30 jun. 2015

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dates & Figs

Who would turn on the oven on the hottest day of summer? Yep, me! Call me crazy, fool or simply call it a food blogger thing...I was seriously craving for tender, sweet muffins and had a couple frozen bananas waiting for me in the freezer, so nothing couldn't stop me. Not even this heat wave.
Truth be told, I needed one (or were too?) of my sangria pops to cool down but today I woke up to these super big, fluffy and deliciously sweet muffins. This is such a great way to start your morning off right.
Muffins, pancakes and french toasts are my favorite breakfast foods and it was about time to try something more hearty, these are made with organic whole wheat flour and panela. For those who haven't heard about panela before, (panela in spanish, also known as rapadura in portuguese), it's unrefined whole cane sugar, it has more nutrients, vitamins and minerals and can be used as an alternative to refined white sugar. It's easy to find it at organic food stores or at the healthy section of your local supermarket; however, if you can't find it Sucanat is quite similar so you can use it too. These whole wheat muffins are also very fruity thanks to the addition of bananas, dried figs and dates. Yummy combination yet not as overwhelmingly sweet as some may think because panela has a more toasty flavor but if you like them on the less-sweet side I'm pretty sure they will taste as good using less sugar.
Now it's time to relax, enjoy a tall glass of my super refreshing watermelon gazpacho (will post the recipe on my Facebook page, btw) and see what's cooking in the blogosphere.

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

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dates and Figs

(yield: 6 jumbo muffins)

250 g frozen banana slices (around 2 medium bananas), thawed.
1 cup almond meal.
1/4 cup mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil.
3/4 cup soy milk.
1/2 cup panela (unrefined whole cane sugar).
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour.
2 tablespoons potato starch.*
2 teaspoons baking powder.
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.
40 g (1/3 cup approx.) dates, chopped.
40 g (1/3 cup approx.) dried figs, chopped.

*Note: you can use cornstach instead of potato starch.

Mash banana well with a fork until smooth. Chop dried figs and dates into small chunks.
Preheat oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF) and line a jumbo muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the almond meal, oil, milk, panela and vanilla until smooth and no large lumps are visible.
Sift the flour in a separated medium mixing bowl and add in the potato starch, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chopped dates and figs, to make sure the fruit chunks are well distributed and don't stick together or sink to the bottom, toss them a bit with your hands.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until combined.
Fill cups to the top (don't worry, the batter is rather thick so they will rise beautifully and you'll have nice tall muffins, they won't overflow).
Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of panela or your preferred sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes approximately or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack and carefully remove them later so they cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

25 jun. 2015

Sangria Pops

I couldn't let this week past (the first week of summer, woohoo!) without sharing one of the first pops recipe of the season. This hot and sunny weather calls for frozen desserts like ice creams, all kind of ice creams (cones, sandwiches...), cold and refreshing drinks like horchata, lemonade or one of my latest obsessions: agua fresca de sandía which is a mexican drink that in spanish translates to watermelon water, you should try it cause it's great to cool off on a hot summer day, healthy and alcohol-free.
Even though some days the humidity here makes it quite difficult to function like a normal human being I still love this time of the year; makes me feel happy to know that the sun is still shining while I'm preparing dinner, I don't have to rush to shoot the pictures for my recipes before the sun goes down at 5pm, I go every morning to my rooftop garden to pick tomatoes when they are perfectly ripe so I can make watermelon gazpacho (my family loves it!), I don't have to blow-dry my hair, I wear brighter colors and my favorite sandals. The list of advantages could be endless but let's kick off summer with these boozy pops! Sangria + popsicles, life is good.

PS: after shooting the photos for this recipe I made a yummy refreshing sangria slushy with the almost-melted pops. :-p 

Sangria Pops
(makes 6 pops approx.*)

1 cup red wine.
1 cup orange juice.
1 tbsp lemon juice.
3-4 tbsp coconut sugar, or more to taste.
Orange slices.

Squeeze oranges and lemon.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together wine, orange juice and lemon juice. Gradually add in the coconut sugar and taste it to get the right level of sweetness for your taste buds. I added 3 tablespoons of coconut sugar but you can use your favorite type of granulated sugar or even agave syrup, though I'm sure agave will make this sangria taste quite different than the classic one.
Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved.
Insert a thin orange slice into each ice pop mold. Pour in the sangria and place in the freezer. If you're using a mold that doesn't include the sticks then you'll have to wait an hour or so to insert the wooden sticks, otherwise they will float.
Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.
To remove popsicles run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds and carefully pull the sticks.

