Growing up, one of the my favorite Jewish holidays was Purim. It’s an incredibly rowdy celebration, almost like Halloween, where we dress up like characters from the story of Purim and are encouraged to make as much noise as possible when Haman (the bad guy) is mentioned. I remember my grandfather pouring a 3rd…4th…5th… glass of wine for the adults and saying that on Purim you’re supposed to drink so much that you can’t remember the difference between the evil Haman and the hero Mordechai.
Hamantaschen are the traditional Purim dessert- a triangular cookie referencing the shape of Haman’s hat. Last week, I realized that it’s probably been at least 7 years since I’ve had a hamantaschen so I set out on making a gluten-free and vegan version. These cookies bring back so many childhood memories, I can’t tell you how happy I was when my recipe turned out even tastier than I remembered! I found an awesome visual guide for assembling the perfect hamantaschen, which I’ve included in the recipe below. You’ll notice that the recipe calls for 100% fruit spread. I used apricot but other traditional fillings are raspberry, strawberry, poppyseed and orange.
Have you ever heard the term “junk food vegetarian”? When I first began avoiding meat as a college freshman I was exactly that. I wasn’t very keen on vegetables and a main staple of my diet were frozen foods like burritos, pizza and veggie burgers.
I remember the first time I had a freshly made veggie burger. It was at Cafe Blossom and I was completely blown away by how uniquely flavorful and tasty it was without trying to imitate the taste or texture of meat, like many frozen veggie burgers. Flash forward about seven years years and today very I’m excited to share my recipe for Smoky Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers.
My favorite thing about these burgers is that once you bake them you can store them in the freezer for a few months. As an alternative to processed store-bought veggie burgers, try making a double batch to freeze.
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat sweet potato pieces in coconut oil. Spread out on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
Prepare quinoa by bringing vegetable broth to a boil. Add quinoa simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit covered, for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare flax “egg” by combining ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Mix then let sit for at least 10 minutes before adding to mixture.
Turn oven down to 350°. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to blend everything together. I like to blend until everything is about 50% blended, so there still some texture.
Grease a baking sheet. Form mixture into patties with your hand and spread out on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes (flip half way) until edges are slightly browned and crispy. Enjoy right away, refrigerate or store for later!
Below is my favorite way to enjoy these burgers. This warm veggie burger salad starts with a bed of steamed kale and avocado with tamari and nutritional yeast. Then I topped it with sautéed onion, garlic and tempeh. Yum!
Does anyone else ever feel like they are always on the lookout for the best granola bar? When I travel I tend to stock up on vegan, gluten-free granola/ energy bars, but many store-bought brands are often filled with tons of sugar and the ones with better ingredients can be a little pricey.
My boyfriend’s go-to travel snack is the carrot cake flavored Cilff Bar. While it’s a better option than most gas-station picks, it’s still highly processed and filled with quite a bit of sugar. Today’s recipe for Carrot Cake Oatmeal Bars was inspired by his favorite snack but these bars full of wholesome ingredients and superfoods for energy, plus no refined sugar. Traveling or not, they make a great breakfast, snack or dessert and are super yummy!
Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed. Spread mixture evenly over baking sheet, about 1/2″ thick. Use your hands to form batter into a rectangular shape.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely (you can pop it in the refrigerator to speed this up).
Once completely cool, use a sharp knife to cut into bars.
To add coconut butter icing, place jar of coconut butter in bowl of warm water for 5 minutes to soften it. Stir until completely liquid, then spread over bars or use a pastry bag (or plastic baggie with the end cut off) to draw lines across the bars.
Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!
I had these bars (below) topped with peanut butter, coconut butter and cacao nibs for breakfast and they were seriously amazing!
Last week my recipe for Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad was published on MindBodyGreen.com. It’s a super simple dish but it ended up having more social media shares than anything I’ve published anywhere before- over 22,000! I’m guessing it’s because people often think that preparing kale takes way more effort than putting a sandwich together and this recipe is an example of how quick and easy it can be to enjoy your greens.
Today I thought I would share another variation of a warm kale salad. During the summer I’m more than happy to have a big salad of fresh veggies almost everyday for lunch, but during the cold winter months I tend to go for a heartier, more warming lunch dish. The warm kale salad above (recipe here) and Sautéd Green Salad below are two variations on my favorite winter lunch.
I have a very exciting announcement today and what better way to share to share it than with celebratory Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars!? I’m super excited to announce the launch of my new health coaching website and business! You may have noticed the new section on the upper right side of the website navigation bar labelled “health coaching.” If you click on it it takes you to my brand new website- www.healthcoachilene.com. Since I’m still in school I’m currently offering my two health coaching programs to my blog readers at a very discounted rate, so please be in touch if you are interested in setting up a consultation. The consultation is free and we’ll basically chat (via phone, Skype or in person in NYC) about you health, diet and lifestyle concerns and goals and how we can work together to get you feeling your best. Now, on to the dessert!
These Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are super decadent and look like they take hours in the kitchen, but they are actually quite easy to put together. This is a fun dessert to make for friends that are skeptical of vegan desserts because the cheesecake layer is so rich and tasty you’ll hear a lot of “this is vegan and gluten-free and sugar-free??”
I ended up doubling the original amount of cookie dough that I was planning to use for the bottom layer. While it still tasted amazing, I’m going to recommend that you use half the amount of cookie dough that I used so it becomes more of a crust. This just is to even out the cheesecake to cookie ratio, but if you would like to make your bars as thick as mine feel free to double the amount of cookie dough in the recipe below.
Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
makes about 12-16 bars
What you’ll need:
for the cookie layer-
1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao nibs, vegan chocolate chips or carob chips
Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9″ x 9″ baking pan.
Prepare the cookie layer by mixing together almond flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Combine agave, coconut oil and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to bowl of dry ingredients. Thoroughly combine, then stir in cacao nibs or chocolate chips.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan so that it covers the entire bottom. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake layer by combining all ingredients in a blender. If you’re having a difficult time blending, add an extra splash or two of non-dairy milk to help smooth things along.
When the 15 minutes are up, remove pan from oven and spread cheesecake layer evenly over crust. Return to oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until edges become slightly golden.
Remove from oven and let cool. You’ll want the pan to cool completely otherwise the bars will crumble when you cut them. I recommend speeding this up by placing the pan in the refrigerator for about an hour once it’s cool enough to handle.
Once pan is completely cool, cut into bars (should make 12-16). To make the topping, mix 2 tbs peanut butter with 1 tbs agave, and transfer to a pastry bag (or plastic baggie with the tip cut off) and draw zig-zags on top of the bars. Mix 2 tbs cocoa powder and 1 tbs agave to make the chocolate topping and do the same. Enjoy!!