Vegan Pumpkin Banana Pancakes

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Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons; I love the weather (especially in San Francisco when we finally get some heat), I love the change of the seasonal colors, and I love that its my birthday season. But more importantly I love the  autumn vegetables that come with this time of year; squash, brussels sprouts, yam and pumpkins. I could sustain on these vegetables alone, especially pumpkin. There are so many mouth-watering and nutritious meals that can be made with pumpkin, everything from sweet to savory, the possibilities are endless. For children, preparing recipes with pumpkin is ideal, it gives the food an added sweetness (and we all know they love that!) and it provides them with a wealth of nutrients including, Vitamins A, C and E, while being rich in dietary fiber. How can you go wrong, really?

As you know from previous posts, I frequently make large batches of waffles and pancakes and freeze them for own-the-go breakfast meals and snacks. I make them so often, that I’m continually trying to mix up the recipes so Berlin doesn’t get bored, each time sneaking in various vegetables that she otherwise wouldn’t eat. For this pancake recipe I knew I wanted to add pumpkin (tis the season) and wanted it to be vegan, hence why it evolved into a pumpkin banana recipe. Bananas are a great alternative to eggs when baking, and most kids love bananas, so its a perfect choice. However if you are not vegan and don’t care for banana, then you can just use one egg instead.

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Vegan Pumpkin Banana Pancakes

3/4 whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground flax
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger & nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
3/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl (flours, baking powder, and spices).

Then blend wet ingredients in another bowl. Its best to mash the banana a bit, then blend with a hand blender for best results.

Next combine the wet and dry ingredients together, getting out all the lumps (feel free to add more milk if needed).

Next spoon batter onto a lightly greased, pre-heated pan, and cook for approx five minutes each. Then serve with toppings of choice.

I have found that the more banana in the batter, the longer it takes to cook through , so it may take longer than five minutes.

Remember these are perfect for freezing, so if you like to have a bunch on-hand I would suggest doubling the recipe. Enjoy.

 


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Healthy & Quick Toddler Snacks

Coming up with healthy snack options for Berlin is a never ending quest in our home. Seeing as she eats non-stop, I have to be prepared to feed her around the clock. I whole heartedly believe in the grazing mentality for a child; allowing them to eat as they please, and eat several small portions, rather than sit down to a full meal. I trust a child’s natural intuition to eat when they are hungry, and its our job to provide them nutritious food options. But as easy as it sounds, its not so easy to come up with healthy options when your toddler is suddenly demanding food, or when you are busy out and about running errands. While the simple solution is to reach for a box of crackers or cheddar bunnies (believe me, I know!), its not providing our active toddler with the nutrients they need to sustain their ever so rapidly growing little bodies and brains.

I was recently in this snack snack rut; it was bananas, yogurt, and cheese for every meal. So I sat down and jotted a quick list of all my snack ideas so I could be better prepared. I have found it most helpful to review the list and prep her snacks in the evening. Then there is no full on toddler meltdown the next day when hunger strikes. It means less tantrums from her and fewer times being caught off guard for me. All in all, it has made our days go smoother.

Here is a roundup of my latest snack list. Please feel free to jump in and add your favorites, always loving to hear new ideas!

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Apple Pizzas: Core an apple, slice, and top with almond butter and toppings of choice (granola, coconut flakes, slivered nuts, goji berries…)

Roasted fruit: top fruit of choice (peaches, plums bananas…) with butter and honey and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, top with yogurt and nuts

Steamed Veggies: boil an inch of water in a small pan, add veggies and steam for 5 minutes, top with butter and unsalted Herbamare

Ants on a log: cut celery sticks in half and top with sunflower butter and raisins

Veggie chips: slice any veggie (kale, carrots, sweet potatoes or zucchini) into thin slices, top with olive oil and parmesan cheese, and bake for approx 15 mins at 350 degrees

Frozen banana: dip banana in yogurt, roll in ground flax seed or blended walnuts and freeze

Almond butter banana: spread almond butter on banana and sprinkle with coconut flakes

Tomato surprise: slice cherry tomato in half, fill with cream cheese and top with small slice of avocado

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Fruit skewers: alternate fruit with cheese on a wooden skewer

Frozen yogurt: mix yogurt with flax or chia or drizzle with honey and freeze (I freeze in reusable toddler snack packs)

