Easy, Chewy Whole Wheat Bagels

It’s a whole new world, folks. The flood gates have been thrust open and I am now welcoming bagels of all shapes and sizes and flavors into my home.

I was able to overcome my vague, senseless fear of yeast long enough today to make bagels. Now all I can think about is how much of my life was wasted not making and eating homemade bagels. While it was wildly foolish of me to ever have avoided yeast, I can sympathize with my former self. The less you know about yeast, the more daunting it sounds… the more you know about yeast, the weirder it sounds. Yeah, so, like… yeast is alive and related to fungus (yum) and your job is to make sure it has plenty of sugar to eat and a warm enough place to hang out. Pretty wacky, huh? I’m enthralled by the aliveness of it. Sure, flour comes from a plant that was once alive and eggs from a chicken that is alive, but yeast is alive. In fact, it’s alive enough to be branded high-maintenance. I was so hesitant about working with yeast because I’d heard tales about how sensitive it is to temperature and how crucial it is that you mix it with the correct ratio of fats and sugars. While the former is all true, I’ve come to realize that the most important element about success with yeast is patience.

I’m certainly not a walking, talking, patience-brewing machine, but, like any virtue, I think patience can be specially cultivated (…for bagel making days, of course! I clearly payed attention in Sunday school). So, with a little help from patience and A LOT of help from vivid imagery (insert imaginary projection of freshly buttered bagel here), I was able to get through the kneading, kitchen pacing, and life pondering that comes with ballooning dough. Yes, these bagels will require a little chunk of your time. And yes, you could be chowing down on store-bought, perfectly delicious bagels in said time. But in all honesty, yeast doesn’t really ask for much. Just give it a warm bath in sugary water, bury it in flour, and let it fall asleep in a warm place; it will do the magic for you.

Ingredients~
Makes 4-6 bagels 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tsps granulated sugar
Scant 1 tsp table salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
Sesame seeds for topping

Instructions~

1. Heat up the water and let it cool if necessary until comfortably warm (test: you should be able to easily stick your finger in without retracting it). Stir through the sugar until mostly dissolved and then pour in the yeast, leaving it to sit for about 7-10 minutes. As the yeast does it’s thing, whisk together the flours and salt and in a large bowl, leaving a well in the center. Once the yeasty water appears fuzzy and bubbly on the surface, pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until it no longer appears to be taking shape/sticking together. Gradually add another 1-2 tbsps of water until the dough begins to hold together in one large mass but isn’t too sticky to handle.
2. Plop the ball of dough onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and begin to knead, continuing for at least 10 minutes (drift off to your happy place and think of the soon-to-be wonderfully chewy bagels). You will likely have to pinch flour onto the dough as you knead or dust your hands with it.
3. Once finished kneading, place the dough in the bottom of a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place (I preheat the oven to 70 C before switching it off and leaving the door ajar) to double in size, roughly 1-1 1/2 hours tops.
4. Once the dough has ballooned, transfer it to a clean, lightly floured surface to separate into 4-6 pieces (depending on desired size). I find that it helps to weigh each piece before forming them, so as to ensure an evenly cooked batch. In order to avoid dry bagels, return all but one chunk of dough to a covered bowl as you begin shaping. Using the palms of your hands, lightly roll each piece until it resembles thick rope. Join the two end pieces together, ensuring that they overlap by about 1/2 inch, before lightly pinching the ring closed. Repeat for each bagel, setting them on a tray lined with baking paper and covered with plastic wrap as you continue shaping. Ensure the plastic wrap is tightly sealed before returning the bagels to a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 220 C. Bring a large saucepan of water (about 4 inches deep) to boil and slightly reduce heat once rapidly boiling. Add the baking soda to the water and drop bagels in, adding 2-3 at a time; note that the bagels should immediately float to the surface. Cook for 30 seconds minimum (I opted for a chewier exterior and let them sit for almost a minute on each side), before flipping and repeating on the other side. Transfer the bagels to a plate or tray to rest as you finish boiling the others. Once done, place the tray (lined with parchment paper) of bagels on a lower rack in the oven and cook for 15-17 minutes or noticeably golden in color. It’s best to rotate the pan 180 degrees halfway through cooking so as to ensure even browning. Enjoy fresh or store in the freezer and toast/thaw before eating!

