Vegan Food Nerd


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Italian Stuffed Artichokes

20140723_193807I’m pretty sure artichokes have always been my favourite vegetable. I remember requesting them for birthday meals many times throughout my childhood and teen years. I just love them anyway you can prepare them; whether it’s a simple steamed artichoke, or stuffed then steamed, or marinated artichoke hearts, or grilled, etc.

Now, artichokes do take a little bit of work to clean and prepare and stuff, but the result is super delicious. Your stuffing can also vary slightly, but I will provide you with my favourite method.

Notes:

  • Artichoke size varies greatly! I like to use larger artichokes for stuffing (organic are preferred as they taste so much better, but this is not necessary). If you only see smaller artichokes, use those for grilling or other methods of cooking as they won’t work well here.
  • It can be a bit time consuming prepping your artichokes, and the larger the artichoke the longer they take to cook. Generally anywhere from 30-80 minutes could be required for cooking.
  • You may have some leftover stuffing. Save it in a ziploc bag for future use. On the other hand, if you stuff generously you may need to make a bit more.
  • After writing this post, I realize more pictures or a video might be required if you’re new to this method!

Ingredients

2 large artichokes
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1-2 garlic cloves (if they are large, 1 will suffice)
veg cheese or veg parmesan (optional)
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
olive oil

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1) First you need to clean up your artichokes so they are ready for stuffing. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4 – 1/3 of the artichoke. This will give you some room to get into the leaves.

2) Cut the bottom stem so that your artichoke can sit upright on it’s own.

3) Snip off the top of each of the leaves with scissors or a knife as they are quite sharp.

4) Turn the artichoke upsidedown (stem side up in your hand) and bang it on the counter or a wooden cutting board a few times to help open up the leaves. This will help you to get in between the leaves that are held fairly tightly together. You can also prod them open with your hands a bit.

5) Rinse your artichokes under cold water and if not using immediately place in a bowl of cold water mixed with lemon juice to prevent browning.

6) Mix breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slice garlic thinly.

7) Now, working with one artichoke at a time, get in between each leaf with a bit of your stuffing. The amount you use is really up to you. Try to get in between each leaf but it’s ok to leave a few without stuffing. I usually leave the very middle untouched.

8) Sporadically place the garlic slices in between some of the leaves, you want maybe 1/3rd of the artichoke to have garlic rather than every single opening.

9) If you so desire, you can also repeat the garlic part of the stuffing with some grated veggie mozzarella or parmesan. I have used pecan parmesan in the past with success as well as store bought vegan parm.

10) Once your artichokes are stuffed place into a pot and fill with about 1.5″ of water (you want to cover the bottom third of your artichoke).

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11) Drizzle each artichoke with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. Feel free to salt the water in the pot fairly generously as this helps to season the artichokes. Squeeze lemon juice over each artichoke, especially if they were not placed in the lemon water earlier. This will help to brighten the flavour.

12) Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer – be sure to keep the lid on or they will not steam.

13) Large artichokes will take roughly 45-60 minutes to steam but they can take longer. You will know when they are ready when you can pull a leaf nearer to the center of the artichoke out easily. The bottom portion of the leaf should be tender and have a buttery texture.

14) Once cooked, remove from pot with tongs and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serves 2

To eat your artichoke

1) Starting on the outside layer, remove a leaf, and scrape the bottom portion of the leaf between your teeth. This will allow you to eat the stuffing as well as the tender portion of the leaf. Continue leaf by leaf!

2) Once you get closer to the centre of the artichoke, the leaves will be more and more tender allowing you to eat more and more of each leaf.

3) When there are no leaves left (you may have to pop off the really thin centre leaves), you will be left with the choke and the heart. Remove the choke (this is the hairy part of the artichoke) with a fork or spoon. Now you can eat the entire heart hiding below the little hairs. This is my favourite part of the whole experience as it is usually the most tender and delicious!


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Peanut Butter Pie!

20140626_190927Peanut butter and chocolate and pie. I already knew I loved peanut butter and chocolate together, but putting them into a pie?! Oh man. This is a game changer. This recipe from the Minimalist Baker tastes pretty much like one giant peanut butter cup. The filling is fairly light, while the chocolate is a bit rich so it’s a great combination. I made this for a birthday boy who really loved it. I used some coconut and toasted pecans to top the pie with, but you can use any chopped nut or just leave it ungarnished if you wish (but the crunchy texture from the nuts is lovely).

