20 may. 2015

Chocolate Quinoa Porridge

I'm having some really (really) hectic days: writing new savory recipes for El Granero Integral, cooking and shooting new recipes for the blog, buying gifts for my dad's birthday (gift #1 is sorted but still gotta find gift #2 and I only have two days left), trying to squeeze in some quick workouts at home...and basically running around the house like crazy because 24 hours seem not enough for me!
I think it's time to re-arrange my schedule, procrastinate less and start going to bed earlier...but I love to relax on my couch after a long day and check out my favorite blogs.
When you are a food blogger you usually think about developing eye-catching recipes, fancy desserts with a good presentation and also to try more complex things. But sometimes easy, simple recipes don't necessarily mean that they must be boring; that's why I thought that I am going to share from now on my favorite breakfast and easy snack recipes: what I eat for breakfast every morning and those things that I cook almost every day but somehow I never end up shooting.
What makes me follow (and love) a food blog is when I find not only luscious cake recipes but also easy and quick everyday recipes and fresh new ideas to spice up my breakfasts. Variety is always good for a blog and also good to keep my inspiration alive. 
What do you think, guys? Would you like to find easy ideas for your daily meals? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. :-)
Today's recipe is a breakfast chocolate quinoa porridge that I usually prepare the night before, let it set in the fridge and eat it cold in the mornings. I like to play with the toppings and try with different combinations, it's a good recipe that allows you to throw in whatever you have in your pantry. Your favorite nuts, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, maple syrup, honey, agave...and also add puffed grains and a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter.
My sister tasted this quinoa porridge today and she absolutely loved it! She said the addition of cocoa powder was very on point and asked me to make another batch to take to work.
One bowl of this quinoa porridge provides lots of health benefits because this tiny grain is considered a super food: it contains more vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants than any other grain plus it's full of good minerals, healthy fats and protein. It also helps balance the glucose levels because its carbohydrates are complex and you know what that means...healthy carbs help us feel satiated for longer. For those who are looking for a good alternative to pasta, wheat flour and everything that contains gluten, quinoa is your friend! It's gluten free and you can even find it in flour form (or I believe you can make your own at home if you are one of those lucky persons who own a powerful food processor :-p).
Last (but not least), if you add quinoa to your meals you will get an excellent dose of energy perfect for those who practice sports because it also helps muscles recover faster.
Now there's no excuse for you to try this great breakfast at home!

Receta en español próximamente en la web de El Granero Integral.

Chocolate Quinoa Porridge
(yield: one large serving)

1/2 cup quinoa.
1 cup oat milk.
3/4 cup water.
1/2 a stick of cinnamon.
1 tbsp cocoa powder.
1 1/2 tbsp agave syrup (or maple syrup, or honey).
1/2 cup oat milk.
Pinch of ground cinnamon.
Pinch of ground ginger.
Fresh fruit like blueberries, banana and strawberries.
Puffed quinoa.

Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cold water.
Place quinoa, oat milk and half a stick of cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring a few times, until almost all the milk has been absorbed.
Add in the water and repeat the process (heat until almost all the water has been absorbed too); don't forget to stir the mixture occasionally. Pour into a breakfast bowl.
Mix cocoa powder with 1/2 cup of oat milk and stir into the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and ginger on top, add in 1 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup (or more to taste) and stir until incorporated. Put your favorite toppings.
I top mine with slices of strawberries and banana, and blueberries. To add a nice contrast of textures I also add a small handful of puffed quinoa.
Note: depending on how thick or thin you like porridge add a bit less than 1/2 cup of oat milk when serving. I personally think this is the right amount of oat milk to get a nice not-too-thick-but-creamy porridge.

