Coconut Spread Cookies?

Unlike cakes and muffins, cookies have always intimidated me. Partly, it’s because all cookie recipes in Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook called for vegan butter or margarine, which is expensive and scarce in my province, and also partly because mama never baked cookies when we were growing up. My cookie experience were limited to packaged, crisp, crumbly, and overly sweet ones available everywhere. I never had homemade cookies until I got a job – and literally a couple of years later I decided to go vegan (I would take a step back to the lacto-ovo vegetarian territory a year later) so whatever cookies were available in the market became off-limits for many years.

More importantly, I have decided to take the healthy vegan route and try to stay away from refined sugars and processed oils as much as I can. Even when I began baking, I made sure I used wholesome ingredients as much as I can. After all, I wouldn’t waste my time baking things that I won’t eat.

Last December though, I stumbled upon this beautiful vegan on YouTube, Sadia Badiei, of the channel Pick Up Limes. For weeks I stationary jogged while watching her videos. She’s a vegan nutritionist and she’s really pretty, so I was drawn to her.

One of her videos under her Teatime Tuesdays theme featured a healthy double chocolate chip cookies that seemed easy and yummy. The ingredients she used were mostly wholesome (she used white sugar, as her blog was about nourishing the soul AND the cells) and the procedures seemed easy. I kept that recipe for future referece, in case I decided to whip up some cookie dough.

I swear I’ve baked five batches of her cookies in the last thirteen days and I can honestly say it’s fool-proof. You can even tweak the ingredients to your liking and the results will be the same.

Like, for my fourth and fifth time baking these delicious cupcakes, I decided to use the last two jars of my favorite coconut spread Buko Foods (cacao variant) and it worked! Pure magic.

Buko Foods is 100% natural, vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, zero preservatives and no refined sugar coconut spread. The cacao variant which I used in this recipe only has three ingredients: organic coconut milk, organic coconut nectar, and organic cacao. Now if that’s not healthy enough for you…

So without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Coconut Spread Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 33 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 265g Buko Foods Organic Coconut Spread with Cacao
  • 3 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup plant milk (I used Kirkland organic unsweetened rice milk)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Celsius and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the coconut spread, agave nectar and plant milk in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir.
  4. In three batches, stir in the flour. Make sure not to overwork the dough.
  5. If desired, add half the chocolate chips into the dough and reserve the rest for topping.
  6. Scoop 1-tbsp dough balls onto the cookie tray and press each ball with your palm to flatten. Top with the rest of the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Cool in a cooking rack.

This recipe is not too sweet, and soft and pillowy. Even my mother and father who adhere to a low-carb animal-based diet love these.

It’s also easy to turn whole foods plant-based by just subbing some of the ingredients like the flour and chocolate chips.

The only drawback is that this recipe is fairly expensive because of the coconut spread. But medicine and surgery are more expensive.

Enjoy!

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It’s #Veganuary! + Healthy Tahini Chocolate Cookies

Happy New Year, everyone! 2018 is finally o-v-e-r and I’m one of those personally victimized by those 365 days that I’m just so glad it’s finally done for. I hope 2019 is infinitely better.

Also, Happy Veganuary! Various news sites forecasted that 2019 is going to be the year of veganism so if you’re not yet vegan, this January is the perfect time to start.

To celebrate the New Year and Veganuary, I’m sharing my healthy and mom-approved cookie recipe.

By the way, I adapted this recipe from the one-bowl double chocolate chip cookies from one of my favorite vegan YouTube channels Pick Up Limes.

Tahini Chocolate Cookies

Makes 20 1/8 cup cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp agave
  • 1/2 cup plant milk (I used Almond Breeze unsweetened original)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegan dark chocolate pieces or chips, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, cream together tahini and coconut sugar.
  3. Add in agave.
  4. Add plant milk, cacao powder, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix well. If the mixture is too watery, chill in the fridge for a few minutes.
  5. Add in the flour and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Using a 1/8 cup measuring cup, scoop dough and roll into balls, then flatten by pressing between your palms. Press a chocolate piece on top. NOTE: Be careful when tasting because you might end up finishing the dough before it gets in the oven.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time, or until the edges start to brown.
  8. Cool in the cookie sheet for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to thoroughly cool.
  9. Enjoy!

