Almond Butter Banana Bread with Pumpkin Seeds and Raisins

This morning’s creation turned out quite well! This hearty bread is not too sweet and would be great for breakfast or brunch (or snacking). I used a Corningware bread pan, which is slightly larger than a standard bread pan so you may need to reduce the cooking time a little if you use a standard size pan.

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Ingredients:
1 very ripe banana
4T flax seeds
1 C water
2 heaping tablespoons of almond butter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 C raisins
3/4 C sugar
2 C all purpose flour
1/4 C pumpkin seeds

Directions:
Pre-heat your oven to 350. Grind the flax seeds in a spice grinder. Mash together the banana, flax seeds, water, and almond butter. Add the baking soda, raisins, sugar, & flour and mix until well combined. This will make a thick, moist dough Рnot a batter. Transfer into a greased loaf pan and distribute the dough evenly with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top and gently press them into the top of the loaf. (Any pumpkin  seeds that are loose will fall off when you take the loaf out of the pan.) Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool enough to handle before removing the bread.

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DIY Nut Milk

Making your own nut milk is as easy as using a blender. Why use store bought when you can have home made without any added thickeners, texture enhancers, or sugars? Using raw nuts bought in bulk from my local health food store, the cost of homemade is +/- just a few cents per ounce compared to store bought.

You will need a few kitchen tools to get started. A nut milk bag is a fine mesh nylon strainer. You can pick one up at most health food stores or order online for only a few bucks. The second item you need is a blender. If¬† you have a high powered blender such as a Vitamix, you won’t need to soak your nuts overnight. If you have a classic blender, then an overnight soak is a must.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 C raw (not roasted) nuts. I like 1 C almonds + 1/4 C Brazil nuts for a creamy texture. You can experiment with combos & proportions until you find the blend you like best. Don’t use peanuts for this.
5 cups water + more for soaking nuts — if you have municipal tap water, use a filter (Brita, Pur, etc.) to remove any chlorine remnants
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions:
Cover nuts with water and soak for 1 hour (or overnight if you don’t have a high speed blender)
Discard soaking water. Place all ingredients in blender and whirl for 1-2 minutes.
Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag into a pitcher. If you have a pitcher with a lid, you can use the lid to hold the bag in place while it strains. (Otherwise you’ll have to get creative with clothespins or tying the bag to a wooden spoon to suspend over the pitcher. You’re smart – you’ll figure something out!)
When the milk is done straining, you can squeeze the bag to get out the last bit. Keep refrigerated & shake before using.

Bonus:
The leftover nut mush makes a great face mask! Refrigerate until you use it.

Triple Nut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I don’t consider myself an accomplished baker, and truthfully I rarely make dessert. But, these cookies got so many compliments from everyone who tried them that I have to share. My recipe was inspired by ones from The Joy of Vegan Baking, so show that page a little love!

Ingredients:
4 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (or 2T ground flax seeds)
6T water
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 package vegan semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/3 cup each walnuts, almonds & Brazil nuts, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor or blender, whip together the egg replacer & water until it’s thick & creamy.
In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg replacer mixture and mix thoroughly.
Combine all the dry ingredients except the nuts and chcocolate chunks in another large bowl. Mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing thoroughly so there are no lumps of dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts and chocolate.
Scoop onto your cookie sheets using a spoon to make the cookies roughly equal in size. Press any stray nuts or chocolate back onto the cookies — these are so loaded that they fall off the dough easily when you’re scooping.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.