There’s Kale in My Pesto and Coffee in My Banana Bread (Recipes!)

Long time, no recipe post, huh? Sure, I’ve been including recipes here and there in my posts lately, but sometimes it’s nice to devote an entire post to them. I haven’t had one of these since June 10th–almost a month, yikes! But I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and it’s paid off with two recipes I think you might love.

First up, something you might want to whip up as a quick dinner. Usually when I have pasta, I use some kind of red sauce or sometimes my spicy nacho cheez sauce for a vegan take on mac ‘n cheese. I rarely even think about pesto, the popular green cousin of tomato sauce. But when I saw a recipe for pumpkin seed pesto on the Whole Foods website, I knew I had to make some for myself…with some changes, of course, to make it my own recipe.

Cheezy pumpkin seed kale pesto over quinoa pasta and Rising Moon artichoke and olive ravioli, watermelon slices.

Cheezy Pumpkin Seed Kale Pesto (vegan, gluten free)

1/2 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup water

1/2 tbsp olive oil

lemon juice, to taste

two handfuls kale, roughly chopped

nooch, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until combined and creamy. Add more nooch if desired, and serve over pasta, veggies or quinoa. Makes about 1 cup.

The pesto paired perfectly with chilled quinoa pasta and soy ricotta ravioli but I also want to try it as a sandwich spread! It’s more nutritious than the typical pesto, because it’s cheese-free (but uses nooch to get that cheezy taste) and uses kale which is packed with Vitamins A & C and has some calcium and fiber. And the pumpkin seeds add an interesting taste and creamy texture to the sauce!

And what’s dinner without some dessert afterwards? I usually space my dinner and nighttime snack so there’s about 2 hours in between, just enough time to digest and work up some hunger for dessert! I haven’t baked something in pretty much forever (probably close to two months) so it was definitely time. I made banana bread for the second time ever–the first time was about 3 years ago. I like banana bread, but I just rarely think to make it. But I didn’t want to just make plain ‘ol banana bread, no, I had to try incorporating some unusual ingredients. It turned out great and even better than normal banana bread.

Nothin’ better than warm banana bread crumbled in almond milk topped with almond peanut cashew butter and mini chocolate chips!

Mocha Chip Banana Bread (vegan)

3/4 cup oat flour (can sub whole wheat, or gluten free flour)

3/4 cup oats [adds some texture]

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 squares dark chocolate with coffee pieces, chopped (can use normal dark chocolate, or chocolate chips)

1/4 cup cold coffee (I made mine with 1/3 packet Starbucks VIA instant mocha powder and 1/4 cup water)

2 ripe bananas

2 tbsp maple syrup or agave

1/2 tbsp chia or flax seed, for “egg”

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and chocolate until combined. In a blender or food processor, blend the coffee, bananas and maple syrup until smooth and mixed thoroughly. Pour wet mixture into dry and add in chia or flax egg. Pour batter into baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Makes 8 slices.

Mine didn’t rise a lot (stupid high altitude baking!) but it was still tasty and very dense. It’s a lot healthier than the typical banana bread and isn’t quite as sweet but for around 110 calories per slice, it makes the perfect snack crumbled in almond milk or spread with almond butter. And I love the slight coffee taste it has! Next time I would add even more coffee to it. Oh, and my junk food-loving little sister loved it, so that’s saying a lot!

This recipe is being submitted for this week’s (September 7) Healthy Vegan Friday

What’s your favorite kind of bread to eat? Do you like red sauce, white sauce or pesto?

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I’m Done…

I’m done…with focusing on calories, rather than nutrients

Larabars might have a ‘lot’ of calories, but they’re healthy and simple!

I want to be a healthy vegan, so what does that mean? Getting enough fats and protein. Instead of seeking out the lowest calorie faux meat products (which do have protein, but aren’t that healthy), I want to buy nutrient-dense things that will fuel my body and help me feel my best, like Larabars and Sunshine Burgers (made from seeds, beans and veggies). I want to stop shying away from coconut products just because of their high saturated fat content. I’m done with being scared of plant-based fats, period.

