Pumpkin Spice Almond Treats

October is here and I am happy!  October is my favorite month because I love fall, halloween, and everything pumpkin spice flavored/scented. To celebrate the start of fall, yesterday I made raw vegan pumpkin spice almond treats. These almond treats have all the sweet flavors of fall and are full of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin E.  I made this and ate 2 for breakfast along with pumpkin spice banana nicecream (frozen bananas, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice flavors) but you can eat them as is for a snack or dessert.

Pumpkin Spice Almond Treatsimg_0907

Ingredients:

  • 10 pitted, medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground vanilla bean or vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • optional- you can also add 1 tbsp. pumpkin spice “butter” spread from Trader Joe’s (its vegan!) and adds a bit more sweetness

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until the mixture is sticky and moldable
  • Mold into balls, bars, or squares and enjoy or refrigerate. These treats taste best at room temperature, so when you’re ready to enjoy them, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes-1 hour before.

P.S.- to make the pumpkin spice nicecream, see my earlier post on “the best vegan breakfast” and combine frozen bananas and canned pumpkin puree in a food processsor. Add the spice mixture above (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger) and enjoy.

-Jess

 

My favorite breakfast/treat

Fall is almost here but I’m relishing these last days of summer.  This summer, my favorite breakfast/snack/dessert was banana ice cream.  At this point, if you follow any vegan instagram accounts, I’m sure you’ve heard of banana ice cream (also called “nice cream”.)  This delicious frozen treat is made by freezing a few bananas and then blending the frozen ‘nanas with a little liquid (almond milk, coconut water, water, etc.) in a food processor.

I’m obsessed with eating banana ice cream for breakfast and trying different variations.  I love how simple it is to whip up a bowl of nice cream and I love how healthy and filling it is.  The trick is to only use a few bananas (you don’t need to eat 10 bananas at a time contrary to what fad diets might say) and and 3/4-1 cup. of another frozen fruit (if you want more flavor than just banana).  For toppings, I like using a sprinkle of oats or granola, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, or a table spoon of peanut or almond butter.  You can also add protein powder into the food processor if you’re looking for a post-workout meal or snack.

I’m sharing the nice cream creation I made this morning below.  What is your favorite way to eat nice cream?   If you’re looking for some ideas on how to make this deliciously healthy meal, be sure to follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine for more nice cream recipes and daily food inspiration 🙂

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream

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Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen peeled bananas (I usually just break the bananas into 2-3 pieces each before freezing)
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (100% cocoa powder is usually vegan. I buy this at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain cereal
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. vegan chocolate chips (I buy these at Trader Joe’s)

Directions:

  • Blend frozen bananas, coconut water, and unsweetened cocoa powder together until creamy (about ~3 minutes).
  • Scoop out nice cream and transfer to a bowl.
  • Top with cereal, peanut butter, and chocolate chips
  • Enjoy and eat up, this can melt fast in warm weather!

-Jess

Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight Oats

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love overnight oats (check out my other overnight oats recipes here and here). I love overnight oats because prepping them the night before saves time in the morning, which means more sleep and therefore, more happiness. I also love eating overnight oats during the summer because I eat mine cold and its makes for the perfect summer breakfast. I decided to add peanut butter and jam to my oats a few days ago and I think I’m officially in love with this combo. To add some extra nutrition (fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals), I also added blueberries, strawberries and a few cherries. Here’s the how-to on creating a delicious PB and J oat-filled breakfast.

Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight OatsIMG_0156

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, use gluten free oats if you’re following a GF diet
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, add a little more liquid for less thick oats
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 4 cherries, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. of your favorite jam or preserves

To Prep (do this the night before you plan on eating the oats)

  • Measure all ingredients
  • In a bowl or mason jar, mix together oats, vanilla extract, almond milk, and stir in peanut butter
  • Add the layer of fruit
  • Refrigerate for about 8 hours or longer
  • Top with your favorite jam or preserves and enjoy (no need to heat)

I hope you love these oats as much as I do. If you love this recipe, follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine for more delicious food creations.

 

-Jess

Over the Moon for Overnight Oats

If you’re like me, you rarely have time to eat a complete meal in the morning, or if you do, it feels rushed. Enter the genius concept of overnight oats. No longer will you feel frazzled as you try to prepare something healthy in the early hours of the AM, because you’re going to do it the night before (muah-ha-ha…that’s my attempt at evil laughing). These oats are packed with fiber from the oats, fruit, and chia seeds, along with some plant-based protein, and healthy fats.

