Ch-ch-ch-changes

Besides death and taxes, one things that’s certain is change. And boy have things changed in my life over the last two years. My baby boy is already five years old. Can you believe it? I sure can’t. Over the last two years, I have been making incremental changes in my habits, which has added up to some big changes compounded over time, such as:

• I lost over 10 lbs. without any effort.
• I’ve developed a regular writing habit and am working, rewriting and editing a second draft of my novel. It’s not a cookbook, but the main character is a vegan.
• I’m just feeling better in general. I find joy (and sometimes ecstasy) in the everyday things. I feel healthier mentally and physically.

photo by J. Wojnar

photo by J. Wojnar

I’ve been at a crossroads about this blog. At first I just got busy, then lazy, and then afraid that if I start posting again it’ll be irregular and no one will read anyway. The truth is I find it hard to post regularly with the requirements I’ve set for myself. My original goal for this blog was simple: to write. It quickly developed into regular cooking posts, which I enjoyed, but developing recipes, cooking them (several times to get it right), taking pictures in the right conditions with my shitty camera, and posting regularly just became too much. Sorry. I’m just not cut out to be a recipe blogger. I love it. I love vegan food. I love to cook. I love to make up my own recipes. I’m just not that good at writing regularly about it.
In May 2014, I began cooking at a new gluten-free vegan restaurant – the first and only one in this town in northeastern Poland. It’s a part-time side gig where I’m getting my cooking and recipe-developing needs met . Once in a while if I come up with something exciting, I’ll post here. But do not expect there to be any great regularity or frequency in those types of posts.

So what should you expect my dear readers?

I could go on now for several hundred words about my plan for this blog, but to tell you honestly I don’t have one. And that’s kind of exciting. I want to write here with some regularity. Veganism is very important to me. So is food. But there are also so many other aspects to myself. Therefore I ask dear readers to just come along with me for the ride and we’ll see where this beautiful road takes us. Because as you may remember from Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter which road you take.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

I will write about things that interests me or things I have read. Hopefully, this will also interest others. The only way I can know that is if you comment, so please do that liberally. And if you miss my recipe posts, please let me know, maybe then I’ll be motivated to be more regular with those. I promise you one thing, this will not be an aimless meander through my brain and thoughts. Or maybe it will. Who knows?! I do plan on having a direction in which I will take this little blog, but that will possibly remain a mystery for some time.

Here’s to determination! I leave you with George Harrison’s “Any Road”:

 

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Coconut banana pancakes

I hate when I take long breaks from this blog, but life has gotten in the way. I have loads of recipes lined up, but I still write them up on a weekly basis. I apologize for my absence. I have a feeling summer may look a bit spotty as far as regularity goes, so be prepared.
Anyway, my life has been consumed for the last 2 months by a huge festival I’m helping to organize. It’s crazy what we’ve taken on, but also very exciting. For those of you who speak/read Polish, go to our website: www.festiwalznatury.pl. The main premise behind the festival is to live as naturally, socially and environmentally responsible as possible. There will be workshops and lectures about natural living, healthy lifestyle and eating, recycling, babywearing and so on. There will be loads of attractions like making fresh squeezed nettle juice, cold-pressed oils, grinding flour, etc. I will be teaching two workshops: one for children – making yarn mandalas; and one for adults (and children) about making healthy vegan snacks that take into account allergies and have nothing processed and no sugar. I’ll share some of those recipes in the future.

banana coconut pancakes 1

For now, another breakfast or brunch recipe. This can be completely oil free, just use a non-stick frying pan. This is such an easy and quick recipe that utilizes those ripe bananas – don’t you just love them as a sweetener? I make my own oat flour from oat flakes in a coffee grinder. This recipe can be gluten-free if you use GF oat flour.

banana coconut pancakes 2

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas
½ cup oat flour (use GF if needed)
4 tbsp. ground flaxseed
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1/3 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp. oil (optional)
2 tbsp. water
½ tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mash up bananas with a fork.
  2. Add in rest of the ingredients. Mix well, but don’t overdo it.
  3. Heat frying pan. Drop in batter with a spoon.

Serve sprinkled with coconut flakes, fresh fruit and/or molasses.

