products. Nonetheless, the outcome will still be more nutritious than a flour pizza crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3/4 c. oats
  • 2 tbsp. flax + 4 tbsp. water = 2 thick flax eggs (don’t put too much water because you want your crust to crisp up in the oven)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • Toppings: hummus, vegan cheese, and roasted asparagus

Instructions:

  1.  Peel sweet potato and cut into chunks. Place in a food processor and pulse until the chunks look like shreds.
  2. Add the oats, oil, salt and pepper, and flax egg and pulse until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Spread onto a pan to where the mixture is 1/2 cm. thick. Place in the oven and back at 400 degrees for 30 min. Check on the crust once in a while to make sure the sides are not burned.
  5. Once the pizza crust has crisped up, meaning most the moisture has been taken out, place your toppings and back for an additional 5 min.
  6. Take pizza out and place out for about 5 min. Serve and enjoy!

This sweet potato pizza crust is a great way to get veggies into every single bite. I ate half the pizza in one sitting but no worries; it’s just like eating a baked sweet potato with toppings.

-Jamie

 

 

3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownies w/ Almond Chocolate Ganache

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Eating Raw was something I always chose to steer clear of, like if you give me zucchini noodles, please cook them…

Because of this, I didn’t like to try raw recipes because I would always prefer the cooked version. However, I recently made raw vegan brownies and they’re superbly delicious along with many other adjectives: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it! The natural sweetness comes from dates, which is a key ingredient in healthy and vegan cooking and baking. Then, the base is ground almonds (almond flour), which is gluten-free, and contains monounsaturated fat which helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. This swap makes the brownies raw because you can eat almond flour, but you must heat all-purpose flour before it can be eaten. Lastly, the chocolate-y goodness comes from cocoa powder, which is low in fat and calories as compared to actual chocolate. I then topped the brownies with an almond butter ganache, and I’m just like, “What’s not to love  about this dessert?”

3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownies w/ almond  chocolate ganache (yields 6 large brownies)

Ingredients:

For brownies

  • 1 c. almond flour
  • 10 pitted dates (I used medjool but any type works)
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp almond milk or water to make batter stick together better (optional)

For ganache

  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp almond butter + more for drizzle

Instructions:

  1. Throw dates into a blender and blend until the mixture resembles caramel.
  2. Combine almond flour and cocoa together in a large bowl.
  3. Add all the date mixture in and combine/kneed with your hand. Add some type of liquid (I used almond milk) if the batter is not coming together enough or if you like gooier brownies. (The reason I added a liquid was because the dates acts as the binding agent, but during my first try, I used enough dates to bind the brownies together and they were too sweet. So I cut back on the dates and simply used a different binding agent.
  4. Place the mixture into a square pan lined with parchment paper and press down until brownies are about 1 in. thick. Place in the fridge for about 5 min.
  5. In a small bowl, microwave almond milk for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and almond butter and let the bowl sit for about a minute. After a minute, stir with a spoon until a ganache is formed.
  7. Take the brownies out of the fridge and pour ganache on. Place brownies in the fridge for about 10 min. or until ganache is cooled.
  8. Take the brownies out and drizzle with microwaved (makes it easier to drizzle) almond butter.

Seriously, these brownies are too good. TRY THEM. You won’t regret it.

-Jamie