Almond Pulp Crackers

“Once you start cooking, one thing leads to another. A new recipe is as exciting as a blind date….We make things from scratch just to see if we can.” -Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 130)

Almond Meal Crackers

Almond Pulp Crackers

We found ourselves with the rare weekend to ourselves. Friday evening, after a casual dinner out and a glass of wine, we wandered into Barnes and Noble, one of our favorite “date night” destinations. While other couples may prefer to go to movies, concerts, etc., my husband and I love passing time in the bookstore. As usual, he headed for the architecture section while I headed to the food and cookbooks section.

We each left the store with three new books in hand, excited for a lazy weekend spent reading and working on pet projects. And while I was able to do plenty of reading this weekend (full book post coming soon), the majority of my time was spent making mess after mess in the kitchen.

Flatten the dough and slice the crackers

Flatten the dough and slice the crackers

Following a Saturday morning coffee date with Sarah, I whipped up muffins and scrambled eggs for brunch. Next, I moved on to Nutella bites, cucumber salad, and almond milk. After dinner, the almond pulp I had saved from making the milk was beckoning me, calling me back to my recently cleaned kitchen to spend just a few more hours experimenting.

Baking crackers

Baking crackers

As the quote above suggests, the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more adventurous I feel with my cooking. I am now at a point where I prefer to make from scratch anything that I “can.” While I have yet to tackle yeast bread (perhaps a project for next weekend?!), crackers seemed like a no-brainer.

In the past, my nut pulp has almost always ended up being mixed into Greek yogurt or otherwise consumed as a component of my breakfast. But no longer  – these crackers were so simple to make, and I just love the fact that I made them myself!

Nut milk and crackers, a perfect combination of kitchen DIY treats.

crackers

Almond Pulp Crackers

Inspired by Edible Perspective and Kath Eats

Makes about 50 – 100 small crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond pulp (leftover from making almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax meal
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons water

Method

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mash together with a fork until fully combined.  You should be left with a soft, loosely formed ball of dough. Split the ball in half, set each half on a non-stick baking sheet, and spread each piece of dough with your hands evenly and as thinly as possible, ideally, 1/4 – 1/8-inch thick. Score with a butter knife into about 1×1-inch sized crackers. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans. Bake 15 minutes more, then carefully flip each cracker over and bake for another 15 minutes. Flip again and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until deep golden brown, for a total of 55-65 minutes. Let the crackers fully cool.  They will become crunchy as they cool.  Store in a sealed container on the counter for 1-3 days.

crackers from above

Perfectly crunchy and slightly sweet, I am loving having these made-from-scratch crackers around to nibble on. Perhaps with some turnip hummus?

Have you ever made your own crackers?

-L

Thank You, Blog World #10, or Hummus: Beyond Chickpeas

Another month has come and gone, and to be honest, I am not really sad to see February go… I am over winter. It’s been a fairly mild one here in VA, but I am tired of wearing sweaters and coats, and anxiously awaiting the return of spring produce.

above cracker dipped

Although I have been dreaming of asparagus and strawberries, I have been enjoying the root vegetables that continue to be available from our local farms. I recently purchased a “Virginia Bounty Box” from Relay Foods that featured apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips. LOTS of apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips.

Most of the box made its way into the oven–roasting root vegetables is, after all, my favorite way to prepare them. I enjoyed many a salad topped with roasted turnips, but I also decided to try something a little different…

Turnip Hummus.

hummus close

Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, but add some tahini, garlic, and lemon juice to almost any starchy-vegetable-based spread, and you have a delicious alternative! I threw a pinch of a Tandoori spice blend I had on hand into my turnip hummus for a bold flavor.

Turnip Hummus

Yields about 2 cups hummus

Ingredients

  • 3 cups roasted turnips
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 generous Tablespoons tahini
  • pinch Tandoori spice blend
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with crackers, pita, or vegetables.

display 2

So I started to wonder – what other alternative hummus recipes might I like to try? Of course, the blog world was able to deliver.

All of the alternative hummus recipes I found include tahini, and most include lemon juice and garlic, but the “base” ranges from starchy vegetables to beans and even and nuts. Those that stick to the traditional chickpea add awesome flavors or toppings that take hummus to a whole new level.

As we do at the start of each month, I would like to say “Thank You” to my fellow bloggers for the inspiration they provide me on a daily basis. Here’s a round-up of a some of my current favorites blogs and their alternative hummus recipes:

cracker dipping

Have you ever made an “alternative hummus”?

You can check out our past 9 months of Thank You posts at these links:

-L

Vegan Buckwheat Banana Bread

When I left home last Friday for a weekend away, I left 4 bananas ripening in the kitchen.

There is nothing better than coming home to perfectly over-ripe bananas, just begging to be baked into moist and delicious banana bread.

Vegan Buckwheat Banana Bread

Vegan Buckwheat Banana Bread

Banana bread has always been a favorite in my family. One of my earliest kitchen memories is mixing up a tasty loaf of banana bread with my mom. Her tried and true recipe includes extra cinnamon, and it always makes the house smell terrific.

Lately I have been experimenting with “alternative” recipes. Andrea’s Banana Date Bread and Jenna’s molasses-sweetened version have both been big hits. Coincidentally, big sister Julie has also been experimenting with her own variation, using applesauce as the primary sweetener.

loaf from above

When I bought my first bag of buckwheat flour a few weeks ago, I quickly decided that buckwheat banana bread was in order. I have been reading more and more about this grain seed, and couldn’t wait to experiment.

