Fall is in the air – and in the Northeast of the USA, where I currently live, that means apples, lots and lots of apples. We are lucky to have a number of fantastic orchards nearby, and we have made it a bit of a family tradition to go apple picking in October. Although this year is like no other given the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have still made it to an orchard. With our masks on, and social distancing we scored a load of great apples that will last us for few weeks.
Apples are great on their own, fresh and crunchy – I slice them into my oatmeal or just munch on them as a quick snack. My kids like apple and peanut butter sandwiches and enjoy rolling apple slices into a bit of cinnamon sugar. Few years ago, after our annual apple picking trip, I made a fantastic batch of spice-infused apple butter – it’s a slow cooker recipe that I can’t recommend enough! In addition to using apples in desserts, they are also a great ingredient in a Thanksgiving stuffing or in this wonderful fall carrot and apple soup.
Apples are also great in a smoothie. Don’t believe me? Try this one!
Apple and Carrot Smoothie
What you’ll need (for one serving):
1 apple, any variety
1 tablespoon peanut butter powder, or other protein powder of your choice (preferably not chocolate as it may overpower the flavors)
1/4 cup oats
2 – 4 dates, pitted (dates add sweetness, so adjust accordingly; if your protein powder is sweetened, you may want to skip dates altogether; if using a tart apple variety you may want to add an extra date or two)
1/3 – 1/2 cup water or plant-based milk (if you prefer ice in your smoothie add couple of ice cubes instead)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
What you’ll do:
Add all the ingredients into a blender. Many blenders recommend you add liquid first than the rest of the ingredients, so that’s what I recommend as well.
Blend until smooth.
Pour into a glass, top with a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg and enjoy!
Few Sundays ago, I shared with you my impressions of a new cookbook on the vegan block – “Modern Raw: Healthy Raw Vegan Meals for a Balanced Life” by Rachel Carr. I’ve been wanting to cut down on cooking for some time, and especially during the summer, so this cookbook came to me in just the right moment. You can read more about my views and check out a recipe kindly provided by the publisher here.
Needless to say, inspired by the raw vegan strategy Rachel outlined, I jumped at the opportunity to start making my own raw experiments. I started with a breakfast item, and a pasta recipe, mostly because many people trying to follow plant-based eating find breakfast to be the most challenging meal, and because I couldn’t imagine that you can have pasta without cooking!
The muffins below are great – sweet without any added sugar, and ready without baking. If you told me that this is possible, I would have rejected your suggestion. Now, of course, I know better, and these muffins – although not having a texture of any muffin you ever tried before – are packed with good-for-you energy and will carry you through your morning.
They are made of carrots, apples, raisins and rolled oats – four ingredients only! And need a bit of help from cinnamon and nutmeg! You need a food processor to make them, since there’s lot of grating and I don’t recommend you undertake this process by hand. And there is also a bit of waiting for these muffins to firm up and come together, so it’s best to make them an evening ahead and them enjoy them for breakfast the next day!
Raw Energy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Raw Energy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
What you’ll need:
2 apples, cored (Granny Smith, MacIntosh, Pink Lady work best)
3 extra-large carrots, peeled
1 cup raisins
2 cups rolled oats, divided
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
12 walnut halves, optional
What you’ll do:
Using a fine shredding attachment on your food processor or hand-held grater, grate the apples and carrots. Transfer them into a large mixing bowl.
Change the food processor’s attachment to S-blade, then combine 1 cup of rolled oats and raisins. Pulse until finely ground.
Combine with the grated carrots and apples, add the rest of the ingredients (all except walnut halves), and mix well using your hands to help the juices release and combine. Don’t worry if the mix feels wet – oats will absorb some of the excess moisture later. Depending on the exact variety of apples you use, you may end up with a bit too wet of a dough. In that case add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more oats.
Line the muffin pan with the same baking liners you would use for your muffins or cupcakes. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the mix into each muffin holder. Pack in the dough by pressing with your fingers. Top each muffin with a walnut half, or top with rolled oats, or couple of raisin. You can also skip the topping or mix-and-match.