Overnight Oats with Fruit, Chia Seeds, and Almond Butter 

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2/3 cup soy milk or almond milk (or your favorite milk/nondairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp. uncooked chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup berries of your choice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a banana
  • (optional) sprinkle cinnamon

Directions *important- do this the day/night before you plan to eat this*

  • In a mason jar or bowl, add oats, then soy milk (or other milk), and chia seeds, stir. If the oats still seem dry, add a little more soy milk (or other milk)
  • Add fruit, and sprinkle cinnamon (if desired), stir mixture
  • Cover the mason jar or bowl
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least 10 hours (preferably 12)
  • The next morning, uncover your oat creation and add a tablespoon of your favorite almond or other nut butter
  • Enjoy!

This is a breakfast I’ve been eating lately and it makes my morning meal prep super easy because all I have to do is remove from the fridge and add a little AB (almond butter). The oats will be fluffy and ready to eat without microwaving, which makes this a great morning meal for the summer months (because who wants to eat a hot meal when its 90 degrees out. Not this girl!).  I look forward to sharing more of my healthy meal ideas as soon as my spring semester winds down!

-Jess

Mad About Muffins

Greetings readers! I’ve been busy with school, yoga teacher training, and a bunch of other stuff (like jewelry making…but I’ll discuss that a little later) hence why I haven’t posted much lately. One might think that being busy means that there’s no time to create healthy, delicious recipes, but cooking and baking is a priority for me. Not only because making healthy food is a necessity, but also because I’m a firm believer in doing activities that bring me joy, so even when I’m busy I try to make some time to play around in the kitchen. Tonight I made two really healthy muffin recipes that I’m sharing here. Both recipes are vegan, oil-free, and can be made gluten-free.

Blueberry Oat Muffinsphoto 1.PNG-2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat, spelt, or brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or more. Aim for thinner than cookie batter but thicker than pancake batter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Measure dry ingredients and add together in a large bowl
  • Measure and mix in wet ingredients
  • Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups, or use spray oil to prevent sticking of batter
  • Using a spoon, scoop batter into each cup and bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Banana Walnut Muffins

Indulging in a banana walnut muffin as I type this post!

Indulging in a banana walnut muffin as I type this post!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat, spelt, or gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or more, depending on the consistency. Aim for thinner than cookie batter but thicker than pancake batter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas, chopped up or pureed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Measure dry ingredients and add to a large bowl
  • Measure wet ingredients (I included bananas and walnuts in here, even though technically they’re “dry”. What can I say, I live my life by my own rules 😉 )
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Line a muffin tin or use muffin cups and transfer muffin batter to the tin/cups using a spoon
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

As I mentioned above, I’ve been making a lot of beaded jewelry as of late (I find doing crafts to be a great way to procrastinate and a pretty decent stress-reliever!), so if you love both delicious food pictures and are interested in buying some of my crafty creations, follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine

Simple Gluten-Free, Vegan Blueberry Muffins

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Greetings! It’s been over a week since I’ve last posted mainly because I’ve been busy and I couldn’t really think of anything blog-worthy to write about…until this morning when I was craving a muffin. Lately my breakfast has either been fresh fruit or a smoothie/juice, but I had a hankering and when a craving for a healthy baked-good beckons, I happily oblige. The recipe I’m sharing today is really simple and is sans gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and most importantly, it’s tasty! If you don’t have all the flours used, be creative and use a different flour. I have a few friends who are on a restricted diet (hence the lack of gluten, soy, dairy, etc.) but feel free to use whatever whole grain flours you like.
Ingredients (makes up to 12 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tin):

  • 1 cup almond meal (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • coconut water to make the mixture more liquid, if needed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups blueberries
  • brown sugar for topping

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, measure and combine flours, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients, and add apple sauce, vanilla, and sprinkle cinnamon
  • Determine if more liquid is needed. I like my muffin batter to be a little thinner than cookie dough batter, but not liquid like a pancake batter. If needed, add some coconut water by the spoon-full
  • Add the blueberries and mix gently
  • Using an ice-cream scoop or a large spoon, spoon the batter into greased muffin tins, or paper-foils.
  • Top each muffin with a little brown sugar
  • Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

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Remember, sharing is caring, so share your baked goods with friends or family! 🙂

-Jess

Oat-rageous Oatmeal Ideas

Left: Oats with apples and almond butter. Right: Oats with Heritage Flakes (dry cereal) and a peach

Left: Oats with apples and almond butter. Right: Oats with Heritage Flakes (dry cereal) and a peach

Have you grown tired of eating your oatmeal with brown sugar? Well, prepare to be amazed with some delicious oatmeal ideas.

Before I get to that, let’s discuss how healthy oats actually are! Oatmeal has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), decrease overall inflammation in the body, decrease blood pressure, and keep you full for a long time. When choosing an oatmeal variety, stick to the old-fashioned kind and not the instant one-minute kind and try to stay away from any with added sugars or fake dried fruit in the ingredients.

