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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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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Berlin Bites: Vegan Almond Ice Cream

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It has been hot, hot, hot here in SF. I’m talking nearly 90 degrees, that is pretty much unheard of around here. It’s been nuts!

But I’m definitely not complaining, I’m a lover of the heat and Berlin and I have enjoyed every minute of it. We went to the beach (twice), went on a hike, visited the Golden Gate Bridge and had lots of park time. Its been pretty much the best week ever.

As you can imagine with this kind of heat, I’ve had a hankering for ice cream. But seeing as I don’t eat dairy, I generally don’t bother (not a fan of much vegan ice cream out there). However since we are sweltering over here, I decided ice cream was a must.

As you guessed already, I didn’t want to expose Berlin to the usual sugary treat, so I whipped up some of my own. It only took five minutes and was delicious and refreshing.

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Vegan Almond Ice Cream

1 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 large frozen bananas sliced

Toppings: cinnamon and sliced almonds (optional)

Add half of the frozen bananas and half the milk to your Vitamix (or high power blender) and slowly blend until bananas are blended, then do the same thing with the remainder of the bananas and milk. The idea is to take it slow so that the consistency remains creamy and doesn’t get too runny. You want it to be more ice cream like than smoothie like. Then add the almond butter and slowly blend until mixed. Scoop into bowls and top with cinnamon and almonds.

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So simple yet so delicious! Enjoy!




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Berlin Snacks: Almond Zucchini Chips

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I originally set out to make kale chips for Berlin’s snack, but decided against it as I didn’t think she would be down to eat kale alone. But I really wanted to make some sort of vegetable chip since I know she loves chips (don’t worry she’s only had baked tortilla chips!). So I did a little research and discovered yummy zucchini chips. I’ve personally never had them before, but after the last (three) batches I made this week, I’m a fan! The recipes I found were mostly fat laden with butter, whole milk and cheese-making them not so healthy, so I stripped it down to only healthy ingredients to keep the true taste and nutrition of the zucchinis.

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Almond Zucchini Chips

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 large organic zucchini

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon Herbamare (optional)

1/2 cup coconut milk

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place raw almonds in a coffee grinder (making sure to clean out the coffee grinder since you’re serving to toddlers).

Grind the almonds down until they are finely processed into almond meal.

Slice washed zucchini with a mandolin slicer. Then mix almond meal and spices in a large ziplock bag.

Dip zucchini slices into coconut milk and place in meal mixture and shake until well coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, line zucchini slices onto the sheet and bake for approx 20-30 minutes.

You must watch them very closely while they are baking, they go from not cooked to burnt in seconds (I totally burnt my first batch). I suggest baking them for the first 20 minutes, then watching them every minute there after. You know they are done with they are crispy and lightly browned.

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These are such healthy, easy and delicious treats for you or your little. Hope you enjoy.

Happy Friday!




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Easy Cashew Milk

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I’m not sure that I’ve ever fully discussed my dairy free lifestyle on the blog before, but I’m pretty certain you’re all aware that I’m dairy free. Its been almost three years to the date since I cut dairy out of my diet, right after watching the startling documentary, Food, Inc. This documentary was so eye opening for me that I immediately began to abstain from all animal products.

While I was only a vegan for one year, I have since continued being dairy free and only meat on occasion (usually once or twice a week). I struggled with my decision on how to raise Berlin, while I considered raising her vegan in the beginning, I decided against it since we do still eat meat from time to time in our household. I then decided to raise her dairy free, and did so for the first fourteen months of her life, however with a strong suggestion from pediatrician to at least introduce dairy to her for allergy precautions, I eventually gave her yogurt and butter. She now drinks Kefir on occasion and cashew milk as her replacement for breast milk and I’m happy with my decision as it stands currently.

This recipe only takes a few minutes, the hardest part is soaking the cashews overnight, but as long as you remember to do so, you can have creamy, delicious milk when you rise in the morning. Its perfect with your coffee, on your cereal, in smoothies or just alone (or to dip your cookies in, if your my husband). Now let’s get down to it already!

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Easy Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashews
2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon raw honey (if vegan, use pure maple syrup)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Soak raw cashews in 4 cups of water overnight. In the morning discard the water and rinse cashews until the water runs clear.

Place cashews and all other ingredients in a high power blender (Vitamix is best) and blend until smooth, approx 2-3 minutes.

I personally find no need to strain cashew milk, however if you don’t like the consistency you can strain through a cheese cloth or nut bag.

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I prefer my milk to be thick and creamy so I use little water in my recipe, but if you like yours more the consistency of regular milk I would suggest adding a cup or two more of water when blending.

Wishing you all a Happy Friday. Enjoy!



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Family Meal: Cheesy Vegan Pot Pie

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Let me start out by saying, these pot pies are delicious! So much in fact, I think I may be making them again this weekend! And I was not the only fan, Berlin ate half a pot pie (that is more than she ever eats!) and Ryan scarfed his down as well. I’m sure we can all agree, that pot pies in general, are usually pretty darn good, but I think the cashew cheese filling made this recipe an extra hit. I contemplated using a traditional flour sauce for the filling, but I wanted it dairy free, and protein filled (to make up for the lack of meat). So I thought why not try cashew cheese, I’ve used it for many other dishes and it never disappoints, and I assure you it didn’t disappoint this time either. The creamy goodness was a perfect compliment to the veggies and worked great with the crust as well. I’m just drooling thinking about it now! So let’s get to it already so you can get started cooking!

Cheesy Vegan Pot Pie

Veggie Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large organic sweet potato chopped
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup chopped broccoli
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1 can organic white beans rinsed
Herbamare to taste

Cashew Cheese Filling
2 cups soaked raw cashews  (min 2 hours)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Store bought vegan pie crust, both Mrs. Smiths and Pillsbury are dairy free

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Begin by chopping all your veggies and placing the carrots and sweet potatoes in a pot of water. Boil until soft.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the cashew cheese by placing the pre-soaked cashews and all the other ingredients into a high power blender, and blend until smooth (should only take a minute or so max). Add more seasonings as you like.

Next, drain the sweet potatoes, and in the same pot, add the olive oil and saute the remainder of the veggies and beans until warm, approx 5 minutes. I like to season my veggies with Herbamare, but salt and pepper will work as well.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees

While the oven is heating roll out the store bought dough to fit the top of your pie dish, I used three 5″ mini pie dishes for this recipe and one pre-made pie crust was sufficient for all three.

Fill each dish with veggies filling, top with cashew cheese and place the dough on top, pressing into the sides of the dish. Then poke a few fork holes in the top of the crust, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for approx 35-40 minutes.

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This recipe may be my secret weapon for getting Berlin to eat more veggies, she didn’t even notice the corn, which typically she would spit out. Next time (dare I say this weekend!) I’m thinking of trying kale and chickpeas and perhaps some cauliflower-hoping Berlin won’t take notice.

As a side note, I used store bought crust for this recipe to shorten the prep, but there is an easy vegan pie crust recipe here if you prefer to make yourself.

Wishing you a pot pie filled weekend!



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