Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Archive for August, 2009

THESE MUFFINS ARE BORN FREE!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 29, 2009

My friend, AJ, bakes up a storm, yet she uses not a single drop of cooking oil or margarine. She also uses no sugar to sweeten her desserts—only dates. And that’s not all—she doesn’t even use flour! Think about that! Muffins that are born free of oil, sugar, and flour—and her desserts are damn delicious.

I began to give that some thought. I had a craving for muffins so I pondered the oil thing and realized others have done fat-free baking using mashed fruits—so that was doable.

The sugar issue was also not too daunting. There are other sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, and brown rice syrup, but could I turn out a muffin that was sweet enough with only dates? Well, I figured if AJ could do it, I could probably make it work, too.

Giving the flour a bit of thought, I realized that old-fashioned rolled oats could probably give a muffin some great body as well as a few health benefits, as well.

For this old nut, you can guess the recipe had to be good and nutty—so hazelnuts became my nut of choice for this recipe that was beginning to take shape in my head.

Well, it came together beautifully—actually, it almost seemed the ingredients propelled themselves into the four bowls it took to mix up the batter. The muffins took just a little longer to bake than most, but only a few minutes longer.

The thing most people find unusual about my kitchen tools is that I keep a hammer in the drawer. That’s for the nuts, I tell them. It works perfectly for coarsely crushing tough nuts like hazelnuts and almonds.

Well, here it is– the oil-free, sugar-free, and flour-free gems. We loved them and think you will, too.

Richly flavored with spices and extracts and sweetened only with dates, these delicious muffins provide a scrumptious breakfast treat that has a guilt-free feature built in. They contain no added fats like margarine or oil and rely on old-fashioned oats in place of flour. So you can enjoy a high-fiber, low-fat treat and give your body the health benefit of soluble fiber to keep the cholesterol in check and low fat to keep the calories down.

bananhazelmuffin

BANANA HAZELNUT OAT MUFFINS

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Date Puree
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Muffins
3/4 cup whole hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or other mild vinegar

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon caramel extract

1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 six-section muffin tins with baking cups or have ready a 12-section silicone muffin pan.
2. To prepare the Date Puree, combine the dates and water in the food processor and pulse and process to a coarse puree. Set aside.
3. To prepare the muffins, place the hazelnuts into a heavy-duty plastic bag, seal it, and place it on a hard surface. Pound the nuts with a hammer to coarsely crush them and set aside.
4. Combine the soymilk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Add the crushed hazelnuts and stir in.
6. In a medium bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla extract, caramel extract, the reserved date puree, and the soymilk/vinegar mixture. Stir well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
7. In a small bowl, combine the egg replacer and water and beat with a fork until foamy. Add to the muffin batter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
8. Fill the muffin pans to the brim and bake for 26 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool completely before removing.

Note:
The amounts used to prepare the date puree makes 1 cup of puree.

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TOMATO PINE-NUT BREAD MAGIC!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 20, 2009

What a fabulous fresh tomato season this is!

I bought a lug of gorgeous slightly softened tomatoes from the farm stand and dehydrated about half of them. That prompted me to create a delicious variation of the previous post. Into the processor went the grains! Into a bowl went the tomatoes! A little mixing, a little stirring, a little tasting, a little baking, and voila! A great looking, great tasting, savory tomato-infused pine nut bread using the same whole grains as in the Pistachio Caper Bread. The key to this recipe is planning ahead to allow time for the grains to soak.