Canned salmon topped with avocado (buy only wild Alaskan canned salmon)

Boiled Eggs: great to make a batch ahead and have on hand all week

Handful of sliced, organic, raw nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts…

Raw Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, hemp…

Fresh figs topped with goat cheese or dried figs in off-season

Dried fruits: cranberries, mango, goji berries…(use sparingly as the sugar content is high and can damage toddler teeth)

Poached chicken: boil organic chicken with some bay leaves and garlic for approx 10 minutes

Frozen homemade waffles: here is a great buckwheat spinach recipe I make for Berlin all the time

Frozen homemade pancakes

Edamame

Seaweed snax

Smoothies: here is a link to one of Berlin’s favs

Hopefully this list helps you prepare for your toddler’s never ending hunger. Once again, please feel free to add any snacks you and your little one love.



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Vegan Almond Quinoa Cake

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Here it is again; one of my famous {not so famous} sugar-free birthday cakes. Some might find a sugarless cake a disgrace, but I find them quite delicious.

I cheated a bit by adding a sugary frosting, which of course ended up being Berlin’s favorite part. But this cake is delicious without the frosting and is perfect as a morning treat to dip into your coffee-yum!

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Almond Quinoa Cake
2 cups Almond Flour
1 cup Quinoa Flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
Flaxseed Egg Replacer (or 3 eggs)
3/4 cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Coconut Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk (from can)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Prepare flax eggs by combining 9 tablespoons of water with 3 tablespoons ground flax and letting sit for approx five minutes (until gelatinous).

Mix flax eggs with coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake for approx 30-40 minutes.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the frosting by mixing all the ingredients until the frosting is smooth and creamy. You may need to play with the ratio of sugar to coconut milk.

Then simply frost the cake and enjoy.

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I’m off to Los Angeles this weekend with the hubby and a few friends. This will be my first ever extended getaway without Berlin. While I’m crazy excited for a solo weekend, I have to admit I get a little teary eyed just thinking about being away from my little one. But its been two years, so the time has come for us to separate a bit.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend! I know I will be enjoying every minute of it.



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Vegan Grilled Pizza

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While I can’t claim to be an expert on the grill, I can claim to have become quite creative in just two short weeks. While its not the typical summer weather here in San Francisco, the climates are mild and still perfect for grilling.

Prior to the kitchen renovation, I had absolutely no clue with regard to the grill. But with one quick lesson from the hubby, I’ve caught on quickly and have made some killer meals. I mean, did you even know you could grill pizza?! Obviously I had no idea. But have since discovered its a brilliant way to prepare pizza. It tastes fresh out of a brick pizza oven, and it takes very little time to cook. Even if you are aren’t undergoing a gutted kitchen, I would highly suggest saving yourself the hassle of heating up the stove and throwing a pizza on the grill instead.

I chose to keep things simple (as I have no kitchen surface to work with), so for this recipe I went with a store bought corn meal crust (it compliments the okra nicely). But once I have access to a countertop again I plan on experimenting with a cauliflower crust-yum! Recipe to follow…

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Vegan Grilled Pizza
Frozen Corn Meal Pizza Crust
Olive Oil
Red  Bell Pepper
Golden Cherry tomatoes
Zucchini
Okra
Kale
Artichoke Pesto Sauce
Black Olives
Salt, Pepper and Red Pepper Flakes

Heat grill to medium high heat. Prepare veggies by cutting stems off the okra, slicing zucchini in half, and cutting red pepper in half. Then toss all veggies (including the cherry tomatoes and a stem of kale) in olive oil, then salt and pepper. Place all veggies on the grill (I put the tomatoes and kale on a stainless steel grilling plate) and grill for approx 5-7 minutes, turning over once mid-way. Watch the vegetables closely, as you don’t want them to charred.
Once the veggies are fully cooked, put aside to cool while you prepare the crust. Brush the crust with olive oil on both sides and cook the top side of the crust for approx 2-3 minutes, until there are light grill marks. Then place the pizza down and layer all the veggies and spices and grill for another 3-5 minutes (watching very closely). Remove from the grill and allow to cool down. Voila, grilled pizza in no time!

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Here’s a glimpse into our renovation thus far. More pictures to follow soon.



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Mango Green Tea Smoothie

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I’m sorry about all the beverage recipes lately, but hey, its summer! One can never have enough refreshments during summertime (although it feels more like fall here in San Francisco, truth be told).