*Notes: I made 6 pops but depending on the size of your molds you'll get a couple more or less.

16 jun. 2015

Burger Buns

I love to prepare special dinners at home, specially on weekends...and I don't mind spending the whole afternoon cooking while others are going out. When you get pretty damn good results and you can stuff your face with a delicious homemade burger it's all worth it.
I'm not a strict vegan but you will never see me eating a burger at certain fast food restaurant, thanks but no thanks! Homemade = better.
One thing I've been searching with zero success all these years is a good and dairy-free burger bun: the bakeries in my city make them using non-organic butter and/or other fats (aka junk) that my body doesn't really need...plus the ones you can find on the supermarket shelves are quite tasteless and packed with additives, super refined oils...etc, etc.
We all know that the taste of homemade bread (oh! and the smell!), the sense of accomplishment when you take your freshly baked bread out of the oven and how de-stressing is to punch the dough are priceless. So why don't we make our own burger buns at home?...and now that the oven is on, let's make some sweet potato fries and potato chips! Hell yes!
I had such a delicious 'fast-food'-inspired dinner. These homemade burger buns are hands down one of the best breads I've ever baked; they are incredibly tender (and I do mean tender), they don't take up a lot of hours to leaven and the tase is so much better than any store-bought burger buns.
This recipe yields four big buns (go big or go home) which have the perfect size for a main dish, but you can divide the dough into five equal parts so the buns will be smaller.
They make a great sandwich bread too and taste really good with something sweet like strawberry jam or chocolate spread for breakfast. Though I'd suggest to make the smaller version (dividing the dough into 5 or 6 buns) in this case.
By the way, have you seen the short video I published on Instagram and Facebook? If you did, you already know how hard I punched that dough! Kneading bread at home is a great workout for the arms! :-p

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

Burger Buns

(yield: 4 big buns)

1 cup lukewarm water.
1 1/2 tbsp molasses.
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour.
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour.
1 tsp salt.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
Black sesame seeds, to sprinkle on top.

In a small bowl stir together water, molasses and dry yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast activates and small bubbles appear on the surface.
Mix together flours and salt in a large bowl using a hand whisk.
Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add in yeast mixture and olive oil. Start mixing on low speed and increase the speed a few seconds later. Mix until a soft ball of dough forms, around 6 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. Working the dough for 10 minutes approximately will be enough if you aerate the dough well: push it down, stretch it and fold the top half back towards you. Repeat the process and sprinkle the dough with more whole wheat flour if it's too sticky; it should be more humid than the average bread dough but shouldn't stick too much to your fingers and/or the working surface.
Shape the dough into a ball, transfer back to the bowl and cover well with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until the dough is puffy and doubled in size.
After this first rise, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and shape them into round burger buns; tap them gently to deflate the dough.
Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and remember to leave enough space between them. They will puff up again after the second rise so it is very important to leave that space.
Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap (or a dump cloth) and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400º F (200ºC) after the first 15 minutes have passed (approximately).
Uncover the baking sheet, brush the tops of the buns with a bit of vegan milk and sprinkle with the black sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes, until they look golden on top and sound hollow when you gently tap the bottoms with your knuckles.
Let cool on a wire rack.
To store the buns and make them stay fresh and tender for a longer time I recommend to wrap them in plastic wrap once they are completely cool and also place them inside an airtight container.

11 jun. 2015

Easy Raw Banana Chocolate Spread

You can also call this recipe Easy Protein-Packed Nutella because it has a good dose of nut butter (peanut butter in this case) and protein powder. This is a pretty damn good recipe for those of us who work out every day but also like to keep our sweet tooth satisfied...yes, you can be fit and treat yourself with yummy things almost every day.
The idea of making a healthier version of a chocolate spread started right after making my chocolate banana ice cream: it looked super soft and almost spreadable so I tweaked the proportions a little bit, added some protein powder and voilà! Everybody say hello to this creamy, rich and thick enough to spread, yet not grainy-ugly looking, banana chocolate spread.
It tastes so good spread on a couple of slices of freshly baked baguette, I love to top it with banana slices, shredded coconut and a drizzle of maple syrup. Also great to make grilled sandwiches (total YUM!), as a filling for crêpes and the list goes on. Use it the same way you would use your regular chocolate spread. My version is guilt-free so you're allowed to eat it straight from the jar with a spoon! ;-p
By the way, how I love that summer is officially here in Barcelona! This time of the year is my favorite, I feel much more active, more productive and inspired. Longer days are the best for someone who always shoot with natural light; it was great to be able to shoot the pictures for this recipe at my rooftop garden. I had to be careful not to step on my tortoise Tomi because he was chasing me all the time, waiting for some freshly picked strawberry that I always give to him.

