Month: June 2013

Homemade Almond Butter

Posted on Updated on

2013-06-24 09.22.20

While peanut butter has been popular for ages, almond butter is establishing its reputation in the food industry. Like peanut butter, almond butter has its nutritious value and health benefits that it can add to your dietary plans. Almond butter is made from almonds that are crushed and smoothed into a paste. Almonds are a highly nutritious food as they contain vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. Almonds are a good fiber source and also contain protein. Because of their high monounsaturated fat content, almonds are considered a healthy food choice. Almonds or almond butter provide healthy fat not typically found in foods high in saturated fats.  While almond butter is not commercialized as much as peanut butter, it is just as healthy and nutritious. Just like making your own peanut butter, making homemade almond butter allows you to customize the amount of sugar, salt, and oil to your liking. But unlike peanut butter, however, almonds take a little longer to process than peanut butter. Sometimes almond butter can have a chalky texture which is why I add a bit of oil to smooth it out.  I use this delicious nut butter for several recipes to achieve richer and creamier results. I also tend to go through almond butter very quickly which can get expensive if you are buying a jar of it.  The last thing on earth I appreciate it being ripped off for something I can easily replicate on my own and homemade almond butter is one of them. Now if only I had some apple slices with me on hand………

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 3 cups of roasted unsalted almonds (if you can’t find roasted almonds, you can roast them yourself)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  3. 2 teaspoons of any oil of your choice (you can add more if the almond mixture is too thick but don’t add too much)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350, then roast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet for approx 10 minutes or until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden brown. Place roasted almonds in a food processor and process for a minute. Scrape down the sides, close lid and continue to process. Add salt and oil. Process for another 10 minutes or until smooth. Transfer almond butter into a jar. Seal with a lid and keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

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Deep Dish Blondie Pie

Posted on

2013-06-24 10.41.27

I had trouble classifying this deep dish blondie pie. Blondies are normally categorized as desserts or snacks. I felt this pie would make a nice breakfast. I made this deep dish blondie pie one morning and I couldn’t resist a slice. Then again, I luck out of having self control to anything baked fresh out of the oven.  Perhaps calling this blondie pie “healthy” can be a far stretch. After all, there’s still sugar and chocolate chips. But in comparison to your standard blondies—with their plethora of butter, eggs, and white flour—this version is a much healthier alternative, while still tasting just as sacrilegious. Plus, you get lots of fiber and protein from the oats and white beans, akin to the ingredients used in my Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Tart. I was, however, advised against eating anything heavy with protein the first thing in the morning. Having said that, I assigned this dish under the breakfast and dessert breakfast. If you want to impress your friends, neighbors, and families this a (not so) sinful dessert/snack/breakfast, this deep dish blondie pie will have everyone raving about it.  If blended well,especially the beans, you won’t be able to detect the flavors of these ingredients. This deep dish blondie pie is a real crowd-pleaser, especially among people who aren’t accustomed to eating healthy desserts. I love Hubby’s Blondies but a healthier adaption is always appreciated. And so the dessert rehab commences from hereon! Now that I got myself super-pumped, I may dedicate the next couple of blog posts to healthy desserts 🙂

P.S.: In case you are wondering, I did not include nor make a pie crust for this recipe. I felt like being remiss in not providing one.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of cooked white beans or chickpeas
  2. 1 cup of white whole wheat or oat flour
  3. 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  4. 1/4 cups of oats or grounded walnuts
  5. 4 tablespoons of oil
  6. 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  7. 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  10. 1 cup of brown sugar
  11. 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend everything (except the chocolate chips) very well in a good food processor. Mix in chips, and pour into an greased deep dish pan. 35-40 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan or cutting into slices.

Yields 8 servings

 

Tropical Fruit Salad

Posted on

2013-06-24 16.55.08-1

Most people associate fruit salad with dessert. At least I do anyways. Very seldom is fruit salad thought as a salad. Yes there are salads made in many variations with some fruit embedded in it.  A while ago, I was eating out at a cafe with an old acquaintance.  When she ordered fruit salad, she was shocked when the waiter asked her which dressing she would like to go along with it. Dressing for a fruit salad doesn’t seem as unusual as it sounds.  I made fruit salad dressings using yogurt, honey, and a bit of lemon juice.  For this tropical fruit salad recipe, I decided that a salad dressing wouldn’t be necessary.  And yes, eating cut up assorted fruit is much more preferred as a dessert to me. Fruit is a healthy alternative to satisfy your cravings for sweet things and appease your sweet tooth.  I’m always delighted when tropical fruit is in season.

