June 27, 2013

Maple Strawberry Shortcakes with Coconut-Maple Whipped Cream

As my Canadian readers know, this weekend is a holiday weekend with Canada Day falling on the Monday.  For many of us, that means a fun weekend full of BBQs, camping, fireworks, the beach, and spending time with friends and family.  I'm not sure how many of those things I'll get to squeeze in, but I'm looking forward to a relaxing long weekend!

And to celebrate the holiday on my blog, I wanted to share some kind of treat that would work either as a Canada Day recipe or just as a regular treat (since I know most of my readers are not Canadian).

Strawberry shortcake isn't necessarily known as being a "Canadian" dessert, but it's something I grew up with and have always loved. To me, it's a symbol of both Canadian summers and the local strawberry picking season - both of which have always seemed far too short!

Every time we came home with a basket of freshly picked strawberries, my sisters and I would request strawberry shortcake for dessert - a pillow of buttery, flaky biscuit topped with sliced strawberries and lots of whipped cream. I remember savouring every bite as we sat outside enjoying the warm weather, and trying to coordinate each of my bites so that I wouldn't run out of strawberries too quickly!

Now that I'm a bit older, I still love the traditional strawberry shortcake that I grew up with, but I wanted to create a new version using all vegan ingredients, since I prefer baking without dairy.

I also wanted to play up the Canadian theme, so I incorporated maple syrup - one of the well-known culinary symbols of Canada - into every component: the shortcakes, the strawberries, and the whipped cream!

The shortcakes, based off a recipe from The Healthy Everythingtarian, are made with coconut oil and soy milk instead of butter and cream, and I added a bit of maple extract for extra flavour.

Next was the strawberries - rather than just slicing them up, I wanted to make them a bit more special by roasting them in the oven with maple syrup and vanilla to get an even more concentrated flavour and make them nice and soft and juicy.

Finally, I made a fresh batch of coconut milk whipped cream (see posts from other blogs here and here if you're not familiar with this idea).  Instead of flavouring it with powdered sugar and vanilla like I usually would, I used maple syrup as the sweetener, along with a splash of maple extract.

Eating the maple shortcakes together with the roasted strawberries and maple whipped cream brought back memories of all the summers past when I would enjoy my strawberry shortcake desserts, but with new tweaks and flavours that made this version memorable in its own way.

I couldn't wait to dig in as soon as I finished taking photos of it, and I loved everything so much that I immediately went back for a second serving, telling myself it's acceptable to eat two helpings for breakfast!

I was impressed with the texture of the shortcakes - they were soft yet crumbly, and I loved the sweetness of the maple to make them more of a treat than plain biscuits. The maple flavour was subtle throughout but still noticeable, and I loved the way the roasted strawberries just melted into the shortcake and the whipped cream.

I think this would make a great addition to a Canada Day meal for those of you who are celebrating the holiday this weekend, or just a great finish to a summertime meal any day!

Maple Strawberry Shortcakes with Coconut-Maple Whipped Cream
Shortcakes adapted from The Healthy Everythingtarian; everything else my own

Roasted Strawberries
2 cups halved strawberries (slice berries in half, then measure)
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp organic cane sugar
3 tbsp solid coconut oil
1/2 tsp maple extract

Whipped Cream
1 can coconut milk, chilled in the fridge for at least 1 day
2-3 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Toss the halved strawberries with the maple syrup and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a small baking dish and roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the berries are softened (but still hold their shape). Remove from oven and set aside. Keep the oven turned on.

While strawberries are roasting, prepare the shortcakes. First, mix the milk and lemon juice together and set aside for at least 5 minutes. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the coconut oil and use a fork or pastry cutter to cut it into the dry mixture, until it becomes dense, moist crumbs. Add the milk mixture and maple extract and stir just until the wet ingredients are incorporated. 

Use a 1/4 cup measure to divide batter into four equal biscuits.  Drop biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, patting the dough into round shapes. (Tip: If your kitchen is warm, you might want to stick the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking to help the biscuits keep their shape and prevent them from spreading too much in the oven). Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are lightly browned and a bit firm on top. Let cool on a wire rack.

