Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let’s Bake!
We all do it, buying too many bananas or just not getting to eat them before they go “banana-bread-ready”.
I came home from my second work hardening shift at Amazon (only worked 6 am – 11 am) and was welcomed by 3 such bananas.  I searched online for a banana bread recipe, and then remembers that I ditched the loaf pan.  So, muffins it would be!
I adapted a recipe from The Plant Strong Vegan. I felt the original had too much sugar, and didn’t have chocolate chips or oats, which I consider a must in any sweet treat!
BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
Ingredients:
  • 3 very ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups Flour (can use for gluten-free flour)
  • ½ cup Organic Sugar, or coconut sugar
  • ½ cup Unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ Cup vegan Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ Cup Oats of your choice
Instructions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, mash-up your 3 ripe bananas with a fork, and add milk & vanilla.
  4. Fold the wet with the dry and mix well.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips and oats.
  6. Fill muffin cups with approx 1/4 Cup of batter.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the middle.
Not totally oil-free eating if you do this, but if you are so inclined:
Top with a dollop of peanut butter and some banana slices
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
If you make these, share your feedback in the comments! I’d love to hear how they came out, and if you made any additions/modifications to make them fit for you. (Like using Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of Cinnamon).
~ Nancy

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

It is 42°F outside, and we are taking it easy as we rest up between jobs.  This is exactly when I get the baking bug! David loves pumpkin pie, but I have not made a vegan version yet, and am up to the challenge today.

When we went grocery shopping the other day, we noticed the display of pumpkin pie making supplies – and then read the label on the pumpkin pie filling.  Since we weren’t going to be adding sweetened condensed milk and/or eggs to our diet anytime soon, we decided to just get a couple cans of pumpkin and see what we could do with them.

I searched Happy Herbivore for a pie crust recipe. Found one that is incredibly easy, which is a good thing since I have minimal experience making pie crust.  I was almost going to use the recipe for cornbread and make THAT the pie crust, but changed my mind.

Discovered that I don’t have a pie pan, so a rectangle pan is going to have to do.

I whipped up the crust recipe, then pressed it into the pan.

I was then in search of a no-oil, vegan pumpkin pie filling recipe.  I didn’t find one, so I improvised and married two different recipes together.

Here is what it looks like going into the oven:

Going Into The Oven
Going Into The Oven

And this is what it looked like coming out of the oven:

Baked Pie
Baked Pie

Here are the recipes:

CRUST:

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 whole banana, cold
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this)

Combine flour and banana (a slightly unripe, still greenish banana is best) in a food processor, pulsing until there are no whole banana pieces left.  Roll out on clean surface, or press into pan.

FILLING:

  • 2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened plain milk of your choice (I used soy)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds, mixed with 1/3 cup warm water (let sit for 15 minutes)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or sub mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Taste to adjust spices, as necessary. Pour filling into crust.  Bake at 350° for 60 minutes.  Out of the oven, let cool for 2 hrs or refrigerate until ready to serve.

David’s opinion: Two pieces are gone, so I think that means he likes it!

Happy Tasting,

Nancy

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s Fall, the leaves are turning, and I am succumbing to the Pumpkin Spice movement!
Here is a healthy recipe that I found online, and made even healthier by modifying it to be WFPBOF (whole food plant based oil free).  It’s how we roll.  When you make these, please let me know what you think in the comments section.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from recipe by Cookie and Kate
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  25 mins
Serves: 12-14 muffins
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 chia seed eggs (2 Tablespoons chia seeds in 2/3 cup water. Let sit for 15 min)
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce and maple syrup or honey. Add chia seed gel, and mix well. Mix in the pumpkin purée and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice or cloves.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. The don’t “grow” much while baking, so it is OK to fill towards the top. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.
  5. Bake muffins for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. These muffins come out cleanly when they are cooled, but will break up if you try to take them out too soon.
NOTES
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose blend works well instead of the whole wheat flour.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: These muffins keep well in the freezer. Store them in a freezer-safe bag and defrost individual muffins as needed.
CHANGE IT UP: You could really go crazy with add-ins here! Fold in chopped dried cranberries or crystallized ginger.  If you are not nut-adverse, try chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts.  And my friend Barry suggest trying peanut butter chips (but they are pretty hard to find in the vegan variety).
Enjoy! 
~ Nancy

Day 1228: 4 Days of Walmart Hopping

Since Sunday, April 19, we have been quick-tripping across the US from Oklahoma to Massachusetts. Tomorrow, we will arrive at David’s sister’s home in South Hadley, where we will attempt to park in her driveway (a first for us)!  This will give us a few days to visit with her, her husband Bob, and David’s parents, Betty and Harold.