 

Made from cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, peaches, and cherries, this tropical fruit salad is refreshing, zingy and perfect for a hot summer day.  You don’t have to travel very far to enjoy a taste of tropical paradise. Combined with a mixture of local and tropical fruit, this tropical fruit salad makes a great big bowl, big enough to feed a crowd so it’s perfect to bring to a picnic, potluck or to serve at a backyard BBQ. This is easy enough for anyone to make – if you can use a knife, you can make this salad. You can choose from your own combination of fruit for this easy fresh fruit salad. Feel free to add papaya, starfruit, kiwis, melon, bananas, coconut shavings or other berries if you find any. If making it for a party, you should consider serving your fruit salad in a pineapple or watermelon boat. Layer them in a wine or tequila glass for a touch of elegance. Or just casually serve it out of a salad bowl.  Simplicity is one of my strong points after all.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 pineapple cut into chunks
  2. 1 lbs of cantaloupe cut into cubes
  3. 1 cup of fresh mango cubed
  4. 4 ripe peaches sliced
  5. Bunch of fresh cherries (there is no such thing as too many cherries)

Instructions

Place all the fresh fruit in a mixing bowl. Toss in some dressing if you prefer. Garnish with coconut flakes if you choose to. Serve at once.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Posted on Updated on

2013-06-20 09.15.06

Akin to Nutella and any nut spread, peanut butter is an item that you can easily and inexpensively make in your own kitchen, since it does not require a lot of ingredients. Making your own peanut butter will also provide a healthier alternative to the commercial, store-bought kind, as homemade peanut butter will be free from preservatives and artificial flavors.  A physician from St. Louise invented peanut butter in 1890 to provide his patients with an easy-to-digest, high protein food. Several dozen commercial brands of peanut butter were on the market by 1914, and in 1923 a process was invented to keep the oil and peanut butter from separating. Peanut butter is a blend of ground shelled peanuts, vegetable oil and salt. The advantages of making your own peanut butter is that you have full control over the amount of salt or honey you want to add. While some people like peanut butter crunchy, I have a stronger preference to smooth peanut butter. All it takes is some roasted unsalted peanuts, a food processor and 15 minutes of your time.  If you can find a good, inexpensive supply of peanuts, making peanut butter may help save money in the long run while providing you with your own tasty batch of homemade peanut butter. You can always roast your peanuts. Just bake them in a 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes, shaking them every 2 minutes to ensure that they don’t burn. Of course, the shelf life expectancy and supply of homemade peanut butter would be shorter as compared to its branded counterparts, unless you have family members with peanut allergies. You can add a bit of honey to sweeten it.  If you decide on salted peanuts, I would not recommend adding more salt. Homemade peanut butter should be refrigerated after opening and will last 6 months this way, while other commercial brands will last as long at room temperature.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of roasted peanuts
  2. 2 teaspoons of peanut oil or vegetable oil
  3. 1/2 teaspoon of honey (optional)
  4. Pinch of salt (if the peanuts are not salted

Instructions

Pour roasted peanuts in a food processor with a metal blade attached.  Add the peanut oil. Cover the bowl with the food processor lid and chop the peanuts continuously for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape peanuts down from the food processor bowl into the bottom, as needed, when processing the peanuts. Continue processing the mixture until it is of your desired consistency. For smooth peanut butter, you may have to process the mixture for a longer period. Add the honey and salt if needed. Transfer peanut butter into a jar or air-light container. Store in the refrigerator for a day or two so it can set in to a lovely thick peanut butter paste.

Yields about 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter

Nutella Banana French Toast Sandwich

Posted on

2013-06-18 08.25.50-1

 

I grew up on French toast. I had it almost every Sunday morning for breakfast. Truth be told, I never cared for French toast. It was either too eggy or too dry. I would often skip out on French toast despite my mother’s protests. I’d sooner prefer a bowl of soggy cornflakes if I wasn’t feeling too lazy to whip up a batter of pancakes for myself.  French toast is a breakfast dish made of bread, eggs, and milk. The bread is soaked in eggs and milk. Sometimes a bit a vanilla extract, cinnamon, and sugar are added to the egg mixture. French toast is mostly served as a sweet dish along with fresh berries, topped with maple syrup or powdered sugar.  Thick slices of stale bread is recommended for making French toast as it can absorb the liquid without getting too soggy.  I was feeling adventurous and a bit bored one morning. After not having French toast for a while, I decided to give it another chance. I adapted a healthier and non-dairy version.  I substituted milk for orange juice. You can use soy or almond milk as well. Rather than using whole eggs, I used egg whites.  To add excitement to this dish, I used Nutella spread  and sliced bananas. It was simply divine and a brilliant idea at that. Introducing French toast and a sandwich to each other is combining two of the best worlds together. You get a crispy exterior with a gooey filling on the inside.  If you are looking for a healthy breakfast idea that you and your kids will love or to beat your morning grumpiness, this Nutella Banana French Toast Sandwich may be the right solution for you. I also happen to have had a irresistible craving for some Nutella spread that morning which turned into a breakfast inspiration. If you have a nut allergy, you can use chocolate spread.  This variation of French toast is my favorite by far. Not only is this Nutella banana French toast sandwich decadent but it’s practically guilt-free so long as you make your own homemade Nutella.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4 egg whites beaten
  2. 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice
  3. 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  4. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  5. 8 thick slices of whole wheat bread
  6. Nutella
  7. Sliced bananas

Instructions

Beat egg whites, orange juice,  vanilla extract, and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.  Whisk until well blended.  Use bread slices to make 4 Nutella banana sandwiches.  Dip each sandwich in the egg white mixture and coat evenly. Grease a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Fry until brown on both sides, flipping the bread when necessary. Serve hot with maple and fresh berries.