Leave the muffins in the fridge for couple of hours to form up. Before serving take them out and let them come to room temperature – this will take 15 minutes or so. The muffins should slide out of the wrappers with easy and hold well together. If they don’t, you may want to add a bit more ground rolled oats into your dough next time. However, if they do, you will have a delicious, no-bake muffin on your hands – a great way to start your day. Enjoy!
It’s early July, and here in New England (which is, for those of you who hail from across the globe, a name for the Northeastern-most part of the United States that includes six states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) the farm activities are in full swing. The greater Boston area is brimming with farms of different size and produce selection. For example, we went cherry picking on July 4th, and ended up with an amazing selection of cherries. We ate a lot, shared some with neighbors, and washed, pitted and froze the rest. In this way, the frozen cherries are ready for smoothies, sauces or pies later in the year.
If you are skeptical about beets, don’t be – they are versatile! Yes, you may think that I am saying that because I an Eastern European and there is a bit of a beet culture on the Balkans, but beets really can work in many different ways. In addition to the two recipes I shared last week, beets can be made into a hummus (yummy), used as a salad, sandwich or a veggie burger topping, and also made into tasty burgers (see here, and here for some great beet burger recipes to try). And they are an essential, as in not-to-be-skipped-under-any-circumstance, ingredient for fabulous BBQ ribs, either those made with wheat gluten or gluten-free.
So, how about beet fritters?
And this brings us to these fritters. Without a doubt, vegetable, and in some cases fruit, fritters are ubiquitous. Every cuisine has a recipe or two that fall into this category and take advantage of ingredients in season, often times potatoes, zucchini, squash, carrots, a grater, a bit of flour and usually some eggs, to make a quick meal. So, how about beet fritters? And how about vegan and gluten-free? Well, the recipe here answers these question in affirmative.
Chia seeds and flaxseed meal as binding agents
Grated beets, carrots and the apple make the body of these fritters. The easiest way to grate them is using a large grating attachment on your food processors, although, of course, grating by hand will work too! You don’t need to cooked the beets first, but do peel and wash them, as well as the carrots – apple is the only ingredient that does not require peeling. Just before you start grating you should start soaking your flaxseed meal by combining flaxseed meal with hot water in 1 to 3 ratio. Because the grated fruits and veggies have high moisture content, they do need extra binding agents and that’s why I recommend using quite a bit of flaxseed meal as well as chia seeds. Together, flaxseed meal and chia seeds work together to created fritters that hold their shape well without any eggs or flour.
Don’t forget the spices
I recommend using lime juice and zest, as well as freshly grated ginger and finely chopped fresh cilantro to enhance the flavors. The result are light fritters with interesting texture and
Beets, Carrots and Apple Latkes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Extra lime slices, coarsely ground black pepper and/or apple sauce for serving
What you’ll do:
Place the flaxseed meal and hot water into a bowl and mix well. Let the “flax egg” rest for at least 10 minutes. The final result will be a very gooey mix that will work together with chia seeds to bind the fritters together.
While the “flax egg” is resting, grate beets, carrots and an apple by hand or using a food processor equipped with a grating attachment, then transfer into a large mixing bowl. Add all the rest of ingredients, including the “flax egg”, mix well and let stand for 20-30 minutes. This resting time is needed for chia seeds to soak the extra liquid released by the grated beets, carrots and apple, and transform into a gel-like substance.
Place a large pan over high heat and let it get nice and hot. Add oil or some cooking spray – if you do have a great non-stick pan you can omit the oil – and place small firm patties in. To form a patty, take about 1/4 cup worth of your mix, and using your hands form a 1/2 inch thick patty. Brown over high heat for 2 minutes then lower the heat down to medium and continue browning for 3 more minutes.
Flip the patties over and brown on the other side for 3-4 minutes.
Serve warm as a side dish, or even as an alternative to breakfast pancakes. These fritters go well with yogurt, as well as maple sauce, and I bet they would be delicious cold as well!