This speedy way of travel can get old fast! It is not that it is particularly hard, it is just that we are not fond of sitting on our arses day in and day out.  We would much rather take the slow track, stopping and experiencing the areas that we are traveling through.  But, there are loved ones to visit with, and a job to get to in Maine, so we will just have to revisit the areas some other time.

It also is not the first time we have made this trek, so we know what to expect.  One aspect of this method of long, day-after-day trekking, is the luxury of parking for free at a Walmart.  Now, there are many people who take issue with Walmart, and I suppose we could also overnight park at a Cabela’s, or a Home Depot, or a Lowe’s, as these all allow for RV overnight parking. But Walmart works for us, as I am always able to run in and grab some fresh veggies, salsa, fruit, to get us to the next location.  These RV fridges are just not that big, and I appreciate the convenience of having a grocery store in my yard, so to speak.

We have had a mix of weather, as well.  We seemed to be running in front of it for the most part, but were greeted this morning with cold wind and rain in Pennsylvania, and never really got away from it until we were in Connecticut.  The snow was lovely, and we certainly found winter, but dang, it was (and is) cold.  The shorts are put away, and I can feel my tan fading fast!

Here is what our route has been:

Day 1225 – April 19: Route from OK to MO

We left Keystone Lake State Park outside of Tulsa, OK and drove to Missouri on our first day.  Our first night was supposed to be at the Walmart in Eureka, MO, but we discovered upon arrival that they did indeed, NOT allow overnight parking.  The fact that they were a mile from Six Flags St Louis should have been our first clue.  Luckily, we had a backup plan, and “landed” at the Ridge Point Walmart instead.  Probably should have checked Allstays before we arrived, instead of just looking at Google Map’s aerial view.  Live and learn.

High Ridge, MO[/caption]

 

Departure Time: 10:37 am
Drive Time: 7:41.54
Miles Driven: 405.2
Gallons Used: 35.4
Avg MPG: 11.4
Arrival Time: 7:12 pm (Central)

Day 1226 – April 20: Route from MO to OH
Spring was definitely starting to make an appearance, as seen in these flowering trees all along our route:

So Bright!
So Bright!

 

I know I spent the day with my laptop and phone, trying to figure out why my phone memory is showing that it is nearly full, while have most apps and photos and videos going to my sd card.  Additionally, I ran some of the KOA training videos so that we could get a taste of what is to come.  And, we topped it off with the episode of “Undercover Boss” that featured Jim Rogers (https://youtu.be/ONGRxuyPk38) – Now we can’t wait to get to work in May!

Departure Time: 10:15 am
Drive Time: 7:20.10
Miles Driven: 405.8
Gallons Used: 32.5
Avg MPG: 12.5
Arrival Time: 7:15 pm (Eastern)

Day 1227 – April 21: Route from OH to PA

Storm Hasn’t Caught Us Yet

 

The highlight of this day’s driving was Amazon Prime Music, specifically the Simon & Garfunkel channel.  We had a blast, as David tripped back to his days of corduroy bell bottoms and Crosby Stills Nash & Young “Deja Vu” 1970 glory. Yeah – I was 6. Don’t remember it.  Still, the music was good, and it was so much fun listening to David sing along.

Departure Time: 10:24 am
Drive Time: 6:13.26
Miles Driven: 340.6
Gallons Used: 28.1
Avg MPG: 12.1
Arrival Time: 5:44 pm

I was really itching to cook, and I was rather productive – dinner, milk and cookies!

