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

Last Minute Banana Chocolate Chip Brownies

Happy 4th of July! I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today but I whipped up these amazing brownies to bring to a barbecue and I had to share. If you’re looking for an easy, quick dessert to bring to a gathering, try these delectable bites of bliss. This recipe requires having a few very ripe bananas (like the stage before they turn brown) on hand. If you don’t have bananas, try an equal amount of apple sauce or dairy-free yogurt.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I always use whole grain flour for extra fiber in my baked goods, but if you don’t have it, all-purpose flour will also work)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use trader joe’s brand)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil or almond oil (or you can use vegetable or canola oil if you have those instead)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips (I use trader joe’s dark chocolate chips which happen to be vegan)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, measure and mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder)
  • In another bowl, measure and mix wet ingredients (maple syrup/agave, mashed bananas, almond/soy milk, vanilla extract, oil).
  • Mix the wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  • Spray a 9×12 baking pan with non-stick spray, pour batter into the pan, and bake for 30 minutes
  • Allow to cool and then cut and share with family and friends!

 

Enjoy these chocolatey treats and have a great 4th of July!

-Jess

Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie

Greetings! I haven’t written any recipes in over a month but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I tend to write less when I’m busy with school. In addition to being a full-time grad student, I also started a new job in september as a nutritionist! All of my work seems to be paying off and it’s a great feeling. I’m a big believer in occasionally celebrating achievements with healthy baked goods. I’m also a big fan of local produce. Combine these two you get my latest recipe: Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie. I’m calling this recipe “healthy-ish” because pie isn’t the healthiest food in general, but I did make a healthier version of pie by using whole wheat flour and less (vegan) butter than found in some recipes.

Healthy-ish Oat Pear PieIMG_7578

Ingredients

Pie shell:

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 sticks of  3/4 cup Earth Balance spread (melted)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp. nondairy milk

Filling:

  • 4-5 medium sized, locally grown (if available) bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • 1 tbsp. lemon
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions

For the pie shell:

  • Measure and mix dry ingredients. Melt the butter and add into the dry ingredients, mix well. Add the nondairy or regular milk along with the cold water into the mixture, slowly. If the mixture becomes too moist, add a little more flour by the tablespoon. Set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. After time has elapsed, spray a round pie pan/tin with nonstick spray. You can either roll out the dough using a rolling pin coated in flour so that the dough can easily be placed and spread into the pie pan OR you can use your hands to transfer the dough to the pan and mush it into the pan so that it is completely covered on all sides (I used the second method). Add any extra dough to the upper sides of the pan to create a thicker crust.

For the filling:

  • Peel, core, and cut the pears. Pears should be cut into small pieces, but not diced. Place the pears in a large bowl, and add the maple syrup, honey, sugar, lemon juice, and stir in the cornstarch so that it dissolves into the liquid. Mix well. Add the cinnamon and mix. Transfer the filling into the pie crust that lines the pie pan.

For the topping:

  • Sprinkle oats and brown sugar on top of the filling.

Preheat the oven at 375°F. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the edges of the crust are browned and a knife can be inserted cleanly into the center of the crust. Remove from the oven after baking and allow to cool before cutting. Serve with ice cream, soy ice cream, sorbet, or hot cider. As always, enjoy!

-Jess

Double-Chocolate Brownies Fit For A Dad

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I’ve decided to make this post short and sweet because it’s beautiful outside and I want to spend as much time with my family as possible today. If you haven’t noticed, my go-to gift strategy for loved ones is baking something delicious, so this morning I woke up early and made a new brownie recipe. If you haven’t yet gotten your dad a gift, consider whipping something up in the kitchen. Baked goods from the heart are always sure to please!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup. soy milk + 1/2 cup raisins (mix together in a food processor to make a thick liquid)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder).
  • Combine 1/4 cup soy milk and 1/2 cup raisins in a food processor to make a thick liquid
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add apple sauce, soy milk, melted coconut oil, and soy milk-raisin mixture
  • Stir, and then add in chocolate chips
  • Grease a brownie pan/tin and heat at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  • Allow to cool, then cut and serve

 

Have a great, chocolate-filled Father’s Day, and Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, who always encourages me to work hard and follow my dreams!

-Jess

Would You Follow a Raw Food Diet?