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Raspberry Vanilla Cake Made with White Beans

I’m going to be baking a lot more cakes from now on. Last night I suddenly became energized by the idea of cake. Sure, cake is usually full of sugar, hence the energy, right? No. I was simply enthralled by the visual I had created in my mind; a slideshow of cakes being imagined and created and frosted and polished. I eventually moved on to imagining cupcakes (still cake, I know), muffins, cookies, bars, brownies, and the rest of cake’s brothers and sisters and cousins and second cousins.

I don’t know why baking and confectionary make me wanna dance while savory dishes bore me. There is no doubt an element of devilishness weaved into the narrative of baking. When a batch of brownies are in the oven it’s suddenly only a matter of minutes until they will self-actualize and begin to tempt you. Sometimes it requires a lot of unpleasant self-control to stop from devouring half a batch, let along an entire batch, in one sitting. I’ve had this problem countless times. And yet, the annoying dilemma, to eat or not to eat, doesn’t stop the baker from baking. And sometimes, baking and baking and baking, until said baker is forced to share their delicacies with coworkers they don’t even like or neighbors they’ve never so much as said hello to. It’s a bit of a silly conundrum, having too many baked treats on your hands. The baker possesses an abundance of what people either want but are too tired or lazy to make, or want but try really, really hard to avoid being within sniffing distance of. The baker is not too tired or lazy to bake a three tiered cake, being within nose-hair-brushing distance of it all the while, and yet, the baker doesn’t feel any itch of frenzy over how much to eat or not eat. The baker makes the cake because that’s what they want to do. 

And so, back to me. Am I a self-proclaimed baker? Maybe. I’m not sure. The word ‘baker’ is usually reserved for individuals that support themselves financially through baking and that is something I do not do. I bake because it’s what I want to do. I’ve had not formal training. Sometimes a decent tasting cake will create itself in my kitchen as I fiddle around, but that’s it. Or rather, that was the case up until recently. I still fiddle around, but I fiddle around a lot more, so much so that the other day I began to feel a little uneasy with my extreme desire to bake cakes. Great, thanks self, what am I supposed to do with this urge? Not only is there the financial cost of buying ingredients and making ‘unnecessary’ edible things with them, but there is also the question of health and fitness, waters that start to become murky with the presence of so much fluffy dough around.

Despite the former considerations, I don’t want to limit myself to baking a cake once a week. Heck, even twice a week won’t cut it. I can’t remember the last time I was so effortlessly transfixed by a pursuit/task/idea. As for the practical side of things, I think my mind and body would only take a toll (from all the cake) if I dropped my care for exercising and eating platefuls of vegetables in between cake tasting. And moving right along onto the sour question of money, well, cake really doesn’t ask for much. Whole wheat and white flours are cheap, as are dates and eggs and butter (unless it’s all organic of course), so within sane, healthier limits, I should be able to jump full fledged into this new interest obsession. While you definitely won’t be seeing any fancy cakes that call for macadamia nuts or almond meal or coconut flour, you will find cakes that are saturated in genuine, unadulterated love and enthusiasm. And there will also be lots of dancing involved.

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Fudgy Vegan Beetroot Bars

Most of my recipes fall on the healthier end of the baked goods spectrum, but these beetroot bad boys are way, waaay farther down the healthy side than I usually dare wander. 

I call these my ‘beetroot bad boys’ because they are anything but that. My sense of humor can’t be rationalized. Let’s move on. Despite their striking appearance, these guys are very tamed, consisting of coconut oil, rice malt syrup, boiled beets, rolled oats, chia seeds, and shredded coconut. No eggs, no butter, no other truly-bad-boy sugars. You’re either loving the sound of this, nodding your head in agreement (no bad-boy-sugars, oh yeah!!!) or you’re feeling a little uneasy (so… do these just taste like dirt?). The honest answer is kinda. They kinda have an earthy taste because that’s just how beets taste, is it not? I didn’t add beets to these bars just for their color alone. And while I could’ve masquerade their flavor with a cup full of sugar of butter, I decided to stick with what I had in mind for this recipe, not create what I thought some people somewhere (I don’t even know these people) might prefer to eat.

The truth is, I love a good, void-of-nutrients cake. Bring on the processed white flour and butter and all. However, do I want to eat such cakes everyday? No. Okay, yes, I do, but my point is that I choose not to, because eating copious amounts of white cake everyday would catch up with me mentally and physically. So, on my cake-off days, when cake has gone to the movies or left town for a little while, I bake things with vegetables in them.