I’m done…with having tiny portions of everything

Four mini pancakes are NOT enough for breakfast alone!

I know I will always likely have a smaller appetite than a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I have to eat like a hummingbird! I’m sick of eating small amounts at every meal and feeling hungry and unsatisfied an hour or two later. If I want to feel more comfortable with eating more, I can choose to snack more between my mini meals or even just increase the size of my meals a little bit over time. I’m tired of only having 1/4 cup of oats at breakfast (even with toppings it’s not enough) and only allowing myself a teaspoon of nut butter per day.

I’m done…with restricting my calories and my life

Why can’t I feel okay eating an entire (170 calorie) vegan chocolate chip cookie at one sitting and more than a tiny bowl of almond milk ice cream?

I’ve wasted way too much of my life semi-starving myself and listening to ED’s stupid demands. I want to be okay eating the calories I need to live a healthy life. I want to sometimes order something other than a salad at a restaurant. I want to cook vegan things that even my omni family will love, because it’s full of nutrients and flavor. I’m sick of freaking out every day that I exercise a little bit less than I wanted to. I’m done with constantly tallying up my calories and macro nutrients and over analyzing them.

I’m done…with second-guessing my cooking skills

My first attempt at a homemade vegan ice cream pie for Father’s Day…everyone loved it!

I hate worrying about cooking things for my family and wondering if they’ll even like it, just because it’s something they’re not used to. I want to do even more experimenting with cooking for myself. I want to make even more vegan desserts to show my family that vegan things can be just as tasty as normal desserts.

Vegan Ice Cream Pie (vegan)

8 sandwich cookies, any flavor (I used Whole Foods’ store brand, which are all-natural, but Oreos and Newman O’s are also vegan)

1/2 pint vegan ice cream, any flavor or variety like almond/coconut/soy (I used Almond Dream’s cappuccino swirl)

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder or cacao powder

1/2 tbsp agave or maple syrup

splash almond milk (or water)

fresh berries/bananas, shaved dark chocolate, vegan whipped cream, etc. for garnish

Separate the sandwich cookies and set aside the filling. Crumble cookies by hand or in a food processor until finely crushed. Mix in filling until mostly combined and starting to stick together. Press cookie crust into bottom of medium-sized glass bowl or cake pan and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Let ice cream soften and spread 1/4 of a pint over the crust, smoothing down with a rubber spatula or flat wooden spoon. Place in freezer for 30-60 minutes, or until ice cream layer is hardened. In a small bowl, stir together cocoa powder and agave until mostly mixed, and add in a splash of almond milk or water until it becomes a thick fudge-like paste. Spoon over ice cream layer and place in freezer for another 30 minutes. Let ice cream soften again and spread the remaining 1/4 pint over the fudge layer and freeze entire pie for 1-3 hours. Serve topped with berries, shaved/melted chocolate or whatever toppings you’d like. Makes 4 slices. 

What are you “done with”? How do you feel about cooking for others?

Summer (Recipe) Lovin’

Anyone catch the Grease reference? Ironically, my sister’s auditioning for it in the fall at her school since she’s really into musical theatre. I’m actually not even sure if I’ve ever seen the entire movie, but I have definitely heard some of the songs from it.

Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of recipe experimentation lately and it’s all been pretty successful. Well, okay I did attempt to make Katie’s deep dish cookie pie and it turned out alright, except it tasted a little beany and it didn’t last very long even inside a Ziploc bag without starting to get moisture inside the bag so I had to toss them. But everything else has been not just edible but pretty delicious. Note: All of these are my own recipes, except where I gave credit to the original.

These tiny bites are addicting!

I know I said before that I’m a bigger fan of cookies ‘n cream, but I couldn’t pass up these cookie dough bites I saw on Angela’s blog. If you’ve ever wanted to eat cookie dough but didn’t want to get sick from the raw eggs, these little bites are perfect because they’re vegan, so no eggs involved! But they taste exactly like raw cookie dough and are super simple to make.

