Monday, June 30, 2014

{easy} Restaurant-Style Hummus


Five ingredients is all you need to make this damn good restaurant-style, velvety, creamy, garlicky hummus... WITHOUT using oil!  How do we accomplish this you ask?  I recently discovered a trick to homemade hummus that changed everything!  A microwave.  Before I go on, yes I am aware of how bad a microwave is and how we shouldn't use it to reheat food, etc etc etc.  However, I am making an exception here.  And you should too!!  For hummus sakes... ya... that was bad. 

The concept of this hummus is to cook the garlic with the chickpeas and its' liquid from the can so it gets extra creamy and luxurious.  Once the beans and garlic are done, simply add to a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  That's it!

 Even though this hummus comes together in minutes, you want to give yourself a couple hours to let it cool in the refrigerator and allow flavors to come together a little more.  

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), do not drain
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed butter/paste)
3 Tb lemon juice (2 may work for you since I like a lot of lemon)
1 tsp salt
optional for presentation: drizzle with a tiny amount of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika  

Instructions
In a large microwave safe bowl, add chickpeas and the liquid along with your 3 whole garlic cloves.  Microwave for 4 1/2 minutes.  Add to blender or food processor along with lemon juice, salt and tahini.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed to fully combine.  
Transfer to the fridge and allow to cool before serving.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Copycat Clif Kid ZBars


My kid is addicted to these ZBars.  Since I discovered how quick and easy (and cheap!) it is make your own granola bars, I have been on a mission to replace his packaged bar with a homemade version.  These definitely come close.  The texture is not as soft since I'm assuming the soybean oil may play a roll in this.  They also aren't as sweet, but just sweet enough.  Regardless, they still received an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats, toasted
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 heaping Tb ground flaxseed
1/2 cup sunflower butter (or any nut or seed butter of your choice)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 Tb semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.
On 2 small baking sheets, spread out the oats on one and the walnuts on the other.  Toast for 5 minutes and remove walnuts.  Toast oats for 3-5 minutes more.
While the oats are finishing in the oven, pulverize the walnuts in a food processor until they are very small.  Do not blend so much that it becomes a paste.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.
When oats are ready, add them to the same food processor and pulse until most of the oats are "flour-like" but you can still see a few whole or partial oats.  Add them to the walnuts as well as the flax.
On the stove with a small sauce pan, add the sunflower butter and honey and heat on low.  Stir until combined and very smooth.  Add to the oat/walnut/flax mixture. Combine well and transfer to a small square glass dish lined with parchment or plastic wrap.  Press down very well.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave 15 seconds at a time until melted and smooth.
In a ziploc sandwich bag, spoon the melted chocolate towards one of the corners inside.  Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag to pipe out the chocolate onto the pressed oat mixture.

Transfer to the fridge for about an hour or until the chocolate has hardened.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Vegan Potato Cakes



It's snack time.  My 3 year old starts getting cranky.  A meltdown is inevitable if he doesn't get some calories (good quality calories) soon!  He will literally transform into a "threenager."  Before he even makes it to the pantry door, I suggest that we do a scavenger hunt in the kitchen and find ONE thing we can cook together.  His first suggestion... strawberry soup.  I'll give him an A for creativity.  But all I could think about was his white t-shirt covered in a reddish-pink strawberry soup mess.  We keep looking.  He finds a big russet potato.  "Lets make mashed potatoes!" he exclaims.  Good idea!  So we took this one lonely russet potato that probably would have gone to waste and ended up creating these veggie filled potato cakes!

Let the magic begin...

We started by peeling and dicing the potato into 1-inch cubes, added them to a medium sized pot and covered with water.  Allow the potatoes to come to a boil and cook until they fall apart with a fork.  Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Mash.  This is fun for kids.  

We added some non-dairy butter, a little almond milk, nutritional yeast, frozen peas, frozen corn, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and flour.  

Then we formed them into little patties.
 Then we cooked them on a hot pan for a few minutes on each side.  That was it!  Snack time.