While shortcakes are baking, prepare the whipped cream: Open the chilled can of coconut milk and scoop out the thickened cream portion on top into a bowl (leave the water in the can behind - you can drink it or discard it). Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip the cream until it becomes thick. Add the maple syrup one teaspoon at a time, beating it in after each addition, until you reach your desired sweetness level. Add the maple extract and beat again, until you have semi-stiff peaks (mine didn’t get quite as firm as regular whipped cream, but it will thicken up more in the fridge).

To serve, place a warm biscuit on a plate (you can slice it in half horizontally if you want). Top with one-quarter of the roasted strawberries and a generous helping of whipped cream. Repeat with remaining biscuits.

Makes 4 servings, plus extra whipped cream*.

*Note: the leftover whipped cream goes really well as a dip for fresh strawberries on their own too!

June 24, 2013

Thumbprint Energy Cookies with Apple Butter

One question I get asked the most as a blogger is where I get the inspiration for my recipes. My answer is never a simple one, as my inspiration comes from many different sources: the farmer's market, the seasons, cookbooks, and other blogs.

With these cookies though, my inspiration was super specific, since I wanted to try to recreate an energy explosion cookie that I had tried recently.  I'm not sure if they're only a local treat, but I've seen them around town at organic stores and bakeries, sold as a healthier treat option.

The version that I tried was gluten-free, made with brown rice rice flour, ground almonds, sesame seeds, and a bit of maple syrup and cinnamon for flavour. What I liked the most about them was the rich, velvety apple butter filling in the centre, which made these different from the usual thumbprint cookies that are filled with jam.

It took me a few tries to get my cookies right (which is why they look slightly different in these photos!), going from dry and overbaked to too soft and muffin-like with no flavour. While the final version is still not exactly like the original, I'm happy with my homemade knock-off!

My cookies are made with whole grain spelt flour, with a mixture of sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and coconut for texture. I added a bit of almond butter and pure maple syrup for flavour, and a generous spoonful of apple butter in the middle.

I liked that the cookies themselves aren't too sweet, since the apple butter adds plenty of natural sweetness in each bite. These are more of a soft cakey cookie, with lots of texture from the seeds and coconut. And the best part is that all of the ingredients are healthy, especially the hemp seeds which are full of protein, fibre and vitamins, so you can feel good about eating these as a nutritious snack!

Thumbprint Energy Cookies with Apple Butter
Inspired by these "Energy Explosion" Cookies and Kitchen Grrrls' Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds* 
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
~2-4 tbsp organic apple butter (I got mine from Bulk Barn)

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

Whisk the dry ingredients (flour to sesame seeds) together in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (maple syrup to coconut oil). Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Place dough in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up.

Roll dough into equal sized balls (I got eight balls) and set them on the prepared baking sheet. Press down in the centre of each ball using a 1/2 tsp measure or your thumb to flatten the cookie and make an indentation. Fill each indentation with a heaping 1/2 tsp of apple butter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 11-13 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. I like to add a bit more apple butter to the centres once they come out of the oven because the filling will have reduced a bit in the oven. Let cool on a wire rack.

Makes 8 large cookies.

*Note: hemp seeds can have a slightly bitter taste, so if you've never used them before or you don't like the taste, you can just leave them out of the recipe (I didn't notice any bitterness, but my sister did when she tried one of the cookies). 

June 19, 2013

Tofu Sunshine Burgers

I hear a lot in the blogosphere about the quest for "the perfect veggie burger". It seems like standards are much higher for veggie burgers than regular beef or turkey burgers - they have to have the perfect texture (firm with a bit of crunch to them), hold together well, and have lots of flavour.

I guess I would have to say that while I've made lots of different kinds of veggie burgers, I'm still on my quest for one that meets those high standards! Usually my veggie burgers get good marks on flavour, but they barely pass on the texture and holding together well tests. Somehow I always seem to end up with burgers that taste good but are a bit on the mushy side and crumble easily.

Luckily, I've figured out a couple of tricks to improve on those two veggie burger flaws, and my latest attempt - these tofu sunshine burgers - have both great texture and hold together really well!