These cookies are not so sweet and goes well with a glass of unsweetened plant milk. Delicious, healthy, and satisfying. My mother even suggested that I sell them.

Happy New Year again! Let’s eat and be healthy!

Recipe: Pinakbet (Ilocano)

When I was younger, I can’t see myself using a stainless steel stacked food carrier.  From where I was, the lowly workers used them for lunch and I thought using one would make me look like them.  I’m really loving my stainless steel tiffin food carrier.  It carries a lot of food and occupies little horizontal space.  I’ve been using it for two weeks now and it’s not un-cool at all!  You know what’s not cool?  Thinking lowly of manual workers.

Anyway, Francis is at Angeles City, Pampanga from yesterday up to Saturday so I’m having lunch by myself.  Huhuhu.  It’s getting kind of lonely eating alone, but I promised him I will eat, so here I am.

For today’s lunch, I had pinakbet – a vegetable dish from Northern Philippines.  It is traditionally made with an array of local vegetables, bagoong (fermented fish paste) and some fried or roasted pig or fish.  When I stopped eating animals, I thought I will never get to recreate this quintessential Ilocano dish but today I proved to myself that I’m so wrong.  (Yes, Francis’ mom still makes the best vegan pinakbet but mine is totally different.)

Here the ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 handful of sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 handful of ampalaya (bitter gourd), the small variety (not the long ones)
  • 1 bunch okra, cut in half
  • 1 cup small, round eggplant, stalk and top part removed then partially cut horizontally and vertically to form a cross (do not cut all the way)
  • 3 green siling panigang
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 sheet nori, torn
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms
  • 1 cup water

The procedure:

  1. Mix together everything in a pot, the first ingredient on the bottom and the last ingredient on top.  Cover.
  2. Cook over low heat for about 30-45 minutes until everything is overcooked and mushy.
  3. Enjoy!

It’s so incredible how the simple addition of the nori sheet changed the whole dish.  It tastes so fishy it feels like a crime.  But it’s vegan, promise!

Pinakbet is a very forgiving dish.  Papa said you only need bagoong, ampalaya and tomatoes to make pinakbet, so don’t fret if you’re missing something.

Also, it’s meant to be overcooked and mushy.  Yeah, you kill the enzymes… but it’s pinakbet.

Tara, kain!

Recipe: Slow-cooked Tangway (Taro Stalks) in Spicy Coconut Milk

My love affair with laing started with the Star Cinema movie Kailangan Kita.  I was so in love with the movie that laing became my favorite food in the world, Bicol became my dream residence, and I considered myself an uragon (slang for feisty).  In college, we had this activity for a course called “Suroy-suroy, Lalolalorar, at Vochok” where we showcased the culture of the sixteen regions of the Philippines, and I swear I was a fixture of Region V, eating their dried taro leaves stewed in coconut milk.  When I became vegan and first stumbled upon Astig Vegan, her version of laing was the first (and I think the only) recipe I’ve tried.

Now, I’m not really good at copying recipes.  I’m just a regular visual learner.  That may be the reason for my five years’ worth of unsuccessful laing cookery.

Luckily, I saw a segment on a livelihood program that featured Bicol.  In it, they demo-ed how to cook pinangat – another taro dish that is apparently the same as laing except that the leaves used are fresh.  And when I made it, voila!  It’s like I was transported back to my Kailangan Kita-watching childhood.

I swear: it’s the best thing I’ve ever made.  (Pa-humble naman ng konti, siyempre.)