Recipe adapted from Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie over at the Minimalist Baker.

Notes:

  • The Mustard Seed co-op sells vegan graham pie crusts so I used one for this recipe since it was ready to go in my freezer. You might be able to find something similar at your own local store. You can easily make your own pie crust though with vegan graham crackers pulsed in your food processor, mix in some melted earth balance or coconut oil and press into a pie dish.
  • The coconut milk must be chilled to make your whipped cream as this separates the fat portion from the liquid portion and you only want the solid stuff.
  • I actually preferred to slice the pie while it was still frozen, then allowing it to defrost before serving. It can be a bit tricky to slice otherwise. Just remove from the freezer and let it sit for about 5 minutes to make this easier to do.

Ingredients

1 vegan graham pie crust
1 12-14oz package firm silken tofu (I use Mori-Nu)
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge at least overnight

Chocolate Ganache Topping
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli brand will give a nice rich topping)
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (coconut milk preferred, but almond milk works too)
1/2 tbsp melted coconut oil

Garnish (optional)

1/3 cup chopped, roasted nuts (peanuts or pecans would work)
1-2 tbsp unsweetened coconut

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Bake pie crust for 10 minutes, and allow to cool completely. In the meantime make your filling.

3) Add tofu, peanut butter and maple syrup to a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if needed. If your peanut butter is unsalted you may want to taste and add a pinch of salt to your liking.

4) Whip your coconut milk into coconut whipped cream using my previous post for instructions.

5) Once nice and fluffy, gently fold your peanut butter mixture into the coconut whipped cream.

6) Pour filling into crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Pop into the freezer for about 1 hour to chill.

7) Prepare ganache topping by adding chocolate chips, non dairy milk and coconut oil into a pan on low-medium heat. Stir gently and a smooth ganache should form.

8) Pour the ganache over the pie filling and use a rubber spatula to spread if necessary. Top with chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut or a mixture of both and pop back into the freezer to allow to set.

9) When ready to serve, remove from freezer and allow to defrost slightly before slicing and serving. Keep covered with plastic wrap and store in the freezer if there are leftovers.

Makes 1 super delicious pie!


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Baked Zucchini Fries

20140731_184416Zucchini season is still upon us (at least in some areas), and it can be difficult to think up some new meal ideas. I love zucchini sauteed, grilled, roasted, raw in salads, baked into breads or brownies, and now also as ‘fries!’ Our zucchini plants have actually succumbed to the cold temperatures but there still seems to be an abundance at the farmer’s markets.

This is a simple recipe that just takes a little bit of time as you have to dip into a few bowls one ‘fry’ at a time. You can add flavour to the zucchini easily though by dressing up your flour or breadcrumbs that you will be using to coat the zucchini pieces.

I adapted this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Notes:

  • To prevent finger clubbing, use one hand to dip into the wet bowl and one hand to dip into the dry. This will keep the breadcrumbs from sticking to your fingers.
  • This also works with yellow squash. I used a green and yellow zucchini and they both tasted equally yummy.
  • You may want to spray the fries themselves with a little oil to help with the browning process. This was not done for the photo above, but they still crisped up nicely!
  • Try some different flavour combinations as you please.

Ingredients

2 small zucchinis
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk (or soy)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika (smoked, hot or sweet)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup breadcrumbs (regular or panko)
1/2-1 tsp herbs of choice (basil, oregano, parsley would be great)
salt and pepper to taste

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1) Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a cooling rack (I used coconut oil spray) and set on a baking sheet and put aside.

2) Cut zucchini into fry shapes, leaving the skin on. If you are using a larger zucchini you may want to cut out some of the seeds as they add too much moisture and your fries won’t be as crispy.

3) In a medium bowl or large plate with a lip, mix together flour, milk, salt, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder to form a thin paste.

4) In a second bowl mix together breadcrumbs, herbs and some salt and pepper.

5) Dip each zucchini fry into the flour mixture to coat, and then toss around in the breadcrumbs to form a thin layer. Place prepared zucchini fry onto the cooling rack. Repeat until you have no uncoated zucchini left.

6) Bake for 18-20 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately with your favourite dipping sauces. I used chipotle vegenaise and ketchup.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.


