Oatmeal Applesauce Breakfast Muffins

muffins

Prep Time: About 45 minutes | Ingredient Cost: $ or $$

I am all for versatile baking recipes. I like adding ingredients according to seasonal availability (and pantry availability…) without having to switch too many things around. There is a time and a place for a delicate, complicated bake (looking at you, GBBO), but there are far more times and places for quick and easy recipes that still manage to be healthy and tasty.

These vegan and gluten-free muffins are super quick to make and are a pretty healthy option for breakfast or snack when you’re short on time. They are probably more sugary than I should have made them because I added about a quarter cup of dried cherries and apples are pretty high in fructose to begin with. However, compared to other options they are still on the healthy end of things. And like I said, you can easily add and subtract things in this recipe to suit your needs. For example, I added pecans, pumpkin seeds, my favorite spices, chocolate chips, and the aforementioned dried cherries, but the recipe is just as good without all of these things.

Oh! Also! I finally found a no-sugar chocolate chip! Since I’ve stopped eating refined (and most unrefined) sugar, I’ve been looking for chocolate that I could add to my baking that would make even non-restricted eaters happy. While I like 100% dark chocolate, it’s not everyone’s cup of cocoa. I was so thrilled to find Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate Chips: no sugar, no weird aftertaste, and a fairly decent ingredient list. The only bummer is the soy lecithin so this brand is not suitable for everyone. I won’t be using this all of the time, but it’s a good option for those instances when multiple palates have to be pleased.

muffins

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs (or flax eggs to make them vegan)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I used grapeseed)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (I swear by America’s Test Kitchen’s mix)
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if your mix already includes this)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. clove (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecans (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, currants, or cranberries (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the wet ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Be careful not to overmix. The batter should feel light and kind of fluffy.
  5. Spoon into greased muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Variations:

If oatmeal isn’t your thing, you can use 2 cups of APF, but if your mix doesn’t include xanthan gum, add two teaspoons of it instead of just one. The muffin will be a little bit more cake-like but just as delicious.

Easy Lunch/Snack: Rice Cakes, Sprouts and Tuna

img_3565

In addition to eating healthier in 2017, I am trying to minimize our weekly grocery expenses. I am always looking for fun ways to spice up our meals while still staying close to a budget. The other weekend I was so bored with everything in our refrigerator and I decided to make a makeshift sandwich out of rice cakes and tuna. The end product looked pretty pinterest-worthy and also tasted great. Thought I’d share for some weekday or weeknight inspiration.

img_3566

Rice Cake, Sprouts and Tuna Ingredients:

  • 2 Rice Cakes
  • 1 Can of Tuna
  • 1 tbsp of Chipotle Mayo (Vegan – I like the Just Mayo brand)
  • 1/2 of a Celery Stalk (diced)
  • 1/4 of an Avocado
  • 1 Cup of Wilted Spinach
  • Organic Radish Sprouts (other sprouts are perfectly fine but I like the little kick that radishes provide)

This recipe doesn’t require much prep work except to warm up and wilt the spinach. This is super easy to put together on a weeknight when cooking feels like the last thing you want to do. Simply stack all the ingredients on the rice cake in the order you see fit and then you have a fun dish to eat!

 

 

 

Twist Bakery & Cafe in Millis, MA

img952017010295144740

Whenever a blogger from a city like LA, NYC or Denver posts about one of their amazing vegan, raw, gluten-free, whatever eateries on Instagram, I am so jealous. We just don’t have many places like that here in Massachusetts but when I do find one and a GOOD ONE, I make sure to call attention to it.