Being a sweet tooth, I love how the chili perfectly complements the natural sweetness of the coconut milk.  The taro stalks – which I just recently learned is called tangway – are so succulent.  My brother, who I’ve already featured in an earlier post, said it’s napakasarap (so delicious).  You’d definitely need LOTS of brown rice.  And a longer workout the next day.

Here it is.  I hope you’d love it as much as I do.

Slow-cooked Tangway in Spicy Coconut Milk (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 kg fresh tangway, cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh kakang gata (coconut milk, first press) + 1 cup gata, second press
  • 1 head Taiwan garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 red chilies (or depending on your tolerance and preference)
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper

Procedures:

  1. In a blender, blitz together the coconut milk (first press), garlic, onion, ginger, two chilies, sea salt and ground black pepper until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a deep pot.
  3. Toss in the tangway and the remaining chiliand pour in the remaining coconut milk.
  4. Cook uncovered over medium heat until it simmers, then turn the heat to the lowest setting and cover.  DO NOT STIR.  Not even once.
  5. Let cook for 1-1/2 hours.
  6. Enjoy hot with rice.

Delicious.  I’m so excited for everybody to try it.

Tell me if you do and how you like it, okay?

XOXO

Patti

P.S. I think the same should work for dried taro leaves to make laing.  I could also use the same mixture for ginataang gulay.  I’d try one of these days and I’d tell you when I’m successful.

Francis’ 25th + Salad, Pasta and Cake Recipes

I’m on a celebratory mode.  Francis finally turns 25!  Haaay.  The pains of being the older woman.  But after twenty-three days of waiting, our age gap is now down to four years again.  I’m probably happier than him right now.

Unfortunately for him, November 2 isn’t a holiday this year, so we both have to show up at work.  I took on the dutiful girlfriend role to make a simple birthday lunch.  (He was on emo-mode last night after his mom joked of cooking instant noodles.)  Thinking of the menu was hard since we are still on our week-long detox after eating a total of twenty four cups of white rice last weekend at the convivence.  I decided to just stick to the basics: a green salad, our one-pot pasta, and a chocolate cake.

 I thought we won’t have guests but our officemates from the Division Office came.  I was afraid we won’t have enough but God is good.  Everybody was able to eat and they – at least they said – the lunch was delicious.

Honestly, I’m starting to get confident with my cooking.  My brother Joey joked I can cook better now because I put in effort and love since Francis would be eating.  Hahaha.  Maybe.  I’m just happy that I got to cook for him.  It’s his first birthday with me.

Throughout the meal they were asking me about the recipes.  I’m so happy I got to inspire them to make healthier food.  Indeed, it’s not hard to prepare vegan food at all.  Here are the recipes:

Basic Green Salad

For the salad (I just used anything available in the pantry; you can absolutely use anything):

  • Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Green olives, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced and deseeded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced

For the dressing:

  • 3 parts olive oil (or any oil)
  • 2 parts red wine vinegar (or any acid)
  • 1 part minced garlic (or any add-on of your choice)
  • Salt and pepper

Combine in a jar with lid and shake vigorously to emulsify.  Douse on the salad just before serving.


One-pot Penne in Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup eggplants, diced
  • 1 14-oz can sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olives
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 500 g penne, or any pasta of choice
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a pot, heat oil and garlic at the same time.  This is called cold sauteeing.
  2. Add in eggplants and cook for about a minute.  Add in mushrooms and olives and cook for another minute.  Stir in tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add water into the pot and let boil until vigorous.  Add in pasta and cook until al dente.  Penne took about 12 minutes.
  4. Halfway through the cooking time of the pasta, add in the tomato sauce.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  5. With about two minutes left, stir in Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast and chili flakes, if using.
  6. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coffee granules
  • 2 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Shavings of dairy-free chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 9-in round cake tins with parchment.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients.  Do not combine until the oven reaches the right temperature.
  3. When the oven reaches 350, stir the dry and wet ingredients until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Quickly pour into the lined cake tins and bake immediately for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from tins and cool completely before frosting.
  4. In a bowl, stir in peanut butter and powdered sugar together, adding a little soymilk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Carefully place one of the cakes on a cake plate.  Put half the frosting and spread evenly just until the edges.  Very carefully put the second cake on top.  Put the remaining frosting on top and spread evenly.  Decorate with shaved chocolate.

