Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes with Apple Cinnamon Compote

pancakesA healthy version of the apple cinnamon pancakes I adored years ago from IHOP, without any of the fat, cholesterol, sugar, or processed crap!

This makes enough for 8 pancakes with 1/4 cup compote topping each.

Compote ingredients:
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt the Earth Balance in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add the apples. Saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the cinnamon and agave and set aside, but keep warm.

While the apples are cooking, you can go ahead and make the pancake batter.

Pancake ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 cup plant-based milk

*WW pastry flour is lighter than regular ww flour and all of the coarse husks have been removed.  You can use regular ww flour here, but the pancakes will be more dense and not as fluffy.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder and then add the milk and agave. Mix with a whisk, just until combined. The batter will have some small lumps, but that’s okay. You want to break down the clumps of baking soda and flour, but you don’t want to overmix. Now let the batter sit for 10 minutes while you finish your compote, preheat a skillet for the pancakes, do a few dishes, or whatever. Letting the batter rest will allow the reaction between the salt, baking powder, and wet ingredients to occur. You will start seeing bubbles form on the surface of the batter. This is what will make the pancakes fluffy without the use of eggs.

Preheat a skillet or griddle pan over just-below-medium heat. This is the part where you can keep the pancakes fat free or add a little coconut oil to the skillet, but if you have a good non-stick skillet, no oil is necessary. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour the batter into the skillet. In just under two minutes, bubbles should be forming on the top of the pancake and that is how you know to flip it. I’ve timed mine to just at 1 minute 40 seconds on my stove. Flip and give it another 1 minute 40 seconds (times vary by stove, of course.  Just lift up the edge of the pancake and take a peek, if in doubt).

If you want to keep all of your pancakes warm until you’re done, turn your oven to the “warm” setting and put an oven-save plate on the top rack. As you make the pancakes, add them to the plate.


Carrot Spice Muffins

Like carrot cake, but much better for you. 🙂

This was adapted from Lindsay’s Nixon’s recipe in her cookbook The Happy Herbivore. I like the addition of raisins and pecans, which give some texture and make the muffins slightly more hearty. I also added a bit of ground ginger and slightly more cinnamon (because I love cinnamon!). These are great for breakfast or as a post-workout snack.

carrot muffin

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
a nicely rounded 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large carrot, shredded (I used about 1 cup shredded carrot)
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into muffin tins about 3/4 full (I find this is easiest to do with an ice cream scoop that has been sprayed lightly with olive oil). You can use the paper liners if you want, but I find them unnecessary if I’m not serving them to guests.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

These are excellent split in half and spread with a little Earth Balance vegan butter while they are still warm from the oven!

Low-Fat, Oil-Free, Healthy (and yummy) Granola!

When people hear “granola” they tend to think “fattening!” (Or maybe “hippies,” which is strange to me because I’ve never seen a fat hippy!) But granola can actually be good for you, providing a hearty breakfast or snack rich in iron, calcium, omega fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. What you need to watch is the oil and the sugar. This is where any good breakfast can go downhill quickly. I scoured the web for “healthy” granola recipes, only to find that most of them called for at least ¼ cup oil and up to 1 ½ cups of sugar! Can you say 10AM sugar crash?!

I wondered what it would be like to make granola with ZERO oil. Would it crisp up? Would it taste good? The answer, my friends, is YES! The oil is not necessary at all, nor is all that sugar. Dried fruit is sweet enough, and with just a touch of 100% fruit juice and a little pure maple syrup, your granola will be plenty delicious, believe me!

A Note On Substitutions:
The recipe below is exactly what I did to make mine, but you can change up the nuts and fruits based on what you have on hand. You can also use seeds like pumpkin, flax, or sunflower (no need to chop those). Feel free to switch up the juice as well, substituting orange or apple, for example. I didn’t have any fruit juice on hand, so I just blended up a few pineapple chunks in the blender and then pressed the juice out through a mesh strainer. Agave, honey, or coconut nectar can be substituted for the maple syrup.

This makes about 4 cups.

3 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking!)
1/4 cup pure pineapple juice
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup mix of raisins and dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 300.

Put everything except the fruit and coconut in a bowl and mix well. Pour onto two baking sheets, lined with parchment paper, and spread out into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, taking the pans out and stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. When you have 5 minutes left on the timer, add in the coconut so it will get lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven, add in your fruit, sprinkle a light layer of cinnamon over the top, and toss everything together. Let it cool and then store in air-tight containers.

I love this as a cereal, hot or cold, with any plant-based milk. It’s also good on top of coconut milk yogurt or just eaten by the palm-full after a workout. I think it would be super cute packaged in glass Mason jars with ribbon for a gift. You could even include a jar of homemade almond milk to go with it. 🙂


Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Smoothie

This is a great, filling breakfast smoothie that satisfies my sweet tooth without sugary cereal or instant oatmeal. It takes like a cross between apple cinnamon compote on oatmeal and an oatmeal cookie, but is actually a healthy green smoothie!