TomPineNutBread

SUN-DRIED TOMATO PINE NUT BREAD

Yield: 2 small loaves (4 to 6 servings per loaf)

1 cup wheat berries
1 cup oat groats

2 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
Hot or boiling water

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon psyllium seed husks

1 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Place the wheat berries and oat groats into a large bowl and add water to cover by 3 inches. Set aside to soak for 8 to 12 hours.
2. When the grains have soaked, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a large jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Place the sun-dried tomatoes into a medium bowl and pour hot or boiling over to cover. Set aside to soften for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Drain and rinse the soaked grains and place them into the food processor. Measure the tomato soak water and add enough tap or filtered water to make 1 1/4 cups. Add this water to the processor along with the salt, cayenne, and half of the well-drained sun-dried tomatoes.
4. Pulse and process the grains for about 2 minutes, or until they are ground to a coarse meal and all the liquid is well incorporated. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. If your processor has a small capacity, process the grains in 2 batches.
5. Combine the 1/4 cup water and psyllium seed husks in a small bowl, stir well, and set aside for 30 seconds to thicken. Add the psyllium mixture to the processor and process until it is well incorporated into the batter.
6. Transfer the bread batter to a large bowl and add the pine nuts, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Drain and chop the remaining sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
7. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared jellyroll pan in two even piles and use the spoon to shape the loaves into thick rectangles about 5 x 7 inches.
8. Lightly cover the loaves with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool the bread completely. Slice and serve.

Note:
Oat groats and wheat berries are available in natural food markets. Psyllium seed husks are also available in natural food markets. The psyllium husks serve to absorb water and act as a binder.

If not serving right away, wrap the breads separately in heavy-duty plastic bags and refrigerate for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving or wrap in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, and warm in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

I like to prepare these breads in advance and freeze them to give as gifts or to enjoy when guests come for dinner. To freeze, wrap the cooled breads separately in heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bags. Frozen, they will keep well for up to 4 months.

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NUTTY BAKER GOES WILD IN THE KITCHEN!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 13, 2009

I know I’m not alone when I say I have a thing for pistachios. They’re so darned lovable in practically every dish I’ve put them into. I had this wild idea to create a totally whole-grain, no-yeast bread and pack it with pistachios. I did it and it’s a winner!

Preparing, baking, and eating this bread will feel like Mother Nature paid a visit to your kitchen. This is not the airy white bread that comes from highly processed grains and leaves you with little nourishment. Because, this bread is made from truly whole grains and is prepared without yeast, it will be heavier, considerably denser, and delightfully earthy because it’s full of flavorful savory ingredients that give it a chewy texture.

Most of all, it’s delicious, but there’s something else very special about this bread. Wheat berries and oat groats deliver an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, 20 in all, plus protein, fiber, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The oat groats add another dimension to the nutrition package—they contain soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol naturally.

pistcaperbread

PISTACHIO CAPER BREAD

Yield: 2 small loaves (4 to 6 servings per loaf)

5 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup oat groats
1 cup wheat berries

1 tablespoon psyllium seed husks

2/3 cup raw pistachios
2/3 cup dehydrated onions
1/2 cup well-drained capers
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Place the oat groats and wheat berries into a large bowl and rinse the grains. Add 4 cups of the water to the grains and soak for 8 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a large jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Drain and rinse the soaked grains and put them into the food processor with 1 1/4 cups of the remaining water. Process the grains for about 2 minutes, or until they are ground to a coarse meal and all the liquid is well incorporated. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. If your processor has a small capacity, process the grains in 2 batches.
3. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the psyllium husks in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside for about 30 seconds to allow the mixture to thicken. Add the thickened psyllium to the processor and process it into the grains.
4. Transfer the grains to a large bowl and add the pistachios, onions, capers, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
5. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared jellyroll pans in two even piles and use the spoon to shape the loaves into thick rectangles about 5 x 7-inches.
6. Lightly cover the loaves with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool completely, slice, and serve.

Notes:
Oat groats and wheat berries are available in natural food markets. Psyllium seed husks absorb water and act as a binder. They are also available in natural food markets.

If not serving right away, wrap the breads separately in plastic bags and refrigerate for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving or wrap in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, and warm in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

I like to prepare these breads in advance and freeze them to give as gifts or to enjoy when guests come for dinner. To freeze, wrap the cooled breads separately in heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bags. Frozen, they will keep well for up to 4 months.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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