So, there go three very simple and quick dishes you can make any day.  All vegan and all healthy.  Enjoy!

P.S. It’s my best girl Jena’s birthday yesterday, November 1, and tomorrow will be my favorite boss’.  Isn’t November the best month ever!  Happy birthday to all you celebrators!

7 Days of Salad

Vegan (n.) – a person who doesn’t eat animals and animal byproducts

Last December, after four years and eight months of being vegetarian, I decided to be vegan. That means completely giving up eggs and dairy. That means no more butter in my baking, no more eggs for my sandwich, and no more cheese on my pizza. (No more white sugar, too, since white sugar is generally refined using cows’ bones. Who knew that, right?) Six months later, I am thriving and I still think this is the single bravest decision I’ve made in my life.

Contrary to popular-right-now belief – because if you haven’t been reading the signs correctly the world is going vegan – eschewed by people whose agenda is to sell you their products, vegans and vegetarians do NOT eat only salads. In fact we have veganized everything – from French to Japanese to Filipino to any cuisine you can think of.  (Okay. Mongolia not included.) Most importantly, we eat cake. We’re not particularly healthier, too. We have LOTS of junkfood. Contrary to popular-right-now belief, vegan food isn’t bland and boring.

Having said that, I admit that I am not a huge fan of salads (except of course fruit salad with coconut cream and coconut nectar *drools*). My taste buds haven’t yet adapted to the taste of raw leaves (fruits are not leaves).

But because our office currently has a two-month wellness program and I and Francis have made it our mission to prove you can manage your fat and weight without powdered shakes, I’ve started my personal wellness plan with eating fresh, clean, and whole foods.

This 7-day salad list is the result of that.

Note: There’s not much variety. I make it a point to prefer fruits and vegetables that are readily available in our city. That means Lollo Rosa and Romaine for my greens, cucumber, corn (because my sister from Jeddah sent us lots), and whatever else is in the pantry.

1. Lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin seeds and corn kernels with balsamic-olive oil-garlic dressing

2. Lettuce, raisins, goji berries, sunflower seeds and corncake croutons with dayap juice, balsamic and olive oil

3. Lettuce, cucumber, corn kernels, store-bought salted garlic peanuts

4. Lettuce, black beans, corn, sundried tomatoes, sunflower seeds

5. Taco salad with crumbled vegan longganisa with store-bought salsa (best ever!)

6. Boring restaurant salad (Magellan)

7. Lettuce, sunflower seeds, green olives, vegan sausages, olive oil-balsamuc-garlic dressing

The result of my experiment? I lost 1.2 pounds a total of 3 inches around the belly. Not bad for someone whose not counting calories, eh?

Anyway. Angel just got her Nutribullet from Lazada which I’m inheriting when she gets married. Next week I’m going to show you 7 Days of Smoothie. Savvy?

Bonus:

I’m addicted to the dressing I doused on most of my salads and it’s so easy to make. Just mix 1 part extra-virgin olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, 1 part minced native garlic, salt and pepper in a jar, cover tightly, and shake until emulsified. You can use whatever herbs you have but Francis loves garlic and I love Francis.

Recipe: Coffee Cake Muffins (Version 2)

In my previous post, I said I hate coffee for two reasons: 1) it makes me palpitate; and 2) it wakes me up. Two hours after finishing that coffee cupcake, I decided on a third reason: I’m acidic. I swore I’m not having coffee again (except of course in chocolate cakes).

