Tag Archives: sunflower 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.

Double Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

double chocolate mocha oat squaresToday I want to talk about snacks. We’ve talked about snacks before, but not all snacks are created equal. The best kinds of snacks (in my opinion) contain chocolate. Double doses of chocolate (or even triple, if you like). What makes chocolate taste better? Coffee. Just a little bit, to deepen the flavor. And vanilla, because I like it (don’t you?). Sea salt, too, because what goes better with chocolate than sea salt?

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThis is one of those recipes that I created as I went. I had no clear end in sight when I walked into the kitchen, outside of the fact that I needed a new snack. And that a portable snack would be most ideal. Apparently, I was in the mood for chocolate, because that’s the first item I grabbed off the shelf, shortly followed by oats, another staple ingredient, and freshly made sunflower seed butter (which has also seen a lot of use around here lately).

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThese bars are dense and chewy, full of wonderful texture, and completely satisfying. Melty chocolate complements crunchy sunflower seeds and chewy rolled oats. A hint of coffee gives these bars a complex flavor and makes them a bit more mysterious than your average granola bar. They’re great for a pre-workout energy boost, quick breakfast (chocolate for breakfast, yes please!), or even drizzled with extra chocolate as a dessert for your Superbowl party this weekend!

double chocolate mocha oat squaresDouble Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

•1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
•1/4 cup brewed coffee*
•1/2 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•1/3 cup turbinado sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 cup rolled oats
•1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
•2 tablespoons cocoa powder
•1/4 cup chocolate chunks
•2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with parchment or lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed and coffee. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, turbinado sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until homogenous, then pour in the flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

Pour in the salt, rolled oats, flour, and cocoa powder, and mix until well incorporated, using your hands if necessary. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chunks.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press down firmly, creating a 3/4 inch thick layer of dough. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and press into the dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes: To give these bars a triple dose of chocolate, use my chocolate sunflower seed butter. If you do not wish to use coffee, an equal amount of a coffee substitute (such as Teeccino or Dandy Blend), or non-dairy milk may be used. If you use non-dairy milk, the bars won’t have the mocha flavor, but will work just the same.

double chocolate mocha oat squaresWhat are your favorite chocolate snacks? Do any of them do double duty as a dessert (or breakfast)? Does anyone of other great ideas for Superbowl snacks?

double chocolate mocha oat squares

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?