Dinner was savory groats.  Here is my adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe:

Savory Oat Groats and Kale
1 small onion (1/2 cup), finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut into matchsticks, and rinsed well
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup oat groats
1 cup homemade vegetable stock
1 cup water
6 ounces Tuscan kale, stemmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
Freshly ground pepper
Crushed red-pepper flakes

Saute onion, leek, and garlic in water-lined stockpot. Cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in carrot and groats; cook 1 minute. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 25 minutes.
Stir kale into groats. Cover; cook until liquid is completely absorbed and groats are tender but still chewy, and kale is steamed, about 15 minutes more. Season with pepper and red-pepper flakes. Garnish with nutritional yeast.

I made soy milk for the second time with my Soyapower machine, and had the okara that I wanted to use (the okara is on the left):

Soy Milk and Okara

A quick Google search for recipes, and I found one that I could modify to meet our needs:

Okara-Oatmeal Cookies
In a bowl, thoroughly combine
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a second bowl, whisk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup okara
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/2 tsp. vanilla
until thoroughly emulsified.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until they are thoroughly incorporated. Drop by the Tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet (Silpat or parchment-lined).

Bake for 14-15 minutes at 350°F.

Road Trip Muchies!
Road Trip Muchies!

Day 1228 – April 22: Route from PA to CT

Woke up to this (yes, it was as cold as it looks):

Rain Rain Go Away

 

And warmed up with breakfast on the road:

Kale Yams Squash Beans Salsa Yum
Kale Yams Squash Beans Salsa Yum

 

We had snow for the first hour of our drive.  Our biggest concern was the solar water heating system, since we have not drained it, as we were not expecting freezing temperatures.  I know, what were we thinking? We kept the pump on, so that the water was circulating as we traveled.  It looks like it faired just fine.

The positive of the day: The Beast (truck) and The Tardis (RV) both got a nice little wash, since it rained the entire time we were on the road.  We got a break just long enough to go for a walk.

Departure Time: 11:00 am
Drive Time: 5:44.26
Miles Driven: 304.8
Gallons Used: 26.1
Avg MPG: 11.7
Arrival Time: 5:00 pm

After our walk around the rest area, we each set about doing our own thing. This means that David did some stretches (as well as he can with the slides in), and then started working on some paracord bracelets. I went to the kitchen to make a batch of veggie burgers using the rest of the okara that I had in the fridge.

This is my adaption of Veggie Burgers With Okara:

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
1/2 cup carrot, minced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup broccoli slaw, minced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups of okara
1/2 cup of flaxseed meal
1 cup of stale non-dairy bread crumbs (I used gluten-free bread crumbs found in the baking section of Walmart)

Mix minced vegetables in a large frying pan, and saute them over medium heat in a thin layer of water until tender. Add in spices and okara, mixing thoroughly. Slowly add in flaxseed meal and cook the mixture for another couple minutes until relatively firm. Remove mixture from heat and allow it to cool for a minute or two.

Preheat oven to 350 and form mixture into patties. Coat the outsides with bread crumbs, and place on a Silpat or parchment-lined sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully flip burgers and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm. This recipe makes about 6 burgers.

Where are the pictures, you ask? Ummm, we ate them faster than I anticipated, and missed the photo op! But, there will be a next time!

Sorry for such a long winded post, but had to get up to date! There are many posts sitting there waiting for me to finish, so be sure to sign up for the email updates, as the posts will be in date order, but behind this (and future) post!

I’m glad that we could have this chat,
Nancy

The last 4 days:

Drive Time: 27 hrs
Miles Driven: 1,456
Gallons Used: 122

 

Day 1142 – Hiking and Good Food

What a day!

I woke up with a great need to get moving, and we all wanted to explore the trails around us. After breakfast, David led Kathie and I on his favorite “loop” near the base of the Chocolate mountains.  It took us a little over two hours, but it was lovely.

The leaves are popping on the ocotillo
The leaves are popping on the ocotillo

The rains, of which we have now seen more of than in our previous years combined, are helping the desert floor start to bloom.  The spring flowers are going to be amazing!

Following the Trail
Following the Trail

After I saw this picture that Kathie took, I felt compelled to buy some hiking shorts.

Burros
Burros

We were treated to a couple of burro sightings.  This little guy was being guarded by Mom pretty tightly.

Beautiful Skies
Beautiful Skies

See, I told you it was a lovely day for a hike!