1 banana (fresh or frozen, if it’s fresh, add in about 6 ice cubes)
1 apple
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup rolled oats (uncooked)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom (about 1/8 teaspoon or so)
2 kale leaves
a handful of baby spinach
1 cup non-dairy milk

Put everything into a high-powered blender and blend on high until creamy.

Oatmeal Flax Pancakes with Fresh Fruit Syrup -or- My New Vitamix, a Novel

I finally broke down and bought the Vitamix I’ve been lusting over for the past couple of years.  I’ve watched the Vitamix Lady’s demonstrations on YouTube, seen demonstrations at Whole Foods, and read about how awesome they are, but I just couldn’t justify forking over $500 for a blender (blasphemy to call it that now, I know; it needs its own category). I thought there’s no way it could be worth that much.

One night a few weeks ago, I found myself watching the videos again.  Lea Ann (“the Vitamix lady”) has a lot of great information about the nutrients we can get from fruits and vegetables that have been blended in the Vitamix as opposed to using a regular blender or chewing them with our teeth.  The amazing power of the Vitamix breaks down seeds, stems, leaves, skins, etc to the cellular level, unlocking a lot of nutrients that generally pass straight through our bodies, unutilized.  Ok, so it’s amazing, but still… $500+?  I pay less than that for 6-months of car insurance!

I decided to email Lea Ann for more information.  What I really wanted was for her to justify the price.  I wanted to be convinced it was worth it.  She sent me SO much information, there’s no way I could fit it into a blog, but she sure did convince me.  Not only that, but she really educated me on the value of the refurbished 5200 model and saved me a lot of money.  I got it for around $350 with tax and she included all sorts of free goodies, including 2 huge cookbooks, 3 spatulas, 4 cutting boards, and a nutmilk bag for straining fresh almond milk, rice milk, etc.

I must admit, when it arrived last week (with free shipping – thank you Lea Ann!), I was a bit intimidated.  It’s HUGE!  You can see below that it towers over my Oster blender.

vitamixThe base that the motor is housed in is double the size of my blender and the pitcher holds 64 oz, so it’s pretty big too.  I had watched videos where people mentioned using it incorrectly and “re-painting” their kitchen with smoothie, so I was a little anxious about using it for the first time.  I read all of the instructions and watched the DVDs and my mind was put at ease.  Although it has a knob with 10 settings and two switches, it’s not complicated at all.  I had absolutely no issues my first go, which was this morning.  And that brings me to the recipes (and more Vitamix bragging)…

I used the Fresh Fruit Syrup and Oatmeal Cranberry Pancake recipes from the large, gorgeous, colorful Live Fresh cookbook that Lea Ann included.

Fresh Fruit Syrup
3 cups fresh or frozen fruit (if using frozen, thaw first)  I used strawberries and blueberries)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Put everything in the Vitamix in the order listed.  Select Variable 1 and turn the machine on.  Slowly increase the speed to 10 and then flip the switch to high.  Blend for 3-4 minutes.

Ok comments on this are necessary because this was my first recipe ever made in my new Vitamix.  First, it’s not as loud as I thought it would be.  It’s actually not as loud as my Oster!  I read a Vitamix review online that said it was as loud as a lawnmower and that’s just not true.  I was initially worried about having to blend recipes 5-7 minutes since I live in an apartment.  I didn’t want people banging on the walls or complaining, but that’s not going to happen. Again, it’s not as loud as my Oster, which I actually have to stick my fingers in while I use because it’s so loud.  No earplugs required with the Vitamix!

As you can see below, it made a beautiful colored syrup.  When I’ve made smoothies in my Oster before with strawberries and blueberries, no matter how long or how fast I blended, it would always have strawberry seeds and bits of blueberry skin in the finished product.  NOT WITH THE VITAMIX!  After 3 minutes, I had silky smooth fruit syrup with not a trace of seed or skin and I actually got giddy and did a little dance when I opened the container. It was steaming!  Warm fresh fruit syrup?  YES PLEASE!

You can see below how the color changed in the 3 minutes it blended.  The end result is slightly darker because the strawberry seeds and blueberry skins have been fully broken down.

fruit syrup 1 fruit syrup 2

While the syrup was blending, I got my skillet oiled and pre-heated and gathered my ingredients for the pancake mix. I gave the Vitamix a quick rinse in the sink and then started the pancake batter…

Oatmeal Cranberry Pancakes
1 1/2 cups soy milk (I used almond)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used raisins)
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (I omitted because I didn’t have any)

Put the first 6 ingredients in the Vitamix.  Select variable 1, slowly increase the speed to 10, and then flip the switch to high.  Blend 20 seconds then turn off.

