Fermented Teff Flour Pancakes


I had you at ‘fermented’ right?!  Don’t let that scare you, these little guys are not sour at all and instead packed with a complex nutty, slightly sweet, and bread-y flavor.  I am simply smitten with teff right now.  Seriously I can’t get enough!  Check out my previous post about basic teff porridge to read all about the super-qualities of this little grain.

I adopted this recipe from a recipe I made a long time ago for fermented teff wraps.  While I do love a good fermented teff wrap, I currently have been making sourdough bread like it was my job and therefore eating it with everything!  Naturally, teff has been pushed back to my breakfast and I’m loving every  minute of it.

Ok, now that you understand why I have been eating my sourdough with everything (that crust tho!!), let’s talk about my obsession with fermentation and why you should be excited instead of terrified when you hear the word.  I talked about why fermentation is so healthy in my last post about making teff porridge:

“From the time you  mix the starter with more (teff) flour and water to make (the pancake batter) bread, the organisms (wild yeasts) get to work chomping through the (teff) flour and creating lactic acid, neutralizing phytates and therefore making the nutrients of the flour more readily available to your body.  These are the same phytates that are found in legumes and cause gas and stomach discomfort (same reason I always buy dry beans and soak them with some apple cider vinegar for 24 hours.  But I digress..).  Not only is the lactic acid produced by our wild yeast friends good for improving absorption of vitamins and minerals, but is also helps slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream.  This is beneficial because it prevents the sugar spikes associated with eating carbohydrates.”

Cool right?  The process of fermentation basically makes whatever is being fermented into a yogurt of sorts.  I’m all about optimizing the nutrients I get out of what I eat, therefore I ferment as many foods as I can in my daily diet.  Hence my love of sourdough.  Anyway, these teff flour pancakes are fermented for 24-48 hours and require mostly teff grain and water to make.  How cool is that?

To make these you can either buy teff flour and simply mix it with water or you can grind your own teff flour in a high-speed blender.  I grind my own flour to retain more of the seed’s nutrition, however both ways yield the same results.  The mixture of flour and water will start out smooth, but as it sits it will begin to bubble, and after 24 hrs the mix will thicken up a bit and smell nutty.  An important tip about making these pancakes is to use a good n0n-stick pan thats fully heated before starting to pour the batter.  These are thinner pancakes and fairly delicate and easily stick to a regular pan.  You cook them for about 1-2 minutes per side, or until the batter is full of bubbles and the edges start to dry.

I personally like these pancakes after 24 hrs of fermentation.  I think it is the perfect amount of time to elevate teff’s nutty and sweet flavor without any sour taste.  I prefer my pancakes sweet, however if you want to make savory pancakes and like a bit of tang, feel free to leave these to sit an extra day or two.  My favorite way to eat these is with citrus cherry chia jam and homemade nut butter of any variety.  Currently I’m eating roasted cashew almond cacao butter and it’s divine.  My last bit of advice about these pancakes is get creative with your toppings and always make extra!

Fermented Teff Flour Pancakes

1 1/2 cup whole teff (or teff flour)

2 cups filtered water

 

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Grind the whole teff in a high speed blender until a flour consistency is achieved.  Whisk it with the water in a bowl, cover with a cheesecloth or towel, and let sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours.

The next day, grease and heat up a non-stick pan or griddle on medium-high heat.  Whisk the salt, baking powder, and cinnamon into the batter.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto the preheated pan and cook for 1-2 minutes per side.

Basic Toasted Teff Porridge + 3 Flavor Options

This morning I woke up to a frozen apartment.  I mean the windows were covered in a solid layer of ice and our baseboard heaters were cold.  The heat must have broke sometime during the night (probably a burst pipe?) and I was subjected to putting on three layers of pants, a winter jacket, and standing over a pot of boiling water in my tiny kitchen, next to an oven preheated to 400 F and partially open.  After working up the courage to shower (I’m a MAJOR baby when it comes to showering in the cold), I bundled up and braved the sub zero weather to trek to the store and buy more teff, as I only had 1/4 a cup left.  You might think I’m crazy, but 1/4 a cup is not nearly enough for me let alone me and Nick (as he works from home on Fridays).  And I’m going through a teff phase, so there’s no reasoning with me. Fast forward and I survived the terribly cold outdoors, successfully purchased 2 lbs of teff, and our landloard fixed the heat.  I’m now sitting cozy on the couch, big bowl of cinnamon blueberry banana teff in hand, studded with pumpkin seeds and fresh pear and topped with homemade almond butter, typing up this post so you all can get on my teff-loving level.


If you’ve never heard of Teff before, let me introduce you.  It’s a super tiny, truly amazing grain that’s not actually a grain but instead a seed, so it’s naturally gluten-free and can be used in a variety of dishes.  Native to Ethoipa, Teff is packed with health benefits including 10% daily calcium, B6, and zinc plus 20% iron, 25% magnesium, 4g of fiber, and 7g of protein per serving!  It also contains an array of other health benefits like being a complete protein and the only ancient grain to contain vitamin C.  I could get super technical here and start listing out all the wonder in this power seed, however all I really care about it it’s delicious and a great addition to spruce up your morning breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or afternoon snack.  Dinner would be stretching it (?).