We returned just in time for lunch, and really enjoyed our salads.  It felt so good to get out after the rains and see how the desert is doing.  I will certainly take that walk again.

After lunch, we all went to do our own thing.  Kathie set up on a lawn chair and did some sketching.  David started stacking rocks around our campsite, as well as setting up our solar lights.  The area is rocky, as you can see, and he tried to level out the area around our door to eliminate tripping hazards.

Bill and Elyse, a lovely couple that we meet each year at the Hitchhiker gathering in Quartzsite, gifted us with about 10 pounds of fresh lemons from their neighbor in Mesa, AZ.  I decided to use some of these to try my hand at a vegan lemon pie.  And I am glad that I did.

I ended up having one of the most successful cooking days ever!  By the time the dust settled, I had made a lemon pie and a soup for dinner that was just out of this world.  The recipes are at the end of the blog today.

The lemon pie came out so yummy and tart, and the Grape-Nut crust was just what it needed.  I will certainly make it again.  I was caught a little short on the cornstarch, so I had to use 1 tablespoon of chickpea flower in its place.  And I went to almost 1 cup of lemon juice, since I wanted it to be extra lemony.

While that was chilling, I went looking for a soup.  I am so glad that I found this recipe for Curried Potato Soup with Corn and Red Pepper.  It was thick and creamy, and really filling as well as tasty.  The picture below is of Kathie’s bowl, which happened to have some white cheddar shavings on the top.

Yes, I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen, but I had some marvelous results to show for it.

Here are the recipes:

Dessert First!

Lemon Pie
Lemon Pie

Grape-Nuts Piecrust
1 – 1 1/4 Grape-nuts cereal, or enough to thinly cover the bottom of a pie plate
2 – 3 Tablespoons frozen apple-juice concentrate (it spoons out quite easily)

Preheat oven 350°
Pour Grape-nuts into a 9 inch pie plate, add apple-juice concentrate, and mix until the cereal is moist but not wet.
Press Grape-nuts up side of pie plate and bake for 10 minutes, until crust nicely browned, watching constantly.
Cool crust in freezer or refrigerator until ready to fill.

Lemon Pie Filling
Recipe adapted by: Susan Voisin (From Fat Free Vegan)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup fatfree soymilk
3/4 cup lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons (about 2 Tbsp.)

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. Stir in water and soymilk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and slowly add the lemon juice and grated rind. Pour into a fatfree pie crust. Chill.

8 servings: 195 calories per serving (without crust), 0 fat

*Non-Vegan version
*Non-Vegan version

Curried Potato Soup with Corn and Red Pepper

This is a hearty, healthy soup with the added warmth of curry spices.
SERVES 4
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
3 ears corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
4 cups Vegetable Stock , or low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 batch No-Cheese Sauce Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 green onions (white and green parts), sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
Place the onion and red pepper in a large saucepan and sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan . Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the potatoes, corn, vegetable stock, and curry powder and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the No-Cheese Sauce and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and serve garnished with the green onions and cilantro.

Sroufe, Del; Sroufe, Del (2012-08-14). Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year (Kindle Locations 2204-2219). The Experiment. Kindle Edition.

No-Cheese Sauce
This low-fat sauce makes great Mac and “Cheese” or Baked Ziti . Best of all, it only takes about 5 minutes to put together. It may seem as though this recipe will not work in a blender, but with a little patience it does. If your onions are strong, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes, or sauté them over medium heat for about 5 minutes before adding them to the blender.
MAKES ABOUT 2 ½ CUPS
1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons cashews, toasted , optional
1 tablespoon tahini, optional
1 cup nutritional yeast
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order given and puree until smooth and creamy, adding up to ½ cup of water if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.
VARIATIONS
Use an equal amount of roasted red bell peppers in place of the raw pepper.
Combine the prepared sauce with a jar of store-bought salsa or a recipe of Fresh Tomato Salsa, and use as a dip for vegetables.
Add ½ teaspoon of nutmeg with the salt.

Sroufe, Del; Sroufe, Del (2012-08-14). Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year (Kindle Locations 1020-1034). The Experiment. Kindle Edition.

We topped the day off with more Australian Open tennis, and then called it a very nice day at Imperial Dam LTVA.

I’m glad that we could have this chat,

Nancy