Category Archives: Snacks

Cranberry, Orange & Almond Coffee Cake

coffee cake

How is it already December? Life seems to be in hyper drive. But December means it’s time to get festive!

festive candle

Sadly, no Christmas tree for us, but I do have my 88 cent poinsettia. Now, all we need is the snow!

pointsettiabw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw this recipe and it reminded me so much of my childhood around the holidays. Every year when I was little, my mom and I would make cranberry, orange, walnut bread for my teachers. Then we’d wrap it up in cellophane and tie it with a fancy bow and attach a home-made Christmas ornament.

I was a crafty kid.

Though the recipe is different, the flavors are the same.

ready to eat

Cranberry, Orange and Almond Coffee Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 loaf
 
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Dash of salt
1/4 cup of butter, I used earth balance
1 egg or 1 flax egg
3/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped almonds
 
Topping
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of chopped almonds
 
Drizzle
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons of almond milk
 

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and line it with a piece of parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides, for easy removal later. Grease the parchment paper and lightly sprinkle flour over the entire inside of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cube up the butter and mix it into the flour with your fingers until it is well incorporate. It should be a coarse meal.

In a medium size bowl combine the egg/ flax egg, orange juice, zest, vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Mix until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and almonds. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and almonds with your fingers. Once combined, sprinkle the mixture over the top of the loaf. Place in the center of your preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan, using the parchment handles and cool it on a wire rack.

To make the drizzle, whisk powdered sugar, cinnamon and almond milk in a small bowl. Drizzle over the top of the cooled loaf. Slice and enjoy.

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Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes with Spicy BBQ Sauce

Last Saturday was Switchback Brewery’s 10th anniversary and they threw a big party. They had a live band, local food vendors, brewery tours and other activities on their lawn. For $10 you got 3 beer tickets, 1 food ticket, and a newly bottled 22 of switchback ale. We also go access to specials at countless bars downtown with our exclusive wristband. All of this for $10! And it just so happens that we have our first keg of Switchback in the kegerator, coincidence?

I also broke in my new $13 crock pot with some switchback ale chili with cornmeal dumplings.

On another unrelated note… last week I lost my opal ring that Mark got me last year. I might have cried for a few days and tore apart our home and my work. I had everyone on the look out… And just when I had given up hope, Mark found it in our baggie of curry powder. Of all places! Maybe I have a cooking problem. (the worst part, I had looked in some of the other spices and the flour, just not the curry powder). My finger no longer feels naked!

We’ve been having warm weather the past few days, so a 6 mile run though the wooded part of the bike path was a must. This morning I woke up and decided to make vegetable nuggets croquettes… much more fancy sounding… to eat during the Pats game this afternoon. However, Mark and I ate them all by 11:30 am… they’re that good… but also good for you. These vegan croquettes are packed full of veggies and quinoa, breaded lightly in whole wheat bread crumbs and baked in the oven. Served with some doctored-up BBQ sauce, it’s a grown up twist on your childhood favorite: chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce. After a small amount of digesting, we burned them off with a 5 mile run along the lake. I ran 31 miles this week!

Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes 

Makes about 22-24 croquettes
 
2 cups of broccoli florets
 1 cup of carrots, diced
 1 cup of onion, diced
 Olive oil, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Black pepper, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 Garlic flakes, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Red pepper flakes, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 1 russet or Yukon potato, washed and diced in 1″ cubes
 1/4 cup of quinoa, uncooked
 1/4 cup of veggies stock
 3/4 cup of water
 1 tablespoon of vegan butter
 1/2 cup of peas
 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne 
 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
 1/2 tablespoon of mustard
 1/2 cup (approximate) of whole wheat bread crumbs, you can sub gluten free bread crumbs or grind up your favorite gf crackers to keep it gf. Also look for ones low in sodium and without cheese if you want them to remain vegan.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Chop up the broccoli, carrots and onion, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet with some of the black pepper, garlic flakes, red peppers flakes and about a teaspoon of olive oil. Place them in the oven, tossing every 10 mins or so, until cooked and a bit crispy, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast, chop up the potato and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until a fork pierces through a potato cube easily. Once the potato is in the pot, place the quinoa in another pot with some red pepper flakes and some garlic flakes. Heat over medium high heat, tossing the quinoa frequently to toast it, about 3 minutes. Then add in 1/4 cup of low sodium veggies stock and 3/4 cup of water. Stir the quinoa and potatoes occasionally. (you will have extra quinoa left over from this recipe, store in a container and add to meals that need a little protein boost)

When the veggies are done, nice and browned, scrape them and the browned bits in a food processor and pulse to chop them coarsely. When the potatoes are done, place them in a large bowl and mash them up with butter and a teaspoon of olive oil, more black pepper and garlic flakes. Add the veggies, 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa and the peas to the potatoes, add in the cayenne cumin, curry powder and mustard, along with more garlic, black pepper or red pepper flakes, based on your preference. (I love black pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes, so I added more). Mix everything together.

Place the bread crumbs on a plate. Put the remaining olive oil (about a teaspoon) on your baking sheet (tin foil removed and discarded). Form little croquettes, I made about 1 inch diameter balls then shaped them into more of an oval shape (like a nugget). You could use a small ice cream scoop if you want to speed up the process.