Makes: 10 pancakes

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Still looking for ideas for Mother’s Day brunch?

Mother’s Day in Poland is May 26th, but since my mom lives in the US, she get 2 cards. Sometimes, though, I wish I could treat her to an awesome vegan brunch. If you’re that lucky and are still looking for some Mother’s Day brunch ideas, Broccoli Addict comes to the rescue. Here’s some ideas for vegan deliciousness to serve your mother this Sunday from this and other blogs.

mothers day

Blueberry oatmeal waffles

Buckwheat banana pancakes

Carob muffins

Carrot cake bars

Carrot cashew butter

Eggless-cellent salad

Fig coconut teacakes

Glowing morning juice

Hibiscus-blueberry cooler

Love potion parfait

Mango butter

Minty raw pea and spinach soup

No bake single serve chocolate cream berry fireworks pie

Poached pears with vegan chocolate sauce

Vanilla banana bread

Raw strawberry lavender cheesecake

Sesame milk

Strawberry banana kiwi chia fruit tarts

Triple chocolate salted caramel brownies

Vegetable breakfast muffins

As you can see, these are a bit on the sweet side, because shouldn’t we try to make their life sweeter? Hopefully not only on Mother’s Day.

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Virtual Vegan Potluck – sesame snap amaranth cookies and sesame milk

I’m very excited to be participating in the third Virtual Vegan Potluck. I decided to sign up for a dessert. Usually, when you think of dessert, you think of decadent, rich, sinful, and even vegan dessert can be quite indulgent. There is a large group of bloggers writing about desserts for Virtual Vegan Potluck, so I’m sure there will be plenty of decadence and indulgence, but also some healthy alternatives. I decided to go with simple, understated, and good for you – yes, good for you.

vvpLOGO

On top of that, this is a two for one recipe. First, you’ll soak sesame seeds to make milk, and the leftovers get used in the cookies. How’s that for thrifty?

unhulled sesame seeds

unhulled sesame seeds

I really love sesame, and especially sesame desserts. I hope you feel the same, but even if you don’t, give these cookies a try, they may surprise you. If you don’t feel like making milk, you can just skip that part and use soaked sesame seeds.

sesame snap amaranth cookies

sesame snap amaranth cookies

This recipe came about out of necessity and a bit of pure luck. I only had unhulled sesame seeds at home and needed to make milk. Our usual homemade favorite is a mix of oats and coconut (I’ll be sharing a recipe for that really soon), but I didn’t have oats or coconut flakes, so I decided to try sesame milk. I never throw away what’s left over; it seems like such a waste. Sesame cookies popped into my mind; I was thinking something that was a cross between sesame snaps and a cookie, and I got it right. I’ve tinkered with the proportions a bit since then to get the recipe just right for you. Every time I have made these, they have been a hit. I hope you enjoy them as well.

sesame milk leftovers

Sesame snap amaranth cookies

Sesame left over from making sesame milk (see below – picture above)
1-2 tbsp. tahini
2 tbsp. carob molasses (or your favorite sweetener)
½ cup popped amaranth
¼ cup amaranth seed flour

Instructions

1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients. Should form a fairly uniform mass that you can manipulate with your hands. Roll into a ball.

2. Roll out onto a cookie sheet with your hands or a rolling pin. It is best to moisten your hands or rolling pin first.

sesame snap cookie dough before baking

sesame snap cookie dough before baking

3. Bake at 175°C/350°F for about 15 min.

4. Remove from oven. Let cool for a few minutes. Cut into smaller shapes.

Yield: over two dozen

sesame milk

sesame milk

Sesame milk

½ cup unhulled sesame seeds
4 cups filtered water

Instructions

Soak sesame seeds in 1 cup of water for 4 hours. This will soften and expand the sesame seeds a bit. After soaking, add 3 more cups of water and blend for a good while. I use an immersion blender that works fine. Then pour through gauze, and squeeze any liquid from the pulp.

This milk keeps for about 2 days in the refrigerator, so you should use it up fairly quickly.

Yield: about 1 liter

Allergy/sensitivities information: This is free of wheat, gluten, nuts, sugar. Some people are allergic to sesame seeds.

I hope you enjoy my creation. Sign up to follow me through email, RSS or Facebook.

