Tag Archives: seeds

Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins with Sunflower Streusel

IMG_4970Sometimes, you just need a good muffin. And as wonderful as homemade baked good are, there’s something about muffins from a bakery that homemade muffins rarely seem to capture. Do you ever miss that towering muffin top with its irresistibly crunchy edges? I sure do!  There is good news, though. I have a solution, and it’s much more simple than you might think.

The secret here is the baking temperature. Generally, when we bake muffins, the temperature of the oven is set to a steady 350°F -375°F for the entire baking period. If we set the oven temperature very high initially, say 450°F, and lower it after a few minutes, we’ll get that big, crunchy domed muffin top that the bakeries have been keeping for themselves all these years.

IMG_4967Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins with Sunflower Streusel

Makes 6 jumbo “bakery style” muffins, or 12 standard size muffins*

Blueberry Muffins
•3 cups all purpose flour
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
•3/4 cup coconut sugar
•2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
•1 1/2 cups vegan yogurt (I used vanilla coconut milk yogurt)
•1/2 tablespoon molasses
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/4 cup almond milk
•1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries

Sunflower Streusel

•1/4 cup room temperature coconut oil
•1/3 cup coconut sugar
•1 cup rolled oats
•1/2 cup sunflower seeds
•1/4 cup whole wheat flour
•up to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

For the streusel:

Combine coconut oil, coconut sugar, oats, sunflower seeds, and flour in a small bowl, and mix together with fingers until mixture is crumbly. Add non-dairy milk, as needed, until you achieve a sandy texture. Set aside while you prepare the muffin batter.

For the muffins: 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease or line with paper liners one jumbo muffin tin.

In  a large bowl, mix together flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt until everything is evenly distributed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, coconut sugar, flaxseed, yogurt, molasses, vanilla extract, and non-dairy milk until homogenous.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix by hand, with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into prepared muffin tin of choice, filling almost to the top. Sprinkle streusel over the top of each muffin.

Bake at 450°F for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 and bake another 26-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (or just to avoid burning your lips off).

Notes: For standard size muffins, bake at 450°F for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 18-20 minutes.

IMG_4965Are you a fan of the crunchy muffin top? Or do you prefer the bottom of the muffins? What about the flavor? I’ve always been a blueberry fan, though I wouldn’t refuse a muffin if there were chocolate present.

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesI. Love. Dates. Probably a little bit too much, but I suppose it’s better than going through bags full of Sour Patch Kids and gummy bears (childhood favorites) every day. Some people try to convince me that they don’t like dates, but I never believe them. Who doesn’t like creamy, caramelly, sometimes even butterscotchy morsels of goodness? Nobody. Unless they’re crazy. And even if, by some great anomaly, they don’t like dates in their naked form, then they’ll surely appreciate them when they’re morphed into rich, chocolatey brownies.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BItesWith powerhouse ingredients like dates, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and coconut, these brownies are more than just dessert. I like to eat a couple of these before climbing, a workout, or a run. The natural sugars in the dates provide a quick burst of energy that’s ready to use right away, while the chia seeds, full of fiber and protein, give these bites a bit of staying power. The ancient Incan civilization, it is said, used chia seeds as one of its main sources of energy. Cacao powder is notoriously high in antioxidants, and lucuma, which comes from Peru (and is, apparently, more popular in ice cream form than chocolate or vanilla) provides us with plentiful beta carotene, and a rich maple flavor.

Trust me when I say that these bites will beat out any store bought energy bar, every time, at a fraction of the cost. You’ll want to eat the whole batch in one sitting (though they’re quite filling, so I doubt you’ll be able to).

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesChocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Ingredients

•2 cups packed pitted dates*
•1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
•1/4 cup chia seeds*
•1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)*
•1/4 cup lucuma powder*
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
•2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
•cocoa powder for dusting (optional)*

Place dates, coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and optional (though recommended) vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients come together in a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pulse in chocolate chips if desired.

Remove mixture from food processor a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Place onto parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder if desired. Alternatively, you can press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan, then cut into bars or squares.

Notes: Any moist variety of date will work here. I used a combination or Medjool, Barhi (my absolute favorite – they literally taste like butterscotch), and Deeglet Noor. Nuts.com has a large selection of dates with great descriptions for each. My chia seeds and cacao powder also come from Nuts.com. If you don’t have lucuma powder, you may use an additional 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in its place. I use Nativas Naturals lucuma powder, which can be found here. Other ideas for rolling your bites in: shredded coconut, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and sesame seeds would all complement the brownie bites well.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesAre dates a regular part of your diet (please say yes!)? What are your favorite power foods?