What I love most about teff is it’s super easy to prepare.  Simply pan-toast the seeds for a minute or so, then add water on a 1:2 teff to water ratio, and simmer until tender.  The total process takes about 10 minutes and there are endless flavor combinations you can enjoy.  Think of this basic porridge as a blank canvas to be covered in whatever craving your heart desires on any given day.  While I encourage you to go crazy and create your own flavor explosion, I’ve included three of my go-to recipes that I keep coming back to.

Basic Toasted Teff Porridge

1/3 cup teff

2/3 cup water

Directions:

Add the teff to a small sauce pan and turn the heat on medium high.  Stir constantly for about a minute, or until you smell a nutty aroma.  Add the water and bring to a boil before turning the heat down and covering the pot.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, or until a thick, porridge consistency is achieved.

 

Flavor option 1:  Figgy apple pie

I actually was so obsessed with this flavor that I made a HUGE batch of it in my RV kitchen when we traveled around Nevada, Arizona, and Utah hitting up a bunch of national parks.  Pretty tasty stuff 🙂

 

1 recipe basic toasted teff porridge

2 figs, diced small

1 apple, diced

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

maple syrup (to taste), optional

1 Tbsp almond butter, optional

Directions:

Follow the recipe for the basic toasted teff porridge above, and add 1/2 the diced apple, vanilla, cinnamon, and figs when you add the water.  Top with the other 1/2 apple, almond butter, and drizzle with maple syrup before serving.

Flavor option 2: Blueberry chia jam explosion

My love of chia seeds has no boundaries, and I’m always looking for an excuse to add them to meals.  I enjoy topping this flavor with peanut butter because it reminds me of a giant, hot, and messy pb&j!

1 recipe basic toasted teff porridge

1/2 cup blueberries

1 tsp chia seeds + more for topping

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)

1 Tbsp fresh orange juice

1-2 tsp raw honey or date paste

1-2 Tbsp peanut butter

Directions:

Follow the recipe for the basic toasted teff porridge above, and add the blueberries, chia seeds, vanilla, and honey when you add the water.  Top with peanut butter and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Flavor option 3: Banana bread

Who doesn’t love banana bread.  Am I right?!

1 recipe basic toasted teff porridge

1/4 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 1/2 medium banana)

1/2 medium banana, chopped

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

pinch sea salt (optional)

1 tsp honey

2 Tbsp toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions:

Follow the recipe for the basic toasted teff porridge above, and add the mashed ripe banana, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, honey, and 1 Tbsp walnuts when you add the water.  Top with the remaining 1 Tbsp walnuts, 1/2 chopped banana.

Beet and Butternut Bake with Roasted Garlic Ricotta


Happy New Year!  Today I’m sharing my take on one of the dishes served at my wedding last year.  Finding a caterer was a nightmare because I’m about as picky as they come with food.  We interviewed many companies, all falling short of my super fresh, local, and truly delicious standard.  If I heard about one more arugula and goat cheese salad with caramelized walnuts or a noodle station served in Chinese food containers I was going to scream!  I wanted in season, hearty yet healthy fare that would elevate veggies to main meal status.  I’m a hold-the-cow-steak and give-me-a-cauliflower-steak kind of girl.

Luckily my mom mentioned a fairly new farmer’s market food stall turned store front called The Farmer and the Chickpea that turned out perfect!  The first time I went and ate their food it was a match made in heaven, and when I met the two owners we hit it off right away.  Their food philosophy is not only serving in season produce, but picked that morning produce.  Almost all of their fare is vegetarian with a ton of vegan and gluten free options and the few meat dishes they have comes from local pasture farms (including their cheese!!).  With big portions and a menu that changes daily (depending on what their farmers drop off), how could I not love it?!

One of the awesome dishes they provided was a noodle-less beet and butternut squash lasagna, crusted in chickpeas and topped with fresh ricotta.  It was a huge hit, and also a genius way to use beets.  I always find myself pondering how to cook beets when I buy a bunch.  It’s not that they are bad, just tricky to cook and feature as the main meal.  My go-to use for beets is throwing them in a big veggie bake, diced small, to disperse their earthy flavor.  I was shocked at how much I loved the roasted beets in the lasagna, so I made a mental note to recreate it at home.

Almost three months later, I finally got around to it!  My mom beat me to the punch, making it over christmas with much success.  I actually preferred my mom’s version to the original, as her bake had crispier chickpeas as the bottom crust and was generally less greasy.  When making my own version, I added some caramelized beet greens for color and distinctive layers of squash and beets.  The original dish was more a scoop of delicious cheesy roasted squash and beets, broken into big chunks, and I opted for a more neat and tidy approach, wanting something that would hold together when cut and plated.

I am thrilled with how it came out!  Now, it does take a bit of time to assemble because you have to roast the squash and beets before slicing and assembling, however this recipe makes a large 9×13 tray so it will last for awhile.  I like the roast the beets, squash, and garlic the day before, so they are ready to go in the fridge.  This bake is delicious, nutritious, and super seasonal.  Enjoy!

