Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Squares with Peanut Butter Glaze

Sweet Potato Muffin SquaresSpring is finally here and if you need confirmation (which you might if you live here in the DC area where there’s still a bite in the air) you only have to look at the deep pink magnolia blossoms blanketing tree limbs that were bare only yesterday.

This is my favorite time of year, not just because everything’s so gorgeous after a long, bleak winter but because Spring is a reaffirmation of life and a reminder that the cold and the dreary and the dark always gives way to resplendent, perfect beauty.

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Very soon the cherry blossoms will be out on the Tidal Basin and if you’ve never been, you must. A  manmade reservoir that runs along the spectacular Jefferson Memorial, D.C.’s Tidal Basin is home to thousands of cherry trees — a gift of friendship from Japan a century ago. Early each Spring the trees flower, creating a profusion of pink and white blooms that turns an already beautiful landscape into something almost other-worldly.  It has to be seen to be believed.

You know how, when you have something in your backyard, you get blase about it. I haven’t been to see the cherry blossoms in years now, and this year I am putting it on my list of Things I Absolutely Must Do This Spring. That, and keeping my eye open for great yard sales. And giving my brown thumb another workout in the vegetable garden.

What are your plans this Spring?

***

Sweet Potato Muffin SquaresI have for you today this delicious — and healthy — recipe for my Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Squares with a Peanut Butter Glaze, which are just about the most perfect breakfast food ever invented. Honest.

I used a muffin batter to make these squares partly because I was too lazy to scoop out individual muffins (yes, I am just THAT lazy sometimes) and partly because I thought the squares would look rather cute.  The squares are all whole wheat and low fat and they are yummy without being cloyingly sweet.

I love sweet potatoes because they put a healthy halo around just about any food.  They are particularly perfect for breakfast and a great way to sneak some nutrition into a kid-friendly snack. The peanut butter glaze complements the sweet potato flavor and adds some more sweetness and crunch to the cakey squares.

Here’s the recipe. Happy Spring, all, and may yours be filled with all the beauty in the world.

Sweet Potato Muffin Squares

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Squares with Peanut Butter Glaze
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • For the squares:
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cooked sweet potato, well mashed (about 1 small sweet potato)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups non-dairy milk (I used soy. Almond milk would be great too)
  • 2 tsp chai spices (I used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom and nutmeg. You can go with just cinnamon if you’d rather)
  • For the peanut butter glaze:
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the applesauce, oil, vanilla extract, sweet potato and non-dairy milk until well mixed.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan or, for easier removal, line the bottom of the pan with parchment or foil and oil the surface.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and with a spatula or ladle spread evenly and smooth out the top.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake in the oven 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Make the glaze by whisking together the peanut butter, water, vanilla and powdered sugar until you have a smooth mixture.
  8. Let the muffin “cake” cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake, place on a rack, then pour the glaze over with a spoon, ensuring you spread it evenly.
  9. Cool thoroughly before serving.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 139 Fat: 6.1 grams Sugar: 4.2 grams Fiber: 2.4 grams Protein: 3.4 grams

 

 

 

Healthy Chia Waffles

Chia wafflesOur Saturday mornings begin, like most mornings, with a walk for Opie. But because we have more time on our hands, we treat him to an outing in the woods, or at one of the trails nearby where he can walk unfettered and meet other dogs — his favorite thing to do.

Because Opie has osteoarthritis we have to make sure his walks are long enough to exercise him without being so long that they will further wear out his joints. Our usual Saturday morning haunt, then, is this loop trail at a local park that brings us right back to the car. Opie loves it because part of the trail goes through a wooded area, giving him that mix of exercise and adventure that his little doggy heart craves.

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vegan chia wafflesBy now he has friends that he looks forward to meeting on the trail every week. There’s Genevieve, a gorgeous, long-legged Goldendoodle who runs like the breeze and never stops long enough for Opie to get a good sniff at her, which infuriates him although he’s too much of a gentleman to complain. There’s a friendly golden retriever who lives in a house near the trail and will escape ever so often to greet dogs passing by — he has a real soft corner for Opie. There’s Dougie, a gender-bending (at least by name) lab mix who is usually there with her human siblings and their nanny, and would rather have her belly rubbed by Desi than play with Opie.  Or Molly,  a black-coated beauty who likes jousting with Opie over attractive-looking twigs. Those dogs.