If you’re after a baked good that is healthy enough to constitute having for breakfast, first snack, lunch, and second snack, then these bars are for you. I understand you might be afraid of the beet flavor shining too strongly in this one, so add another tbsp of cocoa powder or syrup until you’re satisfied. But in all honesty, the only unsettling thing about these bars is how tasty and fudgy in texture they are, dirty vegetables and all.
 

Ingredients~

Bars:
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup beetroot, chopped and boiled
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
3 tbsps chia seeds, ground
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsps melted/soft coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of ground rock salt
1-2 tbsps beetroot water (reserved from boiled beetroot, but replace with water if you’ve roasted your beets)
1/3 cup chopped chocolate or chips (optional, I omitted this)

Sauce:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp rice malt syrup
Nut/dairy milk, add for desired consistency

Instructions~

1. Peel, chop, and boil beets until you can easily stick a fork into them. Once slightly cooled, add the beets and 1 tbsp beet water to the food processor and blend until beets are reduced to a fine pulp.
2. Preheat oven to 185 C/374 F. Add syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and ground chia to beet mixture. Blend until well combined and transfer to a large bowl.
4. Combine remaining dry ingredients in food processor and blend until oats and coconut more closely resemble flour (oat flakes here and there are totally okay). Add dry ingredients to bowl of wet and whisk well. Stir through the chocolate chunks/chips if using. The batter will be noticeably clumpy (gelatinous even) with the beet pulp, chia seeds, and coconut/oats stirred through it, but that’s how it should be. Unlike brownie/cake batters, this won’t be very pourable, but also know that it shouldn’t appear dry! It should be very gooey and wet to the touch.
5. Line a square pan with parchment paper and lightly oil sides before adding the mixture. You will have to use your spatula to evenly spread it around. Set in oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes. My bars were done, aka not wobbly in the middle, after 18 minutes. Allow the bars to cool a bit before pouring chocolate sauce on top and refrigerating or quick-freezing (20-30 minutes) until the chocolate hardens up a bit.
6. For the chocolate sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients, beginning with 3 tbsps of milk, in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until cocoa powder has completely dissolved and add more milk by the tbsp to achieved your desired consistency. Let cool off the stove as the bars bake.

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Curried Chickpea and Spinach Fritters

Today I made gold nuggets. Gold in color, yes, but also gold in worth. Am I serious? Maybe a little, but I’m really just trying to convey how goddamn tasty these fritters are.

Deep fried to golden perfection (yes, I said golden perfection), these fritters have a savory, curry flavored center and a lightly crunchy outer layer. As if you need any more incentive to hop to it, here’s an unbelievably simply breakdown of what you’ll need:

A big bowl
Some chickpea flour
A few pinches of spices you likely already have on hand (cumin, chili, turmeric…)
Onion and spinach (optional, I ain’t your mom)
Water
Oil
Enthusiasm for deep-friend, crispy curry things

Did I mention these fritters are full of chickpeas and vegetables? Those things are apparently really good for you…

Ingredients~

1 1/3 cups chickpea flour
1 pellette frozen spinach, pureed
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder or paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp ground rock salt
1/3 cup water
Canola/sunflower oil for frying

Instructions~

1. Combine chickpea flour, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Add onion, spinach, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir until goopy batter forms. The consistency should be able to hold together on a spoon, not quite as solid as cookie dough, but not as pourable as pancake batter. Add more flour by the tbsp if it is too runny and more water by the tbsp if too dry. Note that the batter will definitely be too sticky to touch- that is how it should be!
2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan until very hot and beginning to bubble. Drop a bit of batter into the oil to test if it is hot enough; the batter should begin to sizzle immediately. Drop large spoonfuls of batter in, only adding 2-3 to the saucepan at a time to prevent over crowding. It should take no more than a minute for the first side of each fritter to cook and deepen in color. Flip each fritter and continue to cook in the oil for a minute or until it turns golden. Make sure to keep a watchful eye as they brown very easily.
3. Set the hot fritters on a sheet of paper towel to cool. Serve fresh with mint yogurt or mix through a curry!

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Vegan Raspberry Swirl Rolls (Refined Sugar Free!)