Roll each nugget in the bread crumbs and place on the baking sheet. Or you can place them in the freezer, spread out on a baking sheet, not touching, and freeze for 2 hours, then transfer them to a Ziploc bag and store in your freezer until ready to use (we froze half). When ready to bake, place them in a 400 F oven for 10 minutes, or until browned on the bottom, then flip and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Doctored-Up Spicy BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle
6 small Thai hot chilies, diced very fine
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of sriracha
Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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Coconut Pumpkin Bars

Mark had a business trip this week, which meant I was on my own for 2 nights… I’ve never really lived alone, so the idea of being home alone at night still kinda creeps me out. But, I had to put on my big girl pants and be brave. After all, we are adults now, with full time jobs, and business trips, and bills, and all that real life stuff. It was weird to cook for just myself… one night I just ate roasted Brussels sprouts (with dried cranberries, a mustard glaze, and a balsamic reduction). Luckily, Mark’s next business trip isn’t until January.

Today, I rode my bike (15 miles round trip) to the farmers market with $13 in my pocket. I got quite the haul and I have big plans for dinner this coming week.

I confessed my pumpkin re-obsession last post and promised these coconut pumpkin bars… so here they are… they disappeared quickly, most were shoved secretly into our mouths, over the sink, when we though the other wasn’t looking.  Some were enjoyed on a plate with a cup of coffee. Luckily, each slice has only 128 calories and is vegan.

Coconut Pumpkin Bars

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of shredded coconut

1 cup of pumpkin pure

3/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of oil

1/3 cup of water

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 8×8 inch pan, and line it with parchment paper, for easy removal. In a small bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda and coconut. In a medium sized bowl, cream together pumpkin, sugar, vinegar, oil and water. Then add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Slice into 16 slices and enjoy with coffee or as a snack.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I hope everyone had a restful 3 day weekend. Mark and I turned our weekend into a 4 day weekend and headed up to the infamous “red camp” in the north woods of Maine. Red Camp is Mark’s family’s lakeside cabin. We hung out with a few friends from college and Mark’s parents.

(source: Mark’s Dad)

We hiked, kayaked and lounged on the deck while drinking beers… sounds like a good weekend to me. Our big hike was up Little Spencer Mountain, and don’t let its name fool you…even though it’s 3,040 ft tall… the climb up was mostly scrambling up boulders and even up a 25 ft chimney (crevice). According to many Moosehead Lake Region Hiking Guides, it is one of the most difficult hikes in the region. The scrapes and bruises from the overgrown, steep trail were worth it for amazing views from the top… you can see the entire Moosehead Lake Region.

It was really hard to leave on Monday. I mean with views like this… who would want to.

Blue Moon Rising over Katadin

Katadin by day

There are certain foods that are camp foods… they need to survive the hour trip down logging roads, be cooked over an open fire and of course be delicious. At this point in the late summer, zucchinis are still coming out the wazoo and you might be sick of making loafs and loafs of zucchini bread. These chocolate zucchini muffins contain a whole zucchini but you can hardly tell. These flavorful muffins taste more like a brownie than a healthy zucchini and banana laden muffin, and did I mention that they are vegan and only have 100 calories each. These muffins are the perfect car snack for that long drive and defiantly a camp approved food.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins 

makes 12 muffins 

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 c unsweetened dark cocoa powder**

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup almond or nondairy milk

1 zucchini, shredded and the excess water squeezed out

**I found this at the grocery store and I love it, you could use regular cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease you muffin tin or spray with cooking spray. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a small bowl with a whisk. In a large bowl cream the apple sauce, banana and sugar. Then add in the zucchini. Add the dry ingredients a half cup at a time to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined… it should look like brownie batter. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when done.

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Very Berry Smoothie (lactose free)

After a rainy start to the week, the second half has been beautiful…. high 70’s and sunny. So I’ve been taking advantage of the weather the past few days.

On Tuesday, I volunteered at the Lake Champlain Basin Program Resource Room. The LCBP is “a federal, state, provincial, and local initiative to restore and protect Lake Champlain and its surrounding watershed for future generations.” And their resource room is where you can go to learn information or ask questions about the lake. I’ve been volunteering there once a week for the past month. It’s been great, this week I got to have a long discussion about kettle lakes, a type of glacially formed lake.

It was Sunny the whole time I was there but as soon as I left it started raining, so I went for a quick 2mile run then I did  Nike Training Club’s 45 minute “crunch and burn”. Man, did I feel the burn the next day. The NTC app is free on your apple devices. It has 4 categories: Get Lean, Toned, Strong and Focused. And workouts range from 15 to 45 minutes and beginner to advanced. It lets you pick your own music and gives you words of encouragement though each exercise. It’s like a free gym membership at home.

On Wednesday I went for a 15 mile bike ride along the lake, all the way to the Winooski River.