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Pickled Jalapenos

20140908_090606I know, I know, another canning post. Canning and pickling season is upon us though! I’m not actually hugely into spicey things – I’m a bit of a spice wuss if you may – but I do like an added kick for certain foods and have been learning to tolerate our variety of hot sauces we like to use! These pickled jalapenos were done more as an experiment for the dude in my life, because he loves them, and it’s nice to have your own homemade products and all. We actually just picked up 4 large jalapenos from our farmer’s market and this made two 250 ml jars of pickles plus one 125 ml jar (which is plenty for us, but you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe as you please!) It’s nice to experiment though, so if you don’t want to commit to a large canning job, this is a good one to try out.

Notes:

  • As always, please ensure you have an understanding of proper canning techniques before attempting this.
  • I used a water bath canner, small pot for jars/lids, medium pot for the brine, metal ladle, funnel, 2 250 ml mason jars with lids and seals, 1 125 ml jar with lid/seal, canning tongs and the magnetic lid/seal picker upper.
  • The slices have a tendency to float so you can probably pack them in more tightly in the two larger jars and forgo the 3rd smaller jar.
  • These are spicy! They have a great flavour though.

Ingredients

4 large jalapenos
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp pickling salt
1 1/4 tsp pickling spices
1 garlic clove

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1) Wash and dry jalapenos, and slice each, removing the stem end.

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20140906_1802152) Prepare brine by combing water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil in your saucepan.

3) Prepare jars by sterilizing in a water bath or in an oven at 275 F.

4) Add 1/2 tsp of pickling spice and a 1/4 of a clove of garlic to each of your 250 ml jars. Use half of that for smaller jars or depending on your tastes you may want to add a bit more garlic and pickling spice to each jar.

5) Pack jalapeno slices into each jar, and fill with brine, leaving 1/4″ of space at the top. Use a knife or chopstick and insert into the jar and move around the perimeter of the jar to remove air bubbles.

6) Process in your water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit for a week in a cool, draft free area before opening!

Makes 2-3 jars.


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Vegan Pepperoni

20140714_200742As a vegan, I am incredibly thankful for Isa over at theppk.com and her numerous cookbooks. Her recipes are foolproof and super delicious. I have never been disappointed by any of the recipes I have tried! When I saw her halloween recipes last year, I didn’t have time to make any of them for my own halloween party. But, this summer I finally made use of the vegan pepperoni recipe she shared as part of this recipe. Just like the sausage recipe I posted a few days ago, they are simple to make and come together really easily. AND, they remind me of the taste of pepperoni and go great on pizza!

I didn’t take a picture of the pepperoni logs, but once they come out of your steamer simply slice and put on your pizza with the other toppings you like. These went super well with zucchini, onions, green peppers and veggie cheese. In fact, it’s probably one of the more delicious pizzas we’ve made (and it might just be because of the vegan pepperoni addition).

You can find the recipe for vegan pepperoni here, just use the ‘pepperoni eye sockets’ portion of the recipe:

Vegan Pepperoni at theppk.com

Notes:

  • I added about 1/2 tsp of ground fennel to the dough and upped the tomato paste by about a 1/2 tablespoon as well.
  • White or red kidney beans will work in the place of pinto beans, as I rarely have pinto beans on hand.
  • You will have leftover pepperoni logs and they freeze well. Just place in a freezer bag or airtight container and when ready to use thaw fully, slice, and put on your pizza once again.

Enjoy!


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Lentil and cashew stuffed peppers

20140911_172625Stuffed peppers are the go to dish served at weddings here when I ask for the vegan option (well, that or a stir fry). One time I even got served a pepper stuffed with rice that came with a side of rice. Despite all of the mediocre stuffed peppers I’ve had over the years, I still think of this dish fondly. My mom made a mean stuffed pepper growing up and I wanted to create something that had a slightly different flavour profile. These stuffed peppers are protein packed and super yummy and would make a great main entree on their own or served with a salad or some roasted veggies on the side.

Notes:

  • You will have some leftover filling depending on the size of your peppers – it’s great just eaten with a spoon!
  • I used two small baking dishes and so I fit half the peppers in each dish – feel free to use one large baking dish of course.
  • I had cooked extra white rice the day before but feel free to use brown rice for the added health factor
  • My family gets together to make big batches of tomato sauce every year so I used that which makes this a bit faster to put together. I would either make some sauce ahead of time, or quickly cook up some pureed tomatoes with seasonings of your choice to use for this.
  • I also cooked the lentils ahead of time. With the rice, lentils and sauce ready to go, these are a snap to get into the oven!