 

Beet and Butternut Bake

3 cups cooked chickpeas, patted dry

1 butternut squash, about 2-3 lbs

2 bunches beets (3 large or 4 small per punch), greens on

2 sweet onions

3-4 Tbsp olive oil, separated

2 roasted garlic bulbs

1 lb full fat ricotta

1 large egg

1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese + 2 Tbsp

~2 cups grated asiago cheese

1 Tbsp dried parsley

salt and pepper

garlic powder

dry rosemary, in a grinder (or fresh chopped)

Directions:

  1. Cut the beet greens (including the stems) into thin pieces and place in a large bowl.  Soak in cold water, then place by hand in a strainer to dry(beet greens are quite sandy, and if you dump the whole pot into the strainer you are putting the sand right back on the greens).  Wash the beets and arrange 3/4 on two large pieces of tin foil.  Pinch the foil around the beets creating a sealed pocket.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place face-down on a parchment lined baking tray.  Cut the top of both the garlic bulbs off.  Place each one on a piece of tin foil and seal by pinching the foil together.  Place the wrapped beet packets and garlic on a baking tray in the oven.  Put the squash in the oven as well.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until beets and squash are tender.  The garlic will be fragrant, and when unwrapped from the foil soft and golden brown on top.
  3. Peel and slice the onions thin, then add to a pan with 2 Tbsp of oil.  Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to low and let caramelize for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour.  Add the washed beet green tops and cook until very tender.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Line the base of a 9×13″ pan with tin foil, then parchment paper. Spread the chickpeas evenly over the bottom of the pan and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp pecorino romano cheese then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Toss to combine then place in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring after 10.  Beans should be golden brown when done.
  5. Remove the skin from the roasted squash (also the beets if you are not using organic).  Slice thin (about 1/8-1/4″ inch pieces).  Set aside.  Mix the ricotta cheese with the egg, 1/4 cup pecorino romano, dried parsley, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  Add the roasted garlic to the ricotta by opening the top of the tin foil, folding it until it’s even with the cut top of the garlic, and squeezing the sides.  Discard the skin and foil.
  6. Toss the roasted chickpeas with a pinch of asiago.  Layer the butternut squash evenly over the chickpeas and gently spread a thin layer of ricotta and sprinkle with asiago.  Add a layer of beets.  Spread the cooked beet greens evenly over the beets.
  7. Gently spread another thin layer of ricotta on the beet greens and sprinkle with asiago.  Layer the rest of the butternut squash and sprinkle with asiago.  Arrange the last layer of beets. Dollop the top of each beet slice with the rest of the ricotta and sprinkle with asiago, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes at 375 F before removing the tin foil and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Let cool completely before storing covered in the fridge.  Re-heat by placing, covered, in a 350 F oven until warmed through.

Sourdough 101: From Starter to Bread


I really love sourdough.  Which is a good thing seeing as I’m writing an entire post about it.  My sourdough obsession began last fall when I decided it was time to get serious about making my own.  Usually I would buy it from the store and complain about how expensive  it was, or how it contained ingredients I didn’t approve of, or (and most often) there was none available! Unfortunately I had no urge to make my own; it always seemed like a whole bunch of work to make the starter, then make the bread, then keep the starter alive, etc.  Up until I started making sourdough, I pretty much stopped eating bread because I don’t approve of conventional yeasts and flours.  I prefer my grains fermented and without preservatives, thanks.

So, why sourdough?

Sourdough is basically fermented flour.  If you haven’t heard, fermented foods are in.  They contain more nutrients and are easier to digest then their regular counterparts.  The beauty of sourdough is it’s made by combining flour and water with the natural yeasts that are all around us on a daily basis.  These wild yeasts are on your hands, food, and simply floating in the air all over!  The combination of letting water and flour sit together with these wild yeasts makes what is called a “starter”.  To make bread, you simply add some starter to more flour and water, throw in a pinch of salt, and now you’re imbedding all the friendly bacteria with your next loaf.  Pretty cool, huh?

From the time you  mix the starter with more flour and water to make bread, the organisms get to work chomping through the flour and creating lactic acid, neutralizing phytates and therefore making the nutrients of the flour more readily available to your body.  These are the same phytates that are found in legumes and cause gas and stomach discomfort (same reason I always buy dry beans and soak them with some apple cider vinegar for 24 hours.  But I digress..).  Not only is the lactic acid produced by our wild yeast friends good for improving absorption of vitamins and minerals, but is also helps slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream.  This is beneficial because it prevents the sugar spikes associated with eating carbohydrates.  The last great benefit of these wild yeasts is they help break down the glucose molecules in the bread, meaning people who have gluten sensitivity can usually eat sourdough without any discomfort.  Gotta love pre-digested food!

 

I apologize for my last comment about pre-digested food, I just really love sourdough.  And once you understand how to make it (and now fully understand how bad-ass it is for your health) you might be singing praises of a similar note!  Is it super easy? No.  Does it take some time to truly understand how to make the prefect crusty loaf?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Hell yes!!  I remember when I began my starter I was dancing around the apartment, singing and dancing to the wild yeasts and trying to attract them into my flour and water slurry.  Necessary?  That is yet to be determined.  My husband thought I was crazy but I’ve been using the same starter for over a year now (November 3 was her 1st birthday!).

Let’s get down to business.  Making the starter takes at least 5 days, more if you’re in a colder environment.  You start by adding a cup of purified water and flour to a glass jar/container and whisking them together until a smooth batter forms.  Let that sit, uncovered, for 24 hours.  The next day remove half of the batter and throw it out.  Add 1/2 cup purified water and 1/2 cup flour to the mixture and whisk until combined.  Continue doing this for the next three days or until your starter bubbles and has a sour smell.  There is no exact way to know exactly when your starter is fully matured, however usually after even a few days it makes a pretty good bread.  I remember after feeding my starter on the third day I couldn’t wait anymore and made some rolls that turned out (slightly flat) but really tasty!  When your starter is fully mature, keep it covered with cheesecloth or a paper towel in the fridge.  You will have to feed it only once every 7-10 days at this stage (same thing as before, remove half the starter and add equal parts flour and water.)  This only necessary to remember if you are not making bread once a week because when you make bread, half the starter is used to make the dough and then you feed the mother starter before placing back in the fridge.