On Thursday, I biked 3.4 miles, stopped locked my bike, ran 4 miles, got back on my bike and rode the 3.4 miles home

Today, I went for a hilly 4.5 mile run

To refuel when I got back from these workouts, I sipped on a protein packed smoothie. Since finding out I was lactose intolerant, I’ve been trying to replace the protein I’ve been missing in my diet. Insert Green Valley Organic Lactose Free Kefir.

It’s natural cow’s milk that has had the lactose broken down to sugars that are easier for your intestines to digest. And the plain only has 90 calories per 8 oz serving and 8 grams of protein.

Very Berry Smoothie (175 calories, 8 g protein in 1 12 oz serving)

3/4 cup of Plain Green Valley Organic Lactose Free Kefir (or your kefir brand of choice)

1/2 cup of frozen blue berries

4 frozen strawberries

1/2 a frozen banana

2-3 ice cubes (depending on how thick you want it)

Blend all ingredients up in the blender for 2-4 minutes, until smooth. Pour into a 12oz glass and enjoy! Garnish with: frozen fruit, flax seeds or a basil sprig (optional).

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Spinach and Cannelloni Bean Dip

This past weekend, Mark and I went to my parents for the weekend. They were throwing a graduation party for my brother and all my relatives, neighbors and friends were invited. I actually had some employment last week, working as a research specialist at UVM for a week and I had to work Friday night. After getting out around 8, I met Mark for dinner at Bluebird Tavern. I got an arugula salad and ratatouille. The ratatouille was delicious and chocked full of roasted local veggies… yum!

We headed down to my parents on Saturday morning. We arrived in time to help set up and prep some of the last minute food… like a killer fruit salad (blueberries, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, peaches, and pineapple). Look, there was a heart in one of the strawberries… strawberry to my heart?!?

I spent most of the party running around fetching things like serving spoons and more napkins, but I also got to see all of the people that are important to me. And the night ended with a spectacular firework show put on by my dad and his friends. Somehow I didn’t take a single picture.

On Sunday, Mark and I went to Cohen’s to get the best bagels ever and we ate them down at the beach. It was nice to have the sand between my toes and the salt breeze in my hair. I’m a total beach kid at heart… and boy oh boy had I been missing the ocean.

I made this dip for the party on Saturday, its super healthy and flavorful and it can be served with pita chips, endive spears or veggie crudité.

Spinach and Cannelloni Bean Dip

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

12 oz of spinach

1 15 oz can of cannelloni beans

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute then add in the spinach and let it wilt for 2 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let the mixture cool. Then place the spinach in a clean (old/not cared for) dish towel, squeeze out the excess water over the sink. Place the spinach in the food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with pita chips, endive spears or veggie crudité.

I served mine with Stacy’s Italian Harvest Pita Chips to rave reviews

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Banana Bread Larabars

This past weekend, one of our college friends was in Vermont visiting his girlfriend, so on Saturday we met up for an afternoon by the beach and dinner in Burlington. On Sunday, the four us hiked Hunger Mountain. It’s only 4 miles round trip but it’s pretty steep and definitely a good workout for your butt. We got a little silly on the hike and had a great time hangout out with some friends.

For a little energy boost once you reach the top, a larabar is always a good choice. They are chocked full of good fats, protein and fiber. They generally have 3 to 5 ingredients and are very minimally processes (think dehydrated fruit and a whirl in the good ole food processor). They are also: dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and vegan. All of these things leave your mind and body satisfied.

However, when not on sale, this tasty source of fuel can be a bit costly. We snagged some at a steal, 75 cents a bar, the other day. Once those ran out I contemplated making my own, which cost about $0.60 a bar. And making your own is on par with the difficulty of getting in your car/ hopping on your bike and heading to the store to buy them.

We also lucked out the other day when we were at the store… over ripe bananas were on sale for 8 cents a banana! So I decided to make banana bread larabars, one of my favorite flavors.

Banana Bread Larabars

Makes 2 larabars (1 bar: 230 cal, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein)

1 large, over ripe banana, sliced and dehydrated, about 1/4 cup once dehydrated

1/4 cup of dried dates, chopped

1/3 cup of raw almonds

To dehydrate the bananas, stick on a dehydrator sheet and follow the instructions. Or if you don’t have a dehydrator sheet (like me) preheat the oven to 175 to 200°F, depending on how low your oven will go. Slice the bananas and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 2 hours, keep an eye on them starting at about 1.5 hours, you don’t want them to get too dehydrated and turn into crispy banana chips. Remove them from the oven when they have reduced in size and have just begun to brown, but they still have a sticky, slightly gooey texture. Remove with a spatula, or fingers if they get too stuck, which they might. Measure out a 1/4 cup of the bananas and place it in a food processor with the 1/4 cup of dried dates. Combine them in the food processor letting it run for about 2 minutes. You might have to stop it periodically and scrape down the sides. Once combined well, transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add the 1/3 cup of almonds to the food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds to a minute until the almonds are grounds, but still have some small chunks. Transfer the almonds to the bowl with the dates and banana. Combine all the ingredients together. I found using my fingers was easiest. Then divide the mixture in half and give your hands a quick rinse. Leave your hands a little damp, I found it helped prevent the mixture from sticking to my hands. Shape each half in to a rectangular bar. Wrap in parchment paper and store in the fridge until consumption.

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