For the texture issue, I've discovered that brown rice makes a great addition to veggie burgers to add bits of chewiness throughout.  The first time I tried using brown rice in a patty was when I made The Vegan Chickpea's Sunshine Burgers.  I loved how crunchy they were from the rice and sunflower seeds, so I used her recipe as a guide for these burgers.

I combined that recipe with one from Canadian Living for carrot, tahini and tofu burgers. A lot of veggie burgers use an egg to bind the ingredients, but in this vegan recipe, the thick tahini and blended tofu help to act as glue to hold everything together, making for a firm burger that's more similar to a storebought patty than the crumbly, mushy homemade ones that I'm used to.

And last but not least, these veggie burgers also have lots of flavour! The spices really come through, especially the curry powder, and the parsley, garlic and tahini add a Mediterranean flair. These work well on a bun or in a pita with lettuce and a creamy spread like hummus, tzatziki, or a tahini-yogurt sauce (which is what I made for mine, shown in the photos).

And if you want even more veggie burger inspiration, Courtney from The Fig Tree recently did a round-up of 25 veggie burger recipes, so you can find some more ideas on her list!  I've already tried out one of the methods of wrapping the burger in lettuce leaves instead of using a bun with my leftovers of these burgers - a fresh and tasty way to eat them!

Tofu Sunshine Burgers
Adapted from Canadian Living and The Vegan Chickpea

1/4 cup dry brown rice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 tsp cumin
Dash of cayenne
175g firm tofu (Soyganic sells a package this size, or just use half of a regular sized package)
1.5 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp packed chopped parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Ground pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the carrot, cumin, and cayenne and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain the tofu and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add tahini, parsley, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry powder (if using). Process just until everything is mixed together. Add the carrot mixture and sunflower seeds and process again briefly. Add the cooked rice and pulse a few times until the rice is mixed in.

Form mixture into five equal patties, pressing down so that they are evenly flat. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until lightly browned and firm on the outside.

Serve warm, with buns, pitas, or lettuce wraps and desired toppings (e.g. hummus, tzatziki, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sprouts).

Makes 5 patties.

June 14, 2013

Five Ways to Use a Spiralizer

If you missed last week's posts, I finally shared a couple of recipes that used my new spiralizer. I hope you're not sick of hearing me talk about spiralizers yet, because I'm dedicating a whole post to them today!

Since I know there a lot of people who either own a spiralizer already but may not know what to do with it, or people who are considering buying one but aren't sure if it would be worth it, I thought it might be helpful to do another post featuring some ideas for creations that you can only make with a spiralizer.

First things first, if you've never heard of a spiralizer, it's a kitchen tool that uses different blade settings along with a pronged handle to crank fruits and veggies into curly, ribbon-like strands.  I own the Paderno World Cuisine model, which is made of plastic so it's nice and light, and is really easy to use. The only downside is that it can be a bit difficult to clean and the plastic can stain easily, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons in my opinion!

I've had a lot of fun trying out different veggies with my spiralizer to see which ones work best, and coming up with creative and fun meals to eat. This probably sounds lame, but I can't describe how exciting it is to see a zucchini or a potato emerge from the spiralizer as something totally different than how it went in! If you like to have fun with food, then this tool helps you do that!

But enough talk, let's see it in action! Here you can see two different vegetables being turned into "noodles" - a zucchini on the left (using the thinnest blade), and a potato on the right (with the medium blade):

And here's a short list of five ideas that I've tried out so far:

Easiest & Most Spaghetti-Like: Zucchini Noodles

This is probably the most common use for a spiralizer. As long as you start with a fairly straight zucchini, it easily cranks through the machine and turns into long, thin strands that really do resemble spaghetti!

One of the reasons why zucchini noodles are becoming so popular is that it's so easy to pair them with different fresh sauces and other veggies to make a healthy, low-carb meal. The version that I made above is this recipe for mango and mint marinated zucchini noodles from Green Kitchen Stories. I loved the fresh mango and mint flavours, and the zucchini noodles soaked up the dressing nicely.

Another easy idea is to make a fresh tomato sauce for the zucchini, like this recipe from Janet of the taste space. You could also go with an Asian sauce like Thai peanut sauce, or blend up an avocado with lemon and herbs. There are so many options and I plan to try out as many of them as I can!