If you follow food and diet trends, you’ve probably noticed that the raw food craze began a while ago with adherents swearing by its weight loss and healing properties. I first became intrigued of raw foodism several years ago when I was a strict vegan, but I couldn’t commit to it for an extended period of time. Now, I find myself cooking (or un-cooking) more raw food dishes, but I’m still not a raw vegan for the record. The raw food diet promises many things, but is it all too good to be true? Not necessarily. First, let’s discuss the “rules” one must follow on this diet.

Rules of the Raw Food Diet

If you’re following a 100% raw food diet, nothing on your plate can be cooked above 140°F. Grains are typically not included in this diet, unless they’re raw (under 140°F). Dairy and meat are not usually included because of the risk of pathogenic bacteria that spreads at low temperatures. Most of your meals will come from your own preparation because most restaurants, delis, and other eateries don’t have too many raw options. The diet is mainly fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, extra virgin oils, and sprouted raw grains and legumes.

Health Benefits

Because it is so high in fruits and vegetables, the raw food diet has many benefits. To start, you’re going to get more vitamins and minerals at a lower calorie intake than if you obtain your calories from processed, enriched/fortified foods (processed foods, such as cereal and bread, which have vitamins and minerals added to them). The high water content of fresh fruits and vegetables may lead to a lower calorie intake because of how filling these foods tend to be. Less processing of food typically means that use of oils will be limited because cooking is kept to a minimum. Fiber intake tends to be very high on this diet, which is also a major benefit, as most Americans do not meet their daily fiber requirement.

Anecdotally, many people who follow the raw food diet not only mention the above, but also claim to be healed of various health issues. Research has yet to prove anything substantial, but the high phytonutrient content of fruits and vegetables, along with fiber, has been proven to lower the risk of several cancers and heart disease.

Pitfalls of the Raw Food Diet

Convenience may be an issue on this diet, as going out to a restaurant and trying to find something other than a salad may be an issue (but if salads are your thing, go ahead!). Many raw food dishes require specialty kitchen items such as a vegetable spiralizer (to make raw vegetable “noodles”), a dehydrator (which cooks food to a temperature lower than 105°F, a food processor (to make gourmet raw meals), and a juicer or blender. Adequate protein may be difficult to achieve on this diet without some planning. As mentioned in previous posts, most people need just under 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (to find your weight in kg, divide pounds by 2.2). Calcium and Vitamin D intake may also be low, so if that’s a concern for you (especially if you’re a woman) and you want to try the raw food diet, you may want to add a Calcium and Vitamin D supplement.

My View of the Raw Food Diet

I think this diet has many benefits, but also falls short in several nutrients. The “science” behind this diet is also faulty, as some claim that cooking destroys essential enzymes in food that the body needs. The reality is our digestive system produces the enzymes which break down our food. Any enzymes present in raw foods are destroyed in the acidic environment of our stomach, before absorption of nutrients even occurs.

Still, with so many people claiming that raw food has changed their lives, I can’t be too hard on this one. If you can envision yourself living as a raw foodist for a while, then I say, go for it, or if you just want to try it, be my guest. I’m slightly biased on this one because of my past as a strict vegan, and I admit I tried this diet for a month in 2008, but didn’t really feel any different, however I’m still intrigued. As a result, I made some (mostly) raw vegan treats this weekend and I’m sharing the recipes below! I used a dehydrator (that I purchased in 2008—yep, I went all out during my raw food trial) but if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can either omit the cooking part and eat these as is, or freeze for a frozen treat.

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The goodies in my dehydrator!

The goodies in my dehydrator!

(Mostly) Raw Vegan Almond-Brownie Bites

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw almond meal (you can find this at Trader Joe’s or usually at your local health food store)
  • 2 dates (pitted), pulverized in a food processor with ¼ cup or less of water (you want a paste-like consistency)
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce or, peel and cut an apple, pulverize in a food processor until paste-like (the latter is the more authentically “raw” option)
  • 1 oz (or about 20) almonds, cut or crushed
  • 2 tbsp. chocolate chips

Directions

  • Process dates and water in a food processor
  • Measure almond meal, cocoa powder, and almonds and add to a bowl
  • Add dates, vanilla extract, applesauce, and chocolate chips, and mix together to the dry ingredients.
  • The mixture should be like a thick cookie dough. If the ratios are off, you can add additional almond meal by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Form into balls using a tablespoon and place on a dehydrator sheet. If not available, enjoy as is, or place in the freezer for 20-60 minutes.
  • Dehydrate for 2 hours and then let dry overnight.