Opie trail

By the time we get home after all that dog chasing and belly rubbing our appetites are really going. It’s the perfect time for my Healthy Chia Waffles made with whole wheat and spelt.

vegan wafflesI make a lot of waffles and pancakes. always wholegrain and always healthy, and I’ve shared many of them on the blog before, so you might wonder what’s special about this one? Well, you’ll have to make them yourself and find out, but I’ll tell you one little secret: it’s the chia seeds. They give these waffles that lightness and a crunch that’s absolutely sublime.

I use whole wheat and spelt flours for the batter (never, ever use all purpose flour for waffles and pancakes– it only makes them bland and pasty), and I also add in a good amount of flaxmeal not only to act as binder but also to boost the waffles’ fiber and protein — and omega 3 — content.

It takes just minutes to mix up this batter, and a few more minutes to make them in a waffle iron. Try making them for your next weekend  breakfast, and I’ll bet that not just you but your doggies will love them too. When we sit down for breakfast, Opie’s always waiting under the table to demand his share.

chia waffles

Healthy Chia Waffles
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaxmeal
  • 2 cups almond milk or any non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar
Instructions
  1. Mix the almond milk and the vinegar and set aside to curdle.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat and spelt flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. To the almond milk, add the chia seeds and flaxmeal. Whisk together.
  4. Add the almond milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until everything’s just moistened. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more almond milk.
  5. Cook in a waffle iron, per instructions. I have a Belgian waffle maker that makes six thick waffles per recipe, but if you have a regular waffle maker you would get 8-10 of these.
  6. Serve with any syrup of your choice. We love them with pure maple syrup.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 waffles Calories: 248 Sugar: 6.4 grams Fiber: 8.1 grams Protein: 8 grams

 

 

Applesauce Sandwich Bread

Applesauce Sandwich BreadThis past weekend just whizzed by in a happy blur of food, fun and friends.

On Saturday, it was brunch at my friend Roshani’s. Her parents  are visiting from Houston and her mom, Pratima Kothari, had cooked up a huge feast for us.  I even got a quick lesson in rolling Khandvi, one of my favorite Gujarati snacks, from Mrs. Kothari who used lemon as the souring agent in the recipe instead of yogurt to make it vegan. Between discussing Bollywood movies,  the best stores to buy Indian groceries in the DC area, and Indian and American politics, Desi and I stuffed ourselves silly on  delicious Gujarati snacks like Dhokla, Batata Poha (flattened rice sauteed with potatoes and spices — very similar to my Kande Pohe), a stir-fry of sprouted mung beans with Indian spices, and a delicious and healthy sweet dish of dates stuffed with a mixture of pistachios, cashew nuts and saffron. We washed it all down with alcohol-free Mojitos. Yum.

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Roshani's mom

Pratima Kothari rolls paper-thin ribbons of chickpea flour to make Khandvi, a classic snack from the state of Gujarat on India’s west coast.
And below, the final dish, a delicious melange of lentils, coriander, mustard seeds and spices.

khandvi

Then on Sunday it was over to my neighbors Heather and Dave’s where they were hosting a get-together to welcome two new neighbors on our block. I made my Applesauce Mini Muffins — always a great hit with kids and adults — and neighbors brought in more delicious sweets, including vegan brownies made by one very thoughtful neighbor.

The days went by so fast, I didn’t have  chance to bake any bread over the weekend. So Monday afternoon, project number 1 was to make something delicious that would be perfect for Desi to toast and slather peanut butter and jelly on all week (he’s my kid, that one).

I had some applesauce left over after making those muffins and the Banana Coffee Cake I shared last week, and as anyone who’s familiar with applesauce knows, it tends to spoil if left in the refrigerator too long. So I decided I’d bake up an applesauce bread– not a cake, but a loaf of bread with applesauce in it, and perhaps some cinnamon. The thought made my mouth water, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Applesauce Sandwich BreadI came across this recipe for an Applesauce Oatmeal Bread on the King Arthur website that sounded just perfect. I made some modifications — I added more applesauce, cut down on the oil, and made the bread part whole wheat to make it healthier. It was perfect– I couldn’t have asked for a better loaf to carry us through the week.

A few readers have recently asked for kid-friendly recipes, and this loaf is definitely one. I do have many kid-friendly recipes on the blog, but I haven’t categorized them clearly. I will try to do so soon, and I promise I will continue to post more.