The other day my husband was looking for a fun new place for us to stop and eat. He stumbled upon Twist Bakery and Cafe in Millis, MA which is a 20-minute drive for us. Twist Bakery and Cafe is basically a dream come true for me and I could never imagine finding this place in Millis. You can’t even find a place like this in Boston!

img_3467Just like our blog, Twist Bakery and Cafe’s food philosophy is that even if their ingredient list is limited their flavor is not. Everything on their menu is ALWAYS gluten-free, nut and peanut free. For all other products, they use colored markers to label if something contains a common food allergen like soy or dairy and they make a ton of things dairy-free. They also NEVER include corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and artificial colors so you don’t even have to think about that when you place an order. Their menu is full of sandwiches, salads,  snacks and baked goods

The philosophy sounded great but of course, a food taste was the ultimate test for the location. We split a Pulled Pork Cuban and a Meatball Sandwich (which I believe is seasonal so GO GO GO!) and both were heavenly. The bread they make is phenomenal and you would never know it’s gluten-free. They said that people apparently visit their from very far away to buy their breads and freeze so they can use it at anytime.  We were also able to  make both sandwiches dairy-free which was so helpful for us to share. We asked what vegan cheese they used in the sandwiches because we were so impressed by the taste and how well it melted. The manager said they used Daiya. It looks like they use a mix of Cheddar and American cheese in the sandwiches so that might be the secret to a better taste.

img952017010295144801
Meatball Sandwich from Twist Bakery & Cafe. Look at this picture! Tasted even better than it looked. This was definitely my favorite of the two. Gluten-Free Bread, Gluten-Free everything and vegan cheese. I would recommend the cole slaw side dish.
img952017010295144809
Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich from Twist Bakery and Cafe with the chickpea salad side. The sandwich was incredible. 

The staff was wonderfully helpful and even though it was very busy in there they were patient and accommodating with everyone that had restrictions and wanted to clarify if different food items were free of a certain ingredients. I usually the annoying one so I was in good company 🙂

My favorite part about the whole experience was learning that they have been kicking butt running this place for five years! Talk about being ahead of your time!

Now can you open up about six more of these in Massachusetts, please?

Even if you don’t have food restrictions AT ALL, Twist Bakery & Cafe has really good food and pastries and they also cater events. Stop by and enjoy a delicious meal.

 

 

 

 

Summer Cookies!

lemon_cookie

This one’s a quick one, guys. For me, summer is a time to be outside, and I eat as much raw food as possible during the hot months because a) it’s quick, light, and cool, and b) it somehow just feels right to spend as little time as possible at the stove/oven. But since I still want to bake on a weekly basis, I look for fast, easy, and delicious recipes in the summer months.

Enter the super fast Lemon Ginger cookie! These cookies are light, melty, and delicious! They are also vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and have no refined sugar. They’re perfect ice-cream companions, too!

lemon_cookie

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (I used even less)
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Grated fresh ginger to taste
  • 1 and 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/8 t salt
  1. Mix the coconut oil, honey, lemon zest, ginger, and lemon juice.
  2. Slowly add the almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be soft.
  3. Let the batter sit for five minutes and then refrigerate it for another 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. On a lined baking sheet, form 6-9 cookies and bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to another rack. They are pretty soft but firm up as they cool.

(recipe adapted from http://www.texanerin.com/paleo-lemon-cookie/#recipe)

Easy Weekday Lunch: 3-Step Potato Salad

IMG_4757

When you’re on-the-go, it’s nice to have a lunch alternative that doesn’t require a microwave and tastes good at room temperature. Since I started my classes, I don’t always have access to a kitchen, so I try to find easy lunch options that are quick to prepare and easy to eat between classes.

I love potato salad but since I started eating dairy-free, I can’t eat traditional potato salad. I was never a big mayonnaise fan but I used to make a delicious potato and chicken salad using greek yogurt. I spent some time perfecting this potato salad recipe to make it dairy, soy, egg, corn and gluten-free and well…taste good. It’s a simple recipe that you can make during the week and eat for a few weekday lunches. This recipe is also a great dinner option to have when you get home late and don’t feel like turning the oven on.

What ingredients do you use to replace traditional “salad” recipes?