As those of you that follow my Instagram know, there has been little sleeping going on in our household. Berlin has been asserting her personality and newfound communication to let us know that she is not interested in sleep any longer. She screams when we put her to bed (i’m talking blood curling screams that will go on until you go back in the room) and she wakes in the middle of the night (several times some nights) yelling “mama, light on,” or “Far read.” She even tricked me the other night into thinking her diaper needed to be changed, telling me she pooped. Well she didn’t, and her diaper wasn’t even wet. But from then on she was up and ready to party. This was at 4 AM mind you. We are no stranger to 4 AM wake up calls, she used to wake at this time regularly, until we finally sleep trained her to wake at a more reasonable 6 AM. But it looks like we are right back to where we started, and we are exhausted!

As I’m sure you can imagine, with all this fun going on, I’ve been hitting a midday slump, and have been in desperate need of a pick-me-up. I’m not a fan of drinking coffee past noon, as it keeps me up all night. But I’ve found that tea doesn’t have the same affect on me. So my solution to my never ending exhaustion; a yummy green tea smoothie. Not only does it taste delicious, but its refreshing and gives me a healthy boost to carry on my day.

Mango Green Tea Smoothie
1/2 cup chilled brewed green tea
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 frozen banana
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon honey

Prepare green tea and chill in fridge for 10 minutes or more. Place all ingredients in high power blender and blend until smooth.

Adjust consistency by adding more almond milk if desired, the chia seeds make it thicker so you may need more milk depending on how thick you like your smoothies.

You can also make it stronger by brewing two green tea bags, but I’m a light weight, so I stick with one.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this recipe while chilling poolside, and not because you’re toddler is keeping you up all night. Have a lovely weekend!



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Watermelon Agua Fresca

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In honor of 4th of July (as well as my hubby who loves watermelon agua fresca), here is a simple recipe idea for your festivities.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
4 cups cubed watermelon
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups cold filtered water
1 tablespoon organic agave

Puree watermelon in blender. Then pour into a strainer to eliminate any seeds. Return watermelon to blender, add all other ingredients, and blend until smooth. Chill in refrigerator for 2-4 hours until ready to serve.

You can also add tequila to make an even more festive beverage.

Wishing you a very merry 4th of July.


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Easy Veggie Stir-Fry

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been feeling a bit crazed lately. With all that I have going on, I find myself often skipping meals (especially breakfast, but we will address that later).  If there are no leftovers from the night before, lunch, oftentimes is lots of little snacks or worse, skipped altogether. But awhile back I cruised the freezer aisle of Trader Joe’s (not an aisle I frequent) and discovered a pre-made quinoa packet (to my delight was actually quite tasty). I then grabbed a container of pre-cut veggies from the refrigerator aisle, and found my solution to a healthy, quick meal.

I realize everyone might not have a Trader Joe’s in their area, but I’ve seen similar stir-fry and quinoa packets at Costco and other grocery stores, so these specific packages can easily be substituted with similar items from your local grocery store.

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Easy Veggie Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of pre-chopped veggie mix
1/2 cup chopped organic broccoli
1/3 cup frozen edamame shells
1 cup frozen pre-made quinoa
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional Toppings: soy sauce, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

Heat olive oil in medium skillet. Add all ingredients (minus toppings). Cook for approx 5-7 minutes and top with additional toppings of choice.

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That’s all there is to it. Its so simple, yet still healthy. Plus there are so many ways to switch up. Depending on what I have in the fridge, it differs all the time. Some days I top with salmon or chickpeas, while other times I add kale or lentils. The possibilities are endless, and the bonus, Berlin actually likes it as well. Can’t beat that. Enjoy!



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Cheesy Polenta Fries

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I’ve been on a polenta kick lately. I’m a little late to the party, but I recently discovered all the many fun and delicious things you can do with polenta, and better yet, its so simple to make (especially when you buy pre-cooked polenta tubes!).

This recipe is incredibly easy to throw together, in fact the prep should only take a few minutes. The longest part of the recipe is the time spent baking in the oven (but you can have your feet up enjoying a cup of tea while that is happening!).

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Cheesy Polenta Fries
1 tube of pre-cooked polenta
Olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Cheesy Marina Sauce
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of organic canned tomatoes
Dash of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut polenta tube in half, then cut in half again and slice into one inch fry pieces.