Cookie Dough Bites (vegan)

Adapted from Oh She Glows

1/4 cup raw cashew pieces

2 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp oat flour

sprinkle sea salt

8-10 drops vanilla stevia, to taste

2 tbsp honey vanilla agave (or plain agave)

1 tbsp semisweet vegan chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend cashews and oats until combined and flour-like in texture. Add in oat flour, salt and stevia drops until mixed. Add in agave until mixture comes together and is sticky. In a bowl, take cookie dough mixture and mix in chocolate chips by hand. Form into 8 to 10 small balls and keep in fridge until ready to eat.

Mocha softserve topped with peanut butter Puffins.

This one’s so simple it’s barely a recipe but I thought I’d share it anyway because it’s so good. If you’ve ever made banana softserve before and you’re a coffee fan, you’ll love this version. Just two ingredients and it tastes almost like coffee ice cream.

Mocha Softserve (vegan, gluten-free)

banana slices, frozen

1 tsp instant coffee powder (I used Starbucks’ VIA mocha instant coffee)

Blend banana slices in a food processor or high-powered blender until the slices clump together. Add in coffee powder and process until slices form into a big scoop that’s brownish in color. Serves 1.

Trust me, your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for this bowl!

If you’ve been to Chipotle and have ever had their burrito bowls, you’ll know that they are some of the best things ever. They are always my go-to when I get around to going there (it’s been almost a year since I last went!) because I love getting a bunch of random tasty things in a bowl. But then I made this Chipotle-inspired bowl and realized that it’s even better than the restaurant’s, in both taste and nutrition. Guess I won’t be wasting any of my hard-earned money there anytime soon 😉

Better-than-Chipotle Burrito Bowl (vegan, gluten-free, high protein)

1/3 cup cooked quinoa

cilantro, chopped

lime, quartered

1/2 cup beans (I used pinto, you can use black or whatever beans are your favorite)

kale, chopped and massaged with lemon juice and nooch

spoonful salsa

spoonful guacamole

Mix quinoa with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice until combined. Add a pinch of sea salt if needed. Top with beans, kale, salsa, guacamole or whatever burrito bowl toppings are your favorites. Serves 1. 

Almost totally homemade cinnamon rolls!

About a year ago, I attempted to make Mama Pea’s cinnamon rolls, which are completely from scratch. Now usually I like making things from scratch and most of the time they turn out. Not this time, probably because I have nada experience with making bread that has to rise. I was still on the search for an easy vegan cinnamon roll recipe when I found out that you can make them using pizza dough. I had just gotten some fresh dough from Whole Foods the other day so I decided to put some of the dough to use in almost homemade cinnamon rolls. And they were a delicious success, not to mention totally easy. If you’re scared about making cinnamon rolls from scratch, this is the perfect recipe for you. Plus they’re really healthy–no butter or oil used, lightly sweetened with a natural sweetener and packed with nutritious grains like millet and oats (if you use multigrain pizza dough). What’s better than an easy, yummy and no-guilt breakfast?

Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)

half ball of fresh multigrain pizza dough

1 tbsp agave or maple syrup (I used Ohgave! honey vanilla)

generous sprinkle cinnamon

handful chopped maple or regular pecans

oat flour (to flour surface)

Let pizza dough rise in a towel-covered bowl for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375. Roll out risen dough on floured cutting board until about 1 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Mix agave and cinnamon in a small bowl until thick and paste-like and spread on dough. Sprinkle with pecans and roll into a thick log, pinching ends. Cut into 4 small rolls with a floured knife and place in sprayed baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown on top. Serve warm from the oven topped with icing, cream cheese or vanilla almond butter. 

Quinoa power cookie (almost raw).