Prettiest: Cucumber and Radish Ribbons

These cucumber and radish ribbons are probably the prettiest looking "noodles" that I've made with my spiralizer. I used the larger blade setting to get wide noodles and tossed them in a simple creamy yogurt dressing with lots of fresh dill.

This would make a nice light summer side dish, and I'm sure you would get lots of compliments if you brought it to a BBQ or potluck!

Tastiest Salad Additions: Beet and Apple Spirals

Beets were one ingredient that I couldn't wait to try out with my spiralizer. I love adding raw shredded beets to salads, and with this method you get beautiful long, curly strands of beet instead of short shreds. I also used the medium sized blade to slice up an apple, and it was the perfect salad pairing to go with the beet noodles.

Shown above is the salad I made with both the apple and beet, along with some grated carrot (which I tried to put in the spiralizer but it didn't work because it wasn't wide enough), some dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and a bit of dressing. It wasn't the prettiest looking salad, but it sure tasted good with the natural sweetness of the apples and beets.

Most Unusual: Sweet Potato Noodles

It makes sense to eat apples and beets raw, but raw sweet potato is a bit more unusual! I gave it a try anyway and surprisingly, the sweet potato did turn into nice soft noodles that I could eat raw, or you could also cook them in a skillet first if you want.

For the version shown above, I made a miso-ginger dressing and added some tomatoes because that happened to be the only other vegetable in my fridge at the time. It was an odd pairing that didn't exactly work, but at least I liked the noodles! Next time I would try them with something a bit creamier like a tahini or nut butter based sauce, and add some other veggies like broccoli or red pepper.

Most Fun to Eat: Baked Curly Fries

It occurred to me recently that spiralizers aren't only good for making raw vegetable dishes - you can still cook the noodles afterwards. Naturally, a potato seemed like the best ingredient to try this with, and it actually worked really well!

When my sister recently brought up how much she used to like eating curly fries, I thought, hey - why not trying making them myself with my spiralizer?  My first attempt (shown in the top right corner) didn't work out so well - I ended up with a few good curly strands and a much bigger pile of unusable shreds, but that was probably because I used a japanese sweet potato and a purple sweet potato, which were a bit harder in texture.

So I tried again using a regular peeled white potato, and it came out in beautiful curly strands this time! I ended up with a mixture of tight corkscrews, medium sized curls, and large loose curls, and they were all super long - I measured the longest piece and it was over 13 feet long!  Here's a shot of what they looked like before baking:

Once they were all cut, I just tossed them in a bit of olive oil and some spices and baked them at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Some of the fries got nice and crisp in the oven, and the thicker strands were more soft, which was always my favourite type of fries! I definitely had a lot of fun bouncing each of my curly fries like slinkies before eating them :)

Bonus Idea: Raw Nachos

I know this post is titled only Five Ways to Use a Spiralizer, but I had to squeeze in my recipes from last week too! I've discovered that my spiralizer is the perfect tool for making super thin slices of raw fruits and veggies to use as nachos with any toppings you like! 

So far I've tried this method with apples to make these apple nachos with peanut butter sauce, pecans and coconut, and with jicama to make these raw jicama nachos with tropical fruit salsa, taco nut crumbles and lime-cilantro sauce. Both snacks were super tasty, fun to eat and healthy too! 

Note: The opinions in this post are all my own. I have no affiliation with any companies that sell spiralizers nor did I receive any kind of sponsorship for this post. I simply wanted to share my experience and recommend a product that I enjoy along with some recipe ideas!

June 11, 2013

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Bars

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends was having a party to celebrate her Canadian citizenship and I jumped at the chance to try out a new dessert recipe that I could bring with me.

I considered making a pie or cake, but the downside of one of those options is that you can't exactly test it before serving it (unless you want to serve a pie with a slice already taken out of it), and since the group I was serving were mostly people I didn't know very well, I wanted to make a good first impression!

So I decided that squares or cookies were my best bet, since they can easily be taste-tested first to make sure they're party-worthy (which I happily did with these squares!). Lemon bars seemed appropriate for a late spring backyard BBQ, and to go with the Canadian theme, I thought of adding a red raspberry swirl to the filling (even though it turned out more pink than red).