Applesauce Sandwich Bread

Before I share the recipe, thanks to all you beautiful people who left comments and sent emails after my last post. It is always wonderful to hear from you, and your affection humbles me– honestly– and it keeps Holy Cow! going. I wanted to also share this  image that a lovely reader, Anusha, sent me. I wanted to pass it on to all of you because I love you.

Who do you notice more?

Applesauce Sandwich Bread

Applesauce Sandwich Bread
 
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Makes 16 slices. Nutrition information is per slice.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
Serves: 16 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • 1¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (can substitute with sugar)
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, with the sugar and 2 tbsp of warm water. Set aside for the yeast to activate.
  2. Place the oats in a bowl and pour the remaining water over them. Set aside for 20 minutes to soften the oats.
  3. After 20 minutes, add the oats to the yeast mixture along with the applesauce, maple syrup and oil. Mix everything.
  4. Add the flours, salt and cinnamon and knead until the dough comes together. You want a rather stiff dough. Add some more all-purpose flour if the dough is too wet.
  5. Remove the dough to the platform or a flat surface and knead briefly by hand. Form a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  6. Cover with a plastic bag or a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
  7. After 2 hours have passed, turn out the dough on the platform, knead slightly to deflate, and form into a loaf. Oil a loaf pan, sprinkle the bottom with some cornmeal, and place the loaf in it.
  8. Brush some soymilk or spray some oil on top and sprinkle a few oats. Press down slightly so they adhere to the loaf.
  9. Let the bread rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the top domes over the loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, dome some aluminum foil over the top of the bread and continue baking for another 25 minutes.
  10. Remove to a rack and unmold when the pan is cool enough to handle. Let the bread cool thoroughly on a rack.
  11. Slice and eat.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 132 Fat: 2.4 grams Sodium: 76 mg Fiber: 1.7 grams Protein: 3.4 grams

 Applesauce Sandwich Bread

Healthy Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French ToastA brand new year is like a chance to start fresh, isn’t it? I know it’s just a day like any other, but there is just something about the arrival of January that shakes awake the slumbering optimist in me  and sets me looking forward to a year that will be even better than the one that just went by.

In my last post I asked you to tell me what your resolutions were. Some of you said you want to spend more time with your families, some of you want to get healthier or fitter. Samantha wants to get her family to eat healthy, Vani wants to run a marathon, and Chitra wants to watch less TV and read more. As I read each of your resolutions, I was thinking, me too!

But there was one resolution from Jennifer that made me really pause and think– to not participate in self-hatred.

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Now there’s a resolution that I could certainly adopt. Every day, as I go through my life, I find myself thinking of all the things I could be that I am not. I wonder why I didn’t do this or that or get things right that time. I think of the times I messed things up and how I landed in a bigger mess because I wasn’t paying attention when I should have. In short, I find it hard to let go of my mistakes, forgive myself, and move on.

It’s a crime against ourselves that many of us are guilty of, but how often do we even realize it?  No one is perfect– we all make mistakes. But it’s important to remind ourselves that we also have the power to set our lives on a better course.

So this year, in addition to my newly dusted goals of losing weight, getting fitter, reading more, cooking and blogging more, getting out more, and getting together with friends more often, I am adding one more resolution to my list: I will appreciate myself more, and I will focus more on the things I do right, instead of those I don’t.

And oh, I am hoping to catch a Billy Joel concert too. :)

***

Stuffed French ToastMy resolution for a healthier 2014 got an early start with this healthy Stuffed French Toast that I cooked up for breakfast.

I wanted to make something decadent and French Toast had been on my mind. I had posted a healthier — and vegan– version of French Toast on this blog a while back which many of you have cooked and loved, but for New Year’s Day I wanted something a little more special.

So I cooked up my Whole Wheat Vanilla Bread, sliced it up, slathered some creamy peanut butter on each slice, loaded it up with fresh strawberries and bananas, dunked it in an eggless wash made of chia seeds, almond milk and vanilla, and then finished it all up with a coating of powdered walnuts to give my French Toast a golden crust.

I was expecting deliciousness, but this toast was beyond that. You have to eat it to believe it. The heat makes the strawberries and bananas just tender and the peanut butter all gooey, and the walnut-chia crust is to be eaten to be believed.

You can try this toast with my Gluten-Free Sandwich bread too. Use 1 tbsp of tapioca starch in the eggless wash instead of the whole-wheat flour, and you will have a treat that’s completely gluten-free.