5 may. 2015

Raw Orange Chocolate Cake

We celebrated spanish Mother's Day last sunday and guess who was in charge of the dessert? Yep, yours truly...as usual! Honestly, I love to be the one who brings homemade desserts when there's some family gathering or special occasion.
My mom is a confessed chocaholic like me so it was clear that the dessert had to be very very chocolaty. Not too long ago (in March) I baked her favorite cake, the Sachertorte, and though I could eat it every single day I wanted to try something new to surprise my mama and also to add new content to my blog.
Spring calls for fruity refreshing treats and a raw orange chocolate 'cheesecake' sounded quite like the perfect option cause:
- I didn't have to turn on the oven (yay for letting myself be a little bit lazy for one day!).
- This cake has a deep chocolate flavor. Yum!
- The orange+chocolate combo is one of our favorite at home.
This cake looks fancy yet it's really easy to make, deliciously rich and indulgent so I hope you try it and share your thoughts with me in the comments section! If you don't like the fruit & chocolate type of cakes don't worry, simply replace the orange juice with water and omit the orange zest. It tastes as good without the orange flavor.
I've just had the last slice today and am already missing it...perhaps I should try a different version for dad's birthday in two weeks (May is going to be a pretty busy month for me, so many celebrations ahead plus a food convention this week!).

Receta en español aquí!

Raw Orange Chocolate Cake
(makes one 20cm/8-inch cake)

- Chocolate Crust:
1 cup almond flour.
3 tbsp pure maple syrup.
1/2 cup raw cacao powder.
Pinch of salt.

- Orange Chocolate Filling:
2 cups cashews.
1/2 cup maple syrup.
1/4 cup water.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice.
Zest of 1 orange.
1/2 cup melted coconut oil.
3/4 cup raw cacao powder.

- Chocolate Ganache Topping:
1/2 cup raw cacao powder.
1/2 cup agave syrup.
1/4 cup melted coconut oil.

- Optional:
Chopped hazelnuts to decorate the ganache.

Soak cashews in water for about 1 hour or until they become soft and puffed up. Don't forget to drain them well right before getting started with the recipe.
Line the bottom of an 8-inch/20 cm springform pan with parchment paper, leaving some extra inches of paper to easily lift out the cake when finished.
- For the chocolate crust:
Place almond flour (you can use almond meal too), cacao powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Pour over maple syrup and stir everything together until it becomes a sticky mixture. Mine looked like a rather compact paste/dough.
Press the crust down firmly with your hands first and then use the back of a spoon or a silicone spatula to press and even out.
Set in the freezer.
- For the orange chocolate filling:
Place cashews, maple syrup, water and orange juice inside your blender. Pulse and process until the mixture looks creamy, you might need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula. Make sure you push down all the remaining tiny bits of cashews.
Add in orange zest, cacao powder and coconut oil. Keep blending until it's completely smooth (a grainy mixture gives an ugly-looking cake).
Pour the mixture over the chilled chocolate crust. To level the batter place the pan on a flat surface and rotate it a few times.
Put the cake in the freezer and let it set for a few hours (or even better overnight) before removing the pan. 
Once the cake has hardened gently remove it from the pan and put it back in the freezer. It isn't necessary to leave the cake in the freezer at this point, but my coconut oil is still solid so I had to melt it. Then the ganache got a bit warm so I made sure the cake was really hard when I poured over the chocolate ganache topping. 
- For the chocolate ganache topping:
Stir together cacao powder, agave syrup and coconut oil. Mix well until no small lumps of cacao powder are visible; it should look smooth and very shiny. 
Pour the ganache over the cake and decorate with chopped hazelnuts.
Store cake in the refrigerator.

29 abr. 2015

Creamy Banana Ice Cream

Making ice cream at home was never so easy, I promise! Long time ago I read about this kind of recipe but was kinda sceptical because just ONE ingredient sounded way too easy and simple to me.
They say 'you have to see it to believe it'...well, in this case you have to taste it to believe it.
This creamy faux ice cream is made like I said with one natural, healthy ingredient: bananas! It tastes surprisingly delicious and creamy au naturel but obviously I wanted to make it more complete and added a few extra ingredients to take this dessert to the next level.
Days are certainly getting warmer, though here in Barcelona April is the craziest month of the week (weather-wise) cause it can turn from sunny and hot to windy and rainy in just one day, and I don't know about you guys, but am already craving for ice creams and refreshing treats.
So now, on weekends, I like to prepare this ice cream and play with different combinations of ingredients; every time I make it I come up with new ideas and so far the cinnamon and chocolate peanut butter are my favorite flavors.
Try with different spices like ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon like the one below. Add a small handful of frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries...), throw in a spoonful of your favorite nut butter and whatever your taste buds desire as long as half the amount of the ice cream is frozen banana.
Here are a couple of tips:
· You must use very ripe bananas in order to make this ice cream naturally sweet but I don't recommend overripe bananas because it'll have a not so nice color and the texture will most probably be different.
· When frozen, you might notice that the ice cream is less sweet so I always add 1 to 2 tablespoons of agave syrup for extra sweetness.

