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?

Pancake Party!

I get into breakfast ruts a lot. For most of my life, I ate cereal with skim milk and possibly a side of waffles for breakfast basically every single morning. I’ve never been a savory breakfast kind of girl, because I’ve always hated eggs, bacon and sausage. Within the past year, though, I’ve moved away from having cereal for breakfast. First, I was on an overnight oats kick that started about a year ago. I was obsessed and came up with a million different combos. I still love overnight oats, but now I’ve been having them for snacks more often than for breakfast. Just a couple of weeks ago, I started having a smoothie-in-a-bowl basically every single day, topped with fruit or crushed cereal. So good. But since I’ve been home for the summer, there’s been only one thing on my mind–pancakes.

Before a week ago, I don’t think I’d ever made pancakes from scratch. Sometimes on the weekends I’d whip my family up a batch made from an Archer Farms mix. While they have tons of awesome flavors, they aren’t super healthy (or vegan–why do so many things have to have milk in them?) Earlier last week, I made my first homemade, single-lady pancake batch and I was hooked!

If you’re intimidated by making your own pancakes completely from scratch, fear not. They are super simple to make, take practically no time at all (maybe 10 minutes at the most, if you make a batch for just yourself) and are totally customizable. Here’s the basic formula I’ve been using…

3 T to 1/4 cup flour (I like peanut flour or oat flour)

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 to 1 T flax seed, ground and made into flax egg

2-4 T unsweetened almond milk (any flavor) plus extra water to thin

sweetener (I’ve been using Truvia packets or flavored liquid stevia)

Stir flour and baking powder together in a small bowl until combined. Add in liquid ingredients until mixed well. The batter should be thin enough to drip off a spoon but thick enough to hold together. Makes 3-4 small pancakes.

The baking powder is really the only thing you can’t substitute. You can use any flour you like, gluten-free or whatnot. If you’re not vegan or don’t have flax on hand, sub in egg whites or chia seeds. You can use all water, or all almond milk, or any kind of milk you want. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can leave out the sweetener or you can use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup or honey. And of course, any add-ins  and toppings you like! You can even play around with the texture. I love mine really thick and fluffy, so I make tiny, pillowy pancakes.

I’m sharing some of my favorite combos that I’ve made so far–all of them have been amazing and so much better than pancakes made from mixes!

Carrot cake pancakes made with oat flour and shredded carrot/fresh pineapple chunks/cinnamon/raisins, topped with peanut flour sauce and raisins.

PB&J pancakes made with peanut flour and topped with homemade strawberry jam and sunflower seed butter.

Cookie dough pancakes made with oat flour and chopped vegan chocolate chips, topped with honey vanilla agave syrup.

Tiramisu pancakes made with oat flour and Starbucks instant coffee powder, topped with homemade cashew ‘mascarpone’ cream, dusting dark cocoa powder and honey vanilla agave syrup.

Cashew ‘Mascarpone’ Cream (vegan, gluten-free, no added sugar)

1/4 cup cashew pieces, soaked in water overnight

2-3 T unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or plain)

5-6 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to taste

Drain water off cashews and pour into food processor or high powered blender. Add in almond milk and stevia and process until mostly smooth and creamy. Serve on top of pancakes/waffles, as a dip for fresh fruit or as sandwich filling. Makes about 1/4 cup.

Do you prefer pancakes, waffles or crepes? What are your favorite toppings for pancakes?