Ingredients

2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
3 green bell peppers
1 small onion diced
3/4 cup of raw cashews
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 kale leaves, stems removed and ripped into small pieces
1 small fennel bulb
1 cup grated veg mozzarella plus more for topping (optional)
2 tsp capers
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp of olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup tomato sauce for filling
approx 2 cups tomato sauce for baking dish and to top peppers

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1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and any white membrane. Drizzle both sides with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle some salt on both sides of each pepper half. Bake peppers, cut side up on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish for 15-20 minutes. The idea is to get them partially cooked.

20140911_1646412) Cut fennel into bite size pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and add salt and pepper to season. Roast for 10 minutes, flip, then roast for an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

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3) Preheat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to coat. Add cashews and continue cooking with the onion until they are slightly browned (5 mins or so).

4) Reduce heat and add spices, herbs, salt and pepper and stir. Continue to cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add kale and garlic and cook until wilted. Add lentils and roasted fennel and stir to heat through.

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5) Put cooked rice in a bowl and cover with hot lentils and vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, capers, and veggie cheese if using and mix together. Taste the mixture for salt and seasonings.

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6) Place a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish and add partially cooked peppers (cut side up).

7) Divide your stuffing amongst the peppers, making sure to push the filling into the corners. They should be heaping!

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8) Top each pepper with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce.

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9) Cover your baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and check to see that the sauce is bubbling and the peppers are steaming – if not recover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Once your peppers are just about done, top with a bit of the veggie cheese and return to the oven uncovered for 10 minutes.

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10) Serve immediately but be careful because they will be quite hot!

Serves 3-6 depending on your appetites.


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Coconut Whipped Cream

coconut whipped cream - from Oh She Glows

Image from Oh She Glows

If you haven’t heard of this wonderful phenomenon, you’re in for a treat! I made peach sundae’s with vanilla ice cream and homemade canned cardamom peach slices, and wanted to top them off with some whipped cream. I had used this recipe from Oh She Glows in the past for a peanut butter pie filling and thought it would work perfectly. It did!

If you’re from the local area, you’ll know that the Winona Peach Festival makes some delicious peach sundae’s. These were better! I absolutely loved them, maybe partially because of the nostalgia factor of eating them at the fair prior to switching to veganism and finally being able to indulge at home. The whipped coconut cream really makes it though, and you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell it’s dairy free.

You’re probably wondering, where is the picture of this fabulous peach sundae? Showing the vanilla ice cream, cardamom peach slices and dollop of coconut whipped cream? Well I took one, but it was clearly too dark in the room as the picture did not turn out. I obviously couldn’t check the picture first, because I was too busy digging in and eating it all up.

BUT! Never fear, there is a wonderful tutorial with pictures over at the Oh She Glows website that I followed. It is super simple, only takes 3 ingredients (coconut milk, sugar or sweetener of choice, vanilla), and will be ready in no time. You just need to make sure you have a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge all ready to go.

Coconut Whipped Cream

Note:

  • Angela states Thai Kitchen coconut milk won’t work for this, but it’s what I have used both times and it worked for me!
  • I used my stand mixer, and it took probably 5 minutes of whipping to get it to the consistency I wanted. We used the leftovers again the next day and just used a whisk to quickly make it light and fluffy again.
  • While coconut milk is a good source of saturated fat, I would still consider this a treat. It will be hard to resist using this on all of your desserts in the future though..


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Homemade italian veggie sausages

20131002_180741When I’m in a pinch, or feeling particularly lazy, I have no problem buying some Tofurky or Field Roast veggie sausages to throw on the grill or in the cast iron pan. However, it really is so much cheaper to make them yourself (and healthier to boot since you can control the ingredients) that everyone should have a staple veggie sausage recipe at home. They are so simple to make and come together pretty quickly, and can even be frozen easily so that you can have some on hand for a quick meal. Isa over at theppk.com has some great sausage recipes and I adapted the following from her!

Notes:

  • These are pretty adaptable so you can flavour them how you prefer. I’ve also used red kidney beans or pinto beans and they all work well.