Raw Vegan Almond Raisin Bites

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup raw almond meal
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or make your own apple-paste using the method listed above in the previous recipe)
  • 2 dates, pitted, and pulverized with some water in a food processor (you want a paste-like consistency)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp. raw almond butter (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)

Directions

  • Process the dates and water in a food processor
  • Measure almond meal and put in a bowl
  • Add applesauce, dates, vanilla extract, and almond butter to the almond meal.
  • Add raisins and mix until a thick cookie dough consistency is reached. If the mixture is too thin, add additional almond meal by the tablespoon. If too thick, add a little applesauce.
  • Form into balls using a tablespoon and place on a dehydrator sheet. Again, if unavailable, enjoy as is, or place in the freezer for 20-60 minutes.
  • Dehydrate for 2 hours and then let dry overnight.

Enjoy!

-Jess

Healthy Gluten-Free, Vegan Microwave Brownies

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Microwave brownies are an easy way to treat yourself and a great way to exercise portion control. I know when I make brownies in the oven, I’m tempted to eat more than I even want just because I have a surplus of freshly baked goods. If you’re like me, having a single-serving of dessert is an easy remedy for this problem. Not only will the following recipe satisfy your chocolate craving, it also provides some healthy nutrition. Using almond meal is a great alternative to wheat flour or rice flour, the latter tends to be low in fiber and high in carbohydrates. Almond meal is a great source of vitamin E and contains fiber and healthy fats. Using 100% cocoa powder along with dark chocolate chips is a delicious way get some flavonoids that may help you decrease cholesterol and blood pressure over time. Instead of using sugar or honey, using whole dates (just remember to remove the pit before grinding) provides a little fiber (which will slow down digestion and won’t lead to high and then low blood sugar). I chose not to use eggs in this recipe because it tasted fine without them, but if you’re not a vegan and you want a thicker, more solid/cake-like brownie, feel free to add an egg white and microwave as described below.

Here’s my latest healthy, gluten-free, vegan microwave brownie recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (you want enough apple sauce to allow the almond meal to not be in flour-y chunks)
  • 1 tbsp. 100% cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 medjool dates, remove pit (use a food processor + 2 tbsp. of water to turn this into a very thick liquid, or grind with a hand tool– you just want a paste-like consistency)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter

Directions:

  • Mix almond meal, cocoa powder, applesauce, vanilla extract, and ground dates together in a microwave safe bowl
  • Microwave for 2 minutes and check to see if the mixture has thickened or stiffened. This recipe won’t get too stiff, but it’s more of a soft-fudgy consistency.
  • If not yet thick and if the mixture is still liquid-y, microwave for 45 second increments until it has thickened
  • Wait for the mixture to cool for a few minutes (2-5 minutes)
  • Top with chocolate chips, almond butter and sprinkle with cinnamon

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Enjoy!

-Jess

A Very Happy Valentine’s Day, the Vitamin Valentine Way!

If you were wondering about the name of this blog, my last name is Valentine, so I’m obligated to love Valentine’s Day. In my experience, the best way to show someone you care is to make them something special (this is also a great way to save money). I made two delicious, easy, vegan fudge recipes that are super-rich and flavorful.

Dark Chocolate Banana Fudge

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1/2 cup coconut butter (to soften, you can heat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, you don’t want it melted)

1 ripe banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbsp. maple syrup

3 tbsp. cacoa powder (I used 100% cacao, unsweetened)

Blend ingredients using an electric mixer until everything is homogenized and there’s no huge particles of any one ingredient. Refrigerate over night, or freeze for 15-30 minutes and cut into the desired shape. Feel free to cut into heart-shapes for this holiday.

Peanut Butter Coconut Fudge

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1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but if you like chunky or natural style, or whatever else, feel free to substitute. Almond butter might also work in this recipe)

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 ripe banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

dash of salt

1 and 1/2 cups coconut flakes

In a glass dish/bowl, spread a thin layer of coconut flakes so that the bottom of the dish is covered. Don’t use the entire 1.5 cups. Set aside.

Combine all the other ingredients (minus the coconut flakes in the dish and the remaining coconut flakes set aside) and blend well until everything is mixed. Spread the mixture on top of the layer of coconut flakes. Then, use the remaining coconut and top the mixture creating a layer of coconut on top of the fudge. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 15-30 minutes. Cut into desired shape & enjoy.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

xo,

-Jess