 

Yields 4 servings

 

 

 

Peach Mango Drink

Image Posted on Updated on

2013-06-17 08.38.30While some people may beg to differ, I still insist that its hard to find good quality juices where I live. Tropicana was the closest thing to good fruit/citrus drinks. I particularly enjoy drinks made of freshly squeezed fruits. Now that I am able to make these fresh fruit drinks from the comfort of my own home, I no longer have to worry about not having anything to drink in the mornings.  Sometimes a break from my usual  morning coffee routine can be very much appreciated.  Plus there is no concern of added sugar or preservatives  homemade morning drinks. I made a peach mango drink for myself.  I couldn’t think of a better way to kick-off  the morning  other than with a cup of peach mango drink.  I chose peaches and mangoes as they are in season. A bit of orange juice adds some pizazz to this drink. If you don’t like pulp in your drink, just simply use a strainer. As a kid, I couldn’t think of anything more irritating than pulp in my juice.  I happen to enjoy drinking fruit – not fruit juices, which are very high in sugar and low in fiber, but whole fruit blended into a smoothie or a drink. You can pack a lot of fruit into one of these drinks, so if you’re having trouble getting your daily servings, homemade drinks might be your answer. Moreover, mango is a great way to utilize in drinks and desserts.  Just be sure the fruit you use is really ripe and sweet. The riper the fruit is, the easier it will blend.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 mangoes peeled and cut into cubes
  2. 5 – 6 ripe peaches peeled, pitted, and sliced
  3. Juice from an orange or two

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Add a bit more water or orange juice if too thick.  Strain with a sieve.  Serve chilled.

Yields 2 servings

Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Tart

Posted on Updated on

2013-06-14 08.49.48

Denying me a tasty chocolaty treat is equivalent to denying babies their toys. Resisting chocolate is out of the question. That won’t ever happen. Even though I’ve learned to suppress my cravings, I haven’t completely shaken off my addiction to chocolate. I don’t think I ever will. As one of America’s popular treats, brownies are often laden with eggs, oil, and butter. There is nothing more that I love about a brownie other than its fudgy, chewy, and dense texture, the way it always should be.  Unfortunately, ingredients that are high in saturated fat are often used to bake brownies. A lot of people would think that there is no healthy alternative to making healthy but fudgy brownies. I beg to differ. You wouldn’t believe the ingredients I’ve used to make this brownie tart.  While I’ve heard people using tomato sauce and other mashed vegetables for their brownie batter, most people don’t normally entertain the thought of incorporating pureed beans into the brownies. Brownies baked in a tart form is another realm of oddity. It does, however, make it look presentable. While the idea seemed bazaar to me, I was overpowered by mere curiosity and I had to take it to the test myself. Alas, my experimentation was a grand success.  Pureed beans are my secret weapon that ensures this brownie tart’s fudgy texture. If you are hesitant to use beans as some of you may be, you can opt for bananas or even avocado. Okay. I used a bit of oil; only 3 tablespoons. This Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Tart recipe was borrowed from one of the cookbooks I own.  This brownie tart, like the original recipe, includes 3 components – a cookie pie crust for the base, brownie filling, chocolate ganache topping.  You will need a 9 inch tart pan as well or it wouldn’t be a tart without one 😉

This Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Tart is a great dessert that chocoholics, parents, children, and those with a sweet tooth can compromise on. And it’s nearly not as complicated to make. Oh, did I mention that there are no eggs added at all? Vegans can breathe a sigh of relief. Tasty chocolate vegan and soy-free desserts do exist despite what some skeptical dessert fanatics may say. This vegan brownie tart is rich, fudgy and dense. They are not too sweet but have a strong chocolate flavor. You can recreate a gluten-free version if you choose too. Or you can leave out the ganache and serve this tart hot along with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt.

Exit statement: There is no such thing as a brownie being too fudgy for me 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 cup of flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, or oat)
  2. 1/2 cup of grounded walnuts or oats
  3. 1/3 cup of sugar
  4. 1/4 cup of oil

Brownie Filling:

  1. 12 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate
  2. 1 1/2 cup of cooked white beans or 15 oz can of white beans
  3. 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  4. 1 1/2 cup of flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, or oat)
  5. 3 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  7. 3/4 cup of raw sugar
  8. 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  9. 12 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  10. Pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache:

  1. 1 cup of soy milk
  2. 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  3. 2 tablespoons of polyunsaturated spread

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the cookie crust: Pulse ingredients in a food processor till they are coarse and crumb-like. Press up against a greased 9 inch tart pan.

For brownie filling: Place all ingredients in the food processor except for the chocolate chips. Process till well combined. Melt chocolate chips and fold in brownie mixture. Transfer mixture to the tart pan. Bake for 27-30 minutes. Remove and allow it to completely cool.

For the ganache: Place chocolate pieces  and spread in a large bowl. Heat milk on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour milk over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set.

Yields 8-10 servings