Ingredients
1 medium-large sized russet potato, peeled and diced
1 Tb non-dairy butter such as Earth Balance
2 Tb almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
2 big Tb frozen peas
2 big Tb frozen corn
1 Tb nutritional yeast (optional if you don't have.  You could use parm cheese if you want a vegetarian potato cake)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1-2 Tb vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions
Boil diced potatoes until fork tender.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and mash.  Add butter and milk to combine.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Form into small patties.
Using a medium sized pan, heat 1 Tb oil.  Add half of the patties and brown for 3 minutes on one side.  Flip and brown on the other side.  Transfer to a paper towel to absorb some of the oil. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spinach Lasagna Rolls


This recipe was super easy and came together fast!  With 2 cups of spinach hidden inside layers of creamy cashew cheese and delicate lasagna, your kids will never know they are devouring something healthy!

Most of the recipes you'll find on Green Apple Baby will be vegan (no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no fish!).  However, occasionally a recipe comes along that really just wouldn't be the same without the real thing!  And these lasagna rolls are one them.  I am not a fan of processed soy products such as veggie burgers and fake cheese, so every now and then I'll add a little bit of something when I need to.  In this case, each roll had about 1 TB of organic Italian Blend cheese right on top.
 
If you've never made cashew ricotta cheese, you're in for a real treat!  Start by soaking about 1 cup of raw cashews in water for 3 hours minimum.  Ideally you want to do it the night before.  Drain and rinse the cashews, add them to the food processor along with a few other simple ingredients and DONE!  Healthy and Fresh!


Ingredients
1 box lasagna noodles... the kind you have to boil first!
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Amy's Organic Family Marinara)
2 cups packed baby spinach
10 Tb Italian style (or a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan), divided.

Cashew Cheese
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 3 hrs to overnight
3 Tb almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
1 Tb lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tb fresh basil (optional)
2 cups fresh whole baby spinach leaves

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a 8x8 glass baking dish by covering the bottom with a layer of the marinara sauce and set aside.
Cook the lasagna noodles according to package.  I only cooked 10 for this recipe.
In your food processor, add cashews, milk, lemon juice or vinegar and agave.  Blend until well combined.  You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times.  The mixture should be smooth and thick. Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper, basil and spinach.  Blend until all the spinach has been pulverized and blended into the cashew cheese.
Lay out your cooked lasagna noodles and spread a nice layer across each one.  Roll up and set down into pan.  Top with a big spoonful of more marinara sauce and finish with 1 tablespoon of cheese.  Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for an additional 10.  I finished with the broiler for another 3-4 minutes.


6 Ingredient {Nut Free} Quinoa Bars



I cannot believe I just got on the homemade granola bar bandwagon.  You guys, making your own bars are not only so EASY, but they are infinitely versatile!  I have been wanting to create a high protein, nut-free, no-oil, {sweet} energy bar for the kids to take to school since most are a nut-free zone these days.  

Just a few simple ingredients and you are on your way to granola bar heaven!


Ingredients
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup uncooked oats (can be gluten free)
1 cup packed dates, pulverized in a food processor or finely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup honey (i used a little less than a half cup)
1/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.  Place quinoa and oats in a baking dish and toast for 10 minutes.  While the quinoa and oats are toasting, add the sunbutter and honey to a small saucepan.  Heat on low until soft and smooth.  Stir every minute or so.  In a large bowl, add the quinoa/oats and dates.  Combine well.  Add the smooth sunbutter/honey mixture and use your hands to combine so everything is coated.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  This step is definitely not necessary as I thought it turned out a little too sweet.  But my son will love it!

Using either plastic wrap or parchment paper, line a shallow baking dish.  I used an 8x8 pyrex.  Add the prepared mix and press down firmly to cover the entire bottom.  Cover with plastic wrap or more parchment paper and transfer to fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to set.








Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Zucchini Disguise Muffins


I love how healthy these zucchini-packed muffins are!  There has to be a give and take with toddlers in order to get them to eat more veggies.  In this case, I gave him zucchini and a low sugar muffin.  I took a little bit of the control away by giving him a fun topping of icing and sprinkles.  Win-win as far as I'm concerned.  It's still healthier than any store-bought zucchini muffin I've ever seen.

Ingredients
1 cup white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons non dairy butter (Earth Balance), melted and cooled
½ cup date puree (see recipe here)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 T pure maple syrup
1 "flax egg" (1 T ground flax mixed with 3 T hot water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated zucchini
½ cup raisins

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven, and coat a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, date puree, apple sauce, maple syrup, flax egg, and vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir together until just barely combined.  Add the zucchini and raisins and stir gently until just distributed.  Fill each cup in the mini muffin pan approximately ¾ full.  Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

To make the icing:  Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1T water.  Whisk until thick.  Add a tiny bit more water as needed to get the correct consistency.  

Black Bean Brownie Bites


I have been awake since 4:30 this morning with my 15 month old.  She has two bottom molars coming in and is not handling it very well.  Can you blame her?  I can barely keep my eyes open at this point but managed to whip up some healthy brownie bites! I used an entire can of black beans as well as an all fruit sweetener instead of sugar.  See my date paste recipe here. 

The last time I made these, I used a combination of maple syrup and agave nectar.  I think even after adding an entire cup of date puree, I would still add maybe 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  The brownies came out a little more dense and cakey than I would have liked, but even adding the syrup still decreases the sugar content by a substantial amount from the original recipe.  You can find that one here.


Ingredients
1 15oz can no salt added black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup date paste
1/4 cup maple syrup (i recommend grade B)
2 TB ground flaxseeds
1 TB vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TB brewed coffee
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
handful of walnuts for topping

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Combine black beans, date paste and maple syrup into a food processor and pulse for about 45 seconds or until very smooth. Add flaxseed, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, coffee and cocoa powder and process for another 30 seconds. Add whole wheat pastry flour and pulse for another 10 seconds until just combined

Transfer mix into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon batter into your prepared pan and top with walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes. 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dates: The Ultimate Fruit Sweetener


I definitely cannot take credit for creating this creamy, decadent natural fruit sweetener called Date Paste.  It is sort of like learning how to hard boil an egg for the first time.  You can find thousands of blog posts about how to hard boil an egg... but who actually came up with the technique?  The same can be said in the "natural foodie world" for date paste.  One google search will lend hundreds of pages of the same ingredients... dates and water.  I will give credit to Chef AJ; the first person that ever introduced me to it. 

Pureed dates can be used as a sugar substitute for agave, honey, maple syrup and depending on the recipe, even granulated sugar.  This recipe is especially useful if I want to bake something sweet for my son's preschool.  They have a no-sugar policy but all-natural sweeteners are permitted.  The kids have no idea they are scarfing down delicious desserts made without sugar!

 

Recipe
2 cups dates (pitted or not)
Enough water to cover in a bowl

Instructions
Soak water covered dates overnight (this is best way to ensure a smooth puree).  Transfer soaked dates and 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid to a food processor.  Blend for about 5 minutes or until your date paste is smooth.  

Greek Croquets with Cucumber Dill Sauce


I am extremely happy with how these turned out.  After a miserably failed zucchini spelt muffin attempt this morning, I was very relieved at how much I loved these.  I am always looking for a balance between "adult" food and "kid" food to avoid preparing two meals.  My almost 4 year old is turning out to be quite the picky eater.  If it looks to difficult or to messy to eat then he will not touch it.  However, bite-sized most things seem to do the trick.   

I came across a recipe for falafel bites with a yogurt and sour cream based cucumber dill sauce.  With a few modifications, my version ended up a bit softer than most falafel I've had.  So I decided to call them croquet's.  Crispy on the outside, soft and even a bit creamy on the inside.  I decided not to bake these because I really wanted a rich, crispy croquet.  I also made the dipping sauce dairy free...and trust me when I say that I ate it with a spoon. 