Af far as types of flour to use, I recommend using a whole grain for the starter.  The wild yeasts thrive on all the nutrients in whole grain flours; as do humans (just saying).  Personally, I used sprouted flour to make my starter and feed it a variety of wheat including rye and spelt.  Another tip for making the starter is use a wide mouth glass jar or bowl because it is easier to add flour/water to.

Once your starter is matured and bubbling away, it’s time to whip up some bread!  The genius part of making your own sourdough is all you need is flour, water, salt, and starter.  No pre-packaged yeast, sugar, or oil.  To start, you take half of your starter and add it to a bowl.  (I recommend whisking your starter before removing half as it is natural and will separate.  Simply whisk a few times until everything is fully blended.)  I usually add the starter to the base of my kitchen aid because I use it to knead later.  Once you take the amount of starter needed, add equal parts water and flour to your mother starter (whisking till smooth) and put back in the fridge.  Then add ~ 1 cup both flour and water to the starter in the bowl and whisk.  It might seem like I’m stressing the whisk part, but I can’t stress enough how amazing a tool a whisk is when dealing with this sticky, gooey, starter!

Cover the mixture with saran wrap and let sit out for about an hour to warm up.  The reason to keep your starter in the fridge is to slow down the rate that the yeasts eat the flour and therefore the amount you need to feed it.  Before making your dough you want your yeast to get super active again to ensure maximum rising of the dough.  I will be honest, I have skipped this step in a rush and nothing dreadful has happened.  I just find the best bread, puffiest and highest, comes from really active yeasts!

Next step is to add flour and salt to your active starter, and begin to mix.  I highly recommend using a electric mixer for this step because it does require a lot of kneading.  Now, I never weigh my ingredients or even use measuring cups to add the flour because the amount needed changes depending on the season, dryness of the air, etc.  I also firmly believe that no amount of measurements would yield the perfect dough that I can see/feel.  I roughly wind up adding 3 (+/-) cups of flour and 1 to 1 1/4 tsp sea salt.  Add the flour gradually, and watch to see how the dough is looking.  Finished dough will be pliable, not sticking to the sides but also not crumbling at the bottom of your bowl.  If you happen to add too much flour, no worries!  Just add a touch of water.  This dough is very forgiving!  When you achieve the perfect dough, allow it to knead for 5-10 minutes.

I usually use 1-2 cups white flour then throw in some rye and whole wheat.  You can use all whole wheat, and I really wanted to when I first started this sourdough adventure a year ago, however I discovered that the addition of even one cup of white four makes a huge difference in the texture of the final product.  100% whole wheat bread is quite dense and tends to be extremely sour.  Just remember that this bread is fermented and therefore using a bit of white flour is really not that bad.

Allow your dough to rest on a lightly floured plate covered in saran wrap for an hour. From here, you can go ahead and form it into a loaf, baguette, rolls, or whatever you want if you are in a rush.  If you have time, gently stretch the dough into a large, flat ring and fold it in half, then in half the other way, and place back on the plate to rest another hour.  Repeat that one to two more times before forming the dough into it’s final destination shape.

Now comes the fermentation period.  I suggest a 16-24 hour ferment to start with, and then you can expand from there.  I like my dough really sour so sometimes I will allow the dough to ferment for upwards of 30 hours.  It also depends on the temperature of where you are.  The warmer the climate, the faster the process will take.  Making sourdough is a learning process.  That is why I have waited so long to share this recipe with you!  I have gotten many requests to explain how to make sourdough, but I wanted to have a bunch of experience under my belt because every time I have learned something new and helpful.

In the past year I have made over 100 breads, from rolls to baguettes, bagels to sliced sandwich bread.  I am hooked!  Nothing beats pulling a loaf of crusty bread out of the oven and breaking into it hot with a bowl of soup.  Or grilling an amazing burger and serving it on a hot, homemade bun.  You get the idea.  Hell, I even made a loaf of this bread and brought it on a plane with me to the grand canyon this past April!  I have a seriously addiction to good food.

I hope this was enlightening and helps give you a push to try it out for yourself.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns while in the process of making your own starter or bread, please reach out to me!  I have seen just about every form of bread disaster before so I hopefully will be able to help you out.  Also, feel free to do a bit of bread bragging when you pull your first loaf out of the oven.  I am a sucker for a good picture of homemade bread!!

 

Sourdough Starter

purified water

whole grain flour (whole wheat, rye, spelt…)

patience

Directions:

  1. Whisk together 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water in a wide-mouth glass jar.  Allow to sit out, uncovered, for 24 hours.
  2. Throw away  half of the mixture, and add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour to the jar.  Whisk to combine and let sit out another 24 hours.
  3. Repeat step 2 for another 5-7 days, or until the starter is bubbly and has a sour smell.  Patience friends!!
  4.  Store in the refrigerator with a cheesecloth on top.  Make sure to feed the starter (throw away half and whisk in equal parts flour and water) if you are not making bread every week.  You should not go longer than 10 days without making bread of feeding the starter.