We just invested in a dehydrator, thanks to my obsession with dried fruit and how expensive that habit is. So far, I’ve made dried pineapple and kiwi…and these cookies. Yep, it’s true, you can make cookies in a dehydrator, and not just any cookies, but magical ones. Like ones made from simple, healthy ingredients like quinoa and almond butter. These babies are tiny but powerful…and delicious of course. They made my house smell like peanut butter and are crunchy and chewy at the same time. Oh, and if you’re dehydrator-less, you can make these in the oven at a low temp. I can’t vouch for how they’ll turn out, but the recipe I adapted them from said you can do that. I personally think it’s cooler making cookies in a dehydrator! Oh, and each cookie has less than 80 calories, so you can totally eat a few of them at a time without feeling guilty!

Quinoa Power Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)

Adapted from Insatiably Healthy

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tbsp almond butter (I used almond peanut cashew butter)

2 tbsp agave (I used Ohgave! honey vanilla agave) or other liquid sweetener

2 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp peanut flour

1 tbsp ground flax-seed

1/2 tbsp sweetened cacao nibs

1 tbsp dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, almond butter and agave. Stir in oats, peanut flour and flax until mixture sticks together. Fold in cacao nibs and chocolate chips. Form into 10 small cookies and place on dehydrator trays. Cook on 115 F for 3-6 hours or until crunchy on the outside. 

What’s the best thing you’ve made lately? What’s your go-to Chipotle order?

Savoring Summer

Guess what, guys? Just ONE MORE WEEK til I am done with my sophomore year! Wooooooo 😀 Okay, so I still have one final the next week, but I’m trying to ignore that fact 😉 Anyways, my summer basically begins next Friday and I am beyond ready and excited for it! 3 whole months of enjoying the warm weather, soaking up the sun, going on a couple vacays (hopefully) and my internship, along with some other things that I’ll share with y’all later. Oh, and of course, my 20th birthday is in exactly 3 months–heck to the yes!

I’ve mentioned this about a million times before, but living in a dorm is pure torture for a foodie like me. I really miss having a kitchen and getting to experiment with recipes but luckily that won’t be a problem in a week. Of course, I’ve been planning up tons of things I want to make once I have daily access to the kitchen and it’s been making me really hungry 😛 In case you’ve been wanting some recipe inspiration, I’m sharing a few of them here (note: none of them are my own recipes, though when I make them, I will probably tweak some a lot of things. Plus all of them are vegan or can be made vegan).

Photo courtesy of Peas and Thank You.

Who doesn’t want a fun way to eat their veggies? The sauce alone is drool-worthy.

Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

A healthified root beer float? Count me in, especially since it’s spiked with coffee! I’m planning on making mine with some root beer stevia and vanilla-flavored almond milk ice cream.

Photo courtesy of 101 Cookbooks.

My tempeh obsession is still going strong, and this Asian-inspired dish looks beyond tasty.

Photo courtesy of Shape.

Would you believe me if I told you the taco filling is made from walnuts and the ‘sour cream’ is made from cashews? It sounds strange but I’m willing to bet it’s really good.

Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

Pink lemonade is a great summertime refresher, but add in a little coconut water, and it’s even better!

Photo courtesy of Peas and Thank You.

I still need to get a donut pan, but as soon as I do, you best believe I am making these salted maple donuts!

Photo courtesy of Healthy Food for Living.

I’ve tried making chocolate avocado pudding and let’s just say it wasn’t great. But pudding with sweet potatoes sounds promising!

Photo courtesy of The Raw Chef.

I am obsessed with all things Greek/Mediterranean and I’m also interested in raw foods. Combining the two sounds like perfection, especially in this totally raw falafel and hummus wrap.

Photo courtesy of Oh She Glows.

Who wants a chemical-laden, sugar-filled DQ Blizzard when you can have a totally vegan, much healthier cookie dough version?

Photo courtesy of The Vegan Version.

I generally don’t like cheese (duh, I’m vegan!) but nut cheese is a whole different story! This baked ‘feta’ made from almonds seems almost too good to be true!

Photo courtesy of Peas and Thank You.

Who knew watermelon could be grilled? It’s definitely a summer staple for me, so it’s nice to have new ways to enjoy it.

Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

I always need new overnight oats inspirations–why didn’t I think of sticky banana bread? This topping looks crazy good and perfectly indulgent.

What recipes look the yummiest to you? What do ‘summery’ recipes usually include for you?

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Hi lovelies, how were all your weekends? I am beyond excited that it’s less than a week til Christmas, but I’ll save that excitement for later!

After having read a lot about NaNeFoMo (or National New Food Month) around the bloggy world, I decided to finally join in! Yes, I know it’s kinda late, but I have already made some progress and created a “bucket list” of things I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Photobucket

1. Peanut flour. I finally sucked it up and ordered some online a couple of weeks back. This has changed my life, for real! I’ve had it practically on a daily basis since it first arrived in the mail (which is why I just had to order more!) and I’m definitely not sick of it yet. It makes an amazing paste, peanut sauce for stir-frys and salads, as flavoring for Greek yogurt and as a source of protein in smoothies. I even used it in place of flour in my festive garland bars. Definitely a new staple in my pantry!

The perfect topper for banana softserve and Puffins!

2. Chocolate chips. These were (and still are) a fear food of mine, so I thought they’d be perfect to include in my list. I bought some vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods, used them in a few recipes and now I love them! Yes, they’re still scary, so I only eat maybe a teaspoon or so per day, but I don’t want to deprive myself of dark chocolate ever again!

Chocolate chips make an appearance in nutty cherry chocolate chunk cookies...recipe to come!

3. Making my own nut butter. Being home alone a week ago gave me the perfect opportunity to whip up a batch of homemade nut butter. But what kind to make? I had a bag of chopped pecans, so I mixed those up with some instant coffee powder, a little maple syrup and coffee maple pecan butter was born. You’re welcome 😉

Simple combination, but oh so tasty!

4. Vegan marshmallows. Erm, well, not quite yet! I haven’t been able to find any in stores near me, so I decided to settle for some pescetarian marshmallows. Ummmm, say what? Yeah, marshmallows have gelatin in them, which is made from animals, but I was able to find some kosher ones, which means the gelatin is made from fish. Since I am basically a pescetarian right now, these are fine by me til I can find some truly vegan marshmallows.

5. Kombucha. This one is very scary to me. Not a fear food, in the eating disorder sense, but scary because A) they’re expensive and B) what if they taste horrible? I’ve still yet to take the plunge on this, but I’m hoping maybe I’ll get to sample it at Whole Foods or something and see if it’s worth the price.

6. More raw/vegan desserts. Every one I’ve attempted so far has turned out amazingly well (even if I am the only one who ends up eating them…oh well, more for me!) and I’d love to do more experimenting in the kitchen over the next month. Raw desserts can be kinda “scary” since they include lots of calorically-dense foods such as dates and nuts, but they taste so good and are so healthy for you compared to regular desserts. A few things I have in the works include raw salted caramel sauce, vegan peppermint bark and another variation on my raw brownies with chocolate peppermint avocado “buttercream” frosting. This month sure is looking delicious 8)

One of my favorite desserts ever--raw brownie pie with frozen raspberries and nonfat coffee froyo.

So that’s my bucket list so far–three things down, three to go! I’m proud of myself for conquering one fear food so far and I’m looking forward to trying out new things, especially the recipes. While I like to make “tried and true” type things, it’s always rewarding making something brand new and having it turn out amazing. And if it doesn’t, it’s not a huge deal!

Are you participating in NaNeFoMo? Have you ever made a raw dessert?

WIAW: What I’ve Been Making

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all my fellow U.S. bloggers! Are you excited for the big day? I know I am, since I’m planning on making a few things for the meal.

I wasn’t exactly planning on doing a WIAW post this week–in fact, it almost slipped my mind! But I did promise you guys a few recipes, so I decided that a WIAW post could be good for that. I know it’s kinda cheating, but I did eat them all on Tuesday, so it’s just a shorter version of my usual WIAWs.