Coat each piece with olive oil and toss into a bowl of nutritional yeast, then lay flat on an oiled baking sheet. Throw in the oven for approx 20-25 minutes (making sure to watch closely around the 20 minute mark to ensure they don’t burn).

While the fries are cooking, put olive oil in a medium skillet and saute garlic for a few minutes, add tomatoes and seasoning and simmer on low for approx 15 minutes. Place cooked sauce in a blender, add bay leaves and blend until smooth.

Enjoy sauce as a dip for the fries (or as a sauce for pizza or pasta). Or you can simply pop open a jar of store bought marina and kick this step entirely.

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I made these fries as a side dish (originally as experiment) while I was baking my Polenta Mexican Pizza for a guest vegan post on my, oh so adorable friend’s blog, Oh Dear Drea. Please hop over to her blog (and first spend hours reading her honest, heartwarming posts while admiring her outrageously adorable daughter) then give my Mexican concoction a try! I swear its amazingly delicious (and toddler approved!)

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Have a fantastic three day weekend full of lots of family, fun and food!




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Berlin Snacks: Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

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The weather here continues to be unseasonably warm, its been upper 80′s for days in the city, which is unheard of for San Francisco. This is the second heat wave in less than a month and I’ve been desperate to whip up something to cool us down.

This simple popsicle treat was just the trick, and not only was it refreshing, but it also helped with Berlin’s teething, got to love that! We haven’t been on a full shopping excursion for weeks, so I just threw whatever I could find into the blender, trying to include some greens, fat and fiber. I think it turned out pretty good for a “cleaning out the fridge” recipe. Here it is…

Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

1 can of Organic Coconut Milk

1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1 cup organic kale

1 banana

2 tablespoons chia seeds

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Place all ingredients into Vitamix (or high power blender) and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, making sure to fill completely to the brim and insert popsicle stick. Freeze for a min of 3-4 hours.

Once the pops are ready, place into a shallow dish of warm water for approx 30 seconds to loosen up the mold, then carefully pull the pops out of the mold.

If you don’t have popsicle molds they can easily be made in a large ice cube tray or a few dixie cups. Simply pour the mixture into the trays (or cups), insert a wooden popsicle stick into the center. Cover with saran wrap and freeze.

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If your little one is not ready to eat popsicles just yet, simply serve it up as a smoothie. It provides perfect nutrition for the littles.

This picture cracks me up, she was pretty skeptical on her first bite, but she warmed up to it. Plus she downed a whole cup of the smoothie.



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Berlin Bites: Lentil Pasta

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Now I don’t normally plug specific brands, but I’m so in love with this pasta that I had to share this delicious Tolerant pasta with you. I happen to come upon it while shopping at our local co-op and thought the idea was interesting (pasta made with legumes), but was unsure of how it would taste. I sprung for a box and served it up to Berlin and she devoured (I mean devoured) it! I have never seen her eat so much pasta in one sitting, and the brilliant part about it; she was getting a full serving of protein without any added ingredients. She was happy and I was happy. :)

I have prepared the pasta in a few different ways; sometimes only sauteing in butter or olive oil, but usually adding a few greens to the mix to serve up a fully balanced meal. Either way, it tastes good no matter how I’ve prepared it, and she has yet to get tired of it {and she eats it a few times a week}.

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Lentil Pasta

1/2 cup Tolerant Lentil Rotini

1/2 cup of canned chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic

1/4 small onion chopped

1 small carrot julienned

1/4 cup organic spinach finely chopped

Cook pasta according to directions, I find that it takes a bit longer to cook through than it says on the package-however I do like it extra soft since I’m serving it to a toddler.

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Saute onion, garlic and carrots for approx 5 minutes, Add tomatoes and tomato paste, simmer on low for another 5 minutes.

Once pasta is done cooking place chopped spinach on the bottom of strainer and pour pasta over spinach (to steam spinach).

Place pasta, sauce and spinach in a serving bowl and enjoy.

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Tolerant also makes a black bean pasta and provides Fettuccine, Penne and Rotini shape in both the lentil and black bean pastas. I have yet to try the black bean version, but when I do I was thinking I would serve it up as a Macaroni and Cheese. I mean how brilliant is this?? Your picky toddler will never know the difference, and you can feel good about serving them pasta every day if you like!

BTW-I am not getting paid in any way for this post, but I sure should be!



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