 

Margaret’s Sourdough Loaf

yields two long baguettes or about 12 medium rolls

1/2 starter (about 1 1/2 cups), recipe above

flour (your choice!)

purified water

salt, ~1 1/4 tsp

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the starter with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to the base of a stand mixer .  Cover with saran wrap and let sit for an hour.
  2. Slowly add about 2 cups flour to the starter with the mixer running, paddle attachment in.  Add salt.  Before the flour is fully incoperated, change the paddle attachment to the dough hook.  Add another cup of flour slowly.  You are looking for a dough that does not stick to the sides and also is not crumbling at the bottom.
  3. You can add more flour/water at any time.  Keep kneading the dough and watching until the perfect dough consistency is achieved.  Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Place dough ball on a lightly floured plate and cover with saran wrap.  Let sit for an hour.
  5. At this point, if you are in a rush, you can shape it into whatever bread product you want and begin the fermentation time, see step 7.  If you have more time, condition the dough further by completing step 6.
  6. Take the dough and gently stretch it into a flat disk.  Fold in half, then in half again the other way.  Place back on the plate and cover in saran wrap for another hour.  Repeat this step 2 more times.
  7. Form into bread shape of your choice and place in a parchment lined pan/loaf pan you are going to bake it in.  Cover with saran wrap and let sit for 18-30 hours.  The longer it ferments, the stronger the sour flavor will be.  Also remember the warmer the temperature is the quicker the dough will ferment.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for ~30 minutes.  You can tell when it is done because the outside will form a hard crust and if you tap on the top of the bread it will sound hollow.  Cool completely before storing covered in the fridge.  This bread lasts awhile in the fridge, up to 2 weeks, and can be frozen for a longer shelf life.

Maple Almond Brownie Blast Nice Cream


Can you believe summer is almost over?!  It’s crazy to think about, and stressful because the end of summer means it’s very close to my wedding!  It feel’s like October 28th is creeping up fast and my to do list just gets longer by the day.  I have to sample a few more wedding cakes before I finalize my plans for what I’m baking, I have to set up a food tasting with our caterers to finalize that menu, design my vegetable arrangements with my best friend…the list goes on and on! Sorry, did I say work?

Lot’s of coffee and treats have been powering me through this crazy time of work and planning.  I have a bit of a sweet tooth and with these hot and hazy days of late summer, my go-to dessert is cool and creamy ice cream.   Seriously, I’ve been crushing on ice cream hard the last week and have come up with three new recipes!  They all start with my favorite frozen banana base, aka “nicecream” in the food world (I’m so trendy!). Today I’m sharing a fully-loaded version, studded with giant brownie chunks and toasted meld-in-your-mouth walnuts, all paired perfectly with a creamy slightly-nutty almond and dash of sweet maple syrup ice cream base.  Pure bliss! If you haven’t checked out my last post for giant lentil brownies, I suggest you head on over and whip up a batch for the brownie part in this treat!

I have a bit of a confession to make; I don’t have a ice cream scoop!  Which is crazy considering I spend 90% of my time in the kitchen cooking.  It’s actually hard not having one because when I make muffins or cookies I cannot easily scoop the batter and dispense it on the pan in perfect portions.  I usually wind up using a tablespoon and creating a giant mess.  Par for the course with me.  Whenever I go over my parent’s house and bake, or anyone’s house for that matter I feel so fancy and luxurious using a scoop.  Guess it’s time I bite the bullet and shell out the $3 to get one…

Scoop or no scoop, you can still enjoy this frozen treat.  The best part about this recipe is it only requires one bowl (really blender) and no fancy ice cream maker. Let the regular people have ice cream!!

 

Maple Almond Brownie Blast Nice Cream

4 super ripe medium bananas, peeled and frozen in chunks

3 Tbsp almond butter

3 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 giant lentil brownie, diced in small pieces

1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces

1/4 cup cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Blend the bananas, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a high speed blender.  Add a splash of non-dairy milk if using a food processor to help blend.  Fold in the brownie pieces, walnut pieces, and cacao nibs.
  2. Line a 9×9 baking pan with wax paper, all the way up the sides.  Spread the ice cream mixture evenly in the pan and let freeze for at least 3 hours.  The longer you freeze it, the harder it will become.  Store in the freezer with saran wrap over the pan for up to 3 days.  If you want it to last a bit longer, transfer the ice cream into a air-tight container and store for up to a week.

Giant Lentil Brownies

The past few months I’ve been all about beans.  You name the bean, I’ve put it in something!  I even created a vanilla cake recipe using cannelloni beans that I am going to make into my wedding cake!  I’m for real bean crazy over here.

Not only are beans nutritious and super filling, but they are also cheap and extremely versatile.  I buy my beans dry, soak them, then cook them in large batches. Sometimes I sprout them a few extra days before cooking; it all depends on my mood and what I’m planning to use them for.  At any given time there is at least one giant bowl of soaking beans on my counter.  Usually there is sourdough dough fermenting next to it, but that’s for another day.

I’ve been eating mainly vegetarian since last September.  But to be honest I don’t like to put a label on my “diet”.  I don’t believe in diets.  I believe that you should eat plant based (as in mostly vegetables and fruits), whole food (no pre-pared or packaged crap: stay to the outside edges of the grocery store and skip the middle), and everything in moderation.  That’s about it.  If you’re a meat eater, that’s totally fine!  Just eat way more veg than beef.  And treat yourself.  I strongly believe in a non-elimination diet!  Recently I watched Michael Pollan’s film In Defense of Food while on vacation and loved it.  It hit the nail on the head when it comes to trendy nutrition and dietitian buzz words that are driving the food industry.  I really have to read the book.  Anyway, in the past few months I’ve transitioned to this very simple and holistic approach to how and what I eat and I’ve never felt better!