Ingredients for Croquet's
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c zucchini, finely chopped
1 can (15oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tb fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp flaxseed
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients for Sauce
6oz firm silken tofu (such as mori-nu)
2 heaping Tb vegan mayonnaise (vegenaise)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tb fresh chopped dill
1/3 c cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper

Instructions
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add either 1 Tb olive oil or 2-3 Tb vegetable stock.  Saute the onions, garlic and zucchini until the onions are softened.  If cooking with vegetable stock, add more as needed as the pan drys out.  Set aside.
Place the chickpeas, onion mixture, parsley, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, flax, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until combined but not pureed.  Transfer mixture into a bowl and add flour.  Mix until combined.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
Heat a few Tb of vegetable oil in the same skillet you cooking the onion mixture in.  When hot, form the croquet mix into a little bit larger than bit sized balls and place onto pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned then flip for another 2 minutes.  Transfer cooked croquet's to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra oil.

To make the sauce:  Combine tofu, vegan mayo and lemon juice into a bowl and whisk well until smooth and creamy.  I actually used my food processor.  Add remaining ingredients and fold in with a spoon.  Serve right away or chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 

UPDATE NO-FRY OPTION!!
Baked off the rest of my croquet mix this morning.  Rolled into balls, placed on a sprayed baking sheet and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5-10 min.  PERFECT!

 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Coconut Carrot Chips

These carrot chips are so fast and simple!
Using a mandoline (or a sharp knife), cut about a pound of large (washed and peeled) carrots into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Put them in a large ziplock bag and coat with about 2-3 TB honey.  This is a fun part for the kids.  "Shake Shake Shake" until they are evenly coated. Spread them out on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with shredded coconut, cinnamon and a tiny bit of salt (all to taste... no measuring!)

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until sides curl up.  That's it!! 

Okay... back to the kids :)

Italian Veggie Burgers with Cashew Chive Spread



There are thousands of veggie burger variations on the web and it's pretty hard to find a good one.  The key is getting the perfect consistency so they don't crumble and fall apart, stay mushy in the middle, or turn into a heavy brick.  You also want to keep the ingredients list short and simple so you actually make them!!  

My rule of thumb that I follow when creating a veggie burger is this:


If you follow these 5 basic steps, you can start creating your own veggie burgers too!

Ingredients for Veggie Burger
1 can kindey beans (drained and rinsed)
1/4 c italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 heaping TB dijon mustard (I used stone ground dijon)
1 TB white miso paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 c fresh italian parsley, chopped

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a baking sheet with foil
Combine beans and prepared rice in a food processor and pulse until well combined.  If you don't have a food processor, just mash them together with a fork or your hands.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Form into 4 equal patties.
Coat a large pan with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat.  Add the veggie patties and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Transfer to baking sheet and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.


Ingredients for Cashew Chive Spread
1 c raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2-3 hours or overnight 
(For a lower fat version, use 1/2 c cashews and 6 oz firm tofu, drained)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (almond, soy, hemp, rice etc).
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 TB agave nectar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c chives, chopped
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions
Combine cashews (and tofu if using), non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and agave nectar in your food processor and blend until very smooth and creamy. If your "ricotta" still looks a bit nutty, add a little more milk and blend again. This may take a few minutes until you get the right consistency. Add the chives, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and pulse until combined well. Set aside.

 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Baked Fat Free Donuts


I can't believe it.  No really.  I'm in shock.  And I am not even talking about the donuts. Yet.  Amidst all the chaos of laundry, dishes, picking up toys, taking two kids to the grocery store (and surviving!), misplacing a CANNOT-LIVE-WITHOUT lovie for 30 minutes and remembering to feed said kids... they are BOTH asleep.  At the same time.  I'll just let you sit with that for a second.

Okay back to today's post.  These donuts have been in the works at my house for over a year and today I nailed it!  And since I have no idea how long I will be in complete and utter silence bliss, here is the recipe.