Who said salads have to be green? Or soaked in heavy dressing? Salads come in many different shapes and forms, and this is my contribution to the pantheons of salads – a mix of sliced radishes, shredded carrots and apples, toasted walnuts and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I used lemon zest and some cracked black pepper for garnish, and that’s that. With a little help from a food processor with couple of different blades everything came together in less than ten minutes!
There isn’t much more to this Salad story. Perhaps a slice of hearty bread, some of the lovely Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese, and you’re done. This salad is so fragrant, full of colors, different shapes and textures with a nice crunch that it is absolutely fit for any winter holiday table. Enjoy!!!
Radish Salad with Apples, Carrots and Toasted Walnuts
What you’ll need (for 2-4 servings)
1 bunch red radishes (7-8 large ones), washed
1 Granny Smith or another tart apple, washed
4 carrots, washed and peeled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste)
What you’ll do:
Wash the radishes and slice them into thin discs. You can do this by hand by I recommend using a food processor if it has a slicing blade. My food processor has an adjustable slicing blade and I dialed the thickness way down.
Without taking the sliced radishes out, replace the slicing blade with the fine grating blade and grate the carrots.
Using a coarser grating blade, grate the apple. Transfer everything into a large mixing bowl.
Add the juice of one lemon, lemon zest, cracked black pepper, and toasted walnuts and toss to combine.
Serve immediately with a slice of hearty bread, and a side of cheese as a light lunch, a salad course, or as a part of a more elaborate appetizer spread.
There is nothing better than freshly picked fruit. I love PYO – Pick Your Own – events at our local farms. They are a perfect activity for friends and family that gets everyone outside and into the nature. These PYO activities support local farms, and provide a cheaper access to perfectly ripe fresh fruit. I also love them for one selfish reason – I am shameless when it comes to taste tasting as I pick and can’t resist biting into an amazing piece of fruit I just picked. Honestly, who could?
The last PYO days are slowly unfolding around me, and I grabbed an opportunity to go pick some apples. The loot included six different varieties, Granny Smith, Jonagold, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Fuji and Empire, and was destined for couple of different things, including a huge batch of apple butter. For the apple butter I used couple of Granny Smith’s, Fuji’s, and Jonagolds. I used my slowcooker (crockpot) to cook the butter since it is really totally hands of – you plug it and forget it for about 10-12 hours. The best time to start cooking is the evening, because your butter can cook overnight and you will wake up to a house that is full of rich aromas.
Those aromas are mostly due to a nice mix of spices that’s make the flavor of this butter. I combined lots of ground cinnamon, some allspice and a bit of nutmeg. There are a lot of apples in this recipe so they drop need lots of spice to make the flavors rich and deep. You could change the spice makeup if you like. Alternative spices to try would be ground ginger, ground cloves, vanilla beans, and/or orange peel.
If you are reading this and wondering to yourself “What is apple butter?”, first of all thank you for being patient, and second, apple butter is sort of apple marmalade or apple jam. It’s thick – thicker than apple sauce – and smooth. It is a perfect breakfast item, for toast, pancakes or waffles, and although I have not tried it I bet it can work great as an ice cream topping! It can be made much sweeter depending on the variety of apples you use, and by adding sugar to it. This recipe does not use any sugar and adding Granny Smith to the mix of apples I used makes the final product just slightly tart.
Spice Infused Apple Butter
What you’ll need:
(If using a 6 QT (5.7 L) crockpot – adjust the amount depending on the size of your crock!!!)
6 lbs (2.5-3 kg) apples
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
What you’ll do:
Wash, dry, peel and core your apples. This will be quite a project so arm yourself with patience, enlist help of your friends and family, or get a peeler/corer/slicer device. I can recommend the KitchenAid standing mixer attachment that does all this for you, but it comes with a high price tag. It’s not essential, but it does help a great deal. Whether you peel the apples it is actually up to you. I wanted a really smooth butter texture so decided to peel them this time around.