Enter these brownies.  They are made of whole foods, no refined sugars, oils, or grains.  Nothing but nature in these bad boys!  My logic behind making these was I wanted a eat brownies for breakfast and thought it might be wise if I include ingredients that did more than just give me a sugar rush.  The protein, fiber, fruit, not to mention vitamins and minerals in these make them not only a good option but a great one!  I made them a few times to get it right, but this recipe is even dessert worthy.  My two favorite ways to eat these are warmed with chocolate nice-cream and extra cacao nibs or slathered in my cacao butter frosting (recipe to come).  This recipe is not joking around and makes 12 giant brownies!  Size matters and a giant brownie is always better than a tiny one.  So go ahead, wake up and have a brownie.  No judgement here 😉


 

Giant Lentil Brownies

vegan, gluten free, oil free, refined sugar free

1 1/2 cups GF oats

1/2 cup teff (or more oats)

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups cooked lentils

16 oz dates, pitted*

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk + more as needed

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter**

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips, walnuts, or a combo (optional)

cacao nibs for sprinkling (optional)

 

*If your dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 5-10 minutes before using them.

**Sub a seed butter here if necessary. I have not actually tried it myself, however I bet sunflower seed butter would taste amazing!

Directions:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Blend the oats and teff in a high-speed blender or food processor until a flour consistency is achieved.  Pulse in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Empty into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Blend the dates, peanut butter, vanilla, and 1 cup of the milk until smooth.  Add to a large bowl.
  4. Blend the lentils, applesauce, and 1/4 cup milk until smooth.  Add to the large bowl.  Stir everything together until combined.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and gently mix until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts if desired.
  6. Spread the batter evenly over the greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with cacao nibs if desired.  Bake for about 30 minutes for more fudgy brownies, closer to 35 for fully cooked texture.  Let cool completely, cut into 12 pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Farmer’s Market Zoodle Pie





My garden is in full production mode and I’ve been harvesting enough produce to feed a small army.  As the greens build up, I’m forced to come up with new recipes to use them up.  It’s a terrible burden, but I’ve been doing my best to get through all the veggie sampling, cooking, and visits from friends and family as they help me try out my new creations.  I really hope by now you realize I’m super sarcastic because I’ve been in my element the past few months cooking up a storm with home grown produce!  Now using up the kale from my garden has been easy; a solid 25% of me is kale.  Salads, soups, sauces, sandwiches; basically I put kale in every “s” culinary item that’s not a smoothie.  I know green smoothies are all the rage, but personally I detest having veggies in my drinks.  I prefer to eat my greens with some garlic and olive oil thank you very much.  To each their own. (I do have this green smoothie recipe that is pretty delicious).

While I’m a walking encyclopedia for kale recipes, zucchini is a rather foreign veggie to be used in my kitchen.  I blame my minimal zucchini use on the fact that the past three years my zucchini plants have been dismal at best.  In fact, last year I had eight zucchini mounds and they all died within the first two months! During the summer I tend to only eat what comes from my garden (considering I’m always up to my eyeballs in fresh veg and never get the urge to buy any more).  You can imagine the shock I was in when all six mounds of 3+ plants took off this year and I’m currently picking over 10 zucchini a week!  It was time to figure out how to use up such a plethora of zucchini after giving away as much as my friends and family would take.

I started simple.  Zucchini bread.  Zucchini carrot apple muffins.  Sliced zucchini as a substitute for lasagna noodles. After exhausting my slim knowledge of zucchini recipes I had to get creative.  I wanted to do something fun therefore I started playing with my mandoline to make zucchini chips.  One of the big downfalls of zucchini it they are really watery and tend to be soggy in most sautés and pastas I’ve had them in.  Zucchini chips are a great option because they crisp up nice and are a super healthy alternative to regular chips.  The problem is they are a pain in the you-know-what to make, super time consuming, and I quickly realized why my mandoline has collected so much dust.  I ALWAYS slice my finger on it!  For someone who cooks so much I really should not be handling sharp knives and hot pots and pans.  If I had a dollar for every time a knife almost landed on my toes…

But I digress.  Basically I love zucchini chips and hate to make them.  So I took my bandaged finger and got out another fun (slightly safer) kitchen gadget, my spiralizer.  I had leftover caramelized onion collard greens from dinner I wanted to use up, so I decided to make a spaghetti pie of sorts with a collard crust and a zucchini noodle filling. Bam.  Farmer’s market pie. I kept the seasonings simple to let the vegetables shine through.  Salt, pepper, and garlic powder is all the zucchini needed, plus a hit of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor while keeping it on the lighter side.  I love cheese, but sometimes a lighter option is nice.  Especially when it’s 90 degrees outside!  Omitting cheese keeps this pie vegan as well, so everyone can enjoy!  As a finishing touch I served it with a dollop of spicy cashew cream.  AH-mazing.  I highly recommend serving this with the cashew cream.  It’s rich, slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and really adds to the deliciousness factor of this recipe.