Add the oats, cranberries, and sunflower seeds.  Select variable 1, turn on, and blend for 15 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.  Let the batter sit for 5-10 minutes.

The batter will be thick.  These pancakes are hearty and very filling.  I used my Vitamix spatula to scoop the batter into the pan and then spread it out a little.  Cook 2 minutes on each side on medium heat, spraying the pan with non-stick spray in between flips.

oatmeal pancakes with fruit syrup

I know this isn’t the greatest pic.  It looks more like country fried steak drenched in something unmentionable, but I promise it tasted delish!  The fruit syrup is not overly sweet, but just sweet enough.  I felt very healthy eating this dish.  My blood sugar didn’t spike and then drop like it does when I use maple syrup.  After 2 pancakes, I was completely full and stayed satisfied until lunch.  My partner said this was her “favorite breakfast ever.”

Lea Ann told me cleanup would be easy, but when I saw that thick pancake batter all over the container, I had my doubts.  Despite my Vitamix noobie skepticism, I did just what she had told me to do.  I filled the container half full with warm water, put a tiny drop of dish liquid, and blended on high for 30 seconds.  CLEAN!  Rinse, leave it upside down on a dish towel and walk away.  It couldn’t be any easier than that!

I’m so excited… let’s see what else I can blend…

Vitamix FTW!


Vegan Brunch

We celebrated my lovely friend Jeanna’s birthday last weekend.  Some friends came over and I made brunch.  I really love having everyone over and cooking for people I love.  It gets a bit hectic, trying to make sure everything is ready on time and still warm when guests arrive, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it (even with a sink full of dishes!)

I served biscuits and tempeh sausage gravy, roasted rosemary potatoes, and fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries).  We also had juice and coffee with chocolate hazelnut milk for creamer.  Everything was divine, if I don’t say so myself! 

After we ate, we all went down to the pool to swim and bask in the sunshine (what little there was – it was a bit cloudy).  Later in the day, we had Coconut Lime Cupcakes that I made from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook.  These cupcakes were a huge hit!

Biscuits & Gravy

Every Christmas Eve, my father’s side of the family gathers at his house for a potluck brunch.  In years past, I’ve made baked oatmeal with fruit, quiche (when I ate eggs), or hashbrown casserole.  This year I made biscuits and gravy from two recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance:  Baking Powder Biscuits and White Bean & Tempeh Sausage Gravy.  The flavors in the gravy were awesome (savory and more flavorful than traditional sawmill or “white” breakfast gravy) and I felt like a true chef making my own biscuit dough and cutting out perfect circles with the rim of a juice glass (I don’t actually own a round cookie cutter).  It’s the first time I’ve ever made cut-out biscuits! I think I did pretty well:

Everything was incredibly easy to make, so don’t let the idea of making your own biscuits turn you off.  They’re pretty hassle free!

To make the gravy, you’ll first need to make the Tempeh Sausage Crumbles:
1 8-oz package of tempeh
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon

In a small pan, crumble the tempeh by breaking it up with your fingers and add enough water to almost cover it.  Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.  This will take about 12-15 minutes.  Drain and add the rest of the ingredients and brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).  Set aside.

White Bean & Tempeh Sausage Gravy

To make the gravy, blend 1 15-oz can of white beans (I used cannellini) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor until creamy and relatively smooth.  Add the bean puree to the pan with the sausage crumbles along with the following:

¼ cup vegetable broth
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
6-8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (the recipe originally calls for 10-12, but that’s just way too much sage for me)

Heat everything through, adding more broth if you want a thinner gravy.

For the Baking Powder Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons shortening (I use the Earth Balance brand)
2 Tablespoons margarine (Earth Balance)
2/3 cup rice or soy milk

Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the shortening and margarine into the flour (use a butter knife, slice the sticks, and then break each slice up into pea-sized bits with your fingers and drop them into the flour mixture). Add the milk  and mix to form a soft dough. I found it’s easiest to mix with a spoon first and then use your (clean) hands to sort of knead it.  Pat out on a floured counter top until about 1/2 inch thick and then cut out 2 inch rounds with the rim of a glass or cookie cutter. Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Don’t expect huge fluffy biscuits like you get from the Pillsbury dough boy.  I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, the these biscuits are more like really thick cookies.  They will rise slightly though.   They also won’t be what I would call fluffy, but they’ll still be soft enough.  They wouldn’t be the best biscuits for a sausage biscuit, for example, but you’re just going to slather them in gravy anyway, right?!  Plus, you made homemade vegan biscuits. You’re awesome!