Directions and Ingredients

1) Mash 1/2 cup (plus a tbsp) rinsed, drained canned white beans in a large bowl

2) Add in the following order:
1 cup water
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsps liquid braggs
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp pureed garlic
2 tsps white miso
1 tsp herbamere
1 1/2 tsps ground fennel seed
1/4 tsp homemade dried chili pepper (1/2 tsp red pepper flakes would also work)
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
fresh black pepper to taste

3) Mix with a fork until well combined. Knead briefly with hands and separate dough into 4 equal portions. Get your steaming apparatus ready as the water should start boiling by the time you have everything rolled up.

4) Roll each portion into a log and wrap in tin foil. The dough is a bit mushy but will snap into shape while steaming so no need to be a perfectionist. Just make sure there are no tears in the foil or you’ll end up with some oddly shaped sausages.

5) Steam for about 45 minutes then remove from foil and saute in a cast iron skillet in a bit of olive oil to brown on all sides. They should also cook up nicely on the grill.

Makes 4 veggie sausages.


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Easy canned tomatoes

20140908_090534So, canning season means another canning post! We had an abundance of roma tomatoes growing in the garden so we decided to quickly jar them using my old family method. It’s really simple and worthwhile to have some fresh tomatoes to use in the winter. These would be useful in a quick sauce, soups or anywhere else you would use canned tomatoes. We actually only got a few jars out of our garden tomatoes, so we’re planning on getting a basket or two at the market to can some more!

Notes:

  • If you are not familiar with proper canning techniques, please do a bit of research as this post may not include all necessary steps.
  • I used 500ml mason jars, lids and seals, a water bath canner, canning tongs and a magnetic lid/seal lifter. Also, a separate large pot for blanching the tomatoes, a small pot for keeping the lids and seals warm, and a large bowl with ice water.

Ingredients

Roma tomatoes (about 10-12 per jar but this is size dependent)
Salt
Sugar
Basil

20140908_0905281) Fill your large pot with water and bring to a boil. Wash your tomatoes and go through removing any bad spots or bad tomatoes.

2) Cut a small slit in your tomatoes and place in your boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into your ice water bowl.

3) Peel tomato skins – they should fall right off. If not, keep your tomatoes in the boiling water for a little bit longer.

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peeled tomatoes

4) Cut each tomato in half and remove some of the seeds. You don’t have to remove every last one!

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5) Prepare your mason jars (sterilize in a water bath or in the oven at 275 F). While the jars are still hot, put 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar and 1-3 basil leaves in the bottom of each. This is for 500 ml jars so if using 1 L jars, double this!

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6) Now you can pack in your tomato halves. Get as many in the jar as you can – packing them slightly. Close your jar with a seal and screw lid on tightly.

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7) Process your jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

8) Remove jars with your canning tongs and place upside down on a tea towel or newspaper and leave for 24 hours to cool. After 24 hours check to make sure your seals popped.

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Makes as many jars as you have tomatoes to fill them!


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Chocolate Cherry Muffins

20140805_181734I didn’t see any cherries at the market this week, so even though their season may have ended I had to post this delicious muffin recipe that I used when they were available. Maybe you were smart enough to get some extra cherries and freeze them? They would work perfectly here! Or maybe you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer climate so local cherries are still abundant. For my fellow Ontario bakers, I’m sorry for not posting this sooner! I haven’t tried it myself, but some other fruit would probably work well too.

I adapted this recipe from the Minimalist Baker. The original recipe was for 9 muffins, but I doubled it and made a few small changes. 

Notes:

  • The flour mixture I used here gave a really nice crumb to the muffin, but I’m sure using just all purpose, or just whole wheat pastry flour will work just fine.
  • Same goes for the sugars – all brown sugar or all coconut sugar should work fine here.

Ingredients

2/3 cup almond flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups almond milk (unsweetened and unflavoured)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh, pitted cherries – chopped
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips or mini chips

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1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare muffin tins with liners or grease with coconut oil.

2. Combine flours, baking powder, salt and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

3. Measure out almond milk in a large measuring cup, add applesauce, oil, vanilla and almond extract and stir. If using coconut oil it may start to firm up again – microwave to heat and melt again.

4. Add wet to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fold in cherries and the chocolate until just combined. Save some chocolate to top the muffins with when they are in the tins if you please.

5. Spoon into muffin tins – fill them most of the way!

6. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let rest in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 18 muffins.