Receta en español muy pronto en la web de El Granero Integral!

Creamy Banana Ice Cream
(2 servings approx.)

- For the cinnamon banana ice cream:
2 medium ripe bananas, frozen.
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
1 to 2 tbsp agave syrup.
- For the chocolate PB ice cream:
2 medium ripe bananas, frozen.
1 tbsp pure cocoa powder.
1 tbsp homemade peanut butter, unsalted.
2 tbsp agave syrup.
- Toppings:
A drizzle of chocolate sauce or chocolate-flavored agave syrup.
Chopped hazelnuts (or your favorite nuts).

To get a really creamy ice cream is very important to make sure your bananas are completely frozen, that's why I always freeze them overnight.
I used 4 medium ripe bananas to make the two flavors: two bananas for the basic cinnamon ice cream and two more for the chocolate-PB flavor.
Chop bananas in small chunks and store them in separated airtight containers: one container for each flavor; so there's no confusion of how many chunks you need for each ice cream.
- For the cinnamon banana ice cream:
Blend the frozen banana chunks in your food processor (I used this one). At first it will look like a crumbled dough but don't worry, just keep pulsing.
Don't forget to stop the food processor several times and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.
Keep blending until it looks soft, pale and there are no small chunks of banana. Add in one tablespoon of agave syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Blend for a few more seconds to aerate the ice cream and you'll see that suddenly it looks like soft ice cream: super creamy and with a nice vanilla color. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and freeze until solid.

- For the chocolate & peanut butter ice cream:
Follow the same method as above and right when the ice cream looks quite soft and only a few small chunks of banana remain, add in cocoa powder, peanut butter and chocolate-flavored agave syrup. Blend for 1 more minute until all the ingredients are well combined.
Pour mixture into an airtight container and freeze until solid.

- Toppings:
Decorate with chocolate sauce, a drizzle of chocolate-flavored agave syrup or maple syrup.
Top with chopped hazelnuts (or your favorite nut) and for an extra tropical touch add some shredded coconut too!

24 abr. 2015

No-Bake Granola Bars

The other day while I was having my breakfast (overnight chia oat pudding, btw) I suddenly craved for homemade granola. Toasted nuts with a sweet touch of maple syrup, dried fruits, puffed grains...so good!
But then I started thinking what's the difference between granola and muesli because, honestly, sometimes it's really hard to see that difference. You see those so called 'healthy' bars at the store and they all look the same to me. So I googled 'granola vs muesli' and now I think I can finally say what are the main ingredients of each one.
Okay so...granola and muesli are both oat-based. Muesli is consumed raw and contains oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Granola is made with oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits like muesli but the mixture also includes grains like quinoa (wait, quinoa is actually a seed but whatever), rice and everything is tossed with some kind of fat (oil, butter, etc), and sweetened with sugar or honey. Then it's baked until it forms crunchy clusters.
I've heard that granola is the fat sister of muesli because it usually is higher in sugars, fats and calories; but that's not true: if you make your own granola at home you can always choose to add less fat (or not fat at all) and zero refined sugar by using maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar and dried fruits that add natural sweetness.
These granola bars I bring you today are my latest obsession because they are not only delicious and packed with lots of healthy energy, fiber and nutrients; it's also a super easy recipe that allows you to add your favorite nuts, try with different kind of puffed grains (my fave is quinoa!) and make as many combinations as you wish! Plus you won't need to turn on the oven. Play with ingredients, try different types of natural sweeteners, nut butters and choose your favorite bar.
The addition of natural peanut butter gives the ultimate touch of deliciousness to my bars and they are officially my favorite on-the-go snack; perfect for those days that seem to be endless and you need to boost your energy levels with something yummy yet good for you.

Receta en español aquí!

No-Bake Granola Bars
(yield: 12 bars)

1 cup medjool dates.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
1/4 cup homemade natural peanut butter.
1 1/4 cups rolled oats.
1/4 cup puffed quinoa.
1 cup mix of nuts, coarsely chopped.*
1/4 cup dried cranberries.
Dash of cinnamon.
Optional: a small handful of cacao nibs to decorate on top.