Here’s the recipe now. Enjoy, all, and if you cooked up something healthy on New Year’s Day to keep up with those resolutions, I’d love to hear.

Stuffed French Toast

Healthy Stuffed French Toast
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Eight slices of bread (try my vanilla whole wheat bread which is perfect in this recipe)
  • 8 ripe strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium bananas, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup nondairy milk like soy or almond
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds, powdered in a food processor or spice grinder (can use 2 tbsp of flaxmeal instead)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup walnuts, crushed to a fairly fine consistency. Some bigger pieces are okay.
  • Oil spray to coat the pan
Instructions
  1. Make the eggless wash by whisking together in a shallow dish the nondairy milk, powdered chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and flour.
  2. Spread some peanut butter on one side of each slice. Then arrange the sliced strawberries and bananas on the buttered side. Place the second side, buttered side down, on top and press down firmly.
  3. Dredge the stuffed toast in the eggless wash, coating the top and bottom sides thoroughly. Then dredge it in the powdered walnuts.
  4. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick griddle or skillet and spray with oil. Place the French Toast on the griddle and toast each side until it’s golden-brown. This should take 3-4 minutes per side on medium heat.
  5. Serve hot. The stuffed French Toast is great by itself but it’s extra-special with a drizzle of maple syrup.
  6. The toast is quite filling– one half makes a hearty serving. Nutrition info is for half of each stuffed French toast.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 283 Fat: 16.1 g Sugar: 8.8 g Fiber: 6.4 g Protein: 8.8 g

Stuffed French Toast

Double Chocolate Berry Muffins

chocolate berry muffins
These Chocolate Chip Berry Muffins are moist, tender, perfectly and mildly sweet, infused with the goodness of berries and chocolate, and all whole-wheat. Try and top that.I came up with this recipe over the weekend, looking for a healthy yet decadently delicious muffin that would do double-duty as a breakfast food and also a teatime snack for Desi and me. In went something Desi loves (berries) and something I love (chocolate). Because I was doing the baking I got to cheat a little: I added chocolate twice. Once as cocoa powder, and again as chocolate chips. Hey, isn’t chocolate good for you?

Chocolate berry muffins
There is very little sugar in this recipe but the berries (try and get sweet ones) and the chocolate make this muffin taste sweeter than you’d expect it to be. Since ’tis the season for summery berries, I added the three kinds that I had in my refrigerator: blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. You can go with one or the other, or use different berries altogether. Raspberries are always a great combination with chocolate and I’d have used them, if I had some on hand. I love adding berries to muffins also because they create juicy little pockets inside the muffin, especially blueberries.

When Desi bit into this muffin, he asked me if it was a cupcake. I don’t think he believed me when I came clean. You can be sure your kid– big or small– will love it too.

vegan chocolate berry muffins

 

 

 

Whole wheat and vegan chocolate berry muffins

Double Chocolate Berry Muffins
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup nondairy milk, like soy or almond
  • 1 tbsp flaxmeal mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup turbinado (or other) sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup strawberries and blackberries (you can also use one or the other), chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine the chopped berries and sugar and mash them together.
  3. Add the flaxmeal mixture, oil, vanilla, and nondairy milk to the mashed berries and mix well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients along with the chocolate chips and blueberries. Stir together until everything is just mixed and you don’t see any streaks of dry flour. Don’t overmix.
  5. Divide the batter equally between 12 muffin tins.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until a toothpaste inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove to a rack, cool for 10 minutes, and when the muffins have cooled enough to handle remove them from the muffin tin and continue cooling on the rack.

vegan chocolate berry muffins***

For all you smart and amazing and lovely (you get the idea) readers of Holy Cow!, I have an exciting new project that I hope you will find useful. My DIY Spice Mixes page, which you can find in the tabs right under the Holy Cow! header.
I am always trying to think of ways to inspire you to cook great food from scratch, and while store-bought, readymade masalas are easy enough to find, making your own masalas (at least the ones most commonly used in Indian cuisine) is an easy way to make your cooking just that much more special. Trust me, it does not take that much time and it’s guaranteed to put that domestic goddess halo around your head.

I will be adding more spice recipes to this page as we go along, and if you have that special recipe of your own that you’d like to share feel free to pass it on for all of us to enjoy, at myveganworld[at]gmail.com. It will be posted with due credit to you (and your blog, if you have one).

Ciao.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.