Ingredients
2/3 cup almond milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is ok too)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 TB pureed unsweetened pumpkin (I used canned)
1 cup flour, sifted (all-purpose, spelt, whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Optional Toppings
melted dark chocolate
icing (1 cup powdered sugar to 1 1/2 TB water... whisk well)
ground nuts (walnuts, almonds)
sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut

Instructions 
Preheat oven to 350
Spray a donut pan with cooking spray.  You can also use a mini muffin tray and make donut holes.
Combine milk, vinegar, vanilla and pumpkin in a small bowl and whisk very well.  
In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until combined.  Try not to overmix.  Add donut batter to prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool before adding toppings. 








Thursday, June 19, 2014

Protein Lollypops


Last night I was browsing through facebook and I came across a post from a Mom's group I follow.  The Mom was asking for ideas to get her 17 month old to eat something besides fruit.  She received about 50 comments, including one from me about taking his favorite fruit and dressing it up in the form of a lollypop.  I suggested to dip the fruit in yogurt and roll in different ground up nuts and seeds to add some healthy protein and fat.

This morning I woke up still thinking about that Mom and wondering if she took any of the ideas she received and tried them on her toddler.  Then I thought about my comment.  "Hey, my kids would like anything in the form of a lollypop!"  I immediately checked out what I had in the kitchen to create my vision.

Ingredients
1 medium sized sweet potato cut into 2 inch thick circles
2 apples, cut in half and shaped with a fun cookie cutter
cinnamon
1 container vanilla yogurt of your choice
Toppings of your choice.  Below is a list of what i already had in my pantry.
1/4 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup ground pistachio and pumpkin seeds
1 TB chocolate protein powder (I use SunWarrior)
decorate straws or lollypop sticks

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350
Line your baking sheet with the prepared sweet potatoes and apples and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon to add some flavor and extra nutrition

 




Cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove apples, cover pan back with foil and continue cooking sweet potatoes about 10 minutes more.  Allow to cool slightly before adding the toppings.  Put all your toppings into separate bowls for easy dipping.  You can insert your straw or lollypop stick before or after adding toppings.  I found it was easier to insert after they were made. 





coat sweet potatoes in yogurt and dust with chocolate protein powder



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baked Polenta and Zucchini Fries

It has been almost exactly TWO years since the last time I posted anything on this blog.  Life with two kids (and a husband and a dog) is nothing short of crazy and something had to give.  Not just blogging, but for the first year of my daughters life, cooking too.  Yes... for at least the past year I have fallen into the exhausted Mom trap of prepacked, more-than-semi-homemade, from the freezer foods and carry out dining. 

Now that my son is approaching 4 and my daughter is 15 months, life is slowly heading back to cruise control and my motivation for creating, experimenting, cooking and blogging is finally returning.

If you just found me, welcome and thank you for being here.  I hope to inspire you to try new things and offer fresh, fun and healthy food to your family they will actually eat!  I also hope to be inspired by you.  So please leave comments, share you thoughts and ask for recipes you'd like to see. 

Since I'm just getting the hang of this again, I don't have many step by step photos today.  But I do have a recipe!  And here it is...

Baked Polenta and Zucchini Fries

Ingredients for Polenta Fries
1 tube of store bought polenta (Plain or Basil & Garlic), halved and cut into 1-inch fries
olive oil cooking spray
salt & pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 450
Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place polenta sticks.  Lightly spray over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy to the touch and golden brown.  


Ingredients for Zucchini Fries
2 medium sized zucchinis, cut into thin fries
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup non dairy milk (almond, soy, rice, hemp)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425
Line the baking sheets with cooling racks 
Set an assembly line of 3 bowls.  One for flour, salt and garlic powder, one for breadcrumbs and one for milk. Take each zucchini fry, dredge in flour (shake off any excess), dip in milk and cover with breadcrumbs and set on cooling rack.  See picture.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.