My next problem was how to make the filling: most lemon bars get their creamy, silky texture from lots of eggs in the filling, but I knew I wanted to make an eggless version. After researching a few different recipes, it seemed like silken tofu would make the best substitute to get the right texture. 

I haven't had a lot of success using tofu in dessert recipes in the past, but luckily with these bars, the tart lemon and raspberry flavours were so dominant that you would never guess the main ingredient was tofu. I tried not to tell the people I was serving them to either in case the thought of eating a tofu square for dessert scared them off! 

I loved the taste of the creamy filling with the combination of lemon and fresh raspberries, and the crust turned out nice and firm and crumbly, almost like shortbread despite being made with coconut oil instead of butter.  I also thought the ratio of crust to filling was just right - the crust was thick enough to support the filling so that you could easily eat these with your hands without making a mess.   

I think these would be a great dessert option for a Canada Day BBQ, or any other occasion this summer!

Vegan Lemon Bars with Raspberry Swirl
My own recipe, inspired by a few other lemon-tofu square recipes

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour (or whole wheat)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Swirl
1 cup raspberries
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
3 tbsp water, divided
1 scant tbsp arrowroot flour

1/2 cup silken firm tofu
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from one large lemon)
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp arrowroot flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8” square pan with parchment paper (leave enough to hang over the edges of the pan a bit) and spray with cooking spray.

First, make the crust: Whisk together the flours, coconut, salt, and icing sugar. Add the coconut oil and vanilla and stir until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Press dough into prepared pan in an even layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until firm and lightly golden. Remove and let cool on a wire rack until the filling is ready.

While the crust is cooking, place the raspberries in a small saucepan with the sugar and 1 tbsp of the water and bring to a boil. Mix the remaining water with the arrowroot in a small bowl until smooth. Add this mixture to the pan and stir continuously for another 1-2 minutes, until raspberries have broken down. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the filling, blend the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients and continue to blend until smooth again.

Pour filling on top of the baked crust, using a spatula if necessary to spread in an even layer (it should be liquidy enough to spread on its own). Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry mixture all over the top of the filling, and use a knife or spatula to swirl it around a bit (you may not need all of the raspberry mixture - I used almost all of it, which is why my bars look mostly red on top).

Return pan to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the filling is mostly set. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Cool completely (I transferred mine to the fridge) before cutting into squares and serving.

Makes 20-25 squares.

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

June 06, 2013

Raw Jicama Nachos with Fruit Salsa and Taco Nut Crumbles

In my last post, I shared an idea for healthy nachos using thinly sliced apples as the base, and today I have another raw nacho idea for you!  While the apple nachos went in more of a dessert direction, these nachos go the savoury route, making them a fun option for a light lunch.

This time, the nachos are made up of very thin slices of jicama, the Mexican root vegetable that resembles a turnip. I love jicama, but I find it hard to get a perfectly sweet and crisp one - more often than not, I end up with one that's rotten inside or too grainy and bitter tasting. So if anyone has any tips on how to select a good jicama, I'd love to hear them!

When you do get a good jicama though, they're just so refreshing to eat, since they're composed mostly of water, like cucumbers. And that's the perfect word to describe these nachos: refreshing!

To make these nachos, layers of super thin, crisp jicama slices are topped with a juicy, sweet tropical fruit salsa, a spicy taco nut "meat" crumble, and a bright, fresh lime-cilantro sauce to bring everything together.

While it did take some time to prepare each of the components, it was worth the effort for all of the fresh flavours that complemented each other so well. Plus one bonus of raw nachos is that once you've assembled your plate, they're ready to eat - no waiting in the oven for them to cook first!

Of course, the other bonus with raw nachos is that they taste so much lighter than the cheese and sour cream covered tortilla chip version. I loved that I could eat a whole plate of these nachos myself and still feel good afterwards - I had planned on only eating half, but I found it too hard to stop eating them, so you might want to make a double batch if you plan on sharing these!

