Sunday, October 27, 2013

Berry Almond Oatmeal Kale Granola

Stay with me!  I know this sounds weird...or gross...or unappealing.  It's not - it's awesome.  Let me explain.  Regular granola is great, but isn't it such a disappointment at how unhealthy it really is?  High calorie and so fatty, ugh.  When I stumbled upon this recipe from Eating Bird Food, I just had to give it a shot.  Plus, I love to try out unusual flavor combinations.  For example, when I gave our Executive Director  THIS cupcake without telling him what flavor it was he said, "Knowing you, it's something weird, but good."

If calling this 'granola' is too much to wrap your head around, just think of it as sweet kale chips!  Now kale has a pretty distinct bitter flavor, but the preparation really cuts through that and makes a light, crispy, sweet, cinnamon-y treat.  The original recipe calls for a dehydrator, but since I do not have one, I'm extremely grateful that the author of Eating Bird Food figured out how to bake them in the oven.

It's quite clever how a paste of dates and mango (two of the sweetest fruits to combat kale's bitterness) with cinnamon is then rubbed into the leaves and transforms this hearty leaf to a crispy and sweet treat.  Add in your favorite dried fruit (I used craisins and cherries) and sliced almonds.  The original recipe also called for shredded coconut, but I cut that out since I don't really care for it.  After my first batch, I thought it would be nice to make it a bit more granola-like, so at a friend's suggestion I added oatmeal.

You're still not sold.  Okay, imagine a warm, cinnamon-y scent wafting through your kitchen.  Smells great, right?  (Yes, there are a multitude of other ways to accomplish this - apple pie, zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, etc, but this one won't leave you feeling lethargic and sugar-blasted.  And it's really tasty.)

Almost everyone that I gave a sample to liked it (and even the husband was snatching a few off the cookie sheet).  In addition to snacking on it dry, I'd also like to note that it's quite good on yogurt, just like regular granola.  It's a fun way to get your greens, so be daring and give it a try!

Berry Almond Oatmeal Kale Granola
(Adapted from Eating Bird Food)

1 large bunch of kale, washed, dried, de-stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
5-6 pitted medjool dates (I used fresh because they were available, but dried is okay too)
½ cup fresh or frozen mango (thawed), chopped into chunks
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup dried cherries, blueberries or cranberries
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup oatmeal (I used 1 minute oats, just because they're smaller and this is such a light and crispy snack, but rolled oats would be fine)
  1. In a medium bowl, soak the dates in ½ cup water for at least 30 minutes, or until softened.
  2. Make sure your kale is as dry as you can get it. Then place it in a large bowl.
  3. In a food processor, chopper or high powered blender, combine the soaked dates + 1 tablespoon of soaking liquid and fresh mango. Blend until it is a thick paste. Add the cinnamon and salt and blend briefly to combine.
  4. Add paste to kale leaves and massage with your hands to coat each leaf, until all leaves are coated
  5. Add in the dried berries, almonds and oatmeal and mix well so these items get coated as well.
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 300°, spread kale into a thin layer on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for roughly 30 - 40 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (a wooden spoon wedged in the oven door works perfectly for this). Maybe sure to watch at the 30 minute mark gets close so that the kale doesn’t start to burn.  Spread and flip the kale, if needed, to completely dry it out.  You want it light and crispy, but not scorched.
  7. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cowboy Cookies (Vegan)

I never tire of trying out new cookie recipes, and after a few trials this one has become a favorite of mine.  It's easy, quick, and tastes great.  Particularly straight from the mixing bowl.  Seriously, I could just sit down with a bowl of this and be perfectly content.

You might have noticed that I reference quite a few cookbooks from this same author - Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I love her stuff.  It seems to just get better and better with each new cookbook.  And you certainly do not have to be vegan to enjoy her recipes! 

Who's got two thumbs and is psyched for Isa's new book coming out in a few weeks?  THIS GIRL.  Anyway, it's not really relevant to this post, but I thought I'd share the good news.  Now back to your regularly scheduled, drool-worthy cookies...

This recipe originally was one of those I thought to whip up on a Friday right before work.  And it's so easy that it was no problem.  I fiddled with the original recipe a bit - swapping out half the oil for unsweetened applesauce, and also swapping out part of the flour for whole wheat flour.  It wasn't because the recipe needed tweaking, but mostly so I felt less guilty about eating a spoonful....or five.

These are husband and coworker approved!

Cowboy Cookies (Vegan)
(Slightly adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)
Makes 2-3 dozen, depending how large you make them

2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (heaping) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (heaping) dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup (or more to your taste) cocoa nibs
***You may change the additions, of course!  Other nuts, shredded coconut, raisins, craisins, etc are other popular additions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together oil, applesauce, both sugars, nondairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla.  Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half.  Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the chocolate chips, nuts, and cocoa nibs.

For each cookie, drop 2-3 Tbsp size ball of dough (slightly smaller than a golf ball) onto the paper lined cookie sheets.  The dough will be sticky and thick, and you won't be able to roll it in your hands.  (Or if you do, it'll be a mess, and you'll just have to lick all of it off your hands.  Oops.)  Leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie.  Flatten slightly with moistened fingers.

Bake for 14-16 minutes until edges start to brown, then remove from oven.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.  Store in a loosely covered container.