Buckwheat is the seed of an herb related to rhubarb that is native to Russia. The triangular seeds are ground to make buckwheat flour, but can be found in hulled form, as groats (raw) or kasha (roasted). Buckwheat is gluten free, high in protein, and contains all essential amino acids. It has a distinctive flavor, often described as “assertive” and “nutty.”

slices

Vegan Buckwheat Banana Bread

Inspired by Sarah at My New Roots

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (approximately 5 medium bananas)
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with baking paper, or lightly oil and dust with flour, shaking out excess.

Put the almond milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in a blender and blend until smooth (or use an immersion blender). In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few strokes as possible. Fold in nuts.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

front view

My husband often gives me a hard time about my “alternative” baking choices, and he was well-prepared to dislike this bread. Although he described it as “not very sweet” (an intentional choice on my part) and “wheaty” (that would be the earthy buckwheat flavor), he proclaimed “it’s good!” He even asked if he could take a slice or two to work with him.

Husband approved, nutrient rich, deliciously moist and comforting, buckwheat banana bread is a definite success.

Have you ever baked with buckwheat flour?

-L

P.S. This post was shared at Thank Your Body Thursday. Check out Robin’s great weekly link-up for all things healthy living (food exercise, cleaning, and more).

Fig and Molasses Granola

First, there was apricot, cashew, and coconut oatmeal.

Then, there was raisin, walnut, and flax meal baked oatmeal.

Today, I am happy to share my latest fruit/nut/superfood oat concoction: Fig and Molasses Granola.

granola pan

Chunks of dried fig and crystallized ginger dance with chopped walnuts and pecans in this crunchy and not-too-sweet granola, made using The Professional Palate‘s “overnight” method.

Breakfast heaven!

figs2

Let’s talk for a minute about Figs. Regarded by many ancient cultures as sacred, figs were originally grown in southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Spanish missionaries brought them to North America, and in the U.S. they are mainly cultivated in southern California, though they do grow elsewhere (Charlottesville, VA included!). There are many varieties of figs, ranging in color from deep purple to almost white and in shape from round to oval. Figs are a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

This granola is a great source of iron, as it also includes blackstrap molasses. Molasses is produced when the juice squeezed from sugar cane and sugar beets is boiled down into a syrup from which sugar crystals are extracted. The first boiling produces light molasses, the second, dark molasses, and the third, blackstrap. It is a good source of iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium (source).

jars

As I have been learning more about the ingredients I have been cooking with, I have been intrigued by the many facets of “food knowledge.” From history and anthropology, to horticulture and nutrition, there is so much to learn about the foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

I would love to hear which tidbits of information resonate most with you all, our lovely readers. Please let me know if you are enjoying learning about ingredients, and which aspects are most interesting to you.

granola pan close

Fig and Molasses Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • chopped figs
  • chopped crystallized ginger

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flax, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon and ginger. In separate bowl, whisk together molasses, brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla and oil. Pour over oat mixture and mix well.

Spread granola evenly over baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minute intervals. Turn oven off. Leave granola in oven. Granola will crisp as it cools overnight. Just before serving, toss in chopped dried figs and crystallized ginger. Store granola in jars in the fridge.

jars and bowl

I have really been enjoying this granola atop a bowl of greek yogurt, chunky applesauce, and sliced banana. The flavors come together so nicely, and the crystallized ginger adds an almost surprising element.

“Superfood” indeed.

-L

Berry Orange Smoothie and Foodie Finds

Berry Orange Smoothie

Berry Orange Smoothie

I had an awesome mini-vacation over the weekend! I went to Florida for an audition, and was able to meet up with one of my best friends. I was sad to come home so soon, but have had a great time since returning to SF.

Wading in the water

Wading in the water

After ballet class on Tuesday, I wandered over to the Ferry Building Farmers Market to pick up some fresh fruit. I ended up with some gorgeous navel oranges and a pack of strawberries. When I got home, I decided to toss some of them into the blender to make a Berry Orange Smoothie.

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Berry Orange Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 orange, seeds and casings removed
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Topping of choice (I used granola)

Combine fruits and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass, and garnish with topping of your choice.

Fruity and fun

Fruity and fun

Foodie Finds

While I was at the Ferry Building, I also picked up a bag of Original Granola made by From the Fields. This wheat and oil free granola is made in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a great crunch, a variety of nuts and seeds, and plump cranberries. I’m looking forward to trying the Honey Lavender flavor soon!

Farm to Fields Granola

From the Fields Granola

When I was outside, I gave into temptation, and accepted a sample of Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle from G.I. Alfieri. I’ve seen them many times before, but have always managed to keep my distance. I have a big weakness for nuts and chocolate! Today I’m glad I stopped. The almond brittle is delicious! It is thin and crispy, with smooth dark chocolate, and a surprisingly strong kick of coffee flavor. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the man handing out samples as well! It turns out he was a dancer, and knows many of the teachers I train with in the city. What a small world!

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

This was the perfect way to wind down after my fun, fast venture to Florida! The rest of the week will be a bit less leisurely, but with my new foodie finds and fruit, I feel ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Yum yum

Yum yum

Happy Eating!

-C