Slice the apples and put them a really large mixing bowl. Add the spices and mix well, so that the spices are evenly distributed all over your apples.
Line the crockpot with the crockpot liner (if using – I use it becasue it make cleanup a breeze, but it is not essential). Arrange the apples, put the lid on and turn your slow cooker to 10 to 12 hours. If you have a slow cooker that allows you to select the level of heat, I recommend cooking the apple butter on high.
Let the apples cool before handling further. Transfer the cooked apples into a large bowl and use a stick (immersion) blender to purée the apples into a smooth apple butter. If you don’t have an immersion blender, your regular blender will work but you will have to blend in batches.
Since I am not an expert in canning, I packed my apple butter in two nice big jars, one to give away one to keep. I store my apple butter in the fridge but if you do know how to can things I bet you can make the apple butter, can it and keep it for months.
It is Easter Sunday, so you might as well kick back, relax and have some bon bons. So I wanted to share with everyone who observe Easter today and everyone who are just looking for a simple, nutritious and adorable dessert recipe this super-easy and kids-friendly recipe for Bon Bons. This recipe was my entry into Food52 contest Your Best Recipe with Dates.
Dates, especially Medjool dates, are fabulously sweet fruit of date palm trees and have been used in Middle Eastern and North African regions for centuries. Growing up in Serbia (ex-Yugoslavia), dates were a special, almost candy, treat we’d get especially for Christmas Eve.
You may have seen dates in your dried fruit aisle, and that is exactly where you’ll find Medjool dates as well. Some stores have also been featuring them around the produce stands, but don’t expect to find raw dates – at least I’ve never seen them raw. Not to worry though, dried dates work really well in a recipe like these bon bons with a little help of warm water and thirty minutes of rehydration.
Bon Bon Mix, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Bon Bon Mix Comes Together, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Bon Bons before Coating, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
The bon bons come together really quickly and there isn’t much to making them really. But, in order to make them easier to handle in the last stage where they meet the melted chocolate you should let them sit in a freezer for half an hour. That will help them hold their shape during their chocolate bath.
Not fan of chocolate? You can skip it and roll the bon bons in coconut flakes, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds or anything else that will make your taste buds jump for joy!!!
One last thing: this recipe is super kid-friendly and if you are looking for something you can make together with any little chefs in your life this is it. There is a bit of mixing and a bit of hands on digging into a mix and making bon bons with your hands, which is sure to please. Plus: as the recipe is no-bake everything is safe to try and lick for those without tree nut allergies. If you are looking to make this recipe tree nut free, you could try doubling the amount of oats and skipping the walnuts. I am not 100% sure this will work, but I am about 95% sure it will – I hope this is good enough for you to give these bon bons a try.
Chocolate Bon Bons with Dates, Walnuts and Apples
What you’ll need:
5 medjool dates
1 cup oats
1 cup walnuts
1 Granny Smith apple
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 ounces chocolate, vegan
1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
What you’ll do:
Remove the pits and soak medjool dates in warm water for 30 – 60 minutes.
Place oats and walnuts into a food processor and grind them into a fine meal. Pour out into a large mixing bowl.
Core the Granny Smith apple, but don’t peel it. Add it to the food processor and processes it until very fine. Add the apple to the walnut and oats mix. Add the cinnamon.
Drain the dates. Using a small food processor or a hand held (stick) blender, blend the dates into a fine paste. Add the paste to the mixing bowl. Mix everything together using a wooden spoon or a spatula.
Using a measuring spoon, measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix out into your hand. Form a ball (a bon bon) and place it on a freezer safe tray covered with wax paper. The recipe should make 18-24 bon bons.
Put the bon bons in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Just before 30 minutes is up, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or using a double boiler.
Place 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes at a time in a flat dish. Take the bon bons out of the freezer, dip them into the melted chocolate and roll them in the coconut flakes. Alternatively, you can skip the chocolate and roll the bon bons in coconut flakes only!
Leave the finished bon bons on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.