Cheesy Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Spread

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As you well know, we’re big fans of beans in this household. Whether roasted into crunchy snacks, mashed into burgers, baked into brownies, or blended into dips and spreads, beans are one of the most versatile kitchen staples I can think of. As such, they make a rather large appearance in my diet.

I am a condiment fanatic, and as such, I am always in search of something new to put on my condiment plate (yes, I have a dinner plate, and a condiment plate – it’s important). Hummus makes an appearance on quite a frequent basis, recently with a hefty dose of roasted garlic and carrots. I wanted something a bit creamier this time, though, and great northern beans were the perfect fit.

The sun dried tomatoes lend a slightly sweet element, while the garlic adds just enough heat.  A bit of nutritional yeast rounds out the flavor, making this spread not only cheesy, but quite savory.

I’ve only eaten it as a vegetable topper so far, but I can imagine this spread doing quite well as the base for a pizza, or even stirred into pasta and other grain dishes for an extra kick of flavor and creaminess.

IMG_6676Cheesy Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Spread

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

•1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes and drained*
•1/4 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•2 tablespoons warm water
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
•1 1/2 cups great northern beans (rinsed and drained, if canned)
•3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

In the bowl of a food processor combine the sunflower seed butter and warm water. Process until a creamy mixture forms.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a homogenous mixture forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Notes: Save the tomato soaking water to use as a base for soups, to cook grains in, etc. If you only have salted sunflower seed butter on hand, begin by adding just 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and adjust as necessary.  An equal amount of cashew butter or tahini may be substituted for the sunflower seed butter.

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Looking for other cheesy ideas? If you haven’t had Gena’s “Pizza Cheese” yet, I highly recommend giving it a try.

In more of a saucy mood? Angela’s “Quick and Dirty 5 Ingredient Vegan Cheeze Sauce” is just what you’re looking for.

What are your favorite ways to add a cheesy flavor to your meals? Any other favorite “cheese” recipes out there?

Salted Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter

chocolate sunflower seed butter cutting board

Growing up, I was never the greatest fan of nut butters. While all of my friends gladly ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, ants on a log for snacks (one of Justin’s favorites), and spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the spoon, I preferred other things. Things like hummus, olives, and mustard, usually with pretzels or pita, for every meal and snack (besides breakfast). I just didn’t get peanut butter. Things have changed over the years, and I slowly began to realize the greatness not just of peanut butter, but of all nut butters. In fact, it wasn’t until I became vegan that nut butters became a regular part of my diet (not out of necessity, but because I truly began to enjoy them).

The real epiphany came when I discovered Peanut Butter and Co., which produces many wonderful varieties of peanut butter such as Mighty Maple (my personal favorite), Dark Chocolate Dreams, and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Around the same time, I also found Justin’s Nut Butter, which helped me develop an obsession with maple almond butter (do we see a theme here)?

chocolate sunflower seed butter cutting board

These nut butters, while quite irresistible, are also quite pricy. Which is why I began to make my own. There are endless flavor combinations, and they can be made at the fraction of the cost of store-bought brands. I now only buy the above-mentioned nut butters as a special treat, but make my own on a regular basis. I’ve tried countless variations, and at this point it’s hard to choose one absolute favorite. But, I think I can safely say that this is my favorite sunflower seed butter.

If you’ve never tried sunflower seed butter, you’re in for a real treat. Roasted sunflower seeds transform into a very creamy and satisfying butter by themselves, but the addition of chocolate, sea salt, and just a touch of coconut sugar here make this feel decadent and dessert-like. I have been known to enjoy a spoonful or two straight from the jar before it ever hits my intended delivery vehicle. Why waste a perfectly good apple when what you really want is the dreamy chocolate sunflower seed butter on top? Another plus? If you’re allergic to tree nuts, or know someone else who is, this sunflower seed butter is perfect for you (or to share, but you probably won’t want to).

chocolate sunflower seed butter jar

Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter

Ingredients

•1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
•2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 82% cacao content)
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•2 teaspoons coconut sugar, plus more if desired*

1. Place sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

2. Add chocolate, sea salt, vanilla, and coconut sugar, and process until the chocolate is completely incorporated.

3. Taste, and adjust sweetener according to your preference.

Notes: Any granulated sugar can be substituted for the coconut sugar, but I do not recommend using any liquid sweetener, as it affects the texture of the finished product.

chocolate sunflower seed butter knifeHave your snack preferences changed over the years, or have your tastebuds remained unchanged? Any other favorite homemade or store-bought nut butters? What is your favorite way to enjoy nut/seed butters?