Is this dish going to come out in nice clean pieces?  No.  It’s not your typical wheat and cheese bound pie.  It is light, refreshing, and one of the most delicious messes to grace your dinner plate.  Or lunch plate.  Heck, serve it up with eggs and call it breakfast!  I might have to eat this for the next 32 meals straight to use up all the zucchini I have growing.  If you, like myself, have an obsession for all things green (or are trying to make get on my level), pick up some zucchini at the farmers market and try this beautiful mess of what I’m calling farmer’s market zoodle pie!

 

Farmer’s Market Zoodle Pie

1 bunch collard greens; deveined, washed, and chopped

1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

 

2-3 zucchini, spiraled or peeled into thin strips (about 4 heaping cups worth)

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp pepper

spicy cashew cream (optional – for serving)

Directions:

  1.  Saute the sliced onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown*.  Add the collard greens and cook until tender (about 5-10 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Spread the cooked collards out evenly over the bottom of a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe pie pan.
  3.  In a bowl, toss the zucchini noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast.  Place over the collards and spread into one even layer.  Sprinkle with the remaining nutritional yeast.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes.  Broil for the last 2-3 minutes (optional but gives it a nice golden crust!).
  5. Serve warm with a dollop of spicy cashew cream!

Date Caramel

Two ingredients.  All-natural.  Delicious.  Nutritious.  BADASS.

Update your sweet tooth with this rich, decadent, creamy,  mouth-watering caramel.

 



 

ps.  I strongly suggest making this asap because there’s a recipe headed your way that uses this…

 

Date Caramel

1 lb dates, pitted*

1 1/2 c-2 cups water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Place the dates and 1 1/2 c water in a pot.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Place in a high speed blender with the vanilla and blend until a thick and smooth. Add more water to thin out as desired.  Store in a air-tight container in the fridge.

*It doesn’t matter the type of dates you use.  I’ve used both medjol dates and deglet noor dates with great results.

Classic Tempeh Burger


Sooooo…I planned to share this recipe last week, as in Tuesday of last week, then life happened.  Oh well, better late than never!  And believe me, with this hot weather and grilling season in full swing you are going to want to whip up a batch of these burgers.

The idea for there burgers came from a pop up vegan event I went to with a friend in February.  I had the most amazing burger (and waited in line for almost an hour – totally worth it!).  The next day I got to work on recreating it and I got pretty lucky the first time.  What I love most about these burgers is the heartiness the tempeh adds to the patty.  While I adore veggie burgers made out of beans, vegetables, and grains, they are often very light and the consistency doesn’t provide the satisfying chew that I crave when eating a burger.  These bad boys deliver in both texture and flavor while also holding up well to grilling and many toppings! My favorite toppings are spicy cashew mayo and sweet relish + hot sauce, but feel free to try just about anything.  The burgers in these photos are on a homemade sprouted sourdough bun with tahini dressing and kale.  Still delicious.  There are no wrong answers when it comes to decking out your burger!

Did you notice the super cute cutting board I photographed these on?  It was an engagement gift from one of nick’s aunt’s and I’m obsessed!  I’m actually thinking it will be a great way to plate some of the appetizers at our wedding.  See, not only am I making my own wedding cake but I’m not leaning towards making most of the food as well.  I sure hope my mom isn’t reading this…:)

 

Classic Tempeh Burgers

1 8oz block tempeh, cubed

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 cup oat flour*

1/3 cup hemp seeds (or sunflower seeds)

2 chia eggs (2 Tbsp chia seeds + 1/3 c warm water mixed and set aside to gel)

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

*You can make your own oat flour by adding oats to a food processor or blender (1/2 heaping cup of oats = 1/2c flour).  Simply blend until a flour consistency is achieved.

Directions:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2.  Put the tempeh in a food processor or blender and pulse until a crumbly consistency is achieved then empty into a large bowl.  Repeat with the garbanzo beans.
  3.  Put the hemp seeds in a food processor or blender and pulse until a flour consistency is achieved.  Add to the bowl.
  4.  Add the salt, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, and cayenne to the bowl.  Mix everything together.
  5.  Mix in the chia eggs.  As you mix, a dough should start to form.  You know it is ready when you can press it into a ball and it holds together.  If the dough is still crumbly, slowly add more water one Tbsp at a time.
  6.  Form 8 even balls and gently press them into a patty, about 1 inch thick.  Place on the parchment lined pan.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, flip over and bake another 15-20 minutes.

My Trip West

DSC_0126

Here I am, on top of the Grand Canyon.  It was extremely windy and my sunglasses blew off while trying to get this shot.   Luckily they landed in front of me!  I was slightly cursing Nick to hurry up and get the shot, therefore my feet got cut off.  Worth it!

DSC_0142

DSC_0151

Experience a sunset on the Grand Canyon.  Breathtaking. 

DSC_0445

Valley of Fire State Park.  aka alien park.  aka rock climbers playground.   

Hi friends! I’m back from one of the coolest and most inspiring vacations I’ve ever been on. It also happened to be decided and organized on a whim, and turned out better than I can have imagined. The past few months I have been extremely stressed. Work has been crazy busy with me putting in 7 day weeks, dealing with some interesting (aka insane) individuals, and having no time for myself. Not to mention I got engaged (yay!!!) in February, and instead of wedding planning being a fun, creative, and let’s be real…an all about the bride experience; it’s been adding more stress to my life and catering to what everyone else wants, leaving my voice unheard! Enter how getting to watch the sunrise on the grand canyon and climb above the clouds on the Angel’s landing trail at Zion have helped me overcome these problems + so much more. (I’ll be doing a separate post on wedding planning and why I’m going to make my own cake soon!)