Ingredients~

Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps yeast
1/3 cup & 1-3 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps melted Earth Balance/butter
1 tbsp rice malt syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Filling:
2/3 cup dates
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 tbsp melted Earth Balance/butter

Glaze:
1 cup soaked raw cashews (I quick soak mine for 2 hours in warm water)
1/3 cup & 2-4 tbsps soy milk
2 tbsps rice malt syrup

Instructions~

1. Heat up 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan on low heat. Once slightly hot (be careful not to scald!!), transfer it to a large bowl to cool until you can easily stick your finger in without retracting. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast! Stir the yeast through the warm milk and let sit for 5-8 minutes or until very foamy and thickened. If your mixture doesn’t change it means the yeast is likely a dud, so try again with more.
2. Once yeast is activated, stir in the melted (but not burning!) butter and syrup. Add the flour and salt, stirring in a circular motion until the mixture begins to come together. If it’s too dry, add more milk by the tbsp. I gradually added two more tbsps. If it’s too wet, sprinkle flour on top and continue to combine. Once the dough more or less forms a large blob, transfer it to a clean, lightly floured counter and knead with your hands for 5-8 minutes. It should be easy to handle, aka not too sticky, and bounce back when you press your finger into it. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the ball of dough at the bottom, tightly covering it with plastic wrap and setting it in a warm space for 1 1/2-2 hours or doubled in size. I preheat my oven to 80 celsius and turn it off before putting my dough in to kick off the rising process (leave the door ajar initially if it’s way too hot).
3. While the dough rises, soften the dates (unless using medjool) by pouring just-boiled water over them until they are submerged. After about 5 minutes, transfer them to a food processor and blend until sticky, thick paste forms. Set aside.
4. Once dough is done rising, plop it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out (about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness). Lather the dough with a tbsp of melted butter, making sure to leave cm or so of space around the edges to make rolling it up easier. Spread on the date paste before adding a layer of frozen raspberries. Use your fingertips to gently roll up the dough, starting with the closest lip; be sure to tightly curl it in. Pinch the last lip of dough together and voila, you should have a great big log on your hands. Use dental floss or a sharp, serrated knife to slice off the rolls.* Give each piece about an inch of thickness and place them in a pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to rise a second time for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or doubled.
4. As the dough rises, make the cashew sauce. Simply blend soaked cashews in a food processor with 1/3 cup milk and 2 tbsps syrup. Continue to blend until cashew fully break up and only tiny flecks are visible. Add more tbsps of milk (I added two!) and continue to blend to achieve your desired consistency!
4. Preheat oven to 176 C/350 F and once heated, bake the rolls for 15-22 minutes or until the filling appears thickened and slightly darker and the dough is kissed with a toasty golden color. Drizzle on cashew cream and enjoy warm!

* If the dough feels ridiculously warm and gooey, you may want to refrigerate it for 10 minutes or more until cooler/firmer. You don’t want the rolls to squish and flatten upon cutting!

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Sweet Tahini Glaze

For years to come I will remember this day. March 14, 2017, marks the first time I baked with yeast. It was also the first time I made cinnamon rolls. Flat, shrimpy cinnamon rolls. No figurative language about fluffy, cloud-like dough here. Instead, you will find an overuse of the descriptor ‘shrimpy’. Jokes aside, these rolls were still yummy. They simply fell short in the trait that makes a cinnamon roll a roll as opposed to, er, a cinnamon roll flavored dense block of dough.

You might be thinking, what went wrong? Or more appropriately, what did you expect? To be quite frank, I expected a lot. Perhaps my overzealousness is most to blame for the opposite-of-pillowy final result. Sure, it’s summer in Australia and the humidity is basically suffocating, and sure, I likely over-handled the rolls with my less-than-dainty fingers, but more than anything, I think I was too eager to make perfect cinnamon rolls (aka magazine-cover-Instafamous-Pinnable cinnamon rolls). You know the kind I’m talking about. First of all, how do people make such pretty edible things? I’d like to know. Second of all, how do the same people make their cinnamon roll backdrops so pretty and neat? By the time I get around to taking photos my hands are caked in flour, there’s more flour glued under my nail beds, and my cute, recently washed black shorts are powdered in flour. Maybe I could unlearn how to make a mess in order to make room for new knowledge like: 1. how to make cinnamon rolls that double in size and can be used as life rafts 2. how to transform a kitchen counter into a scene out of a pretty fairytale.

Oh yeah, I forgot I had something worth sharing; a delectable sweet tahini glaze. This glaze takes the cake. In fact, it IS the cake. Yup, that makes sense. Unlike conventional cinnamon roll frosting, this one is pretty darn healthy, consisting of hulled tahini, rice malt syrup, and soy milk. The result is subtly sweet and slightly nutty, thanks to the tahini. As I iced the cinnamon rolls it became clear that I am still very much a child. Each roll had to be blanketed with enough icing so that little to no dough peeked through. Thanks to the heaps of sweet and creamy tahini sauce I was able to come out of this cinnamon roll disaster experience with a smile on my face and a very full tummy.


