Archive for Bananas

Good ol’ oatmeal

Never underestimate the power of oats

As I am sure everyone knows by now, I am a breakfast woman at heart. Sure, there’s a lot of fancy things you can make to pull together a breakfast, but sometimes something as simple as oatmeal is best. For over a week now, I have been making myself a bowl of oatmeal before work, and I have yet to get sick of it. It’s hearty, highly versatile, tasty, and above all, warm and filling. It keeps my belly happy and insides warm for the walk to work, and the complex carbohydrates of the oats keeps me going until I can eat lunch. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not talking about the boxed and individually packaged, sugar-laden instant oatmeal here. I mean real, stove-top cooked oats, where one can use their imagine and add whatever their heart desires.

I always have raisins around the house, and I like to add them into the cut of water before I let it boil. It gives new life to the raisins, making them more plump and juicy. Once the water is boiling, I add in the 1/2 cup of oats, and reduce the heat. Next, I will generally add in a good amount of cinnamon, probably more than most people, because I REALLY love cinnamon. Then, depending how I am feeling that morning, I may throw in some nutmeg, a hint of salt, some allspice, and maybe the tiniest bit of cloves. If I am craving something sweet, I will add some brown sugar or maple syrup, but never more than a tablespoon. If I have an apple around, I will dice it up and add when the oats are still cooking as well, making the apples warm and just a little bit soft. Sometimes I will even add a tablespoon or two of applesauce, giving the oats extra sweetness and a nice apple flavor, which goes particularly well with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. When the oatmeal is just about done cooking, I will sometimes throw in chunks of banana, just enough to make the banana warm and soft, yet not too mushy.

I know it might not be as quick and easy as opening a package of instant oatmeal and zapping it in the microwave, but the extra couple of minutes and addition of real ingredients, without all the sugar, is really worth the effort. Your body and taste buds will enjoy it. And if that was not enough, it’s cheap!

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Oatmeal Banana Raisin Waffles

Breakfast! My all time favorite. The Brunch section of Vegan with a Vengeance really is spectacular. The Oatmeal Banana Raisin waffles are so good they should be sinful. They seriously are one of the best breakfast foods I have ever made. They are super full of flavor, have one of the best consistencies ever, and smell so good.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (rolled) oats
  • 1 very ripe medium-size banana
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • Extra sliced bananas (and/or strawberries) for the top
You will first want to preheat the waffle iron. Then, mix together the flour, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon. Once this is combined, add in the oats. Separate from this, mash the banana very well so there are no chunks left over. Then, add the soy milk, maple syrup and oil. Add the wet and dry ingredients together, and fold in the raisins. Let the waffle batter sit for about 2 minutes to let the oatmeal get moist and soft. Then – the fun part – make the waffles!
You will fall in love with these right away. They have a slightly chewy texture from the oats and the raisins, and are very filling. They taste awesome even without extra maple syrup on top, especially if you add bananas and strawberries for topping. I tried it with and without syrup, and I honestly think it was better without – they are just that good!

A great start

I cannot help but find cereal one of the most boring ways to start the day. It just seems too cold and impersonal. I never feel energized or ready to conquer the day after eating a bowl – usually just still hungry and unmoved (the only exception being Wegman’s Maple Pecan cereal – that stuff is great). A whole grain bagel with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and a baked apple? Yes, please!

Delicious!

The bagel is a Thomas’ hearty grain 100% whole wheat bagel (because white bread is gross). They are extremely delicious, have 10 grams of protein, and are mildly sweet. There’s also no high fructose corn syrup in them, which I love. I have been making a conscious effort to try and avoid foods which contain it. The baked apple however, is the star of breakfast. The Lexington Coop having AMAZING Crispin apples made it the perfect time to make this.