Raw Jicama Nachos with Fruit Salsa and Taco Nut Crumbles
Inspired by Fragrant Vanilla Cake

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple
1/2 cup finely diced ripe mango
1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1/2 cup packed cilantro
Juice of one lime
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tbsp raw agave or honey
1/4 cup diced pineapple

Taco Nut Crumble
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp raw walnuts
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder*
1/4 tsp cumin*
1/8 tsp cayenne*
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp tamari
1 tsp olive oil

About half of a medium jicama, peeled (about ¾ - 1 lb)

*can substitute spices with about 3/4 tsp taco seasoning instead

To make the salsa: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.

To make the sauce: Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Set aside.

To make the crumble: Place walnuts and sunflower seeds in a food processor and process until chunky and broken down. Add remaining ingredients and process until the mixture resembles coarse, sticky crumbs. Set aside.

Place the jicama in your spiralizer and use the widest blade setting to slice it into very thin pieces. (Note: If you don't have a spiralizer, you could use a mandolin or a knife to slice it into shavings as thin as possible).

To assemble: Arrange a layer of the jicama slices evenly on a large plate. Top with about half of the nut crumble, half the salsa, and half the sauce. Add another layer of jicama slices and top with the remaining toppings.  Serve immediately. 

Serves 1 hungry person or 2-3 smaller servings.

Note: You can eat these with your hands like I did, but it does get a bit messy so feel free to use utensils!

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert & Dogs.

June 04, 2013

Apple Nachos

If you read my birthday recap post back in April, you may remember that I was given a fun new kitchen toy that I was really excited about: a spiralizer. Even though I haven't posted any recipes yet using my spiralizer, I have definitely been busy testing it out!

One of my favourite discoveries so far is that it isn't only useful for making noodles out of vegetables - it actually has three different blades ranging from skinny to wide, and the wide blade can be used sort of like a mandolin to make thin shavings.

After brainstorming about what I could make with this handy setting, I remembered an idea I had seen throughout the blogosphere for making apple nachos. The basic idea is to layer thinly sliced apples on a plate, sprinkle them with your choice of sweet toppings, and voila - you have apple nachos!

Most of the recipes that I've seen turn the nachos into more of a dessert with toppings like caramel sauce, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, but I wanted to make a healthier version that could be eaten as an afternoon snack.

For my version, I made a peanut-cinnamon sauce using another one of my birthday gifts, PB2 powdered peanut butter, and used toasted pecans, coconut flakes, and raw cacao nibs as the other toppings.

I actually wasn't even planning on sharing my snack on my blog, but I ended up liking it so much that I had to  post the recipe! I loved the texture of the apples - slicing them so thin made them taste extra light and crisp, and they could easily be bent to scoop up the toppings.

I also liked the mixture of crunchy nuts and cacao nibs sprinkled on top, and my favourite part had to be the tasty peanut-cinnamon sauce - yum!  I think this would be a fun snack to make with kids, or for anyone looking for a healthy treat that still tastes like dessert.

And stay tuned later this week for another version of raw nachos!

Apple Nachos
Inspired by Manifest Vegan

2 tbsp PB2*
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp coconut flakes
Raw cacao nibs
Drizzle of pure maple syrup
1 medium apple
Lemon juice

Start by making the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk or stir together the PB2 and almond milk until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon. Set aside. (Note: *If you don't have PB2, I would suggest using 1 tbsp peanut butter and either thinning it with a bit of almond milk or yogurt, or melting it in the microwave as the original recipe suggested). 

Heat a small skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add pecans and toast for a few minutes, until browned and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the coconut flakes to the skillet and toast briefly, just as soon as they start to turn brown. Remove and set aside.

Slice your apple using the largest blade on a spiralizer (Note: I cut a small slit a few millimeters deep down the length of the apple first, from top to bottom, so that I would end up with separate apple pieces rather than a long unseparated strand). If you don’t have a spiralizer, you could try using a mandolin, or use a knife to get as thin slices as possible.

Once you’ve gone through half of the apple, drizzle the slices with lemon juice to prevent browning. Finish slicing the apple and drizzle more lemon juice over the slices.

Spread the apple slices out on a large plate. Drizzle the peanut sauce over top, then sprinkle the pecans, coconut flakes, and a handful of cacao nibs on top. Finish with a tiny drizzle of maple syrup if desired. 

Serves 1-2.

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert & Dogs.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...