Ingredients~

Tahini Glaze:
1/3 cup hulled tahini
2-3 tbsps rice malt syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-4 tbsps soy milk for thinning

Instructions~

1. Simply combine all of the ingredients, beginning with 2 tbsps soy milk, in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until combined and continue adding milk by the tbsp to achieve your desired consistency. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls, cakes, muffins, cookies, etc., the options are pretty endless! (I’d even use this as a carrot dip)

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Eggless Chickpea and Spinach Omelette

Chickpeas are probably one of my main sources of protein. I eat them almost daily, buying them by the bagful and soaking them over night. Then it’s only a 45 minute boil in a large pot and voila, you’ve got yourself a big heaping mountain of chickpeas. Usually, I’m overcome with a great feeling of abundance at the sight of the cooked beans; wow, that’s a lot of chickpeas! But sometimes I freak out a little, remembering that cooked beans should only be in the fridge for 4 days and there’s no way I’ll be able to eat that many chickpeas in that little time. So in a state of slight frenzy I’ll begin brainstorming sweet and savory dishes that would help make a dent in the chickpea supply. While this recipe is not the result of one of those brainstorming sessions, my raw chickpea cookie dough is. As is my beetroot hummus.

While you’ll definitely be seeing more sweet and savory chickpea-inspired recipes down the road, the one I’m sharing today shines the spotlight on a lesser known form of chickpea: chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is simply the result of grinding dry chickpeas. That’s all. Toss the flour with some chopped onion, vegetables, spices, and a little bit of water, and you have a very, very yummy pancake on your hands!

Ingredients~
Makes one large pancake

1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 pellets of frozen spinach
1/4 inch-thick slice of red onion (disc shaped), diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
Scant 1/4 tsp ground rock salt
Pinch of ground black pepper (less than 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions~

1. Saute the spinach pellets in a bit of water on the stove until thawed and water has evaporated. Set aside.
2. Combine the chickpea flour, spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the spinach, onion, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir until there are no chunks of chickpea flour and the batter is noticeably thinner than regular pancake batter. It should be pourable. Add more water by the tbsp if it’s too thick/clumpy!
3. Heat up oil in a medium-large pan and, once hot, pour all of the batter into the center of the pan (or reserve some batter if you are making several smaller pancakes). The batter should spread out on it’s own, creating a pancake that’s fairly even in thickness. Gently nudge the spinach around if it’s too concentrated in one area. I cooked the first side for about 6-7 minutes on lower-medium heat, flipping it after my spatula could easily slide under it. If you have to force your spatula under and it appears too wet/breakable, give it another couple of minutes! Cook on the other side for another 5-7 minutes, before turning up the heat and cooking each side until slightly browned and crispy (another minute or two on medium-high heat).
4. I recommend hot sauce, bean salad, raw spinach, and hummus as toppings, but you do you.

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A Peach Cake That Happens to Be Vegan

One of the protagonists in a book I recently read, All The Light We Cannot See, is described as eating canned peaches that taste like sunlight,

“Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl.  Seconds later, she’s eating wedges of wet sunlight.” (121)

Naturally, I became transfixed by the imagery created in that once sentence.

Coincidentally, my brother gifted me three cans of peaches for Christmas.

Obviously, I put the pieces together and made this cake.

The cake tastes like peaches, sweet and tart at the same time. There definitely isn’t an overwhelming tartness to it, but given the low amount of sugar in this recipe (1/3 cup rice malt syrup), the sweetness isn’t all you notice either.

Also, in an effort to make a cumbersome-free cake, the resulting recipe turned out Vegan. And soft, very soft… (meaning you’ll have trouble knowing when to stop eating).

A wedge of wet sunlight.

Ingredients~

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 can unsweetened peaches (about 1 cup chopped)
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1/3 cup soft Earth Balance or regular butter
2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
Pinch of ground rock salt (scant 1/4 tsp)

Instructions~

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
1. Drain can of peaches and roughly chop them into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces. Meanwhile, whip the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and blend. Once well combined, stir through the peaches.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients. Line two round cake pans with parchment paper and Earth Balance/butter and pour half of the batter in each one. Since each layer of cake is fairly thin, you may have to spread the batter out a bit in the pan to ensure an equal width all the way around. Cook for 18-23 minutes, or until golden in color and the center does not wobble when moved.
3. Allow the cakes to cool before layering with frosting or whipped cream, both of which you can easily color at home with the juice of strained fruit purees (I used 2-3 tbsps of raspberry juice to give my coconut whip cream a lavender color).