Here are some delicious, nutritious oatmeal ideas for your eating pleasure:

  • Cook oatmeal according to the directions on the box. Then chop an apple and add to the bowl. Top with 1-2 tbsp. of peanut butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. You can also slice a banana in addition or in place of an apple.

    mmm Oatmeal, Apples, & Peanut butter!

    mmm Oatmeal, Apples, & Peanut butter!

  • Prepare the oats, and blend berries in a blender. Mix the berries in with the oats and not only do you get a huge amount of nutrients in that bowl, you also get a beautifully colored masterpiece. Top with other fruit, such as an orange and coconut flakes for a nice finish. To add some healthy fats, you can also add almond butter or mixed nuts.photo-13
  • Cook oats, and add in canned pumpkin and top with raisins and cinnamon.
  • Use oats in a savory dish by replacing them in any recipe that calls for rice, quinoa, barley, or any other grain. Oats have a mild flavor, and when seasoned correctly can be done right in savory dishes.
  • Add a fiber-full  dry cereal to your oats, if you want some extra fiber!
  • Add oats to your favorite cookie or muffin recipe for some fiber. You may have to increase the amount of oil or liquid ingredients, but unlike flour, oats will not immediately soak up the liquid ingredients so play around with the recipe you’re using.

    Oats in a muffin makes this a healthy fibrous breakfast

    Oats in a muffin makes this a healthy fibrous breakfast

  • Eat oats for dessert! Cook oats, and then add 1 tbsp. of cocoa powder (I like 100% cacao, unsweetened). Add a tbsp. of brown sugar, some cinnamon, almond or peanut butter, and your favorite fruit.photo 5

 

Those are my favorite ways to use oats. What are some of your favorites? Feel free to post a comment if you’d like to share, and don’t forget to visit and like my new Facebook page for Vitamin Valentine for additional daily nutrition, motivation, and health news and updates.

 

-Jess

Breaking Out of the Skipping-Breakfast Habit

How many people have time to eat breakfast in the morning? Mornings can be a hectic time for most, and hunger often goes unnoticed until later in the day. Unfortunately, hunger only builds and skipping breakfast can lead to excessive consumption of calories at lunch, snack times, and dinner (oh, and at “fourthmeal”, thank you Taco Bell for coining that term).

Eating breakfast is a simple favor you can do for yourself that can benefit you in the long run. Perhaps you’re not in the habit of eating breakfast because you just don’t have an appetite upon waking up? One solution is to wake up 10-15 minutes earlier and go through your normal morning routine of getting ready for work, school, etc. When you’re done, you may actually have small twinges of hunger that you didn’t notice before, if not, something like a smoothie or juice may be appropriate so that you’re not uncomfortably full. Allowing yourself that extra 10-15 minutes at the end of your normal morning routine enables you to prepare something to eat without feeling rushed for time.

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A whole-grain pumpkin spice muffin (recipe to come soon!) and a green smoothie (recipe suggestion listed below). These foods make a healthy breakfast and provide energy throughout the morning.

Listed below are some other recipes and suggestions for a quick, easy, healthy first meal of the day!

  • When picking a cereal, look for whole grains. Avoid sugary, processed cereals that will cause you to crash mid-morning. Some of my favorite cereals are by the company Nature’s Path, which uses organic ingredients and can be found in health food stores (and in the health food aisle of conventional supermarkets).
  • Find yourself a blender and hop on the green-smoothie train. Use 1 banana (fresh or frozen), 1-2 cups baby spinach, kale, or other green, leafy vegetable.  Add a liquid component. You can use almond milk, soymilk, etc. You may want to add frozen or fresh berries for a fruity sweetness. Blend well!
  • Oatmeal is a great way to start your day. Cook old-fashioned oats in the microwave for 3 minutes (keep an eye on the bowl though, as sometimes it can overflow). You can add nuts, fresh or dried fruit, peanut or almond butter, or coconut flakes with banana and mango for a tropical treat!
  • Soy yogurt  with granola and berries is also a flavorful way to get in some healthy goodness in the A.M. Look for granola with at least 3 grams of fiber and watch out for added sugars. Bear Naked brand makes an excellent granola, and if you’re watching your calories, try to halve the portion size and increase the amount of berries in this breakfast
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Whole grain cereal (here I used brown rice crisps with added raisins (adds a few grams of fiber) and half a banana with Trader Joe’s dairy free coconut yogurt. Quick and easy!

There are many other ways to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Keep reading my blog and I’ll post some muffin recipes that are surprisingly nutritious while sinfully delicious.