IMG_4740Ingredients for the 3-Step Potato Salad: 

Salad:

  • One bag of small potatoes – I love these multi-colored ones from the supermarket
  • Asparagus – 1 bunch
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • Olive Oil – 1-1.5 tbsps
  • Salt – 1 tbsp

Dressing: 

  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard (I get Annie’s Lite Honey Mustard)
  • Honey, fresh oregano, salt and pepper to your taste

How to Make the Potato Salad:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Chop small potatoes into quarters, skin and dice the yellow squash and chop up the asparagus. Grease the baking tray and then put down all the vegetables. Lightly salt and add olive oil across the vegetable covered tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Make sure vegetables are fully cooked and potatoes are crisping. (Note: If the tray is too packed, use two different baking trays)

IMG_4743IMG_47642. While the vegetables are cooking, make your dressing. Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk together. If you make extra, this is a great dressing to have in your fridge for another weekday salad. Taste as you whisk to see if you should add more salt, pepper, honey or oregano.IMG_47613. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to a bowl and pour the dressing on top. Make sure to mix the salad up and coat all the vegetables with the dressing. You can eat this delicious potato salad warm or put in the fridge for a few hours and eat it cold. IMG_4765

Smores

 

Gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free

Cost of Ingredients: $ /$$         Time: 10 minutes

Smores truly don’t require a recipe, but camping with allergies can be a bit complicated, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on this delicious summer treat. It took a bit of planning, but after several trips to the grocery store I was prepared for a weekend in the woods with friends. Of course we ended up bringing more food than we needed, but I would rather carry a bit more than go hungry!

In addition to normal Smores ingredients (graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate), I also bought some slightly fancier chocolate that is allergy friendly (no dairy or soy lecithin). I couldn’t find gluten free graham crackers that are also dairy free, so I bought gf/dairy free ginger snaps (Mary’s Gone Crackers makes some great ones). The hint of ginger worked really well with the slightly minty dark chocolate I used, and of course the perfectly toasted gooey marshmallow.

Sometimes it’s ok to try a new take on an old favorite. I think we will make more on our grill next weekend, I’m sure they’ll be just as good in our driveway as they were by the fire in the woods! And the flavor combinations are endless! What kinds of cookie/chocolate combinations would you try? Let us know in the comments!

Nina’s Pantry Staples

Here is part 3 of our pantry staple series!

I (Nina) have a pretty long list of food intolerances, but the main things I try to stay away from completely are dairy, gluten/wheat, and soy. I try to bring lunches to one of my jobs, and on days that I spend in the studio I make lunch at home. My other job is at a restaurant, so I don’t usually bring food there, but it also means I’m not cooking on those nights. But when I do cook I generally make as much as possible from scratch, and I try to use local ingredients when possible.

Here are some of my staple ingredients. It was actually quite difficult to narrow it down, there are a lot of things I use regularly (and many of them are already on Annika and Marissa‘s lists).

chickpeas

  1. Chickpeas: So versatile! I often make a coconut curry with these, some coconut cream (see below), curry and other spices, and spinach. Great for lunch on a cold day!

coconut cream

2. Coconut cream: I don’t know how I would cook without this. It’s creamy and not super sweet, so it works in savory sauces (it does require a bit more adjusting than heavy cream or sour cream would, but it works), dishes like creamed spinach or corn, and when cold it can be whipped for dessert or turned into chocolate mousse. It’s a bit thicker than canned coconut milk, and while that means it has a bit more fat, I think it’s absolutely worth it!

eggs

3. Eggs: (I’m sorry, Marissa!) I stayed away from eggs for a year and a half before reintroducing them, and aside from cheese (which I still miss dearly), they were the thing I missed the most. I usually just soft-boil or poach them and eat with roasted potatoes, or hard-boil them to put on a salad. Eating eggs also means I can eat mayo again (at least the whole foods store brand, because it doesn’t use soy oil, unlike most regular mayo brands), which is great in dressings and when making spicy mayo or aioli to have with french fries, which leads me to the next number:

potatoes

4. Potatoes: (Confession: I think french fries are my favorite food). Potatoes are so versatile, I think I could eat them every day. Roasted with herbs, as gnocchi, or mashed (try adding a bit of coconut cream when mashing them), they’re amazing. And since I can’t eat wheat, they’re a solid starch that replaces bread or pasta as a side.

honey

5. Honey: I don’t think I’ve ever not had honey in my pantry. These days I eat it with a little peanut butter on rice cakes (both also staples), and put it in tea. And sometimes you just need a spoonful to make the day better. I also eat local bee pollen regularly, to help with my seasonal allergies.

Do you have any staples you can’t live without?