Peas and Crayons

I was totally inspired by my pumpkin s’more from Monday night, so I decided to recreate it in oats form. I made a batch of plain volume oats, heated it up in the a.m. and topped with a teaspoon of vegan chocolate chips, a couple of mini marshmallows and a square of graham cracker. I loved how the chocolate and marshmallows melted into the oats. Probably my best oat creation to date!

S'mores in a bowl!

Remember those festive garland bars from WIAW a couple of weeks ago? Well, I made them and they turned out fabulously good. I’m so glad that I’ve finally been able to make a baked treat that turned out perfect. Plus, they’re completely vegan!

Sweet, salty, pumpkin-y and chocolate-y.

Festive Garland Bars (vegan)

1/2 c oat flour

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/8 t baking soda

1/3 c dried cranberries

1/3 c vegan chocolate chips

1/3 c maple syrup

1/4 c pumpkin puree

1 c Whole Foods popcorn or kettle corn

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with PAM; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add 3 T cranberries and 3 T chocolate chips and toss to coat. In a large bowl, mix maple syrup and pumpkin until combined. Add flour mixture and stir together until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until just cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes; set aside to let cool. Melt remaining chocolate chunks. Spread 2/3 of melted chocolate over bars and immediately scatter remaining cranberries and popcorn over the top, pressing down gently to help adhere. Drizzle remaining chocolate over bars. Set aside until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes; cut into squares and serve immediately.

This dessert was definitely a turning point for me, as far as my ED goes. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my biggest fear foods is chocolate. I love dark chocolate, but I can’t eat it straight-up, it has to be in cocoa powder form or something. I’m mostly scared of the saturated fat in it, which is ridiculous. I don’t eat very much sat fat, maybe 2 grams a day, so it scares me that just a tablespoon of chocolate chips has 2 1/2 grams. But I used 6 whole tablespoons of vegan chocolate chips in these bars, so there’s a little over 1/2 a tablespoon of chocolate per square. I gotta be honest, I loved these little bars, but the chocolate did make me feel a little guilty, especially since I already had a teaspoon earlier. I know this probably sounds completely ridiculous, but I’m working on feeling okay with eating chocolate, one teaspoon at a time.

The main ingredients of the most amazing bars!

Later, I made dinner for me and my parents. My mom ended up not liking it, but she hates squash for some reason! Crazy woman 😉 This recipe is not vegan, because it has shrimp, but if you don’t eat seafood like I do on occasion, then you can definitely sub tofu or even just chickpeas.

I love my orange overload dinners!

Butternut and Pumpkin Curry with Quinoa

1 butternut squash, cut into small cubes

1 c unsweetened plain almond milk

1 c vegetable broth

1 lb raw shrimp

1 T red curry paste

1/4-1/2 c pumpkin puree

1/2 yellow onion

1 t minced garlic

1 t ground ginger

1 cup quinoa (dry)

Chop up onion and toss in pot with garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until onion is fragrant and translucent. Add red curry paste to taste, and cook for a few more minutes. Add veggie broth, almond milk, pumpkin, ginger and squash and cook until boiling. Cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook quinoa in 2 cups of water (for about 15-20 minutes on medium low heat), and cook shrimp in a pan until pink. Set quinoa aside and add shrimp to curry. Cook for a few more minutes, then serve on top of quinoa. Makes 4-5 servings.

What’s the best thing you’ve made lately?

Welcome To AlmostVegGirlie!

Hey everyone, and welcome to AlmostVegGirlie! This will be a blog all about healthy eating, featuring a lot of vegetarian and vegan food, but occasionally will include some non-veg foods (that’s why it’s called AlmostVegGirlie). It will highlight my recent eats, recipes I’ve tried out and nonsponsored reviews of products. I’ll also include some fashion and fitness from time to time, as those are also my passions (besides yummy healthy food, of course!) I hope you all enjoy this blog and feel free to comment whenever you’d like!

Most of the time I eat healthy (sweet potato topped with crunchy almond butter, cinnamon and cayenne pepper)

But I also like to indulge (Stonyfield nonfat coffee froyo with Whole Foods duplex cookies)