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Creamy Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

When mashed potatoes are served at a meal I load my plate up. My dad in particular is a big mashed potatoes fan. He grew up in a big (I mean 9 kids big) Irish Catholic family, so mashed potatoes, being a cheap, nourishing, and historically very Irish dish, were a common sight at meal times. Despite my enthusiasm for eating creamy mountains of potato, gathering the enthusiasm to rinse, boil, and mash potatoes was always a different story.

Funnily enough, what began as an effort to make cauliflower sauce turned into the joyful discovery of mashed potatoes sans the potatoes and longer preparation time.

I introduce to you creamy cauliflower mash. If you’re an old-school mashed potatoes fan you might be rolling your eyes. While I’ll be honest and say that the cauliflower gives this mash a slightly different texture (nothing can quite replace the pillowy softness of potatoes), it is a very close second. Also, it’s a chance to change things up in your diet without feeling like a fish out of water. There are no other hidden vegetables in this mash. I swear.

No one said you can’t douse the cauliflower in your mashed potato usuals; milk, butter, and salt will help anything taste good, right?

Ingredients~
Yields about 2-3 cups

1/2 large head of cauliflower (about 3-4 cups florets)
2 or 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground rock salt
Large pinch of ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
1/4-1/3 cup milk of your choice

Instructions~

1. Boil cauliflower, garlic, and onion in the same pot until the floret stems are nearly florescent and you can easily fork them. Drain the water and use a hand-held mixer or food processor to blend the three ingredients together until mostly smooth. Add the salt and pepper, as well as 1/4 cup of milk, and continue to blend until smoother. Continue to add more milk by the tbsp to achieve your desired consistency! Serve warm and season with chopped herbs.

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The Healthy Alternative to Cake Pops: Pumpkin Bread ‘Truffles’

Ingredients~

Filling:
1 loaf pumpkin bread/cake*
1/3 cup & 1-4 tbsps milk of your choice

Chocolate coating:
100 g dark chocolate pieces (I used 70% cocoa)
1-4 tbsps coconut oil and/or milk to thin out the chocolate sauce
Liquid sweetener to taste

Coconut Topping: 
1/3-1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar (I omitted this but am sure it would be lovely)

* If you aren’t going the homemade route (it takes a lot more fiddling around, I know, I know), combine one box of white cake mix with 2 tsps of pumpkin spice and, here you may have to do some fiddling of your own, around 1-2 cups of pureed pumpkin. The resulting truffles should be just as good and maybe a
tad more sweet than a loaf of pumpkin bread would have made them.

Instructions~

1. Use your fingers to break up the pumpkin bread in a large bowl. Be sure to rub the large pieces together until the result is crumbly. At this point you will be questioning your decision to reduce a perfectly delicious loaf of bread to crumbs, but bear with me… Add 1/3 cup of milk to start, adding more by the tbsp if you can’t easily roll the batter into balls. It should be wet/sticky enough to hold together without breaking, however, don’t over add the milk either or the result will be too sticky to handle. Slow and steady.
2. To make the chocolate sauce simply combine the chocolate and 1-3 tbsps of liquid in a saucepan over low heat, stirring and gradually adding more oil/milk/liquid sweetener by the tbsp until the sauce has thinned out enough for dipping. There should definitely be enough chocolate for the batter (I even had some left over!) Now, stick a chopstick/fork/skewer into a truffle and dip it into the chocolate sauce until fully submerged. I find that it helps to tip the saucepan towards you so that the sauce collects and deepens around the truffle. Place each coated truffle on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving around a 1/2-full inch of space between each one.
3. Last and arguably most importantly (Insta worthy), toss the coconut, cinnamon, and sugar (if using) together and carefully toast them in a pan on the stove or on a tray in the oven until the coconut is mostly golden. Sprinkle a large pinch on each truffle and place the the tray in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours to harden. Or dig in earlier, I’m only here to give you a subjective impression of things. I found that letting individual truffles thaw for 1-2 minutes before I had them improved the flavor slightly (aka they didn’t burn my teeth with frost).

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