* I used the following mix of raw nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts and pistachios.
Play with proportions and use your favorite nuts.
I saved some extra chunks of pistachios, cranberries and cacao nibs to decorate the top of the dough once it's placed inside the pan and right before pressing it down.

Place dates inside the bowl of your food processor and pulse until the dates are completely processed and form a sticky paste-like dough. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat stir together maple syrup and peanut butter until it becomes pourable.
In a large mixing bowl place oats, puffed quinoa, nuts and dried cranberries; stir together. Add in date 'dough'.
Pour over the warm maple/peanut butter mixture and mix with a spatula (because the mixture could still be a bit too hot to touch with your hands). I recommend to work the dough with your hands to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and the date dough makes the stick together.
Transfer the dough to an 8x8-inch brownie pan (20x20cm) lined with parchment paper; leaving an extra inch overhanging each end so you can use this extra piece of paper as handles to easily lift the dough out of the pan.
Firmly press down the dough until it's flattened and add some extra chunks of pistachios, dried cranberries and cacao nibs, also pressing them down.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it hardens, around 30 minutes.
Lift out the dough and divide it into 12 bars.
Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to one week.

14 abr. 2015

Nutty Mocha Cookies

Some days I feel like I need more than 24 hours in a day, seriously! I'm so behind on recipe testing, organizing my folders (I have, literally, thousands of files to organize), cleaning out my e-mail inbox...and a large etcetera. Maybe it's just that I wanna do too many things and am too demanding on myself and when I can't sort all those things out I get really angry and grumpy. Being a food blogger and staying up-to-date on family and friends is no easy job, kiddos. *sigh*
I'm (slowly) learning that every single thing can't be perfect the whole time and that I should stop worrying so much. Sometimes, saying 'no' and putting yourself first really helps but I fail at this a lot.
Well, enough with the complaining! Cookies to the rescue!
Freshly homemade cookies are the best thing ever. I love to bake cookies, don't know exactly why because baking in general makes me feel better; maybe it's that almost instant pleasure that cookies give you. They don't take up a lot of time to be ready and it's easier to change up a cookie recipe. Follow my advice: if you've had a bad day go grab your apron, bake some cookies and challenge your inner Betty Crocker. Your belly will be happy, you will suddenly become a happier person and your house will smell amazing! Note: if there's some chocolate involved the level of happiness will be considerably higher. ;-)
Agave-sweetened cookies have a pleasantly cakey texture that I adore (and I hope you too) and these ones are perfect for when you want to use all those leftovers of nuts or other add-ins that you have lying around the pantry. I mixed walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and even some cashews too, you can also add some dark chocolate chips but I ommitted them to keep this recipe completely sugar-free. I used cacao nibs to decorate some of them.
The addition of instant espresso powder gives a subtle coffee aroma and enhance the chocolate flavor. When I'm baking these cookies the whole house smells amazingly crazy good and everybody suddenly show up in the kitchen.

Receta en español próximamente disponible en El Granero Integral.

Nutty Mocha Cookies
(yield: 2 dozen cookies)

1/4 cup soy milk.
2/3 cup mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
1 tbsp flaxmeal (ground flax seeds).
3/4 cup agave syrup.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1 tbsp instant espresso powder.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour.
1/2 cup cocoa powder.
3/4 tsp baking soda.
1/4 tsp fine sea salt.
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped.
1/4 cup walnuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped.*
1/4 cup dried cranberries.

*Or a mix of your favorite nuts.

· To make these cookies even more chocolatey replace 1/4 cup of the 3/4 cup of agave syrup with chocolate-flavored agave syrup.
· Not a fan of dried cranberries? Try with finely chopped dates or raisins.

Preheat oven to 325 ºF (170 ºC) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together soy milk, oil, flaxmeal, agave and vanilla until all ingredients are well combined.
Sift in flours, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a silicone spatula to form a soft dough.
Fold in almonds, the rest of the other nuts and the dried cranberries. Reserve some nuts for decorating the top of the cookies.
Scoop out 1 generous tablespoon of dough for each cookie and make sure you leave enough space between them cause they will spread a little while baking. Decorate with remaining nuts.
Bake for 14 minutes, until cookies edges are firm to touch yet tops are still soft.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.