Easy Raw Banana Chocolate Spread

2 medium ripe bananas.
4 tbsp raw cacao powder.
4 tbsp peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter).
30 g approx./1 scoop pea protein powder (or vanilla/chocolate whey protein powder).*
2 to 4 tbsp agave syrup (or pure maple syrup).

*See 'Notes' at the end of the recipe.

In a small bowl mash bananas with a fork until smooth.
Place mashed banana, cacao powder, peanut butter and protein powder inside your food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are combined and the mixture looks creamy and smooth.
Adjust the sweetness with a few tablespoons of agave syrup or, if your prefer, you can also use pure maple syrup which gives an excellent taste.
Put in a jar and store in the fridge.

- The protein powder will make this spread become more or less thicker, it all depends on how much you want to add. Start by adding 30 grams but do not put much more because the flavor will be affected.
- Depending on how ripe your bananas are the finished spread will taste more or less sweet. That's why I recommend adding agave syrup one tablespoon at a time until you get the desired sweetness.
- If you can't find raw cacao powder you can use pure cocoa powder but might probably need to increase the quantity.
- I wanted to make a peanutty version of the famous Nutella but I'm sure hazelnuts will add a deliciously toasty flavor.

3 jun. 2015

Raw Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Cashews are one of my obsessions, they are my favorite nut and I could eat a big handful every single day. I love their rather sweet taste and the endless possibilities you have when you cook with them: dressings, butters, creams, pie fillings, ice creams and they make the best raw cakes!
They are full of healthy fats, which are essential to mantain your heart young and strong, and like every other nut, cashews are the perfect pick-me-up snack to boost our energy levels...always keeping in mind that we are talking about small (small!) handfuls every day. Everything in moderation, my dear friends! Well, except for chocolate, hehe, just kidding. ;-)
Also cashews are a good source of antioxidants (high content of copper) and magnesium which prevents fatigue, headaches and is good for bones and muscles.
So after this nutritional information let's talk about this recipe: Raw Mini Lemon Cheesecakes.
These cakes are the perfect dessert to serve at parties or family suppers and since they are super rich and you'll feel super full I would suggest you to divide the batter into smaller pans (try with a muffin or cupcake pan). I ate mine in one sitting as an afternoon "snack" and even though I was hungry it took me several minutes to finish the whole thing. That lemony flavor and strawberry-matcha crust were so tempting I couldn't myself.
So you've been warned: if you are planning to serve these after a big meal, make them smaller.
Or if you feel hungry, or you've had shitty day, or you have a big big craving for something sweet and simply want to stuff your face with cake, then go for the XL option pictured here.

Note: for the strawberry-matcha flavored crust I used a blend of strawberry powder and matcha green tea that comes already prepared in small packs like this one. If you can't find this type of blend simply use matcha, adding one tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency, taste and color.

Raw Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
(makes 4 big servings)

1 cup almond meal.
3 tbsp pure maple syrup.
2 tbsp strawberry matcha powder.
pinch of salt.

Lemon filling:
2 cups raw cashews.
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted.
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or 1/4 cup agave+1/4 cup maple).
1/4 cup water.
1/4 cup lemon juice.
lemon zest.

Strawberry jam.
Fresh fruits.

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.
- For the crust:
Stir all ingredients together, except for the matcha, and mix well. Add in matcha powder one tablespoon at a time; I think 2 tablespoons are enough but adjust to taste.
Line a baking sheet or a flat dish with parchment paper and set 4 plating/forming rings on top of the paper (I used square forms). If that's too complicated simply use a muffin tin and line it with a couple of parchment paper strips using them as tabs to easily lift out the cakes.
Firmly press down this mixture using the back of a spoon and make sure it looks even.
Set in the freezer until it hardens.
- For the lemon filling:
Place cashews, maple syrup, water, lemon zest and juice inside your blender. Pulse and process until the mixture looks creamy, you might need to stop the blender a few times and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Make sure you push down all the remaining bits of cashews.
Add in coconut oil and keep blending until the mixture looks completely smooth.
Pour the mixture equally over the frozen crust. Add in around 1/2 tablespoon of strawberry jam for each cake and make a swirl using a toothpick.
Put the cakes in the freezer and let them set for a few hours (or overnight) until they are firm enough to remove from their pans.
Decorate with fresh fruits like sliced strawberries or a small handful of wild berries. I decorated the cakes with golden raspberries from my own little harvest. :-)
Store refrigerated.