DSC_0188

Although I was less than thrilled waking up at 4:30am to catch the sunrise over the grand canyon, boy oh boy am I glad I did!!  Truly remarkable.

DSC_0281

DSC_0223

We’ve all been there. Overworked. Exhausted. Stuck in the same routine. Feel as if you’re working so hard towards a goal you don’t even want. I needed a change.  I needed to turn my mindset around and figure out what’s important in my life.  I needed an escape from the daily grind to get some mental clarity.  With that in mind I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas with Nick, my parents, my sister and her fiance, plus my brother and his girlfriend.  Ok, I know what you’re thinking.  Not quite the relaxing and restorative vacation I was describing.  And believe me I thought the same thing at the beginning.  But I was so wrong.

Not for nothing, but it was COLD at night and in the early morning.  I think I had three layers on when we watched the sun rise but it didn’t stop me from doing some casual yoga on the rim of the grand canyon.  You bet I did sun salutations!!

I even got my mom to join me!  

I ate like a veggie goddess!  Seriously enjoyed having a kitchen everywhere I went with our RV.  Everyone thought I was crazy, until they asked for seconds of my cheesy lentils…

Ok, Antelope canyon was mind blowing!  Confusing when you pull up and it looks like a seriously mediocre desert.  And then you have to wait in the hot sun for over an hour in order to descend into the actual canyon.  But this was one of the coolest things I have even seen; put it on your bucket list people!!

After landing in Vegas, we stayed the night in the hotel Paris before really getting the adventure started.  (Let me just say I am totally baffled by how popular Vegas is.  Call me crazy but being surrounded by a haze of smoke and alcohol, plus more people than comfortable for a desert, not to mention an almost one to one ratio of slot machines to humans is not my idea of a good time.  It did serve it’s purpose as an airport so I can’t be all that mad.  End rant.)  The next day we picked up our RV’s that we would call home for the next week.  I was highly skeptical of this RV lifestyle, but now I can honestly say it’s the way to go!  If any of you followed my instagram and instastories during the trip, you know just how accommodating to my foodie lifestyle RVing is! I was able to cook up a storm and enjoy my usual “cheesy” lentils, warm salads, roasted chickpeas, figgy teff porridge, and so much more.  And yes, I did pack a container of sautéed broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and chickpeas with a fork for my on-the-go trail lunch as we hiked through the national parks.  I don’t mess around when I say I’m a plant based foodie!

On the left: Me, on top Angel’s landing trail in Zion National Park, eating my casual trail lunch.  Top right: my lunch before hiking 3 miles down the grand canyon then 3 miles back up (a change of over 2,000ft elevation both ways!).  Same lunch (although in a super unsophisticated plastic bag) + the addition of green juice.  Last two photos are the results of the insane trek!  We were both covered in dust and amazed at what we had just accomplished!!

Yea, we hiked down and up that…

Always cool when faced with adversity.  We just had to get back to the top of the rocks behind me, no big deal!  I’d also like to point out that although it was cold in the dessert at night, it was hot during the day!  I’m simply terrified of the sun and stick to long sleeves, pants, and hats whenever outside for more than 30min.  Call me crazy, but in 30 years when I look 20 we’ll see who gets the last laugh!

Throughout the trip I saw some truly remarkable natural wonders.  There is something therapeutic about looking out over the vastness grand canyon and calming climbing to the top of a mountain in Zion park and eating a simple lunch feeling on top of the world.  It sounds cliche, but I needed the wake up call.  Over the course of the trip I was able to shut down my stress and open my mind.  And while it’s never a bad idea to take a trip to national park and view some breath-taking natural wonders, remember nature is all around us and there are ways to relieve our daily stresses no matter where you live.  My biggest take-away from the trip is inner peace is not a destination but a journey.  We drove over 4 hours at times, across three states and a time zone to fit everything we wanted to see.  At first I thought the drives would simply be a means to an end, but the open and constantly changing mountainous landscape and vegetation was breathtaking! We all have the ability to figure out what we want and change our current path to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

I took about 1000 pictures of the ever changing landscape on my phone.  I have never had so much fun driving!!

Extension of Angel’s landing at Zion National Park; Nick and I got about 1/4 way out and decided not for us!  It is treacherous terrain with only a metal chain to hold on to!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were a ton of people on it causing traffic jams in places that clearly lead to death if you so much as move an inch to either side.   I was happy with our decision.  Shout out to my bold a** sister and her fiance for actually getting to the top!  Nick and I had the most delicious cold-brewed iced coffee at the bottom while we waited 😛 

Although we did climb up this mountain before turing around (and this was only the halfway point!)

We stopped at a truck stop for lunch on our way to Valley of Fire state park (gotta love the RV life!), and this guy joined us!  

Valley of Fire was our last stop, and we were all exhausted by the time we got there.  The temperature was also reading 102F so that didn’t help.  Good thing we had quite a view! 

Remember I said how tired and drained I was?  Kidding.  As soon as we started down a trail I was ALL over the rocks!  They were super fun to climb!!

The whole trip I rocked comfy clothes, no make-up, and 0% cares on how I looked.  Oh wait, that’s how I usually am!  

Shut down stress and open up your mind.  Be open to new possibilities.  Do things that make you happy.  Find joy everyday.  Live a little!!