But today I found myself baking coffee cupcakes again. Reviewing the recipe from Bosh, I discovered that I made a couple of stupid mistakes:

  • The original recipe calls for self-raising flour. In my excitement, I missed the self-raising part. Thus the absence of a raising agent.
  • I forgot to reduce the amount of flour. Because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, 3/4 cup of it should be substituted for a cup of its refined counterpart.

In addition, I discovered that each unfrosted muffin contains a whopping 280 calories! And I doused fudge on Every. Single. Muffin. To add insult to the injury I ate two. And it was breakfast.

Horrible.

And so, as if it could undo the damage, I decided to make another batch. This time, it will be fluffy (I thought if I made it fluffy I could halve the recipe and still have 12 muffins) and lower in the calorie department.

I also decided that this time, I will take my time preparing the ingredients. Here’s the step by step account:

First, I cleaned the entire work area and prepared only the necessary equipment and ingredients. I prepped my muffin tin, too. By necessary I meant the oven, one mixing bowl, 1/4-cup measuring cup and measuring spoons. Seriously that is everything you need. This is Tip 1. Clear the clutter, clear your mind.

Next, I preheated the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). A pastry chef in the nutrition club I joined before decided to go vegan made me purchase an oven thermometer. It was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. Tip 2: Buy an oven thermometer.

In connection with that, it’s really important to preheat your oven. That makes the difference between success and favor. That’s Tip 3.

Then, I made my self-raising whole wheat flour. I measured 140 grams of whole wheat flour and added in 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. From this mixture I measured 3/4 cup. This is Tip 4, or how to make your own self-raising whole wheat flour. Hahaha. Courtesy of Food Network.

Tip 5 is scooping ingredients into the measuring cups using a spoon. Scooping directly with your measuring cups may result in you getting more that what you need.

The next I did was to measure everything before I start mixing the ingredients. This is a very easy cake recipe with just five ingredients and does not require mixing the dry and wet separately.

Because I don’t have a food processor, I mixed the ingredients by hand. Tip 6: do not overmix. Then, I spooned the batter into the lined muffin tin. Since I expected that the cake will rise during baking, I just filled them halfway. (Plus I intented them to be small to halve the calories so…) Gently tap the tin on the table to get rid of air bubbles.

Once the oven reached the desired temperature, I popped the tin into the oven and patiently waited. Yesterday’s recipe had a baking time of 20 minutes but since this recipe is just half of that, I estimated the baking time to be 12 to 15 minutes.

Since these are muffins, you can tell the cakes are done when cracks form on top but they still look moist. Tip 7 comes from baking goddess Anna Olson: it’s better to slightly underbake than slightly overbake. Using the toothpick test, I removed the cakes from the oven at 14 minutes.

Now here’s Tip 8: Cool the muffins in the tin for just a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Leaving it even a tad longer in the tin continues the baking through residual heat, risking overbaking.

The muffins turned out this way:

Observations:

  1. The muffins did not rise as much as I wanted. I wanted them to double but that’s stretching it too far, right?
  2. The coffee flavor was really pronounced this time. Unlike the first version, which tasted more like sugar, this tasted like black coffee.
  3. They definitely are cupcakes, not muffins. Hahaha. Truth is the tops are ugly. (None of the beautiful cracks I was aiming for.) They definitely need frosting but I didn’t care for the extra calories.

All in all, I am pleased with how these muffins turned out.

Healthy Coffee Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour  (measure from mixture of 1 cup flour plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4-1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
  • 2.5 tbsp fine coffee powder, decaffeinated (I used Nescafe instant) – you can use less coffee is you want a subtler flavor
  • 6 tbsp cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup cup oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and divide batter into muffin liners.
  3. Bake at preheated oven for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Cool on a rack.
  5. Eat.

So there you go. Try it and tell me what you think! Happy vegan baking!

P.S. Francis’ verdict:

Q: Regardless of the calorie count, which muffin do you prefer?

A: I prefer this one.

Q: How many of these will you eat without feeling guilty?

A: 5

I so love this man.