Baked Apple Breakfast:

  • 1 medium – large Crispin apple
  • 1 1/2 tbsp frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 4-5 dried banana chips
  • brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Then, remove the apple core and hollow the inside of the apple out, leaving around 1/2 inch from the bottom (I ate some of the tasty insides…).  I did it by hand, without a corer, and it can be done! Mix the frozen blueberries with the rolled oats, and then add the banana chips. Coat this mixture with cinnamon, and place inside the hollow apple.  Once the apple is on/in the baking pan, pour your maple syrup over it. If you wish, add a very shallow layer of water to the pan, and this way when juices escape from the apple, you can pour the tasty water over it once it is done cooking in the oven, which should take around 30-40 minutes. Of course, if you are so inclined and do not have hatred for microwaves, these can be placed in a covered bowl and zapped for about 3 to 5 minutes.

The baked apple was so delicious! The rolled oats were somewhat nontraditional, but added a nice chew to the apple. The lack of butter and sugar make it a better breakfast choice than sugar-laden cereals or prepackaged oatmeal. The banana chips softened a lot from both the maple syrup and the moisture from the frozen blueberries, adding yet another level of flavor to the apple. I think the blueberries, banana and apple went together extremely well. The bottom of the apple was so soft and coated in the fruit juice and maple syrup, how could you not love it?

Zilly Cakes!

I didn’t think there was anywhere I could go within walking distance of my apartment to get a vegan cupcake whenever the urge hit. Then, I was informed that Zilly Cakes, just a few blocks away (located at 1008 Elmwood Avenue), had a different vegan cupcake every month.  Zilly Cakes is perhaps best known for its cupcake portrait of Obama, and has also been featured in many wedding magazines for their gorgeous cakes. This is great for my sweet tooth, but not too much for my gut.  My first cupcake from there was this:

Technically, I bought and ate two. But it is a banana cupcake (this would have been good on it’s own even) with peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter cap’n crunch cereal on top, as I chose that from one of their multiple toppings. The cupcake was delicious – it was so moist and had a great banana flavor, and the peanut butter frosting packed so much flavor as well, being rich without being overly sugary. The Cap’n Crunch cereal on top added to the texture by giving just a little bit of a crunch, and of course contributed more peanut butter goodness.

Since then, I have gone there multiple times, once having the boyfriend making a run during the US-Ghana world cup game to grab us some while I held our seats at a near-by coffee shop. It was a chocolate cupcake with cookies and creme frosting, which sadly I do not have a picture of, but trust me, it was also great and beautiful as well.

I have since learned that Dolci, which is less than a block away, also has vegan baked goods. All you simply have to do is ask which ones are vegan! I have bought numerous mini-cupcakes and cookies from them, including specially requested buffalo cut-out sugar cookies with icing, which were adorable and SO GOOD. The non-vegans thought it was too good to be vegan.

Baking Quest 1!

After staring at the My Sweet Vegan cook book, by Hannah Kaminsky, I decided that I wanted to bake my way through the entire thing. Everything looks absolutely delicious in it, and I have a love for baked goods like you would not believe. Baking is the ultimate stress reliever for me, and who needs retail therapy when you can bake your way to happiness? I realize this will take time and effort, and I am totally fine with that.

I love breakfast. So much. There’s a reason why it is the best and most important meal of the day. In this mindset, I decided to start in the sweet starts section, beginning with the Better Banana Nut Muffin. I followed the directions/ingredients exactly, except for the fact that I made it nut-less. At this point in time I was looking for a muffin without a crunch but that was brimming with bananas, and this was the recipe, as it uses both dried and mashed bananas.

Fresh out of the oven

Everyone in the house loved them, and I even got my father to eat them (he usually will never knowingly eat vegan food)! They truly lasted less than a day, probably because they were the perfect amount of crunchy from the oats, yet soft from the bananas. The addition of the dried bananas really took these muffins to the next level.

While there were some left....

I even ate some for breakfast, and then took one to work with me….

The final one

I would easily make them again. They were not all that time consuming, and they were well worth any invested effort anyhow. Perhaps next time I would even add the nuts, as there is nothing about the recipe I would change now regardless. Better banana muffin? I think so.