Now you can go forward to vixbakes to check out the next dessert.

Or you can go back to Baking Backwards.

To start at the very beginning, go to Vegan Bloggers Unite, the home base for VVP v.3.

go_bck-300x257go_forward-300x243

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Buckwheat banana pancakes (sugar-free, gluten-free)

One of my favorite memories from childhood is a ritual from someone else’s family. Growing up in Chicago, I had these friends in grade school with whom I spent inordinate amounts of time. I loved sleeping over and hanging out with my “sisters.” Their family had a Sunday brunch tradition of homemade waffles with cranberry applesauce. It wasn’t vegan, but it is a taste I can remember to this day. It isn’t that those waffles were something extraordinary, they were good, but what I really appreciated was the sanctity of treating Sunday morning as something special, something that cannot be canceled. This was a time reserved for eating this one meal together, EVERY Sunday.

As a parent, I want to make those kind of memories for my son, so weekend breakfasts/brunch tend to be a bit more special and definitely a lot less rushed. Actually, our breakfast time on the weekends is extended and breakfasts sometimes last well into the afternoon. I hope someday my son will look back fondly on lazily spending time together as a family celebrating food and each other.

buckwheat banana pancakes

You can make buckwheat flour from buckwheat groats in a coffee grinder. I often incorporate the leftovers from making plant-based milk in this recipe. If you do this, you may have to reduce the milk.

Ingredients
3 large very ripe bananas
2 cups buckwheat flour
½-1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tbsp. oil
plant-based milk (cup or less)
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more, to taste)
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cardamom
Oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Mash bananas with a fork, add flour, baking soda, oil and spices. Add a bit of milk, mix, and keep adding until you achieve a good consistency. The batter should not be too runny, but also shouldn’t be too clumpy and dry.
  2. Heat a frying pan with a bit of oil. Fry on both sides on medium-high heat. The pancakes fry fairly quickly. . If you don’t want to fry, these bake well. Spoon onto a cookie sheet, and bake at 175°C/350°F for 20 min.

Serve on their own or with maple syrup or jam.

Variations: You can use a cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of bananas. You can also add fresh or frozen blueberries.

Allergy information: These pancakes are free of wheat, soy, nuts, gluten, and of course milk and eggs.

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Guest post on Vegan Bloggers Unite

I forgot to mention that in April I was a guest blogger on Vegan Bloggers Unite. You can go check out the post here.

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Also, I will be participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck taking place May 11. There will be 169  bloggers from all over the world. Come back here to follow the links or you can start on the May 2013 Potluck homepage.

vvpLOGO

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Vanilla banana bread and sweet sunflower seed butter (sugar-free, gluten-free)

I am starting a series of breakfast posts. For the next few weeks, I will add at least one breakfast recipe a week.

banana bread 1

I have to say this is one of the best banana breads I have ever tasted. I know everyone says this about their recipe, but I am willing to bet on this one. What makes this one so special? First of all the vanilla, secondly the brown rice flour adds an unbelievable texture. This recipe is sugar and gluten-free, which is an added bonus.

Although the bread is perfect on its own, the sunflower seed butter is a nice addition. It works well on plain bread for breakfast or as a snack.

banana bread 2

Banana bread

3-4 very ripe bananas
2 tbsp. oil
2 cups brown rice flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup plant-based milk (unsweetened)
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ vanilla bean

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°F/350°C.
  2. In a bowl, mash all bananas with a fork. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The banana bread tastes even better with pieces of banana.
  3. Add oil, brown rice flour, baking soda, and mix with a fork. Pour in milk and add cardamom.
  4. Slice vanilla bean in half, scrape out the insides, and add to the batter.
  5. Line loaf pan with wax paper (or lightly grease), pour in the batter. Bake at 175°F/350°C for 40-50 min.

Sunflower butter

1 cup sunflower seeds
juice of 1 blood orange (or another juicy orange)
1 tbsp. coconut oil (melted) or coconut cream
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. carob molasses (or your favorite sweetener)

Blend all ingredients together.

Optional (these will slightly change the taste): You can soak the sunflower seeds overnight before making the butter, or you can toast them at 175°F/350°C for 6-10 min.

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